How a Storage Unit Saved My Sanity (and a GREAT Giveaway from Extra Space Storage!)

Big Giveaway from Extra Space Storage

When Extra Space Storage asked if they could sponsor a post and an AWESOME giveaway here, I was excited to do it.

There was a time in my life when renting a storage space saved my sanity.

We’d moved. We had two little boys and didn’t know a soul in our new town. It was a good move for us, but I had been very happy where we were.

The stories we’d heard and hoped would happen to us (the ones where someone puts a house on the market and it sells the first day) hadn’t happened.

We tried having my husband live here with his sister until the house sold. Two weeks of attempting to keep the house perfect while also dealing with a 2yo and a 3yo on my own changed our mind. (I was a future Slob Blogger, after all.) We decided it was worth stretching our budget as far as it could possibly go (maybe a little farther) to rent a small house until our old house sold. We wanted to be together.

We moved everything we needed and left a normal-home’s worth of furniture in the house that was on the market.

(Did you catch that? We had enough stuff to fill two houses . . . )

We didn’t park in the garage of the rent house because it was filled with boxes.

It was a two-car garage.

Right after we moved, we found out I was pregnant. We were thrilled, but hormones combined with the stress of a home not selling combined with the fact that I could not seem to make a single friend sent me into a very dark place.

When our house finally sold five months later, things didn’t immediately improve like I’d assumed they would. At the exact same time our house sold, every house in our new (small) town that was a possibility . . . also sold.

AND, we now had EVERYthing we owned (which was WAY too much stuff) in that rent house.

Every wall was hidden behind boxes stacked to the ceiling.

As my daughter’s due date approached and this mama’s claustrophobia became almost unbearable, we made the decision to rent a storage unit.

I hadn’t wanted to rent one. This was a temporary situation. I kept thinking that ANY day we would find our new home and this difficult period would be finished. My excessive frugality and Make It Work!! personality had such a hard time justifying the expense when technically, we had “room” for the boxes, our beds, and our bodies.

We didn’t have room to walk around, but walking around? That’s a luxury.

Thankfully, the pregnancy hormones won. I can’t even express the relief and peace I felt after all that STUFF was in storage and we could finally LIVE in our temporary home.

I’m all for idealism. Now that I’ve been decluttering like a crazy woman for five years, I’m definitely all for purging down to what will actually fit in my house (my CONTAINer).

But I’m mostly for sanity. And for NOT tripping over things that are “temporarily” being stored in the living room because there’s no more room in the garage.

If renting a storage unit means your family can live (not just survive) in your home during a transitional period, it’s money well spent.

It definitely was for us.

The day we brought our daughter home from the hospital, the house we live in now went on the market. We put a contract on it within a week. She was two months old when we moved in, but we enjoyed those two months with her in our small, free-of-boxes-in-the-living-room rent house.

According to Extra Space Storage, most people rent storage units for these reasons:

  1. Moving/downsizing
  2. Life event (going to college, death of a loved one, divorce, etc.)
  3. Infrequently used items (holiday decorations, seasonal equipment, etc.)

About Extra Space Storage: We pride ourselves on being the best in four different areas – customer service, cleanliness, convenience and security. Our goal is to make the self storage experience as convenient and hassle-free as possible for our customers. We’re in the business of storing people’s belongings, keepsakes and memories and we take that very seriously. This is why our facilities implement the highest security technology, perimeter fencing and the majority have a manager that lives on site.

If something truly needs to be stored, and you don’t have real storage space in your home (the master bedroom doesn’t count . . . ), a temporary rented storage space is a great option.

Now for the giveaway details!!! (Y’all, I’m so excited about this!!)

The Prize: Extra Space Storage is giving away a $500 Home Depot gift card to be used to help one lucky winner become more organized in their lives.

That’s one lucky winner HERE at A Slob Comes Clean!!!

Restrictions: Winner must be a U.S. resident and be 21 years of age or older.

So how do you enter?

Share a photo of a decluttered space in your home on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter with the hashtag #ESSandslobcomesclean !! Then come back here and leave a comment with the url to your entry!! (I’ll explain how to do that in a moment!)

A decluttered space!! That’s great motivation! And you DON’T have to show a before picture!!!

I know that’s a bit of work, but it’s a $500 Home Depot giftcard! Just think what you could get with that!!

So what do you need to do?

  1. Declutter a space. It can be a cabinet, a drawer, a closet or an entire room.
  2. Take a picture.
  3. Post that picture on Facebook (to the A Slob Comes Clean page or the Extra Space page), to Instagram, OR to Twitter using the hashtag #ESSandslobcomesclean in your post.
  4. Copy the URL of your social media post (detailed photo instructions are below!) and paste it in a comment on THIS post. (Replies to the email by email subscribers won’t count. You need to click on the title of the post in the email to get to the blog to comment.)
  5. Repeat for one of the other social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) in a NEW comment.
  6. Repeat again for the last of the three social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) in a NEW comment.
  7. Get an extra entry by liking Extra Space Storage on Facebook and leaving ANOTHER comment saying you did that. (You only need to post a picture to one social media site to be eligible for this additional entry.)
  8. Get even more entries by following Extra Space Storage on Twitter and Google+ and leaving comments saying you did!

Don’t forget that each entry needs to be in its own comment.

Stressed yet? Don’t be. You can enter by only making it through step 4! (But once you’ve done that, why not grab those additional entries!)

And here are instructions (with photos) for grabbing those URLs you need for your comments!


How to get the url of a specific tweet

For Instagram:

how to grab an instagram URL

For Facebook, you can post in this way to either my page or the Extra Space Storage page. Don’t post it on your personal profile or it may not show up.

How to Post and Grab a Time Stamp on Facebook

Please feel free to ask for help!

Now go declutter!!!



Legal Stuff:

No purchase necessary.  Void where prohibited by law.  One entry per person.  To be eligible, entrants must submit a photo of their decluttered  space. Entrants must be a legal resident of the United States and at least 21 years old.  Contest begins October 15, 2014 and ends October 24, 2014.    After the deadline, Extra Space Storage will select one winner out of all eligible entries in its sole and exclusive discretion.  The winner will be notified by October 25th via email and must respond within 48 hours or will forfeit the prize. The prize will be mailed to the winner by Extra Space Storage within thirty (30) days of being selected.  Any taxes on any prize are the sole responsibility of the winner.  Prize is offered “as is.”  Extra Space Storage is not responsible for late, lost, or incomplete entries.  Extra Space Storage reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to cancel, modify or prematurely conclude the contest for any reason.


A few more things for my own sake: is not responsible for the delivery of the prize. I am being compensated for my time writing this post and hosting this giveaway, but the story about the baby and the stuff-overwhelm and the boxes everywhere is my own.





My Day in the Wildlife with Dawn

Photo Credit - Susan Goldman

Photo Credit – Susan Goldman

About six weeks ago, I got an email from Dawn (the dish soap, not a woman named Dawn) asking me to serve as an ambassador for them this fall in their efforts to highlight the volunteers who work to save wildlife.

I don’t usually like to travel without the family, but this part of the email got me:

“In order to bring the Dawn wildlife story to life, you would be invited to our A Day in the Wildlife event at TMMC in Sausalito, Calif. on September 12 for a peek behind the scenes. You’ll see firsthand the vital role that these rescue volunteers play in the well-being of wildlife across the globe and the amazing work Dawn enables through its support. And of course you’ll get to meet some adorable and majestic wildlife ‘patients’!”

I couldn’t resist. I had visions of baby ducks taking baths in Dawn bubbles. I love baby ducks.

As I got ready to go, I was amazed that EVERY person to whom I mentioned my upcoming trip already knew about Dawn’s commitment to saving wildlife. (Including my children.) The images of oil-covered-birds being cleaned with Dawn have definitely made an impact.

So what did I do at The Marine Mammal Center?

The eleven bloggers were given an experience not available to the general public. Not only did we get the educational tour, but we each had the opportunity to shadow one of the more than 1100 volunteers as they worked.

Did you catch that? 1100 volunteers.

And these volunteers rock. Most commit to work at least one 12 hour shift each week, and go through intensive training before they can even start.

Without the volunteers, the center simply couldn’t do what it does.

What is The Marine Mammal Center?

The Marine Mammal Center is basically a hospital for seals, sea lions and elephant seals. Their entire purpose is to bring injured (or abandoned baby) marine mammals to the point where they can be released into the wild.

I think I knew that, but was amazed to how it all works.

Volunteers suit up in rubber boots and gloves to sort fish, tube-feed animals, scrub down enclosures, and generally get down and dirty to do whatever needs to be done to help the animals.

I got to experience a tiny bit of that during my day.

Tour of The Marine Mammal Center in Sausalito, California

We started our day with the same tour offered to the public. We learned about the LONG and difficult process of getting animals to the center. When the center receives a report of an injured animal, volunteers are called upon to watch the animal and assess its needs. Then, a team (sometimes of more than ten volunteers) works together to capture the animal. These missions are full of surprises and risk. Even though the volunteers are helping the animals, the animals believe they’re in danger so they don’t make it easy! (And those elephant seals are HUGE!!)

Photo Credit - Susan Goldman

Photo Credit – Susan Goldman

Sea lions have teeth! This is one of the reasons volunteers ALWAYS carry their boards for protection when they’re in the presence of an animal, even when cleaning out cages.

Korie Cleaning out an Enclosure at The Marine Mammal Center

After the tour, it was time to go behind the scenes. I suited up in rubber boots and gloves and headed into the Fish Kitchen.

Sorting in the Fish Kitchen at the Marine Mammal Center

Photo Credit – Susan Goldman

We helped sort almost-thawed Herring in the Fish Kitchen. Volunteers remove any fish with missing eyes or damaged skin. The animals are already sick and they can’t risk feeding them anything that could carry infection. In busy times of the year, volunteers sort more than 1,000 pounds of fish each day! Depending on how many “patients” need to be fed (sometimes more than 200!), some volunteers may work all day (or all night) in the Fish Kitchen.

I also helped clean the kitchen with . . . Dawn! (Surprised?) The center uses Dawn for so many cleaning tasks. While the marine animals don’t get cleaned with Dawn (like the oil-covered birds do), it’s used everywhere throughout the center as an effective cleaner that’s safe for the animals.

Cleaning the Fish Kitchen with Dawn Dish Soap

We scrubbed down tables and walls and equipment. Did you know fish scales get EVERYwhere? And they’re so hard to see!

Photo Credit - Susan Goldman

Photo Credit – Susan Goldman

We also washed the crates and the center’s trucks with Dawn. As a working hospital, cleanliness is essential.

Finally, I got to meet my volunteer partner for the day.

My assigned volunteer at The Marine Mammal Center -

Korie volunteers for a twelve hour shift every Friday, and since starting at TMMC, she has decided to become a veterinarian! Her work at the center gives her amazing experience with animals.

I didn’t get to go inside this cage while she and another volunteer worked since there were two sea lions in it.

Sea Lion being treated for a shark bite at The Marine Mammal Center - full story at

This one was being treated for a shark bite. (They said that the wound was looking much better!)

Cleaning the sea lion's pool at The Marine Mammal Center -

Photo Credit – Susan Goldman

I did get to help clean the pool in an empty enclosure, though, and loved spending time with Korie. It was fun to see how much she loves doing what she does! I’ll share a video interview with her in a future post!

Interviewing Korie at the Marine Mammal Center about her role as a volunteer -

And then the very best part of the day came. We were able to attend the release of three sea lions back into the wild!

We witnessed, firsthand, the reason The Marine Mammal Center exists.

We drove two hours to an unpopulated area where the animals’ chances of success in the wild were higher.

Photo Credit - Susan Goldman

Photo Credit – Susan Goldman

I got to help lift one of the crates out of the truck. In silence. The focus is completely on the well-being of the animal, so we were instructed to resist speaking encouraging words to them (like my mama-mouth tends to do without thinking) because they don’t need any distractions.

Photo Credit - Susan Goldman

Photo Credit – Susan Goldman

The center would never keep an animal longer than necessary or release it before it was ready, so it was truly perfect timing that we were able to be there. “Apostrophe” and “Row” (two yearlings), and “Fritters” (a young adult) were all so obviously thrilled to get back into the ocean!

Photo Credit - Susan Goldman

Photo Credit – Susan Goldman

I loved my experience at Dawn’s Day in the Wildlife event. The passion and commitment of the volunteers was inspiring and I was in awe to see the hard work that is done to save wildlife.

I’ll share more of what I learned in future posts!


Disclosure: I am a paid ambassador for this campaign, but the experiences, the opinions, and the awe are all mine.

Most photos in this post were taken by Susan Goldman Photography.


Vote for Your Favorite #TruCareForTroops Story

This is a sponsored post for an awesome cause!


I shared recently that TruGreen is donating up to $10,000 to Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation. For each new like to the TruGreen Facebook page they’re donating one dollar, and for each uplifting story that was shared by the family member of an active duty or veteran member of the military they donated $100.

It’s now time to go vote on your favorite story. The entrants of the top five most voted on stories will receive gift card prizes!

If you’re a regular reader, you know how much I love storytelling. Give me statistics and data and I’ll stare at you blankly.

But stories capture me and connect me to the heart of the people who make up the statistics.

It’s one thing to hear what the “troops” are dealing with, but it’s another to read the personal experiences of fathers and mothers who are parenting their kids, managing their homes, and loving one another while one parent is serving the country full time overseas.

I feel it’s my job to pass on the family stories to my own children that help them understand the realities of families whose loved ones fight for the country. I re-tell my own parents’ engagement tale. My mother and father married before their last year of college specifically so they’d have a year to be guaranteed to be together. The draft was in full force and men were being sent to Vietnam as soon as they graduated. That’s the reality of serving the country. Life paths shift and change.

I’m honored to be working with TruGreen to get these inspirational stories out for people to read.

Go to TruGreen’s Facebook page (remember that for each new like they’ll donate $1) and vote for the stories that make you understand the hearts of these heroes.

To participate in the TruGreen campaign for Children of Fallen Patriots, please go to:

Participants can engage on social media using the hashtag: #TRUCARE4TROOPS


About Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation

Established in 2002, Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation is dedicated to providing college scholarships, supplemental grants and educational counseling to military children who have lost a parent in the line of duty. Since its inception, Fallen Patriots has extended over $6.5 million in grants that have been awarded to more than 400 children attending universities throughout the United States.


About TruGreen

Memphis, Tenn.-based TruGreen is the nation’s largest lawn care company, serving more than 1.7 million residential and commercial customers across the United States with lawn, tree and shrub care. Your lawn and landscape need ongoing attention to stay healthy. That’s why TruGreen provides science-based solutions tailored to meet your specific needs. When combined with proper mowing and watering techniques, these services can maximize your lawn’s potential. As the leader in the professional lawn care industry, TruGreen is committed to responsible lawn care, including offering and promoting the use of natural, organic services and sustainable practices. Today, there are approximately 250 TruGreen branches in the United States and Canada, including about 35 franchise locations. Go to or for more information about TruGreen.





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