Starting 2011 by Taking Inventory & Use it Up!

I always feel like I need help staying organized in the kitchen. I am always running to the store to pick up something for dinner (it doesn't help that I could walk to the grocery store). To start of 2011, I'm taking inventory and making a list of what I have in my freezer and pantry and I'm going to use it up!
For example, I could probably come up with about 10 days worth of meals from my freezer. I have tons of food in the pantry. I have lots of canned veggies, soups, pasta and rice, yet somehow I feel the need to buy more groceries.
I'm planning a menu based on what I have already in my house:
chicken quesadilla
chicken and cheesy rice casserole
Hashbrown casserole
I'm starting off 2011 by using up the food in my freezer and pantry and only buying "perishable" foods until I've cleaned out what I have!
Hopefully this strategy will not only help me in my meal planning, but save money!

When I went around the house, we are also stocked up on paper goods, ziplock baggies, toothpaste, shampoo and soap!

Happy 2011

I believe I'm starting the new year more organized than I started 2010!

Something I struggle with is keeping my coupons organized. This is one of my resoluations for 2011.

I also told my children that unless it is food, I'm not buying it. It seems like we have enough "stuff" to last us until 2012! We'll see how long this resolutions lasts.

I am proud to say that in 2010 my craft room was featured on Crafty Storage! Hopefully, I can find more creative ways to keep organized in 2011.

Holiday Shopping

Since school started, it is impossible to get on weekly and update.

I'm just about done with my Christmas Shopping. I hate crowds and cold weather, so I take advantage of online shopping. I would say 3/4 of my shopping is done online.

Here are some of my rules:
Only shop online when you get free shipping.
Buy when I know it is cheaper than what I can get at my local stores.
Wait until Kohls is doing 30% off and kohls cash.
I have also found that sometimes has lower prices than in the stores.
I am also a big ebates fan!!!

Some of my favorite online shopping sites that use ebates are:
Best Buy
Lands End
Barnes & Noble

If could end up ebates, then I'd be set!

Purse and Handbag Organization

I love purses. Some weeks, I might switch purses two or three times. The issue is that I hate spending the time making sure I have everything when I'm changing them out.

Right now you can pick up pencil cases for about a dollar. I put all my make-up or first-aid type stuff in them. Changing purses is a breeze. I just grab my wallet, phone and pencil cases. I have everything I need and changing purses only takes about five seconds.

This pencil case has hand sanitizer, band-aids, triple antibiotic ointment, and anti-itch cream.

Tuesday Tip...Back to School

We are headed back to school. Here are some tips I use to keep things going smoothly in the morning.

1. Prep as much as you can the night before. Homework is done and in the backpack.
2. Put all coats, shoes and backpacks by the door.
3. Pack lunches the night before.
4. Get clothes ready the night before.
*Sign any papers or put anything that is needed in the backpack the night before (book orders, library books, etc).

I also put a checklist on the laundry room door (this it the door leading to the garage). It makes things go so much smoother in the morning and helps my children remember to check and make sure they have everything! I also list which days are library and which days are PE so they make sure they have the right materials/shoes.

Pretty much in the morning my children have to get dressed, eat, comb their hair and brush their teeth. That's more than enough most days :)

For some reason time is warped in the morning at my house. Anytime I am in a rush everything takes twenty times longer! Rather than running around like a crazy lady, I do things the night before and have a pleasant morning!

Tuesday Tip...Dryer Sheets

I found this tip on a budget board from Melissa. If you get cooked food stuck on a pan, let it soak with a dryer sheet. Sure enough, shortly after I found out about this tip, I managed to get cooked rice stuck to a pot. I let a dryer sheet soak in the pan for about fifteen minutes, and it cleaned up so easily! I never would have guessed a dryer sheet could clean up a cooking mess!

I then googled to see what else you could do with a dryer sheet…

From keeping shoes from getting too smelly to removing static from a tv screen, dryer sheets are not just for the dryer. Dryer sheets also are a great way to pick up pet hair and keep thread from tangling while sewing. Packing a dryer sheet in your luggage will keep your traveling clothes smelling fresh.

Weekend Organizing...Kitchen Drawer

Here's another fifteen minute project...clean out and organize a few kitchen drawers. I worked on my junk drawer, the drawer that holds the phone books and my silverware drawer. That drawer led to organizing my utinsil drawer. Overall it ended up taking twenty minutes and things got sorted and put where they belong.

If you do this for the next three days, most of your kitchen drawers will be organized! A great time to do this is while something is baking in the oven.

Terrific Tip Tuesday...Pencil Boxes

Pencil boxes are great organizers at a great price. Right now you can pick them up for around fifty cents!

Stock up...before they run out! Okay, I’m being kind of dramatic, but you wouldn’t believe how many uses a pencil box has. These are great for organizing children’s art supplies, but they are also great for organizing lots of other things. Feel free to comment and add to my list!
Here’s my list so far:
Colored pencils/markers/crayons/scissors/glue
Rubber bands
Post-it Notes (my mom stocks up on these and they fit great inside)
USB Cables/chargers
Paper Clips
Hair accessories
Small envelopes
Spools of thread
Mementos (hotel room cards, concert tickets, etc) I have a weird obsession with hotel room cards, and I hate throwing them away, so this is perfect!

Let's Talk Kitchens..Another Fifteen Minute Project

I decided yesterday I would tackle the cabinet where I store all my spices. I’m not a big fan of cooking, so my cabinet that has my spices doesn’t get much attention. I probably haven’t attempted to organize this cabinet in years!

I took everything out. I had a few things (bread crumbs, fried onions that you put on green bean casserole, gluten free flour and baking powder) that were almost empty and expired. I had to throw those items away. I found some SpongeBob tattoos that didn’t belong in my spice cabinet, as well as a baggie of Chuckie Cheese tickets. Those items were moved.

Then I divided my spices into “sweet and salty”. The sweet baking supplies went on the right and the cooking seasonings went on the left. On the bottom shelf I use my three-step shelf system. It works great because you can see what you’ve got in a deep cabinet. It works best if the shortest items are in the front, tallest in the back. I purchased mine years ago at Walmart.

The second shelf has cooking oils, measuring cups and other tall spices.

My top shelf has candles and matches if the power goes out. It also has my meat tenderizer and a funnel. I suppose you never know when you need a funnel!

I used a small basket usually for pencils and pens and put all my packet seasonings in it. This is a great way to store these!

Talk about not having to worry about organizing your closet...Fashion Diet

I just read this article in the New York Times. It is a fashion diet. If you did this diet, there wouldn't be much to organize!

Essentially, people are limiting themselves to six clothing items and they wear them for a month. The idea is that you appreciate what you have and are not being materialistic. I believe this is a very noble endeavor, however, I couldn't last three days doing this!

I run, so I'd need running shorts and a top. That would leave me with four items left. I pretty much would be left with a pair of pants and three tops or two pairs of pants and two tops. I'm pretty sure I would want at least five shirts/tops (in addition to my running shirt). This way I could wear a different top everyday. Plus with Kansas weather, it could be cool one day and the next day hotter than heck! I'd need one long sleeve shirt and one short sleeve shirt. I'd have to hope the weather would cooperate with my fashion diet so I could alternate tops!

I don't like doing laundry THAT much! Think of all the water I'd waste washing my two shirts and two pants!

Plus, the people I work with would notice after about three days. If they didn't say something, the students I work with would sure say something! "Why are you wearing that shirt again?"

However, I could probably NOT go shopping for new clothes/jewelry/shoes for a month. Heck, I could probably make it to the end of 2010 and not buy anything new. That would be much more realistic and give me lots of time to appreciate everything in my closet!

Perhaps this weekend, I will go through my closet and make sure I'm giving all my clothes the love they deserve! I organize my tops by color and I always have my black and white clothes towards the front of my closet, which is usually where I grab from first. Perhaps I'll do a little rearranging and move the black to the back. It will be like a whole new wardrobe!

I made a logo...and other news!

I just set up a spot over on Facebook for Organizing Simply, and I needed a picture. This is what I came up with!

I love getting comments. Next week I'll be starting TERRIFIC TUESDAY TIPS! Please let me know if there are specific topics you want covered. Two topics I'm planning on covering are meal planning and back-to-school organization. Plus, I have a number of ideas to help save time and keep things nice and organized.

My Scrapbook Room is Done!

My scrapbook room is done and was under budget (if you don't count tax). I gave myself a budge of $75. I love it! Remember, I used to just keep everything in tubs under the bed and would bring them out and put them back when I was done. It wasn't any fun to do this. I now have a great work area.

This is what was purchased:
$6.99 Desk organizer from Michaels. It holds hole punches, brads, scissors, markers, and corner rounders.
Three $1.50 each pink containers with snap lids from Walmart. One will hold scrapbook adhesives. Another holds small scrapbooking memorabilia that are not photos (hotel room keys, concert tickets, etc). The third one will live in the top dresser drawer to hold misc small stuff.
One $2.50 tall pink container with a snap lid from Walmart. I needed this to hold stamping supplies.
$14.99 six drawer cabinet with wheels from Office Depot. I used a $10 coupon that my husband got in an email, This holds all my stickers. Plus I have a drawer for stencils and books.
$14.99 wall organizer from Michaels. I used a coupon. This holds ribbons, adhesives, memorabilia, and photos waiting to be scrapbooked.
$2.00 for two photo 4x6 holder from Michaels. I used coupons. I used to just stack things on paper trays. These keep photos safe and
$13.02 for three cans of spray paint. The paint was used to paint the old brown dresser white. It looks so much better.
$6 for three photo frames from Walmart.
$8.99 photo board from Michael's. Used another coupon!
I made about five trips to Michael's in the last three weeks, since they have a one coupon per day limit.
Total: $73.98

There were other great organizing supplies I liked such as small crates for $1.99 at Office Depot, but I just didn't have a need for them. There were also great plastic jars with lids at Michaels. These would be great if you had lots of small craft supplies like beads, buttons, gemstones, etc. They have sets of three large ones or six small ones.

Right now I am using the top dresser drawer for my hot glue gun and all my stamping supplies. The second dresser drawer can be used to keep my current scrapbooks and photo albums. When I’m done with a scrapbook album, I have a bookcase upstairs that has a cabinet on the bottom with doors. That’s where my completed scrapbooks live.

Wall Shelf...I love this!

My daughter loved this. She felt like this was something that came from my dream scrapbook room. Here’s the deal: I had to assemble this myself and I’m pretty direction deficient. Actually, I’m horrible at directions and reading any sort of three-dimensional map or drawing. I have no depth perception aptitude!

This is my dream scrapbook room:

It was supposed to take 15 minutes to assemble. It took me 15 minutes just to make sure I had all the pieces. There were six steps. I would screw something together, only to find out it was upside down. It mattered what direction boards were placed, because there were little tracks for other pieces to slide into. I had the entire thing put together in a little over an hour. I was very proud of myself, except the top piece wasn’t lined up right. I knew this because it was sticking out about a half an inch on the backside. It couldn’t hang from the wall this way!

I took it off, and finally realized, I had to flip it over. That was it. One hour and fifteen minutes later, I did it (not including the time it took to make sure I had all the materials)!!! I put extra ribbons in one of the white canvas basket. At this point, the other basket is empty!

Then I set up my two pink containers on the shelf. The first one holds all my adhesives. The second holds all the little things I collect...event tickets, hotel room cards, etc. I also thought this would be a great place to store my 4X6 photos that are waiting to be scrapbooked. In the "old days" I would just stack all this stuff on paper trays. I like my new system much better

Scrapbooking Interruption....Back-to-School Supplies

Yesterday I noticed all the ads in our Sunday paper were all school supply related. We had to go to Walmart, so I brought along the Office Max, Target, and Office Depot ads. Sure enough, the sale prices on lots of items were cheaper, and Walmart price matched. I probably saved $5 overall, but I only had to go to one store. When it is 100 degrees out, one store is better than three!

I was able to get my daughter's school supply list online.

I know some people just got done with school at the end of June, but we go back in August!


My daughter fell in love with this caddy at Michaels. They have bigger ones, and I debated which one to get.

I had read that you should “go big” when buying scrapbooking supplies. However, I really don’t have tons of stuff, and I thought I would bring it home and make sure everything fit. If it didn’t, I could always exchange it for the larger size.

I had more than enough room, and I actually ended up with empty pockets! I put the markers, scissors and hole punches in the top (there are three sections). Then I put brads and corner rounders along the side. There are six pockets along the side, and I ended up with extra space. I paid $6.99 for the caddy on sale (with a coupon). I decided I got a good deal!

My Stickers Are Now Organized!

Organizing my stickers has been one of the most difficult things for me to organize. I had a binder with page protectors, and the stickers were put in page protectors by theme. However, some of my stickers were twelve inches long, and didn’t really fit in an 8.5x11 binder. Plus it was a pain to find stickers.

I got lots of great ideas for stickers from the Internet. When I went shopping, I had an idea in mind. I wanted to use drawers for my stickers. I would have a drawer for seasonal/holiday stickers, a drawer for travel stickers, then the other two drawers would be for each of my children. Since I have a boy and a girl, this would be easy.

My daughter actually found this cart at Office Depot. I liked it because the drawers were not too big. It also has six drawers, and I could use the other two drawers for my scrapbooking books and extra card stock/stencils. My husband actually got an email from Office Depot for $10 off a $25 purchase. This would make the cart $14.99! I couldn't turn down a deal this great. Walmart also has tons of options for carts with drawers.

My daughter made the labels,and organized the stickers. Even my long stickers fit in the drawer! This will be a huge help. I love it!

Practicing What I Preach

I have been going through my photo folders and renaming them YYYY-MM-DD Description. OH MY GOODNESS!! I set a timer for 10 minutes and work. If I didn't take a break, my eyes would go cross from looking at the screen!

I also have been deleting some junk shots as I go. So far it has taken me forty minutes! I still have a few more folders left (about thirty-five)! From now on, I'm always going to do this!

Organizing Paper

I got this expandable 12x12 paper organizer about four years ago at Hobby Lobby. It was regularly $14.99, but I paid $7.49 because I used a coupon. I checked today, and they still carry them! Right now they are black and cream in a paisley print pattern.

I had my paper organized by color, but it wasn't in any order and I couldn't find anything without going through each folder.

My seven year old label-making helper, changed all that! Ann Claire made all the labels and put them in rainbow order. Then she put all the paper where it belonged. Thank you Ann Claire!

This system works great for me. I would love to have shelves that store my paper, however, at this point it is out of my budget. Plus I don’t have that much paper, and this expandable file works great.

I still have lots of work left to do when it comes to organizing: coming up next stickers and everything else!

I also need to find time to get my scrapbooking done!

Update on Organizing Computer Files

I had a comment about my post on naming photo folders on the computer to keep them better organized. Linda suggested instead of the 07-12-2010 naming system for photo folders, it is better to name files by year first (2010-07-12). I tested it out, and sure enough, over time, the year first system makes files sorting much, much easier. Thank you, Linda!!!!

If you use Picasa, they sort by year (camera date) no matter what the naming convention. However, they will not be in order when you look on your computer.

Thanks to Linda, I have a new project to keep me busy :) That and purging bad pictures! I am terrible about remembering to do this! I'm just happy when all my photos are downloaded.

What I Have...

My scrapbook room is downstairs and is the guest bedroom/craft room. Before we finished the basement (six years ago), I would use the upstairs guest bedroom, but there wasn’t much room, so I kept everything in containers that I could store under the bed. Every time I wanted to scrapbook, I took out all of my supplies, and then when I was done, they went back under the bed. My basement has been finished for six years now, and I have yet to make any attempt to create a great work area!
I took some pictures of all my supplies. I’m so embarrassed! (It DOESN’T always look like this, but I emptied almost everything so you could see what I was dealing with). This is all my stuff! Right now I have some containers, two dresser drawers, two paper trays and two small containers that can hold pens/markers. I have an accordion paper holder that works great for storing paper. I also have tons of stamping stuff, that hasn’t been used in probably ten years. My stickers need major help! Right now they are in the blue binder (and many are too tall for it). This mess is rather overwhelming, but since I’m off for the summer, this is the time to get it organized. I should also note that when I scrapbook I usually use paper, stickers (with embellishments) and markers. I don’t really use lots of extra supplies.

Organizational Inventory:
2 small plastic tubs
2 large plastic tubs
2 binders (one is holding stickers in pocket protectors)
1 pencil holder
1 paper cutter
2 paper trays
2 small red baskets
2 large dresser drawers

Scrapbook Inventory:
Tons of stickers
Tons of paper
Corner rounders
Hole punches
Scrapbooking tape
3 12X12 scrapbooks
2 photo album
1 school days album
4 Disney Autograph Books with pictures
Pictures waiting to be scrapbooked
Scrapbooking How-to Books

My Scrapbooks

I keep three scrapbooks going at all times. One is a family scrapbook, and the other two are for my children. I also have a photo album for each of my children. In these albums I add pictures that don’t really have a theme, but just show how they are growing.
Since I teach school, I do all my scrapbooking in the summer. I know lots of people that meet up with once on month on a Friday or Saturday night and have scrapbooking marathons, but that doesn’t really work for me. I want an area that has all the materials within reach and not have to pack up everything and store it under the bed.

These are my projects for this summer:
Update Family Scrapbook
Update My Daughter’s Scrapbook
Update My Son’s Scrapbook
Organize Scrapbook Room!!!!

I have been looking online at dream scrapbook rooms.
This is my favorite:

Since I’m kind of thrifty (sounds nicer than cheap), I’m going to set a budget of $75. I know $75 will not buy me Amanda's scrapbook room, but I’m inspired by Amanda, and determined to have a great workplace! I’m also going to need to track down some Michael’s, Hobby Lobby and Joanne coupons! I’ve also been looking at scrapbooking discussion boards to get even more ideas.

Scrapbooking...Step 1

My July goal is to get my scrapbooking caught up. But I also need to get my scrapbooking supplies organized.

Step 1: Go through my photos on my computer and make sure my photos are organized and backed up. I've now decided that once a month, I will mark my calendar, and back-up my photo folders to my external hard drive.

I usually go through and delete the bad ones when I download them to my computer. It is easier to do this right when they are downloaded.

When you name your folders that contain your photos, the best way I have found is to name them by date, but also add a description.
For example: 01-12-2010 Ski Trip

This makes it much easier to go back and find photos from specific events. Also, 1-12-2010 is not the same as 01-12-2010. If you don't put the "0" in front, they will not sort correctly. I've learned the hard way! Naming them this way also helps when backing up photos. It is easy to see what dates have already been backed up, then only the new photos need to get backed up.

A free photo organizational program that I love is Picasa.
It is a great way to order pictures, email pictures and to post to online photo albums. It is easy and free!

Another 15-20 Minute Project

I decided to clean-out/organize my coat closet. This would also help clean out my laundry room which has been a dumping ground for winter coats and accessories!

I have a shelf on top of my coat closet. I put two plastic baskets on this shelf. One shelf has my childrens gloves, hats, mittens and scarves. The other has my husband and my winter accessories. I also sorted through all the gloves and mittens and discarded any without a match.

I moved all the ski clothes and major winter clothes out of my laundry room to this closet. I put snow boots on the floor.

My only issue was my husbands collection of baseball caps. I'm not sure how many baseball caps he needs, so they are now in a basket on the top shelf!

I ended up with 2 sacks of stuff to take to Goodwill, and a very clean front closet. I'd say it was a productive 20 minutes, and my laundry room is thanking me!

Organizing Money

I'm not an expert in this area, but I do all the bills at our house. In Money Magazine, I found out about

I love this website. It took me about an hour to download my bank info and my credit card info and set up my budget.

It emails you alerts. Yesterday it told me I was over my grocery budget for the month. Today it sent me a weekly summary of activity. It really shows you how much you are spending, which I kind of wish it didn't!

According to their website: With Mint, you can achieve better online financial management in less than five minutes. After that, revolutionary, patent–pending Mint money management software does the rest, with virtually no more work required. It automatically pulls together your bank, credit union and credit card data, and provides up–to–date and amazingly accurate views of your financial—life from the big picture to specific details, in a friendly and intuitive way.

I know lots of people worry about Internet security, and their website explains their security policies.

Getting Out of the House in the Morning

The easiest thing for me is having things ready the night before. This means clothes picked out, lunches made, backpacks and shoes by the back door. It saves so much time.

I'm also a big fan of timers. I have to be out the door by 7:30. At 7:20 the kitchen timer beeps and it is time to brush teeth and put shoes on.

I notice a HUGE difference in mornings when I don't have things ready compared to a morning where everything is ready to go. I never make it out the door on time, if I don't have things ready.

The other thing I do, is I tell my children that if they are not ready at 7:30 when I'm ready, their dad will be happy to take them to school. For some reason, this has worked!?!? I'm not really sure how it has worked! I'd LOVE it if he did drop-off in the morning, but so far, that hasn't happened!

Keeping Up with Things!

There are some things that I do daily...
1. Make beds
2. Dishes/Keep Kitchen Clean
3. Sort through the mail

Things I do twice a week (usually Sunday and Thursday)
1. Vacuum
2. Clean bathrooms (wipe down w/Clorox wipes)

Once a week Chores
1. Clean Bathroom REALLY good
2. Empty Trash
3. Dust
4. Clean windows/mirrors/doors (I don't clean all the windows, but I have some really big windows in the kitchen and big windows and a 2 year old are a messy mix!)

Favorite Cleaners:
Clorox Wipes
Pledge Wipes
Clorox Toilet Bowl Cleaner

Calendar Organizing

I cannot for the life of me rely on my blackberry to keep my calendar. I cannot go totally electronic with my calendar. I just can't! Call me old school, but I have a fun, family picture calendar that hangs on the fridge. I put EVERYTHING on it! I also keep a small purse size calendar that I always keep with me.

Family Calendar:
I put everything on this. As soon as my daughter brings home a note from school for an event, it goes on the calendar. I keep a special school binder in one of my kitchen drawers, and all the notes go in them. Once the event has passed, I pitch the note. This system has worked great for us. Usually I get the school calendar a month in advance. She has jeans day, friend of the day, Skating Parties, etc. I also put all the dance classes, recitals, doctor appoints, and special meetings on this calendar. Every night I check the calendar to make sure I'm ready for the next day.

My pocket Calendar:
I put all my work stuff in this calendar that doesn't need to go on the family calendar). I also put doctor appointments and meetings on this calendar.

Besides using the Blackberry for talking, I use it for contact info. I find that this comes in handy. It is the best address book in the world. I will also schedule reminders every once in a while, but my calendars really work for me! I'm not ready to go electronic with my calendar.

Once it is organized, it is much easier to keep it that way!

Two weeks ago, I set out to clean my computer cabinet. I took EVERYTHING out and made a huge MESS. It took about 75 minutes to get everything "fixed" and back in place.

Then I sorted through the MESS! I found homes for everything I needed, and pitched the rest! I got rid of quite a bit. It is always kind of entertaining to see what we "thought" we needed.

One bonus was that I found almost $3.00 in change, which I gave to my daughter to put in her piggy bank!

I put all the pens/notepads in one place. I put the digital camera and ipod in a basket. I also put some drawer organizers in one of the drawers and was able to put all my USB cables/chargers in one basket. This is one of my favorite products to help organize cds/dvds.^freeText~cd+page+protector^paramValue~true^refine~1^region~1^param~return_skus^return_skus~Y
I can have 1 binder with photos, another one with home movies and a third with software. These are well worth the money!

Two weeks later, it still looks PERFECT! Once I got rid of the clutter and found homes for everything, it made it so much easier to see what I had!

Weekend Assignment: 15 minutes

Pick one area that needs to be organized/decluttered/purged. I am going to pick the medicine cabinet. Have a trashcan ready!

First: Take everything out!

Second: Sort through the mess; throw away anything old, expired, or unusable.

Third: Look at the remaining pile and double check to make sure that you need everything.

Fourth: Put things back. Make sure you can see everything, so you know what you have.

In 15 minutes, you have just done a fantastic job of organizing!!

Do you NEED all the things you have? Label makers are NOT a waste of money!

It is hard getting rid of things!
My daughter and I have been working on her room (this is a big project that took about 2 hours)! I could have been done a lot faster if I worked by myself, but we both had fun, and she had a say in the project. I also have ADHD tendencies and had to stop to check email and facebook and play a game with my son.

We started with her dresser, under her bed, toy shelves and her closet. I actually just pile everything in one place and make a mountain! I find this easier than just doing one thing at a time, because this way you see EVERYTHING you are dealing with! Plus it makes you want to get rid of that mountain!

Before we started her drawers were overflowing (and one drawer was a junk drawer). The top of her dresser looked sloppy, and her closet wasn't bad, but it had quite a bit of stuff that wasn't being used. She also had random stuff under her bed!

I had a whole bunch of containers/baskets that could fit on her closet shelves. We decided that she could only keep what we had room for! This is a big step to decluttering. If you don't have room for it, do you really need it? If you have room for it, do you still need it? If you aren't using it, let someone else get the enjoyment from it.

She decided she wanted games/puzzles, cds, Nintendo DS games, barbies, polly pockets, costume jewelry, and purses/wallets/old cell phones. Books are in a different cabinet, so we didn't have do deal with them.

My daughter had a blast making labels for her baskets. In the middle of this project she says, "label makers are NOT a waste of money!" We kept one large basket for misc. As we were going through the mountain, she would put the things she wanted in the baskets. Once the baskets were full, she was done. That left me to decide what do with the leftovers. We are giving some things to her cousins, donating quite a bit, and some things were going in the trash.

Our end result was nothing under the bed, about $2.50 extra change in her piggy bank. We reclaimed an entire drawer which is now strictly for dance and bathing suits. Plus her closet has everything she wants with easy access. In addition, her stuffed animals are well accessorized! I found a few hats and flower leis that we didn't know what do with. Her stuffed animals on her bookshelf are now wearing them!

Step 5: Decluttering and Organizing your Small Spaces

You've made your list and now you want to get started.

These areas are pretty small and you can try the pile system where you donate/sell/keep/trash, but in reality the easiest thing to do is to either keep it or pitch it (recycle it)!

Remember these are your small areas. Areas you can do in 15 minutes like junk drawers, sock drawers, areas under sinks, or a shelf in the linen closet (WARNING: this can lead to the entire linen closet needing to be cleaned out, so I'd suggest the linen closet when you have more than 15 minutes).

*Take a before picture!

I just did under my bathroom sink, which is probably the most unattractive part to my house! I had 4 bottles of hotel shampoo that were all sticky... TRASH. I had the ice packs that you fold in half to activate that they give you when you have a baby.... TRASH. Now maybe you are thinking, "wait, you might use those!" Well, maybe someday...but for almost 3 years they have sat under there waiting to be used, and every time we have the need for an ice pack, I just go to the freezer and get one. Now maybe you are thinking, "wait, someone could have used those!" Well, I'm too embarrassed to give the Goodwill my extra childbirth ice packs, so there is no place for them but the trash! I do not feel guilty and you should not feel guilty either! I also had 2 bottles of lotion that had about 1.5% of lotion left in them....TRASH.

I also had 4 boxes of contacts, lysol, clorox wipes, toilet paper, extra conditioner, soap, shampoo and cleaners. All of those things were staying.

This is when the baskets come in handy. It is almost better to wait and get baskets after you see what you have left; that way you get the right size.

Then you put everything away, and everything has a home.

*Take an after picture, so you can see what a fantastic job you did!

Baskets (Think Functional and Cheap)

I could spend all day drooling over the Pottery Barn Kids catalog. I love their coordinating baskets, but the reality is, I can't afford a house full of them. However, I can be just as organized at a much cheaper price. My wallet and husband both thank me for this!

Most of my baskets are from Walmart or the $1 store. I have a few baskets that are about 8 years old that I got at Pier One on clearance. Today, Walmart and Target have very similar baskets. Technically, some of what I'm calling baskets are really containers.

In picture 1, you will see that the basket on the left w/a handle is great for storing things that go under the sink. I have two under my bathroom sink. One for lotions/sprays, etc and the other has cleaning supplies. The baskets on the bottom middle are great for stacking. They have lids that snap shut. These come in all sizes! These are from Walmart. I use them for scrapbooking supplies, but they also will work great for children's toys and art supplies. The basket on the top of them came from the $1 store and I have a zillion of these. They are great for junk drawers! The basket on the right is a canvas basket from Walmart. I believe these came in sets of 2. I've had them for about 3 years now. This basket has books, and I have another one similar to this filled with Thomas the Train tracks and trains.

In picture 2, you will see more baskets that are used for toys at my house. I swear I probably have 6 of the little white baskets in the front. Usually they come in packs of two. These are great for holding pens/pencils inside a drawer. I also use these in the bathroom drawers to hold make-up and hair accessories. I like using lined baskets for toys, as well as plastic containers.
I didn't post a picture, but I also have great luck with the shoebox-size, clear containers at Walmart. They are usually just $1 and come with a lid. They fit into drawers and can be stacked. They are great for storing kid's socks inside a drawer! I also like using them for stacking things like Legos, Cars, Polly Pockets, Doll Clothes, art supplies, etc.

Step 4: Make a List

If I had to be good a one thing (besides going on vacation), it would be making lists!

If you've been following my blog, you have found a place for the one thing that you always lose, you are getting a good mail system down and have a very neat and organized purse (or other small area).

Now it is time to make a list. I keep a small notebook (measures about 4x6) in the drawer of my computer desk. This notebook has all my lists (and I have quite a few)!

What are all the small areas you want organized? These are areas you can deal with in 15 minutes. This is going to be the first part of your list. You could actually cross off one item a day, and be done with all of your small areas by the end of the month! This part of my list usually includes junk drawers and the cabinets under sinks. I have found that most small places with the exception of your purse really don't get messy very often once you get in a good routine and get them neat and organized. You won't have to spend 15 minutes everyday of your life doing this. Plus once they are very clean and organized, you will see that you can do this and it will give you the motivation to continue.

The next part of your list are the "medium sized" projects. These would be things like the computer desk, pantry, refrigerator, dresser, kitchen cabinets, laundry room, coat closet or the linen closet. These are things that really need to get cleaned out and decluttered. The first time you do each one, it will probably take a good hour. This is something you might want to work on 1 time a week and be done by March 1. I have found that once I have these areas clean, the pantry and refrigerator are really the two areas that take extra effort during the week to keep organized and clean (5 minutes top each week).

Then the last part of your list has the big goals of things that need organizing. This would be the dreaded tasks! For example, my bedroom closet, my child's room, the garage, my scrapbooking "stuff". These would take an entire morning or possibly more!

At this point, I wish we all had a magic wand or a fairy godmother or a genie to make this list a reality. However, by starting with the small stuff, and working your way down your list you will be learning how to be a more organized person with each item you cross off your list and by the time you get to your large goals, you will be a pro!

Step 3: Your Purse or 15 minutes

Disclaimer: Purses are not clutter, purses are accessories!

I got a new purse for Christmas and I love it! It is perfect for me. I love purses, but my fun, large, slouchy purse was driving me crazy because everything would fall into one spot and it was like a large black hole finding anything!

The purse I got finally works for me. It has a built in wallet. I love this feature! It also has a pocket in the front for my blackberry. Then the main pocket holds the following: lipstick, lip gloss, gum (all in the inside zipper pocket), mini hand-sanitizer, band aids (in a slip pocket), small notepad, pen, car keys and small planner (when needed). It even has room if I want to throw in my small digital camera.

Your mission is to clean out your purse. Remember the OUT basket, from Step 2... put any receipts that are floating around in your purse in the out basket. Throw away any trash that has accumulated. Then decided what you really need to carry around with you.

One of my co-workers always had the cutest purses and they were so tiny (she has 5 children). She said, "if I carry a large purse, I'll just carry around stuff I don't need." What do you really need in your purse?

Maybe you don't want to start with your purse. You'll need to find something that you can clean and organize in 15 minutes. Here are some ideas: cabinets under kitchen sink, cabinets under bathroom sinks, medicine cabinet, spice cabinet, jewelry box, 1 junk drawer.

Where are we going with this?

To me being organized is about everything having a place. It is knowing where you are supposed to be and when, and not rushing around stressed out in a panic.

Neatness is different than organization. Neatness is when everything has a home (like my definition of organization), but things are also very clean~ spotless clean. Neatness also really doesn't involve clutter!

You could walk into someones house and think, "wow, this person is so organized!" The reality might be they have the appearance of being clean, but closets, drawers, etc. are a mess. They can't find anything when they need it. Their clutter is all hidden!

I like both. I want to be organized and I want neatness. I believe in order to make this work, we have to start with organizing and once you get in a routine, the neatness piece will become easier.

Step 2- Mail (aka, "Junk" and "Other")

My children love going to the mailbox to get the mail. I'm not sure why. Nothing is ever for them. I'm never excited about getting the mail, because it is all for me and it is mostly junk and bills!

In order to make this work you MUST spend 5 minutes (or less) going through the mail everyday. It also helps if you have things electronically sent to you instead of mailed (which leads to a whole different organizational system). Right now my phone bill and cable bill are the only things I get electronically.

When you get your mail, divide it into two piles. Your two piles are "Junk" and "Other". Trash/shred/recycle/throw-away the junk immediately.

Then you are left with "Other". As you open it, divide it up into piles. I have a bills pile, a file pile and then a pile of stuff I need to figure out what I'm going to do with (invitations, thank you cards, etc).

This leads to my basket system.

I also have an IN mail basket and an OUT mail basket. My IN mail basket is bills that have not been paid. The only other thing in this basket are things that I "might" need. For example, I got a 20% off from Kohls Coupon. I'm not sure I will use this, but I don't want to lose it, so this is where it goes. If I got an invitation, I would leave it in my in basket until the event is over (and I would also write the event on the calendar).

My OUT basket (pictured) serves three purposes. Any mail that needs to be filed goes right in this basket. My savings account statement that shows I earned 3 cents interest last month gets put in this basket. I don't have time to file it right now, and I don't want to lose it, so it gets put in this basket. This basket is located by the computer, and once the bills have been paid, they go in this basket (ready for filing). Then the last thing in this basket is an envelope that has receipts in it. I create a new envelope each month (the last month gets filed away). This way if I need to return something, I'll have the receipt.

I don't spend much money on baskets. I love ones that only cost $1!

Eventually your baskets will get full! About every two weeks I go through the IN Basket and pitch anything that is past. Usually about once a month, I go through the OUT basket and file everything.

Step 1: Find a place for one thing!

This is step one. One of the worst things is when you spend 10 minutes (or 15 or 20 minutes) trying to find car keys, or a cell phone or a bill or that very important item you need RIGHT now!

Pick your one thing that you seem to always lose and don't really have the time to lose, and find a place for it.

I did this with my car keys. I hated leaving in the morning, and not remembering where I last put them. In the laundry room leading out to the garage, I hung a key hook up (actually my very handy husband hung it), and I make a conscious effort to hang my keys on them EVERY time I walk in the door.

Organizing is about baby steps. This is step one. Find a place for the one thing you can't afford to lose!
On Monday morning, see how great you'll feel when you go to grab your keys (or phone or special thing you can't lose) and it is right where you put it! Just that one little step is going to convince you that you can be organized!
***Upcoming Blogs***
*Dealing with mail
*Conquering the organization of a small space
*Calendar Organization
*Getting out the door in the morning without a tantrum