In my bag

In My Bag - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

In My Bag- Under the Monkey Bars blog

Classic tote :: Cuyana 
Wallet :: LODIS (mine’s 4 years old and still looks new)
Pouches :: One Truffle

Now that I’m tidying up my life, I need to decide which bags spark joy. This classic gray Cuyana tote I got for Christmas definitely does! It’s light as a feather, super soft, and sustainable. The company’s mission aligns with mine: fewer, better things. As I pare down what I own, I’m choosing quality over quantity. This timeless bag without flashy hardware goes with everything. It’s perfect for every day, and a great size for this busy Mom.

I’m totally in love with these pouches from One Truffle. I’ve had my eye on them for months. Everything in my bag goes into the clear pouches except my wallet, keys, phone, and sanitizer, making it super easy to grab what I need in a flash. My bag stays neat and organized with this system. 

Like most Moms, I manage to pack a lot in my bag so I'm always prepared!

Like most Moms, I manage to pack a lot in my bag so I’m always prepared!

In my Small Clarity Clutch
– The best cure for chapped lips: WAXALENE.
– Two kinds of LIP GLOSS so I always have just the right one.
– My favorite intensely thick HAND CREME.
SUNGLASSES won’t scratch in the pouch; no case necessary!
– Reusable COFFEE CUP SLEEVE because I’m super green and proud of it.

In my Large Clarity Clutch
– My bag hasn’t been without EPI-PENs since 2005.
– A REUSABLE BAG is an absolute must!
– My Great Aunt Flo’s pink leather CHECKBOOK stays close to my heart.
– Organic MINTS for the monkeys in case of emergency (you know the ones!).

What essentials do you carry in your bag?

Tidying Marathon

Tidying Marathon - Under the Monkey Bars blog

I completed one of my New Year’s Resolutions: I finally read The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo. Her book has been on my mental To Do list since it was published in 2014. I’ve procrastinated reading it because I knew that when I did, I’d have to start my tidying marathon.

But then Kondo pubished her second book Spark Joy, so I absolutely had to read that book before I could start, right? Just a wee bit of procrastination going on here. I just finished reading it, with tons of pages dog eared. The time has come for massive organization and tidying (insert scared face emoji). 

I come from a long line of ladies who keep things “just in case.” I remember needing odd items for school projects growing up. No matter what it was, my Mom always had it in the attic. Like magic! It was incredible. By the time my parents moved out of that house in Easton, the attic was filled with so much stuff that I’m surprised it didn’t collapse.

Since I’ve had a house of my own, I’ve never put anything in the attic. However, I have no qualms about storing things in the basement. What’s down there? 2 complete childhoods, 15 years of marriage, 5 houses, and every piece of paper the monkeys have ever created – among other things we don’t need. It’s a bit of a project to say the least.

I love to organize, but I hate to make a mess. It’s really because I don’t like to start projects that I won’t have time to finish. Aka, my basement. Every year “Clean out the Basement” is on my list of New Years Resolutions. Every year, I chip away at the stuff down there, but the amount we add is always more than I remove. Sigh.

The stuff in our basement takes up space in my head. It takes time out of my life. And now that I’ve read Kondo’s books, I know I must tidy it once and for all so that I can clear my mind and feel less heavy. I’m armed with a strategy and I’m motivated. Apparently this process can be life changing. We’ll see!

While I was reading the books, I had the urge to purge – which I normally get in January anyway. I made 3 trips to our local donation center already. I’d love to hunker down in the basement and get it done once and for all. But if I really want to use Kondo’s KonMari Method, I can’t.

According to the books, you must start your tidying marathon in your closet. The order of categories is important because if you start with easy things first, you’ll hone your decision making skills so that it becomes easier when you get to the more difficult items, like things with sentimental value. There’s a tiny problem with that principle.

Tidying Marathon - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Tidying Marathon - Under the Monkey Bars blog

My messy walk-in closet…where I stand and stare each morning.

See, I’m a collector. Not figurines or statuses. I collect clothes: sweaters, shoes, jeans, dresses, scarves, and belts. I have lots of “just in case” clothes, including items I’ve owned long before I met Don in the late 90s. The master bedroom in our house here in Newburyport has 3 closets. My super sweet and generous husband let me have 2 of them…and they’re both packed. Plus, I have coats in the coat closet and at least 6 bins of seasonal clothes and shoes in the basement (see that pile of plastic bins below?). Apparently switching your closet by the season is a big no no. Kondo says that all of your clothes must fit inside the closet and drawers in your room. I’m in trouble.

Tidying Marathon - Under the Monkey Bars blog

Welcome to my basement…it’s in dire need of tidying!

To follow the KonMari Method, you put every single item of clothing you own on your bedroom floor and bed. If you leave anything out, you have to discard it when you find it. That means I’ll have to carry up those 6 bins from the basement and empty the coat closet too. Here’s the problem: it won’t fit. And it will make a huge mess!

But I’m going to do it! I haven’t bought clothes since I started reading the tidying books. January sales are my favorite so it’s been quite an exercise in willpower. I’ve decided to reward myself with one new item in each clothing category when I’m done. I definitely need the motivation!

While my house looks organized, I know we don’t need all of the stuff we have. I spend way too much time picking up things that don’t have a place. The KonMari Method really makes sense to me — everything should have a place. It’s something my Dad always says. I’m an organized person but somehow, with all of our moves over the years, we’ve accumulated way too much stuff. I would love to live closer to minimalism and only keep what we need plus those things that truly make us happy and “spark joy.” 

Here we go! Join me in my tidying marathon. I’ll post after pictures of my closet and let you know how it goes. Have you tried the KonMari Method of tidying up? Any advice before I jump in headfirst?

This and That…

This and That - Under the Monkey Bars Blog

Happy 2016! How were your holidays? We had a blast skiing and sledding over winter vacation despite the lack of snow in New England. We found a balance between time with family and friends, as well as special time with just the four of us. Cuddling up by the fire with my monkeys was the best!

Who else is having trouble getting back in the swing? I’ve been busy restocking the house, catching up on laundry, and digging out of email. It was wonderful to disconnect for a week and a half, but boy does everything pile up!

January is one of my absolute favorite months. I feel the urge to purge and I have to go with it because most of the time I want to keep my stuff. I’m only a few chapters into Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up and I’m dying to dig my hands in. No shopping until I get this house in ship-shape! How’s that for motivation? 

Warning: this this glossary of Boston slang will cause fits of laughter whether you live in Massachusetts or not. I was shocked that Don didn’t know that “wiffle” is a boy’s short haircut, which is how we found this gem. Thank you Google!

Find out what kind of calls cops in ski towns receive in the Best of Stowe’s 2015 police blotter. More laughs, guaranteed.

What were your favorite holiday gifts? I’m in love with the little wool lamb that Bean made me (it looks nothing like the picture, which is why I love it more). Sweet Pea made us a glittery snowman plaque that we’ll hang proudly all winter. Also loving this clean eating cookbook, cozy slippers, and this tote

Turns Out Monkey Bars And Kickball Might Be Good For The Brain. Love this NPR story. Hopefully more school districts and states will jump on board. 

“A horse, a bachelorette and a unicorn walk into a mansion…” The Bachelor is back! Lots of interesting ladies, and plenty of characters. Another entertaining season ahead. I can feel my brain cells evaporating while I’m watching but I can’t look away (#addicted). Please tell me I’m not alone!

Kids Art

Kids Art - Under the Monkey Bars blogDesk + Hutch :: Pottery Barn
Desk Chair :: Pottery Barn
Task Lamp :: Pottery Barn
Office Storage :: The Container Store
Clipboards :: Target
Kids Art :: Bean + Sweet Pea
Wall Color :: Ben Moore Bennington Gray

Little Van Gogh’s create a ton of artwork. I’m always looking for a better way to manage, store, hang, and admire the monkeys’ masterpieces. Sunday it all came together and I finally managed to tackle the kids art situation in the playroom.

For $12, I picked up 6 composite clipboards at Target. I love how the natural color of the clipboards almost blend into the wall. There are tons of options for clipboards if you don’t like the composite. The monkeys absolutely love that we can quickly swap out the artwork. In fact, this is likely the 20th display we’ve created.

We also re-organized the desk since it hasn’t been properly cleaned since before school started. Our new system from the Container Store works really great so it didn’t take long to sort through a few paper piles and put away crayons, markers, and pencils that were in the wrong place.

I’ve had such an organization itch lately. It’s probably good timing before all of the holiday decorations emerge and the house becomes even more cluttered. In January, I’m going Marie Kondo on this house. Hold me to it!

How do you hang kids art at your house?

This and That…

This + That - Under the Monkey Bars

What are you reading? I just finished Beautiful Ruins, a novel by Jess Walter. It wasn’t what I expected at all – my favorite kind of book. Walter weaves a tapestry with each chapter, adding more depth to his story, taking you back and forth in time from Hollywood to Italy. An unexpected ending makes this novel shine even brighter. A must read!!! My favorite quote: 

Embrace the sweet lovely mess that is real life.

Life gives you lemons; make lemonade. I’m making this Blender Lemonade asap with coconut sugar. Brilliant, right? I’ll let you know how it turns out on Facebook. Summer’s not over yet!

Speaking of which…10 Things You Should Toss by the end of Summer

You might need these closet cleaning and organizing tips if you’re ready to roll up your sleeves and get busy cleaning out your closet. Some good tips in there. I usually do a big purge for Fall and then again in Spring. You?

This is an awesome article that I totally relate to right now: How to go from skinnies to boyfriend jeans. If I’m going to make the transition, I definitely need a how to guide. Slide 11 is speaking to me.

Who else needs a cheat sheet for texting and internet acronyms? IKR!

There’s a big event coming to my neck of the woods! The first ever Savor Newburyport looks to be nothing short of amazing for anyone who likes eating, shopping, and exercising. Wait, that’s me! Definitely check it out if you’re local. 

Happy Hump Day guys!