Swim bag

Yeah, maybe soon I'll actually be on a better-than-not-even-once-a-month posting schedule. Theoretically yes, since work stuff has eased up a bit, and we've finished moving. . . But on the other hand it's about to be summer and really, who am I kidding?

But in the meantime, speaking of summer, it's gorgeous here today, and I am already thinking of the pool. The problem with going to the pool is that's getting ready for the pool is effing torture.


Unless you have a ready packed swim bag with all your crap in it, ready to go at a moment's notice.

a fully packed swim bag, complete with mulch stain from last year

Here's the thing: I am fundamentally lazy. So I'd much rather put 30 minutes of effort into something once a season to prevent the inevitable "goddamnit, where are the towels?!?!" that would happen EVERY DAY otherwise. 

This way, I never search for sunscreen--it's in the bag. Goggles--in the bag. Towels--in the bag. Snacks--in the bag. My rash guard and suit--in the bag.

What exactly do I pack? Well I'll tell you. And show you! Because who does not love a good "What's in your bag" piece?

fully unpacked. It all goes in the tote.

Back row: tote and towels.

Second row: wet bags, sunscreen on top; mesh duffel with piles of toys on top; big kid's swimsuit, rash guard, and hat.

Third row: my swim coverup, above goggles and sunglasses; my swimsuit and rash guard; diaper clutch with uno, soap case and brush on top, sitting above the prescription goggle case; little one's oldey timey bathing suit and swim dipe.

The bag:

Lands End's XL tote, with the embroidery so everyone knows exactly which bag is what. We have some L.L. Bean totes, which i like for the stiffness of the canvas, but I need the pockets and the attached key fob. (This was purchased before LE stuck their foot in it by retracting the Gloria Steinem interview after right wing nutjobs bitched about feminism. As such, I wrote them and told them that until they got a goddamned spine they'd lost all my business. Which was considerable. And now I'm without a go-to tote and swimwear place. Assholes. Also why I'm not linking to them.)


The biggest little has a specific pool-branded towel he likes, but the rest are Turkish foutas, or peshtemal. I am OBSESSED. They absorb a ton, dry out quickly, are cute, and I got them off of eBay (from this shop--the thick ones are the best) for way cheaper than the fancy places sell them. 

Wet bags:

Two of them. Because inevitably one will not get put back. And tell me why I never knew these were a thing until I had kids? Cause they are AWESOME. The Skip Hop one has a mesh outside pocket which is where I stash my swimsuit and rash guard.

Packing cube:

That's the black mesh bag. Holds the boys' swimsuits and rash guards.  Please to note the little one's oldey-timey one-piece striped job. Last season The Gap had a similar suit that I am kicking myself for not buying in all the sizes, so I hunted one down from Etsy this year (do you die? I die. That is some cute ass shit right there). I need to find him a toddler-sized straw boater, a handle bar mustache, and teach him some barber shop harmonies before fourth of July.

Packing cubes are the shit by the way. I got a bunch in multiple colors from ebags a few years ago. So now when we travel, the boys and I have our stuff color coded. Biggest little is red, littlest little is orange, I am green. It makes packing all those tiny little socks so much easier. JBB is on his own, cause he's a grown ass man and can pack his own stuff.  

Diaper clutch:

That's the crazy patterned zip bag (it's a Ju-Ju-Be wristlet; I have a couple because they are the perfect size and I cannot resist an obnoxious pattern), which is also waterproof so can function as a wet bag just in case. This one holds a tiny wet brush, a spare barrette for me, soap, and all the other little toiletries that we'll seem to collect randomly over the season.

Toy bag:

That's the blue mesh duffle, which is new this season. I straight up copied another parent at the pool who had all their water toys and dive sticks in a big mesh nylon bag. Genius. It fits in the main bag to go to the pool and can just hang out separately on the way back. 


Two pairs for the littles and a prescription pair for JBB (in that fancy stripey case) get tucked into one of the side pockets. I am neither blind nor a delicate dainty flower about opening my eyes underwater so I skip 'em.


Side pocket, alongside extra swim dipes. I have sunscreen in every car as well. Because, preparation! I should buy stock in Banana Boat, Coola, and Supergoop, because despite trying seriously every brand under the sun, those are the only ones that are easy to put on (no ghostly cast or impossible to rub in craziness), smell nice, last a while, and actually work. 


Kid ones go into that little drawstring bag. Mine are either on my head or in the car (I have no joke 6 pairs stashed in there. Again, preparation).  I've had good success with picking up kids sunglasses cheap at The Gap.  I have zero faith in either kid's ability to not break things or lose things, so I get multiple pairs when they have their massive sales.


Uno--a pool STAPLE--goes into a little pocket. Not shown but thrown on top will be a skip hop diaper clutch (also have spares on both cars, because, preparation) with wipes. I generally just throw my wallet and phone on top; my wallet is one of the cute ones from Mochithings hat will hold my phone as well. As I'm sure you can tell, I am a big proponent of the "little bags inside the big bag" method of organization and that site is the best source for all kinds of pouches and wee things. Keys get clipped to tote's attached fob. I usually throw a magazine or book along the side edge, and a water bottle and Cheez-its for the hangries. 

Swim bag, organized and packed, with the toy bag in front.

It is amazing how much crap I can pack in this bag. All that stuff, turns into this...

Swim bag, packed! All but the toy bag which gets thrown on top.

Oh, and this is just for me and the kiddos. Any other grown ups are on their own with their stuff because THEY ARE GROWN UPS and can handle their own shit. Except for the goggles. I got tired of the misplacing of the goggles. 

Back again, again

Whelp, we survived the move. And by "we," I mean "me."  Because let's face it, it was never a question that the other three members of my household would be JUST FINE.  Mostly because two of them are under 10 and would be fine so long as the Legos and the TV survived.  And the other because he's moved a zillion times and does not have the anxiety about having everything you own NOT IN ITS RIGHTFUL PLACE.  

I like things to have their places and to live there and have those places be labeled.  Because I am crazy, I know this.  I also have a tendency towards chaos so this is my way of reining that in somewhat. 

But now that we've made a considerable dent in the boxes, now comes the organization of stuff.  My favorite-slash-the-bain-of-my-existence.  Right now the kids are pretty well sorted and have been since day one.  There are a few more boxes of toys to put away and bins to acquire to put them into.  Books have been shelved, save a few in the living room still looking for a place to live.  My closet is put away, but not put together if you know what I mean.  I have to reorganize that.

The cookbooks are put away, which makes my life much happier.

In the middle of shelving cookbooks.  That whole run is cookbooks.  Because I am crazy.

Oh but my office.  My office.  It's a mess. 

This one is really driving me batty because in one of those boxes is my label maker. AND I DON'T KNOW WHICH ONE. The stress. The STRESS!  On one of my many many trips to the container store I very nearly picked up a new one.  But I can't do that. I have a perfectly good one buried somewhere in that mess, goddamnit.

So meanwhile, look at the pretty wallpapers! Let's pretend this is all we see and there are no boxes anywhere.  These were taken while the papers were going up. 

Mini Moderns Paisley Crescent wallpaper in Tangerine Dream.  The paisleys have lil houses and bikes in them!

Orla Keily Stem wallpaper in Multi

Oh and let's not forget the basement stairs.  I love them so much.

miter your stripes!

linky links! Organizing stuff

I had nugget ice in the hospital where I delivered both kids. It is the SHIT, man! I don't know that I'd get this, but I understand the urge.

Confession time:  I would like nothing more than to sort the biggest little's Legos by color and then by shape.  I am also the person who wants to complete a set and NEVER have it taken apart. Yes, I do identify with Lord Business in the Lego Movie, why do you ask? (I mean, did you SEE his bin setup? Sweet.) So that's why I don't play with Legos.  However, this sorting machine would be my favorite ever.   

Speaking of sorting and organization . . . my affinity for Martha Stewart is well known.  And here is her cleaned up craft room. Covet. 

This playroom is probably a bit more "blogger organized" than anything we have will ever be--my kids put things away for the most part, but would also tear this place to shreds. I do like some of her tips and tricks--thick foam core wrapped in paper or fabric for dividers, and the link through to a puzzle pouch tutorial are great ideas

linky links

Food52's examination of who makes the best black and white cookies is so up my husband's alley. Though not up my alley. They are not cookies, they are cakes, and bleh.  (By the way, he says the best ones are by some place in the Bronx.  I'm sure he'll comment to tell you all. HINT HINT.)

Most self striping yarns are dyed to work for socks, not shawls. Caterpillargreen self striping shawl yarn is genius--they dyed their base yarns so you get perfect stripes as you knit your top down shawl.  

No one gives a bad review quite like KirkusSick burns, the best of Kirkus Reviews.  And those who know me, yes, the best bad review of all made the cut.

Oooh, fancy shelf paper makes me want to rearrange things.

the easiest way to organize a closet is totally fake

The easiest way to organize a closet is easy, a pain in your ass, and totally fake: Throw all your shit out. Voila! Pretty closet!

Let's face it, every post on Pinterest about closet organizing has a jam-packed closet as the "before" and a barely-anything in it closet as an "after."


THAT IS NOT A CLOSET FOR REAL PEOPLE.  Seriously, I do not have only 20 shirts in my closet and three dresses.  Organizational people are LYING TO YOU ALL with these pictures. Nearly every after picture I've seen puts a third of the stuff back into the closet, which looks great, but isn't how people actually live.

I mean, my current closet is big, and if I staged it like this, it would look ENORMOUS.  And I would have a pile of clothes on my bed bigger than my eldest child and no place to put them to keep my pristinely organized closet picture perfect.

Because, confession time: I am both a purger and a hoarder.  Maybe "completist" might be better descriptive than "hoarder," as (despite my occasional freak out to the contrary) I am not, in fact, living in filth and stacks everywhere. I come from a family where things were kept for years--decades even--because they were "perfectly good" but also never used.  And so I get rid of things.  But I do still regret throwing out 6 years worth of Martha Stewart Living Magazine several years ago, I have a complete collection of Cook's Illustrated magazines, I have a shit ton of yarn and fiber, and when I find I shirt I like, I buy it in every color I like. Because FUCK capsule wardrobes.  

So what, you may say, is the real way to organize a closet? 

By now, I'm sure everyone and their mother has heard of Marie Kondo's Life Changing Magic  of Tidying Up.  I know I'm not the first, or the thousandth, to blog about it.  I read through the book, and I liked some of what she said about keeping things that spark joy and ditching the things that don't (but you can pry my books from my cold, dead, hands).

 I have always folded items of clothing and "filed" them in drawers instead of stacks, as she describes--save the socks. I have opinions on socks: Socks should not be rolled together, they should ALWAYS have the cuff tucked together and folded inside so they don't come apart. I also have opinions on sheets, which is a whole 'nother post.  (Oh, and I don't anthropomorphize my things, because I am not a toddler.)

That said, much of what she has to say about closets and clothes  is kind of brilliant, at least for me.  Keep things you love--and I do think that useful everyday things fall into that category. While the random tank top might not itself spark joy in you, the outfit it completes might.  And the random tank top with the weird cut that just never sits right and has the itchy tag certainly does NOT spark joy so toss that shit. I also do not rotate clothes seasonally, because I am lucky enough to have a closet big enough to not have to, but also because so many of my clothes are 4-season pieces.  Dress + wool cardigan + heavy leggings + boots = winter outfit. Same dress + linen cardi + sandals = summer. 

And I love her mild mild debunking of other organizational tricks.  Because again, OPINIONS, I have them.  Do NOT get me started on that "trick" of hanging your hangers backwards to see how frequently you wear something. It's ridiculous and completely disregards the need for special occasion clothing and sentimental favorites. If you love something and it's a sentimental favorite, why on earth would you throw it out? Just to make space? Why is space more important than sentiment, or memories? Get rid of the shit that is "perfectly good" and never used if you want space. And face it people, no one wants to go shopping for an outfit for a funeral when the need comes up. No one. 

And so I cleaned out my closet, somewhat following her suggestions, somewhat following my own.  Three and a half giant garbage bags later (delivered to a friend, and anything she doesn't want is off to donations), it's tidy! and by no means is it a pinterest after picture, but it's so much better. I still have a shit ton of stuff crammed in there, and I still have multiple black t-shirts--now all filed in a single row though.  

I tried things on, and tossed a bunch, I refolded the chaos that had crept in, using  a number of the container store's clear drawer organizer boxes--which I already had, and are fantastic, by the by.  I used some of the post-it sticky label tape and a sharpie to label things that were not clear when folded neatly, like "camisoles" vs. "layering tanks" vs. "short sleeve layers".  I did not color code the labels, despite my inclination to, because the colored sharpies were downstairs and that would require moving myself. 

 I'm pretty pleased with the labeling solution, myself. And I extended it to the hanging things. Because I have many leggings, and could never figure out which neatly folded legging was which and where the fuck was the really lightweight capri legging goddamnit!, I decided to group them by category and hang them, labeling the hangers.  So now there are hangers with a label tape tag of "full length black leggings",  "short black leggings", "exercise leggings", "pant-like leggings", "second tier leggings", etc.  

Of course, I ignored Marie Kondo's suggestion of hanging everything in length order rising to the right, because that's silly.  A. I'm a lefty.  B. the right hand side of my full-length hanging section is partially hidden, so NO. C. By length doesn't work for the way I wear clothes. Category is way better but has it's own hidden problems.

I still am not quite sure the best way to organize the many dresses I own.  I'm leaning more toward use: tunics/dresses too short to wear without leggings, day dresses, slightly fancier day dresses, fancy dresses, formal dresses. But then where do the maxis go? I have some that are more day dressy, some that are more slightly fancier day dressy.  Do I put in each category, or do I pull into a separate section--day maxi vs formal maxi? 

Am I a super nerd to for thinking things through this far? Don't answer that.