Episode #181: Organizing Your Home (Deep Dive)

This week, we are talking about organizing. How we keep the clutter at bay and our tips to get the rest of your family to stay organized. 

Plus, we are doing our book report on Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Mellors.

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Show Notes:

Kitchen Organization:

  • Think of how you cook, what you would reach for, and where.
  • Measure and make sure everything is where you want it before you buy organizers.
  • Decide if you want anything sitting out on your counter.
  • Silverware and flatware should be easy to get to.
  • Put clear containers in your pantry so you can see what you need more of.

Check out our post Everything You Need to Organize Your Home (By Room)

Emma’s Favorite Items to Organize With:

Elsie’s Favorite Items to Organize With:

Bathroom Organization:

Bedroom Organization:

Kids’ Toys Organization:

Off-Season/Holiday Decor Organization:

Listener Question: 

What do you do if your partner or kids are not organized at all and don’t follow the systems you put in place?

  • Loosely enforce it at first
  • Try to create the systems together
  • Don’t give up!
  • Miss an Episode? Get Caught Up!

Episode 181 Transcript:

Emma: You’re listening to The Beautiful Mess Podcast, your cozy comfort listen. This week we’re talking about organizing how we keep the clutter at bay and our tips to get the rest of your family to stay organized. Plus, we’re doing our book report on Cleopatra Frankenstein by Cocoa Millers. 

Elsie: Woohoo. Okay, so Emma has a funny story that she was saving to tell me on the podcast. I know it happened at the Home Depot. That’s all I know. 

Emma: Yeah, and it’s somewhat related to organizing, so this felt like a good episode. As probably listeners know, I’ve been living in our current home for about five months, so inching towards six months, so we’ve been here half a year. And we have this closet right by our front door in our entryway, that’s for coats. Pretty standard in lots of houses. We didn’t have this at our last house though. We just had a coat rack where we would put all our coats all winter long and for whatever reason when we moved into this house, it was missing the coat hangar pole. Where you put the hangers onto the pole, it didn’t have a pole, it had holes as if it used to have a pole, it clearly used to have one because it was already set up for it and this house was not. It’s not like a new build, people lived here before, so I don’t know what happened to the last pole or what, but at any rate, it didn’t have one and I kept thinking I gotta get that. But it just was one of those things that was never such a big priority that I went out of my way. It was like, today is the day I’m just focused on this closet pole. I was always like next time I go I’ll remember to measure before and buy that, but I just never remembered. So all winter long we’ve just been using our coat rack again and it’s just full of coats. Cuz Trey and I each have three or four coats. Oscar has three or four jackets and coats, and where we live, it can be freezing cold or there are days where it’s in between. Anyway, it’s just like this big eyesore full of coats. So I was finally like, all right I’m going to the Home Depot to get some paint, cuz I’m painting part of my office, my home office, I’m going to get that pole, I’m doing it. So I’m in the closet measuring cuz I gotta make sure I don’t buy one that doesn’t fit in the existing holes. So I measure, I get to the store, and surprise, surprise, so many of the polls are not the right size or they’re not long enough, they’re the right diameter, but then they’re not the right length or just how it always goes. So finally I find the one that I’m like, this is the one, this has to be it. It’s the right diameter. It’s way too long, but they have the stations, most hardware stores have this where you can cut it yourself. 

Elsie: I never knew that you could cut your own wood at a hardware store because I always ask them to do it for me. 

Emma: So when you’re in the lumber area, they will sometimes cut wood for you on this giant saw thing? It’s kind of like vertical I think very scary and they do it, you don’t do that. They wouldn’t probably let customers do that. You shouldn’t let me do it, that’s for sure. But in this area, it’s more like pieces of trim. So, that’s where these closet poles, poles are probably not the right word for it, I don’t know, but it’s like the trim area. So they’re pretty thin, small pieces, so I don’t even know if they’d work well on that lumber saw, cuz that’s more for like hardy pieces of wood. Yeah, this is like thinner, things that you could cut with a hand saw. But I must say the pole that I was cutting was one in-fourth diameter, so it was kind of thick. So anyway, I see though that that’s what I’m supposed to use, I do wanna cut it. I could take it home and see it, but I didn’t know if it would fit my car, I don’t have a truck because it was really long. So I was like, okay, I see that this is here for me to use, I can do this. I don’t ever use hand saws, like pulling it back and forth, like in a cartoon. I’ve only used circular saws, a skill saws like electric saws that kind of do all the work for you. This is more of a manual, and so I was like, all right, I can do that. No big deal. This is kind of thick, but it’s fine. So I measure, I measure, I’m getting ready to start sawing and this older man who worked at the store sees me and he’s like, oh, let me help you. Let me hold that for you. And I’m like, oh, thanks because this will be easier if someone else holds it, that’s nice, thank you. And I think he could tell that I needed a little help and he was correct. So he’s holding it and I’m sawing, and now I’m like kind of trying to not take up all of his time, but I was seriously like sweating, sawing through this piece of wood. I was not gonna ask him to do it for me cuz he was already offering to help me in a way that he didn’t really need to do. So I was like, all right I’m gonna do this. But I’m just sawing as fast as I can safely because I don’t wanna take all his time uhhuh. And then I also, I was just like sweating. And then two other older gentlemen who worked at the store kind of walked past as I’m finishing up and I get through the final saw and it’s clear that I’m panting a little bit and they just all like, I don’t remember exactly what they said, but they let out a little cheer like, hooray, good for you. Like they were worried for me or they were like, oh, you did it. We weren’t sure you could, but you did it. And I honestly was like, thank you. Because I was just sweating, but it fit. I got home and it fit and that’s the end of the story. And now we can use our coat closet. Very exciting. 

Elsie: I think it’s like a little bit, not rude, but like, Unnerving when people are watching me. 

Emma: Yeah. They definitely weren’t being rude. They were basically concerned Grandpas who was helping me. Yeah. They were a little concerned and they were helping me. I felt so embarrassed, but also like I wasn’t doing anything embarrassing, but I was sweating a lot, cutting this piece of wood. 

Elsie: That’s cute, Emma, thank you for sharing. That’s adorable and I will keep that picture in my heart.

Emma: I looked great. 

Elsie: So today’s episode is a deep dive into organizing your home. This is probably one of the common questions that we get a lot. Our blog readers and podcast listeners seem to really like to talk about organizing and learn about organizing. I think it’s just one of those relatable topics that we can all benefit from across the board, whether you’re like me and you’re like, I barely care at all, but one day a year I want everything to be perfect. Or if you’re like, everything matches and everything’s beautiful and gorgeous. I think that it’s just a good subject. So I’m excited for this week’s episode. 

Emma: Oh yeah, same. I am not the home editor, they are top-shelf. But, I love organizing. 

Elsie: I don’t think anyone thinks that they’re as good as the home edit, and that’s okay because it gives us something to aspire toward and anytime I put a clear container in my cart, I feel so good. I feel like I’m one step closer to being like Clea and Joanna. 

Emma: Same. I’m always like, oh, these clear containers. I’m gonna have my life together if I just buy these. 

Elsie: They have a certain magic, a certain aura. Okay, so our episode is organized room by room, and we’re gonna start off in the kitchen, which I think is a great place to start because if you’re just gonna organize one space, I don’t know if it would be the bathroom or kitchen, but I think those are the top two most like you can benefit the most from them. This is exciting for me because I’m about to move. I’m currently into buying supplies and I’m like packing boxes. I’m really in the thick of it right now. So I have been thinking a lot about how I wanna organize my new kitchen. And Emma has just moved into a new house and so she’s just organized her kitchen. So I think we’re pretty fresh on this subject. This is a good time for us. So do you wanna say your kitchen tips, any kitchen tips you have? Any favorite organizers, or any methods that have helped you? 

Emma: Yes, I like cooking. So this is just kind of a tip. Generally, if you’re like, I’m not sure where to put stuff, I’ve just moved into a new place. Where do I put my silverware? Where do I put my pots and pans? Hopefully, you have more than one tiny cabinet, if you have one tiny cabinet, then that takes all the guesswork away. You know where you’re gonna put everything. I stand in my kitchen and I think as if I was about to cook something, so I think of a common meal I might make like chicken wings or soup. And I think like what would I reach for and where would I want it to be because you want things to be pretty close at hand and then things that you don’t use as often, you can put somewhere higher up or lower down or somewhere that’s a little bit harder to reach. And I also think that silverware or flatware, whatever you wanna call it, should be very easy to get, because sometimes you have people over for dinner or lunch and you don’t want it to be something where they feel like they have to get into the very corner of a, of the kitchen where it’s impossible because they have to get around you while you’re cooking or whatever. It needs to be the easiest spot, I think where you should put your flatware. And I personally love those flatware organizers where they kind of fold out. Oftentimes they’re made of wood, but sometimes other things too. But it’s like it folds out. So depending on the width of your drawer, it can fit a number of different sizes, which is really nice because sometimes when you’re trying to buy a specific size, you get it in the mail or you get it from the store and you get it home and it’s like, half an inch or a fourth an inch, slightly different than the package said or whatever, and then it doesn’t fit, or it has this weird gap that’s not very useful. So I love the ones that kind of fold out. Those are awesome. 

Elsie: Yes, I love those as well. So I think that when you first move into a new house, If you have the chance, give yourself two weeks to just put all of your stuff without buying any organizers, without really buying anything. Just put all of the stuff you have in the drawers, in the cabinets where you think it should go, and give yourself a couple of weeks to live with it that way, and make sure that it really is practical because there are certain things where that you, pull out together while you’re making dinner or breakfast. We have a very routine life with like little kids and making meals for them. It’s like the same things every day. I think to give yourself a moment before you order all these organizers because the thing about the organizers is that you do have to measure, if you do it without measuring, it won’t work. It’s very important to measure every little thing before you buy them all and then you buy them all and then you’re probably gonna have to return some, it’s kind of a whole thing. I think it was great when the home edit organized my kitchen the first time they brought massive amounts of container store bags in, and then they spent all day, putting all the stuff in, whatever, and then they took all of the extra stuff at the end and returned it, which I thought was so smart. 

Emma: That’s what they do on their show pretty much every time too, is they have tons and tons and then they see what fits. 

Elsie: Yes. And I think that that’s really, really smart. And also you just don’t know exactly what you need. So anyway, my tip is to just make sure that you have the placement right before you buy all of the organizers because once you buy them, if you move stuff around afterward, then the sizes might be wrong and you might like to freak out.

Emma: I personally love a very decluttered space, so I don’t love a ton of stuff out on the counters all the time. I feel like life just things will be out on the counters. Yeah. So I don’t even need to plan for it. That being said, as you know, we’re always gushing over Nancy Meyers kitchens, and you’re just really generally movie kitchens, and a lot of times they have hanging pots or they’ll have pastries and a little cake stand out. So I do think thinking through anything that you want out on a counter all the time versus something that needs to be out on the counter but you don’t necessarily want it there. We often have wet wipes all the time because our son is a toddler and the way he eats it’s very sticky and just messy. So I actually have a place in a drawer where the wet wipes always are so they don’t have to sit out on the counter all the time cuz it’s just not the cutest little container ever. It kind of makes me feel like I’m changing diapers on my kitchen counter, which we’re not. So it has a hidden spot. But if you have things that are gonna sit out all the time and you want them to sit out all the time, then after you’ve really figured that out, not necessarily day one, but then you can buy a container that might make it cuter or just make it feel more like your space. 

Elsie: That’s a good idea. I have been collecting all of the drawer organizer type of things and even this morning I was like working on picking out. The glass tupperware with the bamboo lids, so I can put some of those links into our show notes. There are so many good organizers for your drawers that make it feel like custom cabinetry, but you can just buy them really normal places. There are drawer inserts that do just knives. There are ones that help you have a drawer with dishes is my dream. I’m so excited. I think we’re gonna be able to do it on our new island. Instead of having your dishes up in a cabinet, have them in a drawer where you can just pull them out. I don’t know, just a little more comfortable. And then pots and pans and pantry stuff for sure. There are so many good organizers. So I’ll put some links in the show notes. 

Emma: Yeah, we used to always have a knife block on our counter. And then when we moved to this house, I decided to do one in a drawer, had a really large drawer, and so I tried one of those, the knife block that goes inside of a drawer and we love it. It’s still so easy just to grab a knife when you need one, but it just again, feels like less clutter and less stuff out, which we still have stuff out all the time. Like when I’m cooking, my countertops are full of stuff. But just when things are finally clean, you have your moment of zen. It’s like there’s nothing and it feels really nice. 

Elsie: Yeah, that’s wonderful. Is there anything else you did in your new kitchen as far as organizers that you really liked? 

Emma: Obviously I got my hidden trash again, which is always my kitchen dream. 

Elsie: Talk about that for a moment because I know our people have been listening for a while know Emma has this weird obsession with hidden trash, but can you explain like why? 

Emma: I will say I do feel a little like now I know if I go over to a friend’s house and they happen to listen to our podcast, then they might know that I’m judging their trash if it’s not hidden and I’m not. You can do whatever you want. This is just what I want. This is my, yeah. Happiness, which is the trash is hidden. You can’t find it. People have to ask you where it is because I feel like when your trash can is out, I don’t know if I’m just the messiest person in the world or what, but I feel like they can always get kind of dirty. It’ll get a splash of tomato sauce on or whatever from you’re cooking or you’re cleaning something up, whatever. And it’s just kind of gross and so I like that things are a lot more, you pull out the hidden trash and it’s just a lot more contained and I love it. And ours, I think most of them are like this, it’s like trash in the front, recycling in the back. So you have both of them there, which is really nice. And people have to ask you where your trash is because they can’t find it. And I always think, ah, I’ve arrived when someone asks. I’ve got the fancy where you don’t know where the trash is. So I just really like it. I think there are a lot of benefits to it. 

Elsie: Yeah, I agree. I think it’s really nice to have, I don’t know if I have the passion for it that you have, but I do like not having to have a standalone trash can in the kitchen is definitely nice. 

Emma: One other thing in our kitchen is pantry stuff. So I feel like this is the thing I hear once in a while when friends also know about the home edit, watch the show, or just love to follow them on Instagram. Do you really have to put all your food in clear containers or do you really have to put little packages of cookies in the whatever? I don’t feel like I cared as much when I didn’t have a kid. But now that I have a kid, we have like rows of apple sauces and all his little granola bars in a little spot that’s open and you can see it. And I’ve gotta say, the thing I love most about it, other than you can just grab it to give it to ’em, is I can tell when I’m almost out because it’s so frustrating when you open a box, a cardboard box and it has kernel bars in it or something and you reach in and there’s only one left and you weren’t planning to go to the store anytime soon, and you’re like, this is the one thing he’ll eat right now. It’s just like a moment of panic where you’re like, I’ve gotta pie more of this and now I don’t have any time because I didn’t know I was almost out. I love being able to see how many and this is mostly for snacks, but I also really like it for things that I don’t use every single day. We make risotto fairly often, so we have this certain kind of rice that we use for risotto. Sometimes we won’t make it for two or three weeks, or whatever. So then if I’m almost out, I’ve definitely forgotten about it. So then if I have it in a clear container, I can see, oh hey, you’re almost out of that. You should buy it next time you’re at the store. Even if you’re not planning to make risotto this week, then it’s done and you’ll just have it because that’s something that’s shelf stable and it can just sit in your pantry until you need it. I’m a fan of being able to see what I have because I feel like I use it. I know when to buy more and yeah, it is easier to just grab it. 

Elsie: I completely agree. I think having an organized pantry is really great because otherwise things are gonna get lost one of the things that I struggle with is expired food because it is hard to stock up your pantry. Some stuff expires kind of quickly too. So it’s hard to stock up your pantry and really keep an eye on everything. But for me, it is much easier if I can see it all. It makes me too nervous that things will expire. So I want it to be full, but not too full if that makes sense. And the other thing is with our kids, I think probably most kids, my kids switch what snacks they want really often. So they’ll be like obsessed with something and then they won’t touch it again for like a year and then when they don’t remember it anymore, they love it again. So I think it’s really important to have a variety of things. I don’t like to buy a lifetime supply of any kind of food anymore because too risky.

Emma: I agree. There’s nothing that makes me sadder than when I’ve bought some really beautiful broccoli and it got tucked away and then I didn’t see it in time and now it’s got some weird goo coming out of it and I’m like, dang it, because it’s just a waste of money, waste of food and it’s just a bummer. So I will say that’s one thing that I feel like our fridge kind of sucks, we could do better. And especially my freezer because we have so much more stuff in our freezer than we ever used to. Because I have chicken nuggets and fish sticks and these tiny pizzas and different things because Oscar’s the same way. He doesn’t wanna eat the same thing every day. So I feel like our freezer is packed and sometimes I can’t find what I’m looking for, I’m not even sure, and I get so mad if I buy a duplicate of something we already have. It’s in the freezer, so it’s probably not gonna go bad. But it just makes me feel like, oh, is this even gonna fit? I didn’t even realize we already had this. So that’s one area that I would like to organize better is our freezer, it’s just one of the little pull-out ones on the bottom of the fridge. It’s not a big deep freeze or anything, but I still feel like it just gets packed. 

Elsie: Okay, let’s talk about maintenance for a minute, because this is one thing I remember last year, I did one of those perfect fridges, I did a reel or something and the comments were so mean, and the DMS and stuff. If you’ve ever read the comments on the home edit, it’s this way too. People find it really hard to believe that people would really live this way, so I just wanna talk about my perspective on what we have been able to maintain and what we haven’t. The pantry, for me, stays really nice, I barely have to clean it ever, and maybe a couple of things get like left out. Not really, it like stays pretty much perfect all the time. But the fridge is just always a wreck and always a struggle. And I think that it’s because of the commitment level that it takes to make it look like a Pinterest fridge, it’s like decanting everything. And it’s also not having so many random things like when you look at those fridges, it’s not someone who cooks at home every day and has everything. Every sauce they’ve bought in the last six months is in that fridge. You know what I mean? So I kind of think that it’s okay to be like, I’m gonna have a perfect cabinet, and then my fridge is gonna just be like the best it can be for someone who cooks at home every day. Personally, I think I’m not a believer that it can be like a rainbow for the way I’m living right now. 

Emma: We’re kind of the same. I don’t feel like our fridge is as bad as yours cuz I’ve seen yours. I just have to say at least one mean thing every episode. 

Elsie: Yeah, no, I love it.

Emma: But yeah, for whatever reason, maybe part of it is a lot of things go in, come out, and then come back in as like leftovers. It’s also sort of like the pre-trash of, I might want to eat the rest of this, that’s probably my biggest complaint is I’m like fridge designers, we need more space for sauces and we need more space for vegetables. What are these two areas? This is not enough areas at all. You gave me one small drawer for my vegetables and then yeah, there’s kind of space for the sauces, but I feel like there’s a lot more sauces than you’re giving us credit for, there just everywhere all the time.

Elsie: Yeah. Okay, well I feel like we’ve covered the kitchen pretty well. I do just wanna mention that Emma trolls my kitchen, this is one of her things. 

Emma: Mostly your fridge.

Elsie: No. Also my silverware. 

Emma: One time. 

Elsie: No, like every time. Anyways, it’s kind of just about making it the best it can be for your life, and I think to be proud of that, whatever that is. Okay. Let’s talk about the bathroom for a little bit. I love makeup, and this is kind of similar to my food thing, is makeup expires and I feel like when I was younger I didn’t know that and it kind of scares me, but now I’m like hyper-aware of it. So my thing now is I also, same as food, I wanna have the perfect amount of makeup where I have plenty. If one thing runs out, I have like sort of a backup, but nothing beyond that because I don’t want anything to expire, get old, or get gross. So, yeah, with my makeup and skincare, I want what I use, I want it to look organized enough that I can see everything and find everything and I don’t want extra clutter. That’s my main objective. And I wouldn’t say that I have an amazing organization, but I definitely clean it out pretty often, a couple of times a year. As soon as I’m having trouble opening and shedding my drawer, that’s when I know it’s time to have a makeup clean out. 

Emma: Yeah. I store all my makeup in this leather looks like a rectangle but rounded, it’s for travel, but it’s pretty big. I think it has a handle on top and it zips so you can zip it close and I store all my makeup in there all the time. If it doesn’t fit in there, then to me, I have too much makeup cause I just don’t wear that much experience stuff. 

Elsie: That is impressive. I will say, I think you’re a minimalist in makeup because I could never fit all my makeup into a travel container. 

Emma: I think I might be a little bit, yeah. 

Elsie: Do you have anything in your new bathroom that you love or that is really functional?

Emma: So when we moved into our new house, which has a double vanity and a good amount of storage, I think much more than we had before. I just kind of dumped everything in and waited a few months to see what I thought. And then after a while, I was like, okay, I think we could get a couple of these clear containers that would help in this area and this and that. And we’ve also done the thing where you kind of decanted a lot of things like Q-tips and cottons, things that we use a lot. Again, it is kind of nice when I’m almost out of something I can tell because it’s super frustrating when you’re like, oh, we’re out of toothpaste and I didn’t realize that. So I really like that. 

Elsie: That’s a good tip. Okay, so extra towels. I don’t think I literally do, but I feel like I probably have towels from my first house still. We’ve been together for 15 years, so everyone knows, so it’s a while. So I think that the best thing for me to do would probably be to get new towels. I love spending money, but then there are certain things that are hard to spend money on. Do you know what I mean? 

Emma: Yes, I do.

Elsie: For me, throwing away or, I guess it probably would be throwing away because if I took all those towels to Goodwill, realistically. 

Emma: No, you’ve had ’em 15 years.

Elsie: Yeah, no, realistically.

Emma: You could cut ’em up and use them for art, like art projects you have rags around to clean your paintbrushes, things like that, or your pottery. I’d use it for something like that. I don’t think Goodwill wants your 15-year-old towels. 

Elsie: That’s why it’s hard for me, some of them are really gross looking and I think it is time. I think knowing when to do that kind of thing is definitely an art or a talent. 

Emma: We’re similar but we did replace a lot of our towels probably like three or four years ago, and it was sort of random. And I ended up going with some white, which I never used to do because I thought they’re gonna get stained, they’ll look terrible. But now I am kind of into it. So we have all white towels except for I do have a big set of black hand towels that say makeup on them and they, ones I keep in a certain spot and they’re for me to wash my makeup off because those do really stain. So I do have the black makeup towels for those, but everything else is white and it’s actually really nice because I can use bleach and when I do a load of whites, it’s like all our towels basically. It actually is a really good system for us. It’s worked out way more than I ever thought. When I was younger I was like, no white towels, they’ll get stained, they’ll get dingy. But now I’m like, maybe I just didn’t know how to do laundry.

Elsie: True white is definitely easier to mix and match. If you wanted to replace just some of them, getting the cute colored ones is a big no-no for me because then it just looks like you have five different kinds of towels. Plus, since we’ve had a pool for a few years, we have kind of a lot of beach towels. So I feel like we already have colorful, cute towels. Bath towels for me, mostly white. Yeah. Let’s move on to the bedroom. My linen closet is definitely one of my weaknesses. Actually, I feel like this whole episode is kind of exposing me, but it’s cathartic, I think, to be honest. And also probably a lot of people are relating to it. In my linen closet, it’s so hard to keep everything organized and together, and like sets of sheets, I feel like each bedroom has two sets of sheets. Then it’s easy cuz it’s like you use one, you wash one, you use one, you wash one. But more than that it kind of like freaks me out. How do you like to keep track of it all? 

Emma: I used to have a lot more different patterns for our bedsheets. I even had some Christmas ones and things like that. And now I just have two sets and it’s the same color, exactly the same set. When I take one off to go wash it, I put the other one on that’s already clean in the closet and that’s all there is. My linen closet is very boring, very minimal in a way, but it’s also very easy to keep up with and I never feel like I pull out some bedsheets that end up being kind of stinkier, like musty because I haven’t used them in a year. And they were clean, but now they’ve gotten kind of eh, you know? So it’s a pretty simple system. And the same thing with Oscar’s crib sheets. He has three crib sheets, I will say, cuz you know, you need a little more, so I have a little more wiggle room there for washing. But, that’s it, they’re all the same. Very simple. And we really only have one set that fits our guest bedroom because it’s a smaller size, it’s a queen, and we only have one set, but we don’t have guests that often. So it’s pretty easy to wash those and then put them on when a guest is coming. And the rest of the time it just has a comforter on it and no sheets because I just leave it because no one’s staying, so it doesn’t really matter. We never really have unexpected guests, that hasn’t come up for me. But if you were someone who does that probably wouldn’t be a good system for you. But that does not come up for us. 

Elsie: Yeah. Well, now I’m gonna have to stay at your house unexpectedly.

Emma: Yeah, you’ll have to sleep under a comforter on a plane mattress. 

Elsie: No, I won’t do it. Okay, I will say we have on A Beautiful Mess, and an amazing closet post. So I’m gonna link all of our closet posts, we’ve done so many. The kids’ ones are so cute. And I have several different versions of my adult closet from our various houses. In our next year’s renovation, I think I probably am gonna go all out and build a dream closet. But for this year until that time, I pretty much have an un-airconditioned, unheated sunroom to use for my closet. So what I did was order a bunch of these sorts of modular pieces from Amazon, so I’ll link to those. They’re very good if you’re a renter or you need to use a blank wall as your closet, this is definitely better than nothing. So much better than nothing. And I think it’ll look pretty good and I think it’ll work pretty well. Do you have any closet advice? 

Emma: We probably will update our closet at some point. We were going to do more built-ins before we moved in, but with as much renovation as we had, that was just one thing that got cut. What we have is what the previous owners have, which are these metal wirey-looking clothing racks. And we didn’t really have much closet space at all in our last house. So I had kind of made this like you could see it all the time closet system in our bedroom so that I had somewhere to put my clothes and it was great and it worked great for us and it looked good and it really encouraged me to keep things neat and tidy, so that was good. I feel like just having any closet that fits all of our clothes is a dream come true, so we’re probably gonna make it better at some point, but for now, we’re still just marveling that I don’t have to go down into the murder basement to get my sweaters, or like this time of year, I’d be taking all the stuff down and bringing up my warm weather stuff and I don’t have to do that. It all fits in one closet, and so I’m like, this is great. We also have, It’s very seventies, it really dates our house, but this tiny door that you open up and a little ironing board folds out. There’s a little outlet in there so you can plug in and iron your steamer. So we also have our iron and our steamer in the closet.

Elsie: Okay, let’s talk about kids’ toys for a little bit. The biggest tip is boxes and closed storage. So in our kids’ bedroom, they each have a toy box at the foot of their bed and that is seriously sufficient for just throwing stuff in there if we have to clean real fast. Then in our living room, when we built those big green built-ins. The bottom part of them is all doors that you open. I think probably a lot of people don’t realize it because I don’t really show it in photos a lot, but it’s almost all toy storage. There are two little cabinets that are records and all the rest of it is toy storage. So we have those little rope baskets from Target and I’ll show a picture in the show notes and link to it so you can all see. But it’s the greatest toy storage of all time. Everything is organized into its own basket. We kind of have, the Magnatiles in one, and the American girl dolls in one. It’s just all divide up like that. And then we have one that’s puzzles and stuff, it’s wonderful. I would highly recommend it if anyone ever has a chance to just have a sideboard cabinet, anything like that, built-in, in your living space where you can throw toys. I think it’s really wonderful. I know that having a playroom is a popular idea, but we realized really early on that our kids don’t like to play in a room. They like to play in the main living areas where we are. For us, it was always more practical for them to be able to have toys in there, but obviously, it’s really annoying if you don’t have a place to put them. So you wanna have the best, easiest place to put them. So do you have any toy tips? 

Emma: Just a lot of baskets? Attractive baskets that you wouldn’t mind seeing around your house because that way wherever that basket is, you can kind of gather up the toys in that area and throw them in the basket if you need. And then for our son at his age, he’s kind of just into taking things out of a basket, putting things in, opening up the kitchen cabinet, and pulling out some of the pots. And then we’re like, okay, let’s put ’em back. We don’t actually have tons and tons of toys all over our house. Most of them are in his bedroom. I think that’ll change over time, but I think it’s because everything is his toy right now. I do have in our kitchen in a cabinet and it’s in a big wire basket so I can pull it out of the cabinet really quick and easy is all our kid’s art supplies because he has one of those learning towers where he can crawl up it and stand. So he’s at the kitchen counter with us and he loves that because it makes him feel like he can be involved with cooking. It’s so cute. He has his own little cute knife he can use. It’s not a real knife, it’s a kid’s knife, but he likes to cut things with me. We’ll pull it over to the sink and he’ll help rinse off his dishes and he loves water. It’s basically like a free water table, the kitchen sink.

Elsie: I saw him climb into his learning tower the last time I was there and it was so cute. I love that, and I think that’s such a good idea. I think anything that makes art easier to do, to just get it out and put it away is such a good idea for young kids. 

Emma: He goes through phases like he’ll color so many pieces of paper one week, and then the next week he kind of just like looks at his crowns and then throws him on the floor. So it’s like some weeks he’s really into it, some weeks he’s not. It doesn’t really matter. It’s just that I like it being a part of our routine. It’s also something if it’s his dinner’s gonna take five to 10 more minutes. I’ll just pull that out.

Elsie: The next thing we have to talk about, and the last thing is off-season and holiday decor, which is my favorite subject. In our house currently, one of the things I’m gonna miss so much is that it randomly had in our hallway like three giant closets, the size of a linen closet, a good sized linen closet. There were three of those and so we did make a linen closet and then a Halloween closet and then a Christmas closet. And the thing that I loved about it, normally that stuff is in a basement or a garage. For this house, we were able to have it in there and I could just go in there and pull from it because every once in a while, this isn’t often, but for childhood magic and for a beautiful mess, we sometimes have to photograph things out of the season. Especially when the holidays are approaching. It’s very common that we would shoot a fall project in July or August. But we’re definitely not like decorating our houses yet. So it was so cool having those closets where I could just reach and grab stuff, like my own little Halloween store and Christmas store and I’m gonna miss that closet so much. So I think in our new home, I think I’m going to do shelving in the basement so that it’s kind of the same thing. I just have to walk down there but I liked having it out of the tupperware because the tupperware is awesome, but it’s like hard to find things in all of that. So I think having some of it on shelves where you can just grab a little cute thing here and there is really fun to have. But that’s probably not a practical tip that’s like uber specific to bloggers. I just realized.

Emma: I guess so, but I don’t know. I kind of sometimes like to pull out. Maybe I’m insane, but I’ll pull out like a Christmas mug, at a weird time of year if I’m sad and just use it that day. So it has nothing to do with blogging, I just feel like pulling out my pumpkin coffee mug or whatever. But yeah we’re similar, so this past Halloween and Christmas, we moved into our new house the day before Halloween. So I feel like my Halloween organization just basically didn’t happen. It’s all shoved in this weird utility closet in the basement where our breaker box is. It’s honestly terrifying in there because there are all these skeletons and the swamp witch, I don’t know if you remember her. She’s very spooky looking in the dark. It’s just basically all my Halloween stuff that’s bigger. So fake pumpkins, anything that wouldn’t fit in a tupperware, it’s just shoved in there and it is not organized and it looks like crap. And it’s very scary if you need to go to the breaker box, cuz you turn on and you forget about the swamp witch and then you see her and it just gives you a jolt every time. So I need to organize that. That’s on my list of needs to do this before Halloween, hopefully. So it’ll just feel nice when the season comes. I think I’m gonna put it all in one spot where all my Christmas stuff is, this weird closet that has our water heater, but it’s big and it has like a linoleum floor and pretty monster movie lighting.

But it’s really big and I feel like we’re never gonna use it for anything else really, other than storage. So I think I’m gonna put all of the holiday stuff in there and have like a Christmas side and a Halloween side, which wasn’t my original intention, but I just think it’s gonna work better. But I need more shelving and I need to figure out how to organize like nine life-size skeletons. What’s my plan for that? Because a lot of times I just kind of pile them up, and it’s really sad looking and I’m like, I need something where they could all hang on the wall or something, I don’t know. It’s very specific, and this isn’t even a blogger thing, I would definitely have these skeletons if it wasn’t a blogger. I just like putting the skeletons all around the house and I’ve had many friends borrow them for like when they’re decorating for a party. I’m like the skeleton lady. Where people are like, oh, can I borrow a few skeletons? And I’m like, yeah, no problem. How many do you need? 

Elsie: That’s cute. I only have two of the skeletons and they are kind of like fetal positioned in the bottom of the closet. I think that that’s such a fun collection that you have so many. I was thinking maybe you could put them in Christmas tree bags. I don’t know. It’s interesting. 

Emma: There’s gotta be something, better than what I’m doing. 

Elsie: Just talking about the skeletons just made my heart grow 10 sizes. Like I can’t wait. Okay, we have a listener question. What do you do if your partner and kids are not organized at all and or don’t follow the systems you put in place? Ha, haha. I will say a couple of years ago, probably five years ago, I went through my first phase of I wanna become a no-shoes household and that was like probably the biggest time that I tried to put a system in place that was met with resistance. It’s really challenging when you’ve grown up a certain way to change your habit and just completely change it for the rest of your life. It’s a big challenge when you’re an adult. My advice is to set up a good system, make it easy to do, give little reminders, and also give enough flexibility where it’s nonmilitant and it’s a little bit loosely enforced, especially at first, just to be understanding that it’s hard for people to change bad habits and I have lots of bad habits. It’s so normal. I think I just kind of keep going with it and don’t give up. I think the most important thing is to not give up and be like, well, it’s not gonna work. Because we’ve been doing it the no shoes thing for five years now. And now we almost always take our shoes off when we come into the house by habit, everyone does it. There’s one person in my family who doesn’t do it as well, and you can probably guess who that is and that’s fine because he’s trying, and the rest of us, A minus or B plus, and he’s maybe getting a C minus, but he’s still doing way better than he was five years ago. I think it’s still a very large improvement. I think just keeping your eye on the prize that improvement is better than, perfection is not always like a real possibility. 

Emma: Yes, I would definitely agree with that. I think that understanding that sometimes your priorities, Aren’t somebody else’s priorities. You can still get on the same page and still try to make sure that your needs are met and their needs are met. But at the end of the day, if you’re just a much more organized, clean person than your partner and you probably are, than your kids then you know, it’s just gonna be what it is, and that’s kind of what it means to have a family is your house isn’t gonna be the way you always want it because you aren’t the only one that lives there. My main tip would be to try to create the systems together. So it could be that they’re not gonna sit through a whole Saturday of you reorganizing the kitchen pantry. You know that’s not gonna happen. That’s okay but as much as you can try to get them involved. Once you have the system in place, if it’s not going well, talk through what are their pain points. What about the system that isn’t working for you? What is hard for you about this? Is it too hard for you to reach certain things? Do you forget where things are supposed to go? Should I label them? And part of it is, whenever you really talk things through, it can kind of help the other person look at what’s in front of them and be like, oh, actually this isn’t bad. I don’t have a better idea, so I’m gonna get more on board with this. Or they might be like, actually, this really isn’t working for me. I don’t think this is where we should store X, Y, Z. I wanna store it in this whole other space, and maybe that’s a better idea and you can just get on board with that. It really just depends, but I think as much as you can, getting them involved so that it’s their system too, I think helps. 

Elsie: I completely agree with that. I think that’s great advice. Good luck. It’s a challenge. Okay, so now we’re gonna do our book report for Cleopatra and Frankenstein by Coco Millers. And just a reminder, this will contain spoilers. So if you are planning to read the book and haven’t read it yet, you might want to stop here, but if you haven’t read it or you’re not going to read it or whatever, proceed and enjoy. 

Emma: What I would say if I was just gonna put it in my own words, what the premise of the book is, it’s a love story. Because the book opens with a couple who’s meeting for the very first time. They meet on New Year’s Eve, and then we see their entire relationship. They kind of have a somewhat impulsive marriage. She’s from the United Kingdom, and so this helps her to stay in the United States. She gets her green card through marriage. Frank, the man, and Cleo, the woman, he’s 10 years older than her, or maybe older. He’s somewhat older than her.

Elsie: Yeah, maybe like 20 years older. 

Emma: So he is in a different stage of life than she is. That kind of plays into their relationship, and I think we just kind of see them needing different things from each other, needing different things from life at the stages they’re at, and it causes a lot of friction in their marriage. I don’t know how the book ends because I only read about two-thirds of it, because it just wasn’t my cup of tea. 

Elsie: Yeah. I was gonna tell everyone, the review you gave to me about it was, she said, it’s kind of like an Oscar movie that’s going to win the Oscar, but it’s just like too sad. 

Emma: Yeah because the writing is beautiful and there are actually like really funny parts. I think her dialogue is so good generally, this author. And it’s just really beautiful and some of the characters I loved, like I love Cleo. But I also just thought it was so sad. I just found myself being like kind of sighing, if I knew I needed to listen to it more so that we could be ready for our book report. And I was like, oh, I think I just don’t like this and that’s okay because it’s just art and it’s okay. It can be beautiful and like a wonderful piece of art and just not for me. That’s not a big deal. 

Elsie: So I wanna say the trigger warnings for the book are suicide, depression, alcoholism, drugs, and infidelity.

Emma: Also an animal dies, and that really got me too. So it’s pretty sad, a pet. 

Elsie: So you got pretty far into it then? 

Emma: Yeah. Like I said, I think I read two-thirds, maybe three-fourths of it, like pretty far. I really was like, I’ll finish it. Then I was like, you know what? Nah. 

Elsie: I’ll give my review because I did finish it and I did enjoy it. I like sad books and I thought it had a nice ending. I read the Good Reads reviews for a little bit, and they were very hot and cold. So I think it’s very normal to either love it or hate it. I read a review that said it’s a sad story about mostly terrible people, which I completely disagreed with. I was like, no, no, no, no, no, no, it’s a sad story about mostly good people. I definitely wouldn’t call the characters terrible. I liked the best friendship. Having a gay bestie is one of the best things in my entire life, and it’s something that I enjoy in a story or in any kind of movie, it’s just wonderful. My favorite scene of the book was the oyster lunch. I just thought it was really strong and really awkward and I felt so much and I really liked Eleanor, the character. I thought she was really unexpected character. I didn’t see that coming at all and it was like really nice.

It kind of softened the ending for me quite a bit. I thought it was sad, but not tragically sad. I thought it was pretty sad. It was pretty gray is how I would describe it. Still pretty beautiful. If it was a movie, I think it would be cool. I think it would be a cool movie. Okay, so the art on the book, this is part probably of why I originally picked it up. So I wanted to mention it and also just like the title is so cool. Cleopatra and Frankenstein was like their first couple’s Halloween costume and it was sort of like their cute little pet names for each other. I thought that was really adorable. But anyway, the art on the hardcover version, I looked it up and it’s by Gill Button. It’s called Whisper, I found it on artsy. It was already sold. I think that it’s the power of a good cover. I saw a couple of reviews that said, came for the cover, stayed for the story, and I think that it was probably one of the most beautiful book covers that I’ve seen in a couple of years. I really like it. So yeah, I wanted to mention that artist. I think he did the art on both the covers, the paperback cover is a different painting, but the hardback cover is my favorite. In two episodes, we’re gonna announce the summer reads, but that is our last, I guess, q1, spring, winter. That was our last book for the last season. So it’s been really fun to do the book club, and I just wanna say thank you to everyone who has been following along. We get lots of DMs about it, and it’s really wonderful to know that you’re reading books with us. I just think it’s so much fun. It is time for the famous segment, a joke, or a fact with Nova. 

Elsie: Okay. Nova, do you have a joke or a fact for us this week?

Nova: I have a joke. 

Elsie: Okay. 

Nova: What do Cinders like to watch most and think it’s most importantly?

Elsie: I don’t know the answer to that.

Nova: Cinderella. 

Elsie: Ah, okay. Awesome.

Emma: Okay. We’ll be back next week with a comfort rewatch episode, and it’s one of our favorite movies of all time. Knives out. I can’t wait. Elsie: I can’t wait. Okay, we’ll see you next week.


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