Friday, February 26, 2010

Magazine overload and organization

I like magazines.  I like receiving something in the mail each month that is just for me, and filled with recipes, decorating ideas and other fun tidbits that I can put to use in my daily life.  In recent years, though, I've been on magazine overload.  Some years, I've had 5-7 different subscriptions arriving each month!  That brings a lot of inspiration, sure, but it also leads to a bunch of clutter.  It was time to pare down the magazine stacks--in all, I estimate that I had over 400 magazines lying around my office.

Of course, some magazines are definite my issues of Martha Stewart Living.  Obviously. ;)

I kept all of my Family Fun magazines as well, though I have let that subscription expire for the time being.

Finally, I kept all of my Taste of Home magazines.  I have many complete recent years from having my own subscription, and My Big Martha keeps me supplies with back issues she finds.  I have issues going back into the 90's, and I have no intention of parting with these. 

But what to do with all the magazines I didn't want to hang on to?  This actually has an easy solution, and it's something I started doing years ago (and clearly got out of this habit in the past two years). 

I simply tear out the pictures/recipes/articles I want to keep....

And place them in three-ring binders for easy reference. 

To keep things organized, each binder is organized by topic (Desserts, Holidays, Life Lessons, etc.) and each clipping is kept in a protective plastic sheet. 

Now that I've pared down the magazine collection to a very manageable 150 or so, I plan to keep it under control by 1. not subscribing to so many magazines, and 2. making my practice of clipping and filing the useful articles a more regular habit. 

Now, what to do with all the magazines I no longer need? I'm guessing I have 250 or so that I am ready to part with. 

Readers, do you have any suggesions?  I'd love to hear them!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The Little Guy bakes a cake

A few weeks ago we celebrated My Big Martha/Grandma's birthday. The Little Guy helped make the cake. You can tell he's been helping me in the kitchen for quite some time by the ease with which he moves his hand from the mixing bowl to the mixer.

Keep in mind that the Little Guy is not yet 2 1/2. I'm just saying, that kid has talent.

And of course, talent like that must be rewarded:

We don't mess around in the TMI kitchen; here, we taking our baking very seriously.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Martha Monday--A message from Mark Ganem, Pets Editor at

Happy Monday, TMI readers!  Last week I received a comment from Mark Ganem, Pets Editor at, and I wanted to pass the information on to you:

"Barley is adorable! I'm the Pets editor of I just wanted to let you and your readers know about what we're doing to help adoptable animals like Barley. Right now, we're participating in the Purina ONE Tour for Heroes, which is crossing the country with donated food at 11 shelters. Also, every time you share an adoptable pet's profile from on your Facebook page, Purina ONE will donate $1 to help feed pets in need. Thanks for all the great work!"

-Mark Ganem, Pets Editor,

Hear that, TMI-ers?  This is a cause all animal lovers can support.

The Tour of Heroes is taking place now through February 26.  And each time you share an adoptable pet's profile with your Facebook friends between now and March 31, you help donate money to feed needy pets. 

Thanks for the heads up, Mark!  And thanks to everyone for supporting such a great cause.

Friday, February 19, 2010

Martha's cream scones

I made scones for the first time ever using Martha's cream scones recipe.  Here's what Martha's scones look like: 

Mmmmmm.  Just looking at the picture makes me want another.  Of course, with my batch, I added dried cranberries for some extra zing.

I used the food processor to mix the dough. 

My only complaint about the dough is that is was far stickier than I expected.  I added more sugar and flour in the mixing process, and a lot of flour was used on the work surface.

I used a 3" round cutter instead of two, and easily got eight scones from the recipe. 

They were delicious and reheated nicely in the microwave for the next day's breakfast.  I'm looking forward to making these just as the recipe states (without cranberries) and doing a cinnamon version.  Scone on!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A room of one's own

With all this baby talk recently, you might think I've forgotten about the Little Guy.  Not so!  In fact, one of his spaces got an upgrade...

The Little Guy has an area of the breakfast room filled with a child-size table and chairs, and a lot of his art supplies.  The crayon and coloring book clutter was getting out of control, so I decided that in organizing the space, we could make it more of an area just for the Little Guy. 

Here's the "before" picture...

All it took was two simple plastic file holders attached to the wall to clear up the clutter.  The Little Guy helped with the install, of course.

Crayons and markers are corralled in this handy plastic container.  I like this container so much, I bought a few more to hold little toys in the diaper bag and throughout the house. 
Now the space is all neat and tidy, and we're calling it the Little Guy's "Office." 

It's nice to have a room of one's own, even if it is just a small corner in the breakfast room. 

Monday, February 15, 2010

Martha Monday--and Barley's anniversary

Recently, Martha adopted a new dog.  Ghengis Khan (GK for short) is a descendent of Paw-Paw, Martha's beloved Chow Chow who passed away some time ago.  Still a puppy, GK has been featured on The Martha Stewart Show, the Martha Blog and on the Daily Wag, a blog "written" by Francesca and Sharkey, Martha's two Frenchies.

GK is super cute, but I have to say I prefer my own loveable hound, Barley. 

Barley has been with us for six years now.  To celebrate this anniversary, we got him a new pet bed.  He seems to enjoy it. 

As I've mentioned before, we got Barley from Chicago Animal Control.  If you have room in your heart, home and budget, please consider adopting an animal from a shelter.  Every happy home should include a happy pet!

Friday, February 12, 2010

A good thing--portable diaper caddy

We're just 13 days from the due date, and the TMI household is in full baby mode.  I wanted to share one of my favorite baby "good things."  It's a portable diaper caddy, and a real lifesaver for anyone who's just expelled another human being from her body and has no energy or strength to carry a baby any distance in order to change a diaper.

Trust me on this. 

Our portable diaper carrier will be kept in the family room.  It's a large plastic bin with a latching lid and filled with all sorts of helpful items. 

The caddy is filled with diapers, wipes, washcloths, a changing pad, vaseline and powder. 

As soon as I know what size Baby Girl is, I'll include a fresh onesie in there as well in case for when we need an emergency change. This also makes a great baby shower gift.  What a good thing!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The nursery

The countdown is on, and Baby Girl should be here soon.  Fortunately, the nursery is all ready for her.  The Big Guy and friend Jeff painted the room in mid-January. The color is Pineapple Cream.

The artwork above the bed is simple pictures of a duck, monkey and frog. The bedding is "Womb with a View" from Land of Nod.

This antique dresser (part of a much larger set that we'll use when our daughter is older) will double as a changing table. The hanging diaper caddy is at the ready.

The swing, bouncer and car seat cover have been washed and are ready for use. Obviously, these things will all go to other locations once the baby is born, but for now, they're in her room and out of the way.

Notice the dark curtains in the background.  They don't match anything in the nursery, but for a while it will be good to have the privacy and the darkness as we all cope with an interrupted sleep schedule. 

Monday, February 8, 2010

Martha Monday--Martha Gets Real

Martha Stewart has her own blog.  It's updated nearly every weekday, and filled with gorgeous pictures from her farm, her work, her travels and the wonderful fabulousness of her regular life. 

But every once in a while, Martha gets real.  She writes about something in her blog that reminds me, and all of her readers, that she is human and not (always) perfect. 

Last week, Martha shared on her blog that her closets were out of control.  My first thought?  "Riiiiigghhttt."

But then I saw the pictures...

Isn't that awful? That mess is out of control!  And look at this...

Martha's closets are total disaster areas.  And I love it.  Of course, Martha did take time to get everything nice and organized, but she admits that it took her several days.  Seriously.  Read the post for yourself!

Thanks to Martha for sharing not only the pretty/beautiful/gorgeous aspects of her home, but also the messy and imperfect ones.  It reminds me that no one is perfect, that any organized area can become a mess, and that with some time and hard work it's possible to fix it.  Happy Monday!

Friday, February 5, 2010

Good organization things for kids

Kids come with stuff.  A lot of stuff.  Stuff that can easily get out of control if efforts are not taken to organize it.  Here are some organization solutions (all from Ikea) for kids' stuff that work--really, really work--in the TMI household.

This storage system (Trofast) is strong, durable and built to be played on.  The plastic bins easily slide in and out (you can replace the bins with wooden shelves) and come in a variety of colors. 

Almost all of the Little Guy's toys fit in here, and we've managed to carve out a bin or two for baby toys.  Side note:  I love, love, love my label maker.  It completes me.

This frog prince has been very handy over the past year or so.  It's made for toy storage, but we use it as a diaper caddy.  Diapers in the bottom pocket, wipes in the middle pocket, and all the tiny items (meds, hair brush, etc.) go in the top bin.  Washclothes and lotion/powder are stored in the netted spaces.

Finally, these booksheves are too cute.  We have four in the Little Guy's room (mostly at his height) for book collections. 

Not all of our storage solutions come from Ikea, but when it comes to kids' storage needs, they are at the top of my list.  Good things!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Kitchen organization

My kitchen is probably my favorite room in the house. It's where I spend the majority of my time, and since I'm the primary cook/baker in the house, it's important to keep things organized and handy.  Here are some of my "good things" for the kitchen:

A calendar is a must.  Right now we're rocking with a free calendar from Dunkin' Donuts.  Bonus--it has coupons on it for each month.  I fight the temptation to buy one dozen donuts every day ($1 off coupon) thanks to this thing.

I use the calendar to keep track of birthdays, work schedules, menu plans and other appointments.  The TMI Family would be lost without it.

Take a look at the fridge: see the important organization tool there?  No? Gosh, I can't imagine why not.

The potholders are kept on the fridge with magnetic hooks.  This is a simple and cheap solution that keeps my oven mitts and potholders handy.  Get it?!? 

Finally, this last bit of organizational goodness comes from Aunt KB.  I saw this trick at her house years ago, and I don't think I've seen it anywhere else.

Tiny stick-up hooks are used for storing measuring spoons inside a cabinet door.  This way, those tiny things are never lost in some drawer, and I always know where to find them.  What a good thing!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Martha Monday--Getting organized

Did you know that 87% of all Americans vow to get their homes organized as their number one New Year's Resolution?
Did you know that of those 87%, only 45% get started on that resolution?
And of those 45%, only 7% form habits that last them into February?
And of those 7% who make it into February, 2% of them will decide that getting organized is just too difficult, give up all their possessions and become a nomad in Nepal? 

It's true!

Actually, no, it isn't.  I made all of that up. But it sounded good, didn't it?  I almost convinced myself.

Of course, many people vow to get their homes and lives organized every January 1st.  And again on February 21st, and on March 17th, and so on.  For many, getting, and staying, organized is a constant battle.  Fortunately, getting organized doesn't have to be a make or break resolution on January 1st.  February 1st is just as good a time to get started.  You can do it!

Martha can help you with this--she's the original organizational guru, after all.  Check out the section of Martha Stewart .com that focuses on household organization.  Martha has handy tips for what should stay, what should go, great tips for organizing small spaces, and how to store items for every room in the house. 

If you made the resolution to get organized in 2010, but haven't quite gotten started, now is a great time to get to it.  If you didn't even resolve to get organized because the task seems too daunting, don't be discouraged.  You can do this!  And if you made the resolution and stuck to it, then good for you.  How very Martha!