6 Tips for Moving & Getting Your New Home Organized

Since November of 2011, our family has moved four times – two of those moves were cross-country and our latest move happened as of two weeks ago when we moved to Pittsburgh from Georgia. Michael and I also work full-time so it’s not as if one of us was home during the day to pack, unpack and get our home set-up and organized. It took a lot of extra work but more importantly – it took planning. By now, it’s safe to say that I’ve picked up a few tips on organizing a new home that I’m happy to share with you all today. I hope you find it useful!

6 Tips for Moving and Getting Your New Home Organized

ONE :: Determine Your Priorities
For some people, it’s the kitchen. For others, it’s the bedrooms. Regardless of what your must-do-firsts are, you have to go in with a plan. Make a list of the rooms that are the most important to you and your family to unpack first and do them in that order. Do not start another room until the current one you’re working on is complete. I’ve always found that completing a room before moving onto another one always gives me a sense of accomplishment and motivation to keep going instead of randomly opening boxes all over the house. This will keep order and a flow to things.
If you have no idea where to start, allow me to share how we’ve done it:
1.       Kitchen – all life flows through the kitchen. For us, it was important to get the kitchen unpacked first so that we wouldn’t have to break our budget by eating out so much after the move. It’s amazing how happy and settled you’ll feel simply by being able to brew your own coffee in your new home instead of having to run out each time you need a cup of coffee.
2.       Bedrooms – obvious choice. You have to sleep. For us, Michael will work on getting the beds put together, arranged, etc. while I’m unpacking the kitchen.
3.       Bathrooms – At the very least, throw up the shower curtain so that you can clean yourself and come back to this item once 1 & 2 are complete.
4.       Living room/Dining room
5.       Guest/office rooms
6.       Garage

Of course, everyone’s home is different so this list may vary. This is just a very short example of how you can list out each room by importance so that when moving day arrives, you know what to attack first instead of just looking at a pile of boxes and wanting to throw yourself off a cliff.
TWO :: Ask For Help
I can’t stress this one enough, especially if you have small children. For our move from Colorado to Georgia, I coordinated with my parents for them to be at our new home on moving day. Their sole responsibility? To take care of Chickie and keep her occupied. That was the only job they had – keep her busy and out of the way. This was invaluable to us because it left Michael and I free to deal with the movers to be able to show them where things belonged in the home while they unloaded the truck without having to deal with Chickie all at the same time. Ask your friends and family for help. Most people are ready and able to help, they just need to know what you need the most. Ask a friend to provide a meal or two for you. Trust me, it will make a huge difference on moving day while you’re trying to organize and unpack.
Having said this, we haven’t always been this lucky to have help. On our move from Roanoke VA to Colorado, we had no one in Colorado to call to help us. So what did we do? We decided ahead of time to pack one of our TV’s and the DVD player in our car instead of putting it on the truck so that when we got to our home, we could hook it up and let Chickie watch movies while the truck was unloaded. It worked great. It kept her occupied for a few hours and Michael and I were able to do what we needed to without having her in the way. Again, this is where planning ahead of time will make a huge difference in how smoothly your unloading and unpacking will go.
THREE :: Unpacking – Everything Has a Place
As your boxes are being moved off the truck and into your home, make sure that they are being placed in the room they belong in so that you’re not wandering all over looking for the boxes and items you need.
FOUR :: Clean
Clean each room after you get it unpacked. Your furniture and the boxes being brought into your new home have been on dirty trucks and equipment that has now been brought into your new home. Take time to dust, wipe down counters, run the vacuum, or mop the floors. Having a clean space will really help to give you the feel of being settled in your home.
FIVE :: Extra Items
It’s inevitable that no matter how well you clean out to pack for your move, you’re still going to find a lot of things you don’t want or need when you get to your new home and start unpacking. Take an empty box, set it aside, and put all your unwanted items in that box to be donated once you’re completely done unpacking. There is no need to keep items in your new home that you don’t really want or need. Get rid of the extra clutter and donate it!
SIX :: Getting Rid of All the Boxes
Allocate an area in your home to store all your empty boxes until you’re done unpacking so that you don’t have the clutter and visual stimuli laying around and in your way to make you feel overwhelmed. For us, that place was the garage. Immediately after a box is empty, break it down and take it to your allocated collection space so that it’s out of the space you’re trying to organize and clean. For me, there’s nothing more aggravating than a bunch of empty boxes cluttering a space I’m trying to clean.
Additional Tips and Suggestions:
·         Set aside a “last to shut” and “first to open” box that has important or helpful items like toilet paper, paper towels, batteries, a flash light, paper plates, plastic cups, plastic silverware, etc. You will need access to these basic items until they are unpacked.
·         Prepare and set aside a utility bag with screwdrivers, nails, hammer, electric drill and the battery, box cutters, the remotes to your TV {You’d be surprised how hard those things can be to find once they are packed!} and cleaning supplies. It’s hard to unpack a home when you don’t have access to these items!
·         If you plan on having the exterminator do a once over to your home, try to get him scheduled to come out to your home before your move in date. This is the only time that your home will be completely empty for an exterminator to have complete access to everything without furniture being in the way. We did this for our last move and it was wonderful. We didn’t have to worry about wet chemicals getting on our pets or Chickie because it was already dry and we could move in knowing that any potential problems were found and nixed.
·         Lastly, I suggest an accordion-style folder to hold important documents that you don’t want to risk being lost in the move or documents that are easy to access should you need them. This folder should stay with you in your car or in your possession the entire time during the move. This would include items like: a copy of your new mortgage papers, birth certificates and other vital records, phone numbers and receipts of movers, cable, satellite, and Internet/phone providers that you might need to easily access once you’re moved in, and your final checklists of items that still need to be done or important notes about your move.

I hope you’ve found these tips to be helpful. What advice do you have to share?

Why I Don't Pin Your Content (And How You Can Change That)

For bloggers and business owners, Pinterest is a potential plethora of traffic, growth in readership, potential customers and endless exposure. It’s easy to become mesmerized by the shiny, pretty packages it contains and become complacent about the things you pin and how you use Pinterest in correlation with your blog or business…

But you really shouldn’t.

As a marketing professional, I see four common {but huge} no-no’s that happen all too frequently, especially with bloggers so today, I’m going to share my industry expertise to help you avoid these common pitfalls of Pinterest.

Why I Don't Pin Your Content And How You Can Change That

Problem One :: Your Pin Graphics and Pictures Suck.

You may have the best advice for getting your baby to sleep through the night. You may have the best idea for how to refinish grandma’s old bookshelf and you may very well have all the answers on how to get through potty training without pulling your hair out but no one on Pinterest will ever get to your site to read your material or re-pin your content. 


Because the Pinterest graphic for your material sucks or in a lot of cases, is completely non-existent.

The fix: The reality in using Pinterest is that it’s a visual medium. The sheer existence of Pinterest relies on pictures and graphics. Your potential users are drawn to pretty, well-designed pins for content and in most cases like myself as a blog/business owner, I will absolutely not share or re-pin content that doesn’t look clean or professional.


Because what I pin is a reflection on my brand and business. Everything I do with regards to Shiraz In My Sippy Cup sends a message to my followers, but more importantly, potential customers and business partners. So while you may have kick ass content, most people on Pinterest won’t ever have the chance to read it because they won’t click through your crappy graphics to get to your site.

Any blog or business should have a monthly budget allotted for post graphics and here’s the good news – you don’t have to invest a ton of money into software products to get pin-worthy posts. What’s my secret? For about 99.9% of my Pinterest graphics, I use Canva.com. The best part? The majority of my use is FREE. Canva is a robust graphics program that allows anyone with any level of graphics knowledge, the ability to easily and effectively create professional, pin-worthy posts. The program has pre-made Pinterest templates that you can customize to your liking and if there is a charge, the fee is usually only $1. In a month, I may spend $5 or less for all of my posts and in my opinion, $5 is worth it. I would drop that on something useless in a month so why wouldn’t I invest it into my business?

Problem Two :: You Don’t Make It Easy to Share Your Content

So there I am, reading your post, and I LOVE it. You’ve got me hook, line and sinker. The only problem? 

Nowhere on your site do you give me the ability to pin your post. I hover over your pictures hoping the “Pin Me” graphic pops up but alas, no dice. I look on your sidebar and at the bottom of your post for your social media sharing icons but, nope. You don’t have those installed either. What’s the deal?

The fix: The inability for me to easily and conveniently share content is a huge pet peeve of mine in the blogging world. I’m completely dumbfounded that so many bloggers still don’t understand this one simple concept in sharing content: Your readers want simplicity. 

We don’t want to have to copy and paste and pull up links and basically sign a mortgage through the Pinterest website to simply share your content. You can fix this very easily by visiting Shareaholic.com and installing your own social media sharing icons for your site. The whole process from installation to completion took me around five minutes and the gains to my blog have been invaluable as the app also includes stats and analytics. My readers can easily select the Pinterest icon to share my posts and of course, I always have a pin-worthy picture to accompany my post.

Boom. Done.

Problem Three :: You Love To Go on Pinning-Sprees

I have literally seen certain users pin 50 – 100 images in a five minute period; everything from food, to sports, to silly pictures, to well…crap. Nothing will tune me out more than spam and yes, when you’re pinning like your life depends on it, I call that pin spamming. It’s overwhelming but more, it’s downright annoying.

The fix: Set aside a few specific times per day to pin and during those times, be focused on what you want your content to be. Remember, what you choose to pin is a direct reflection of your brand. Try to be specific in your goals and what you’re trying to accomplish. If you know that you and the hubs are getting ready to do a huge kitchen overhaul, consider setting up a private board.

Pinterest came up with this nifty little idea a couple of years ago and it really doesn’t get used to its full potential. These private boards are an excellent way of pinning a ton of stuff without clogging up your fellow pinners’ stream.

Problem Four :: Your Pins Don’t Go to Permalinks or Are Broken Links

So I’ve found your incredibly well-designed Pinterest graphic and you’ve pulled me in with an interesting title. I take the bait excited to read what you’ve got and click on your pin to only find that you’ve either deleted the page on your site that it’s associated with or the link doesn’t work. Annoying!!

The fix: It’s a good idea to do some maintenance on your Pinterest boards from time to time. If you delete a blog post, make sure you take down the pin on Pinterest so that it doesn’t keep getting re-pinned. Before you pin content to your own boards, click through the pin to make sure it works and that the information is correct or better, something you would want your business or blog associated with. Many times I’ve found that links don’t work or that I don’t really agree with the author’s viewpoint in their post.

Bottom line, if you’ve got the time to cruise Pinterest, take the extra couple of minutes to check and make sure the pin works because if all I’m getting from you are constant issues, I’m out.

So there you have it. My professional advice on how to avoid the top four common user mistakes I find most on Pinterest. What issues do you run into that drive you crazy?

The Best of the Week

ONE :: Insta-Life Lately

Since our move to Pittsburgh, I’ve been quieter than usual on all my social media feeds but now that we’re moved into our new home, I’m slowly but surely getting my blog/social media groove back. If you follow me on Instagram, you’ll see that we’ve had some pretty funny and sweet moments captured lately…

{When you have to break out Chris Pratt at the park}

{Spending all day in your Frozen bathing suit...}

{That daddy/daughter love, tho...}

{Taking a break from packing with a chick flick}

TWO :: The Blog Life

On the blog this week, I talked about my struggles going from being a full time working mom to being home with Chickie 24/7 and while I know this arrangement is only temporary, it has still been very challenging. I received a lot of amazing and supportive feedback from this post: When Being a Mom Makes You Feel Mean – 6 Ways to Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself…And Your Child.

If you’ve ever made such a huge transition in your life or currently struggling with some not so nice feelings towards motherhood, give this post a read. You will find encouragement and support.

Also, speaking of support…

I want to take a moment to thank a few of my fellow bloggers for helping me to keep this little space of mine running while we were in the process of moving. I really could not have kept this blog going without their help so THANK YOU amazing blog friends! Please take a moment to check out these guest posts and show these ladies some love:

THREE :: New Places, New Spaces

When we found out we were moving, it gave us a chance to do some major cleaning out of old items, junk and things we really weren’t using anymore or didn’t want or need. One of those things was our old kitchen table. It was a HUGE monstrocity of furniture but more so, it was way heavy to have to load and unload and it was so beaten up and old so to the curbside it went. As soon as we arrived in Pittsburgh, we went shopping for a new set and found this gorgeous high top table and chairs…

I LOVE it and am now ready to hit up Home Goods or IKEA for new centerpiece decorations.

FOUR :: Jurassic World

Michael and I were able to sneak in this movie before we left Georgia and I loved it. Honestly, I was hesitant to pay good money to see it because, hello, sequels usually suck but it was awesome. The plot, storyline, graphics and action were all that and a bag of chips. If you’re considering a movie date night with your lovie, go see this movie! #thankmelater

FIVE :: It’s {Almost} Football Time in Tennessee!

The only great thing about July, aside from it being Chickie’s birthday month, is the fact that we’re one month closer to college football season! This week, the Vols revealed their 2015 unis from Nike and they are so, so dope. Wearing these unis will only make our wins that much sweeter. Top 3 ranking in the SEC along with a top 5 national recruiting class is no joke, y’all. I’m excited for this season!! GO VOLS!!

So how about you? How was your week?


Shiraz In My Sippy Cup : Currently in July...

It’s July and I’m currently…

Reading...  Lots and lots of job descriptions. The majority of my days are spent reading through endless amounts of employment sites, LinkedIn, cover letters and everything job related. It’s exhausting and I will be happy when someone just hires me already.

Loving… Our new home. We left a house in Georgia that we absolutely LOVED so I was worried that I might not feel the same way about our new digs or have a hard time adjusting but I have to admit, I love our house. As soon as we have it completely unpacked and decorated, I’ll be sharing lots of pictures.

Wearing…  More fall clothes than summer. The weather since we arrived in Pittsburgh has been amazing although, it has felt more like fall than summer. I’m not complaining one bit! I’ll take a cool breeze over boob sweat any day.

Eating… Not gonna lie: currently, I have my face affixed to the side of a Pillsbury Creamy Supreme vanilla frosting can and I make no apologies. #straightgangsta

Watching… A lot of HGTV. Hi, my name is Courtney and I’m a House Hunters addict. I admit that I totally love looking into other peoples’ homes {in a non-creeper kind of way} and looking at floor plans and getting decorating ideas. It’s also pretty funny to watch all these couples who don’t agree on shit try to find and buy a home.

Making… Chickie’s baby room into a big girl room! Chickie got upgraded to big girl status during this move by getting her big girl bed so now mommy is chomping at the bit to make her room into something spectacular. Needless to say, the fact that IKEA and Super Target being close to our home could either be considered a blessing or the devil in disguise. We shall see…

Excited About… Exploring our new city! Pittsburgh is an amazing place to raise a family and there is so much to do here: zoos, aquariums, an amazing and robust restaurant scene, concerts, sports – I can’t wait to dive in and experience it all. I’m also excited about the fact that my girl Stephanie from Wife Mommy Me is now only 4 hours away from us so I foresee a ton of shenanigans in my future.

Looking Forward To… Celebrating Chickie’s birthday this month! I’ll be “that mom” for a hot second and whip out the stereotypical “I can’t believe my baby is going to be 4 this month!” But really, I can’t. If I think about her birthdays in 4 year increments, there are only 3 sets of 4 left until she is 16. SIXTEEN. #mindblown These first four years have already flown by so fast so I know it will be here in the blink of an eye.

Thinking About… Christmas. As of today, it’s only 5 months away! Granted, I listen to Christmas music all year long but there is something so special about the holiday season that you only get to experience once a year and I’m so ready to be in that place.

Feeling… Unsettled. While we have a good majority of our home unpacked, the guest room still has boxes in it and we’re all still trying to find our “new normal.” I’ll be happier once we get settled into our routine and have a firm grasp on how to get around our neighborhood and Pittsburgh. I know this will come with time and there is an adjustment period but waiting has never been my strong suit.

What’s currently going on in your world? I’d love to know! 

When Being a Mom Makes You Feel Mean: 6 Steps to Check Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself...and Your Child

When Being a Mom Makes You Feel Mean

Lately, I’ve been stuck in a severe funk where being a mom is concerned. This move to Pittsburgh, albeit great, has come with some big challenges namely, having my child with me 24/7. As a full time working mom, it has definitely been an adjustment and not one that’s been easy. I’ve lost my temper more times than I like to admit. My patience has been strained and put to the test. I’ve raised my voice and yelled. Overall, I feel like I’ve been a fucking hot mess.

Have you ever felt this way? For the first time since Chickie was a newborn, I’ve been struggling with bouts of anger, resentment, loathing and borderline depression but before I go any further, I want to make a few points crystal clear…

1.    I love my child with all of my being. I would die for her, do anything in the world for her and give her the best that life has to offer.
2.    My daughter is, hands down, the biggest, most amazing blessing in my life. She is truly a gift from God and I adore her completely.

So, let’s not forget this as I discuss I rather sensitive issue, okay?

I feel like I’m emotionally stuck under a dark cloud with regards to motherhood lately but it’s also a situation that’s unavoidable; Maddy is used to being in school all day with friends while having an outlet to release all her energy and I’m used to going to work. I know we are both doing our best and that this scenario is only temporary but it still leaves me feeling pretty rotten as a mom. Couple this change with a few other challenges that we’re dealing with, and you have the perfect storm of stress, anxiety and a longing for things to become “normal” again. Here are a few other things we’re dealing with now:

1.        Maddy will be four in July and is still not sleeping through the night. Michael and I haven’t slept consistently, all night, in over three years. THREE YEARS. Most nights we are up anywhere between 2 – 5 times or have extended stretches for hours on end with her just being awake. She has been to several doctors who always tell us the same thing: “This is normal. She will grow out of it. There is nothing we can do for you.” Side note: if one more doctor makes this asinine comment to me, they will get punched in the throat. I mean, seriously. I find it hard to believe that my daughter waking up so much during the night or either not sleeping at all is “normal.” At any rate, with the lack of sleep on top of everything else, it’s easy to see how one can become stretched thin.

2.    A complete attitude of defiance rules the roost. Getting her to do anything without a complete and total meltdown, tantrum, or crying fit is impossible and because of this, she usually spends most of her day in time out, her room, or being disciplined {I’m not even joking or exaggerating}.

3.    Mealtimes are pretty much hell. Our once happy to eat anything diner is now defiant to eat anything at all or either likes to pull the bait and switch on us.

It’s all just exhausting. In my eyes, there seems to be nothing rewarding, satisfying, or even remotely worth being happy about in being a mom right now and as a result, I feel a huge amount of anger and resentment towards my child. I swear it’s like a cloud descends on me and I feel as if I have to really work to get myself out of it because otherwise everything my daughter does – even the totally normal kid things – makes me feel grumpy and I start to feel mean.

To be clear, when I say I feel mean it’s not in a seeking retribution kind of way or wanting to retaliate against my child to hurt her kind of way. Instead, its feeling as if my interactions with her and my responses to the things she does are not aligned with my normal beliefs of how being a mom should be. My normal philosophy is to be open, loving but firm in responses, and to try and get on her level so that she can better relate to what I’m trying to communicate. 

But lately? 

I am quick to anger. I shout more instead of using a loving voice. I feel myself lying in bed at night while she’s awake wondering what in the world I’ve done in deciding to even have a child. My patience is non-existent and I find myself snapping and using tones of voices that aren’t nice. I’ve cried more than I ever thought possible and I’ve basically done everything, including bargaining with God, to PLEASE – just let me have one night of good rest. 

I know I’m incredibly lucky. I know there are millions of women struggling to get pregnant but with all due respect, that’s not my battle to fight and I can’t take on the world’s woes without being able to acknowledge my own. Just because another woman is struggling to have a baby, it doesn’t negate the issues and struggles I’m going through. I shouldn’t be begrudged in my feelings and I shouldn’t feel guilty for feeling this way, but I do. 

So what can I do to fix it?

I’ve always found that for me personally, feelings of resentment means it’s time for self-care and reflecting on ways to better take care of myself so that I feel like the mom I want to be. Whether that means finding a sitter to get more “me” time, going to bed earlier, eating better, exercising – whatever, I need to do it. Self-care isn’t always easy when you’re taking care of little ones but it is necessary. I’ve also found these tips helpful in letting go of anger and resentment in parenting:

1.    Put yourself in your child’s shoes and try your best to see what they see. When I’m upset, all my daughter sees is a big person who is angry. I can only imagine how that makes her feel. Putting myself in her shoes has a way of making me feel compassion instead of anger and resentment.

2.    Try to remember that your toddler or preschooler isn’t giving you a hard time but instead, they are having a hard time. Keeping the perspective that my child isn’t trying to upset me on purpose helps me to better align my feelings to respond appropriately. 

3.    Talk with someone who you know won’t judge you for your feelings. Sometimes simply getting it out or talking with someone who is going through the same thing helps tremendously.

4.    Sometimes you just have to step away. Leave them with a trusted family member, your spouse, or sitter, and just leave to have a few hours to regroup. 

5.    Hold, grab, and giggle. At times when my daughter is pushing me to my very last limit, I’ll grab her, hold her down, and just tickle her like crazy. Usually, this gets a lot of laughs from her and as a result, her attention is redirected from the prior fit she was throwing and we’re able to move on in a positive way.

6.    Get help. If worse comes to worse and you see no relief in sight from your feelings, get help. Go to your doctor, get medication, or schedule an appointment with a therapist. Sometimes our demons are much, much larger than ourselves. There is no shame in asking for, or needing, help. 

Does this ever happen to you? Do you ever struggle with feelings of being a mean mom? If so, how do you work through it? Any tricks or ideas?

Meet Justine from Little Dove Creations : Just So You Know...

To all of Courtney's loyal readers, I say hey! My name is Justine and I blog over at Little Dove Creations; so if DIY, recipes, and a little bit of lifestyle thrown in is your thing, I'd love for you to stop by sometime! My husband and I have been married for eight years, and I am a stay at home mom to #3under6 (soon to be #4under6!!) with a BA in Liberal Studies. Someday when my kids are older I plan to teach, but for now I find that my little ones are teaching me plenty. ;)

To my fellow store patron,

I realize that in a country where the average family consists of 3.13 people I'm a bit of an anomaly. Three young children, and at the stage where I'm obviously pregnant with another one... I get it. I do.

However, just so you know, your seemingly lighthearted comment of, "You're brave" in the parking lot as I'm trying to wrangle all three of my children into a single shopping cart just comes off as condescending. I'm not brave for running errands with my children, I'm just out of milk.

I saw you continue to glance at me throughout our shopping trip. You observed me counting down from three, numerous times. You heard me incentivize my children with the promise of treats afterwards. You saw my 16 month old attempting to yank all breakables from the shelf, and my three year old (unknowingly) trying to shoplift a bag of candy. You witnessed me temporarily "lose" my five year old, and heard me raise my voice more and more as time wore on.

You've probably raised some children of your own. You probably feel like I'm doing several things wrong and you could certainly teach me a thing or two. You likely feel that the way that you would handle things would be much better. Just so you know, you're probably right.

For your kids.

For the child or children that you were given, you are the perfect parent. For your kids you had all the answers, and if you didn't, you eventually discovered them through trial and error. Or you didn't, and things turned out just fine.

Or maybe you're just wondering why I keep having kids. I've seen the thought flash in people's eyes before, "Doesn't she know how that happens?! She can't even handle the ones she has now." But what you don't know is that my kids have already been out running errands with me for hours. Or that my daughter has an earache, again. Or that my son (and I) are both "hangry". Or that my youngest is way past due for her nap.

What you don't know is that I too am the best parent for my children, what you don't know is how loved they are. What you don't see is the laughter, the stories, the songs, the hugs, the snuggles.

Just so you know, what you are witness to right now, is a very small snippet of our day.

Just so you know I am thankful and I feel so blessed.

And just so you know, you should mind your own business; don't you have more important things to worry about? I know I do.


One tired, busy, blessed momma

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