Currently ::


These boots.  If you follow my winter capsule wardrobe on Instagram, you’ve seen these on my feet  They’re super cliche, but there’s a reason Hunter boots are an institution.

It is finally starting to warm up a little bit in the tundra, and I don’t want to think about where I’m stepping and whether or not I’m ruining my shoes or going to get wet socks, so my Hunters are my go-to footwear right now.


Of Mess and Moxie by Jen Hatmaker.  I’m actually re-reading it.  I received it as a gift from my Aunt for my birthday, and it’s such a fun, easy read, that I got through it in a couple days.

But, afterward, I realized that there were parts that were meaty that I wanted to dig my teeth into a little more, so I’m re-reading it.  This time, with a pen and highlighter in hand.  I’m enjoying the light-hearted humor and recipes, but I’m also taking the time to really think about deep issues that matter to me about which she writes.


This Whole Foods “copycat” Tropical Green Smoothie from Rabbit Food for my Bunny Teeth.  I wanted a green smoothie that tasted like one I would order from Panera or Starbucks, and this seemed like it might be that.  And it is!  Add to that the benefit of it being “normal” ingredients that I already had.


I’m re-watching Hawaii Five-O on Netflix.  I’ve watched the series twice, but it’s been a while.  It’s a little cheesy, and it’s a stereotypical cop show, but for me it’s so much more.  The show takes place and is filmed in Hawaii, which was my Grandpa’s favorite place on earth.  He went there frequently and I grew up hearing stories about this magical place.  I’ve only been there once, but I feel like I have a connection to that place, and watching Hawaii Five-O is one of my sentimental guilty pleasures.


Up First.  I’m a huge NPR News & Podcast nerd.  This has been established.  Up First is a podcast that is a daily news round-up.  It is 3-4 of the top stories of the day and it lasts about 12-15 minutes.

I subscribe to the podcast, so it’s on my phone when I leave the house at 5:15 to go to the gym.  I listen to the first half on the drive there and second half on the drive back.  Even if I don’t get a chance to read another news article for the rest of the day, I feel informed and in touch with the goings on in the world.


That I’ve gained ten pounds since the beginning of the year and that I really need to do something about it, but I don’t want to make the changes that it requires.  I love ice cream and bread and donuts and cookies too much.  And with all of the aforementioned vices, there is no such thing as moderation for me.  I want the benefits of healthy living and none of the work or sacrifices.  I’m sure that you can’t identify with this life conundrum.




Best Way to Organize Food Containers

Trick to Organizing Leftover Containers ::

Tupperware.  Gladware.  Leftover containers.  Whatever you call them, they can easily be the bane of kitchen organization.

Leftover containers can be tricky to organize because it’s a lethal combination of mismatched shapes & sizes, they’re made to stack, but easily topple over and there are separate lids.  Oi vey the lids.

The #1 tip that I give when asked about organizing food containers is to use uniform food storage.

Trick to Organizing Leftover Containers ::

By uniform, I mean sticking to one specific type or style of container.

Uniformity allows you to utilize space better – where containers are stored and when they are in your fridge.  Stacking is doable because containers are made to fit inside of or on top of one another.  And those pesky lids are easier to corral because they nest inside one another.

I’m not saying that the only way for you to organize this area of your home is for you to throw out your entire cupboard of containers and start fresh (although, for some, that may be the best solution).  When the time comes to buy new leftover containers (in my experience, this should be done more than it is), think ahead and employ this principle from now on.

Research now and decide what type or set would work best for you.  Then, when the times comes to replace what you have, you’ve already done the legwork and all you have to do now is purchase what you’ve already decided you need.

So, how do you know what type or set works best for you?

Leftover Container FAQ

This is a preference thing.  Each has their positives and negatives.  Glass doesn’t include BPA (there are plastic BPA-free options as well), doesn’t stain and lasts longer.  Plastic is significantly cheaper, has more size options and needs to be replaced more often (which can be nice if you’re the kind of person who likes to change things up).

There’s no right answer for this one – which is freeing because you can’t go wrong.  We use glass for leftovers (anything that will go in the microwave) and plastic for cut up fruits and veggies.

Not as many as you think you do.  Most people have way more containers than they need or could ever use at once.

The ‘how many’ question is determined by your fridge space and your storage space.  Don’t have or buy more than you can store at any one time.  Add a few more for freezer and pantry storage and that’s it.

Trick to Organizing Leftover Containers ::

The best option is to stack them together and to contain them.  There are many ways to do this, and it depends on the shapes and sizes of your lids.

Lid storage is one of the biggest reasons that I suggest uniform storage for leftover containers, because that means that you only have one or two sizes of lids for 5-7 different sizes of containers.

Choose leftover container sets that have uniform lids that fit multiple container sizes ::

First, let me say this;  Which shape you choose is not as important as choosing ONE shape and sticking to it.  A combination of square, circle and hexagon containers (I’ve never seen a hexagon container, but I guarantee you that someone, somewhere has one) makes for tricky storage – both when the containers are being used and need to be stacked in the fridge or when they’re not being used and need to be stored together.

Personally, circles seem like a waste of space to me, but some people really like them.  Again, the actual shape that you choose is a personal preference thing.  Choose whatever excites you most.

Okay, so you’re convinced to leave your old ways of buying mismatched sets on a whim.  Start with the basics discussed above – glass or plastic, shape & quantity.  Use those parameters as you’re searching through sets.

Go through your current leftover containers and pull out the containers you use most often.  Write down their size and what you use them for.  Make sure that as you’re looking through sets, you find a set that fills those purposes.

Look for auxiliary pieces as well.  For instance, we  have this set, but knew that we needed more 2.5 qt containers, so before buying it, we looked to see if we could buy more of that size individually.

Trick to Organizing Leftover Containers ::

What do you find to be the hardest part of organizing your leftover containers?

Trick to Organizing Leftover Containers ::

P.S.  See how I use the containers in my fridge and read about why uniform storage isn’t just for your leftover containers






How To Get Back On Track

How to Get Back On Track ::

Our entire family was hit with a virus a couple weeks back that had each of us down for the count for at least two days.  For nine straight days, at least one of us had a fever.

The first strike came on a Friday morning when my daughter woke up with a fever of 102.  At that moment, the day’s schedule and priorities got realigned.  My entire to-do list that day became caring for my sick little girl.

Three days later, I got the bug.  Friends took care of my children, my husband took care of feeding the three of us who were eating more than chicken noodle soup and my to-do list got ignored.  My only job for the next 48 hours was resting.

Actually being sick is miserable enough.  But the overwhelming nature of it is compounded by not only not getting done what you normally would, but all of the additional tasks that come with caring for someone who isn’t feeling well.

How to Get Back On Track ::

It’s a double whammy.

After more loads of laundry and Lysol wipes than I care to count, two weeks passed and we were all mostly back to health.  Great.  Except that I was overwhelmed at the thought of where to even begin to dig out.

Where’s the ‘Start Over’ button?  

It’s not just sickness that can cause this feeling.  Anything that interrupts your normal routine – even the good stuff – can lead to feeling behind.  More evenings away than normal, work travel, even vacation can get you off track.  And getting back on just seems like too much.

How to Get Back on Track When Life Causes Derailment

1 – Start by making a list of every.single.task that needs to be done

Every single task?! Won’t that intensify the feeling of being overwhelmed?! No.

It’s better to name the tasks and take charge of them then to let them linger in your sub-conscious and nag at you.

Start with the previous day’s list.  If you don’t have it written down, just start writing down whatever tasks are nagging at you.  If you can’t think of anything, walk through your house and write down everything that you see that needs to get done.

Don’t get overwhelmed by this step.  My Grandpa used to always say “It has to get worse before it gets better.”  I think he may have been referring to this exact situation.

How to Get Back On Track ::

 Photo credit

2 – Filter Tasks

Be judicious about what really has to get done.  Real life comes and something’s gotta give.  Read through your list and ask yourself “What gives?”

For me, this was house cleaning chores.  We view cleaning as a way of taking care of what we have (vs. having a clean house to show others).  The floors won’t be destroyed if they don’t get mopped this week.  Fungus isn’t going to sprout on the stovetop if it isn’t cleaned.

In this situation, a dirty house is a constant reminder that some things aren’t the way I want them to be, but that’s real life.

3 – Triage the Tasks by Due Date

Go through your filtered list and separate the tasks into three categories – 1: Overdue 2: Due within the week & 3: No Due Date.

When there’s a lot to do, everything seems urgent.  Doing this helps you see what is actually urgent.

Tip: For things like laundry, which don’t have an actual date, but that need to be done in a timely manner (unless you’re okay with your family walking around naked), assign a due date that is determined by when you will start to suffer the consequences of the unfinished task.

How to Get Back On Track ::

Photo Credit

4 – Schedule Tasks

Take your slimmed down, triaged list and assign each task a to-do date.  Start with the overdue tasks, then move through each category.

According to Finish author Jon Acuff, you double the odds of actually finishing a task if you plan out when and where you’ll work on your goals.  You still might not get everything done, but you’ll get more done than you would have if you sat on your couch and felt bad for yourself.

Be realistic about what you can do in a day.  Don’t prioritize tasks over health – physical, mental & emotional.  If getting all of these things done means not getting the adequate sleep that your body needs to recover, then it’s not worth it.

5 – Give Yourself A Break

It takes longer to get back to “normal” than you think it should.  That’s just reality.

Give yourself time and recognize that no matter how much you cross off of your list, if it comes at the expense of your stress level and recovery – or your family’s – it’s not not worth it.

How to Get Back On Track ::

How to Get Back On Track ::

P.S. Use this list of necessities when someone in your house is sick and use this list when you know someone else that is sick.SaveSave





100 Posts!!! ::

This is the 100th post for Maximizing Days! #allthecelebrationemojis

In honor of that milestone, here are a list of 100 tricks, tips, things I love, and stuff I’ve learned along the way.

Think of it like the Cliff’s Notes for

  1. My all-time, #1 piece of organizing advice for anyone who asks
  2. Being over-prepared can be disadvantageous
  3. The only thing that makes laundry bearable
  4. I would wear these every day if I could.  Right now, I only wear them almost ever day.
  5. How I got my husband to do the laundry
  6. The cleaning tool that gets used everyday in our house
  7. Cleaning a toilet is nasty – make it less nasty with this trick
  8. Seemingly eons ago, I packed a hospital bag for when my son was born
  9. For years, I wished for this every time that I saw it in the Pottery Barn catalogue. Now we have it and it hasn’t disappointed.
  10. Laying in bed when you remember something important?  Don’t get up!
  11. How to make Mondays slightly more bearable
  12. Another way to make Mondays – and all the days – go more smoothly
  13. Under-sink transformer
  14. Most of what I’ve learned about organizing I read here at least ten years ago
  15. No matter how grumpy I am, this sight brings a smile to my face.  Well, this and my kids (unless they were the source of the grumpiness)
  16. We celebrated my husband’s birthday here a year ago.  I want to go back…
  17. The best product for voluminous hair
  18. The second-best product for voluminous hair
  19. So, just what is a capsule wardrobe?
  20. The key to making purging work for you
  21. This makes me long for summer…..
  22. The BEST dresser
  23. How to maintain some order in those aforementioned cavernous drawers
  24. What I learned at the organizing seminar that I taught
  25. Without this, I would get ZERO done every day
  26. These aren’t part of my winter capsule wardrobe, but they’re on my feet 70% of the time
  27. I love my children, but I did not like pregnancy
  28. Next week is my daughter’s half birthday.  Hard to believe this was 6 months ago
  29. Comparison steals joy
  30. How my husband knows exactly what to get me for any and every gift-giving occasion
  31. Target stopped carrying these.  Tears.
  32. Speaking of Target, ours closed. ALL.THE.TEARS
  33. Breakfast.  Lunch.  Supper.  What my kids eat.
  34. Trying to keep my phone as an asset, not a time suck
  35. I didn’t change my son’s diaper on the changing pad until he was at least 6 months old.  Here’s why.
  37. This is when I knew that my husband and I were meant to be
  38. Christmas gifts, card mailing list, meal prep, and Christmas card albums
  39. The best shoes
  40. The other best shoes
  41. Our kid’s birthday tradition
  42. My favorite cleaning products
  43. When to buy containment
  44. This took me far too long to figure out
  45. Can you be organized & have a junk drawer? YES
  46. Toy packaging repurposed
  47. Baby Gear!
  48. Making dishes tolerable
  49. Save money on dry cleaning
  50. No grocery money left? Start here.
  51. Only touch your mail once
  52. I thought these were a waste of space.  Now I’ve learned that they are key to utilizing space.
  53. Become a capsule wardrobe-er
  54. Feeding your infant doesn’t mean you have to buy a new deep freezer
  55. What you need when you’re sick
  56. I should get a commission for how many times I’ve referred this to other people
  57. Why a ‘Monica Closet’ might be what’s missing in your quest to get organized
  58. The trick to an organized leftover container space
  59. The absolute best leftover containers there are
  60. Grocery List Trick
  61. We have one of these in every closet in our house
  62. Be a bright spot in someone’s day
  63. I’ll admit it.  I get up at 5AM.  Here’s why
  64. Every kitchen should have at least one of these
  65. Real-person Container Store success story
  66. Linen closet #1
  67. Linen closet #2
  68. How we’re able to eat frozen pizza all too frequently without feeling bad about it.  Throw some fruits & veggies in this bad boy, and call it a well-rounded meal.
  69. My favorite reads
  70. Sleep later with the time you will save using this
  71. Christmas shop all year long
  72. Contain the kid clothes clutter – what they don’t wear
  73. Contain the kid clothes clutter – what they do wear
  74. My difference-maker cosmetic
  75. Dreaded k-cups.  Love them.  Hate them.
  76. This might actually make you start cleaning.  Might.
  77. We call them Bucket Lists.  Even though it has nothing to do with death
  78. If you have a toddler, run, don’t walk to buy this bad boy
  79. Make dinner without harming your children.  It is possible.
  80. A functional toy room without a single label.  Also possible.
  81. You’re an adult.  Your house can look like it .
  82. If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!
  83. Everything except the kitchen sink
  84. I’m so happy that I live in a world where there are Octobers
  85. Is that cheap flight worth it
  86. They’re for more than just magazines
  87. Have an hour?  Then read about how I menu plan here, here AND here.  Brevity has never been my strong suit.
  88. I don’t even do this anymore
  89. Why you shouldn’t fold your laundry on the dining room table.
  90. Bring on the boots!  A Minnesota Winter Capsule Wardrobe
  91. Why every.single.minute of my day is scheduled
  92. Deep vanity drawers are not ideal.  But that’s no excuse.
  93. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said a thousand times
  94. Don’t bother keeping these unless you can access them
  95. My go-to storage container
  96. THIS is how you keep your house neat
  97. Perfection cannot be your goal
  98. You’re never done
  99. Cheapest & best organizing tool
  100. What this really is all about



Choosing Photos for a Gallery Wall

Choosing Photos for a Gallery Wall ::

I am decorating stupid.  My inability to decide what to put where is debilitating.

After living in our house for nearly 15 months, I finally started decorating.  I wanted to wait until all of our projects were finished, but then realized that that will never happen, so I might as well get on with it.

And I was met with my usual indecision.  A friend recommended ‘The Nesting Place‘ to me, which was incredibly helpful.

Read it.  It’s worth it.

But, I will sum it up by saying her main premise is the idea that ‘It Doesn’t Have to be Perfect to be Beautiful’.

Progress over Perfection.  I talk about that concept all of the time when I’m helping people to organize their homes, but struggle with applying it to my own decor decisions.

Let’s make progress together.  Gather up your frames, sort through the 1000’s of pictures stored on your computer that have yet to be printed and let’s make our homes beautiful!

While I can offer zero design assistance, I can help make one part of the process go more smoothly for you.  Choosing which of those photos to put in your gallery wall.

How to Choose Photos for a Gallery Wall

1 – Find Inspiration

Whether it’s a general idea of what you’re looking for or you copy someone else’s creativity (that’s what I have to do), find something that you like and replicate it.

Find gallery wall inspiration ::


2 – Hang (Empty) Frames

Hanging frames before choosing the photos that will be in them may seem inefficient, but it allow you to make sure that you like the frame arrangement before purchasing the photos for them.  If you have the luxury of waiting before ordering photos, do that.

Hang empty frames before choosing photos to ensure that you like the layout ::


3 – Draw Frame Diagram

After you’ve established the pattern of the photo frames, draw out that arrangement.  This is solely for your own reference, so perfection is not at all needed here.  Just channel your inner-pre-schooler and draw some rectangles the way that they are hung on your walls.

a. Assign each photo a number.  It is helpful if they are chronological, but it not necessary

b. Write in the photo size (i.e. 5×7, 8×10, etc.)

c. Write in the orientation (Portrait or landscape)

Diagram gallery wall and assign number to each photo ::

4 – Use the Gallery Wall Photo Printable

Print the FREE printable here.

Each photo is a line on the printable.  Fill in the information for each photo.  If you are ordering prints for more than one gallery wall or area at one time, draw thick lines between photo groupings.Gallery Wall Photos ::

5 – Choose Photos

Use the constraints of the frames you have chosen.  Start with orientation; if you need a landscape photos, look through the landscape photos you have.  Or, if you have a portrait photo that you want in a landscape frame, see if it’s possible to crop the photo to change the orientation.

*If you already have printed photos that you may want to use, sort those by size and orientation.  When you get to step #5, start with your prints in choosing a photo.  On the printable, write in HAVE in the description column to remind yourself that it is not necessary to print a new one.

6 – Save Photo as it’s Assigned Number

Create a folder on your desktop.  As you choose a photo for each frame, save it in that folder as the number to which it has been assigned.

If you are doing more than one wall or area at a time, after choosing the photos, scroll through the photos in your folder as they are grouped.  This will give you an idea of how they will look as a cohesive group on your wall.

7 – Upload Photo Folder to Print

Reference the photo printable to choose which size of each photo to print.  This is easy to figure out because of the names of the files and the printable you already filled in.

Hit ‘Place Order’ and waste no time getting those bad boys in their frames once they arrive at your door step.

There is absolutely nothing “Pinterest-worthy” about this gallery wall.  But I LOVE it.  It’s at the bottom of our steps, so I see it multiple times a day.  And I don’t care that it’s not perfect.  I don’t see the imperfections (most of the time).  I see those beautiful, tiny, chubby-cheeked, blue-eyed faces.

Choosing Photos for a Gallery Wall ::


And I am overcome with gratitude for these people.

Being crippled by not having the perfect gallery wall frame arrangement or photo choices would mean missing out on seeing this every day.  That’s an easy choice.

Order the photos.

Choosing Photos for a Gallery Wall ::

Choosing Photos for a Gallery Wall ::

P.S. See how I decorated for my kids’ birthday party here and here.