Monday, January 31, 2011

Manda Monday--So far

While I consider myself to be an organizational pro, work, family and life in general conspired against me and my house turned into a disorganized disaster at the end of 2010.  But like most people, I resolved to get organized in January...and thanks to you I got quite a bit done. 

I cleaned out and rearranged cabinets and drawers in my kitchen.

It took several days, but I finally got my clothes closet under control.

My laundry room wasn't as bad as my closet, but it needed improvement. 

And I finally started scrapbooking!  As my facebook fans know, I finished my first scrapbook on Saturday night.  It's of the Little Guy's first year, and I'm so pleased with how it turned out.  The Little Guy really likes it, too!

Here's the proof of my giant organizational--junk purging extravaganza:  more than 27 boxes of stuff I no longer need/use/wear/want in the basement, all ready to become someone else's treasure at this summer's yard sale.  Or at least a tax write-off if it becomes a donation.   

Anyone who has ever seen my basement knows that I could easily fill up 27 more boxes of stuff, and that's just what I plan to do between now and June.  By this time next year I hope to have a spotless basement, where each storage tote is clearly labelled and on its proper shelf. 

Of course, I have to thank all of you for helping me with this organizational blitz.  While I have long wanted to tackle some of these projects, I never would have taken action if I didn't have this blog and you all to hold me accountable.  Thanks to everyone for reading!

Friday, January 28, 2011

What I keep

Throughout the past few weeks, you've stuck by me during my crazy organization/purging rampage.  I've cleaned out closets, laundry rooms, my kitchen and more.  I have boxes and boxes of stuff I'm going to get rid of this summer.

Here's a little secret:  I have a few storage totes I'm filling up with stuff I will keep.  Forever. 

Folks who know me know that I am truly a sentimental person, and that's why I hang on to things.  But these keepsakes are a great history of lives and living, and that's something I want to hang on to for as long as I can. 

For example, see all these Christmas cards?

After I took them down last week, I bundled them up, labelled them and safely tucked them into a storage tote.  I've been doing this for the past few years.  Christmas cards, and the letters and pictures that accompany them, tell the stories of family and friends through the years.  And when some of those people are gone, I will still have their notes and holiday greetings in my hand. 

I've saved most of the cards and letters I've received over the years.  I do the same for my kids, although now that I am older, my organization process has gotten much better.  One day I'll do for my letters/cards what I've done for theirs: organize them by year and occasion. 

I store all the cards and letters in photo boxes from craft stores.  They are the perfect combination of decorative and functional.

I also save a lot of keepsakes such as those "Baby's First Whatever" bibs... well as their Halloween costumes and almost every outfit they've had professional pictures taken in.

That way, years and years from now, my daughter can hold that green dress in one hand and marvel about how small she once was, and how far she's come since then. 

I 've done that a few times already, and this picture was only taken three months ago!  My Big Martha saved some of my baby clothes for me, and now I'm seeing my daughter in a few items that I once wore. Some items are definitely worth saving!

So if, while you're organizing your house and throwing out clothes you no longer wear and items you no longer use, you happen to stumble across an item that makes you smile and perhaps even brings a tear to your eye, I give you permission to keep it. 

Just be sure to store it properly, and don't get carried away!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Five minutes and one dollar

Granted, some organization projects are huge.  Cleaning and organizing a house, room or even a closet can take days, but not all organization projects have to take a long time or a lot of money to complete.  There are many, many projects you can do in five minutes.  If you are having trouble getting organized, then that's my recommended starting point for you:  find a small area that needs to be organized, set the timer for five minutes, and get to work.  You'll be amazed by what you can get done in that time, and that success will motivate you to accomplish more.

Take the top drawer of my nightstand, for example.  It was a mess:

Enter three baskets I bought at the Target Dollar Spot guessed it! dollar:

Side note: whoever came up with the Dollar Spot (or is it Stop?) at Target is a genius.  I hope that person is lounging on a beach somewhere enjoying the fruits of their million-dollar idea. Because I'm pretty sure that's how much money I've dropped on Dollar Spot/Stop items over the years.  Seriously. 

Not much in my nightstand drawer had to be thrown out, it just needed some serious categorization. The pens, note pads and headphones got their own bin.  The headphones don't really belong there, but for now, that's where they are staying.

It took two bins to capture my hand lotions and fancy lotion gloves/socks.  The funny thing is...prior to this organization smackdown, I had a hard time finding hand lotion.  And now I have too bins full of it.  Go figure!

Here's the finished drawer, completely organized with a budget of only one dollar:

I even have a bit of room to spare on the left side and in the back next to the spare jar candle. 

See how easy that was?  Five minutes is all it takes to organize a drawer, purse, shelf.  Break big projects down into five minute increments and tackle it a little bit at a time.  Step by step and bit by bit, you'll eventually have an organized closet, room, house.  You can do it!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

It's in the bag

Last night, I organized the final purse. 

It had to happen.  Ms. Orange was bursting at the seams with receipts, old cough drops and junk I just don't need to carry around on a daily basis.

I started by dumping everything out.

Even my key chain was cluttered...look at this:

I slimmed that down by taking out three of the reward tags and both of the charms.  It's still bulky, but at least I use everything that remains:

Here's all the stuff that made the cut to go back into my purse:

Wallet, hand lotion, gift cards, business card holder, checkbook, pens, cell phone, reward/shopping cards and a small photo album.  The album may seem outdated, but since I don't have a fancy iPhone or phone that can hold a lot of pictures the album is a must.  I whip it out to show off pictures of my kids every chance I get!

Here's what did not make the cut:

The diaper rash ointment samples and pens go somewhere else.  The pile on the right IS ALL GARBAGE.  Isn't that amazing?  For weeks I've been hauling around and digging through mail, receipts, expired IDs and credit cards, and a whole lot of I-have-no-idea-what-this-is-or-why-I'm-carrying-it.  That pile had to go. 

I also found five fortunes hidden throughout my wallet. They must have been collected over the past year or so, because I hardly ever get to eat Chinese food.

You will soon receive an unusual proposition.

A new work opportunity will avail itself.

All decision (sp) you make today will be most fortunate.

You will make a name for yourself.

You are the master of every situation. 

Wow!  Those are some really good fortunes...but they had to go.  What can I say? I was mastering the situation.  It was a fortunate decision to get rid of them.  Heh.

Doesn't Ms. Orange look a lot trimmer?  I think so.

Is your purse giving you problems?  Take a few minutes to clean it out--the results are worth it!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Starting to scrapbook

Ever since the Little Guy was born, I've wanted to scrapbook.  I wanted to capture all of his cuteness and special moments in one solid tome for the ages.  However, I quickly learned that scrapbooking can be a huge task, and it's easy to get overwhelmed.  After all, I have two kids and I'm armed with a digital camera...I take anywhere from 100 to 250 photos a month.  What memories do you capture?  What moments are important to document? 

While I've been collecting scrapbooking materials for over three years now, up until a few days ago I had yet to do a single page.  In the spirit of getting myself organized, and motivating others to do the same, I wanted to dive in and get started. Those memories and photos weren't going to organize and scrapbook themselves! 

But where to start?  After careful consideration, I decided to keep things simple.  For the Little Guy and BabyGirl's scrapbooks, I'm focusing on professional pictures with only a few candids thrown in as necessary.

Once that decision was made, getting started was much easier.  First, I choose what pictures would go on each page.  Then, I combed through all of my scrapbook paper and choose backgrounds for the pictures.  And while I had purchased some embellishments, I don't plan on using them.  The simpler, the better! 

So far, I have two pages done:

Now that I've gotten started, and each page is simply waiting to be assembled, I hope this process goes smoothly and quickly.  After all, it took me three years to get started...I don't want to drag this out for another three years! 

I do have a separate album for all of those wonderful day-to-day living photos that I take.  I use small albums where the photos just slip into pockets and I can write down the details in the side margin:

This way, each child will have a more informal record of early life and events in addition to their fancy scrapbook.  The two-track system may seem like a lot, but for me it makes a lot of sense.  Professional pictures go in the scrapbooks, so I don't have to make any decisions about which events to include and leave out.  Everything can be included in the small photo albums, and since assembly is so easy I am saving a lot of time putting those albums together. 

I wonder if this means I can call myself a "scrapbooker" now.  Or is it "scrapper"?  Whatever the lingo is, I'm glad I've finally tackled this project! 

Monday, January 24, 2011

Martha Monday--Scrapbooking

One source of angst for me in the organization department is getting a handle on all the scrapbooks and photo albums.  I have a lot of materials necessary to do the projects, but I never seem to have the time to get it done.  NO MORE!  With my Little Guy already three years old and BabyGirl turning one next month, I want to get started on their scrapbooks.  Like RIGHT NOW!

Fortunately, Martha has ideas for getting great memories and mementos properly preserved for future generations.  To get my scrapbooks started, I'm really liking two of Martha's scrapbooking suggestions.  First, there's the "Book of Baby Firsts."

Second, there's the suggestion to pick a theme:

I'm going to let those two ideas guide me as I start on my kids' scrapbooks.  Mostly, I hope to keep it simple.  Now that I'm making time to get the scrapbooks started, I don't want them to turn into Projects That Never Finish. 

Do you scrapbook?  What's your method?  Let me know!

Friday, January 21, 2011

Making space

Closets are funny things...there's never enough space in there, but there's always wasted or empty space.  Whether above or below, I bet there's square footage (or at least inches) in your closet that can be put to better use. 

Over the years, I've found a few ways to put dead space to use for storage in various closets.

My favorite solution is to add a dresser:

The above dressers are in my closet.  I did this for BabyGirl's closet as well:

It's not the perfect size, nor is it very good-looking, but it does get the job done.  I use it to store clothes that she doesn't yet wear, but will tomorrow morning when she grows two inches over the course of the night, as babies often do. Dressers in closets take advantage of all the usable space below the clothes racks.

Another solution is to just add another rack:

We went this route when we readied the Little Guy's "big boy" room.  A clothes rack was added to the bottom half of the closet.  You can see that this is where all of his shirts go.  They are well within reach for our 3-year-old, which makes the morning routine so much easier.

Use a sweater hanger (is that what this is called?) for something other than sweaters:

It's meant for sweaters, but this thingy is in the Little Guy's closet to store extra blankets, sheet sets, mattress pads and afghans.  Not everything is a perfect fit, but it's all easy to reach whenever we need it.

Finally, try a rolling cart for added storage:

This is my new solution to a pesky problem:  the guest room closet is filled with sewing projects that I swear I will get to one day.  My plan is to store my sewing machine and supplies on this rolling cart so I can wheel it out whenever the sewing urge strikes.  Which it occasionally does.  And when it does, I'd like to be ready.

How do you get more storage out of your closets?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Cleaning closet organization

This post is a blast from the past, but the organizational tips will last through the ages! Enjoy!

There's a linen closet in the hall that I use to store all of my cleaning supplies, light bulbs, air fresheners, etc. When I got done organizing my bathroom, it seemed only right to organize this closet next.

Before pictures:

And after:

All I really did was to organize supplies--one bin holds everyday cleaning supplies, and the other two hold extra supplies--in plastic storage totes. An easy enough task, but now I can easily see where everything is, and what I might need more of. And truthfully, I don't need any more cleaning supplies (8 cans of Pledge/Endust is more than enough for me). Why do I have so many cleaning supplies?

Uh oh. I just occurred to me, maybe it's because I don't scrub my house that often? Should I clean more?

No, that can't be it. But I'll tackle that issue another day. A day far in the future. A day when I've grown tired of lounging on my couch eating bon-bons. In the meantime, I'll just stick to organizing.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

My laundry room

My laundry room has several things going for it:

1. It's on the second floor with all the bedrooms.

2. It's right next to the kids' rooms, so getting really messy and stinky clothes off the kid and into the washer is really easy.

3. It is an actual room.  I'm not sure of the measurements, but I'll take a stab at it and say 10x8.  That's 80 square feet of space dedicated to making dirty clothes and linens clean.  I know that I am extremely fortunate to have such a great space for something as mundane as laundry.

As with any space in any home, things can get messy and disorganized.  Take a look at the left side of the above picture.  See the boxes and bags?  My laundry room was turning into a storage room, and that made me really unhappy, especially since I place such value on running an organized and efficient home. 

We recently got a second-hand dresser for use in the laundry room, and while it was put there two weeks ago, I hadn't put anything in it.  That had to change.

Here's the dresser area after some organization.  Everything that was previously in a small rolling cart is now in the dresser, as are some bags I used for garbage liners.  A few cleaning supplies are in there as well. 

I went through the boxes and bags, and tossed everything that was old and unusable.  Many of the items in the laundry room really belonged in another part of the house, so they were removed.  Doesn't everything look so much neater?

Now the only fixtures in the laundry room are the ones that belong in there:  the washer, dryer, laundry tub, iron and board, vacuum and a dresser for storage. 

My future plans for the laundry room include a much brighter color on the walls and ceiling, a better light fixture, and switching the positions of the washer and dryer (right now the doors open toward each other instead of away).  But I'm much happier now that the clutter is gone and my laundry room is only being used for its intended purpose: laundry!