Holiday Decor – Putting it away

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Have you put away your holiday decor yet? While some of us look forward to disassembling the tree and packing away the elves and holly¬†as soon as the presents are opened (ahem…Mother), others like to extend the merry and still have our homes in full jungle-bell-mode. (Procrastinators, just go ahead and use that excuse.) ūüėČ

If you still have “Put away holiday decorations” on your To Do List, read this first!

Now is a fantastic time to do a holiday decor PURGE.  Take a look at your inventory, especially those items you did not put out, and get rid of those that meet any of the following criteria:

1. ¬†You no longer love it… ¬†If you didn’t put an item out during the holiday season, chances are good that it is not doing much more than taking up storage space. ¬†Donate or give away any that are still in good condition. ¬†Are you keeping something you don’t like just because someone gave it to you? ¬†Gifts are given because the gift-giver loves YOU, not the gift. ¬†They generally¬†do not¬†want you to keep something that you don’t¬†enjoy. ¬†Donate or re-gift the item (yes, re-gifting¬†is okay – I’ve checked with the etiquette experts.)

2. ¬†It’s cracked, broken, or worn… ¬†If an item is broken and you plan to fix it, do so before you pack up. ¬†If you’ve been storing a¬†broken item with the thought that you’re going to fix it someday,¬†face the fact that¬†“some day” is not likely going to¬†arrive. ¬†Free yourself from this type¬†of¬†clutter, and¬†toss what is broken, cracked, or missing pieces. ¬†Also, please note that if an item is too worn for you to be inspired to showcase it during the holidays, no one else is likely to want it either.¬† Donate only gently-used items; toss the rest.

3. ¬†Lights no longer¬†work… ¬†Did you know that holiday lights can be recycled? ¬†If you live near Oak Park, take your light strands to Public Works at 201 South Blvd.¬†on Mondays-Fridays between 7:30a and 3:30p. ¬†Don’t live near Oak Park? ¬†Do an internet search for your town’s name plus the keywords “holiday light recycling.”

Purging your unwanted holiday decorations is actually a relatively quick organizing task.  Add this to your To Do List and you will thank yourself when you are decorating for the 2015 holiday season.

Happy New Year to all!

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Taming the Tupperware

Taming the Tupperware

Often one of the most aggravating storage spots in the kitchen is wherever you keep the plastic ware. ¬†Digging for the right-sized-container, or hunting for a lid that fits the container you want to use, piles falling over, bowls rolling out…. Is this a familiar sight to anyone?¬†

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If so, save yourself any further aggravation by dedicating 30-60 minutes on a good plastic ware clean-out session.  Here is a step-by-step guide, courtesy of yours truly!

1.  Clear a large space on the floor or table for sorting.  If using the floor, you may want to put a beach towel down first.

2.  Pull every single item out.  This is a good time to take advantage of the cupboard or drawer being empty and wipe it down with soap or cleanser and water.

3.  Sort.  Match up every container with a lid.  If you have any lids or containers with no partners, toss them into the recycle bin.  Anything cracked or very stained can probably also be tossed.

4.  Group same- or similar-sized containers together.

5. ¬†Assess and Purge. ¬†Do you really need eight lunch meat containers? ¬†How about that soup container you brought home from the restaurant that one time? ¬†When was the last time you used that hand-me-down Tupperware bowl from your great aunt? ¬†Chances are, you don’t really need it all. ¬†Challenge yourself to ween down your collection.

6. ¬†Now it’s time to find a home for everything you want to keep. ¬†What I suggest is to NOT store lids with their containers. ¬†This method takes up a ton of storage space, and your system is more likely to regress very quickly back to the same mess you had before. ¬†Instead, find a basket or two to contain your lids. ¬†You could keep square & rectangular lids together in one and round lids together in another. ¬†Here’s a photo of mine (note that several lids are in use and missing from the basket).

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A few suggestions for further containing your containers:

Use larger bins for your nesting containers, particularly if your storage space is a cabinet, as shown in this photo from Better Homes and Gardens:

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You could also purchase drawer dividers to assist in keeping everything neat and orderly, like these spring-loaded ones found at The Container Store:

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Extra Tip:  If you still have many containers, and want to save even more time finding which lid matches which container, take a sharpie and number each lid and the underside of each matching container. 

As you shift things around to figure out what works best, keep in mind that you want accessibility to be your top priority.  Keep smaller in the front, and make sure you can reach every stack and basket without having to move things around too much. 

That’s it! ¬†This project really should take you no more than 30-60 minutes, with some additional time finding storage baskets or drawer dividers if you decide to go one of those routes. ¬†I assure you, the little bit of money you spend on those organizing tools is well worth it, given the result is the little thrill you’ll get each time you open your newly organized¬†Tupperware cabinet.

If you do decide to take on this project in your kitchen, please share Before and After pictures!

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A Top 10: Look to the Inside! (of the cabinet doors)

A Top 10:  Look to the Inside! (of the cabinet doors)

When organizing a kitchen, I love to utilize the insides of cabinet doors! ¬†Especially in a small kitchen, we need to look to every nook and cranny to find extra storage space. ¬†The great thing about using the insides of the doors is that your items remain hidden, but they are incredibly accessible! ¬†Check out my Top 10 storage ideas for the back of the kitchen’s cabinet doors.

1.  Attach adhesive-backed cork board to a door to post recipes, menus, inspirations, etc.  You can find the cork board, either in pre-cut squares or in a roll you can cut yourself, at the big hardware stores and office supply stores.

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2.  Stick poly envelopes to the door to contain all of those take-out menus, small recipe books, and any other kitchen-related paper cluttering up a drawer or cabinet.

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3. ¬†Get out your drill and some small screws to attach narrow trays or magnetic strips for easy-access to spices. ¬†Plan carefully, so that you don’t drill straight through the door!

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4.  Build your own narrow tray to attach to the inside of a lower-cabinet door to contain your cutting boards.  For step-by-step directions on creating this one, visit http://www.familyhandyman.com/storage-organization/home-organization-tips-and-storage-tips/step-by-step.

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5.  Stick on small hooks (and add labels!) for each of your measuring cups and spoons.  No more digging in a drawer for the right cup or spoon!  This photo show a fancier version, but I did this project myself using nine clear-backed Command Hooks and my label maker; it took about a half hour.

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7.  Attach a storage container for your plastic wrap, aluminum foil, gallon baggies, etc.  This one (first photo) is available at The Container Store, but I used a magazine file (second photo), which I stuck on the inside of my cabinet with a few pieces of mounting tape.

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8.  Hang your oven mitts and pot holders on a hook.

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9.  Hang your kitchen utensils on hooks!   I recently helped a friend organize her kitchen, and we attached about 4 Command Hooks to the back of her pots and pans cupboard to hang the larger kitchen utensils that were over-stuffing one of her drawers.

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10. ¬†Want more inspiration? ¬†There are many “back of the cabinet door” storage systems available at places like The Container Store, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Walmart, and sometimes Home Depot, Lowe’s, and Menards. ¬†This one is great for containing your sponges and cleaning products normally tossed under the sink.

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Have another idea for what you can do with the back of a kitchen cabinet door? ¬†I’d love to hear a new idea ¬†— please share!

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New Pans Need a Home!

For Christmas my mom gave me a brand new set of stainless pots and pans, and although I got rid of several of the old ones I’ve had since I moved into my first apartment 15 years ago, I realized I didn’t really have room for the new! ¬†I have a terribly small kitchen with very little storage space. ¬†All of my kitchen gear has to basically fit in two half-cupboards, and I cook often enough that I didn’t want everything STUFFED and hard to get to.¬†

After several tries, I decided I had to go vertical with the pans. ¬†Since they are are a brand new, matching set, I was okay with having them out in the open. ¬†Actually, hanging them instead of stacking them keeps them from getting scratched up, AND makes them very accessible. ¬†Here’s the end result, thanks to two very inexpensive bars and s hooks from IKEA (as well as my drill and level):

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¬†That still left me with all of the new lids… I went from having only two lids to a whopping five, so some sort of system was necessary. ¬†There are several options out there that I knew would work, but not without displacing other kitchen gear. ¬†My main issue was – once again – very little space. ¬†Although I had some wall space left, and knew I could find a pot lid rack to attach to the wall, I also knew I wouldn’t like how it that would look… I generally like things to be put away, hidden.

So, I did some more rearranging in my two half-cupboards (I insist on calling them half-cupboards because they are only 15 inches wide each!), and went vertical again.  I found this pot lid rack at The Container Store, drilled a few holes, and attached it to the inside of my cupboard:

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It only takes up a few inches of space from the cupboard wall, so I’m still able to use the storage space behind the lids. ¬†I repurposed my old pan rack, laying it on its side so that I could “file” my other kitchen gear and still access it all without moving anything around.

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¬†Voila! ¬†I’ve had this system in place now for a couple of weeks, and I love it. ¬†(Well, maybe it’s the new pots and pans I’m most in love with…)

Keep your eyes on my blog this week for more kitchen organizing tips and tricks!

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DIY under-the-bed storage

Check out this clever idea for creating under-the-bed storage drawers with wheels and a snap cover.

Feeling crafty? Here are the directions for making these from scratch:
http://www.marthastewart.com/264384/under-the-bed-organizer

Feeling not-so-crafty? Use the drawers from an old dresser and add casters you can find at the hardware store.

DIY under-the-bed storage

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You know you need a good file system for your papers, but have you ever considered filing your clothes? ¬†Putting your clothing away vertically, instead of stacking, allows you to see everything at a glance, eliminates digging, and every item is accessible. ¬†I’m convinced it even takes up less space!

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http://www.darkroomanddearly.com

To get perfectly uniform folded shirts, ideal for vertical filing, try the FlipFold, pictured below. ¬†It’s available in adult and kid sizes; I purchased mine at The Container Store for about $20, or click on the link below for the FlipFold website.

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http://www.flipfold.com/?gclid=CIqk98iLkLwCFcI-Mgod0xYAcg

A File System for the Bedroom

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Creative Organizing Solutions for Your Bathroom

Creative Organizing Solutions for Your Bathroom

Ever think of venturing to the garden section for bathroom storage?  Check out these creative bathroom organizing solutions:

Plant Stands

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Tiered Baskets, Trays or Cake Stands

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Wall Planters

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Wall-Mounted Spice Racks

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Wine Racks

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Ladders

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Cutlery Caddy

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And even….. A Bird Cage!

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