Cleaning out cabinets and closets…

I was able to complete several more tasks from my To-Do list over the last few days. I finished 3 ‘15 minute Projects’ and 1 ‘Small Project’.

2 of the 15 minute tasks were very easy and didn’t even take the whole 15 minutes.  Yea! Here is the breakdown of all 4 projects:

1) I went through our printer desk in the office just to see if there is anything that needed attention. I threw away a couple of wayward twist ties, rolled up the stamps into more compact rolls, and took out 10 used ink cartridges that I’m going to take to an office supply store to recycle. I only took 10 out because we get rewards points for cartridges, but you can only drop off ten per month. This project only took about 4 minutes since I had organized everything in this desk during my big Office Organization.

2) The second project was going through my short sleeve shirts that were hanging in the closet. I had gone through them this past summer so they were also pretty well organized. However, I did manage to get rid of one item. I also turned all of the hangers around on the rod.

When I wear an item, it goes back on a normal facing hanger. If I don’t wear the item by the time next summer, I’ll know it because the hanger will be facing backwards. If the hanger is backwards at the end of spring, then the item goes in the donate bin!

3) I also went through a small cabinet in our den. I had already gone through another cabinet (which you can read about here), but there was one place left to organize in this room. Here is the before:

You can see 2 small drawers and then the bottom is a very shallow open area. At one point, there was a small shelf in here but now it’s just a big shallow space. Did someone break in and just steal this shelf? Nobody knows. There was an old DVD player in here which we decided to keep, but it moved upstairs to an empty drawer.  This is what else was in there:

Lots of miscellaneous stuff that I couldn’t even get to because it was all just thrown in there. There was a bunch of extra baby proofing items, which are now in a basket in the kid’s bathroom closet. There were some lighters, which are now by our fireplace. There were some blank DVDs, which are now in the printer desk in the office. There was also a flash light, some nightlights and pet hair remover wands. After I put everything in its’ proper home, I only had a few items left to store in the den cabinet. Here are the drawers now:

It took me a few minutes to figure out what to do with the very tall and shallow space on the bottom. I put the taller candles back in there and then I thought of the perfect thing to store there. I have a wood tray which I love, but I only really use it when guests come over.

Until now, it has been stored on the floor of our hall closet (where our jackets and vacuum go). However, it was very hard to get to, as you had to take out pretty much everything in the closet. Now it has a new home! And I slipped the edge of the tray behind the lip of the cabinet so it doesn’t slide out when I open the doors. Nice.

4) The ‘Small Project’ I did was to clean out the linen closet outside the guest bathroom. Here is the before:

I took everything out and cleaned the shelves. Then I assessed what I had. Score of the day? I found a twin sheet set I had no idea we had in there. I actually don’t even recognize it, which is weird. Where did it come from???? I also found a throw blanket that we never use, but it’s the softest thing you’ve ever felt. It’s like hugging a cloud. So the sheets and the throw both moved upstairs for my kids to use. Right now, the blanket is hanging up with all of the other kid blankets, which I mention in my kid’s closet post.  When my younger son moves to a toddler bed, this blanket will be the perfect size and softness for him!

There were 5 extra pillows in the linen closet. I wanted to keep them, but they took up so much room in the small closet. But wait, didn’t I have an almost empty top shelf in the guest room closet? Oh yes I did! So all the pillows moved into the guest room, which makes more sense anyways.

After neatly folding everything and taking just a few items out, here is the after:

A world of difference and it took less than 40 minutes. I know this because I had a lasagna in the oven and it had about 45 minutes left to cook when I started. I finished the project with enough time to stare at the timer (mouth watering) until the lasagna was done.

So there you have it, 4 more projects off the list! Loving the list over here!

~Erin

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Kid’s Bathroom Organizing

So I am back from another couple days of travels with the kids. I took both kids to Phoenix for 4 days to see my family and to celebrate my grandmother’s birthday! We are back, unpacked, laundry going as I write this, and it’s good to be home!

A couple weeks ago, I got frustrated with the state of my kid’s bathroom closet. It looked like this:

Kid’s Bathroom Closet

Now, overall, it’s not horrible. It’s a really big closet and the kids don’t need too much stuff in there. But there was one shelf that was awful!!!! It was…the everything shelf!

Medicines, bath toys, cleaning supplies, lotions, shampoo, diaper bin bags…pretty much everything that wasn’t a towel. So I actually spent a while looking for some medium size bins to organize. I had a couple big bins and also those little plastic baskets, but nothing in a medium size. Then one day, I was walking through the garden section at Walmart and they randomly had a tiny clearance shelf with the perfect size baskets! I scooped up 6 of them (3 for the kids bathroom and 3 for mine).
Here is the after!

First I took everything out of the closet and cleaned the shelves, then put the towels and extra bathmat back in nice and neat.

After that, I did the purge! I think I literally threw away half of the stuff that came out of the closet. Between packages, duplicate items and a couple expired medicines, the trash can was overflowing.

With half the stuff gone, I divided everything into piles. For the 3 medium bins, I decided the categories were:

-Bath Toys – I try to switch out the bath toys so the kids have something new to play with and it also gives me a chance to clean the ‘out-of rotation’ toys and let them dry completely.

-Extras – This is for the extra bottles of lotion and shampoo I’m not using yet, as well as the replacement bags for the diaper bin.

-Misc – This is for powder and a couple of other items that just didn’t fit anywhere else.

Then I took a large shallow bin and placed 4 smaller baskets inside it. Then each basket became it’s own category, such as ‘teeth’, ‘first aid’, etc. I labeled the front of the shallow bin so each baskets contents could be easily read.

-Last but not least, I took one more small basket and labeled it ‘Daily Use’. This is for the stuff I use very often with the kids, such as vitamins, allergy meds, and nail clippers. The toothbrush and toothpaste are in the bathroom drawer, so the stuff in the basket is everything I want to keep out of reach from the kiddos!

I love how clean it looks. It also looks pretty empty, but I rather have extra space than cluttered space!

Lessons Learned:

-Keep your eyes open when you are looking for something specific to help you organize. Sometimes you have to look in unexpected places (like the clearance shelf in the garden section) for the perfect organizing tool.

-Try to be patient when looking for supplies. It took me a couple weeks to find the perfect bins, but they work sooo much better than anything else I could find and they made the actual process of organizing a lot easier.

-A labeling machine can be your best friend! It also helps others navigate your house when you have guests, babysitters etc.

Happy Neatening!

~Erin

Bejeweled

I don’t have very much jewelry. I’m not a girlie girl and I don’t accessorize often. But I do like to gussy it up now and then and one thing I know is that if things are easily accessible, they are used more often. I was excited about my tackle box used as a travel jewelery case, which I mention here. However, my jewelry downfall is that all of my stuff was stored in little boxes or baskets all the time. I never saw it, so I never wore it. Enter the jewelry board project!

I wanted a pretty place to at least hang my necklaces and maybe a few bracelets. So I started the materials search. I found a cute frame at Goodwill for $4.99. I probably could have found one cheaper, but it was the right size and I found it right away, so I snagged it! And it already had the picture wire on it so I wouldn’t have to worry about how to hang it. I knew that I had some squares of cork at home that I had already bought, so between those two things, I was off to a good start.

Then I cut the cork to fit and actually stapled 2 pieces together to make 1 piece for the frame. I wanted to cover the cork in a pretty fabric, but instead of buying material, I shopped my house! I had an adorable shirt that I never wore because when I put it on I felt like I was 5 years old….

Forgive all of the wrinkles….I dug this puppy right out of the ‘Donate’ bag in my laundry room. So I just cut off the back of it to wrap around the cork board. However, it was so thin, you could see right through it. Soooo….I cut a piece of material out of a sheet that I had paid a couple bucks for with just something like this in mind. First I wrapped the sheet around the cork and then the yellow fabric from the shirt. I stapled them at the back so they wouldn’t shift.

Now that’s not very pretty, but I knew that it was the back and I was also going to cover it with a piece of cardboard.

I knew I was going to stick pushpins in the board, so I tried to get all cutesy. Big mistake. My plan was to take some leftover textured spray paint and give them all this great textured finish. Um….here’s what happened:

Riiiiiight. If you remember from my post on making plastic Bag Holders, this whole spray paint thing didn’t work out so well for that project either. So, I just found some clear push pins that would work just fine. Back to the frame…..

I actually liked the color of the frame, but the shade was a little too close to the color of the yellow fabric, so I painted the frame gray and then sanded it a little to lightly distress it:

Here’s what it looked like at this point. Cute, but a little boring:

So I added a few embellishments that I dug out of the hardly used scrap booking supplies:

Once I added the jewelry, I ended up covering a lot of the embellishments, so I actually moved almost all of them to the frame and …Ta Da!

The whole thing cost about $7.00 between the frame and the cork. I already had the material, leftover paint, sandpaper, staples and tacks. Yea!

Lessons learned:

1) If you are going to do a project like this, buy thicker cork or be prepared to double up the sheets. A standard tack was too long for the cork I had so that’s why I put cardboard behind it to make it thicker.

2) If you want to be able to rearrange the tacks or pushpins, use a durable fabric that can handle a little wear and tear. The fabric I used was extremely thin and fragile, but I knew that once the pushpins  were in, they were going to stay.

3) DO NOT try to spray paint pushpins 🙂

~Erin

15 Minutes more

A couple months ago, I did a post called 15 Minutes, which you can read here. The concept was to either tackle small projects that would take 15 minutes or less or break down a bigger project into 15 minute segments so it was more easy to handle. This also increased the likelihood of a bigger project actually reaching completion at some point! Here are a couple more 15 minute accomplishments:

1) Big Project – Clean out the kitchen.    15 Minute Project – Clean out the Tupperware drawer.

Whose Tupperware drawer looks like this?

Well mine did before 15 minutes of organizing magic. Here’s the thing, the drawer doesn’t technically look a lot better now. However, some major things changed:

First I took out the extra stuff. In the before photo, you can see things like a Slap Chop (which, by they way, is one of the greatest inventions ever). That did NOT belong in there, so I found it a new home in the pantry.

I also had a box of Tupperware in the pantry which I hadn’t even opened yet, so it was taking up space and going unused. So I washed and dried all of the stuff in the box so I could put it in it’s rightful place.

Here’s the ‘After’ photo:

Now it’s not what I would call pretty. However, it is soooo much more functional and I actually have about 3 times as many containers in there as I did before. Also, when I want to use the Slap Chop, I just pull it off the pantry shelf,..no more digging through lids to get to it! Speaking of lids, I was also able to throw away several mystery lids (their only purpose was to frustrate me!).

2) Big Project – Clean out the linen closets.    15 Minute Project – Go through pillows and pillowcases.

Let me set the scene: picture me tossing and turning, night after night, constantly fluffing and rearranging my pillows, secretly switching mine with my husbands before he came to bed.

Scene 2: We have guests come into town and I pull the extra pillow out of the linen closet. The thought that comes to my mind is “Wow, this pillow feels extremely fluffy and comforting, I should use this in my room instead”. What actually happens is our guest uses it, I put it back and go back to tossing and turning.

Sooooo, I took 15 minutes and gathered every single pillow and pillowcase in the house. Several pillow cases went straight in the ‘Donate’ bag. Several pillows went straight in the trash for the crime of being closer to place mat thickness than pillow thickness.

I laid on every single pillow and had my husband do the same. We chose what pillow should go where and honestly, I have been a much more peaceful sleeper for the last few nights. How easy was that!

I did not take a picture of my ridiculous amount of pillows (let me also mention that I had 5 king size pillows and 21 king size pillowcases. Are you serious??!!!!). However, I did take a picture of our guest room bedspread for no particular reason. Love it!

I will continue with the kitchen and linen closet cleanouts soon, but for now, I’m satisfied with the progress and it didn’t take long at all!

~Erin

Kid’s Space – 1/2 Closet, 1/2 Play Area!

I’m so excited to share my most recent organization project….my kid’s closet! We are very lucky that the house we moved into has a ridiculous amount of storage. Whoever built this house was desperately afraid of running out of closet space, so we have benefited from that paranoia! Our kids room has a walk in closet with great shelving and a window for natural light. Love it! Our kids just don’t have enough clothing to necessitate this kind of space. However,  we do NOT have a separate playroom for their ridiculous amount of toys. Soooooo……we decided to use the top half of the closet for their clothes and storage and make the bottom half a mini playroom for them. Yea! Here are the shelves in the closet:

Right Side of Closet

Left Side of Closet

And here is what we did with the bottom half of the closet. Our 3 year old, Evan, is the only one old enough to play in it right now, but he absolutely loves it.

This is his tent fort and a football that holds all of his stuffed animals (except the 4 million animals that are on his bed).

There are 2 bins here, one for trains and one for animals. The top shelf has a basket for blocks and his ‘Alphie’ robot. He loves (I mean loves) this toy. This was a gift from Evan’s Aunt Maria and family (shout out!) and it’s great. Highly recommended!

The left side of the ‘play closet’ has a mini rocking chair (family heirloom!) and a magnetic board from Nanny and Pap (also a favorite!). Notice the very subtle subliminal message on the board. The boys’ laundry basket is also here.

The right side has a Lego table, car racey toy thing (technical term) and a shelf for books. The basket under the Lego table holds additional Legos and I got the basket at a dollar store…score!

Now that’s the fun part for Evan. Here’s the fun part for me 🙂  First, I took all of the non-toy items out of the closet. Then I sorted through and organized the clothes. Here was the process:

-Separate everything into piles: keep, donate, sell

-Then I went through the keep pile and put all items that I wasn’t using for a while in one place. This included things my older son had outgrown, but my younger son would not be in for a while. These were separated by size and placed in bags or bins for storage (and labeled of course!).

-Then I separated the leftover keep pile into short sleeves, pants, long sleeves and outerwear.

-Then I decided that my younger son, Owen (we call him O-Man) would get light blue and dark blue hangers and my older son, Evan (we call him Ev-dog) would get green and white.

-Then I re-arranged the bars in the closet so that I could put O-Man’s stuff on top and Ev-dog’s stuff on bottom. Here are their clothes!

That was the longest part of the project by far! Then I moved onto organizing everything else.

I found some cute baskets somewhere in my house and put them in here. Since there are so many shelves, we aren’t going to use them all, so I added some photos of the dogs!

Shoes…and more dog photos!

Baskets and bins gathered from around the house! These will be used for mittens, hats, sheets, and extra baby wipes.

A personal and sentimental touch. This is a beautiful decoration my sister Kelly (more shout outs!) brought us from India when I was pregnant with Evan. I hung it by the window in the closet.

So excited about this one! I had a pile of blankets that didn’t fit nicely into any bin I had. They always fell off the shelf and if you wanted to get one, you couldn’t do it without making a mess. I hung a bar from this shelf and just hung them up. Easy! Love it!

This is the left side of the closet now. I love how open the space is and how everything has a home! You can barely see it, but at the top of this photo is a plastic bag filled with clothes. Those are the next size up for my younger son. He is growing so fast that I wanted to keep them accessible. When I take them out, the current clothes will go into that bag and a new label will go on.

Also, I hadn’t mentioned the drawers yet, but the bottom 3 are used for larger toys for Evan since he can reach them. The upper two are hats and swimsuits.

This is the right side of the closet now. I had an extra square of space so I just hung up an old Chutes and Ladders board on the wall! This was actually my husbands game when he was younger. My son has the new version and loves it so I thought it would be so neat to have this hanging up as art!

Now you may notice that the walls are blank and I don’t yet have any fancy labels for my bins. Well, that will eventually come. But for right now, my favorite part of this whole project is….it only cost $3.00! The only thing I had to buy was a couple packages of plastic hangers. Everything else I already had. This has been a great project for both me and the kids. We can now all use the space effectively and enjoy all of it’s functions. I’m elated!

Lessons Learned:

-Don’t be afraid to use a space for something other than it’s original intention.

-Shop your house before you shop the stores.

-Using personal touches in organizing and decorating will make a house into a home and a ‘Good Space into a Great Place’. Write that one down people! Should I just trademark that phrase now? I think I will.

Have you all had any successful organizations lately? I would love to hear about them! Til next time…

~Erin