Monday, August 31, 2009

Clean without "cleaning"

Over the years, I've found an easy, easy way to make an area of my house look cleaner, without actually cleaning. Interested? I thought you might be! ;)

The concept is simple: Put things away. I don't mean that in the traditional pick-it-up-so-it's-not-a-mess way. I mean, if there's something you don't need sitting out at all times, put it away, as in out of sight, only bringing it out when you need it (and then putting it away again when you're done). Stuff like the toaster, blender, toothbrushes, soaps, sponges, etc. It makes such a huge difference to just store things in a cupboard instead of on a counter!


My sink area before:

My sink area after:

I just went to the home section at Wal*Mart and bought some plastic containers. I found mine near the laundry baskets and such. It's the perfect size to hold my sponges, magic erasers, my dish scrubbing brush and mop pads. I also bought one of those wire shelves (the kind with 4 legs to give you extra storage space on a shelf), which is where I put my hand soap and dish soap. It's no hassle at all to bend down and get the soap or a sponge out of the cupboard below my sink. I though it would be, but it's really not. And even if it were mildly annoying, the simple fact that my kitchen instantly looks cleaner by just putting those few things away makes it all worth it!

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Organizing Tips for Gift Wrap, Crafts and More

A couple of years ago I took the time to get all my craft supplies, gift wrapping supplies and party supplies cleaned up and organized. It was well worth the time and effort. I've had people tell me my closet is like a mini store, which is awesome because that's exactly what I was going for! I rarely ever have to buy things like gift wrap, bows, bags, paint, stickers, paper, markers, stationary... They are all right there waiting for me when I need them.

The best way to build up your own supply is to recycle, recycle, recycle. Put on your nerd hat at parties and fold up the used tissue paper for future use. Keep bows and nice ribbon and obviously hang on to those gift bags. Shop clearance and heavily discounted items post-holidays. And to get yourself some basics, shop your local Dollar stores. If you do this for a year or two, you'll have a bunch of stuff that you're not sure where to store or how to organize.

It'll then be time to branch out into some drawers or totes of some kind. I like the plastic three drawer towers personally, but any type of storage device will do. You can get creative with this if space and money is limited. I am fortunate enough to have some extra space in my son's closet, so that is where my little plastic drawer shrine is located. Labels on the outside of the drawers are the icing on the cake and make anything you need right at your fingertips.

Not only will you feel calm and organized when holiday, party or craft events come around, but you'll be saving yourself money as well. If you do decide to splurge on some nice storage drawers they will pay for themselves after just a couple of times that you DON'T have to run to the store and grab a last minute gift bag, bow, card and tissue paper (easily $10).

Here are some pictures of my mini store. I've also got my baby supply drawers right next to them. And Austin decided to make a cameo appearance in the photos too! Cute boy.

I don't know if you can see inside the second drawer from the top on this picture, but it's where all my bows and ribbon are stored. I came up with a great way to store all those fancy thick ribbons you get on packages. Take an empty wrapping paper tube and cut it to the length you want. Then wrap the ribbon around the tube and secure it with tape, a staple or a rubber band. It keeps all those ribbons looking like new and makes storing and reusing them a breeze.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

I finally finished!

Next week we are bringing our third baby home to our 1200 square foot house. I've had some serious doubts that we were going to be able to fit another kid in here without looking cluttery. Well, I finally finished, and I think things look great! We kept our youngest's room as is for the nursery, and moved him in with his big sister. We took all the toys and put them in a bookcase in the hallway.

Here's how it turned out:

The kids' room...
I hate the strollers there, but the kids play with them daily, so they really need to be accessible. The bins in the bookcase have books for each of them. We have more books out in the garage, but both kids know that if they want to bring some new books in, they have to take some out. They have to keep it down to an amount that easily fits into that size bin.

No decor yet. We are holding off on that until we figure out if these two will be sharing for the long-term, or if we will move, or if we will eventually switch the baby in with whichever older kid is the same gender.

The kids' closet

The bookcase full of toys:

My original plan for this bookcase was to buy several extra bins to keep in the closet for the toys that didn't fit in here, so that I could easily rotate them and just switch out the bins. But it turned out that pretty much all the kids' toys fit in here, so I may just keep that in mind for the future.

Each kid has four bins of toys and then the bottom one for shoes. And just because I know you're all dying of curiosity, my daughter's bins are Barbies, dress-ups, Polly Pocket/Littlest Pet Shop/Other Choking Hazard type toys, and an empty one. My son has one for trains, one for animals/dinos/robots, one for cars/motorcycles/etc., and one for his Hot Wheels City. Their games are on top of the bookshelf and their art stuff is on a table in their room that's not visible in the picture.

So far I really like having their toys organized this way. It makes it so that they really only play with one thing at a time, and clean-up is easy. So far, so good!

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