Spring Cleaning and Hot Messes. Inside Tip on How to Get Organized!


If you read a lot of blogs and follow a lot of bloggers on Instagram, you probably see lots and lots of photos of beautifully organized and thoughtfully styled homes.  I’ve shared photos of my own home before, generally on Monday afternoon because that’s when my house-helper comes and it’s the only time during the entire week that it’s clean.

Now I can’t speak for all bloggers, but I for one have four children and a very real-life life and I feel like sometimes we bloggers are pros at finding and creating beautiful scenes and giving people the illusion that our homes always look like that.  Let’s take my kitchen for example.  You’ve all seen it– maybe decked out for the holidays and sparkling white.

But let’s be real.  Behind the hashtags, there are legit hot-messes, at least at my house there are.  I’ve noticed there’s somewhat of a trend right now on social media where bloggers will hashtag things like #keepinitreal or #reallife and you can tell they worked really hard to make their perfectly styled image look “horribly” messy by tossing 4 pieces of laundry on the bed and maybe laying out an open bag of fish crackers.  You guys that’s not real life.

This is closer to real life.

Notice there is an actual shoe on my kid’s high chair and I have no idea how it got there.  And in terms of messy kitchens, this isn’t even close to as bad as this room gets.  I just want you guys to know that behind every sparkling white kitchen on Instagram, there are scenes like this.

I have some very scary spaces hiding around my house.  The good thing is that I feel like with every change in season I get re-charged to de-clutter and re-organize.  HELLO SPRING CLEANING!  With each season, the areas of focus change, too.  Spring time every single year has me thinking about 2 things in particular:  My patio, and my garage.  I’ve seen a few photos recently that have made my organization-loving heart go pitter-patter and seriously inspired me.  Like, my friend Lil’ Luna’s Garage with all of those bins lined up so perfectly:

Or how about Classy Clutter?  I mean, if I went to visit her and she told me to roll out my cot in her garage because that’s where I’d be sleeping I’d be like, okay awesome that’s super nice of you I’ll be sure to take my shoes off first.  This is amazing (and now I totally want to paint my outside garage door, that’s brilliant.)

And this little vignette from Julie Blanner is charming, like everything Julie does (seriously, go follow her, love her feed) but I would’t roll out my cot in there because I’d be too afraid to mess up her white garage in fear that I might have to actually sweep with the white broom and then what would hang on the wall?!

I joke.  Mostly because of what I’m about to show you.  Seriously you guys, my garage is on a whole other planet than my talented organized friends, here.  And I’m going to be real with you all because you know you can always count on me.  Let’s just take a moment to breath in the garage images above.  And now I present to you, my garage.  (Yes, feel free to Pin this.)

I know what you’re thinking and yes it does in fact look like a scene from an episode of TLC’s Hoarders.  We like to keep it like this in case anyone tries to break in our home through the garage.  They’ll never, ever get out.  It’s a legit #hotmess.

You cannot stage this stuff, people!

This is my gift to you, so you can instantly feel better about your life.  You’re welcome.

Now, why am I showing you this?  Well #1 I think it’s important to know that bloggers aren’t everything you see on social media (we’ve talked about that before.) but 2- I’m going to show you one of the things I’m going to use to turn that room around!

I’ve showed you the Gigmi App once before, because it’s amazing and I used it to organize all of my holiday decor.  And now Gigmi offers Gigmi Premium (and if you use our code BESTBITES you get a month free) so listen up!  If you’re not familiar, the Gigmi app allows you to organize containers/bins/boxes on your phone, and even manage them on the computer.

Here’s how it works:  You take photos of stuff you toss into your bins/boxes/containers, etc.  Maybe it’s decorations, or maybe it’s boxes full of kids clothes or camera equipment, or camping equipment.  Snap a quick pic with your phone.  Your real-life containers are all created and organized in the app, and when you click on one, it will show you everything that’s inside.  This is especially helpful if like me, you stack bins like this out in the garage, or in the attic, or deep in a storage closet that you really don’t want to dig through to go try and find something.  You can literally peek inside your containers without stepping foot in the garage and know exactly where your stuff is.

I used Gigmi recently in my closet where I have super high shelves that I can only reach when I pull out a stepping stool or ladder.  I use that space to rotate out of season items, like all of my swim stuff, for example.  I have a few bins of summer beach/swim stuff.  Instead of photographing each item that went into the bin, I took one quick group photo before I banished the bin to the top shelf.  I labeled the bin “Swim 1” and quickly entered what was in it.  You can add tags as well, so you can literally search for anything. ( Are you visualizing how productive you can be with this??!)  This is what the page looks like when I click on that container to see what’s in it.

With my different Swim Bins all entered in the app (which literally took maybe, 2 minutes, by the way) when I needed to grab a specific swim top for our recent spring break trip, I quickly checked my app and knew exactly which bin to pull down without shuffling through everything and dropping a bunch of cuss words.

You guys this is handy.  You could be thinking to yourself, “awe, crap.  I have no idea where the heck I stashed those camping tarps I bought on clearance last summer…”  So just search “tarps” and if you entered into the app when you put it away it will tell you something like “Bin 4, Garage Shelving”.  It’s like your own little mind-reading personal assistant.

Did you notice the tab on the right that says “labels,” by the way?  You can tap that and send labels straight to your computer to print, which will print out a QR code to place on that box which you can then scan and see exactly what’s in it (#mindblown).

Now, the best part: When you download the Gigmi app, you have the option of upgrading to Gigmi  Premium, which offers unlimited items, containers, labels, and organization. It’s only $5/month or $55 for a whole year and you can go organi-crazy.  You could literally have your entire house organized on your phone.  Next time you hear “Mom!  Where’s the….?”  You’ll know exactly where to look!  Or heck, open the app and make them look themselves.  I scored a code for you guys so when you sign up for Gigmi Premium to get your own hot messes in order you get your first month FREE!  (Seriously my favorite word.  Free.)  So look up  Gigmi in the App store, sign up and make sure to use code BESTBITES to get a free month of unlimited organization. Another bonus is that when YOU then share it with your friends, you earn a kick-back.  Everyone gets organized and everyone wins.  Boom!

My next project: THE GARAGE.  Wish me luck.  And if you suddenly notice I stop posting recipes, or anything at all, it’s because I got trapped under piles of garbage and in that case call for help.

You guys, I love this app and I hope you try it and love it, too!  I would also LOVE to see your scary rooms and hot messes.  I dare you to post your own on instagram and tell everyone I challenged you!  Leave a comment on this post and tell me about the messiest room in your house.  I showed you mine so now you have to make me feel better and tell me about yours.  Go!



This post is written in partnership with Gigmi and contains affiliate links.  As always, we only write about things we love and use!  You can read more about our terms and disclosures, here.


  1. Thanks Sara for really being real. Like, really ?I have spaces in my house like your garage, actually parts of my garage look like your garage? I appreciate your candor because yes, although we realize that blog photos are styled…something it still creates a feeling of lacking in our own home/life. Good reminder to love our home just the way it is-crazy, busy and full of love!?

  2. This made me laugh so hard. I definitely have spaces in my house that look like this! I’m excited to try this app out. We are moving out of our house next month to do a major remodel. I’m thinking that this app might come in handy as I pack my whole house into storage for 6 months. Thanks!

  3. I’ve been using the Gigmi app ever since you first recommended it and it’s awesome! Also, I thought you’d appreciate that the amazon ad that popped up with this post included as a related product a novel called “Hot Mess.” The cover shows a shirtless tattooed man kissing a blonde woman so if you’d like to delay your garage cleaning there’s a great book reccomendation for you. ???

  4. Oh man, our garage looks only marginally better, and only because we had to quickly shuffle stuff around so we could fit our cars in the garage after our 800th snow day this winter. The spring clean of the garage will be paaaaainful, but we need to get it done! Our patio clean up has already started and I am so ready for warm late nights!

  5. Thanks for taking your readers along the process. As an aside, I read on another blog (apologies – can’t remember where), that the idea of “keeping it real” often refers to the hot messes of our lives. I totally agree that being open and vulnerable in this way is often missing yet so crucial in combating warped views of reality. That said, “keeping it real” can also refer to being upfront and proud of what we’re awesome at! For instance, we might note something like, “I’m a great writer” or “I really rock at teaching in a supportive and inspiring way.” I wanted to add that perspective to this “keeping in real” discussion. Thanks!

  6. That is amazing. I need this! Those garages are the stuff of dreams, man!

    A few years ago I did a “living with kids” post on my blog in the style of design mom (http://emilyssomething.blogspot.com/2013/10/living-with-kids-emily-foley.html. ) As much as I love looking at the beautiful, spotless houses of other families, I know it simply isn’t possible for me to have a house like that, and so I showed what it’s really like to be a mom with a bunch of kids. And since writing that post I’ve had two more kids! We’ve moved out of that house and I’m trying so hard to stay on top of it but it isn’t much better. Thanks for keeping it real Sara!

  7. Thank you for being real! It is always refreshing to see what life looks like for people behind the beautifully staged Instagram pictures. Lately, I have been feeling like every room in my house is in need of an overhaul. Every time I open a drawer or cupboard and things fall out, or I can’t find what I am looking for, it makes me want to scream. That happens multiple times a day with every single cupboard and drawer in my house. And let’s not even talk about the pantry. I have seriously considered putting a lock on the door so that my kids do not open everything, eat it by the handful (and drop things all over the floor), and then leave open containers spilling out all over the place. (#5kids) I may have to give that app a try. It sounds amazing! Thanks for sharing your life with us! Like I said; refreshing.

    1. Oh my gosh don’t even get me started on the pantry. I almost used that as my example in this post, haha. I literally JUST told my husband the other day that I want a lock on that door!

    2. I do have a lock on my pantry and it is AMAZING! It’s actually just a chain lock like you’d have on your apartment door in the sketchy part of town, up at the top corner, but since all my little people are under 3′ tall still, it works for us. So nice.

  8. I really appreciate this post! My husband recently wrote a blog on lifestyle porn (http://mike-thayer.com/lifestyle-porn/) because he saw how much all the fakeness on blogs/Instagram effected me. I have been a longtime followerer of y’all and I love how you keep it real over here on OBB. You guys are the seriously the best. Keep on keeping on!

  9. Thank you! This made my day. I always think my house is such a dump, why can’t I keep things organized and cleaned, or am I the only one who lives this way! Life’s hard and it gets messy. Thanks for making me laugh. ❤️

  10. Thank you for being a real person! I just took our Christmas lights off of my husband’s chaotic workbench and put them in the *empty* bin labeled Christmas lights. It only took 4 months. ?

  11. My whole. Entire. House. looks like your garage! Ok, we just moved in this week and have yet to unpack a whole box! I did manage to rummage through and find everything I needed to get a wedding cake made (in my new convection oven) yesterday!

  12. I laughed and laughed and laughed at this post! Thank you for being so dang refreshing. We are trying to sell our house so its constantly trying to be in “Show Mode” and I’m constantly switching between enjoying how clean it has to stay and being super annoyed that I can’t just throw some clothes on the floor! This post is just another reason that you are and will remain one of my most fave blogs around!

  13. Thank you. I really needed this today. (The pictures, specifically.) My house used to be clean. Way back when. Then I had child #2 and clean is merely a memory, and a blurry one at that. I have a hard time convincing myself some days (most days) that my house isn’t the only one that looks like it does. Though you have great intentions to clean up, and the end of my mess is nowhere in sight, your real-ness is still extremely appreciated. Like a lot.

  14. I have spent the day making 22 pans of your Everyday Cinnamon Rolls (not one at a time — thank goodness!) with my 3 oldest kids to help them earn money for their church camps this summer. I’ve spent the whole day making sure to keep the hot mess of the rest of the kitchen out of the area where we are making food so that nothing gross will get into food that we are selling. I’ve tried really hard not to think about the health department, but I have definitely thought about perfect kitchens on perfect blogs. I finally had a minute to sit down and look at your blog and it made me so happy! I even called my husband in to look at the garage pictures and just as I was about to unveil your garage, one of my daughters came in so I went back and showed her all the perfect garages. Then I unveiled yours and we all laughed so hard. Thank you so much for making my night! You’re the best!

  15. I laughed when you wrote “You cannot stage this stuff, people!”
    I love looking at home design and decor stuff on social media- it’s so pretty! But I know that for me & my family, our home and life is never going to look like that. It’s not our style, we are really messy people, etc. I work really hard not to feel down about it, but every once in awhile I need to consciously remember the good parts in my home and family to keep a case of the envies away!

  16. Thank you, thank you!! Reality is good!
    When I see those shots of immaculate homes, especially the kitchens, of people who claim they have children, I always wonder what’s immediately behind the person taking the photo. Have they hauled everything out of the kitchen and piled it in the dining room? Did they hire help to keep the kids out of the kitchen for the day? Or do they have a second kitchen where they live their real lives?
    It reminds me of those homes when I was a child with a front parlour that was only used when the clergy or your aunt from out of town came to visit but the family wasn’t allowed into any other time.

  17. This post made me feel way better about my house. Not that mine ever gets even as close to clean as the clean pics you post, but still. The messiest room is a toss up for my house. Either the kids play room, which pretty often resembles your garage…or the kitchen- which is pretty similar to yours…or my bedroom. For whatever reason, when ever things have to get picked up super quick, EVERYTHING gets thrown in the master bedroom. Bins of clothes the kids have outgrown that we are too lazy to put up in storage and were sitting in the hall, toys that there is no room for in the playroom (because it already looks like your garage), boxes that have yet to be unpacked from the move to this house (will not mention how long we have been here) and all the junk that gets collected on the desk somehow ends up on the dressers or nightstands. It is frightening. But now I feel a lot better about myself. I could definitely do better, but this still helped. Thank you!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  18. We are GARAGE TWINS!! Right down to the honey crisp apple box!!!

    Except mine has a hot tub in one of the bays on it’s side. And it has been there since a week after we moved in. 11 years ago.


  19. HAHAHAHAHAHA! There’s a PALLET flung on top of everything! Hahahahaha! My garage is bad, too, (on my husband’s half) so I’m laughing in appreciation.

    Also, my 15-year-old dog accidentally prednisone peed for 9 feet across my kitchen floor this afternoon. I may have the least perfect house of anyone here.

  20. Thank you Sara!! I so appreciated this post. It is just beyond comforting to know that I am not alone (as Instagram would typically have me think) in the hot mess department. While we did manage to get our garage under control last weekend, just about every other closet/pantry/laundry room/mud room space is currently in the hot mess stage. One step at a time…

  21. I had to come back to this page again today! The picture of your garage makes me laugh so hard. Only because mine looks the same way, it’s been one loong winter. The fact that you can laugh about it, is already a breath of fresh air! Thanks, I really appreciate your reality, in some ways it matches mine.

  22. Oh my goodness, I was laughing out loud at this. My kitchen looks very similar to yours most of the time. Our beautiful table that I was so excited to get when we moved into this house is CONSTANTLY covered in my daughter’s artwork. Can’t even see the top. Thanks for keepin it real. It’s why I love you guys so much. I can’t even seem to get up the gumption to get the app to help. Ha ha. Just soaking it all in now because they say you’ll look back when your kids are grown and miss the messes. I sure hope so.

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