[THE] TIPS: SMALL HABITS TO EDIT IN THE NEW YEAR

January feels like a lot of pressure, especially for people like us...the type of people who congratulate themselves on doing the bare minimum.

Basically, we have committed to the #LowBarLifestyle and it's not something we are embarrassed about. It's what gets us through our day. So it should go without saying that we kept our resolutions extremely realistic. 

This month, we are focused on finishing our book which is due in March. Within that period, I'm also going to try NOT quitting pilates and Joanna said she is going to give up glitter for me. Like I said, the bar is low. 

If your resolution was to become more organized...feel free to start just as small. Don't feel like you need to tackle an entire room to feel accomplished. The faster you see your progress, and how life-changing it is, you will be more likely to move on to the next project. 

The good news is any project, big or small, requires the exact same steps. Here's a quick rundown before we get more specific: 

STEP 1: Remove Everything

The space should be completely empty when you are done. It might look messy at first (and you might have a panic attack) but trust us, this is where the magic happens.  

STEP 2: Create Groupings

Start by arranging ALL of the items in front of you into categories. You may be tempted to skip this step but IT'S IMPORTANT. Categorizing makes editing visually easier when deciding what you keep, toss, or repurpose, especially if you have any duplicates. 

STEP 3: Pare Down

Take a look at the grouped items in front of you. It's judgement day. The harsh truth is that you do not need everything that was in that space. To pare down, ask yourself these questions: 1) Do you NEED it? 2) Do you ever USE it? 3) Do you ever WANT to use it? If the answer is “no” to any of the above, it’s time to ditch or donate. Keep two labeled bins or trash bags close by to keep everything in order.

Drawers and cabinets are a manageable and life-changing place to start. In most cases, this is where clutter begins...and then spills out. To break this habit, it all comes down to creating a system that you can maintain.

Here are some common culprits: 

#1: [ THE ] JUNK DRAWER 

junk drawer.jpg

If a cluttered space is a cluttered mind...then this drawer is going INSANE. A junk drawer is a slippery slope. Most of the time, it only contains items you don't need or have completely forgotten about. 

Clearing out your junk drawer gives you an opportunity to make the space functional. Even if the items are random, it makes a huge difference if everything is edited and categorized. 

makeup.jpg

De-cluttering your makeup drawer or vanity cuts precious time out of your morning routine. Plus, some of your products might be expired. I'm not a beauty blogger so here's a link with those details. 

*We never advise to add products ASAP after an edit but this is a little different. We give you our permission for a Sephora Shame Spiral. You deserve it. 

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A well organized medicine cabinet is SO IMPORTANT. During the edit, you are able to toss out expired bottles and take an inventory of what you have or need. It's a win win: a de-cluttered space and the security of knowing you are covered in case of an emergency. 

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Or anywhere that you keep cleaning supplies. This is often the most forgotten area of the house. Adding some bins and categories makes it it just as pretty as any other cabinet. Plus, it can make doing the dishes a little more tolerable. 

Clear Drawer Organizer

Wire Basket

Under Sink Organizer

Acrylic Tray

Handled Storage Basket

P.S. Make sure to visit  [ THE ] SHOP for more of our favorite organization items.

Xo Clea + Joanna 

[ THE ] TRAVELS: SURVIVING NOT THRIVING ON VACATION WITH KIDS

Traveling, in general, brings out the worst in me. Joanna is the exact same way and it's the basis of our understanding of one another. So...traveling with kids? Terrifying. 

If you have been following our recent Instastories, you are probably aware that my husband and I took both of our kids back to LA to see their grandparents over the holidays. On this trip, in particular, the following things happened: 

1) The Elf On The Shelf was packed so it could stare down my children during the travel day. Let's use it while we can, y'all! 

2) I considered recording my voice saying "Yes, yep, cool, yeah, go ahead" so I could sleep or relax in peace 

3) I have successfully trained both Stella and Sutton to only want to sit next to their dad on planes 

But, guess what? We made it and if we can, you can. Here are some kid travel tips, all in the name of surviving not thriving:

TIP #1: 

Buy luggage that your kids can handle themselves. Preferably something that's not double the size of them and rolls easily. Believe it or not, my kids actually ENJOYED carrying their own things this time around. I chalked it up to the excitement of  independence.

But...it could also be the fact that I bribed them with new suitcases with cool designs if they promised to fend for themselves. Either way works...as long as they don't roll it on Roberta's wood floor. 

Dinosaur Spinner Luggage | Pottery Barn Kids

Unicorn Rolling Travel Luggage | Skip Hop

Rainbow Multi Spinner Luggage | Pottery Barn Kids

Dog Rolling Travel Luggage | Skip Hop

TIP #2: 

For moms who don't have the luxury of enlisting the help of their children, you will need a good travel stroller...with LOTS of storage room. 

Chicco C6 Stroller

Summer Infant 3DLite Stroller

UPPABaby G-Luxe Stroller

Baby Jogger City Mini

TIP #3: 

As far as I'm concerned, the issue of screen time means nothing at 10,000 feet in the air. For educational benefits, I decided to get each of them a Leap Pad. There was absolutely NO buyers remorse with this one, people. It kept them occupied and neither of them asked for my iPad once.

EXTRA TIP: Make sure each device is fully charged ahead of time, just in case. 

LeapPad Ultimate in Pink

LeapPad Ultimate in White

LeapPad Backpack

LeapPad Carrying Case

Clear Activity Lap Desk | The Container Store

If electronics really aren't your thing, here are a few other travel games that could potentially save your life. BTW...anything magnetic during travel is your best friend. 

Magnetic Crazy Face Game

EZ Desk Travel Activity Kit

Magnetic Bingo Game

Dress-Up Sticker Activity Book

TIP #4: 

Since it would be a long travel day, I decided neck pillows for the kids would be a good idea. I just didn't anticipate the fact that they would DROP THEM EVERY CHANCE THEY COULD. As someone who is insane about germs, it almost put me over the edge. Luckily, I found kids travel pillows that clip to their bags and have their own carrying case. 

Memory Foam Travel Neck Pillow with Clip

For all other germ or mess-induced terror, pack these: 

Seventh Generation Wipes

World's Smallest Vacuum (Joanna's discovery and it charges via USB)

TIP #5:

There is one major similarity between kids and adults: we all like snacks. Trust me, cheddar bunnies help me when I'm stressed too. Pack enough for the whole army so you don't have to lie to your kids that you ate the last handful (UNLESS a viral video and a spot on The Ellen Show is involved.)

To keep your mess to a minimum, buy bite sized packs or snack dispensers that are practically impossible to spill. Yes, they are a thing and I'm grateful for that. 

Cheddar Bunny Snack Packs

Mini Almond Butter and Cheese Crackers

Organic Bunny Fruit Snacks

Earth's Best Strawberry Snack Bars

ZoLi On-The-Go Snack Dispenser

Munchkin Snack Catchers

(BTW... I've decided to nix the idea of packing lollipops to help with in-flight ear pressure. They have turned Sutton's hand and arm into a fully shellacked cast not unlike Iron Man's. Do yourself a favor and stick to the bite sized snacks above. They provide the same benefit and less of a sticky mess.) 

TIP #6: 

NEVER assume that there won't be a delay. Also, NEVER assume that one of your potty-trained kids will always make it to the bathroom in time. To be safe, pack your carry on bag like you are practically moving into the airport. I'm talking extra underwear, clothing, pajamas, etc. In other words, you don't want the only option of clean clothing for your child to be an overpriced tourist t-shirt from Hudson News.

To ensure everything fits, go for carry-on luggage with easy to find compartments. Whether it's a bag you strap on your back or something that rolls behind you, the choice is up to you. 

For everything you deem the most important (medicines, wipes, clean underwear), utilize packing squares and labeling to make it even easier. 

20-Inch Roller Carry-On | Calpak

Expandable Travel Bag | Longchamp

5-Piece Packing Cube Set | Calpak

Borealis Backpack | The North Face

TIP #7: 

This phrase feels foreign as I type it but...STAY POSITIVE. Do whatever you can to make it seem like a fun adventure. I'm not above acting like there are surprises around every corner...even if that surprise is getting in a rental car shuttle. 

And, if all else fails? Queue up episodes of Paw Patrol on repeat and order that extra glass of champagne (or tea). Whatever helps. 

 Xo Clea + Joanna 

[ THE ] TIPS: HOW TO STORE YOUR HOLIDAY DECOR + [ THE ] PLAYLIST

We made it through the holidays, y’all. I can proudly report that I survived Roberta's check out policy, kept my champagne intake to a semi-acceptable level, and managed to gain only a slight amount weight that I can hopefully lose if I fully participate in just two pilates classes. (After that, I'm back to just stretching.) 

So, does that mean all is merry and bright? Never. I am now forced to take down my rainbow tree, which has become my pride and joy (no offense to my children.) It should come as no surprise that my husband isn't buying the whole "...BUT IT WAS IN THE WALL STREET JOURNAL!!!" excuse so I've run out of options. I also can't binge watch The Holiday anymore because I've reached my limit...or so I've been told. 

Yes, life is unfair. Now is the time to un-deck these halls...one and all. (Unless you live in a neighborhood where nobody judges you for leaving your tree and lights up, which in my opinion is not tacky or lazy...it's festive.) 

With that said...pour yourself a tall glass of champagne and let's get started with some general rules before we get to the specifics. (P.S. I have included a playlist at the bottom of this post because music helps drown out post-holiday depression tears.) 

TIP #1: EDIT AS YOU GO 

Fight the urge to stuff everything in bags and boxes just to get the entire process over with quickly. YOU WILL REGRET IT. 

Keep a shopping bag nearby to toss items that have reached their expiration date. Trust me, you won't miss the tired looking Santa or the reindeer that's completely lost it's sparkle (no offense to Santa or the reindeer. I'm just as tired looking).

TIP #2: STORE IN GOOD CONDITION 

In other words...if something is broken, fix it or toss it. If something is dirty, clean it. You will thank yourself when it's one last thing you have to think about come next year. 

TIP #3: TAKE PHOTOS 

Before you start packing up, snap a few photos of the rooms you decorated. It's an easy way to keep inventory of what you have and what you need for next year while doing the absolute bare minimum AKA living a low bar lifestyle. 

TIP #4: LABEL EVERYTHING

Allow me to preach it again and again. If you can easily spot where something is, you don't have to waste time scavenging for it. Labeling also doubles as a guilt mechanism when you are about to shove an item where it doesn't belong. 

White Chalkboard Tape

White Bin Clip Labels

Black Chalkboard Tape

Black Bin Clips Labels

Chalk Markers

Sharpie Markers

Since the holidays come with a lot of baggage, it's time to get specific...

[THE] ORNAMENTS 

Let's start with the most fragile, shall we? Unless you have saved the packaging to every ornament you've ever purchased, you are going to want something protective and secure. The rule of thumb is pretty simple: KEEP THEM SEPARATE. They are roommates, not friends. 

Ornament Storage Bin

Jubilee Ornament Storage Chest

For extra security, wrap each ornament in individual foam packing envelopes. The Container Store carries some that are the perfect size, which you can find here

[THE] WRAPPING PAPER/GIFT SUPPLIES

Gifting isn't reserved for just the holidays. Since Stella and Sutton are both popular and in-demand as birthday party guests (like their mother), we are always in need of gift bags and wrapping paper. Luckily, I stock up and know where to find them. 

Designate a closet or space in your home that's strictly gifting for all occasions. Store and label separately for ribbons, tissue, gift tags, etc, etc, etc. For the holiday supplies, keep those in a completely separate section but with the same method. 

For storage, lucite and wire containers or turntables are the easiest to navigate. You are able to see what you have and avoid buying extra supplies. ALSO...bright colors and prints add a fun aesthetic to your space with little effort. 

Portrait File Sorter

Landscape File Sorter

Rustic Letter Sorter

Wire Letter Basket

Acrylic Desktop File

Acrylic Magazine Slipcase

Ribbon Dispenser

Clear Divided Lazy Susan

For gift wrap, we have discovered the magic of hanging storage and it's basically changed lives by creating more space and avoiding damage. This tip can also work for tags, bows, bags, or cards. If you have door or wall space, use it.  

An acrylic riser, turned upside down, is another great hack. Joanna and I bragged about this specific discovery for days on end until we collectively decided to shut up about it...until now. 

Gift Packaging Wall Rack

Magnetic Container

Hanging Gift Tote Organizer

Acrylic Riser

Don't have the space? As long as you keep it contained safely, that's what matters. 

Customized Gift Wrap Center

Clear Gift Wrap Box

[THE] WREATHS 

I refuse to let a crushed wreath happen. Period. Stores like Target (bless your soul) and The Container Store (your soul, too) have storage containers specifically for wreaths...so why would you not? They are plastic and durable so you can stack on top of each other. These also work for garland. 

18 " Wreath Storage Box

24 " Wreath Storage Box

30 " Wreath Storage Box

[THE] TREE

Contrary to popular belief, a real tree and an artificial one require the same amount of maintenance. On one hand, you have to water and sweep constantly to maintain the allure of bringing a piece of nature inside. On the other, you are required to take apart each stem just to put it back together again. 

If you opt for artificial, and have the vertical space, it saves time to store it all in one piece...lights included. Major life hack alert. 

Upright Tree Storage Bag

Adjustable Tree Storage Bag

In this section, I am also including photos of my rainbow tree because...no explanation necessary. Deal with it. 

[THE] LIGHTS

Remember TIP #2? Store your decor in good condition and NOT A TANGLED MESS. A string of tangled lights is just another part of the human condition I refuse to experience. Trust me, you may think that piling them on top of each other may work out but let's be honest...it won't and it never will. 

Instead, save yourself the mental breakdown and take the time to reel them in the way they came. 

Christmas Light Storage Box

Christmas Light Organizer

[THE] HOME DECOR

Items like stockings, pillows, tablecloths, and tree skirts can either be stored in stackable plastic bins or if you don't have the room, vacuum sealed bags. The containers can be labeled in two different ways: by room or by item. If you tend to keep it routine, labeling by room will help in the unpacking process. 

Jumbo Box

Modular Plastic Storage Bin

Weathertight Plastic Storage Bin

9-Piece Vacuum Bag Combo Set

Decorative items and tableware can often be fragile and bulky. To avoid damage, store in stackable china storage cases or store in the above containers, wrapped tightly in foam packing sheets with extra cushion between layers. 

China Storage Case

Stemware Storage Case

Mug Storage Case

Cushion Foam Sheets

As promised, here is [THE] PLAYLIST you can download to make decor takedown more bearable...AND to mask the noise of any post-holiday tears.

"Can't Stop The Feeling" by Justin Timberlake

“24K Magic” by Bruno Mars

"Mr. Brightside" by The Killers

"Are You Ready For It" by Taylor Swift

"Day Drinking" by Little Big Town

"Anxiety" by Jason Isabell

"House Party" by Sam Hunt

"Unapologetically" by Kelsea Ballerini  

“Happy” by Pharrell Williams

"Life Changes" by Thomas Rhett

"You Look Good" by Lady Antebellum

"Firework" by Katy Perry

"Female" by Keith Urban

“Home” by Edward Sharpe and The Magnetic Zeros

"Tennessee Whiskey" by Chris Stapleton

"Dangerous Woman" by Ariana Grande

“Shake It Out” by Florence + The Machine

"Dance Right Here" by JT Hodges

"How Not To" by Dan and Shay

"Rich" by Maren Morris

"Late To The Party" by Kacey Musgraves

“Valerie” by Amy Winehouse ft. Mark Ronson

"Drunk On A Plane" by Dierks Bentley

"H.O.L.Y" by Florida Georgia Line

"Burning House" by Cam

Xo Clea + Joanna

SURVIVING NOT THRIVING: HOME FOR [THE] HOLIDAYS

The holidays are an important reminder of the reason you and your extended family members live under separate roofs.  

Now, don't get me wrong. I love my family. But the fun and games comes to a crashing halt when someone spills on Roberta's rug or when the check-out policy is not strictly adhered to. 

And every day you are reminded that traveling with children is a work trip, and not a vacation. I always catch myself thinking "Kevin McAllister had it easy in Home Alone." His entire family left him, stuck to his own devices... Ummm...sign me up (minus the menacing burglar situation, that seemed like a real disaster).

5-Home-Alone.jpg

So if you too, are preparing for an onslaught of semi-unsolicited family time, join the club. Here are some items you MUST pack or bring, to be prepared for any scenario, all in the name of surviving not thriving. 

SURVIVAL TIP #1: 

There's always that one family member who "drinks too much wine" and it's usually me. Why? Because with each sip I am closer to reaching a spiritual nirvana that can (almost) stave off any judgmental comment thrown my way. 

Speaking of judgement, here's where a catch-22 comes in. If I pour another glass, it gives someone (AHEM, MY MOTHER) more room to passive aggressively monitor my intake. If I don't pour another glass, no amount of potato latkes or holiday cookies will do the trick. 

The solution is to purchase a water bottle that can safely hold and conceal an entire bottle of wine. Done. 

Sparkling Champagne Water Bottle | S'well

Spiked Naked Water Bottle | BKR

Blanc Crocodile Water Bottle | S'well

Corksicle Canteen

SURVIVAL TIP #2 

I have a theory that no one can argue with someones love of reading. I use it to my full advantage. 

If you find yourself needing some precious alone time, blame it on that great new book "you just can't put down." 

P.S: Reese Witherspoon's book club gives us life and I'm saving her December pick (below) for my sweet escape. 

The Last Mrs. Parrish by Liv Constantine

Not a reader? I suggest staging a binge watch session with any of the following: 

1. The Crown

2. The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel

3. Stranger Things Season 2

SURVIVAL TIP #3

Christmas pajamas are the easiest way to stay festive AF, despite your family. Also, it doubles as a cute Instagram photo opp to convince your friends that you are having a better time than you really are.  

Whale Isle Waffle Knit Pajama Set | Vineyard Vines

Shine Bright Pajama Set | Target

Elf Pajama Set | Top Shop

SURVIVAL TIP #4

It all comes down to this simple rule: NEVER give your mother-in-law an opening for judgement. As far as she knows, you have your sh*t together. And, what gives off the impression that you have your sh*t together the most? Nail polish that isn't chipped. 

JUST IN CASE...pack the same color you walked in the door with. Can't find the exact color? Bribe your nail technician at the salon to give you the bottle. If you have to offer your social security card as collateral, do it. 

Speaking of, here are some shades that I've deemed festive and appropriate for the occasion: 

Diamonds And Pearls | Deborah Lippmann

Ring In The Bling | Essie

Steely Stare | Nails Inc

Chicago Coast | O. P. I

SURVIVAL TIP #5

As I've mentioned, Roberta enforces  house rules and they are not to be taken lightly. Holidays are NOT excluded. 

For a quick recap, shoes are prohibited on any carpet or rug within the home. It's best to take them off before you even look at a rug or carpet to be safe. If Roberta sees your feet without house shoes, socks, or not completely in the bare...GOODBYE. 

Knitted Bootie Slipper | Target

Fair Isle Slipper Sock | LEMON

Plaid Slippers | Make + Model

SURVIVAL TIP #6

Another notable "Roberta-ism" is the fact that she owns absolutely NO toys or entertainment for children under the age of 20, other than a variety of small sterling silver objects. 

If you are in the same boat (or have the slightest inkling that you might be), do yourself a favor and BYOF (Bring Your Own Fun) so you don't have to sacrifice yourself as the recreations director. I suggest bringing something that's no assembly required because...no explanation necessary. 

I also consider bringing adult coloring books a major life hack. The kids are entertained but at the same time, it alleviates your anxiety and the need to talk to family members. 

Color Me Stress-Free Coloring Book

Sequence For Kids Game

Color Me Calm Coloring Book

Hedbanz Original Game

SURVIVAL TIP #7

There is no such thing as playing it too safe. If life becomes too hard to handle, let the healing aromatherapy benefits of lavender lead the way. I'm not suggesting you make a scene by spritzing the entire room like a Peruvian shaman, but until champagne is available as an essential oil, lavender is my go-to. 

Lavender Facial Spray | Mario Badescu

Vanilla Lavender Fragrance | Lavanilla

Aromatherapy Roll-On | Aura Cacia

SURVIVAL TIP #8

The simple act of putting a sleep mask on is powerful. It's like saying, "I've completely checked out but feel free to leave a message by the door" without having to verbally say it. 

Also, Tylenol PM