Saturday, February 19, 2011

Hallway Coat Closet

In our new house we have a closet by the entrance door from the garage to the kitchen. Very normal "mud room" area without actually being a mud room. Someday I'd actually like a mud room. Anyhow, this is what it looks like.Yes, it looks empty because I haven't put everything in there yet. Well, the Container Store was having their annual 30% off on their Elfa closet systems, and I was really dying to do that. I got an estimate and it was still too steep for me. $450 including installation. I just can't spend that much on a closet. So, I wish it were like this:Gorgeous! Please excuse that it is a bedroom closet, but you get the idea. However, I decided to get creative and make it work without breaking the bank. Here's how it turned out: A small shoe rack from Wal-mart, hooks on the side wall for the kids coats and backpacks, and hooks at the top for my bags and umbrellas. And on the right side of the closet:These little drawer units I also found at Wal-mart for pretty cheap (can't remember now how much they were) and each is for a member of our family for hats, mittens, gloves, goggles, shin guards, baseball mitts, etc. And the 6th drawer on the bottom right is my "To Go" drawer. That's where I put anything I need to take with me somewhere. Anything I need to return to the store, anything I've borrowed from someone that needs to be returned, etc. etc. You get the idea. Oh, and for a splash of color, I added those floor mats to ensure nothing slides around my slippery wooden floor.

So there we have it! From a potential $450 for beauty and functionality, to about $50 for functionality and sub par beauty. By hey, those closet doors are always closed!

Friday, February 4, 2011

Random simple upgrades

Wow! Crazy life! I've been a little absent lately because I have been moving into a new house! Yes, we finally moved into a house that actually fits our family of 5!! Whoo-hoo! I can't say how excited I am. Right now, I am unpacking and trying to get our house in order. However, I do have a couple of random upgrades to my new life. Yes, they are small, but right now, I consider it an accomplishment every time one of our brown boxes gets emptied!

Isn't this TP storage awesome!! I saw this on someone else's blog, and I can't remember who's it is! Please, if you are out there, tell me and I'll give you credit! I got this cylinder vase at Wal-mart for about $20. Yeah, I wish it'd been cheaper, but I loved this idea so much, I had to do it.
Next, I'd been keeping my seasoning packets in the kitchen cupboard in this hot number:Hey, you make do, right? Well, I thought my seasoning packet storage could do with a little makeover, so I found this at the Dollar Tree. Why didn't I do this earlier? Silly me.
And while I am finding a new home for everything in our brown boxes, I have become best friends with the home storage section in Wal-mart, Target, and of course, the Dollar Tree. Baskets are my favorite things in the whole world!

Well, that's it for today folks. I will have a lot more to blog about as I unpack. Wish me luck!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Organizing an Art Station for your Kids!

My kids love art. And I love having them explore their creativity, but I hate messes! So, here's a nifty little system we have that is quite simple. It's just an "art tower" as affectionately named by my children. Each drawer holds some of their art materials. I bought this drawer container at Wal-Mart, though I'm sure you could find it anywhere.Top drawer: Stickers/Stamps
2nd drawer: Glue/Scissors/Rulers/Stencils
3rd : Blank Papers (these are paper we recycle, one side is blank for drawing)
4th : Still Working On
5th : Crayons/Markers/Colored Pencils/Pens/Pencils (each different item is in it's own plastic bag or similar container
6th : Work Books
7th : Coloring Books or Puzzle books (crosswords and such)
Our art table is right next to the art tower though you can't see it in the picture.

In the next couple of weeks, our family is going to be moving into a bigger house (wa-hoo! finally!) and I will be having several more places to organize. One thing I am hoping to do is to create an art room out of either the living room or dining room (two rooms we will likely not be furnishing at this time). I'll be sure to blog about this art room among all of my other organizing projects. Wish me luck!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Desk Organization

Finally! I have DONE it!! I have struggled for so long on how to master my desk! I think I've done it this time!! This took several days and much pondering, but I have a system that finally works for me. Here's my before picture: Not great, huh? And believe me, that's not even as bad as it could have been. There is some organization to it. Like I said, I've tried several different things that weren't working well enough.

Now, here's the after picture:Much better, huh? Okay, so there's two things that are key to this desk. First are the magazine holders above the computer screen. Before, I was using them as storage for cardstock, folders, laminating pouches, etc. Now, they are not being used as storage. They are used for a "filing" system of categorized items that I use everyday. That is prime real estate on my desk, and I wanted that to be actionable space, not storage.
Here are my categories:

  1. Jefferson's Papers-whatever school items that need to be referenced during the week, or a place to hold his homework, reading logs, spelling lists, etc. (This is not long-term storage, see this post for that)
  2. Papers to Recycle- so often as I'm cleaning things off my desk, or mail comes in, or whatever, I have papers I want to recycle, but I don't want to walk to the garage every time to dump it. So, I'll hold it until I'm ready to go to the garage.
  3. Talmage's Papers-same concept as "Jefferson's Papers" for my 2nd son
  4. Magazines & Papers to Read-this would be for, yes, magazines, and maybe some articles, or stories that I've printed out that I want to read, or some lists of books to read.
  5. To Be Put Away-things that have landed on my desk that need to be put somewhere else. Just a holding spot until I can put them all away at once.
  6. Scrap Paper-paper I can use to jot a list down on, or something I can use when I'm trying to explain a math problem to my son. Or, art paper for my children.
  7. Primary- I teach the children's singing time in church every week. Whatever activity I'm preparing for the week, I can put in there as the week goes on.
  8. Coupons/Receipts- Pretty self-explanatory. I keep receipts for a few days in case I have to return something. And of course whatever coupons I clip out that haven't made it to my little coupon wallet yet.

As you've noticed, these spots mostly are NOT for storage. They are for items that are in transit for one reason or another. Items to be used, thrown away, or in a holding spot.

Then in this spot, I have my Family Organization Book (see here for that post), my E-mealz menus (I love can check it out here), book my son is reading for school, and my pocket calendar.And then, the next spot is here:
The top left basket is for my husband. Yeah, he needs a little spot. The right top basket is full of discs that I'd need for the computer. The bottom left basket holds my label maker, my camera, and my date stamper (for my kids school papers; see this post). Then there's my ipod, our pencil pot, and my kids' money banks.

And if you'll remember, I said that there were two keys to this desk. The first was the magazine holders, and the second are my letter trays. The top is for Incoming anything. Whether it be mail, or something my husband needs to give me, or whatever. This needs to be looked at daily. The second tray is my "hot" To Do tray. Things that need to be taken care of fairly soon.

So, that's my desk! It's been working great. I may have to tweak as some things come in that I didn't expect, but I'm so excited!! Thanks for reading!

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Simple Recipe Organization

Look familiar? Do you have one of these? And what does it look like inside? Maybe like this?Congratulations to you, if it doesn't! However, I think many people have a recipe box that looks a lot like mine! So, let's clean this out and get a new system going!

Something I started a few years ago that still works for me, was creating these recipe binders. If I ever get a recipe, whether it's in index card format, cut from a magazine, or printed off from the internet, I will put them in sheet protectors and add them to my recipe binder. So, if it's already on an 8 1/2" x 11" piece of paper, great, no problem, just slip it into the sheet protector. But if it's any other size (some written on a post-it note, some cut from a magazine, etc. etc.) this is what I do: I use photo corners (you can get them at a local craft store or online) and put them on card-stock, and then slip the recipe in. Then I'll slide the card-stock into a sheet protector and insert into one of the recipe binders. This allows you to take the recipe out of the sheet protector entirely, and put it back, or you could even just take the page out and use that when you are cooking if you want. I have 2 recipe binders. One for Breads/Breakfasts, Appetizers/Salads, and Entrees, and one binder for Desserts, Food storage recipes, Freezer meals, and Fun stuff (like how to make a gingerbread house, or cake decorating directions, etc). I use dividers for each category in each binder.

So back to the recipe box....many of the recipes I don't use! Some I've cut from a cream cheese box, or a chocolate chip package and have NEVER used! So I went through my recipe box and was able to pare down a lot of things. And then I went through my binders and got rid of some recipes that I know I never use.

If you want, you can make up a Table of Contents, but I'm not going to be doing that. It's too much work, and you usually know where to find the recipes that you use the most anyway.

So now I have lovely recipe binders and I'm using my recipe box for a temporary "keep the recipe here until I can get it into my binders." Sometimes you don't have the time to do things right when you want to do them! Just don't forget about those recipes, stay organized!

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Still here!

Sorry I haven't been around! I just broke my foot and haven't done much organizing...but I'll be back soon!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Organizing Kids' Chore Charts

I don't know about your kids, but mine need structure in place to get their jobs done. AND a reward system. Otherwise I am constantly telling and reminding (as well as demanding, nagging, pleading, threatening, bribing, etc.) my children to do things around the house. Not only does it help me out, they learn that they are part of a family to contribute to with their own responsibilities, and they learn a great work ethic.

So there are many systems that you could implement in your house. I'll share what we do. I've printed off one of these charts for each of my kids (this one has been on the frig for a while, so it's a little wrinkly).I typed out some of their jobs for the morning, and then for the evening. I am having them put just a slash / if they do the job. They get an X (2 slashes together) if they do the job without my having to tell them several times and if they don't complain and they do it all by themselves (within reason of course). Then if they get an appropriate numbers of X's after 1 or 2 weeks (depends on your kids' attention spans) then they draw a piece of paper from our "X Reward Jar."Some of the rewards are:
  1. Family Movie Night with popcorn
  2. Trip to the Dollar Store
  3. 15 minutes FREE computer time (anytime they want...normally we have specific "electronic" times of the day)
  4. Trip to the park
  5. Order pizza
  6. Piece of candy
  7. Happy Meal from fast food joint
  8. $1.00 each (that they DO NOT have to pay savings on....but of course they still have to pay tithing)
  9. 15 minutes FREE on the Wii (anytime they want)
  10. Help make a batch of cookies
I tried to come up with rewards that were things that we don't usually do (I know...we should go to the park more....we don't go as much as I should take them!) in order to make it fun.

If you'd like a copy of my chore chart, leave a comment with your email and I'll send you the Excel file. Mine doesn't have images, because I found that I didn't know how to add images in Excel, but you could draw little sketches next to the chore, or figure out how to make one with the images (I'm sure there are many who are more technologically savvy than I). I looked online as well and found a few places where you could create your own chore chart:

1) DLKT's Custom Chore Charts
2) Chore Charts
3) Free Printable Behavior Charts.

I'd love to hear if you all have any systems that work well in your home. I'd love some new ideas.