Fun

15 Things You’re Hoarding that You Can Get Rid of Right Now

We’ve all seen those extreme cases on Hoarders, or at least have the vaguest concept of hoarding– houses packed to the rafters, barely a footpath through. But we aren’t really like that, right? Just because there’s a bit of unwashed laundry, or a few extra sentimental items lying around, we’re not actually hoarding, are we?

Well, according to my mother, who we all joke doesn’t have a sentimental bone in her body because she’s ruthless when it comes to clearing out clutter, we are. Definite, complete, total hoarders. Semi-neat hoarders, but hoarders nonetheless. So, I’m taking a page from my mother’s book (hopefully) and I’m giving you permission to part with those things you swore you couldn’t let go of, but maybe, with some careful guidance, you could actually say goodbye to today. And yes, this post is talking to me as much as it is to my readers; after all, I couldn’t have come up with 15 items for you to purge if I didn’t do a little cleaning up myself.

So grab 3 boxes and label them Trash, Sell, and Donate, and let’s get purging. Ready?

  1. Your Prom Corsage. Seriously. It’s been a decade since you went to Prom. I know you carefully preserved it and put it in your memory box, but why are you still holding onto this? It’s literally just dead flowers. This one is fit for the trash.
  2. That Pair of Jeans You SWEAR you’re going to fit into in 6 months. Yeah, the one that you’ll be back in after this diet. Or that diet after that one. Or the diet four diets from now. Unless they fit you right this minute, donate them. Someone else can use them. In the meantime, buy a pair that fits and makes you feel awesome and when you’re that size again, buy a new pair. Styles change anyway, so you’ll want something fresh.
  3. The brick phone you’re holding onto in case you break this one. Trust me. Just part with it. There are plenty of places that recycle old cell phones, and you really don’t need the last 5 cell phones you have. Unless you plan on making bulletproof armor out of your old Nokias, just recycle them and call it good.
  4. Those love notes from your ex. But really, I get that you’re holding onto these, but if you know it’s over and there’s no major attachment there anymore, save your absolute favorite one and toss the rest. You don’t need them.
  5. The knitting needles/rainbow loom/quilting supplies for that craft you were gung-ho about, then dropped. Sure, you were super into it for a few weeks, and then you realized that hey, you don’t have time for this! If you’re not keen on donating what you have left, then try selling your crafting gear and remnants online, or swap it with a friend who is over her most recent hobby, too– she can try yours, you can try hers, and you both have something new and fun to try out.
  6. Movie ticket stubs from that feature ages ago. Unless you have a super-strong memory attached (like the first movie you saw with your hubby, or a movie you went into labor in the middle of), toss the ticket. You won’t miss it. If there is a super-strong memory of it, put it in your album and be done.
  7. That shirt you bought at that concert for that band you loved in college. I get it, we all have shirts that have seen better days (and bands we liked before they sucked, you hipster, you!), but seriously… if you’re not still into the band and if the shirt doesn’t have a super special memory attached (again, something crazy like a first date with the hubs or labor), donate it. Or, if it’s in concert-condition, just trash it.
  8. The charger cord to your old laptop. You’re not using it anymore. I promise you won’t need it. Most likely, the newest version of that same laptop uses a different charger, and chargers are like $5 on Amazon anyway. Just recycle it or dispose of it properly.
  9. The almost-dried up bottle of last year’s nail polish color you had to have. You know the one, that bright pop that you needed before vacation or that moody hue that was perfect for fall, but you’re completely over it now (or you used it so much that there’s not even enough for a full manicure left)… just toss it already!
  10. The book you already read but weren’t ready to part with, or worse, the book you were going to read and never got around to. If you’ve read it awhile ago and are pretty sure you’re not actually going to read it again, donate it or take it up to half price books. If you didn’t read it, even though you swore you would because the reviews or Target or Oprah or someone said it was oh-so-amazing, either read it and sell/donate it, or just go ahead and get it off of your shelf without reading it. We’ve all bought those impulse books that we haven’t read. Just gift it to a friend, donate it, and move on.
  11. The Emergency Chocolate Bar that’s expired. If you’re a mom, I know you’ve got an emergency chocolate bar hidden somewhere. But you know you’ve had one that you’ve hidden long enough that it’s just not quite good anymore, and you have yet to replace it? Toss the old one, then treat yourself to a really delicious cup of cocoa or a new chocolate bar, and keep it where you’ll eat it before it’s yuck this time!
  12. The extra buttons from that cute jacket….that you donated two seasons ago. I can’t be the only one who still has extra buttons in the back of my jewelry box. Those buttons to that dress you loved intensely and eventually got rid of for one reason or another? Go ahead and get rid of the buttons, too. Or make sock puppets with your kids with them, but somehow, get them out of your jewelry box, already!
  13. CDs. All CDs. Unless you have a good excuse (like my car only plays CDs because I drive a 2002), get rid of CDs! If you have a must-have song or album, rip it into your digital format of choice (mp3, duh) and give it to a friend or sell/donate it to a used store.
  14. Shoes. How many shoes have you bought because you “just had to have them” and wore once or twice and got bored with? Just ditch the old shoes you’re done with– donate them, or sell them online for money for… uh… more shoes, of course!
  15. That gift that you just weren’t quite into. We’ve all been there– gotten a gift that was well-intentioned but not that great. Regift it (but not to the original giver… yikes!) or donate it for a good cause. Use caution when selling– if your friend is local and you’re trying a local swap site, you may hurt some feelings.

 

Your turn… let me know in the comments below what else you found while purging, or what else you’d add to this list, and if I have it on hand, I’ll be tossing it, too! Also, were there any items on this list that you were surprised to still be holding onto?

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DIY Chalk-Rubbed Sand Art

“I’m bored.” It’s July, so surely you’ve heard this at least a million times, because it seems to be a pretty universal phrase in the summertime.

We’ve had a nightmare of a summer week here; it’s been the hottest week of summer so far, and our city’s aquatic center has been closed due to a broken pump. Repairs have dragged on, and while it’s set to open today, it didn’t spare us all of the boredom of not getting to go to the pool. Because really, if I have to watch Frozen one more time instead of splashing in the water, I’m going to lose my mind. Olaf’s Summer song is so not as fun when it’s that hot in reality!

Luckily, I had the perfect craft to keep Zach entertained for awhile… DIY Sand Art that took white sand and turned it all kinds of pretty colors with one simple outdoor craft item– Chalk! The best part is the craft is so affordable if you have chalk and glue on hand already (and even if you don’t, it’s still pretty darn cheap!), and it’s so much fun.

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Alabama’s Best Kept Secret: The Beach Destination You Should Know About

I don’t think Alabama necessarily intends to keep their best-kept beach getaway a secret, but somehow, it’s quiet, hidden under the shuffle. In fact, it’s so calm and perfect there that I almost didn’t want to share it. After all, if I spill the beans and let you know about my favorite beach vacation, what’s to keep you all from rushing there? But then I realized that a good beach vacation spot is just too good not to share.

For being a secret, Dauphin Island really isn’t too much of a secret at all. After all, it recently ranked in the top 8 Southern Islands You Should Be Visiting This Summer by Huffington Post and that isn’t it’s first time receiving a similar nod. But somehow, tucked away between Florida beaches and the Orange Beach/Gulf Shores area that everyone’s familiar with, Dauphin Island is the perfect quiet getaway, especially for families.

After nearly a decade of summer vacations spent at Dauphin Island, I’ve made a list of the absolute most important things to do, see, and enjoy on the Island, as well as a few reminders that the best part of the island is the fact that you can just sit and relax.

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7 Days, 2 People, 1 Carry-On Bag: How to Pack for a Vacation Without Checking a Bag

Every summer, we take a big trip down to Dauphin Island, AL. And when we do, we pack 5 people into our mini van, along with luggage, snacks and food for the week, and all kinds of awesome pool toys. Because of that, it means really limited space for actual, y’know, clothes. Because of this annual trip, and because I’ve had too much lost luggage in the airport (so I never check a bag if I can avoid it), I’ve become an expert at packing in small spaces. That means this carry-on is my best friend when I pack for Zach and I every time. I’ve got some tried-and-true tips to make sure you can do the same!

This is my suitcase, packed and ready to go. As you can see, I have diapers, plus clothing for Zach and I. The first rule of saving space is to roll your clothes. Seriously, it’s not just a sleepover or overnight camp thing– by rolling clothing, you can fit 1/3 as much, or at least, in the three years I’ve tried it, 1/3 is about what I’ve gotten in extra by rolling. You can even roll an outfit together, but since I mix-and-match a lot, I prefer to just roll it as it is.

One big rule I follow is that I never pack jeans. If I want a pair of jeans for vacation, I wear them on the way. Jeans are a space sucker. It’s ridiculous how much space they take up! I measured– in the space I can put one pair of jeans, I could put two maxi dresses, or 2/3 of Zach’s clothing. It’s ridiculous. If you’re giving up jeans, some space-saving options are shorts and maxi dresses! As you can see, I squeezed in 3 maxi dresses and two pairs of shorts for myself. I don’t pack jeans for Zach, either. Also consider the natural space that’s created by other items. For example, I’m a… uh… rather busty chica, which means that, in order for certain, ahem, undergarments to hold their shape, they can be filled with socks or panties or tee shirts. It helps the shape of the undergarment, while also making more room in your suitcase. I fill it with whatever will fit, set it on the bottom of the suitcase, and then place items around it to make sure everything is where it should be and I have plenty of room.

Consolidate! Zach and I share the essentials like toothpaste. No need to pack a kid’s paste AND an adult’s paste, just share one. We packed Cha Cha Chocolate from Tanner’s Tasty Paste because it works well for adults and kids, and fits just fine in our case, perfect for sharing. We also make sure to take travel sizes of whatever we can. I keep a basket of travel sized items on hand that I have gotten free or very cheap. Target sometimes discounts their travel sized items on endcaps, and the shampoo and conditioner I brought were part of a free-with-purchase when I last bought shampoo and conditioner (often brands attach them to advertise a new product line, but they make a great travel pal!) You can also consider 2-in-1 or 3-in-1 items that double as shampoo and conditioner or even body wash, too. I also am a fan of BB cream with SPF that works as my daytime moisturizer, gives me SPF protection, and has tinting powers to even out my skintone– I leave my daytime moisturizer and foundation at home.

Also, in the above photo, you see that I’ve packed diapers, but notice that I didn’t pack ALL of the diapers we’d need for the week. Why? Because we always end up stopping at Walmart while we’re on our way to the Island (mostly to get groceries for the week, since we cook in-condo a lot). If you frequently hit the store on your trip, consider leaving part of your gear at home and picking it up on the way home. Just make sure that you’re only saving things you’ll be making room for while you’re gone– as in, don’t think you’ll be able to take a full carry-on, go buy more clothes, and have a place to put it. But for diapers? Easy, when we’re at Walmart, we buy a new package, then use the diapers, and if we have leftovers, they fit where the old diapers did in the suitcase when I packed.

Finally, laundry. We specifically rent a condo that allows us to wash our clothing for free on-site (in our condo!) so we can pack less and wash halfway through the week. While I pretty much packed enough clothes for our full vacation anyway, having that washer and dryer is really nice because we can wash halfway through, saving even more space. Think about how much more space you’ll save if you’re tossing your clothes into the washer before going sightseeing or to the beach, then throwing them into the dryer before bed and waking up t freshly cleaned clothes? We also love laundry on-site because we can wash all of our clothes on the last day and not drag home wet and sandy clothing, and when we get home, we can just relax– we aren’t starting out having to play laundry catch-up at home! If there are two similarly priced locations with similar amenities, I’ll pick the one with laundry every time. It’s just so much more convenient– and it means that I don’t need an extra bra or an extra pair of jeans because I can work with what I’ve got. Also, you can actually WASH swim diapers, moms! Simply turn them inside out and throw them in the washer, but let them air dry, don’t dry them in the dryer. I’ve gotten 4-5 uses out of EACH swim diaper. Of course, if there’s clear… um… output in the swim diaper, you don’t want to wash and re-use, but if it still looks clean, go for it! That’s another space saver for me– I just pack a few swim diapers and wash them for the week (obviously pool swim diapers will last longer and stay cleaner than beach swim diapers, so I put him in a re-washed one for the beach and dispose of that sandy swim diaper after, but put him in the newer ones for the pool so they stay cleaner and not so sand-covered).

Also, it can sometimes help to pack and then unpack and re-pack, if you’ve built time for it before you depart on your trip. I packed everything, unpacked it for photographs, and then re-packed it. The EXACT SAME items were in photo one and photo two, but packing them differently made me see spaces I didn’t see before, and freed up tons of space in the top corner. I ended up filling that space with some jars to collect sand, and it’s just the right size to bring home a souvenir or two. While I kept the same things in my bag from the first picture to this one, you could also pack, unpack, repack to see what you might be taking that’s a duplicate (that’s particularly important if two or more people are included in the packing job), and get rid of any excess you don’t need. You can also think twice about taking that third tank top just in case, and cut it out if you need the space.

 

I will note that since we drive instead of flying, I wasn’t concerned about liquids when packing, so you’ll see that I don’t have airline-approved containers for liquids or gels. When packing a carry-on like this for air travel, you’ll want to make sure you’re keeping with airline regulations. If you ARE flying, you can check with your specific airline about the size of carry-ons and if they’ll allow you a carry-on AND a personal item (many airlines will allow you to carry on a bag, as well as having a “personal” item like a purse or laptop bag). I’ve successfully used this size of bag shown for two different airlines, so it IS carry-on sized.

Even if you aren’t flying, packing in a carry-on bag has it’s advantages. It takes up less space to pack in a carry-on bag for two than try to pack in full sized-suitcases, and once you’ve mastered the tips, you might even be able to squeeze a family’s worth of luggage in a suitcase without a problem.

Happy travels!

 

Where are you going this summer? Do you drive or fly? If flying, do you check luggage? Share in the comments below!

20 Can’t-Miss Vacation Photo Opportunities, Plus Tips for Vacation Photography No Matter Your Destination

With summer vacations coming up, it’s so easy to get caught up in the planning that you miss out on capturing those memories. Of course, you don’t want to spend so much of your trip behind a camera that you forget to actually enjoy it, but there are a few photos that you should definitely take time to snap, whether it’s with your DSLR or you’re Instagramming it!

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34 Things to Add to Your Summer Bucket List (That Cost $20 or Less to Do!)

Summer is officially almost here. It seems like in my mind, Memorial Day marks the official beginning of summer. With it right around the corner, it’s time to start planning out all of the fun things you want to do this summer. But a ton of activities can get expensive. Here is a list of 34 great things you’ll want to try that won’t drain your wallet too quickly– they’re all under $20!

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7 Rainy-Day Boredom Busters for Kids

I have always loved a good rainstorm. The soft pitter patter of rain on the roof as I indulge in a nice cup of coffee and a good book…. oh… wait… that was pre-motherhood. I’ve quickly learned as a mom of a high-energy almost-three-year-old that rainstorms are one of the worst things that could happen to a day. A rainstorm is the opposite of getting things accomplished and not pulling your hair out.

Where there is rain, there is boredom and that spells lots and lots of energy. I had to do something, so I came up with any method I could, and these are my top seven tried-and-true rainy day boredom busters for kids.

Play a fun game of Shape Squish! Cut out a variety of shapes from different colors of construction paper, then tape them to the floor (if you’re wanting to use them again and again, laminate them first!). Give your child directions, such as “Put your hand on the yellow circle!” or “Sit down on the blue triangle!” For younger kids, you can tailor the game a bit simpler by asking them to go stand on a yellow shape or put a foot on a triangle, for example, allowing them multiple choices. For older kids, try something more complicated, like “Put your right hand on the yellow triangle and your left foot on the pink rectangle!” This is a fun way of quizzing kids on colors and shapes while also practicing gross motor skills. Consider making silly requests, like asking kids to place elbows or ears on shapes and watch the giggles ensue! It’s a perfect boredom buster because it’s an active play game, but keeps kids cornered to one spot, it’s educational in nature, and it can be played in a group or solo, depending on how many kids you have.

Create an Indoor Obstacle Course. This is probably the most tried and true method out there for getting kids to stop losing their mind on a rainy day. Set up couch cushions, pillows, blankets, hula hoops, and masking tape. Do activities like jumping from blanket to blanket, walking a straight line on the tape, and doing a somersault on the pillows. Go around the course and vary the actions. It’s a fantastic way to get kids moving, and by providing plenty of cushions, it’s pretty safe with supervision. After giving the kids the chance to play in an obstacle course, leave out the pillows and blankets and see if an impromptu blanket and pillow fort materializes!

Make a ramp from some cardboard, a long board, or a wrapping paper tube to use with cars or small balls. Slide the cars down the ramp, then vary the height to see how the speed changes at different heights. This is a great physics activity where kids are learning without realizing that they’re learning. It’s fun to show how things move on a ramp. With an older child, you can reinforce this later by having them watch the spedometer as you go up a hill versus down a hill in the car. Does the speed increase going downhill if you don’t apply the brake? What does your child observe?

Create a toy bank. Cut a wide slit in the lid of a coffee or oatmeal can, and put poker chips, play money, or other objects into the slot in the can. You can count as you drop items in, open it up, and take them out. It’s a great way to practice counting skills, and you can pretend it’s a piggy bank. Let kids play kitchen and use the bank as the cash register, or even consider re-using the bank as chore allowance in the future.

Make a cup stack! How big of a cup tower can you make? Can you tear it down quickly? This is a great way of working on balance, and letting kids explore with a new building material. Whether you have a whole slew of paper or plastic cups, or have other kid-friendly reusable cups that can be used, this is a fun activity. Want to shake things up and continue the cup play after the stacking wears thin? Hide a ball inside a cup, move it around, and see if your child can find it. Start out with a few cups moving slowly, but as your child gets better, go faster, use more complicated transitions, and add more cups to make it harder to guess!

Play “Now You Do It!” with your little learner. You do an action, like spinning in a circle, jumping on one foot, or touching your nose, and then say “Now you do it!” Your child learns to listen and look while being active and playful. After awhile, switch roles and let your child lead the game, too! If you have more than one child, allow each to take turns leading their siblings. If you have older kids, you can give a series of actions instead of a single action; try two or three moves in a row, or a more complicated action, and see if they can follow the full series correctly. It’s way more fun than simon says because it gets you moving, too, and plenty of giggles start to happen!

Practice counting in a fun way! Use a marker to draw numbers on paper with the corresponding number of dots. Then, take small objects like cereal or cars or hair bows and put them on the corresponding dots– one object on the one, two objects on the two, etc. This is a great way to teach kids that the written numeral is representing something tangible, that the number 2 doesn’t just show the number two or look like the number two, but represents two objects, two shoes, two eyes, two carrots. Take care to count the objects and point out the numeral that matches. You can extend the activity by using different colors of paper and matching the color to the page for older kids– only putting blue cars on the blue paper, for example. The best part is, if you’re using toys to count, the activity seamlessly transitions into solo play so you actually can dive into that cup of coffee or good book while your child plays, happily entertained after the great mommy-kiddo time they just loaded up on!

Do you have a tried-and-true Rainy Day Boredom Buster? Tell all about it in the comments below!

 

Looking for more great boredom busters? Follow my Boredom Busters Board on Pinterest!