PANTRY REFRESHER! Win your own PANTRY MAKEOVER

WIN YOUR VERY OWN PANTRY MAKEOVER from RUBBERMAID®

As I’ve mentioned on the blog already, March is National Nutrition Month.  It spurred me to take a look at our pantry and see what snacks we have readily available. I also wanted to make sure they were easy to find and healthy! Although we did a great job making over the pantry last year, it’s a good idea to give it great refresher every 6-9 months. It was the perfect time to go throw a few things out and combine items in baskets. If you’re in need of more than a refresher… like a  FULL BLOWN MAKEOVER valued at $5000!… keep reading! This is NOT a sponsored post. I worked with Rubbermaid® this to spread the word about their giveaway on social media, but this blog post was not a part of it. I just really want one of you to win!! LOL. So, read on and ENTER! Also, I had too much fun organizing with my mini-me (see photos below:) and wanted a place to share all these silly, fun pictures. I’m definitely oversharing here—- there’s so many!

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Last year, Metro’s Other Woman came to help with organization and gave a few tips that stuck with me.

1. DO NOT keep boxes. This takes up unnecessary space and you can’t tell when you are running low on commodities. Throw out the packaging and DO KEEP items in containers or baskets. Rubbermaid® Easy Find Lids™ are an awesome solution.
2. DO KEEP “like with like.” For instance, keep all your bars (protein, granola) in one basket (I like wire ones I can still see the items, some people like solid baskets). All the pastas together in containers, crackers and chips, etc…. you get the idea.
3. DO USE Lazy Susans and can holders to maximize space.
4. DO utilize back of pantry door with racks (we haven’t done this yet, but I’m looking into it).
5. DO NOT keep expired items. Check your dates, throw out expired items to create space!

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Honestly, the first rule of thumb about not keeping boxes will make a world of difference. I created so much extra space, I was able to carve out a section for the kids. Hayden and Huck’s little art cubby was one big messy basket. But now, it looks so creative and inviting, with little kid-friendly snacks. Hayden LOVES to “help” me in the kitchen, so this one way to keep him engaged!

So just in time for that spring cleaning fever, enter the Easy Find Lids™ sweepstakes between March 17-May 5 for a chance to get your dream pantry: www.EASYFINDWIN.com. There are two ways to enter: with a receipt of a qualifying purchase of Easy Find Lids™ or without a qualifying purchase. All info can be found with that link ->easyfindwin.com. If you have any questions, please comment below and I will get answers for you! In the meantime, start your organizing! Rubbermaid® made these Easy Find Lids especially for me, I swear. Lids are like socks sometimes. They just get lost. These lids are “easy to find” because they are red and snap to the base of the container. They are stackable, dishwasher, microwave and freezer safe-- and affordable.  
How often do you go through things in your pantry? It feels SO GOOD to declutter and create space. If you’re one to keep up with organization, what is your top tip to share?

ps- my super soft t-shirt is on SALE FOR $9! And jeans are on SALE FOR $37!

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Some of the BEFORE AND DURING shots below. By throwing out the boxes and combining items in the containers, I created more space.

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Pantry and Closet Makeover!

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YOU GUYS....! I am thrilled to share my collaboration with Metro's Other Woman. Lemme give you a bit of back story. I met the owner, Sarah Benken, (above with Hayden) and immediately felt an excitement about working with her. The company offers different types of services, from personal and business assistants to room makeovers and even laundry services. I learned about Metro’s Other Woman through the ladies at Good Carma Studios. Women entrepreneurs connecting and building up other women! Amen to that.

I knew I could use the ladies in several areas of my life, but we decided to start with specific spaces. The pantry and surrounding kitchen cabinets were the downstairs focus. Then, upstairs, my side of the master closet got a "facelift." Over the phone and via emails, measurements and inspirational photos were shared. Next, I got to meet Sarah and her her team, Taylor Gladden and Liz Williamson.

Before I launch into the before and after photos, I want to share Metro’s Other Woman’s THREE TOP TIPS for you to implement today:

1. When starting any organization project the first step is to purge In your closet, get rid of anything you haven't worn in 6 months to a year. In the pantry, get rid of any expired items that you've had in your pantry for 6+ months that you haven't used/have no plan to use. Next you want to remove everything from your space and start with a blank slate! When removing, place things with like items so it's easier to put back in the right spots.

2. For smaller spaces we suggest baskets, lazy susans, food storage containers (place bulkier boxed items in food storage containers ie; cereal, pasta, chips, flour/sugar, etc.) Scroll down to see our options. NO bulky boxes!

3. If you can only buy a few new items to organize your space, baskets are always our first choice! You can use baskets to store (in the pantry: snacks, breakfast foods, etc./in the closet:scarfs, purses, hats, etc.) and make it look neater and prettier. Next we'd suggest food storage containers in the pantry, or hooks for the closet. 

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Lemme tell you, we took these tips and made such a difference in a fairly short amount of time. I know this is not the first time you have been told to purge, or put “like with like” and see how many scarfs you actually own. But, perhaps something in this post will encourage you to block out time on the calendar and just make it happen. I was shocked how much had expired (oops!) in our pantry. You may remember a few of my instagram stories from the days the girls were here. The pantry and cabinets were completely emptied. Everything was examined to see if it should stay or be tossed (or perhaps not live in the kitchen at all!). OXO sent over the most amazing assortment of their products to seriously organize the pantry and streamline everything. (I'ver been using that word a lot lately...streamline. I think I dream of "streamlining" my life. To be completely honest, I don't even know what that would mean or look like, it just sounds like someone that really has their stuff together, you know?!) 

AFTER

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BEFORE

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The ladies and I got excited about the products from OXO. My husband (don't get too jealous, y'all) unboxed everything, hand washed and dried it all so it would be ready to go for the makeover. We're talking lazy susans, cereal dispensers, canisters, baskets, etc. I linked some of my favorites below from Container Store, but you can find OXO products at a variety of retailers.

The ladies had such a vision...and worked so well together. While one person was color coordinating the upstairs closet (Liz), Sarah was tackling the pantry and Taylor made a Target run to get baskets for pantry and neccesities for the closet. I love these steel baskets with copper handles (see below in a variety of sizes).

When the ladies were done with the pantry, the craziest thing was how much space there was. When you put items in their perfect spaces and remove items that don’t belong, a natural zen begins to happen. I love it and now am addicted. I want to do it to every space in the house. And although I didn't do a huge closet purge, Liz and I conquered a decent amount quickly. I was ready to be honest and face some facts about where I am in life today. Not years (and pounds less) ago. (I still have WAY too many things I'm holding onto, but I'm making progress will pat myself on the back for that!) One thing that makes me feel good about purging is the thought of giving my favorite pieces from yesterday a new life. Someone else (often my sister) will make memories wearing these items. And women's shelters are a fantastic place to donate, too. I feel great about thinking someone might wear my favorite jacket to a job interview and work it!!

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I love how Taylor found certain items at Target that were repurposed for our closet. Like the kitchen lid organizing rack (top shelf in photo- only $10) that now holds my clutches! So genius!! Slim, space-saving hangers are a closet’s dream! Baskets and shelves were added to the shoe organizers (my mom made me put those in!) to tidy up even more.


Thank you, Metro’s Other Woman. I look forward to the next project!! I know we have quite a bit of work to do in the house still yet (hello, garage!), but WHAT A START!!

Check out their website HERE…also, take a look at their KNOWtribe magazine introducing you to influential women from cities they are currently highlighting! And they will most likely be in your city soon.

xoxo

AAJ





#Blowout Blues: the World of Poop

This post is thoughtfully brought to you by Triple Paste, but if you know me at all, you know these thoughts are all my own.  

I remember the first time it happened. As a brand new mom, I was warned (even by some of you!), but for sure wasn't prepared. Hayden was about two months old. We had taken him out on his first real all-family event to Travel Town. Clad in the cutest overall outfit with a conductor hat, he nailed the occasion, if I do say so myself.

I was just beginning to supplement breast milk with a tiny bit of formula and his little system was adjusting to it. I pick him up and cuddle him closely for a photo opp (and of course, I choose to wear all white- again, new mom! eye roll!!) when I  hear something awful. I slowly walk toward Joel to see if anything was running down my shirt....and sure enough, by the look on his face, I just knew. There was dark "mustard" all over the back of his overalls and his legs, a ridiculously large amount transferred to my shirt and my arm where I was holding him. Then, suddenly, the smell. My goodness, that smell! It just seemed to bake in the summer California sun. As overwhelming as it can be, poop happens to the best of us. We set up a makeshift station in the car and did our best to remedy the situation.

That's when I first realized Hayden had pretty sensitive skin, so I needed to be on top of potential diaper rashes. At one point, right before the one year mark, he was teething and got pretty bad diarrhea, which I learned can also cause diaper rashes. Even though I changed him immediately, at times, it would flare up anyway. It was upsetting hearing him cry when we changed him. The skin would get so irritated so quickly, I felt helpless. I was about to leave to shoot 12 DAYS OF GIVING in Nebraska and was worried about traveling with him with a rash. To heal it, we did frequent baths, naked-time, etc. We even used prescription (expensive, not covered by insurance) compound, medicated diaper cream every time I even barely suspected one creeping up. My good friends Bill and Scout Masterson-Horn (The "Guncles")  told me they would slather Triple Paste every change to prevent diaper rashes and I should save the money and try it. So, I did.

Cut to today... this is a staple in our changing kits. I can see potty training on the horizon, but we are not quite there. I'll rephrase that. Joel and I are not quite there. I know we need a good few days to a week to completely commit to the initial endeavor in order to be successful. But seriously, I don't think he's fully ready. It's just an ongoing conversation in the house. Boys love to discuss poop. I mean.... good grief!

Hayden does come announce when there will be a "diaper change" happening soon, that is, if Huck doesn’t beat him to it. And I have the emergency kit upstairs, downstairs and in the to-go bag. Hayden knows he wants Triple Paste because it makes it "not hurt." I catch him grabbing it even before I do sometimes. It's a juggling act-- a slight cat and mouse game now with him! Anyone near the little stinker (pun intended) can sense it's time to change him (especially Huck!), but he plays hard to get. Likes a good chase. He is not loving diaper changes right now, but lemme tell you, when he's rash free, it's so much easier.  I know it's nearing the time for potty training, but what I didn't know is that diaper rash paste will be entering that phase with us, too. Our doctor recommends putting a it on at night and in the morning, just to protect Hayden's sensitive skin.

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So when Triple Paste wanted to do a collaboration, I was excited. If I could share my frustration with diaper rashes to help even one other mom out there going through it, that would be great. First of all, please know you didn't cause this! Let's get rid of the #momguilt. Obviously, change your little one as soon as possible every time, but occasionally that's not enough. What DOES HELP is prevention. All the time. Cover their area with Triple Paste and let me know if it helps;) And if you're in this diaper phase, share your own #BlowoutBlues stories with me. If you're way past it (congrats!), I bet you remember one or two big ones!!

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BOTTOMS UP...drink your H2O

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Bottoms up!

However, this post is not about emptying your glass of Rose' all day! I just downed 14 oz of water. This post is too simple. I really should get a big fat 'ol "F" for this. It's too easy, too on-the-nose. Everyone knows they need to drink water

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We’ve heard this our whole lives: DRINK MORE WATER. It’s basically the panacea to many ailments. Most of this wellness reminder series is simply that— great reminders. We know all of this already, but I still like new reminders. I recently overheard someone say in conversation, “Drinking water is a no-brainer, well, it’s 90% of your brain, so it’s more of a BRAINER than we think!” 

Anyhow, that joke wasn’t very funny. And I’m not trying to be funny here. Just straightforward. And bring your mid(ish)-year reminder about many of our new year’s resolutions. And if memory serves me, we all had several different resolutions, but the consistently ones were: drink more water and weight loss.

So, while typing and doing a bit of research here, I got super thirsty. As I said, I downed water. I think part of my issue is that I forget, then I get tired and and busy and distracted. I need a pick me up.  I instinctively reach for caffeine. And THAT IS MY DOWNFALL.

I appreciate my yoga teachers telling me all the benefits of water and why it's so important for me drink it. As I'm doing my last down dog of the class recently, I hear the lecture coming. I roll my eyes back so far, it's as if gravity is going to make them stick there. But, alas, I rise up once again and it is on my mind. 

For better or worse, the thoughts that get me thinking are more vanity based. Does this happen to you sometimes? I'm thinking, "Duh, we ALL know we need to drink water to make our digestive system work. Are you really saying this OUT LOUD. I mean, we're paying $20 a class to be here, we clearly on the "body-wellness" path, so tell us something I don't hear everyday." And then she did.

She reminded me of things like this:

Calorie control

Water simply helps people feel full, and as a result consume fewer calories. Timing can help, too. Drink 16oz. before meals. And cold water helps metabolism.

Fuels Muscle/Gives us Energy

When the muscles don’t have enough water, they get tired. So for extra energy, try drinking water to push through that final set of squats. And water in general can give us all more energy! If only I had the energy of my two year old! 

Clearer skin

Part of the detoxification benefits of drinking water, it helps flush out toxins that can clog our pores and cause acne. The jury is still out on if it scientifically helps with wrinkles, but I'll tell you this much, it doesn't hurt!

Improves Brain Function

I don't know if it's just from being tired a lot of the time, but I will take all the help I can get to improve my brain function! Like I said earlier, our brain is mainly water and needs enough of it to function properly. I don't know the science behind it, but it makes sense.

Relieves Constipation In Many Cases

Pretty self explanatory, but worth mentioning. If problems persist, see your doctor, but this is a good place to start.

extra credit: 

IT’S FREE!

Even if you splurge for bottled water, it’s cheaper than Starbucks or wine!

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You might remember my post with Dr Oz reminding us all to immediately drink 2 glasses of water upon rising. I do that about 40% of the time if I’m being honest. UGH! Coffee calls my name in the morning. SO Loudly!!!

BUT, bottoms UP. It’s time. If you haven’t been consistent, let’s start this challenge and get ‘er done. If you don’t love the taste—er— non taste of water, there are fun things you can do. Add mint! Add fruit. I add Usana’s Booster C and it gives me just enough flavor (and Vitamin C). This morning, I added the probiotic powder. I’m challenging myself to drink 64 oz every single day this week. I’ll report in my stories. Will you do it with me? Maybe we’ll go longer, but let’s start with a week. WE CAN DO THIS.

Tag me in any stories or posts…. What’s a hashtag we can all use? #bottomsupH2o? too long? thoughts? ha!