...because home doesn't happen overnight.

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I’ve mentioned it before: I’m a hand soap whore. It’s something I’ve always felt a little guilty about because I can’t commit to one brand and end up bouncing around, going through several bottles a year. I recycle when possible, but I know I could do better. I’ve tried all kinds of refillable dispensers but haven’t had much luck. The practical plastic ones leave a lot to be desired. The “stainless steel” ones have actually rusted out on me (I’m guessing they weren’t 100% stainless steel). My favorite glass dispenser fell to its demise one morning during the before school/work hustle. (Cleaning up shattered glass and a pool of liquid soap from the bathroom floor isn’t my favorite way to wake up. Ironically, soap is terribly difficult to “clean”.)

One of my friends told me she uses a refillable, automatic soap dispenser in her kids’ bathroom because it’s the only way she can get her kids to wash their hands. I thought it was a genius idea, but then she told me it was horribly ugly and required batteries. Hey, you do what you gotta do!

So when the folks at simplehuman asked if I wanted to take their new foam cartridge sensor pump for a spin I was game…skeptical, but game.

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The pump itself is made of high-grade stainless steel (for real) and houses a recyclable, snap-in soap cartridge. Thanks to patented air-induction technology, it takes only a small amount of liquid soap to create a rich foam which means the cartridge lasts longer than traditional soap of the same volume.

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A hinged top opens to reveal a power button that controls the amount of soap dispensed, a cartridge release button and a recharge plug. Yes, you read that correctly, recharge plug. NO BATTERIES REQUIRED. A solid green ring lights up to indicate a full charge. One charge lasts up to three months! When the soap cartridge is empty, simply press the orange release button, remove the old cartridge and snap a new one in its place. NO MESSES REQUIRED.

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I snuck one in the kids’ bathroom and you would have thought I put a unicorn in there by their reactions. “Mom! That soap thing is SO COOL!!” It’s not like they’ve never used an automatic soap dispenser before. (Hello, restaurants and gas stations.) But I think they were so surprised because the simplehuman pump doesn’t look like your typical automatic soap dispenser. It’s metal, not plastic. It’s sleek, not boxy. And it’s meant to be placed on a horizontal surface, not wall-mounted. (The kids’ vanity doesn’t have a ton of countertop space, and the pump fits perfectly.) All of a sudden my kids think hand-washing is fun?! I’m going with it.

I love the new pump because I’ve yet to find globs of unused liquid soap around the sink. Also, the touch-free sensor means NO FINGERPRINTS REQUIRED. #notacrimescene (If fingerprints do surface, the pump is water-resistant and can be rinsed in the sink.)

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I love the pump so much that I added a second one in the kitchen to hold dish soap. This might sound persnickety, but being able to add soap to my dish sponge while simultaneously holding a dirty dish is pretty freakin’ awesome. Luckily for promiscuous me, several different hand and dish soaps are available for use with the pump. I especially like the lavender hand soap and verbena dish soap.

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It’s especially user-friendly when it comes to washing out paint brushes, for big and little people.

We’ve been using the pumps for a few weeks now and we’re all impressed. We’ve yet to have an issue. The pumps are proving to be robust, and it seems like the cartridges will last for weeks to come. One thing I’d love to see in the future is reusable simplehuman soap cartridges that can be (re)filled with homemade foaming soap and used in conjunction with the sensor pump.

Today, simplehuman is giving one lucky reader a foam cartridge sensor pump and an assortment of hand and dish soaps. Enter here:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck and happy hand/dishwashing!

*This post sponsored in part by simplehuman which offers tools for efficient living.

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I shared how we wrangle the household paper trail a few weeks back, and it spurred a tangent question: What do you do with all the kid art? I thought it might be helpful to share some ways we save and display the kids’ creations while still keeping our home mostly clutter-free. This is just what we do and what works for us. It’s not meant to be a strict ruleset. In fact, it’s a pretty loose system. But if you come across something you can implement in your home, great!

For starters, all three of my kids are creative in their own ways. Layne makes the most intricate Lego and origami creations. Everett LOVES to draw and work with clay. Give him a pencil and a blank piece of paper and he’s a happy camper. (He’s exceptionally good at capturing facial expressions.) Mabrey is really into painting with watercolors, coloring, writing her name (sometimes on her bed, ugh), copying text and taking pretend food orders. (Sorry, I don’t have any burgers. Would you like some fish and a lemon? Her restaurant never has what I ask for and she always suggests “unique” alternatives. Cracks me up every time.) She’ll also sit beside Everett while he’s drawing and try to reinterpret his pictures in her own way. It’s pretty cute. We rarely buy cards. The kids almost always make the cards we give for all sorts of occasions.

Layne and Everett are in grade school (6th and 3rd grade, respectively) and they occasionally bring home art-related stuff from school, but I remember the preschool years when it felt like every day was a damn art show! Haha. That’s where we are with Mabrey now. For the most part though, the majority of kid art is made at home. Art supplies are of one of the few things (books are another) that I tend to let pile up because they really do hold my kids’ attention in constructive ways. (Toys and clothes, not so much.) Art supplies are stored in the base cabinets in the desk area of the kitchen, and art is usually made at the kitchen island.

As for what we do with the masterpieces once they’re made…it really depends. Coloring book pages and preschool art are usually displayed on the fridge or fridge side panel temporarily. Mabrey has been known to tack her paintings on the wall near her play kitchen with washi tape, too. I usually give them a week or two, then they’re recycled to make room for inevitable new art.

Everett often gifts his drawings to friends, neighbors and family members. (You can spy one of his creations in Mabrey’s room.) He absolutely loves sending snail mail. He also likes to display recent drawings on the book ledge in his bunk.

Custom Lego airplanes and RV’s make their way on to the living room shelves and usually stay there until the pieces are needed for the next big thing. I’ve found origami sculptures in the laundry nook (and even the car!) when Layne is on one of his origami folding sprees, but we try to keep them contained to the top of his dresser and woven floor baskets in his room. He’s also been known to take requests from friends and teachers, so those pieces follow him to school.

Some art ends up in Steve’s cubicle at work. (Mabrey has the funniest exchange going on with one of Steve’s co-workers. Each week they trade handmade pictures or cards via Steve. It’s hilarious and super sweet.)

When projects are sent home at the end of the school year, I take a picture from above of them all laid out on the floor. We hang on to them for a week or so then pick our favorites to store in a tote up in the attic. If we both like the same one best, we keep one. If we like two different ones, we keep two. (Seasonal pieces like handmade ornaments are handled a little differently and stored with similar decorations to be displayed each year during the appropriate holiday.)

As you can see, kid art is in a continuous state of flux in our home. We hold on to absolute favorites and display others temporarily or gift them to others. I can’t imagine my kids wanting more than two dozen pieces of their own kid art once they’re grown and out of the house. And I can’t help but feel the more I save, the less special it is because it isn’t all that rare. But maybe that’s just me? Luckily, my kids seem more interested in the process of creating and trying new techniques to achieve a certain result than in coveting their actual creations. Still, I’ve been wanting to try to incorporate some kid art in our home in a more permanent way than just a tote in the attic.

A few months ago, I climbed into the attic and brought down an abstract that Everett made in kindergarten. For years, I had been envisioning it framed via a float mount to show off the stray paint droplets, chalk smears and crinkled edges…all visual evidence linking it to its handmade origins and its journey from school to home in a stuffed backpack. I had such a great experience using Framebridge earlier this year when I had two pieces of vintage Kuba cloth framed that I decided to go that route again. I created my custom framing order online and selected the float mount, Marin frame and mail-in option. A few days later, a pre-paid package arrived so I could send Everett’s abstract to the Framebridge studio to be framed. In a matter of weeks, it was shipped back.

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It’s perfect! I wanted to hang it in the hallway, but Everett told me he’d rather have it in his room so I hung it on just about the only wall space left in the boys’ room below a pair of open shelves.

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(Those floor baskets are chock full of origami!) Now I have every inclination to grab a few more favorites from the attic and have them custom framed as well to create a mini gallery of sorts in the hallway. I know Mabrey has a few ethereal watercolors up there, and wouldn’t a framed origami collection be so cool?!

Anyway, hopefully that gives you a peek at how we deal with the onslaught of kid art – which isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. As I type, a handmade clay heart sculpture brought home from school is hanging from a hook near the front door. Bricks that the kids found in a nearby creek bed and painted at home are sitting on the countertop next to my laptop. They might not be here a month from now, but we’re enjoying them at the moment.

I’d love to hear your ideas for saving and displaying kid art at home. What works? What doesn’t? We tried a bulletin board a few years back and it just didn’t work for us. It was difficult to see any one thing well. Even though several pieces were on display, they mostly felt lost and jumbled. Maybe if we had more room it could work better?

If you’d like to give Framebridge a try, use the promo code HOUSETWEAKING15 to receive 15% off your first purchase now through January 31st, 2017. Framed art makes a great gift! December 4th, 2016, is the cutoff date for mail-in items. December 18th, 2016, is the cutoff date for print and frame items.

Bring on the kid art!

images: Dana Miller for House*Tweaking