Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - "Coding" Wrapped Gifts

via 123rf
If you happen to have little snoops digging under your tree, shaking gifts & trying to figure out what is in theirs, consider this - instead of putting gift tags on the gifts for your immediate family, code them with wrapping paper. Each person's gifts will be wrapped in their own pattern of paper, with no gift tags, so you'll know whose are whose but they won't! Of course, you may need to write down your wrapping paper "code" somewhere, if you think you might forget.  :-)

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Winter Survival Kits

via isurvivalsupply

It's that time of year again....if you live in a "northern" climate like me, you know what I'm talking about. Winter. Which means snow. And sometimes a lot of it.

It's important to have a Winter Survival Kit in each of your vehicles, in case you happen to get caught in an unexpected snowstorm or simply slide in to the ditch on an icy day & have to wait for a tow truck (or, around here, a friend with a tractor!).

I was going to make up my own list of items you should put in your kit, but then I stumbled across a great list put together by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, so I'll just use that instead!  (So the credit goes to them, really, not me!)

What to put in your Winter Survival Kit:

You easily can equip your vehicle with essential survival gear for winter. Here's what you'll need:
  • A 2 or 3 pound metal coffee can (punch 3 holes at the top of can, equal distance apart). You'll be storing the other items inside the can.
  • 60-inch length of twine or heavy string (cut into 3 equal pieces - used to suspend can).
  • 3 large safety pins (tie string to safety pins and pin to car roof interior to suspend can over candle).
  • 1 candle 2" diameter (place on lid under suspended can for melting snow).
  • 1 pocket knife, reasonably sharp (or substitute with scissors).
  • 3 pieces of bright cloth 2" wide x 36" long (tie to antenna or door handle).
  • Several packets of soup, hot chocolate, tea, bouillon cubes, etc. (mixed into melted snow to provide warmth and nutrition).
  • Plastic spoon.
  • 1 small package of peanuts and/or a couple protein/energy bars, some dried fruit (such as dried cranberries, which come in nicely sealed snack packs), and even a little chocolate, to provide you with some energy or comfort in stressful times.
  • 1 pair of socks and 1 pair of gloves or glove liners, depending on what will fit in the can (cotton is not recommended because it provides no insulation when wet).
  • 2 packages of book matches.
  • 1 sun shield blanket or 2 large green or black plastic leaf bags (to reflect body heat).
  • 1 pen light and batteries (keep separate).
When complete, place stocking cap over kit and carry in passenger compartment of car. If you have a 3 pound can, you will still have additional room for band-aids, aspirin, small radio, etc. If there is still room left, increase the quantity of any of the above items or improvise items you feel might be necessary.
Other items you may want to keep in the vehicle:
  • A charged cell phone.
  • Large plastic garbage bag.
  • Pencil stub and paper.
  • Plastic whistle.
You may want to keep the survival kit in the passenger compartment in case you go into a ditch and can't get to or open the trunk.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Friday Favorites - Christmas Songs

These songs aren't in any specific order, nor is it a complete list of my favorites, just a list that I came up with this morning of songs that I've been especially loving lately!  Hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

What are some of your favorite Christmas songs?

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Love Me Some Pegboard

Hubby recently installed a piece of pegboard for me, behind the door that goes to our basement. Our basement door is off the kitchen and there's a small landing at the top of the stairs. To the right is our deep pantry, and the left side (where the door swings) has always been where we stashed the broom, mop, etc. An okay solution, but not a great one, because it sometimes interfered with being able to open the door all the way, or things would tip over & fall down the stairs. 

A couple months ago I read a magazine article about different organizing uses for pegboard, and decided that's what we needed in that space!  (I would cite the article, but I can't remember what magazine it was from anymore!)

It's the perfect amount of space to store the broom & dustpan, my mop and it's accessories (and yes, I realize the blue mop pad needs to be washed), my dusting mitt & all of my cleaning cloths. The few other cleaning supplies I have are stored in the laundry room, which I'll be showing you soon!

Here's another shot, from down the stairs a bit:

I love my new pegboard.  My favorite part is that it gets everything up off the floor, so we can open the door all the way!

Have you used pegboard for any organizing projects in your home or garage?  Please share!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Tracking Past Christmas Gifts


I'm sure many of you have a Christmas gifts list for this year, or if you don't already you'll be making one soon so you can keep track of what you bought for whom. What do you do with your list at the end of the season?  Toss it or recycle it?  Consider keeping it, so you'll have a record of what you've given people in the past! That way you can avoid giving Grandma a puzzle for the third year in a row....unless she really likes puzzles, of course.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Fridge Shelf Labels

(I forgot yesterday was Tuesday until most of the day was over....oops!)

I've found it to be a bit help to label the shelves in your refrigerator, so that everyone in your family will know generally where certain items should go.  Maybe "fridge chaos" doesn't bother you, but it does bother me. The sour cream doesn't belong with yesterday's leftovers!  At least at my house.  :-)

Here's a glimpse of what I mean:

Of the shelves shown in the picture, the top one has labels for leftovers & eggs (yes, we have a plethora right now!), while the bottom one is for dairy items (margarine, sour cream, yogurt) and includes a basket just for cheeses.  I made the labels with my label-maker, which has handy arrows I could insert to help emphasize the locations.  If you don't have a label-maker, you can totally use some masking tape & a sharpie though. :-)

Now, I don't label the very top or very bottom shelves (not pictured)...because it's fairly obvious that the bottom is large drinks (gallons of milk & pitchers of juice) and the top shelf is short of random....smaller drinks (like cans/bottles), a large jar of applesauce that doesn't fit anywhere else, and whatever else just needs to fit there....miscellaneous.  And of course the crisper drawers are at the bottom, and most fridges come with those labeled already!

Do you label anything in your fridge?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Hanging Measuring Cups

Today's tip may be organizing gold or an organizing flop, I haven't decided which yet. Maybe you can help me!

In an attempt to create more convenient storage in my baking cabinets, I recently mounted some 3M wire hooks on the inside of one of the cupboard doors and hung my measuring cups from them.
Please excuse the photo quality - I literally just took this, at 10:30pm, so obviously no natural light.

I had seen a photo on Pinterest where someone had mounted wooden strips with hooks on them to the inside of a cupboard and hung all their measuring cups & spoons from them. I didn't want to commit to screwing something into the cupboard yet, so I thought I'd try easily removable hooks.

The whole thing is a great idea, right?  In theory...

My problem is that I whip the door open and the cups all bang against the cupboard, pretty much scaring the crap out of me every.single.time. Hubby commented on it too.  So unless one of you readers has a genius idea of something I could put behind the cups to dampen the noise, I may have to give up the hooks.  :(

I do think that hanging your measuring cups and/or spoons would be a great idea if you have a wall space, perhaps in a pantry, on which to put the hooks. Since, you know, walls don't move...  

Friday, October 28, 2011

Friday Favorites - Linen Closet Love

Linen closets like these make me super jealous that we don't have a linen closet in our home.

I guess if I really wanted to I could store some linens in our front hall closet, but it wouldn't make logistical sense since it's neither near the bedrooms nor next to either of our bathrooms!

So I'll just drool over these...





Thursday, October 27, 2011

My Filing System

Paper Clutter. My arch enemy. Filing papers....very closely related. Either way - yuck, right?

I've adapted my filing system over the years, and I believe I have one now that works really well for me.

When I first started really filing stuff, as a recent college grad with my first "real job", I pretty much just had a different file for every company that I paid bills to, as well as files for stuff like my student loans, my car loan, and my apartment lease & rent receipts. I continued filing the same way after Hubby and I were married.

Then one day I came across the FreedomFiler systems while browsing online. They are designed to be self-purging with different color-coded general categories for permanent files, files that have documents that are replaced when new documents arrive (like declaration pages for insurance policies, no need to keep any other than what's current), etc.  There was also a statements/bills folder for each month of the year, instead of an individual folder for each company. I studied the FreedomFiler system online, and created my own system loosely based in theirs, making many adjustments along the way.  I was so proud when I finished; everything was color-coded & organized.

Over time, though, I realized there was just too many files, and I felt overwhelmed by all of the categories I had created. That, and the only place in our house to store file cabinets is the basement. And to be honest, I just don't spend a lot of time down there...an unfinished basement isn't an ideal place for small children to "play" while mommy works on stuff. So I just didn't file. Instead, I created piles of papers that needed to be filed, and occasionally carried them downstairs & put them on top of the filing cabinet. :)

After we had water in our basement last spring & quickly had to move everything of value off of the floor, I decided I really didn't want to store our files down there anyway; not only because it was inconvenient, but for their safety too. So I nabbed a large plastic file box that I had used in college, which I knew would fit in our front hall closet. I threw my whole filing system out the window (not literally, of course) and started from scratch. Simplicity was the key this time.

Now my file are simply alphabetical, no different categories. I was always confused about where to look for certain files when they were in different general categories (permanent vs. replace). The files really do go left to right across, I just removed a few files before taking the photo (for privacy's sake), so that's why there's a few gaps.

If you're interested in what specific categories I used (and can't see it well enough in the photo), here's a list:
Auto Records
Education Records
Home Records
Insurance, Auto
Insurance, Health
Insurance, Home
Insurance, Life
Loans, Auto
Loans, Student
Medical Expenses
Medical Records
Tax Info (current)

I kept the idea of the statement/receipt files. I think it's easier to do this than to have a separate file for each company that you have bills for. I did decided to pare down to quarters instead of a file for each month. We really don't have a gazillion bills each month, so if I need to find one, it's not a problem to look through 3 months worth at a time to locate the one I'm in search of. 

A few random notes:

I do still maintain my desktop filing box, with a folder called To File, so that I have a place to collect the "every day" sort of random papers, and then I file in the big plastic box when the folder gets full.

I also create new file folders as needed. When I'm filing & I don't know where to put a paper, I place it in a temporary pile and then go through that later & either decide where it should go, or create an entirely new file so it won't be a question next time. I actually have a pile of these that I haven't gotten around to since the last time I filed, so I need to do that soon.

The folder entitled Tax Info only contains only current stuff, like any papers we collect throughout the year that I know I'll be looking for at tax time, and our property tax statement. Our tax returns are still stored in the basement (high enough to not get wet), using a method that FreedomFiler uses: 10 folders, entitled Tax Year 0, Tax Year 1, Tax Year 2, etc.  The 2009 return is in Tax Year 9, 2010 return is in Tax Year 0, 2011 will be in Tax Year 1, and so on. You're supposed to keep returns for 10 years, so by the time you cycle around again, it's time to toss that return.

What kind of system do you use for filing?  Any great tips or tricks to pass on to my readers? Please share!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - One Laundry Load a Day

Awhile back, I posted this question to you all, looking for input on your laundry routine. I was trying to figure out what would work best for me & my family.


Until recently, I had been setting aside one or two days a week as my "laundry days"...simply because one of my neighbors does it that way & she has 5 kids, so I figured that must be the way to do it! I didn't focus on much else around the house, just worked on getting as much laundry done as possible. But, I always struggled with getting all of that laundry folded (my girls' clothes usually didn't even get folded) & it usually didn't get put away until several days later....which was always a source of stress for me, and I was constantly running out of clothes baskets. So it wasn't working for me.

Recently, I started doing one load of laundry each day, occasionally two if really needed, and weekends are optional (or as necessary). I've found this "system" to be much less stressful - I totally have time to get one single load folded and put away, and even if there's enough to do another load or two (or three!), I can simply tell myself that I don't have to do it until tomorrow! I think it's working well.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Decluttering Kitchen Utensils

Is your kitchen utensil drawer looking like this?  (That's not my drawer, by the way...)
It's time to declutter!

Consider which utensils you actually use on a daily or weekly or monthly basis. Perhaps items used often could be stored in a pretty crock on the countertop. Or not - it's up to you & the space you have.

Utensils used infrequently (the turkey baster you only use at Thanksgiving) could be afforded a different space, perhaps in your pantry, a buffet, or even a small box in the basement; somewhere not "in the way", but easily accessible when a utensil is needed.

Also ask yourself if you actually need every utensil? When is the last time you used ______________? Be honest, and if you find that you really don't use a utensil, donate it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Bad Blogging...

I'm a bad blogger this week. I've promised posts on both my filing system & another closet reveal....but I've been busy taking care of a couple little girls who are feeling under the weather. So, my apologies! They'll be coming soon, I promise!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Organizing Digital Photos

Here's the method I use to keep our digital photos organized:

Within the master photo file (My Pictures or wherever you keep them, ours are on an external hard drive), create a folder labeled for each year. Within that folder, I create folders for each month...but instead of naming them January, February, etc. I date them with the last day of the month - for example, 1-31-2011. This way, they always remain in correct numerical order, whereas if you spell out the month names they will sometimes alphabetize.

Here's a screenshot to show you what I mean:

How do you keep your digital photos organized? Any tips to share?

Friday, October 7, 2011

Friday Favorites - Things About Fall

Decorating with pumpkins & cornstalks
Visiting the Orchard
Making Apple Crisp

Playing in the crunchy leaves

Going to high school football games
The beautiful foliage
Lighting apple & pumpkin candles around my house

"Swetta Wetta"  (bonus points if you can name where that saying is from!)

What are some of YOUR favorite things about Fall, that I didn't list here?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Don't Put Off Filing

This Quick Tip is coming from a personal place today. I can admit it, I procrastinate at things that I don't really want to do in the first place, like filing for example. Though I do know the two reasons that I put it off:
1) We don't have a "convenient" place to store our main files; somewhere that I can access easily on a daily basis as papers trickle in. I've adapted by using my easy access desk filing box with a folder entitled "To File".
2) The only time I really have in a given day without children running around & getting in to everything is after they are all in bed for the night....and that's my time with Hubby, to relax & talk without shouting over the noise!

So in my honesty, I must admit that the "to file" folder had transferred to a "to file" basket in the closet where our files are stored. I'm not even joking. It's embarrassing to admit. Not a giant basket, mind you, but a basket nonetheless. I should have taken a picture of it, but wasn't thinking of a blog post at the time!

So anyway, this afternoon I was clearing some clutter from the landing of our stairs, some of which went in to said closet. I noticed the basket there and thought, "You know, if I put that & the file box up on the table, I could totally start filing while the kids are running around."

So I did.

And it took me all of...15 minutes?  Maybe 20?  And there was 5 months worth of paperwork in there too!  I'll have to remember that next time my folder is full....no more baskets ...just DO it!

It's such a good feeling too; knowing that those papers were waiting for me has been weighing on my shoulders for months. I feel much better knowing that everything is put where it's supposed to be, and that if I need to find a paper I won't have to be worried about it.

Speaking of filing - I will be sharing my filing system with you all sometime in the next week!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Tip Coming Tomorrow...

Sorry folks, I didn't have today's Quick Tip prepared ahead of time, and it's just too busy around here today for me to get it done! If you're really lucky, I might write one tonight, but most likely sometime Wednesday afternoon.  :-)  Thanks for being patient!

Friday, September 30, 2011

A Dose of Reality

This is a super busy week for our family, so I'm sticking with something simple today. I will have a FANTASTIC new closet (yes, I've done it again!) to reveal to you next week, once the chaos of this week passes!

So here goes...

I'm puttin' it out there...

*takes deep breath*

Yup. That's our toy room. Most days. We do put everything away in it's proper place like 2-3 times a week, but it takes quite awhile because the girls aren't very good helpers yet...too distractable! Many nights when we do the "toy round up" before bedtime, they just get tossed in the toy room, to be dealt with later. 

And you know what? I'm okay with that. It's not one of the main rooms that we "live" in all the time, so the mess isn't in my face, and I'd much rather spend my evening tucking my children in bed & enjoying some quality time with my husband. It's all about Priorities.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Unavoidable Clutter

There are probably people out there who will totally disagree with me, but I think it's okay to set up small spots around your house that become catch-alls for random, unavoidable clutter. There are rules though...

1) Contain it. Use a small basket, a tray, a pretty bowl.

2) When the container gets full (or preferably, before it is full...perhaps once a week, every 2 weeks, once a month, whatever), empty it! Put the "random" items away.

Here are two examples of where I have these stations set up:

This pretty blue bowl sits atop the clothes dryer in our laundry room. It's a great place to put stuff that comes out of pockets or buttons that come off in the wash.
This red bowl resides on top of our microwave. Our kitchen counters are a big hot-spot for clutter, so I try to put anything small enough in this bowl to reduce the amount of crap stuff piling up, so we can keep our counters clear! The contents of this bowl are much more random, usually things stashed quickly to keep out of reach of little hands....currently: some blocks that need to be reunited with the rest, a pair of earrings I brought downstairs but forgot to put on before church, and some hair bows that our dog kept attacking...

Friday, September 23, 2011

Friday Favorites - Fall Decor

I'm debuting a new blog segment today, called Friday Favorites.  Each Friday, I'll be sharing some of my favorite things...they might be organizing projects, decor, crafts, recipes, anything is fair game!

Currently, I've got Fall on the brain. It's my absolute favorite season. Other than rainy days, I love pretty much everything about Fall - the scents, the colors, the cooler weather, the natural decor, harvest. I'm a big fan of natural, somewhat harvest-related decorating - pumpkins, acorns, leaves, berries. I'm not a Halloween fan - we do costumes & trick-or-treating, but I don't decorate for Halloween AT ALL. I don't understand why anyone would want to put witches & ghosts & bats around their house!

So here are some of the Fall decorations I'm loving:

Adorable Button Tree from Color Me Happy

Simple - wheat in jars with vinyl letters!  From Choose to Thrive

LOVE pumpkins on candle pedestals!  From Becky Higgins

Painted Dollar Store frames & scrapbook paper!  From A Diamond in the Stuff

Fabulous pumpkin topiaries from Brassy Apple

Elegant candles with acorns from Favor Girl
What is your style for Fall decorating?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

My First Feature!!

Holy Guacamole! My favorite blog, IHeart Organizing, has featured me today! Go here to check it out!

IHeart Organizing

I'm so thrilled, I'm seriously going to have to get up & dance or something....too much excitement to contain!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Reusing Boxes for Drawer Organization

A great & super cheap (as in, free!) way to organize drawers is to reuse boxes you may have lying around your house. There's no rule that says something has to be "pretty" in order to be organized. Of course, if you want it to be pretty, that's fine too - glue or mod podge some scrapbook paper on the boxes!

Pictured below is the main office supply drawer in our desk. I used old checkbook boxes & boxes that thank-you notes came in - easy peasy! They're a great size, small enough to group "like with like" (one of the main organizing rules) & easily maneuverable so you can find which configuration best fills your drawer.

And...welcome to my sock drawer!  I just have a couple shoe boxes in there, so I can sort between athletic socks, dress/neutral-colored socks, and cute/fun socks.

Just a couple examples!

How have you utilized boxes in drawers in your home? Share some examples!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cute Jewelry Storage!

Earlier this week I promised you details of my recent jewelry display project!  So here's what happened.

I was out digging around in the garage a couple weeks ago & stumbled upon this lovely wall hanging:
Umm...yeah...it came from my just-out-of-college time when I was living in my very first place, all by myself & was desperate to have stuff on the walls so it looked like "home". Pretty sure I bought it at a garage sale, and it hung in my bathroom because the frame matched my sage green shower curtain (that we still have in our main bath - hey!).

But the picture is SO not my style. Then I had a brilliant upcycling idea - I was in the midst of redoing our master closet & had been wanting to create some sort of "thing" to display some of my jewelry. I'd seen so many cute ideas on Pinterest, and I knew this frame would be perfect!

So I cut some chicken wire to fit the frame, spray-painted the front side of it white, and secured it in the frame by bending these little metal tabs down. This pic shows the back side of the wire, which is why it's still metal-looking.

Then I measured & pre-drilled 6 holes for screw-in cup hooks. Ignore the metal rod...I balanced it on our towel rack for this picture!

Lastly, I nailed a couple picture hangers to the back, since it had originally hung vertically & I switched it to horizontal.

Then I popped it up inside our closet, and hung my jewelry from it!  Cute cute, right?

Have you had any brilliant upcycling ideas lately?

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Master Closet Redo - Part 2

I'm skipping Quick Tip Tuesday this week, because I'm way too excited to show you Part 2 (completion) of our Master Closet project!  To see the first part of the transformation, click here.

Here are the changes I've made since the first post:

1) I painted the interior of the closet a light beige color that we had leftover from other areas in our house. I think colors are super fun in closets, but chose to keep this one neutral for two reasons:
a) this closet is usually wide open and
b) we may someday change color palettes in our bedroom & I probably won't want to repaint the closet!

2) Because the closet is so deep, and therefore dark when you're looking for clothes inside it, we needed to add some lighting! I nabbed an under-cabinet light that we had lying around & screwed it to the inside of the closet's door frame...voila!

3) I made myself a cute jewelry hanger and popped it up on the wall. Details on this little project will be coming on Thursday!

4) Decided to nix the basket of padded hangers that I never use, and replaced one of the others with a matching brown one. I got these 3 as a package anyway, and figured they might as well live in the same location.

5) Hubby suggested we remove the door from the closet, since we keep it wide open 99.9% of the time anyway, and it blocked half of the window. I agreed, and off came the door! On a trial basis, I threw up an extra curtain to see if we want one there....but I'm not completely sold on it. Nobody really ever comes in our room except our kids, so I don't know that we need to "hide" the closet. Plus, it's all cute & organized now...nothing to hide!

The shoe organizer that hung over the door has found a new home in our house...someday you'll get to find out where!

So here's the finished product:

Dark, Smushed, Unfunctional Before   vs.   Lighted, Functional, Cleaned-up After!

What do you think?