Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Easy Access Filing

I think it's important to have a handful of easy access files to help control your everyday paper clutter. This is important for me because we don't have a filing cabinet near our desk, and it becomes a magnet for papers!

I currently use folders with the following categories:
-Take Action: things to RSVP for, letters that require a reply, etc.
-Receipts: a place to store any that I might need for possible returns
-To File: because my main filing system is located in a different part of our house (and will be featured soon in an upcoming post!)
-To Shred: again, located in a different part of our house
-Norwex: I'm a consultant, and keep current paperwork here until it's ready to be filed elsewhere
-I also have a folder with Hubby's name on it, for random papers he brings home from work that I know he might be looking for later

If you do have a file cabinet that is super handy, you could always have these easy access files right at the front, otherwise a desk drawer or desktop file box are great alternatives!  I just snagged this one on a recent Target trip:

I love the pattern, it makes me so happy to see it sitting on the desk!  Which obviously it is not in that picture...I was trying to find semi-decent lighting since I took the photo at night.

I'm using post-its as labels for now, until I decide if I'm satisfied with the categories. I like that any other files I am currently using can be temporarily added to this box, helping to keep the desktop less cluttered. My clipboard & a small notebook that I use for my mom's group also tuck nicely behind the files.

What are some other file categories that you think might fit with these easy-access files?

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Oh the Horror!

This is what I found in the living room last week one day:

Yup. All of my recipe cards, dumped out on to the recliner. I can admit some fault for this, because I did leave my recipe box on the end table when I was looking for recipes earlier in the day...and of course kids will get in to anything they're not supposed to be in to if it's within their reach!

Some of the recipe cards were still in order, but for the most part I'll have to start from scratch in reorganizing them. Plus I just randomly grabbed them & shoved them back in to the box so that none of my recipes would get ruined. :-)

I do love organizing (you didn't know that about me, did you?!)...it's just a little annoying to have to redo something that already WAS organized!  Maybe that will be a good project to work on tonight while watching TV with the Hubby...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday - Purging Clothes

First of all, I apologize for the lateness of this post. We were gone all day on sort of a last-minute back-to-school shopping trip, and I didn't have a post pre-written!

Hubby & I are redoing our master closet (that's just a teaser, you'll have to wait for the reveal soon!), so decluttering clothes has been on my mind the last couple days. I have two quick purging tips I'd like to share with you:

1) Purge clothes at the end of each season, not just once a year. If you do it when it's natural to rotate your clothing anyway, it's current in your mind what clothes didn't fit, what you don't like anymore, what you never wore, etc.

2) Purge clothes that don't fit the current "season" of your life. This is a bit more vague, so let me explain. I've been removing more clothes from my closet (I did a big purge last spring), and while there are several shirts I still really like, I've realized that as a stay-at-home mom, I just don't wear them enough. And by enough, I mean, at all. They're dressier shirts leftover from my days of working outside the home, not at all something I would wear around the house with my little ones. When I do get a chance to go out & dress up a little, I have other shirts that are my current favorites, so they're the ones I always pick. And these poor, sad, but still cute, shirts get left behind. So it's time for them to find a new home, where they will be loved and appreciated.

And yes, I realize clothes don't actually have feelings.

Friday, August 19, 2011

My DIY Chalkboard

Back in March, around the time that I first discovered her amazing blog, Jen from IHeart Organizing did a post about the chalkboard she made using a cabinet door from a Habitat for Humanity ReStore.  I did a quick search to find where the nearest ReStore to me is, and discovered one in a town only 45 minutes away that we go to relatively often!  I live in a rural area, if you haven't figured that out...

So last Saturday we found ourselves in this town & remembered the ReStore, and decided to see if it was open. What a cool place!  Lots of building & remodeling materials, some used & some brand new, at totally affordable prices.  So I snagged my own cabinet door to transform.

First, I taped off the inside panel of the door.

Then I painted Rustoleum chalkboard paint.

The paint recommended using a foam roller, but I used a brush since I was doing a smaller area. Mistake. Or maybe it's because I have a cheapo brush. But it left brushmarks...

After the first coat dried for 4 hours, I sanded it down a bit & then did a second coat with a foam brush, which helped a little. But next time I try one of these (and there will totally be a next time!), I will definitely use foam.

The next day I nailed some picture hangers to the back & popped it up on the wall!

Then I had to wait a few days, to give the surface time to cure...or whatever the correct technical terminology would be. Then you simply rub the side of a piece of chalk all over the surface, erase it, and you're good to go!  (You have to redo that rubbing anytime you actually wash the surface instead of just erasing it.)

So where did I choose to put my new chalkboard? You may recognize the built-in from one of my recent posts...the board is hanging in my dining room.  And what do I plan to use it for in a dining room?  Why, a menu board, of course!

What do you think?  I like it. I'd like to get a matching one (same size, 16x28) to try again, to see if I can get a smoother surface, since the brush marks bug me a little. But it's still totally usable the way it is.

I haven't done anything to the frame yet though, it's still unfinished wood. Hubby thinks it should be stained to match the rest of the wood stuff in the room; I think it would be fun to paint it a color.  What's YOUR vote?

Linking to:
Stay At Home Nation

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

My Summer "Mantel"

Mantels are kind of a big deal in the blogosphere. Bloggers post photos of their mantels, appropriately decorated for the season or holiday. I love looking at mantel pics, but always been jealous because I don't have a mantel!  Then awhile ago, it hit me that I have a small buffet in our dining room (that we don't really use as a buffet, just a decorative storage table)  I always remove it's "regular" decor during the winter & replace it with Christmas/winter-themed stuff...why couldn't I make that my "mantel" and switch stuff out year-round?!

So here's my buffet/mantel, all spiffied up for summer:

(one pic with flash)

(and one without, because I can't decide which looks more 
real-to-life...it's in a difficult corner to photograph!)

FYI: The printable subway art in the frame is from simplecrafter - I used her spring subway art too, and look forward to seeing her fall one!  Fall is my FAVORITE season.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday: Cook Meat in Bulk

Next time you're whipping up a meal for yourself or your family, consider cooking 2 or 3 times the amount of meat that the recipe calls for (or even more, as shown in the picture!). I do this often with ground beef, and sometimes chicken - those are the staple meats in our house.  Then take out what you need for your current recipe, and divide the rest in to 1 or 2 pound increments - whatever you use more often.  Freeze or refrigerate this "extra" - but remember that if you put the meat in the fridge it needs to be used within a couple days! This makes meal prep so much quicker when you can just toss the meat in, already cooked ahead of time!

Image Source: nuttnhoney.net/kimskitchen

Monday, August 15, 2011

Basket Hunting at Goodwill

In my last post, I mentioned that the Dollar Store is a great place to find inexpensive storage containers. Another great place to check out, though definitely not as consistent, is your local Goodwill (or other thrift store).  Check out this basket I scored on Sunday for just $1.25! 
(Since the picture doesn't really show it's size, the top measures 9½ x 13½.)

Admittedly, most of Goodwill's basket selection is quite picked over. I'm talking gift baskets with handles that don't fold down & lots of round baskets.  I think I do have one round basket in my house, but overall they're kind of a waste of space. Rectangular baskets make much more efficient use of shelf space. And every once in awhile, you may come across a rectangular basket in decent condition while perusing a thrift store!  So don't forget to look next time you're there, just in case!

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Tackling the Built-In

Getting to our dining room built-in has been on my to-do list for quite awhile. We actually have a pair of matching built-ins, one on each side of the door between the dining room & kitchen. The one on the left houses my crystal and fancier dishes, and really doesn't get unorganized because I rarely open it.  :-)

The one on the right, however, had become a stashing station. You know what I'm talking about...you're picking up around the house, get a small pile of stuff that doesn't really have a home, so you just stash it somewhere to get to it later. Guilty.

Here's that built-in before, closed...

...and open...

Now, I realize it doesn't look THAT bad. And actually, the bottom 2 shelves are relatively organized because they're the ones I use regularly. It was the top 2 shelves that were really bugging me, because there really was no rhyme or reason to what they housed.

The white plastic bins were alright, but for a built-in with a glass door that I see all the time, and that other people see when they're at my house, I wanted something that looked a little nicer. I decided to splurge a little & find some nice baskets that would fill the space perfectly. I measured the shelves & ordered a pair of baskets from The Container Store, and a trio of baskets from Walmart (actually have 4 more of those, elsewhere in the house). 
There, much better!  And functional too!  The baskets on the top shelf store party supplies - paper plates, plastic cups & silverware, tablecloths, streamers, balloons, etc.  The second shelf has some photo albums, my childrens' baby books (I'm keeping them handy so I can update them when milestones happen!), and my organizing books. Dollar stores are also GREAT places to find storage baskets & bins - that's where the cute teal-ish blue ones came from. Admittedly, they are empty right now, but I'm sure they'll fill up soon. :-)

The two baskets on the 3rd shelf store my kids' arts & crafts supplies, which at this age pretty much consist of crayons, colored pencils, washable markers, finger paints, watercolor paints, and Play-Doh.  Coloring books & drawing paper go in one of the drawers directly underneath these shelves.  The bottom shelf is my cookbooks & recipe box.
How about a before & after, side-by-side?

I'd love to paint the back wall inside the built-ins someday to give them a little more color & dimension, but the shelves aren't removable so that would be more of an undertaking than I care to do right now. I'd also like to remove the cup hooks from this half of the built-ins (keeping them in the one that houses my fancy dishes), but they're painted in to the shelf pretty good, so I'm not messing with them at this point.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Quick Tip Tuesday: Free Online Check Register & Budget Help

I must admit, keeping our budget up-to-date & checkbook balanced is not one of my strong suits. I don't mean that to sound like I just spend whatever I want & pay no attention to the budget. Actually, I was very detailed about our budget when I first became a stay-at-home mom and tracked every purchase for several months. I've updated the budget now & then since that time, and I always have a mental idea of where I'm at in different categories, but I've always struggled with finding the time/motivation to track it in more detail, to see where we can tweak things.

So yesterday I decided to do something about that. After a quick google search to see what's available (and free), I'm testing out ClearCheckbook.com to see if it will meet my needs. It seems to be pretty cool so far, and does pretty much what I imagine programs like Quicken do, but without all the extra stuff I don't need. I simply enter each transaction & pick what category it belongs to (groceries, gas, etc.) You can also add categories of your own.

Limits can be set for each category (this is where the budgeting help comes in), so the program will keep track of where you're at in your respective spending. If you don't have a budget set up at all, you should do that first so you'll have an idea of what your limits should be.  I suggest simply googling "budget worksheet", there's a zillion of them available and you can look at several and decide what style & content you want. A budget needs to fit YOU and your individualized needs, so that's why I'm not simply sharing my budget worksheet, because it may not be what YOU need.

By the way, I'm not being paid by ClearCheckbook.com, just testing it out on my own. I've only been using it for about a day, so I haven't completely made up by mind yet. :-)

Thursday, August 4, 2011

How I Organize My Purse

First off, my apologies. I did the initial purse post last week, and intended to do this post while we were on our vacation, since the place where we were staying had Wi-Fi. However, it was actually Wi-Fi capable, for a price, plus we could never figure out how to make it work anyway. So I was unplugged for 5 days. Not all bad.  :-)
So now I'm home & back to business...here goes:

Meet my purse!

Let's take a look inside. This is it's front pocket, which contains my wallet & receipts that I keep until I know I don't need them anymore (or file them, if it's a larger purchase).

This is the front pocket, of the 3 larger pockets. It holds a couple small notepads, and larger pieces of paper (like currently, a hotel receipt and some brochures & stats from my kids' most recent well-child check-ups).

This is the largest, middle pocket. It has a lint roller (never been used...I think it was in my bridal emergency kit when we got married - ha!), a small first-aid kit, a travel-size Norwex cloth, and a zippered pouch for various toiletry-type items.

Here's the inside of the zippered pouch. Stuff like chapstick, mints, pain reliever, lotion, hand sanitizer, tweezers, nail clippers....you know, all those odds & ends that float around in the bottom of your purse! 

And the back pocket...not really serving too much of a purpose currently. It has the wallet that came with the purse, where I store gift cards, business cards...stuff I don't really need to carry around in my wallet all the time.

There are also 2 small pockets on the sides, one has a small Kleenex pack & the other is where I put my cell phone.

And there you have it!  I realized it's not the packed "mom purse" you might have been expecting, but that's because I still tote around a diaper bag most of the time.  :-)

Now, it's YOUR turn!  What's in your purse?  Any special tips for organizing it?