Kitchen Updates and Working with a Professional Organizer

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Before:
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After:
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One more time, before/after:

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And before:

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And after:

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I am both super proud and super mortified to share this post with you!

This is a robust post full of lots of things, but here’s what you’ll find:

1. Episode #2 of my VLOG! In it I talk about my goal to get rid of some mental and REAL clutter and what it was like working with a professional organizer to help me get my kitchen in shape! (Plus lots of ridiculous dancing with said professional organizer…)

2. I share before and after pictures of the kitchen, we have made some cosmetic updates: painted the walls and cabinets, painted the hinges, took out out the box light fixture and fluorescent lights, added can lighting and cleaned cleaned cleaned

3. I introduce you to Lori Koerner, my new favorite human, professional organizer, and her amazing online course SIMPLE Formula Organizing

4. Some before and after pictures of how I organized things vs. how Lori organized them

5. How I used Lori’s S.I.M.P.L.E acronym to help declutter my space and make it super enjoyable to live and work in!

So in this week’s vlog I share a little background about what my life has been like in January! And what it took to make the transformation! I also share my hesitations about even needing a professional organizer, and why I’m so so so glad that I finally accepted Lori’s help and expertise! I explain that the #1 reason I hired Lori is because I really loved her online course. I only wanted to work with someone who could share their information with my online friends. So to be clear, I sought out Lori, and hired her. This isn’t sponsored by her, this is a major life change haha that I involved her in! I chose Lori for her beautiful personality, and because I feel like her approach to organizing aligns with all things ALISON.

So I hope you like Episode 2 of my new weekly vlog! You can find Episode 1 here!

Alright! And now for what I like to call catnip for the interwebs, haha BEFORE AND AFTER PICTURES.

I want you guys to know that this was honestly how my kitchen looked most days. Every couple months I’d try to clear the counters, but even if I did there was still a lot of crap on them. In fact, I got kind of emotional looking at the before pictures of the inside of the cupboards, because I just can’t believe I let it get so bad. It’s embarrassing! You can see I’m not exagerating when I say that every time I went to make food, something would fall on my head!

But I’m sharing it because if you’ve been around, you’ve watched me accomplish a lot in the last year. People often make comments like, “I get stressed out just watching how much you do!” Or “How do you do it all?! I don’t have the energy!” (You can read my lessons learned from 2014 here.)

I always try to be really clear that I DO NOT DO IT ALL. And these horribly messy pictures are proof. But I also don’t want to feel like I have to justify why I like to work hard! Ha. I’m just a girl. A girl who literally works her ass off to take care of her family and build an empire of love. That’s it. That’s what I want to do with my life and I’m trying to do it. But these pictures show what happens when you do that–work work work, but don’t stop to take care of your surroundings. We can’t do it all. We can only do our best.

So instead of being ashamed I’m trying to be really really proud of the work I’ve put in to try to decrease my mental and physical stress and clutter! I’m also trying not to get hung up on the fact the kitchen isn’t done! I want new tile, new floor, new EVERYTHING, but for right now, this is enough.

Wanna see it?

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So this is where the cookie magic happens! Yes, I need a lot of sugar and flour. I’d love to put a shelf in that empty space and then keep it clean and organized. But for now it’s empty because until I have it designed, it just tends to accumulate crap. As you can see!

And over here by the stove is where I keep a lot of our cooking staples and spices, as well as some food storage. I was able to get rid of that bread box because we found better ways of using the space. It opens things up SO MUCH and helps keep me from piling crap up.

So there’s the front of that space by the stove.

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I actually have some counter space now! It’s crazy how helpful that can be when you’re, oh you know, trying to make food.

And here’s what the inside looks like. I didn’t remove food for the “AFTER” pictures. Apparently that’s just the power of using space efficiently. And honestly so many things in the cabinets were expired or we didn’t use them. I can’t believe all the space I was wasting with food we’d never eat. Also we moved the spices into a drawer. (I show that below) I had spices from our wedding gifts (7 years ago)…so it was good to clean those out. ICK!

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Can you even handle how organized I am? Don’t worry, I share the process below.

And over here is where we keep the breakfast things, snacks, and dried foods. I got rid of a ton of food, again, but also lots of random dishes and cups I’ve collected here and there.

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I moved the cookbooks (which used to be in that open glass space) to another space and freed up a lot of room for dishes. When people come in they all say, “Oh you got glass!” But it was always there!

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So here’s where I  moved the cookbooks, over into the window box? Is that what that is? Yes those are paint cans under the table.

Now here’s a closer look at the cabinet where we keep most of our food. We don’t have a pantry so this is it folks:

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I love the basket for “snacks” (on the middle shelf on the right) because I throw all the random fruit snacks and fruit cups and other artificially fruit flavored things I feed my children in there and when they want a snack, I know where to find it! The handle on the basket is like, seriously so cool.

So now that you can see what a total transformation I’ve made, and I could possibly be the most organized human in the world NOW (at least in my kitchen) I thought I would go ahead now and share some more of what it was like working with a professional organizer, and how I used Lori’s tips to really maximize my space!

WHAT IT WAS LIKE WORKING WITH A PROFESSIONAL ORGANIZER

These “BEFORE” pictures were taken the night of my breaking point. It was right after Christmas and I was just too exhausted and overwhelmed to even begin to figure out how I was going to get this crap done. My whole house felt and looked like this to an extent. And my MIND felt like my kitchen countertops looked. I thought I was ignoring it! But now that it’s gone I really have noticed a decrease in my anxiety.

To get started I decided to take my own advice and, “Do what I do best, and hire out the rest.” NOW If I had known how much work it was going to be on my end even WITH a professional I would have totally put it off. But I’m so glad I sacrificed and did it. By saying yes to cleaning I was saying no to making money on doing campaigns or throwing events–but also NO to creating more mental, emotional and physical mess! I’m super happy I conned myself into making this change because it was more than worth it.

The kitchen project got underway once I met with Lori from SIMPLE Formula Organizing.

Lori has a six step plan and she shares it in an acronym (which I love!) Lori is giving us lots of tips for free today, but if you’re really serious about transforming your space I suggest investing in her course! When you spend money you hold yourself accountable! Right now SIMPLE Formula Organizing is 40% off until February 11th JUST for The Alison Show friends.

But here’s her SIMPLE acronym:

S – Sketch a Plan & Set a Time
I – Item by Item
M – Maximize Your Space
P – Personal Organizing Preferences
L – Label and Assign a Home
E – Establish a Routine

S Sketch a Plan & Set a Time – I posted about wanting to update my kitchen on Instagram and met with Lori to hold myself accountable. I value work, haha so I decided to make organizing my kitchen WORK (by having to post it on the blog), because I never miss a deadline! That right there was how this really got done. I put it into terms and in a context that I knew would force me to follow through.

I also coordinated it so that while the cabinets were being painted (we hired a professional who laid down drop cloth and sprayed the cabinet doors at Club Alison haha) I would be responsible for getting rid of crap! Which brings us to I…

I Item by Item – I am SUPER SUPER good at getting rid of stuff! Seriously. I am not a hoarder. So I actually hated and loved this part. I hated it because it took forever but I LOOOOVED it because I think getting rid of stuff is invigorating and liberating. The problem with your clutter is that YOU have to be the one to go through it. Here’s a sampling of what I gave away, in total there was probably three times this. Plus SO MANY trash bags of old food. Oh man.

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I did most of this process on my own. But had Lori come over one night to help me finish up. This is when she pointed out that I would basically give away or get rid of ANYTHING, like a $100 pot? NO PROBLEM. But I had a hard time letting go of any baking or cookie decorating stuff. Like I could not part with a single sprinkle bottle or piping tip! Haha. I loved it because Lori said it showed what I really valued and am passionate about. Lori’s philosophy is that it was ok to keep a few unnecessary things (that seemed necessary to me!) in that genre because I had gotten rid of some many things in other areas. And that’s one reason I love Lori and her process. It’s not this idea of SHOULDs and HAVE TOs. It’s about creating a system that works for you and what you value and love in life.

She did suggest I give away a few spatulas though…

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M Maximize Your Space – Once I got rid of all the clutter, I was feeling pretty proud of myself and maybe a little overly confident that I no longer needed Lori’s help. As I mention in my vlog, I almost didn’t have her come over again. HAHA. Good thing I didn’t do that! Because this next part is where Lori really helped me transform my space and take my kitchen to the next level.

I really think that without her help I would have let the space fall back into its old messy ways.

Lori helped me focus on the function of my space and asked me all sorts of questions that never cross my mind. Like, “Is this where you keep your breakfast stuff?” Or, “What do you use on a day-to-day basis?”

Seriously? Seriously? I had never thought about this. I think about how to ensure that 300 women will dance and take pictures of themselves at parties. I think about how to make cookies into necklaces. Not, “Where I keep the breakfast stuff?”

I had just kept the “breakfast stuff” wherever it would fit! I had never thought about a section for breakfast stuff. So we started switching things around and using bins to help me maximize the space in the back of my cupboards. We also worked on the “flow” of the space, so that things were in places that made sense for how I would use them. For example, my measuring cups are now right under the giant flour and sugar containers. When I was baking cookies last week IT BLEW MY MIND what a difference this small and simple change made!

These are the changes that I know will help me keep this kitchen looking like this for months to come!

Here are some pictures of how I had things AFTER I had gotten rid of stuff, but before Lori helped me maximize the space.

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So I moved all my baking sheets and things up here, but they were falling on each other and kind of precarious. This divider did the trick. I don’t really use the pyrex dishes all that much, but I like to have a ton of them because if I make rice crispy treats I make 4 dozen. That’s just how I roll.

And here are the dishes we use all day every day. They were always such a chore to put away.
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It’s the little things like these bins that you can pull in and out of a deep cupboard that really really help you make the most of your space. I also hadn’t thought to put all the lids for sippy cups in one place–let alone thought to put them in a divided container. I just had no idea (nor did I really care to know) that things like this existed! And now I have a bin for bottles with the nipples on them. I can’t tell you how much time I’ve wasted looking for nipples. You’d be shocked, considering I have so many of them. Cha cha cha.

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Lori helped make my pots and pans less of a chore to sift through with a simple lid organizer. We also found a better spot for my giant cast iron pot (look at the picture on the left, bottom right), because I don’t use it as much as I use lots of other little pans (think eggs for breakfast, noodles for Ginger and Rad) and even though a Le Creuset is BOMB, it was taking up valuable real estate right there in the front! I moved it into a spot up above the fridge. It’s more of a pain to get to, but I use it way WAY less so it’s no big deal.

That’s the other thing that Lori helped me do. To really ask myself what I use most, and then put it in a space that made sense. So she gave me the idea of a little bin for all my serving ware that I use like, once or twice a year. Things like a formal cake server, or my cherry pitter. Yes I have a cherry pitter, how else do you make cherry pie?! We put them in a harder-to-reach spot because I don’t have to use them that often.

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Again, what happened in most of these situations and that Lori helped me think of doing things in a way that would have just never crossed my mind. And that’s what her course is about. Things like taking the spices out of the cabinet, and putting them in a drawer.

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Are you ready to be WOWed…

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BOOM! SPICE ACTION! This might be the thing I love most in the whole kitchen! Only because I never ever dreamed I’d be the type of person who has a drawer that looks like this. Do you see how it just opens up SO MUCH space in the cupboard for things I use on the daily? If you come over this is the first thing I’ll show you! With so, so much pride. Like a little kid showing you their finger painting.

The other thing that Lori BLEW my mind with were all these baskets and containers.

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When you use a bin like this, you can easily slide it out and access the item you need in the back without knocking down everything else. Seriously, why have I never thought of this?

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Isn’t Lori pretty? It’s definitely not a qualification for being a professional organizer or working with me, but I mean, she looks good in a picture.

And drawer dividers? Who thinks of this stuff?! Haha this is so obviously NOT how my brain works because you might be thinking, “DUH.”

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And this drawer is right under the standing mixer, so I have the measuring cups and an extra spatula for scraping. It’s the bomb.

Or how about this little basket that hangs under the shelf to help me maximize this unused space above my cups? What? I feel like some sort of organization superhero when I have crap like this!

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One other way we maximized space was by using this fun Urbio System I love these things and have always wanted one and Lori surprised me with one as a gift! So you put up the wall plates and then the containers come in all different shapes and sizes and are magnets so you can move them around. I love how it keeps things off the counter. Because when ONE THING is on the counter 100 things find their way on the counter. Also I created a much more streamlined look on the countertop with this fun line of soaps and lotions from Murchison Hume. The bottles look so nice all together!

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And now that I’ve maximized the HELL out of my space we come to the “P” in SIMPLE:

P Personal Organizing Preferences – Basically your “personal preference” is your unique organizing style. That’s a big part what Lori’s does. She works to help people understand their personal style and build systems around it–instead of trying to force people into someone else’s way of doing things. So she allowed me to stack cans a certain way that made sense to how I use them. Or keep the random items that might not look perfect, but are things we love. I felt like I was still able to express myself through this process without creating a rigid system that would be too hard for me to keep up on.

L Label and Assign a Home – In the beginning, I was resistant to labels.

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It seemed like overkill to me. Like WAY TOO CRAZY. There are children starving in the world and we are LABELING THE CHIPS.

So I asked Lori why people would label things (she did not insist on it, just suggested it), and why it can be a part of the process and then it really made sense. See, when anyone else helps clean up your space, they know JUST where things go! After working so damn hard to get things cleaned I loved the idea of helping others to help me keep it that way!

Also, this process is about decreasing physical clutter, but it’s really all in the service of eliminating mental clutter. When you assign something a space, or a home, you don’t have to create somewhere new for it to go every time you clean up. Less mental clutter, means less emotional clutter, which in my case means more time and energy to do what really matters in life. So yes, the labeling can be like, SO SO stupid when you think about what REALLY matters in life. But when you put it in this context, well that’s when I said, “LABEL AWAY LORI!”

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kitchen-label-fool-2 And she did.

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See with these baskets, that are now so conveniently yet loosely labeled, I can just pull the whole basket out when I’m cooking or baking and it’s all in one place. I take my “baking” basket over by the mixer and then return it all at once.

I can’t tell you how many times I mimed a “mind blown” gesture when Lori was telling me about this stuff.

E Establish a Routine – Throughout the whole process Lori was asking me questions to help me focus on the function and flow of my kitchen. This was truly life changing because it totally shifted the energy or flow of my kitchen for the better.

So now when I go to make myself some toast with sugar and cinnamon (yes at like 1am when I should be sleeping) the bread, butter, sugar and cinnamon are all RIGHT where you want them to be. Nothing falls on my head, nothing is complicated. I don’t have to start swearing when the open cinnamon container falls on the floor. It’s just a quick fattening snack at an unhealthy hour. And it is so so so wonderful.

And how about all those bulk bags of nutritious gold fish crackers or cereal that were eating all my space? Before I’d stuff them here and there, or I would put them UNDER MY KITCHEN TABLE. In fact there were some in an oversized soup pot behind my toilet for a while. True story.

So Lori helped me create a routine where I take the bulk bags and empty half into these containers from Ikea and then place the leftovers on a high shelf, so they aren’t cluttering my most valuable space anymore.

And when Eric and I went to Costco the next day, we actually followed the system! Quick, give me gold stars. Because 1. I have earned them and 2. We have spelled SIMPLE!

To review here’s what we did:

S – Sketch a Plan & Set a Time / I – Item by Item / M – Maximize Your Space / P – Personal Organizing Preferences / L – Label and Assign a Home / E – Establish a Routine

And here are the results:

1. A well-adjusted (or slightly more well-adjusted) mom and entrepreneur!

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2. A kitchen that I am able to clean, keep clean, and not be horribly horribly ashamed of.

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3. A new friend and business associate who you CAN BET! I will be working lots more with, the beautiful and talented Lori Koerner (who is also a mama just doing her damnedest to take over the world and make it a better place!)

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Wow. WOW.

This was just wow. A really long post to put together, a really long PROCESS to do in real life, and just so huge for me.

I guess mostly I just wanted to share how unreal it is to have this part way done.

Again, I have a hard time not just focusing on everything I have left, and all the remodeling I cannot afford to do yet–countertops, backsplash, flooring. All the rooms that still need cleaning and organizing! But I’m sharing the progress and trying to be proud of what I have accomplished so far. I hope it inspired you. Or at least made you feel better about yourself cause I’m such a hot mess!

Thank you for asking me to post the pictures, thank you for keeping me accountable, and thank you for being a part of the process!

And most of all thank you to Lori for seriously transforming my life.

You can view more free videos about Lori’s S.I.M.P.L.E Formula Organizing Program here. Hurry over and check it out because it’s 40% off until February 11th JUST for friends of The Alison Show.

I love you all! Here’s to less mental clutter in 2015!

xo

Alison

SOURCES:

I can’t go through and source every single item for you, so I’ll list what I can and then feel free to ask questions!

The shirt I’m wearing is from my line with & Apparel it’s the Let’s Boogie Button Down

All of the organizing equipment came from The Container Store, Bed Bath and Beyond, Target and Ikea.

Paint and cabinet color: Baer Ultra White

Urbio Wall Plate and System

Hand soaps and brush from: Murchison Hume

28 Comments

  1. this is so excellent! i know how big of a job this is (as i did my own kitchen a year or so ago) so well done!! it looks fabulous! x

  2. Jane P

    Your kitchen looks great Alison! Nice job!

  3. Ashley

    Alison it looks amazing!!! I did my kitchen a year ago white and I am LOVING IT! When you have a cleaned and organized space like that it makes you happier and life seems better

    1. Ashley

      Alison it looks amazing!!! I did my kitchen a year ago white and I am LOVING IT! When you have a cleaned and organized space like that it makes you happier and life seems better

  4. Vanessa

    What an unbelievable difference! We painted our cabinets white this summer and kicked ourselves wondering why we hadn’t done it when we moved in five years ago. I alwaya thought all the bins and extra shelves were overkill but they really do make a difference!!

    Wondering if you’ve thought of putting the microwave on the shelf next to the fridge.

  5. Looks amazing!!!

  6. Michelle

    Congrats! You should be proud of yourself for such a huge accomplishment. And thanks for keeping it real with the before pics. It can be hard to see all these perfect spaces on blogs and IG every day and wonder WHAT’S WRONG WITH ME?? Ha ha! Thanks for this post.

  7. This is so fantastic & the OCD person in me wants to clean and declutter my whole house now! I love all the bins! Oh and labels!! Had to show the husband because he makes fun of me for labeling everything! Love the white! So fabulous. ❤

  8. ok SERIOUSLY???
    where has this lori been all my life?? (and all my mother’s life? haha)
    can’t wait to use this acronym to try and fix my existence and my little family’s, too!
    Thanks for posting. It most definitely makes me feel like I can actually do this. As opposed to looking around and crawling back under the covers or grabbing my bag and toddler and running away to the mall. You know.
    thankyouthankyouthankyou

    1. aw thank you!! I’m SO Happy you found it helpful!!

  9. SO AWESOME!!!

  10. Kate

    You are so inspiring! Those clean, white photos are so well-deserved. When you started mentioning floors, backsplash, etc etc I had to go back and LOOK for that stuff. Seriously! You could keep it this way and it’d still be awesome. Okay, that’s it. I’m painting my oak cabinets. 🙂 🙂

  11. Alison! I love it! I’m organizationally challenged as well, this gives me new inspiration to just clean it out and get it done. As for that white, it’s the color of my walls–I love it! WHITE-WHITE. Accept no substitutes.

  12. Jessica

    This post is unbelievable! Seriously the most practical, helpful, and hilarious one I’ve read in a while! So happy for you and your new happy space. You earned it!

  13. Amanda

    Dude! Mad props to you for this project! Your kitchen looks beautiful. I wish this would happen in my kitchen! I really like how just painting the cabinets white totally changed the entire look and really freshed it up! Party on and enjoy your kitchen!

  14. Whitney

    Bravo!! I love reading your stuff because I know I will always laugh and smile throughout. Thank you for not taking yourself too seriously and congrats on all the success you’ve had so far. I wish you much, much more.

    1. aw thanks so much! xo

  15. Alicia

    My next career really needs to be professional organizer … but for now I just organize the heck out of my own house and (inadvertently!) make my friends jealous over our (practically!) perfectly organized home! Out of necessity I organized our kitchen last year. I identified a big problem: putting dishes away from the dishwasher was a huge pain. So I redid all the cupboards, starting with culling till what was left all had a home and everything fit comfortably. Not only does it look better, everyone knows where everything goes and putting dishes away is not such a dreaded chore! Kudos on all your hard work – your kitchen looks marvelous!!

  16. Tristen

    This was the most inspiring post ever!!! I am going to organize my kitchen now, and I mean RIGHTTHISSECOND

  17. KatieB

    Holy Cow! That line about cinnamon/sugar toast at 1am made my guffaw. I haven’t laughed that hard in too long. Thank you. I hope the in control / organized external mirrors the internal for you. I’m sure it will. And if it gets out of hand again, “just start in a corner” as my mom always tells me.

    1. HAHAHA I love sitting in a corner! xo thank you

  18. Megan

    I can tell you put SO MUCH effort and love into this post (and your kitchen transformation). Adore this post to the moon and back!!!!!!!!!!! The way you write is so conversational in all the right ways. I feel like you are sitting next to me narrating the pictures and process in person. Engaging and funny and perfect.

    I am going home and organizing my spices and oils tonight. I mean, how can I not?!

    1. Aw thank you so much Megan! That is so sweet of you! And so fun to hear from you! Hope all is well!! xo

  19. I noticed you have a chip in your counter top above your dish washer. Buy some nail polish to match (I’d buy two) and paint it out. Hard wearing and it will last forever!!

  20. Aileen

    Hey Alison,
    I have been meaning to ask you where your kitchen floor mat is from? I love what you did to your kitchen!!! Thanks for all the inspiration boo!!! xo

    1. target! and thank you!

  21. I’m dying to know where the chairs are from? I just love them. They look durable. Have they been? I’ve got tornado children and I’m looking for something pretty but tough.

    Also, LOVED you on Jessica’s podcast. A lot.

    1. thank you! They are from overstock.com and SUPER durable! I’ve been really happy with them! xo

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