Tag Archives: organizing

Build Habits

{Photo Credit: Colin Dunn, via Creative Commons}

I am notoriously bad at remembering to take my vitamins, plus the iron makes me queasy if I take it in the morning, so instead of stashing them in the cupboard, I put a cup and my bottle of vitamins on the bedroom dresser, next to my lamp. Now, before I turn off the light, I swallow the vitamin for the day and go to sleep. I rarely forget. I never get queasy. I don’t know if my vitamin consumption habits have definitively helped improve my sleep quality, but I can say this: I’m sleeping through the night for the first time in a long time. I used to wake up every couple of hours, and now I sleep straight through more often than not! I can’t tell you how exciting that is, but I digress.

My point wasn’t to take your vitamin at night to sleep better. My point is any daily task–like taking a vitamin–can be habitualized. I suspect tying the habit to a daily ritual (getting ready for bed) is what worked for me. Every night, I brush my teeth, I get fresh water in my cup, I take my vitamin, and I turn off the light. Then I go to sleep.

This made me wonder: what other simple, but often forgotten, tasks could I or others make habitual? And would tying them to a specific time, location, daily ritual, or other event help me (or them) continue the habit until it becomes second-nature? My guess is YES.

I’m going to keep a look out for those opportunities to hack my lazy brain into a mean, lean,  house-cleaning machine!

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Filed under Home, Life, Organizing, Ponderings, Uncategorized

Home Tour Tuesday: The Kitchen, Part 2

I think one of the most uncomfortable things about blogging is opening up your life for anyone and everyone to see. It’s kind of the point of having a personal blog, but at the same time there are certain things that you just keep under wraps. Like, say if this lady had a blog where she wrote about having an organized home, she probably wouldn’t want to take pictures of her kitchen cabinets and drawers that were in chaos, right?

Right?

Yikes!

This blog post is probably all the things you shouldn’t post in a home organization blog. First, the photos aren’t my best. (Sorry, iPhone, you just didn’t cut it this time.) Second, all these shots begin to look a lot like the other ones after awhile. Third, well, I’m not Martha Stewart and while my cabinets and drawers are organized enough for daily use, they’re hardly drool-worthy.

Yet.

In the meantime, here they are. In the spirit of “keeping it real,” I’m holding nothing back.

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Filed under Drawers, Home Tour Tuesday, Kitchen

Making Storage From Nothing

There are day, months, and sometimes even years when a “tight budget” means not a cent to spare for any purpose other than food, shelter, gas, and bills. Storage containers cost quite a bit, even in small quantities. Not many budget-friendly (and attractive) solutions fall under the completely free category.

This one does.

I call it Use-What-You-Have-Organizing, a.k.a. Making Storage From Nothing.

I’ve been working on cleaning and organizing our third bedroom/my crafting and shop storage room. During the process, I came across a number of CDs (don’t judge. I’m old school that way. I like to keep the cases.) I needed CD storage to get them off the floor.

In the past, I stored them in a bottom cubby of our Expedit bookcase. Now, however, more of our books occupy that bookcase, so there is no longer room. I needed to find a place to keep the CDs all in one space. Then I realized I had some open-top elongated boxes that were just about the right height. I also had leftover kraft wrapping paper and paper doilies, plus a couple of rolls of washi tape from Japan.

That’s when the lightbulb went off, and my three boxes went from this:

to this:

here’s how I did it:

  1. I eyeballed cutting the size of the wrapping paper to fit across the front side of the boxes. I just placed it against the paper and cut around it, leaving enough length to wrap from the bottom up and around the box lip.
  2. I used packaging tape to tape it down in place.
  3. I cut the paper doilies in half, taped them to the inside of the top lip and folded and creased them over the top, then cut off the edges that overlapped.
  4. I taped the doily down with a small piece of washi tape on each side.
  5. I filled in each box with Tetris-like arrangements of my CDs.

I gotta say, for a set of storage containers that cost, as my wonderful friend Joy says, “free dollars,” they ain’t too shabby.

In fact, I rather like looking at them up on top of the bookcase.

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Filed under Budget Decor, DIY, Media, Organizing, Storage

5 Ways to Get Motivated to Clean or Organize

{Image: Rubbermaid}

If you’re naturally clean, you don’t need to read this. If your motivation to clean leaves the building on a regular basis (like mine did, the other day), here’s a few things that might get you moving:

  1. File your taxes. Nothing like the fear of the wrath of good ol’ Uncle Sam to make you find all those important documents. Bonus points if you pretend you’re getting audited. You never know … it could happen. Doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
  2. Have a yard sale. This is the perfect time to sort the laundry, clean out the garage, and declutter the attic. You’ll get PAID to do it.
  3. Buy (or make) new cleaning supplies. I’m drawn to pretty packaging and things that smell good. It’s probably a disease, but hey, what can I say? I love me some well-designed labels or bottles or boxes and fragrances. So much so that I tend to make excuses to use them so I can admire their gorgeousness and feel all fancy-like for using them.
  4. Bribe yourself. Set a doable goal and assign a much-anticipated reward for attaining that goal. Watch that tv show episode, buy a new pair of shoes, or just give yourself a gold star. Never underestimate the power of a shiny gold star.
  5. And finally, if all else fails … Have company over. No, seriously. It works like a charm. I just did this yesterday! It got clean, fast(er). Go for broke and throw a big bash to celebrate your success.

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Filed under Cleaning, Organizing

Accountability Check: Kitchen Drawer

So, one year ago yesterday, I posted about organizing our kitchen junk drawer.  Here’s what it looked like then:

After buying an adjustable drawer organizer and paring down the contents of the drawer, it then looked like this:

And one year later, after much use, one move, and not an ounce of hasty tidying up before the new photo shoot, it looks like this:

Not too shabby. It could be prettier, tidier, and better used (hello, nearly empty space in the front left corner!) But, all in all, I’m pleased to announce the drawer organizer has worked very well for us. I need to buy some more. Now that I have more drawers in my new kitchen, we have another random kitchen tool drawer to organize!

This drawer illustrates something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Getting my home in shape does not mean it has to be picture perfect at all times. Being organized looks so pretty in magazines, but those are styled to look that way. Items are taken out to make room, colors are intentionally chosen for the best look, and only the most attractive things are kept in the shot. Don’t get me wrong; I love looking at organizational eye candy. Just look at my Pinterest board for evidence of that. However, I truly think that the best solution is always the simple one that lets me live my life more conveniently and serenely, not necessarily the one that looks the prettiest.

This kitchen drawer? It’s convenient. I can find things.

And that, my friends, is a HUGE step forward for this clutter bug.

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Little Resolutions

{Image: Katie Tegtmeyer}

Who says December 31st or January 1st get to have all the fun? Today is February 1st, and I have a few resolutions to make for this month.

I resolve to:

  1. Not leave the butter out overnight so I waste 3/4 of a perfectly good stick of organic butter. This keeps happening. It must stop.
  2. Find my favorite jeggings that disappeared (perhaps in the perpetually unwashed laundry pile?) Which reminds me …
  3. Sort through my clothes–again. Seriously. I think they breed. I have more clothes than I want to launder on a regular basis, yet I never seem to have stylish outfits ready to wear. Something’s off here.
  4. Recycle something. Anything. I do care, I just … forget.
  5. Make our bed in the morning more often than not.
  6. Play my poor neglected electric keyboard. I see you sitting quietly across from me in my living room, friend. I just get caught up in Pinterest land during my free time and so my fingers are rusty. Please forgive me.

Do you have any little resolutions? I’d love to hear them!

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Filed under Balance, Ponderings

Don’t Feel Guilty About Throwing That Broken Appliance Out


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Necklace Display Case

I discovered this nifty necklace display case at either T.J.Maxx or Marshalls a few months ago, just after we had moved into our new home. For around $15, it was truly worth the ease of taking it home and displaying my collection of necklaces. I had been pinning DIY jewelry storage ideas on Pinterest, but I was relieved have a quick and simple solution so my necklaces would not be tangled in a drawer somewhere anymore!

The display case is painted a light ivory color, has a glass “window” door on hinges, and contains a linen background with ivory pegs for hanging necklaces. It even has hooks to hang it from the wall, which I intend to use at some point, but for now I’m letting it reside on my dresser.

You could probably DIY something very similar with a shadow box, spray paint, a plate of glass and wooden frame, hinges, and small wooden pegs. I was happy to find a ready-made solution, but think of the ways you could adapt something like this to your own style and desired dimensions!

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Filed under Collections, Organizing, Storage

Digital Organization: The Desktop

Oooohhh! The desktop! Mine’s been driving me NUTS for weeks now. I’m one of those visual types who needs to see things in order to remember they’re there. I loved having a Mac years ago because whenever I hit “download” it downloaded directly to my desktop and I never had to hunt for this PDF or that JPEG. When I inherited a PC laptop from my hubby (then boyfriend), I intentionally moved important downloads and documents to my desktop so I could keep track of them, just like I was used to on my work Mac computer. Well, despite my usual vigilance to keep things “pretty,” I let things slide and here is what my desktop looked like last night:

Woah! Stuff everywhere. It was hard on the eyes, hard to find anything important, and not very inspirational.

So, just as a quick clean-up, here’s what I did:

  1. I deleted any shortcut icon for a program I rarely used. When you install these little programs they make themselves a shortcut for you. How convenient. Except I’m okay with clicking on the Start Menu, thank-you-very-much. If I need you, I’ll find you.
  2. I dragged any shortcut icons of programs I use on a regular basis down to the start menu task bar on the bottom of the screen. I rearranged them by type (iTunes and Spotify are both music programs, for instance,) and voila! Instant order! YES. Love it.
  3. I created a SORT! folder and dragged all icons of files that I wasn’t quite sure what to do with them into that file. Yes, it is delaying the inevitable, but the goal was to clean up the visual mess. I’ll get to the real digital organizing at a later date.
  4. I created a To Read folder for all the PDF downloads from great blogs I’ve visited. There are several downloads about growing your creative business that I really wanted to read, but just couldn’t see in all that mess. Now I know where to go for my reading material.
  5. I kept the folders for our different businesses and this blog, so I had easy access to those files.
  6. I went to WallBase.cc  (at Daniel’s recommendation) to find a good background to download. The one I chose really spoke to me and my purpose for cleaning up my desktop.
  7. I rearranged the folder icons and moved my Recycle Bin a bit to be visually-pleasing and in places that made sense.
  8. Done!

It’s a great feeling to have simplified my desktop. In fact, now I’m inspired to write more and read more of the many downloads I have stored away for future inspiration. I’m pleased with the result, and hope it will inspire you, as well!

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Filed under Digital Organization, Media, Organizing

Home Tour Tuesday: The Entryway Hall

Is it Tuesday already? Crazy. But here goes … welcome to the Brame residence. Come on in and stay awhile! Here’s my little ol’ entryway hall in all its (non) glory. Our home is a builder basic house with its share of little quirks. Not the least of which is a funny curvature of the wall where the hall ends. The bottom is wider than the top. You can sort of see this in the first picture with the shot of the entire hall. Hmmm.

From the perspective of our kitchen and living room, looking down the hall, the dining room is on the left. (Or, if you prefer, it is on the right immediately upon entering.)

I knew that I eventually want to get a console table for the hallway, to hold miscellaneous items and pull the hallway together. For now, that dream table is going to have to wait; we are operating on a tight budget as we pay off debt, and I’m okay with that.

Not having money to buy new things has made me re-purpose those items we have. Hence, the use of two tv dinner folding tables we got for our wedding. Ta-da! Instant “console.” I added the crocheted lace runner from my grandmother to tie the two pieces together. The lamp is another item stolen from another room. Its mate is in our bedroom, but I like to have a softer light than our overhead light to leave on when we go out, so that it is easy to see when we first enter the hall when we return. The letter “B” was a thrift store find before I even met my husband. Funny how that works out, huh? The bulletin board is for storing notes and our gym’s class schedule (and most recently Christmas cards from friends). The basket in front of it is yet ANOTHER item stolen from another room. I use this one to hold keys until we put up a key-holder, but its siblings are in our bathroom, holding toiletries. Finally, the white plastic-coated wire “mail sorter” is actually a plate holder from The Container Store.

I’ve had this set-up in the hall for several weeks now and can’t imagine living without it. My keys are usually handy, as is an iPod for runs, and any outgoing mail or bills I need to remember to take with me to the post office when I make a Creative Salvage shipping run. Having a “landing strip” is an invaluable tool for staying organized on the go. I love mine, even if it is pulled together from the most unlikely culprits. Spending $0 on it was worth the sacrifice in other rooms, although I admit I’m really looking forward to purchasing new or new-to-me furniture and trimmings that will let me return the current items to their original uses.

I got the idea to create a landing strip from Apartment Therapy. If you’re not familiar with Apartment Therapy, go check out their site, but for now, here’s a video their founder, Maxwell Gillingham-Ryan created to discuss the importance of having a landing strip in the entryway of your home.

Day 8 – 20/20 Home Cure – Fall 2010 from maxwell gillingham-ryan on Vimeo.

What vision do I have for this spot in our home in the months to come? Well, I pulled together a little somethin’ somethin’ with Polyvore. Take a look!

Entry Hall

We already have the sweet branch hooks from Urban Outfitters. I am working on finding a good, simple console table. They don’t call me the Craigslist Queen for nothin’ … I’m haunting that site all the time! I would add the baskets for storage, the umbrella stand for looks and practicality, a box to hold the dog leash perhaps, and if budget allowed, a new (fun) lamp and maybe a cool lighting fixture for the ceiling … like maybe a chandelier? Oooh, that would be nice. My big dream is to get rid of the boring, bland tile and install hardwood or laminate flooring. That may or may not happen, but I added it to the inspiration board, just in case. Oh, and the wire basket for files? I already bought something similar this weekend, and I’m excited to install it!
So, then the BIG question is … paint color. The hall expands into the main living space with our living room and kitchen, however there is that small edge where the hall ends and the wider kitchen/living are begins, so I could possibly use a different color.
Which color would you use? Each color patch is an option. I’m just figuring this out slowly, over time, so I make the correct choice.
And that completes this week’s Home Tour Tuesday! Thanks for stopping by, and I hope that you’ve checked out the fabulous free giveaway I’m hosting. The deadline is this Thursday at 9pm CST, so add your comment to enter the drawing today!
p.s. I’m trying out a blog photo layout from Pugly Pixel. Isn’t it pretty? Many thanks to Katrina for being so generous with her lovely creative freebies!

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Filed under Entry Way, Home, Home Tour Tuesday