Easy Christmas Listing!

I’m well on my way to Christmas Spirit Town over here. Decorations are out (and strewn ALL over the floor, dining room table, kitchen, etc), Christmas cards are mailed (is that ridiculous?), and Christmas lists are in full swing. Here are a couple ways I organize my lists:

-I always start a file for Christmas present ideas in my computer around August (if my husband is reading this: “don’t search for the list!”). That way, as I think of things I can jot them down so I won’t forget them. I start the list for ideas for my whole family as well as myself.

I have three columns in the list: 1 column for me, the hubby and the kiddos, 1 column for my side of the family and 1 column for my husband’s side of the family. I list everyone’s name and then leave space underneath the name for gift ideas.

-When November comes, I evaluate the list and add, delete, rearrange as needed. Then I highlight everything on the lists ( I highlight in green to show my ever-permeating Christmas spirit). 🙂 As I purchase gifts off of the list, I un-highlight them. That way I can see with a quick glance what I still need to buy.

-Here is my absolutely favorite list tool which I started using this year…..Amazon Wish Lists!!!!!

If you haven’t already seen this, it is worth a look-see!

If you are logged in on Amazon, you can see the ‘Wish List’ drop down box on the the far right near the top. If you click it, it will take you to the ‘Wish List’ page, where you can add or edit lists. If you just hover over ‘wish list’, a drop down box will appear with your current lists and several other options.

Things I love about the Wish List feature:

1) You can create multiple lists for different people or occasions. I have created one for myself and one for each of the kids.  You can then email the lists right from Amazon or copy and paste the links in a regular email to send to friends and family.

2) The lists work like any store registry so you should be able to avoid getting duplicate gifts! You can view all items on the original list, but it defaults to showing items that haven’t been purchased by someone looking at the list. This is great because I emailed the kid’s Amazon wish lists to both sides of the family. Usually I carefully split the lists I give to different family members to avoid duplicates, but this solves that problem!

3) As the list ‘owner’, you can look to see what was purchased by someone. However, someone at Amazon took their thinking pill and decided to ‘hide’ what was purchased unless you click a button to ‘reveal the gift’. This is great because if I’m looking at my own list, I don’t necessarily want to know if something was purchased or not. I can go to ‘purchased’ and ‘reveal the gifts’ if I want to be sneaky, but I wouldn’t do that…..would I?

4) You can add items to lists from any website, even if they are not sold on Amazon! You have to install the Wish List add on to your computer, but then you can add away. I’m thinking Etsy products are goin’ on the Amazon list!

Please note that these are strictly my opinions and not an advertisement for Amazon in any way. However, I have found the Wish List feature to be easy, useful and my new go-to web tool for birthdays and Christmas.

How do you keep your holiday lists organized?

~Erin

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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

To Do List – Crossing ’em off!

Today I did 2 more 15 Minute projects from the to do list mentioned here.

First I picked out ‘Clean lower cabinet in Den’. Here is what it looked like before:

I spent the first few minutes taking everything out and then cleaning the actual cabinet. It’s amazing how dusty a cabinet can get even though there’s stuff covering the bottom and the door is shut!

The top shelf was mostly CD holders, so I just put those back where they were and took out anything extra. I actually had a 4th CD case elsewhere that I put here since it would now fit.

The bottom shelf was a mish-mash of items just thrown in there. Most of it was Nintendo Wii accessories. Now we do still have our Wii set up, we just never (I mean never) use it. If we don’t use it at all this winter, it’s going in the sell pile. However, if we even have a chance of using it, it would probably make sense to have all of the stuff in the same place….and where the tv is. As it turns out, we had an almost empty shelf under the TV. Here’s what that looked like before:

Notice the layer of dust which has somehow collected in a cabinet that has not been opened for months. So weird…and now I will be opening that cabinet every week to dust! Soooo, I found an empty storage box in the office and put most of the Wii games and accessories inside.

Then I cleaned off the shelves underneath the TV and put the Wii stuff back in. Here is what that looks like now:

Back to the Den cabinet. After I put all of the stuff where it actually belongs, there was nothing extra to put back in the cabinet. So it looks like this now:

Things to note:

-Again, I found that shopping around my house for storage boxes was quick, effective and free!

-I am not putting anything back in that cabinet until I have something that really needs to go there. There is nothing wrong with having an empty shelf or drawer. It’s so much nicer than having clutter.

-Bonus: I found some photo software that I’ve literally been looking for since about 6 months ago!

So that project really turned into 2, but since the TV shelf was not on my original list, it doesn’t count towards the goal!

So the second 15 Minute project I did today was the cabinet and drawer in the dining room hutch. Here is the before:

You can see that this is where I keep a lot of my miscellaneous holiday and entertaining accessories. I wanted that to stay the main focus of the space, but organize it and get rid of any extra stuff. First I took everything out and sorted. This is what is not going back into the cabinet ever again.

Light fixtures, skewers, a bib and see that white cardboard box? Empty. Yes, I had an empty box with tissue paper in the cabinet. No idea why! So those things all found new homes and the box went into the recycle bin.

Then I put all the holiday and entertaining stuff back in the cabinet. However, everything was sorted and folded and now has a proper place.

I put the bigger holiday accessories on the bottom shelf and the placemats, tablecloths and napkins on the top shelf. I had thought about putting the place mats in the drawer because it would be the perfect size. However, I didn’t for two reasons:

1) I decided to put all of the small holiday items in the drawer because I have two young kids and they can open the cabinet but not the drawer!

2) When I can look at the place mats in the cabinet, I can easily each style all at once. It helps me to remember what I have and presumably I will use them more often. If they were in the drawer, I would only see one style and probably forget the other ones were there.

So all of the small stuff went into the drawer and everything is accessible and organized.

Cross two more projects off the list!

~Erin

 

House To Do List

I have been working on a list of things I want to get done around the house. As I made the list, I realized it was quite extensive! I have decided that I would like to go through and do a basic organization on EVERY part of my house by the end of the year. Now I realize this is super ambitious since it is the holidays and we plan on traveling in December. However, I want to get everything organized so that I can start the year fresh with my New Year’s Resolution. Yes, I already have my resolution ready and waiting. It is to add a little color to my world. Currently my life is filled with bland, blah, neutrals.

I’m serious, my color palate is lacking any variety. My clothes, paint colors, linens, makeup, everything is a tad boring! So in 2013 I’m going to spice it up. But before I do that, I need to clean everything out. Purging is the name of the game.

Anyways, my to do list is long and kind of confrontational. When I look at it, it’s like it’s taunting me. There are so many things I can’t even pick one so I just stare at it, then add to it, then stare at it some more. I decided to make it more manageable by splitting it into categories. They are:

-15 Minute Projects – these are projects that can be done in 15 minutes or less (obviously).

-Small Projects – these are projects that I anticipate will take longer than 15 minutes, but less than about 2 hours.

-Big Projects – This category involves things like construction, painting, shopping for a piece of art or furniture, etc. It includes anything that will take a long time or cost money.

I typed out all of the projects on excel and printed them. I used green for the 15 Minute Projects, orange for the Small Projects, and red for the Big Projects (see I’m getting more colorful already!)

I used abbreviations for most of the rooms of the house and then listed the project. For the master bedroom closet, I split it up into manageable tasks such as ‘go through shirts’ or ‘go through purses/shoes’. That way I could put more tasks on the ’15 Minute’ list.

Then I cut them into strips and put them into labeled envelopes.

There are approx 60 projects altogether and it turns out, there are about 20 projects per envelope. The good news is that 1/3 are 15 Minute projects. My plan is at least once per day, I will randomly pick a project from the ’15 Minute’ envelope. Or I will have my handy helper pick one out….

He picked out ‘clean the master bathroom drawers’ tonight. So that project is off the list!

The bad news is that there are approx 20 items on the big project list. That means a lot of time and possibly a decent investment to complete the list. So I’m going to focus on the 15 Minute and Small Project envelopes first and get the momentum going. I’ll keep you posted on the projects as they get completed.

The ‘Great Listing’ continues!!!

Break out the lists!!!!

It’s list time at my house!!!  To Do Lists, Cleaning Lists, Blog Topic Lists, Christmas Lists!

I am giving myself through the end of this weekend to get all of my lists together for the next 2 months. I’m literally making a list of the lists I need to make. It’s ridiculous.

The first thing I am doing is re-vamping my Cleaning Schedule, which I originally posted about here. I even mentioned in that post how I was planning on adding a few things, so now is the time. Here is what the schedule looks like now:

Now I will reiterate that I did NOT put daily cleaning tasks on here because it took up too much room and I actually am able to remember what I did on the current day (which is surprising considering all that is swirling through my head at any given moment).

I also want to point out that several of the items on the weekly list, we try to do more than once a week, such as dusting. The way I use the chart for these is instead of making a full ‘X’ by that task, I just put half of an ‘X’ and then complete the ‘X’ when I do the task again.

Since my original post on this, I have added several items:

1) Under weekly, I have added ‘Dog Spa’. We don’t bathe our dogs every week but there’s always something that needs to be done, such as teeth brushing, ear cleaning, heartworm meds, etc. So this is more of a general reminder to deal with the crazy dogs each week.

2) Under monthly, I have added wash windows. I just forgot this on my original list.

3) Under monthly, I have added ‘Clean Appliances’. This does not mean wipe down the parts of the appliances I can see, which is included in the weekly cleaning. It means physically pull them away from the walls and clean behind and under them. My husband and I pulled out our fridge today and to be honest, I was horrified. I will not even share pictures. My actual words were “I didn’t know we had a 4th dog.” That is how big the dust bunny (dust dog) was. I’m surprised it didn’t bark at me for disturbing it’s sleep. Anyways, that’s how this made the list.

So that’s the upgraded list. Thoughts, anyone???

As for the actual cleaning I’ve been doing, I’ve decided a winter version of spring cleaning is in the cards. I spent a good chunk of my day crawling around on the floor cleaning baseboards (check it off the list!) I wanted to check out a Pinterest tip I had pinned to my Cleaning Board here. It suggested using a dryer sheet to clean the baseboards. It not only picks up the dirt and dog hair from the boards but coats it with whatever in the world is in a dryer sheet and actually repels future dirt. I’m not sure if it really repels dirt or if that’s just a nice thought, but it was easy to clean with…no sprays, no damp rags, just scooting around on the floor with a dryer sheet.

I’m also using another Pinterest inspired cleaning trick for mattresses. I know vacuuming your mattress is supposed to get rid of dirt, dust mites, etc, but why not make it smell nice too? The tip I saw suggested mixing baking soda with fabric softener and sprinkling it on the mattress before you vacuum. Well, we don’t use fabric softener, but we do use dryer sheets. Sooooo, I took an empty bottle of Puffs. Wait, you don’t know what puffs are? Then you don’t have a 9 month old! They are the baby version of Cheerios and they come in these cool shaped little plastic canisters. I have to admit I’ve been saving up a bunch of these empty containers for ‘the perfect project’ and I found it! Today I took a container, a dryer sheet and some baking soda:

I put a dryer sheet in the container, added a bunch of baking soda and shook it up. Then I poked holes in the lid of the container and made a ‘Fresh Smelling Baking Soda Dispenser Thing’.

And clearly I put a lot of time and effort into the labeling of the bottle:

At least now I won’t be mixing it up with any Puffs!

Anyways, I just sprinkled it on the mattress, let it sit for an hour and then vacuumed. I was pretty pleased with the results. I’m sure you could also use a sachet of lavender or a few drops of essential oil to fragrance the baking soda, but a dryer sheet worked for me. Speaking of baking soda, there are about a million ways to use this household product and about as many blog posts and articles on what those ways are. I plan to write my own someday (along with a post on how amazing plain vinegar is). I love cheap, natural, effective, safe products and baking soda and vinegar are at the top of the list! Anyways, I’m a LITTLE too excited about cleaning my house, but hopefully I can keep the momentum!

~Erin