Our first blog giveaway!

Inspired by my best friend’s blog, Budget Bookworm, I have decided to do my very own giveaway!

But first, shameless plug for her blog ~ please, please go check out www.budgetbookworm.com.  My BFF, Amanda, started this blog as a way to show you how NOT to break the bank in order to read the things that you love.  She focuses on e-books (Kindle, anyone?  Yes please!), paperbacks, textbooks, children’s books…you name it.  And this week, in honor of Children’s Book Week, she is doing a NEW giveaway every day!  Yesterday’s giveaway is obviously already over, but there is still time to enter today’s and the rest of the week’s, so get thyself over to her website and ENTER!  And then keep reading, because her blog is awesome.

As for my blog contest, I’m going to be giving away….drumroll please…

A $25 gift card to my most favorite place, The Container Store!  Yippee!

All you have to do is leave me a comment.  Tell me whatever you want ~ why you want the gift card, what you’d buy with it, your favorite organizing tip, just say hi…anything goes (just please behave yourselves).  Be *sure* to leave your email address!  I will “draw” the winner using www.random.org on Monday, May 24, and will email you that day.  If you don’t respond within 48 hours, I’ll re-draw until I get a response.  Oh, one entry per person, please, just to keep it fair.

Thanks, and good luck!

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My radio interview!

If you’re a Facebook friend (or a real-life friend) of mine, you probably know that today, Tuesday, May 11, l·c organizing was featured on a segment on 950 AM KPRC called the Texas Business Update, with host John Criswell.  It’s a short, 2-minute segment that airs weekly (I believe) on KPRC to spotlight a particular topic and a business that goes along with that topic.  It used to be aired during the Dave Ramsey show, but due to programming changes that happened this week, it came on during the Chris Baker show instead.

Today’s topic was “Getting Organized”!  The producer called me about a week and a half ago and said his researcher found me online, and they wanted to interview me for this segment on getting organized.  Of course I accepted and this past Friday, they recorded the segment (it was scripted to make things easier on both the host and me ~ I got to come up with answers to the questions they gave me, as well as change around any of the questions that I wanted), which played live today at 1:36 p.m.

I was thrilled that I got to represent professional organizers and the organizing profession on such a widely listened-to radio station! The producer actually told me that the reason he wanted to do this segment was due to his divorce about a year ago. He commented that he contacted a PO to help him, but before that, he had never heard of the profession before, and thought spotlighting it on the Texas Business Update would be a great thing for people like him who had never previously heard of it.  What a fabulous idea on his part, if I do say so myself!

I’m going to post the MP3 of the segment at a later date ~ unfortunately, I realized that I need a space upgrade to do that (grrrr…). I’ll try to get that up later this week, though!

For those of you who listened to the TBU on the air, thank you for your support!

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Ask and you shall receive (part 3)

So, I didn’t really expect to turn this into a series, but it sorta has of its own accord!  It took me FOR-E-VER to load the pictures from the last two posts and format them correctly, so I decided to divide the downstairs into smaller chunks since there’s a lot more square footage to cover, and more organizational stuff since we’re down there most of the time.

You ready?  I am.  Sort of.  I mean, my house isn’t exactly at its cleanest right now…we have two dogs, a cat, a toddler, and two adults, plus laminate flooring in most of our downstairs rooms…so just do yourself a favor and focus on the organization and not the cleanliness (or, lack thereof, more appropriately) of our house.  Pretty please?

Here goes.

DAUGHTER’S PLAYROOM:

This is the space right off of our front entry, and while it used to house our *cough cough* “formal” dining room, once our baby became a toddler, we decided to convert it into her playroom.  Having the room as a dedicated playroom makes it easier for me when I’m home with her to keep an eye on her while she’s playing, and all of her toys (granted, she doesn’t have a lot) don’t take over our living room.  Plus, we used our dining room maybe, five times in the five years we’ve been married?  Okay, so the photo above is to give you an idea of what it looks like as a whole.  PS ~ do you see my cat perched on top of sweet girl’s play kitchen? Love it.  Actually, it kind of irritates me because then there’s cat hair all over it…but that’s another post, I suppose.

This…

…is a ClosetMaid cube storage system from Tar-jay (fine, Target).  The bins are sold separately, but are made to fit inside of the CM systems.  They’re just beautiful, aren’t they?  *sigh*  My system isn’t 100% complete yet, but these bins store ALL of my daughter’s toys.  The only exception is one small purple and pink Circo bin on rollers and with handles that lives in my office upstairs ~ that bin holds a few toys, some colors, and a coloring pad for when we’re up there and want to play.

Anyway, the bins are separated into categories.  One holds musical instruments, one holds puzzles, two hold books, one holds smaller toys (which I strongly dislike, so she doesn’t have a lot of these), one holds all her play food, one has games…what I want to do is take pictures of the types of toys that go into each one and attach them to the bins so that she’ll know exactly what goes in each one (although she knows most of them, that will make it easier for her during clean-up time).

Melissa D., this next one’s for you, so pay attention!

LAUNCHING PAD:

I call this area of our house the launching pad because it houses everything that we need to get out of the house in the mornings. You know, to “launch” us out of the house…ready to go, with all the stuff we need…yeah.

The picture quality is terrible ~ sorry.  Just a general overview of what the area looks like.

The top part of the system.  There are three shelves, one for each of us in the family.  The one on the left is my daughter’s, the one in the middle is mine, and the one on the right is DH’s.  Three hooks are below each shelf.  I put keys on the first one, and then the second and third hooks hold coats/jackets during the winter, and bags that I need to take out to my car.  To the left of the system is a Post-It pocket.  That serves as our paper outbox, so papers that I need to take somewhere or mail that needs to be, well, mailed, go into that.

The bottom half of the launching pad.  The brown cube on the left is where all of my daughter’s Mother’s Day Out stuff goes when she gets home on the three days she goes (her nap mat, bag, and extra stuff that may need to go out with her the next time she attends).  The basket on top of the bench is an outbox for things that don’t fit into the Post-It pocket, like stuff that needs to go to someone, returns that need to be made, and things to go out to the garage.  And, on the inside of those cabinets…

…are these items.  The left cabinet stores bags that I’m not currently using, but that I use very often.  The big bag is my diaper bag that I use when I’m out and about with my sweet daughter, and the smaller one holds all of my coupon materials.  The other cabinet holds stuff for Charlotte.  Right now, there are swim diapers and our beach/swimming bag for when we go to the pool. With the weather getting considerably warmer, we’ve already started going to some pools, and this bag holds everything we need to go ~ snacks, towels, floaties, swim shirt, hat, sunglasses, diapers, etc…

CLEANING CLOSET:

Kinda hard to see because the space is so narrow, but this is what I call my cleaning closet.  It’s the hall closet right off of the entryway, and it stores all of our main cleaning stuff ~ vacuum, Swiffer mop, dry mop, steam mop (yes, I know, it’s a lot of mops), and then all of the other cleaning supplies that we use often are stored in the cube system.  The cubes are two ClosetMaid three-shelved units stacked on top of each other, with those same fabric bins that I love.  On the wall next to the system (that silver thing) is one of those Simple Human plastic bag holders so that I can reuse the ones I get at the store.

The top shelf of the cleaning closet.  We keep coolers up here, our instruction manual binder, a fire extinguisher, and the plastic bin holds paper bags that I like to reuse.

That’s enough for today’s home tour; join me next week when I continue the organization of the rest of our downstairs…

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Ask and you shall receive (part 2)

HALL CLOSET:

Moving onto our hall linen closet…this is right outside of my daughter’s room and bathroom.  It holds a heavy comforter (on the floor in the comforter box), beach towels (first shelf), guest towels/washcloths/hand towels (two canvas bins on the second shelf), my sweet girl’s towels and washcloths (two canvas bins on the third shelf), sheets for the guest bed (green canvas bin), and an extra pillow.  Not thrilled that the extra pillow is just stuffed up there…I’m probably going to buy a linen storage bag like the comforter bag on the bottom for that.

DAUGHTER’S CLOSET:

This is my 2-year old’s closet.  The Elfa system holds socks in the first drawer, bloomers/diaper covers and skirts in the second (don’t have baby skirt hangers yet, but I should get some), crib sheets in the third, everyday blankets in the fourth, special/handmade blankets in the fifth (we got FIVE of these!  Sweet girl is so loved!), and then extra wipes in the fifth (I buy them in bulk whenever possible).  The tote to the right of the Elfa contains clothes that she’s outgrown ~ as she plows through her 18-month stuff (she’s a peanut), they go into the tote.  When it’s full, the clothes go to friends and/or Goodwill.  To the left of the Elfa system are two more totes, a small one that holds her Christmas decorations for her room (there aren’t a lot) and the bigger one is for her mementos.

Her shirts and dresses hang up in the closet.  Extra hangers to the left of those.  To the right, you’ll see the bright orange and pink day-by-day organizer.  I use this to put her clothes in for the week on Sundays so that we’re not rushing around trying to find outfits before school every day.  It’s only a five-day organizer; we’re usually pretty relaxed on the weekends so it’s not a big deal to take a bit longer picking out clothes.  To the right of that is her shoe organizer.  Next to those things on the floor, we keep her pack-n-play for when we travel.  On the top shelf of her closet are stacks and stacks of diapers.  I also stock up on those when they go on sale, and that’s where the extras live.  Her travel bags also stay up here for easy access when I’m packing her to go somewhere.

Another view (above).

This picture just shows her diaper changing station in her room.  I wish I had bought a cuter diaper tote to begin with, but oh well. Diapers, wipes, diaper bags (we don’t use a Diaper Dekor anymore; we just use diaper bags and throw them away immediately), a stain stick for dirty clothes (her hamper is to the left of her changing table), diaper cream/paste, hand sanitizer, and lotion reside in the caddy.

Last, but not least, this is a picture of her bookcase.  Her books got too messy just left in the bookcases by themselves, so I decided to house them in these green canvas bins.  That way, they stay organized, and she can pull out and put back the books she wants us to read to her without it looking completely chaotic.  The few stuffed animals she has upstairs live in the froggy three-pocket organizer hanging on the wall next to the glider.  I hate stuffed animals (because they’re dust collectors and she just doesn’t play with them very much; she only has a few that she sleeps with), so we don’t have very many.

WHEW.  That’s it for now!  Just to prove that I’m a real person and not 100% organized, I did NOT post pictures of one of my favorite closets ~ my gift closet ~ because it looks a hot mess right now since I’m storing all of the stuff that I’m selling on Ebay and Craigslist.  Otherwise, it is usually very neat and organized.  So, I’ll post those pictures another time.

Thanks for reading, and keep it simple ~

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Ask and you shall receive (part 1)

I’ve had a few people ask me to see pictures of my own house, so without further ado…here they are!  I’ve started with the upstairs, and will do the downstairs next (either later this week or next week).  Explanation of each picture follows.  Please leave a comment if you have ANY questions about what products I used, how I did something, or why I organized a space the way I did.

ENJOY!

HOME OFFICE:

This is my 3-drawer office supply/business supply cart.  I keep smaller office supplies in the top drawer, stuff for the business in the second drawer (need to label that), and filing supplies/notepads in the third drawer.  Unfortunately, my desk is not an ideal storage desk (I’m hunting for a new one), so although having this cart out in the open isn’t my favorite thing ever, it will have to suffice until I can get a new desk.  My printer resides on top.

My desk.  I try to keep it pretty neat and free of paper piles.  I loathe, hate, and despise paper, so I try to keep as little as I possibly can.  I do have a binder and a notebook on the left side for which I’m about to buy a magazine holder (like the ones I talked about in my last post) to store them.  It’s home-related stuff that we have to keep, but that’s too bulky to store in a hanging file folder.

My stationery tote sitting on top of my file box.  Any papers that we need to keep go in our hanging files.  I only have maybe 10 categories because we just don’t keep that much.  Oh, our taxes are kept in a separate file box like the one in the picture (except it’s not actually in this picture), with each hanging folder designating one tax year.  Keep your taxes for seven years, just in case you get audited.  You know, just in case.

My bookcase.  DH and I both love to read, but we honestly don’t have a lot of time to do it.  I don’t like keeping a ton of books, so this is all I have (plus a few more that are downstairs in my handy canvas book/magazine holder that I posted about a while ago from The Container Store.  Those are the ones I’m currently reading).  And yes, those are three out of the four Twilight series books on the second shelf to the far right.  Don’t hate on Twilight.  I don’t own Breaking Dawn yet because it’s still in hardback and I’m cheap.  But I have read it.  Anyway, I digress…

STORAGE CLOSET:

Okay, this closet is upstairs and is off of our workout room.  I call it the Hurricane Closet because it houses all of our important things/mementos (except for photos, which are currently downstairs in our media armoire, but I may move them up here eventually to keep all like things together).  In the event of a hurricane and evacuation, which most Houstonians have had to deal with in recent years, everything sentimental to us is in here.

Let me explain what’s in the picture.

On the right, in the corner, is a stack of plastic totes.  The very bottom one (red, you can’t really see it in this picture because it’s being blocked by the space heater) is the hubs’ memory box.  We are each allowed ONE ~ yes, ONE ~ memory tote to keep all of our childhood/important stuff in.  I purge mine quite frequently.  You can’t take this stuff into Heaven with you, people, and your children sure as heck don’t want to deal with all of YOUR mementos from your childhood.  Trust me.  No, really.

The blue tote is my memory box, and on top of that (the purple tote) houses our wedding stuff.  I have this great plan to scrapbook our wedding, but seeing as I am neither a scrapbooker, creative, nor doing it in a timely fashion (it’s been five years since we got married), I may just pay someone to do it for me and repurpose that box for something else.  Anyone know someone who would scrapbook for me?

Last, but not least, the small pink box on top holds Charlotte’s artwork that I am keeping from Mother’s Day Out.  The pictures she brings home week to week go onto a magnetic art strip that is on the wall in her playroom downstairs.  I take them down at the end of each week and go through them.  The ones I want to keep go into this box, but then once the school year is over, I’m going to go back through them and weed out further.  I will probably eventually (once every couple of years, maybe?  I haven’t decided) create a photo book on Shutterfly with pictures of her artwork so that I’m not keeping millions of sheets of paper.

Moving on ~ the black three-shelved piece of furniture houses projects that I want to tackle when I have a spare minute here or there. Those projects include going through my old papers and stuff, and putting the ones I want to keep in a binder with sheet protectors, which will in turn go into my blue memory box.  Some stuff I may scan to my computer, and some I might make a Shutterfly photo book for…I haven’t yet decided. Another basket holds Charlotte’s mementos (I just recently put a plastic tub in her closet for her mementos; I need to move this stuff in there) and a scrapbook for when I was pregnant.  Yet another basket holds VHS tapes that I want to have converted to DVDs.

However, as you can see, there’s also some non-sentimental stuff in here for which we needed a safe storage place (i.e., not the garage).  This closet houses the extra third row for my car, four nice folding chairs that we use occasionally, and two nice dining room chairs that we’re not currently using.  Part of our Super Yard (what we use as a makeshift toddler gate) is in here, but I need to move it out.

The picture above shows two under bed boxes (yes, I realize they are indeed NOT under a bed).  One has a couple of items of nicer clothing that I don’t quite yet fit into again, but realistically know I will once I shed a few pounds.  I’m not hanging onto things that I know I have no shot of fitting into anymore.  The other box holds my wedding dress quilt and my veil.  I need to find the necessary equipment to hang up my quilt.

Part 2 immediately following…

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Something simple: magazine storage

One thing I run into with clients over and over again is how to store/what to do with magazines that they’ve kept.  Almost 100% of the time, they end up keeping a magazine because there is ONE article in there that they liked and wanted to reference again, only to lose the magazine under stacks of paper and other clutter….therefore rendering the magazine useless for its intended purpose!

I have two solutions for this problem that I recommend.

One is to cull through the magazines you have and throw out as many as possible, the rationale being that if you haven’t looked at or referenced the article for as long as the magazine has been buried under piles, you obviously didn’t need it that badly in the first place.  Throw it out (better yet, recycle it).  After you’ve whittled your pile down to a VERY respectable size, buy something like this

to hold and store the magazines that you’ve decided to keep.  And they’d better be really, super useful magazines to justify keeping the entire piece of literature.  Just saying.  But, these are pretty (there are tons of different types; the ones pictured above are from *drool* The Container Store), and they serve their purpose well.  They can live on a bookshelf or in a cabinet; wherever you access your magazines most often.

The second organizational method I recommend (and I prefer this one to the one above, as cute as those organizers are) is to sift through each magazine and tear out ONLY the article(s) you want to keep.  You’ll need a decent-sized binder (probably a 2-incher), some sheet protectors, and some dividers that you can label.  Once you have your collection of articles and you can see the categories that you’ll need, label the dividers according to those categories (for example, Decorating Ideas, Cleaning Ideas, Travel, etc.).  Then, put each article in a sheet protector ~ and, if you’re really feeling sassy, you can put TWO articles in each sheet protector and have one facing front and one facing back ~ and put the articles in their respective dividers.  Voila!  Now you have an easy, simplified way of referencing interesting articles from magazines you like without having to keep the entire, bulky magazine.

Oh, I lied.  I have a third idea that requires keeping no paper at all (my favorite).  If you have a scanner at home or access to a scanner somewhere, tear out the articles you want to keep and scan them onto your computer.  You can organize them by creating a folder specifically for magazine articles, and then creating subfolders for each category of article you have.  Isn’t that easy?  I think so.

To avoid the magazine-induced clutter trap in the first place, put your magazines as you buy them or get them in the mail in a central place where you’ll read them.  I’ve put this on Facebook before, but I have and LOVE this magazine wall rack from, where else, The Container Store (mine is in green, just in case you were dying of curiosity):

Once you’ve gotten a chance to read the magazine, go ahead and either decide whether you want to keep it, if you’re going to follow my first method (and again, make sure the ENTIRE magazine is worth holding onto ~ seriously), or tear out the article(s) that you want to keep and WILL reference again.  Then, recycle or toss the magazine and put the article in your binder o’ magazine articles, or scan it onto your computer for later use.

This is a really simple way to cut down on some of the paper clutter in your life!

Keep it simple ~

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Menu Plan Monday!

I haven’t done this in a while, but I really want to get back into doing it ~ it’s Menu Plan Monday, hosted by the awesome Laura over at www.orgjunkie.com.

I actually usually plan my menu for the week ahead on Thursdays now (so, from Thursdays to Thursdays), but it still kind of throws me off…so I’ll give you what I have already this week.

Monday: sage-crusted pork chops (from Dream Dinners), salad, rice (don’t know what kind yet)

Tuesday: something from the freezer, dressed up frozen veggies, and probably leftover potato wedges from last week.

Wednesday: pork bbq sandwiches, homemade cole slaw

Thursday: leftovers

I don’t have Friday and on yet, but more than likely, Friday and Saturday nights will be leftovers and maybe takeout (the hubs and the boo will be out of town), Sunday will be a fend-for-yourself or leftovers night, and then I’ll have to think about next Monday through Thursday.

I like to use one Dream Dinners each week, try one (maybe two) new recipe, and then take stuff out of the freezer (casseroles, soups, pastas, etc. that I cooked a lot of and have previously frozen) to use.  I also try to have at least one to two nights of leftovers. It’s so easy to just eat out of your freezer, and I’ve really been trying to do that lately especially so I can cut back even more on my grocery bill.  Some nights, usually Sundays, if we don’t have leftovers, I’ll call it a “fend-for-yourself” night.  Those nights, I’ll usually make a huge salad with all kinds of stuff on it, and the hubs will eat chips and salsa or something equally as unsatisfying (in my opinion).

Sit down and plan out your menu for the week (whenever that “week” may be; obviously mine isn’t a typical Monday-Monday week!) ~ I promise you it will save you money at the grocery store and time in your life!  DO IT!

Keep it simple ~

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