The “On-the-Go” Box…a mom’s secret weapon!

Today, I had an epiphany, my car needed an “on-the-go” box. It seems that while my car is clean of “stuff”, there are times when items not kept in the car would actually come in handy. Thus I created an “on-the-go” box to solve this problem.

What is an “on-the-go” box? Quite simply it is just a small plastic box with a lid that latches on and is filled with items that myself or my 5-year old daughter may need/want occasionally. Oh, and the best part is… it’s small!

I used a clear box (9x12x2) I had previously purchased at Wal-Mart a while back. This box had a lid that snaps on and latches on each end of the box keep it secure. I really like this size/type of box…why don’t I have more? Hmmm…may have to remedy that when needed.

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Now to what is in the box. I included general items, mom-only items, and kid items.

For my daughter, I included:  one 9×12 drawing pad, 12-ct colored pencils, earbuds, bubbles (sealed in a ziplock bag), one travel-sized game, and three types of playing cards. Depending on the frequency of use and her ever-changing interests, these items will probably be changed out periodically.

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For myself, I included: lip balm, spare sunglasses, herbal tea, and one protein bar. I also included some feminine items but left them out of the picture to spare any male readers.

For general items I included: sunscreen, bug spray, small scissors, a flashlight, band-aids, gloves, and Neosporin in another ziplock bag and three extra large ziplock bags. Oh, and I came across my small hand sanitizer and two wrapped straws so I included those as well (but they are not in the photo).

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After packing it all in neatly and wrote out a label that I taped to the inside of the lid facing out. The box now sides in the back of my car but could easily slide under a seat.

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Perhaps this post with inspire you to create your own “On-the-Go” box. What would YOU include?

 

DIY Coffee Cup Display

This summer is THE summer for projects. The school year is over and the schedule is now full with organizing, DIY projects, and catching up on my blogging!

Recently, after scouring Pinterest for ideas on how to deal with the large amount of coffee cups we own, I came across pins that showcase them hanging on the wall! How genius!

As part of purging and organizing the kitchen, I decided to make my own. It was super easy and relatively cheap. In the post below I’ve detailed how I made it.

Everything was purchased at Home Depot, although I’m sure you could get the same materials at Lowe’s or other home improvement store. The most expensive I bought were the hooks. In retrospect, I should’ve used some old spoons with character and bent them into hooks. However, I think this looks great. Even my husband was impressed!

Coffee Station 1

Here is my purchased materials list:

  • Three 1″ x 3″ x 3′ “Bed Slats”  (located on the aisle with all the common boards)
  • One 1″ x 2″ x 6′  Poplar board (located on the same aisle). You will need to have the store cut this into three 2-foot sections or you can do this at home with a circular saw or hand saw.
  • One 1″x 2″ x 4′ Poplar board (located on same aisle). You will need this board cut into 8-in pieces for Step 11.
  • One small can of MinWax Wood Stain in Classic Gray (the smallest can)
  • Three 8-count packages of hooks (over by the key machine on the aisle with drawer pulls, etc.).  Notice, my project only has 21 hooks so I have 3 left over to use for a future project. The number of hooks you actually need will depend on how many cups you want to display.

Here are the materials I already had on hand:

  • One cheap bristle paint brush (not a chip brush, mine has black “plastic” bristles)
  • Approx. 9 to 12  1-1/2″ screws
  • Approx. 6  2″ screws
  • Newspaper (to protect your work surface)
  • Small drill or electric screwdriver with the screw bit to match the head of your screws
  • Circular saw (or hand saw)
  • Measuring tape
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Black sharpie (or pencil)

Here are the steps I used to create the display:

Step 1: Measure and mark off three, 2-foot sections on the long 6-foot poplar board. Using a circular saw, cut the 6′ poplar board into three 2-foot sections on the markings.

Step 2: Layout newspaper over your work surface and lay the three bed slats and the three 2-foot poplar sections on the newspaper.

Step 3: Gently shake the can of stain to ensure it is mixed well and use a flathead screwdriver to pry open the lid. Using the bristle paint brush, apply the stain “sparingly” to each board – one edge, then the face, the other edge, both ends.  I used a very light coat so I could see the wood through the stain.

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Note: I did not paint the back sides for two reasons: 1) no one would see them once the display was mounted, and 2) it made staining easier since only the exposes face, edges, and ends needed stain and I did not have to worry about flipping the boards over. 

Step 4: Let the boards dry. Mine were ready for assembly in about a half hour. Drying time will depend on how much stain is applied. More stain? More drying time.

Step 5:  Lay the three 2-foot poplar sections on your worksurface , oriented north-south and approx 17″ apart.

Step 6: Lay the three bed slats on top of the poplar boards, oriented east-west, with the “top” slat flush with the top edge of the poplar boards and the botton slat extending approx. 2″ below the bottom edge of the poplar boards. The middle slat is approximately 7″ from both the top and bottom slats.

Step 7: Working on the left end of the TOP horizontal slat, and keeping it flush with the top edge of the poplar, use one screw to secure the slat to the poplar board. Be sure to screw into the slat first and continuing into the poplar board beneath it.

Repeat Step 7 on the far right end of the slat. Finally,  repeat Step 7 to secure the middle of the slat to the middle poplar board.

The end of the slat is FLUSH with the edge of the poplar. The edge of the slat is FLUSH with the end of the poplar (see pic below). 

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Step 8:  Now move to the BOTTOM horizontal slat and repeat the process from Step 7 again. making sure everything is SQUARE before you secure the middle

Step 9:  Making sure everything is SQUARE before you secure the middle slat, repeat the process from Step 7. This time, however, you only need to ensure that the ends of the slat are flush with the side of the polar board beneath it. 

Step 10:  Centering a hook to align with the vertical poplar board, mount a hook on each end and in the middle of each slat. Repeat this process for the middle and bottom slats (see picture above).

Step 11:  For the two interior hooks that sit between the end the middle hooks, place one hook about 5-1/2″ from the hook on the end and about 5-1/2″ from the middle hook.  You can certainly adjust this placement depending on how many hooks you are using, how big your cups, are, etc.

Note: The screws included with the hooks may be a little too long for the two hooks mounted only through the slat.  With the extra poplar board, measure off a 8″ pieces, place it behind the slat where the two interior hooks will be mounted. The long screws will go through both the slat and poplar piece and secure everything together. Other options include sawing off protruding portions of the screws, use shorter screws you may have on hand, or just let it be since once mounted, no one will see or feel any portion of a screw that comes through. 

Now to mount your finished project!  

Step 12: Position your finished project where you want it and secure it to the wall using a 2″ screw just below the top horizontal slat on the middle poplar board. Secure the project using another 2″ screw just above the bottom horizontal slat on the same middle poplar board.  Repeat this same process for both poplar boards on the left and right. This will give you a total of six screws into the vertical poplar boards to mount it securely to the wall. Always locate and drill into studs whenever possible! 

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Finally, decorate your new faux shiplap mini-pallet with your prettiest coffee cups! Mine hangs above my two coffee machines. I LOVE it!

Coffee Station 1

A Blog Reorganized

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Such an ironic title, “A Blog Reorganized”. Truth be known, it’s about time. Starting a blog is easy. Creating a purposeful and interesting blog is not.

In my journey to always look for areas of my life that could use a little improvement, this blog is no exception. Recently, I stumbled across a new platform, Edublogs, specifically designed for educators. Can we say “light bulb!”?  It makes more sense to post my educational musings on my new, secondary blog LearnServeLead.

Making this change allows me to simplify  and organize this blog. After all, isn’t that the purpose of this blog in the first place? Yes, I believe so! Blogs are an organic, ever changing, extension of ourselves. With renewed purpose, Integral Organizing will focus on organizing strategies, DIY and other creative projects and my new favorite bullet journaling.

I hope you continue this journey with me as this blog continues to evolve.

Blessings! 

Jennifer Lynn

Spicing Up the Bathroom Counter. 

      How many of you are like me? I suffer from limited bathroom counter space syndrome. This daily dilema was making me “crazy”!  (*Note: The following post may contain an affiliate for products available at Amazon.com.  Purchasing products through these links does not increase the price paid by the consumer. See full disclosure at end of post.) 
    

      Enter retail therapy. Not the kind you normally think of, rather a purposeful retail purchase. I recently purchased four wooden Ikea spice racks. Each took about two minutes to put together and another two minutes to mount on the bathroom wall. 

The result?! AMAZING! Even the Mr. was impressed! 

I put two on each side of the bathroom counter. Everyting that is normally scattered haphazardly all over the counter now sits neatly on the walls. 

The natural pine color has inspired me to repaint the bathroom with a light and airy color like a soft gray or seaglass green color. It is time for a change to a spa oriented bathroom. Eeekkkk! So excited for a new project. 

These simple wooden spice racks totally transformed this space. As a result I have ordered a few more to strategically place in a another area or two. 

Blessings, 

Jennifer Lynn

*Note: there is an affiliate link in the post above. Integral Organinzing is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com. Purchasing products through these links does not increase the price paid by the consumer. 

14 Days of Valentines

     Tuesday is Valentine’s Day. What did you get for your “sweet baboo”? What scrumptious treats have you whipped up for your little loves? Okay. Okay. What’s a blog post without a little cheese? Ooooo…picture it. Cheese, wine, music. Perfect for Valentine’s Day!

     This year I was thinking of trying something new, a twist of sorts, on the Twelve Days of Christmas. Hold on to your screen… I call it the 14 Days of Valentines. Creative right?! (Well, at least I try to be creative.)

     This year’s brainstorm came from wondering what to give my husband for Valentine’s Day. Many years Valentine’s Day often feels like an “all or nothing” sort of day. It seems to be an over-the-top extravaganza or the polar opposite. My love and I have been together for seven years and between us there are two full-time jobs, four kids, college courses, and house projects. While our three older kids are now out on their own, we have a five year old we are still entertaining. There is certainly not a lot of time for relaxing, let alone a date night. So, this is where some creativity comes in handy.

     Here is what I’m thinking for this year. Ready? Of course you are! Valentine’s Day is Tuesday and also a school/work night. For starters, I am going to make breakfast! Okay, who am I kidding? We will start our day with gourmet coffee and pastries on the way to work and school. Who can resist caffeine and sugar to get you going? 

     Next, I will put a love note in little miss Pre-K’s lunch box along with some chocolate and send a few sugary texts to my older kids and husband throughout the day. The Tuesday finale is a family dinner date out at a restaurant complete with the most decadent dessert we can order. The focus is on family and food the two things I love the most.

     Now, the BEST part. Starting Wednesday, the 15th, I plan to have some little “treat” of some sort for the Mr. and little Miss PreK each day through the rest of the month. I’m not talking about lots of money or trying to out do Martha Stewart. Just a sweet way to extend the sentiment of Valentine’s Day. After all, why should it be only one day a year that we spread the love?

     Here are some ideas I came up with for my first annual “14 Days of Valentines”. These Valentine’s meant to be given after the 14th. One for each day of the second half of the month and in no particular order. If you have any ideas that would make this list better I’d love to hear them!

  • Daily notes in the lunch box (or other work bag) citing another reason they are loved. 
  • Find a motivational or encouraging quote & write it on a note where it won’t be missed. 
  • Create a playlist of his/her favorite songs. 
  • Create a picture collage of you and your love(s). 
  • Picnic in the park; don’t forget desert!
  • Ensure a chore / honey-do free day, plays games!
  • Have an after dinner brownie sundae bar complete with whip & sprinkles. 
  • Write all the little things you love about Him/Her (& the kids) on stips of colored paper, put in a clear fish owl with a ribbon and tag that says “You caught my heart, hook, line, and sinker.” 
  • “Breakfast in Bed” on a weekend morning. 
  • Host a Favorites Day – focus on the favorite activities, meals, etc. 
  • Bake up a batch of cookies or brownies with sweet sayings written in pink & white icing.
  • Tiny cologne / perfume with a love note waiting by the toothbrush in the morning.
  • Surprise lunch date (if you can have lunch in person) or surprise lunch at school.
  • A new clothing item or accessory with a note saying how they are the perfect accessory for you everyday.

So, there you have fourteen ideas to get you started. Of course, I could keep going but would rather hear the creative ideas you can add to the list! 

Blessings, 

Jennifer

     

     

     

    Accidental Minimalist

    So the past few weeks have been one wild ride! After an unfortunate classroom disaster over winter break, my classroom has been rebuilt and ready for learning!

    The previous version of the room was an explosion of color, posters, materials, supplies, and “stuff” accumulated over the past 13 years. These are two of the walls…

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    Needless to say, everything is gone. I mean really gone. The surprising thing I have learned is that I own way too much stuff. Of course, what teacher doesn’t? There are supplies and materials that are a must for teachers to teach and students to learn, but when I look at pictures of my old room, I am actually a little overwhelmed! Which, in turn, makes me think of my students. I’m sure many found it overwhelming and were just too kind and polite to ever let me know. The second thing I have learned is that life is too short not to count everything, good or bad, as joy and the people (and students) in your life make it all worthwhile.

    Well, this coming Monday my students and I move “back home” to our room. This day has long been anticipated. We are all excited!

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    As you can see this room is a blank slate. Tile floor instead of carpet. Clean white walls and a soothing blue accent wall replace the ugly wanna be pink cabinets. The best part is that I am actually HAPPY I am starting all over. It gives me a fresh perspective about what I will bring back into the classroom. If it does not serve a purpose for teaching and learning, I will be thinking twice about whether it is necessary.

    It is exciting to have a clean slate. There is a lot of educational things to replace but even that will be an adventure in resourcefulness and creativity to keep things to a “minimum” but not have a classroom that is too sterile. That is just as bad as having a room that is overwhelming. I also plan to “cozy” it up a bit with soothing, neutral curtains, a few family pictures and such but keeping it minimal of course.

    It is amazing how I now realize how much we own that we don’t even know we have! This, of course, has my brain working overtime. As far as my classroom, I can get creative in classroom organization, storage, and a soothing, neutral decor theme.  In contrast, could I take on this same mindset at home? Do we really need all the “stuff” that lines are shelves, fills our closets and spills out of our drawers? No. We certainly do not.

    I am inspired to take one room at a time and really pare down and purge things we are holding onto for no real reason other than we bought it or it was given to us. I’m wondering, no, I’m hopeful that I will be able to make the tough decisions and follow through to the end. The next few months will be interesting and exciting.

     

     

    January 2017 Kickoff to an Organized Year Part 2

    How have you been during this first week of 2017?

    If you are anything like me, the post-holiday busyness made this week fly by at the speed of light. Last week, my post focused on a to-do list for January that centered on everyday things to get done to get the new year off to a great start. This week, I’m including a calendar. Actually, I’m including two!

    The first calendar is comprised of the suggested items from the January 2017 Kickoff list scheduled in a “do a little each day” fashion. You will find the majority of the to-dos are scheduled during the first two weeks of January. Saturdays alternate between family time and projects, date night time is suggested, and Sundays are reserved for rest. The rest of the month is ready for you to personalize the top three priorities for each day. Remember, consistent daily progress is better than a day-long sprint. One thing for sure, trying to do everything all at once or doing way too much way too soon and any to-do list is doomed before it gets started. Trust me, burning the candle at both ends and from the middle out at the same time is not good.

    The second calendar is more generic. The kickoff topics are noted above the top “notes” area and each day is ready for you to decide what works best based on your goals. Let’s face it, my suggested schedule is just that, mine. Your ideal schedule, pacing, and even items will and should be as unique as your life.

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    Now that you’ve chosen the best version for you to print, it’s time to decide what is most important and fill in the details. Don’t forget to include plenty of time for yourself, your spouse / partner, and family to rest, relax, and rejuvenate. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun! After all life is a journey and little bit of organization goes a long way.

    Blessings,

    Jennifer Lynn

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    January Kick Off to an Organized Year Part 1

    It is that time of year, the quiet lull between Christmas and New Year’s. The time to grab a cup of coffee, your favorite pen and notepad, and make a list of things to do for getting the new year off to a great start!

    I’m not necessarily talking about New Year’s Resolutions, rather the ideas we want to bring to life that are attainable and purposeful. Each year I vow to lose 60 pounds, make up for lost time with family and friends, get debt-free, etc. Each year, I miss the mark. Until now.

    Rather than create a bucket list of lofty goals and ideas, I use this time between the hustle, bustle, and holiday reverie to think about actions to set myself up for success in the new year. Success, for me, is being ahead of the game on appointments, bills, celebrations, menu planning, and so on.  In addition to caring for my family, I am a full time math teacher. It is important for everything in my life to be purposeful so I can be the wife, mother, teacher, and friend I can.

    My time is very valuable and being organized and as stress free as possible is key. The following list are ideas for starting the year off organized and ready handle daily living, home keeping, and work life. I’m sure it is not inclusive as we all have different journeys. Perhaps my list is more than you need or perhaps there is something not included that you might add. Is your coffee ready? Do you have your pen and paper handy. Let’s get started on our initial list for January. 

    *Note: there is an affiliate link in the post below. Integral Organinzing is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

    January To-Do Kickoff List

    1. Purchase and set up a new calendar, planner, or bullet journal for the upcoming year.
    2. Schedule medical, dental, and vision appointments for the year for yourself and all family members. Record each appointment on your calendar.
    3. Inventory and purge medications and supplements taken daily. Make note of any medications to be refilled and call your doctor.
    4. Schedule salon appointments for yourself and all family members for the year. Yes, record these on your calendar as well.
    5. Update contact, birthday, and anniversary information for all family, friends, and contact info for businesses in your address book. Don’t forget to record birthdays and anniversaries in your calendar!
    6. Purchase new toothbrushes for all family members
    7. Replace filters: AC, fridge water dispenser, auto oil and air filters
    8. Check smoke alarm and carbon monoxide detectors for battery replacements.

    Little Actions with Big Payoffs

    1. Purchase birthday and anniversary cards for the year for family, friends, and colleagues plus a small variety of specialty cards (thank yous, best wishes, new baby, etc).
    2. Set up a cute basket or decorated box to store the special occasion cards (sorted by month or occasion), your address book, a book of stamps, stickers, and fun writing pens so you can quickly send love and wishes.
    3. Create a week or two of meal plans, including shopping lists for each week to keep on hand when time is tight. Don’t forget to include grab-&-go items for breakfast, snacks, or lunch on the run.
    4. Clean out your car, have it washed and detailed, have the oil changed and the tires checked.
    5. Create of list of home repair, including priority, that needs to be planned and budgeted.
    6. Create / review your budget for the year. Include non-recurring expenses, plan for savings, projects, and infrequent income cycles.
    7. Schedule time for 1 – 2 date nights per month and book child care now.
    8. Choose 1 – 2 special family activities or day trips per month and add them to your calendar now.

    Conquer Big Projects, little by little

    Identify only one “big project” you can reasonably accomplish for each month, or choose four “big projects” you could reasonably accomplish each season. Start with a brainstorm list, then pare down to an amount that is doable. Don’t try to do it all at once or even all in one year! Focus on purpose. Here are a few to get you started

    • Clean out clothing, shoes, and accessories and organize closets and drawers
    • Purge books, toys, games, magazines.
    • Organize (and purge) photos and memorabilia
    • Home improvement projects (DIY vs. contractors needed)
    • Write goals and plan baby steps for long-term projects like loosing weight, dumping debt, etc. Share these goal and plans with your loved ones, solicit their support, and invite them on the journey with you.

    Whew! What a great start to a list! What would you add?

    The January Kickoff List Part 1 is about to post and my coffee cup is empty. I look forward to sharing Part 2 – Monthly Calendar & Resources in the coming days. In the meantime, I hope this list has inspired you to create one that works for you.

    Blessings,

    Jennifer Lynn
     

     

     

    New Beginnings

    It is done. Grad school is over. The past year and a half has been full of highs, lows, tears, and cheers. Now I’m free to do so many things. 

    Why does this leave me with an empty feeling? Perhaps it is more the loss of an overbooked, overly stressful schedule. I’m a doer, an overachiever. Idle hands where never mine. Content with doing nothing is just not in my DNA. 
    Don’t get me wrong. I love relaxing, kicking back, and being lazy. It just doesn’t last that long. I get restless. I get a kind of “wanderlust” if you will for doing, creating, building, etc. 

    So here I am at a new beginning filled with all the excitement and insecurity that comes with it…and I’m ready. 

    I’m ready to take my career to the next level. Ready to finally purge & organize my classroom. Ready to pursue my side hobby of home organization & DIY projects for self and others. 

    I’m especially ready to spend precious time with my family and friends and chronicling a new road on this amazing journey. Come along with me, the best is yet to be on this one amazing journey.

    Blessings, 

    Jennifer Lynn