Tag Archives: Organization

Traveling with Toddlers: What to Pack

In March I will be traveling with my two toddlers. Alone. Enter my comprehensive list of what to pack in your carry-on when traveling with toddlers.

travel with toddlers what to pack in carry on - fresh take 5

1. Skip Hop Little Kid Backpack

Make them carry their own water and snacks. They will love it and it will free up some space in your carry-on.


2. Munchkin Snack Catchers

At under $5 for a set of two, if you don’t have these already, buy them now and thank me later. They are awesome at home or on the go.

3. DumDums

These are great for toddlers who no longer nurse. The sucking motion helps their ears adjust to the altitude changes.

4. Camelbak Kids Bottle

We love these at our house. Each kid has one and they are perfect for travel because they don’t leak.


5. Drawing Essentials Keep N’ Carry Set

This little kit is so cute and way cheap (under $6). My daughter loves it and plays with all the time even at home.

6. AquaDoodle

The perfect coloring travel book that works by filling the pen with water. *Fill once you are through security if you are traveling by air.

7. LilGadgets Untangled Pro Kids Headphones

These bluetooth headphones are awesome and perfect for busybody kids who wiggle a lot.

8. PlayDoh

Keep their hands busy with PlayDoh. It’s cheap and takes up very little of your valuable travel space.

9. iPad

Yeah, what can I even say, iPads are awesome. Even better when the kids are entertained for a significant amount of time.

Challenge COMPLETED: 5 Keys to Successfully Organize and Purge

40 bags in 40 days - Fresh Take 5

We made it!! We have reached the end of our 40 bags in 40 days challenge. It has been hard, easy, and time consuming all at the same time. I thought, for the final post, I would leave you with the 5 biggest biggest factors to successfully organize and purge your house that I learned while completing this challenge.

What’s the 40 bags in 40 days Challenge?

5 Keys to Successfully Organize and Purge Your House

1. Start Small

Make a list of all the areas in your house that are in need of organization and purging. Now take that list and divide each item into a few smaller areas.

The biggest challenge in cleaning, organizing, and purging your house is actually starting the task. Make it easier on yourself by making each project a 20 minute one instead of a 5 hour one. For instance, when I started this challenge I had trouble focusing it down to tasks and just identified the kitchen on my list. After struggling to really get started I realized I didn’t have time to organize and purge my kitchen as a whole. BUT, I did have time to clean out the spices and reorganize them. And then the next time I had 20 minutes, I hit the pots and pans storage. And so on.

2. Strategize Organization

Spend a couple of minutes coming up with some storage and organization ideas for your problem areas. Your best resources for this are friends and family or Pinterest. Check out my organization board here. Don’t be afraid to do something really different from how you are currently doing it. The biggest change I made was organizing my pantry by type of food (e.g. Mexican, Italian, Asian) as opposed to canned goods, boxed goods, etc. This has made making a grocery list so much easier since this is how most grocery stores are laid out. Also its a huge benefit for meal planning.

Once you have an idea for some tools that may help, stop by the dollar store or order them from Amazon.

3. Purge!

The first thing you should do is pull everything out of your identified area and get rid of anything unneeded, broken, or unused. This will be hard for some people (me!), but really try to pair it down to the essentials. Make sure you have multiple bags for the purge: donate, trash, and recycle.

4. Implement Your Organization

Add in the organization system that you found in step 2. Remember its ok to take breaks if it doesn’t look like it will be completed in your allotted time. Also, you may have to divide the task even further down into sub tasks.

5. Allow for Adjustment

Most organizational systems don’t work perfectly right off the bat, allow room for you to change your mind about how things will work.

Check out how my fellow bloggers finished up the challenge.

40 Bags in 40 Days: Week 5 Update

Eeek! I am a day late on this. I’m sorry! It has been a crazy week of stomach bugs in our house, yuck.

This week I tackled the kitchen and our organization systems there for the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge. You can see where this all started here.

Spice Cabinet

We used a leftover piece of closet shelving, cut to size, to serve as a way to display spices in the cabinet. I love this organization system because it allow me to see and pick out the spice I want without emptying the entire cabinet. Plus it was really easy to do.

40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Spice Rack Organization - Fresh Take 5
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Spice Rack Organization – Fresh Take 5



Pots and Pans Organization

I added an extra divider in my cabinet to hold my pans vertically so I can take the one I want, use it, wash it, and replace it without having to restack everything. Let’s be honest, the restacking never happens and things end up a jumbled mess so I am excited to have this change.

Vertical storage for pans
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Vertical Pan Organization – Fresh Take 5



Pots Organized
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Pot Organization – Fresh Take 5

The pots are still stacked for now. If you have a brilliant idea for this, I am open to hear it.


Here’s the finished product.

Pot and Pan organization
40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge: Pots and Pans Organization – Fresh Take 5


Take a minute to check out all the great ideas happening over at the other bloggers taking the 40 bags in 40 Days challenge.

40 Bags in 40 Days: Week 4 Update

How is your 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge going? (Wondering what this is all about? Check out the kick off page here.) We keep plugging away over here and are starting to feel really good about the progress that is being made.

Here is what we did this week.


Using Lindsay’s awesomely organized pantry for inspiration we hit our pantry hard. It’s amazing how many canned goods and other food items end up expiring because they just get pushed to the back and can’t  be seen.

We updated the organization to incorporate more bins and sorted the bins by food types. The shoe rack was used to hold cling wrap, tin foil, trash bags, and other small miscellaneous items.

Pantry Organization
The finished product
Pantry Organization 3
Use a shoe organizer to corral small items, plastic wraps, and trash bags
Pantry Organization 4
Incorporated bins and organized by “like” items and food types


Guest Bathroom

The guest bathroom was another area conquered by the 40 bags in 40 days challenge. We had a small table to hold some candles and extra toilet paper, but with two toddlers it was always being knocked over and tampered with so we knew we needed another solution.

We added a shelf above the toilet to hold those items and added some updated linens to make it look fresher.

Bathroom Organization
Added shelf above the toilet for organization and toilet paper storage


Bathroom Organization 2
Updated linens to freshen look


Check out how my fellow bloggers are keeping up on the challenge:


40 Bags In 40 Days: Week 3 Update

40 bags in 40 days - Fresh Take 5

This week was when the 40 bags in 40 days really became a challenge. After spending a week traveling, organization was low on the priority list compared to playing with adorable toddlers and laundry, so much laundry. We did manage to fill some bags, but nothing photo worthy.

Understanding my dilemma, my amazing, beautiful friend Lindsay volunteered to let me take some pictures of the awesome organization she has implemented into her house in the last couple of weeks. Hopefully, this with be some inspiration for all of us.

The Medicine Cabinet

Organized and labeled medicine and first aid keeps things accessible
Organized and labeled medicine and first aid keeps things accessible

The Kitchen Command Center

Organized kitchen command center - Fresh Take 5 #emergencycontacts
Chalkboard paint on the inside of the left cupboard door creates an emergency contact area perfect for babysitters


Right side of the command center features important birthdays
Right side of the command center features important birthdays

The Pantry

Fun colors create visual appeal


Basket storage keeps everything in its place
Basket storage keeps everything in its place

Organized kitchen pantry - Fresh Take 5 #labeled bins

Labels on everything!


Check out what the other 40 Bags in 40 Days bloggers have been up to:

40 Bags in 40 Days: Week 2 Update

40 bags in 40 days - Fresh Take 5

The wife is traveling this week on a much-needed vacation, so I’ll take over the weekly 40 Bags post. I’m pretty sure I’m doing it wrong, but whatever.

I haven’t been able to actually accomplish anything this week, so here are three organization tips I’ve come up with in the past:


1 – Make a consistent system for backing up photos

Photos are the one thing I can’t stand to think of losing, but I’ve never been interested in managed cloud storage. When all the photos I took were on a single camera, this was easier to manage. Now, our photos and videos are usually scattered across the mobile devices and a camera. So, here’s what I do:

  • Once a month (put it on your calendar, or you’ll forget), gather all the devices you take photos or video on, and all their cords.
  • Copy all of the last month photos to a single folder labeled with the month. I like to use a yyyymmdd format so that they show up in order automatically. If you’re copying off an iPhone, don’t bother with iTunes, just pull the image files off like a external hard drive.
  • Delete the photos you just copied to your computer. You don’t have to do this if you like to keep a lot of photos on your phone, but it does help make it clear what you’ve backed up. My wife’s phone is always out of file space, so she usually doesn’t have a choice.
  • For extra safety, I bought two external hard drives and rotate them back and forth to work with the entire photo library on them. That way, if something happened to the house, I’d still have all our photos.


2 – Use a Password Vault

I think that most people have agreed that using varied, somewhat complex, long passwords and changing them occasionally is pretty good practice. That’s basically impossible if you want to actually remember your passwords.

Originally I used a USB-stick password vault (Keepass). That worked fairly well, until I lost the USB stick.

I think by far the best answer is a browser-embedded password vault. I use LastPass. You install a plug-in to your browser, put in a single master password, and it keeps track of any new logins you use, and automatically populates login information when you got to log in.

If you’re on a public computer, you can just go to the LastPass website and access your vault to look up or copy your password.


3 – Use a cloud-based note system

I don’t know how many times a day I need a private place to put notes, pictures, reminders, links to webpages that I don’t need right now but probably will someday, etc.

This includes my favorite, taking pictures of labels or documents that’ll I’ll certainly misplace or forget about but will probably need later.

I’ve tried a few, but Evernote has been the easiest for me to use consistently. They offer a free PC/Mac based program, browser interface, or mobile app, and they all update seamlessly.

As with anything like this, the more you use it the more useful it becomes, so you really have to try to commit to it.

40 Bags In 40 Days: Week 1 Update

40 bags in 40 days - Fresh Take 5

Woah so we survived the first week and it wasn’t so bad. I am definitely realizing that I have tendencies to keep things thinking I will recycle or reuse them and that 40 Bags In 40 Days is really good for me.

This week I focused on those little cluttered areas around the house.

Living Room Toys

First I tackled the kids toys that are in the living room.

Toys to store and rotate
Yeah! A toy chest that actually closes!
The toys that will be in this week’s or month’s rotation

Entry Way

Next up in my 40 Bags In 40 Days challenge, I revamped the garage entry area of my house.

Photobombed by the baby trying on boots
Clean bench for sitting down and putting on shoes
Incorporated hat and mitten storage, a must in Minnesota. One basket for each family member.

I love the new hat and mitten storage I added. It is low enough that my little ones can put their own hats and mittens away after coming inside.


Winter scarves displayed for Mama

I also added a pressure mounted curtain rod above my jacket hooks to hang scarves on. It’s a nice way to see them all and then actually use them.

Coffee Bar

Lastly, I tackled the coffee bar. This area has a tendency to start catching random odds and ends in order to keep them out of the reach of the kids.

Coffee Bar/ Station
Coffee Bar organized
Great way to hide all those K-cups and boxes of Tea

The shelving system and organizing boxes have made all the difference in keeping this area usable, but also nice to look at.

Week 1 Thoughts

I did some high level cleaning out and organizing. Next up is to tackle the bigger projects. I intended to get to my office this week and didn’t even make it that far so that’s on the list for next week.

How did you do? Any suggestions?

See how my fellow bloggers are doing at the challenge.

Packing For A Weekend Getaway: A Visual Checklist

Packing for An Extended Weekend Getaway - Fresh Take 5

I am so excited to be getting away from it all next week. I found an inexpensive ticket out to see my favorite cousin in California. It will be a short trip: 4 days, 4 nights (including a red eye return flight home- eeek!). So this week I am set to pack my bags and thought I would put together a visual checklist for packing for a weekend getaway.

What to Wear and Take On The Plane

To me what to wear and take on the plane will be the easiest part. After traveling with two kids under two last year, this seems like it will be a breeze. I can’t wait to put on some comfies and enjoy my uninterrupted alone time. Here is the plan:

What to Wear_Take on the Plane - Fresh Take 5

What to Pack in my Carry-On

This was a little harder to come up with since I want it all to fit in a carry-on bag and I want it to be light! Here is what I plan to pack:

Pack In A Carry-On - Fresh Take 5


So here it is in a nutshell if you are the pinning type. The perfect visual list for Packing for a Weekend Getaway.

All Packing for An Extended Weekend Getaway - Fresh Take 5

For references and where to buy, check out my polyvore profile here.

40 Bags in 40 Days: The Ultimate Organization and Purge Challenge

**Update: See how things went each week with my weekly post.
Week 1 here.
Week 2 here.
Week 3 here.
Week 4 here.
Week 5 here.
Week 6 here.

Whelp, Christmas is done and gone and now we are all loaded down with tons of new stuff in houses that were probably to full too begin with.

Are you as ready as I am to declutter? Let’s do the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge.

40 bags in 40 days - Fresh Take 5

What Is The 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge?

40 Bags in 40 Days is an organization and purge challenge. It is a way for us to wrangle in all the stuff we have accumulated over the years that we don’t really need or don’t really use anymore.

The concept is that for the next 40 days you clean out a bags worth of stuff from your house every day. You can have more or less, but one bag a day is the goal.


How Do I Join The Challenge?

It’s easy to join me in the 40 Bag in 40 Days Challenge. Just follow along and comment or check-in as I post about it weekly over the next 40 days.


What do I do with the 40 bags of stuff?


Your local Goodwill will always accept donations, but if you want even more ease try GoodDonor. You just put your bags of donations out front of your house, schedule a pick-up, and its all donated to the charity of your choice.

GoodDonor.org - Fresh Take 5


There are many ways to sell unwanted items. Remember to make sure that these items warrant your time selling them, i.e. they are big ticket items like designer clothes, furniture, or working appliances.

For selling clothes, try ThredUp. They will send you a cleanout bag that you can just mail in. Then they send you a check. Easy enough. Another good option is local sale/ swap sites on Facebook. Just search your city name along with ‘garage sale’ or ‘swap’ to find one.


Think kids’ toys you plan to rotate and summer clothes that still fit and are stylish. Invest in some big storage tubs and fill them up. They will stack nicely so you can store them short or long term.

Trash/ Recycle

This is pretty self-explanatory. Recycle as much as you can, trash everything else.


My Challenge Areas

Over the next 6 weeks I plan to tackle one tough challenge area in my house a week. It may work better for you to do it differently, like you need two weeks to do one area of your house because it is really large. Or, maybe, you would like to specify even further down so you have a task per day (e.g. office desk, office, shelves, office file cabinets, etc.)

Desktop - Fresh Take 5

  1. My office
  2. The master bedroom closet
  3. The guest room (Ugh this room is the worst, it just becomes a catch all for things I don’t know what to do with.)
  4. The kids’ rooms
  5. The loft living room
  6. The kitchen (So. Many. Unused. Gadgets.)



To schedule a donation to the charity of your choice: http://www.gooddonor.org/

Sell name brand clothing: Create an account at ThredUp and request a cleanout bag (Use my link to get a $10 credit to your account when you open it.)

 Highly Rated Storage Bins