House For Six


A Quick Coat Closet Makeover

Deme CrinionComment

The coat closet makeover has to be one of my all time favorite projects.  They give you such a big bang for your buck in the function department, but don't demand a ton of time or resources. All it takes is a little creativity and resourcefulness.  

Our most recent closet makeover was small scale, but made a huge different in how we come/go each day....and how pleasant we are now that we don't have to wrestle a snow gear monster before greeting each other.

Quick, easy, and budget friendly coat closet makeover

We're dedicating an entire room to laundry/corralling our kids gear (those lucky ducks), but James and I were still in need of a space for us to drop our own bags, shoes, and jackets.  There's a tiny little coat closet right next to the garage door we had been using.....which mostly consisted of jackets on hangers above a heap of jumbled shoes, more jackets, and bags on the floor. 

It was like being welcomed by a crap avalanche every time we came home and opened the door. Super serene and welcoming, right?

With the rest of our house in disarray, I needed to claim myself a corner of sanity.  So during one naptime a couple months back I pulled everything out, dug through our extra hardware for leftover hooks from our last coat closet project, and grabbed a can of leftover paint.  

I didn't let myself get caught up in design details or color schemes and just focused on getting it DONE before the baby's chants of "Up!" rang out from her room.  I didn't even take before pics. #badblogger   

I started like I do any organizing project and pulled everything out of the closet.  I wiped down all the shelves and baseboards, then grabbed a paintbrush.  I wanted something darker that would hide scuffs and dirt, but the only colors I had were a deep but bright blue we used in our shared boys' room and the black paint we used on our shutters and garage door when we painted the exterior of the house (post on that coming soon!). 

More neutral felt right since I do have some colorful accessories, but that also meant that two coats were needed.  Since I was in a time crunch I opted to only paint the section below the shelves and leave the top lighter.  I set up a small fan on a chair to give the drying process a boost. 

Once it was dry enough, I grabbed our drill and screwed in some hooks.  I screwed them right into the existing trim so they're extra secure.   I also had these simple shoe shelves from Meijer (just $10 each). I planned to use them in our boys' room, but they didn't work and they were the perfect side-by-side fit in here.  Well almost...   

They fit with 1/2 inch to spare going wall to wall, but the quarter round along the baseboard took up just enough space that these would not sit flat on the floor.  So, I pulled off the quarter round and figured James could cut the trim pieces to fit around the shelves if we really wanted a more finished look. 

For now, we sort of forgot all about the missing quarter round because with just a little paint, a sprinkling of hooks, a few baskets, and some shoe shelves, we now have a high functioning sliver of a closet. 

Quick, easy, and budget friendly coat closet makeover

I've taken the hanging rods off of closets in exchange for hooks in the past, but this closet is quite small and we do keep multiple coats in here during the fall and winter months. Keeping the rod and a few hangers seemed a good way to store multiple coats and keep the hooks free for bags, purses, scarves, etc.

Quick and easy coat closet makeover

That woven basket keeps some of my running gear and gloves, while the bins up top hold on-the-go resupplies, tools, and off-season items.  

Quick, easy, and budget friendly coat closet makeover
Quick, easy, and budget friendly coat closet makeover

Definitely my favorite kind of project: quick, minimal investment, reuses what we already have on hand, and makes our lives less chaotic. Since I was able to use leftover paint and hooks I already had, the only cost was the $20 spent on the shoe shelves, but even if I did fork out the cash for hooks and a quart of paint, I think this could have easily been an under $50 project. Cheers to that!

Quick, easy, and budget friendly coat closet makeover

Organizing and Storing Christmas Decorations

Deme Crinion2 Comments

I'm probably waaaay behind the power curve (and disclosing my complete slacker status) with this post as most of you probably packed up the tinsel weeks ago. But if there happens to be any fellow Christmas clean-up procrastinators out there, this one's for you!

Great tips for how to organize and store Christmas decorations.

I shared this photo on IG and it sounds like a least a few of you have similar looking dining rooms at the moment:

I finally finished purging, organizing, and boxing it all up yesterday and feel like I can breath again.  I did things a little differently than years past and thought I would break down that simple process today for anyone that needs a little encouragement.


The end of the season is always a good time to take a look at what you have, what you actually used, and what things you most enjoyed or added to the season.  We're at a point that we're craving more simplicity in basically every facet of our lives, Christmas decorating included. I used a lot more greenery than I have in years past and want to go more that direction in the future. Less chotchkies, more natural elements and accenting what's already there.  Hopefully that translates to less to pack/store!

I already purged quite a bit when we moved, but it seems every season we find or receive new things to add to the decor stash.  Which means we need to weed out some of the old if we don't want to end up adding a bin to our supply every year.  

If anything was broken, crunched, missing pieces, or otherwise falling apart it went in the trash.  If I haven't glued on St. Joseph's head by now then it's probably not ever going to happen.  In the past I haven't put out every single thing from the bins.  So this year, If there was anything I left in the bin for 2 years in a row (or more) it went to a donation box.  Even if it was something I really liked.

Wipe everything down  

Let's face it.  Our Christmas stuff stays out for a good number of weeks and even if we dust/clean during that time, there's still plenty of dust o' gathering.  No one wants to crack open a decor bin come next Christmas to be greeted with a nice puff of dust.  Nothing says "Merry Christmas" like an allergy fit.  

This year I dusted most of the decor items with a Swiffer duster, but I took an antibacterial wipe to all the kids stuff so that I could be assured everything was clean and ready to be played with when I pull it out next year.  

Little People Nativity

For those cloth items like stockings and hand sewn decorations, I used a sticky roller to get off any lingering dust/fuzz.

Separate Into Categories

I started our Christmas take-down by directing the kids to go through the house, grab anything that qualified as "Christmas", and bring it to the dining room table.  From there I purged out the trash/donate items and was left with what we planned to keep.  

I could have just started packing it away and making a list of what was in each bin, but I thought I would try to make things a little easier on myself next year.  I started by sorting all the items into categories which ended up being Tree Decorations, Kids decorations, Advent Items, Books/Puzzles, and General decor.  

This gave me a better idea of how many bins I would need and in what size.  

Box it up  

There were some great comments on FB/Instagram about how to categorize and box up all your merry stuff.  Dwija said something that really made sense for me: some of us decorate in one fell swoop and others of us decorate over the course of days/weeks.  So she packs bins according to how they decorate in phases.  

I realized that my categories had fallen into a similar pattern.  We don't always put up Christmas and Advent at the same time, so dedicating the Advent items (Advent wreath, Giving Manger, Advent cards, Calendar) to their own box will make it much easier than trying to pull those items out of a larger bin.  On the same note, we usually spend a day finding and decorating the tree, another to the outdoor decorations, and yet another to sprucing the rest of the interior. So, everything we need for each of those events is together.

It's not that I didn't do this in the past, it's that I would put multiple categories into one big box, so the stockings and Elf would be in with the tree stuff, and I wasn't necessarily ready to put them all up at the same time.  Which meant the bin stayed out longer, half-emptied until I was ready to put out the rest.  Keeping the categories for each bin more specific and their containers smaller if needed was a key change that will hopefully make things easier in the long run.

I ended up with 1 large bin for the tree decorations/ornaments, 1 large bin for general decor, 1 medium bin for kid stuff, 1 medium bin for books and puzzles, 1 small bin for Advent, and another small bin for my white ceramic village. Within the bins I used smaller boxes and plenty of zip lock bags to keep items organized and contained.

nativity .jpg

I know many people have specific wreath holders (which I may invest in someday) but for now I stack mine inside a large trash bag and tie it up.

Label It 

It doesn't have to be fancy, but somehow creating a label that details what's inside each bin will make it super easy to grab what you need.  Next year I might be more motivated to create something cute, but this year I just used a sharpie and some large note cards.  I taped the labels on the outside of the larger solid bin and slipped them on the inside of the clear bins.  Then I moved them down to the basement and called it done!  

That pic was taken before I brought down the wreath bag and our outdoor decorations (2 light-up skinny trees, 2 light up deer, and one XL ziplock bag of bows/garland).  And I actually feel pretty good about bringing it all back up in approximately 354 days #dontfreakout

Hope that helps some of you that may not know where to start!  Or just be dragging your feet like me.  I admit the clean up sucks, but it sure does feel good to have a blank slate again.  Feel free to share any of your tips in the comments!

We'll be back later this week with an update on our entry.  3 months ago we had a major bathroom leak that damaged the last section of old flooring in the house (and thankfully didn't touch any of the new flooring!) and after working through some kinks, we've finally landed on a new plan.  So excited!


Holiday Card Station

Deme CrinionComment
I could have titled this "Cultivating the Art of the Hand Written Letter" or "How to Body Slam Your Inner Procrastinator", but I stuck to the middle ground.

This past year has been overwhelming and challenging and really amazing....all thanks to a little girl named Livy Joy.  Admittedly, survival mode was the name of my game and one of the biggest areas to suffer was correspondence. Which is sort of important since most of our closest friends and family are scattered across the country.  I was late remembering special days and one missed thank you note lead to another.

In the coming year, I'm hoping to redeem that.  And with the onslaught of holiday cards hitting my mailbox, there couldn't be a better time to start.  To set myself up for success, I put together my own little holiday correspondence zone.
Holiday card station

I took a cue from this letter writing station we made for our daughter last year. We set up an area where she would have everything she needed to write and send off a letter.
Letter writing station
She still loves and uses this all the time.  In fact, I plan to sneak a new set of thank you cards into her stocking and pop her gift list into her station so she can easily work on thank you's during the Christmas break.

I filled my own card station with much of the same.  I wanted a spot to manage our own Christmas cards, update my address book as new cards come in, and keep track of gifts/thank you's.  I also wanted to keep a few extra blank cards in case I needed an unexpected holiday greeting.
Holiday card station

Holiday card station

Here's the run down of what's inside:

-Our family Christmas cards/envelopes
-Thank you cards/envelopes
-Blank note cards/envelopes
-Notepad for gift/thank you lists
-Address book
-Clothes pin
-Branch from our tree #freearomatherapy

The Santa clothespins were a fun little DIY from a couple years ago that we use to display all the Christmas cards that come in throughout the month.  I stole one for this caddy and use it to keep outgoing mail together.
Holiday card station

Holiday card station

Having all the stamps right here instead of floating in my purse and random drawers throughout the house is (sadly) life changing.
Holiday card station

I keep this caddy on the desk in our kitchen, where most of our other household management tasks happen....making it easily accessible and super convenient.
Holiday card station

Holiday card station

The most important thing for me actually getting something in the mail is having ALL the things I need to do it in one spot.  Because laziness is strong over here and if I have to run all around the house for cards, then stamps, then my address book,'s a lost cause.  Throw in a large mailing like Christmas cards and keeping track of thank you's - I need all the help I can get.

And so far, so good!  Sometimes the smallest changes make the biggest impact.  This is one of my favorite additions to our Christmas decor (if you can call it that) thus far. It only took me a few minutes to put together and it's already saving me time and sanity.  You can't beat festive and functional!

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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How To Transition To A New Schedule. And Stay Alive.

Deme Crinion4 Comments
Hey friends!  Let's talk about September for a quick sec....

WTF?!?! It's such an odd month.  

We just had a week of crazy high temps - the warmest all summer - and while my brain wants to be thinking about pumpkin spice latte's (they're here!!) it just can't seem to get past the hot, wet blanket of humidity outside.

September, you are such a tease. You taunt me with one week of glorious fall weather, in which I begin to pull out my boots and favorite sweaters....and then you swiftly crush my autumn dreams, snatching back those crisp mornings as you deliver another two weeks of frizz inducing misery. 

It happens every year, so let's just call it like it is.  You're summer.  My brain will always want you to be fall, but you're not.  You're the transition month and I'm trying not to hate you.  Especially with my favorite month-child October right on your heels. 

You steal my joy with your wackadoodle weather and you push my every limit by requiring early wake-ups for school and some sort of organization lest I drown in paper correspondence and laundry.  I don't always want to simply survive you, September, but I think you can see the struggle.  

OK.  I feel better.  Is September messing with anyone else out there?  

It's rough enough transitioning from lazy summer days to having to be out the door at a certain time (even though we all crave the return of a structured routine).  But throw in the tease of fall weather in between mostly blazing days and I feel like I'm merely trying to avoid the fetal position.

We're three weeks into school and clearly we haven't yet hit our groove.  I'm certain our 5 year old was attempting some America Ninja Warrior move when he fell off the monkey bars at recess, breaking both bones in his wrist just one week into school.  So, maybe we'll take a pass for needing a bit longer of an adjustment period.

The biggest struggle I have (aside from my toddleresque attitude toward the weather), is that fall brings a certain boost of energy with it.  I've always preferred the cooler months and when school hits, an organizational kick tends to come with it.

But of course I don't tackle this in any sort of reasonable way.  It's like a new years resolution on steroids.  With the start of school I determine that I will.....

-get up early before the kids and have quiet time before they wake up
-prepare all the things the night before
-work out 5 days a week
-meal plan and reign in our grocery budget
-get into a regular cleaning routine
-assign a time for work/blog related tasks
-assign a time for personal stuff like responding to emails, reading, etc.
-keep in better touch with friends

All good things, all good things, right?  But slightly intense when you haven't been doing any of them consistently for awhile.  

I've tried many ways of doing this in the past, from scheduling our day down to the minute (too much rigidness, much stress), to allowing the day to flow naturally from one thing to the next (not enough structure, mucho chaos).

I will often draw up a schedule I think will work, only to find myself overwhelmed and defeated.  I tend to fall into two traps and this year I'm making a conscious effort to address those problems.

Problem #1: Creating a schedule that looks good on paper, but doesn't play well to our strengths or natural tendencies/preferences.

Any time you make a change to your routine or create new habits, it takes time.  There's a transition period in which your body is fighting and shouting profanities as you roll out of bed at the unfamiliar hour of 6 am.  This is the normal discomfort of developing a new habit.  But there is also the pain that comes from working against your natural rhythms/makeup.

Case in point - I am not a morning person and never will be. The difficulty is not just in waking at an early hour, it simply takes me a long time to actually wake up.  No matter the time I get out of bed, it always takes a good 30 min of being up and about until I'm awake enough to have my head in the game.  But my life simply doesn't allow me to sleep in as late as I would like.  I have no choice but to change this part of my day.  However, since I know I'm not a morning person, I've learned that I can make things easier or harder on myself by what I schedule for the morning.

If I leave showering, getting dressed, making lunches, checking backpacks, and finding everyone clean socks until the morning, well...just say a prayer for my poor children. We won't be off to a good start.

Instead: Create a daily routine that meets the requirements of our weekly obligations, in a way that doesn't make us crazy. 

Some things are non-negotiable (work/school times, lessons/extra curriculars, naps).  I write those in first and then look at my flexible items. Where would they best fit in the schedule? If I'm not sure, I start paying attention to how I feel after certain activities.

A lot of parents take their kids to school wearing their workout clothes and head straight to the gym after school drop off.  I thought this would work great on the days that Jack goes to preschool and I get a little break to myself during Liv's morning nap.  I could drop him off, come back, put the baby down for a nap, and squeeze in a workout.

But I don't really have time to workout and take a shower.  Which means I end up staying in workout clothes and then try to squeeze in a shower at some point during the day....and then try to find time to dry my hair....and then another few minutes to maybe put on some make up.  And then I feel as thought I've basically spent the whole day just trying to get dressed.

This may be just fine for some people, but I'm not in a great mindset when I go through the day this way.  I've learned that I feel so much better and somewhat accomplished when I get up and get dressed. It's really hard for me to get going in the mornings, so getting dressed forces me to wake up just a little bit more and be ready for whatever the day requires.

Problem #2:  LET'S DO IT!  The overzealous, cold turkey approach.

This will certainly work for many, but I've come to accept that I do not experience much success with this method.  I'm a perfectionist and put a lot of pressure on myself.  When I feel like I'm not measuring up or not succeeding, I tend to curl up in a hole incapable of doing anything. #ohthedrama

I end up doing a whole lot of thinking about what I want to be doing, and not a whole lot of actual doing.

Instead: Focus on one change to the routine each week. 

Now obviously, I have to go through an entire day, but where in the past I would have jumped into a totally new routine trying to fit in ALL the new things, this time I'm refining one thing at a time. #avoidscheduleschock

By default, week one was all about waking up early.  How long does it take to form a new habit?  2 weeks? Who knows.  After 3 weeks it still hurts to wake up early, but I'm actually getting out of bed after only one snooze on most days.  Occasionally, my morning person of a better half has to get me out of bed, but the 6 am alarm is not as much of a shock as it was a couple weeks ago.

Last week I played around with how to fit in that elusive work out.  While my day is a thousand times better when I start by getting dressed and ready, I also feel much better when I exercise a few days a week.  I have some back issues and am really feeling the strain from my awesome postpartum abs (read: zero core strength).

I played around with how many times a week, what time of day, etc.  I still haven't totally cracked this nut, but so far, the best compromise seems to be a workout later in the day and a shower at night.  That evening shower also helps me decompress from the day and is one less thing I have to do in the morning.

This week I'm going to work on meal planning (like maybe actually having some sort of a plan) and a better blogging/writing routine.  I have a hard time working in small chunks, especially when it comes to writing.  Which is sort of unavoidable at this point in my life, but I'm going to try doing the bulk of my post writing on the weekends.  That would leave other blogging tasks that can be tackled in small doses (photo editing, projects, social media, etc) for the weekdays. Has anyone else has success with this?

We're also taking this approach with the kids.  Because the only bigger non-morning person than the mama around here, is a blond haired third grader.  Those first weeks we worked on getting the kids to bed at a decent time, setting out clothes the night before, and adjusting to the new wake-up time.

Then we played around with the best time/place for homework, and not leaving a trail of shoes, backpacks, and lunchboxes in the middle of the floor.  Seriously.  This one might break me....the irony of the empty hooks and shoe cabinet surrounding the littered floor.  Oy.

But we'll get there!  A little bit at a time. We're never going to stick to a schedule perfectly and life is such that we constantly need to adjust. But having a good daily rhythm can allow space for all those things we have to do and most of the things we want to do.

If you're feeling overwhelmed by new routines and busier days, maybe choosing just one thing to focus on for a few days will help you feel a little less overrun. I give you permission to let the rest go for a bit.

Has anyone else been feeling this overwhelm?  Is the weather making anyone else crazy? What's the biggest adjustment for you during fall?

Thanks so much for reading! We would love to hang out!
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