Category Archives: Organizing the House

Tuesday’s Tidy Tip: Use What You Keep

“Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” ~ Hosea 10:12

balljar

I am all about the purge. No one needs twenty-five mixing bowls, three sets of china and forty kitchen gadgets! You may be the world’s greatest cook. You may have a half dozen kids and need to prepare a dinner that feeds said army. You may voluntarily cook dinner for different church functions, family gatherings, etc. on a weekly basis. But you still don’t need everything that you have. None of us do.

Which is why I’m all about the purge. To help eliminate the clutter from our home, I keep give away boxes or bags in several inconspicuous places. One sister stopped by yesterday and left with a bag full. Another sister has a box of items I’m collecting for her in a piece of furniture in the front room. (Since the third sister says she’s purging too, no bag for her.) I keep a bag ready for clothes to take to my favorite consignment store, and I’ve always got a box for Goodwill donations. Let’s not forget the eBay box in the closet. Just because I don’t need something doesn’t mean that someone else couldn’t or wouldn’t use it.

I haven’t always been this way though. I remember the days in my not-so-distant past when I thought I needed to keep everything. I justified my obsession with a few common excuses.

I spent a lot of money on these dishes.”
“This was my mom’s book before she died.”
“I remember my grandmother using this cookie cutter.”
“My sister bought me this angel as a gift.”

These excuses justified my behavior and proved that I absolutely had to keep everything. Wrong! Letting go of certain items freed us from clutter, disorganization, stress, strain, so many things!
But today’s post isn’t about cutting out the clutter. It’s about using the things that you keep. If an item is special to you or reminds you of someone you love, it is okay to keep the item provided that you have a plan for it. The item does you no good and brings you no enjoyment if it is being stored in a closet for “safekeeping”. But if you find a way to use the item, then you will enjoy it.

Let me give you a few examples from our home.

Grandma Smith’s Jars: My husband’s grandmother died a number of years ago. My husband asked for her canning jars. A strange request. At the time we didn’t can, and he certainly didn’t/doesn’t cook. Yet, Chris remembers his grandma’s garden. He remembers swiping an onion or tomato and eating them straight out of the garden. He remembers how his grandma canned everything. He remembers that every time you were in her home, she offered to feed you. Hospitality was a great part of who she was, and for Chris the jars are a treasured reminder of her and her hospitable home. I use some of the jars for food but I found a way to let Chris enjoy his memory of his beloved grandma every day by using one of the jars as a soap dispenser in our bathroom.
sinkjar

Grandma Stacy’s Bowl: Several years ago, I stopped by my mother-in-law’s house. She had something for me. It was an old mixing bowl that belonged to her Grandma Stacy. My husband doesn’t have the wonderful memories of Grandma Stacy that his mother has but that bowl is priceless to me. It meant that I was a part of Sharon’s family, that I was a daughter that she wanted to pass along a piece of family history to. I wasn’t just an in-law to be dealt with because she had no other choice, but I was important to her. I love my in-laws very much and the bowl is a reminder that the love is reciprocated. The bowl resides in the fridge and holds our eggs.
eggbowl

Chris’s Green Pitcher: Several years ago, I participated in a secret sister exchange at church. One Saturday morning, I decided to do a little browsing to find some unique gifts for my friend. Chris loves to shop, so he tagged along. We went to an antique store, a store of homemade craft items, several florists. We had a wonderful time! In one of the stores, I saw this green pitcher that I really liked. It didn’t match my secret sister’s tastes at all, but boy, did it hit my hot button! Not one to deviate from the mission at hand, I refused to buy myself the pitcher. I had limited funds and I was determined that they were going to be spent on my secret sister. While I made my purchase, my husband disappeared to the restroom. I left the store and waited outside on the sidewalk. When Chris joined me, he carried a bag. In it was my green pitcher. How I love the man that spoils me and surprises me! I remember his love, and I remember the special day we had together meandering through stores looking for the “right” item. The pitcher now sits next to the stove and holds my spoons, spatulas, whisks and other cooking utensils.
picher

These are just a few examples from our life, but I hope it gets you thinking. What stored item(s) could you be enjoying? What memory is attached to it? How can you find a way to bring this item into your daily life? How can you use what you keep?

Weekend Warrior Challenge: It’s Driving Me Crazy!

couch3“Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so ye would abound more and more.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:1

We all have that one thing (maybe more than one for some of us!) in our house that is driving us crazy. Laying in bed at night, you are thinking about it. First thing in the morning, it pops back into your mind. In the middle of a conversation, someone says something and an image of your issue floats through your line of vision. Some of us toss and turn all night long because it is wearing heavy upon us. Some may even dream about it. I know a few years ago, the mess in my house tormented me so greatly that I had nightmares of unannounced, horrified, condescending visitors!

Lately my “crazy spot” has been the couch in the library. A few weeks ago someone was at my house, and we were sitting on the couch. In the course of the visit, their pencil rolled between the cushions. Offering to get it, I reached my hand under the couch. I expected to feel the cool touch of the mechanical pencil’s plastic; instead I got crumbs, change and a paperclip. Pretending not to find these things, I pulled out the pencil hoping it wouldn’t be covered in loose debris. Thankfully it was not. We left after that and I didn’t have time to deal with the mess I had felt. I haven’t really had any time since then to deal with it, and yet now it’s tormenting me.
couch

Well, today’s the day we do something about it! This week’s Weekend Warrior Challenge is to tackle your “crazy spot.” Look at your calendar and schedule an adequate amount of time to get in there and destroy your crazy. I’m keeping it simple today so there are no excuses. Just get in there and get busy!
couch3 couch2

As some of you have asked for this, I will try to give you a little bit of a preview to some of my Upcoming Posts. I may not catch everything, but here’s hoping! Tuesday I will be discussing the importance of wardrobe selection in regards to household maintenance and Wednesday, I have a delicious recipe you won’t want to miss!

Meanwhile, what’s your “crazy spot”? How long will it take you to conquer the chaos and reclaim the space? Be sure to stop back by and update the rest of us on your progress.

 

How to Clean In Between the Glass on Your Oven

oven2

I will therefore that the younger women marry, bear children, guide the house, give none occasion to the adversary to speak reproachfully. ~ I Timothy 5:14

I am often teased that when I am not at work, I am at home cooking with my 1940’s dress, heels, apron and string of pearls. That is not the case! And this post is going to prove just how NOT “perfect wife material” I am!
cleanoven

For a few years now I have been strategically using a tea towel to hide the spots in my oven door. A couple years ago, I was removing a hot pan and burned myself. I jumped and sloshed hot liquid down the oven door. I cleaned the outside and the inside, but it didn’t help. The door was still dirty because the spill went between the glass of my oven door. This past Saturday I fixed the problem. As I cannot be the only one to do this, I took pictures planning to share with you how to clean this difficult to reach area.

Let me first say that after doing online research, I tried the wire coat hanger with a rag through the holes at the top method. It was totally ineffective. First of all, you have to find your thinnest, most ragged rag to fit through the very tiny space. Second, you have zero mobility for reaching the areas that you want to tackle. Third, you cannot put elbow grease into a hanger. I needed a real solution and this wasn’t it. That being said, the area is transformed now!

Here is the oven before I started. Ewwwww!!!!!

oven2

You start by opening the oven door. Unscrew the torx screws on the inside of your door. (Some have two; others have three.) I didn’t have a screwdriver shaped exactly like them, but my Phillips worked fine. As you unscrew them, your door will separate in two parts like this. Seeing this picture totally proves I’m not Suzy Homemaker, right?

oven4

If you have lots of crumbs inside, you may need to take a vacuum hose and sweep them up first. Next, take your favorite window cleaner and clean the glass. You will be surprised to find that the spots wipe off easily because, unlike the interior of your oven, foods and liquids haven’t been cooked on.

Now, screw your door back together. You’re finished!

oven3

I feel pretty silly for letting the door bother me for so long and not cleaning it sooner, but I really didn’t know how. I thought it would be more difficult! Excuses, excuses! Well I don’t have one for this job any more. Sooooo simple!

So, when are you going to tackle yours?

10 Quick Tips to Master Your Closet

closetorganization

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. ~ I Corinthians 14:33

I love how God designed each person differently! No two people look, think, act, react and process life exactly the same. We have different motivations for what we do and different goals for our lives. As I’ve shared a time or two, one of my personal goals is to get organized so that I have more time to serve God and more time to spend with my family doing what matters most to us. My dreams and pastimes may not be the same as yours, but I believe since you are here, you care about becoming organized and being a better steward of your time.

In this post, I want to share ten quick tricks that have really helped to keep my closet organized.

1) Keep your clothes sectioned by type. In my closet area, I have my clothes broken down into work, play and church. My work clothes are broken down by dress pants and then by dress tops. My going out or play clothes are broken down by short and long sleeve shirts. Finally, I have my church skirts.
wardrobe8 wardrobe9

2) Color code your clothes so that you can find what you need in mere seconds. I often wear brown pants; I like to pair the pants with a pink shirt and a brown sweater shell. Because my clothes are sorted into sections and then the sections are color coded, I can distinguish the pink and brown sections at a glance and can easily select a garment from these color families. In case you need a little help in this area, here is a color coding rainbow.
ColorWheel2

3) Use consistency to reduce chaos. Be sure you hang your clothes the same direction and use the same type and color of hanger throughout your closet. When you look into your closet and see things hanging in any direction on a hodge podge of different hangers, your eyes have trouble focusing on just one thing, and you may struggle to select an item. I’m not suggesting you go into your closet and throw out all the hangers that you have and go buy new. I am however suggesting that you start sorting the existing hangers you have for differing family members. For example when I first tried to make our closets consistent, each time I did the laundry, I removed the empty white hangers from my husband’s clothes and hung my clothing on white hangers. I then removed the dark hangers from my closet and used those for my husband’s clothing.
wardrobe6

3) Think outside the closet. Maybe you can’t solve your closet issues because your closet is so small. This was the case for my husband and me. We shared an under the steps, ultra-tiny closet, and it just wasn’t working. For a time I stored my clothes in the corner of the utility closet in the family room, but when a teenage boy was living in the family room this was not a feasible option either. Eventually I found an antique wardrobe for our bedroom and now have the most beautiful clothing solution from OUTSIDE the actual closet.
wardrobe1 wardrobe2 wardrobe6

4) Implement the one in, one out rule. For every piece of clothing item that enters your house, get rid of one clothing item. You can donate your clothing to a friend, Goodwill or a women’s abuse/rehab shelter. Our county has a Free Store where anyone from the county can come, browse clothing, and take a few needed garments. If you spent a lot of money on the clothing item and just can’t bear the thought of giving the clothes away and losing all of your investment, consider selling the items at a garage sale, on eBay or through a local consignment shop. You won’t get back what you spent on the item, but you will recoup some of your money, more space and a healthy dose of sanity!

5) Limit the number of items that you allow yourself to keep. In our house, we have what we call the 50 hanger closets. You guessed it! I have 50 hangers in my closet and my husband has 50 hangers in his closet. We only own the number of hangers that we are allowed to have items for and really have to weigh whether we want or need an item. Now, I cheat a little. I live in an area that has very different weather cycles during the different seasons, so I need a variety of heavy, moderate, and light weight items. I keep an additional 25 hangers for out-of-season clothes which I store outside of my tiny wardrobe area, but that’s it. 75 hangers–50 in the bedroom and 25 not in the bedroom. No additional clothes. Basically, I house 25 items that are strictly winter, 25 items that are strictly summer and 25 items that can go either way (3 quarter length or short sleeve tops that looks good with long-sleeve shirts under them). The 25 universal items stay year round while the 25 in-season get changed for winter or summer.

6) Use bins or baskets to corral loose items. In my closet area, I have bins for purses, wallets, and flip-flops. In Chris’s closet area, he has bins for pocket knives and ties.
wardrobe3 wardrobe11

7) Consider investing in some high quality hangers. I don’t like high-necked shirts. Most of what I own has a scoop neck which falls off the hangers. For years I kept a bowl of clothes pins in the closet and would simply pin my shirts to the hanger. This worked okay, but it had several problems. 1) The clothes pins made the clothes stick out further and took up more space. 2) Delicate items and sweaters can be misshaped by the clothes pins. The solution? I discovered velvet lined hangers. They are slim and take up less space but equally important, the fabric lining keeps clothes from falling off the hanger. They were not super expensive (especially when you consider I could only have 75). They’re available at discount stores like Big Lots, TJMaxx, and Marshall’s.
wardrobe4

8) Create space in the closet by adding a few hooks. My husband wears jeans or shorts most of the time and occasionally wears dressier pants or khaki’s, but he rarely wears a suit.That being said, he still needs the suit. It’s perfect for weddings and funerals. We noticed that it takes up a substantial amount of space in his closet, so I solved this issue by putting a hook behind the closet rod. It hangs on the wall behind the regular clothes–totally out of the way. Hooks in Chris’s closet also hold his bathrobe, my bathrobe, belts, a fabric travel bag and my full length dresses. My wardrobe isn’t tall enough for the dresses or the robe, but I don’t feel bad about stealing a little of Chris’s space because it’s wall space that wasn’t being used for anything.
wardrobe7 wardrobe12 wardrobe13

9) Keep a bowl of clothes pins in the closet. I wear 5 sweaters and 5 solid color shirts a week to work. With only 50 garments to choose from, this is 20% of my clothes. A fairly significant portion. The problem is that I often forget what I wore earlier in the week. The clothes pins solve the issue. When I hang a shirt up (whether it wasn’t dirty or I just washed it) that I wore this week, I put a clothes pin on the hanger. On Saturdays I just pull off the pins and drop them back in the container. Less than 10 seconds. If you were ultra-organized, you could spray paint your clothes pins different colors (or buy the plastic ones that are already color coded) for different purposes. One color could mean clothes you have worn in the week while another color could mean reminders like clothing item needs mended.
wardrobe4 wardrobe5

10) Add just a touch of whimsy to your closet. I am too old for stuffed animals, but a couple years ago someone I love dearly bought me a teddy bear. The bear has a breast cancer ribbon embroidered on it and since I lost my mother to breast cancer, they thought it was an appropriate gift. I actually love it but what can I do with it? I stowed it on the top shelf of the closet in front of items I barely use. Believe it or not, this person has seen the inside of my closet and was so pleased to see it lovingly perched inside!
wardrobe10

So what do you think? What’s the first change you are going to make in your closet? :)

ABC’s of Storage – Full List with Pictures!

 abcsbannerFULL
“Let all things be done decently and in order.” ~ I Corinthians 14:40

The week of my one-year wedding anniversary was the week I buried my mother. At just twenty-three-years old, I felt completely lost and alone. I sank into severe, debilitating depression. I managed to go to my job and pretend that everything was ok, but beyond that, I let go of my normal life.

I had never been a very good house wife, but at my lowest point, I completely gave up. You couldn’t walk through my house. I feared people coming over. I went inside my head (not a pretty place to be!), and I shut the people I love most out of my life. I plunged into despair and knew I’d never be “normal” again. The guilt I felt about our house made matters worse, yet the worse things became, the more paralyzed I became. This period lasted over five years. The truth is ugly, but that’s just it. It’s the truth. No gloss and no cover-up.

Eventually, when I learned to turn things over to God, I rose from the pit. Little by little, I broke out of my self-imposed barricade and reclaimed my life. I am not the perfect homemaker. I struggle EVERY single day. But as the name of my site suggests, I am a new creation. I embrace the role that God has given me and find joy in serving my husband.

I don’t like to spend too much time looking through the rear view, yet I see so many women in the world today trapped as I was. Situations differ, but the despair and loneliness remain the same. Depression’s grip has left them feeling overwhelmed and lethargic. They don’t know where to begin. If you are one of these ladies, I compiled this list for YOU. My prayer is that with small changes, you can dig out of the pit that you are in and reclaim your home and the life God intended for you!

A—Aesthetically Pleasing Containers: If you are short closet space, store your item in aesthetically pleasing containers that can be left out on display. I store products to make my personal hygiene items in a beautiful old bread tin, which sits out in the open on the top of a piece of furniture. Bread sits out in the kitchen in a lovely old bread box.
box cleaners
box2 box3

B—Baskets: Baskets are great for storing like items together. In our house, a collection of baskets sit atop the fridge storing our pet supplies.
baskets10 baskets9 baskets8 baskets2   baskets11

C—Candy Jars: Vintage candy jars make great storage options in bathrooms. Cotton balls, Q-tips, and clothes pins all look adorable in jars, but more importantly, they are easily accessed.They also serve the laundry area well by housing laundry detergent, baking soda, etc.
jarsclothespins cottonballs

D—Drawers: A great tip is to put casters on the bottom of an old drawer and slide it under the bed. With the drawer handle, it pulls out easily and is a great storage solution for purses, bags, shoes, jeans.
underbed3 underbed underbed8

E—Envelopes: Taping a large envelope to the back cover of your recipe book can be a great place to stash recipes you intend to try in the near future. (I don’t file a recipe in our family recipe book until I know it’s something I like and will make.)
envelope

F—Furniture: This sounds like a given, but when you are buying your furniture, strategically choose items that have great storage potential. In our house, we have some unusual storage items. An antique pie safe houses our toy collection for little ones. A map chest for architect’s blue prints houses our gift wrapping station (wrapping paper, ribbons, tissue paper, scissors, tape, gift bags). An apothecary serves as a utility closet holding light bulbs, extension chords, and flash lights.
cornercoatrackfurnitureIMG_0283IMG_0310

G—Gear: My dad’s old fishing gear has been the perfect solution for jewelry storage. One small tackle box holds all my earrings (divided by pair of course) while another tackle box houses my bracelets.
bracelets earrings gear

H—Hooks: Everyone knows hooks can be used to hang traditional items like keys, measuring spoons, towels, and housecoats, but hooks can also be a very creative storage solution. I hang our broom, Swiffer and stick vacuum on the wall going down the steps to the basement.
hooks hooks2

I—Ice Trays: Ice trays are the perfect storage solution for small collections. Craft or sewing supplies can store easily in an ice tray inside of a drawer or cabinet and can be easily brought out when working on a project.
icetray

J—Jars: Office supplies can be stored easily in a variety of jars. In my office hutch, I have jars for colored pencils, highlighters, and bookmarks.
deskjars

K—Kleenex Boxes: An empty Kleenex box is a great way to store plastic bags. The bags are easy to get out and the box takes up little to no space.
kleeenex

L—Lingerie Bags: Instead of using lingerie bags solely for washing personal items, you can use them as toy storage organizers. They can separate Lego’s, plastic blocks, plastic kitchen/dishes. An added benefit is that when you want to wash the collection of toys, you can throw the entire bag—contents and all—directly into the washing machine or the dishwasher.
lingeriebag

M—Magazine holders: Cardboard or plastic magazine holders make great upright storage solutions for haircare items like curling items and straighteners. They store easily on shelves in bathroom or linen closets and take up only inches of space.
magrack

N—Napkin holders: Napkin holders can be used to create a cell-phone station on the kitchen counter, to store dryer sheets in the laundry area, or to serve as a mail sorter when mounted sideways on the wall.
napkinholder

OOpen  containers: When storing everyday utensils in my kitchen, I store them in an attractive open container—a vintage pitcher. The attractiveness of the container allows me to leave them out on the counter and the open top of the container allows easy access while I’m in the throes of cooking.
picher wire

P—Pillowcases: Storing a set of sheets inside one of the pillowcases is a smart way to ensure that the entire set of sheets stays together all in one place.
pillowsincase

Q—Quality Square Canisters: Several years ago, we traded in our mismatched collection of canisters for a set of quality clear canisters. They are square which makes stacking around them easier. They’re also uniform in their base size. Some are taller. Some are shorter. But they are all the same width and stack nicely on top of each other.
canisters canisters2 canisters3

R—Racks: Wire racks hung inside the kitchen cabinet make excellent storage for spice jars. Matching spice jars make the space uniform while alphabetical listings make spice locations easy to pinpoint.
spices spices2

S—Shoe Organizers: Shoe organizers make great organizers in every room of the house for everything but shoes! In the bedroom, they are great for socks, belts, ties, bras. In the bathroom, they are perfect for hair clips, bobby pins, lotions, deodorant. In the kitchen, they make optimum under the sink storage for scouring pads, magic erasers, dishwasher pods, Jet dry, etc. In a utility closet, they serve as the ideal organizer for flashlights, measuring tapes, batteries, cleaning supplies. In an entryway, the possibilities are endless. You could set each family up with their own row and their cubbies could be separated into hats, gloves, scarves, umbrellas, ponchos (wait until dry).
utilityitems shoerack2shoerack

T—Tree: As we have no closet entryway, I use a coat stand/tree to store seasonal outdoor wear (coats, umbrellas, etc) and items that will leave the house with me (purse, briefcase, etc).
hat  coats coatrack

UUnder-the-Bed Storage Bags: Zippered under-the-bed storage bags serve as unique toy bins. They stack nicely and store easily. They could be stored under-the-bed (as they were intended) or stacked on shelves. In our house, they are stored on the shelf of a pie safe.
underbed

V—Vessel: Serving vessels can be used in more ways than in the kitchen. In my office, I have a hutch that holds my office supplies. Inside the hutch, I have an enamel casserole dish that holds all the normal desk items—tape, stapler, pens, pencils, etc. I have a serving bowl that houses my post-it notes.
deskdrawerservingpiecesfurniture

W—Wire Baskets: In the upstairs guest bedroom, I have a wire basket holding guest washrags. In our bedroom, I have several wire baskets in the wardrobe that holds my clothes. The baskets hold a variety of purses and wallets. Also in the bathroom, a wire basket contains our extra toiletry items. In the kitchen, one wire basket sits on the counter storing our apples while another rests in the fridge corralling small dairy items (butter sticks, cream cheese, whipping cream).
wirebasket2 wirebasket3 wirebasket4wire

XXtra Shelving: When you have hardly any closet space, you have to find ways to create attractive storage. In our house, I have done this by creating xtra (Ok, so extra 😉 but there are hardly any x words) shelving. In the bathroom, I built a shelving unit to go in front of one of the 2 doorways. In the kitchen, I built a shelving unit to hold the microwave and in the laundry area, there is an extra shelving unit for cleaning supplies.
shelf1 shelf2 shelf3

Y—Youth Cookie Tin: I received a vintage youth cookie tin because of its imagery of Robin Hood and my love for classic literature. The tin sits out in the open on top of a shelf. The tin contains a collection of special birthday cards, funeral cards, and memorial bookmarks.
tin tindecorated

Z—Zippered Baggies: To avoid the black hole syndrome in your purse, buy a handful of zippered makeup bags in varying sizes. Use them to categorize the contents of your purse. One might be hair care, another makeup, a third for oral needs (mints, pills, dental floss).
IMG_0272 IMG_0255 IMG_0279

What is your favorite new storage solution? What are you going to change? What tips can you give to the rest of us?

ABC’s of Storage (Letters N – Z)

abcsbanner2

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” ~ Colossians 3:23

Welcome back to the ABC’s of Storage. The second post in this series gives you some potential storage solutions for items from the letters N-Z. The final post of this series will show you pictures of the ABC items. It is my most sincere hope that some of these solutions will be the panacea to your storage problems. Enjoy!

N—Napkin holders: Napkin holders can be used to create a cell-phone station on the kitchen counter, to store dryer sheets in the laundry area, or to serve as a mail sorter when mounted sideways on the wall.

OOpen  containers: When storing everyday utensils in my kitchen, I store them in an attractive open container—a vintage pitcher. The attractiveness of the container allows me to leave them out on the counter and the open top of the container allows easy access while I’m in the throes of cooking.

P—Pillowcases: Storing a set of sheets inside one of the pillowcases is a smart way to ensure that the entire set of sheets stays together all in one place.

Q—Quality Square Canisters: Several years ago, we traded in our mismatched collection of canisters for a set of quality clear canisters. They are square which makes stacking around them easier. They’re also uniform in their base size. Some are taller. Some are shorter. But they are all the same width and stack nicely on top of each other.

R—Racks: Wire racks hung inside the kitchen cabinet make excellent storage for spice jars. Matching spice jars make the space uniform while alphabetical listings make spice locations easy to pinpoint.
spices spices2

S—Shoe Organizers: Shoe organizers make great organizers in every room of the house for everything but shoes! In the bedroom, they are great for socks, belts, ties, bras. In the bathroom, they are perfect for hair clips, bobby pins, lotions, deodorant. In the kitchen, they make optimum under the sink storage for scouring pads, magic erasers, dishwasher pods, Jet dry, etc. In a utility closet, they serve as the ideal organizer for flashlights, measuring tapes, batteries, cleaning supplies. In an entryway, the possibilities are endless. You could set each family up with their own row and their cubbies could be separated into hats, gloves, scarves, umbrellas, ponchos (wait until dry).

T—Tree: As we have no closet entryway, I use a coat stand/tree to store seasonal outdoor wear (coats, umbrellas, etc) and items that will leave the house with me (purse, briefcase, etc).

UUnder-the-Bed Storage Bags: Zippered under-the-bed storage bags serve as unique toy bins. They stack nicely and store easily. They could be stored under-the-bed (as they were intended) or stacked on shelves. In our house, they are stored on the shelf of a pie safe.

V—Vessel: Serving vessels can be used in more ways than in the kitchen. In my office, I have a hutch that holds my office supplies. Inside the hutch, I have an enamel casserole dish that holds all the normal desk items—tape, stapler, pens, pencils, etc. I have a serving bowl that houses my post-it notes.

W—Wire Baskets: In the upstairs guest bedroom, I have a wire basket holding guest washrags. In our bedroom, I have several wire baskets in the wardrobe that holds my clothes. The baskets hold a variety of purses and wallets. Also in the bathroom, a wire basket contains our extra toiletry items. In the kitchen, one wire basket sits on the counter storing our apples while another rests in the fridge corralling small dairy items (butter sticks, cream cheese, whipping cream).
wirebasket2 wirebasket3 wirebasket4

XXtra Shelving: When you have hardly any closet space, you have to find ways to create attractive storage. In our house, I have done this by creating xtra (Ok, so extra 😉 but there are hardly any x words) shelving. In the bathroom, I built a shelving unit to go in front of one of the 2 doorways. In the kitchen, I built a shelving unit to hold the microwave and in the laundry area, there is an extra shelving unit for cleaning supplies.

Y—Youth Cookie Tin: I received a vintage youth cookie tin because of its imagery of Robin Hood and my love for classic literature. The tin sits out in the open on top of a shelf. The tin contains a collection of special birthday cards, funeral cards, and memorial bookmarks.

Z—Zippered Baggies: To avoid the black hole syndrome in your purse, buy a handful of zippered makeup bags in varying sizes. Use them to categorize the contents of your purse. One might be hair care, another makeup, a third for oral needs (mints, pills, dental floss).
IMG_0272 IMG_0255 IMG_0279

Be sure to check back on Tuesday, May 12, to get the third and final post of the ABC’s of Storage! If you are in the mood for a little change of heart, check out my recent article, Stop Hitting the Snooze Button on God and be encouraged to pursue God’s call for your life.

What creative N-Z storage ideas do you have?

ABC’s of Storage (Letters A-M)

storageabcsbanner
“Let all things be done decently and in order.” ~ I Corinthians 14:40

So anyone who knows me can tell you I LOVE to organize! It’s a passion and a pleasure! If you and I were chatting in real life, we might be talking weather, husbands, kids. Yet somehow the conversation just might drift to houses, and voila, you are in for it! My eyes sparkle. My cheeks flush. I may have been exhausted just moments before, but now I resemble a kid in the candy store!

As I re-launch and reinvest my time into this site, I thought it would be a great idea to give you the a three part series on some ABC’s of Storage. Today, I give you storage ideas for A-M. Post two will give you storage ideas for N-Z. Post three will give you pictures of each item or category. Enjoy!!!

A—Aesthetically Pleasing Containers: If you are short closet space, store your item in aesthetically pleasing containers that can be left out on display. I store personal hygiene items in a beautiful old bread tin, which sits out in the open on the top of a piece of furniture.

B—Baskets: Baskets are great for storing like items together. In our house, a collection of baskets sit atop the fridge storing our pet supplies.

C—Candy Jars: Vintage candy jars make great storage options in bathrooms. Cotton balls, Q-tips, and clothes pins all look adorable in jars, but more importantly, they are easily accessed.

D—Drawers: A great tip is to put casters on the bottom of an old drawer and slide it under the bed. With the drawer handle, it pulls out easily and is a great storage solution for purses, bags, shoes, jeans.
underbed3 underbed underbed8

E—Envelopes: Taping a large envelope to the back cover of your recipe book can be a great place to stash recipes you intend to try in the near future. (I don’t file a recipe in our family recipe book until I know it’s something I like and will make.)

F—Furniture: This sounds like a given, but when you are buying your furniture, strategically choose items that have great storage potential. In our house, we have some unusual storage items. An antique pie safe houses our toy collection for little ones. A map chest for architect’s blue prints houses our gift wrapping station (wrapping paper, ribbons, tissue paper, scissors, tape, gift bags). An apothecary serves as a utility closet holding light bulbs, extension chords, and flash lights.

G—Gear: My dad’s old fishing gear has been the perfect solution for jewelry storage. One small tackle box holds all my earrings (divided by pair of course) while another tackle box houses my bracelets.
bracelets earrings gear

H—Hooks: Everyone knows hooks can be used to hang traditional items like keys, measuring spoons, towels, and housecoats, but hooks can also be a very creative storage solution. I hang our broom, Swiffer and stick vacuum on the wall going down the steps to the basement.

I—Ice Trays: Ice trays are the perfect storage solution for small collections. Craft or sewing supplies can store easily in an ice tray inside of a drawer or cabinet and can be easily brought out when working on a project.

J—Jars: Office supplies can be stored easily in a variety of jars. In my office hutch, I have jars for colored pencils, highlighters, and bookmarks.

K—Kleenex Boxes: An empty Kleenex box is a great way to store plastic bags. The bags are easy to get out and the box takes up little to no space.

L—Lingerie Bags: Instead of using lingerie bags solely for washing personal items, you can use them as toy storage organizers. They can separate Lego’s, plastic blocks, plastic kitchen/dishes. An added benefit is that when you want to wash the collection of toys, you can throw the entire bag—contents and all—directly into the washing machine or the dishwasher.

M—Magazine holders: Cardboard or plastic magazine holders make great upright storage solutions for haircare items like curling items and straighteners. They store easily on shelves in bathroom or linen closets and take up only inches of space.

Be sure to check back on Monday, May 4, to get the second half of the ABC’s of Storage, letters N through Z! If you are in the mood for a little attitude adjustment, I’ll be sharing about loving the unlovable person this afternoon at The Bottom Line.

What creative A-M storage ideas do you have?

Start at the Beginning

notebook

It is better to dwell in the corner of the housetop, than with a brawling woman and in a wide house. ~ Proverbs 25: 24

Sitting in a talk earlier this week, I heard the speaker say, “As Christian wives, it is our role to set the emotional barometer of the home.” she went on to say that if the woman is stressed, stressful feelings envelope the husband and the children. It is that age old saying, “If mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy.” you can apply that saying to however you are feeling and it works. If mama is scared, the children will live in fear. If mama is lonely, the children feel alienated.

I have known this concept to be true since I first started embracing my role as homemaker. It is one of the very first things that made me want to change. So, today, I want to spend a few minutes getting back to the basics. In order to address how to change, you must first be able to recognize why you need to change.

Today, instead of tackling a cleaning project, I want you to spend a few minutes in reflection. You will need paper, a pencil, and your Bible.

First Step: I want you to consider your emotional status. List three words that characterize you. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to write the words down.  Don’t judge yourself for negative words. Be brutally honest with yourself.

Five years ago, I would have written down lonely, failure, and broken. My lack of organization and household management skills had made me feel like a complete and utter failure. Embarrassed by the house, I certainly wasn’t inviting anyone over; feelings of failure took my low self-esteem to catastrophic levels. I didn’t want to go out with anyone else because I felt sure that they would know how unworthy and entirely despicable I was.

Second Step: I want you to look at any negative words that you listed for yourself. If you listed positive words than you may not need this step, but if you listed negative words, we want to address that now. Think about what you would want them to be and then change them on your paper.

For me, I would have replaced lonely with loved. I wanted to stop alienating myself from my husband and loved ones; I wanted accepted despite my issues. Next I would have changed failure to successful. I didn’t want to feel like I was worthless; I wanted to embrace worthiness. Last, I wanted to replace broken with complete.

IMG_5017

Third Step:  Now think about your home. Do any of the words you used to describe yourself fit your home? Do the words you used to describe yourself lead to the description of your home? For example, if your word for you was lonely, would you describe your house as unwelcoming? List all the words that characterize your home. Once you have that list, I want you to tie all those words together in one characterizing word or phrase.

My list would have included messy, unpacked, cluttered, confused, undone, dirty, unwelcoming, tense, untidy, and so on. tying all of those negative things together, I would have characterized the house as broken. Systems were not in place to organize incoming mail, clothing, etc. daily home maintenance was not being done no a regular basis as I didn’t have a schedule. I had not even unpacked certain rooms since we had moved in two years earlier; since one of those rooms was the dining room, we did not even have a place to eat. Nothing was the way it should have been, so the system, the house, the purpose of our home was broken.

Fourth Step: Now that you have your list of what your home is currently like, make a list of what you want it to be. List everything from behavioral to conditional to emotional characteristics. If you need some help coming up with ideas, consult your Bible. The Proverbs 31 woman is a great role model for how our homes should look, but I also looked to the Fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5) as a good reference for what I wanted my home to look like. Finally appraise the list and decide how you want to tie all those words together in one characterizing word or phrase.

I noticed that for me most of the words on this list were not about the condition of the house. Sure, I wrote words like clean, organized, everything put away, and unpacked, but I also had words for how I wanted the house to feel—welcoming, balanced, peaceful, safe, non-judgmental. I recognized that I did not want a perfectly clean house but rather I wanted a more balanced, open life. I wanted a home that welcomed and offered peace to both its residents and guests alike. I chose the word harmony to characterize my home.  Years later, I have achieved that word, but more on that later.

IMG_5018

For today, I don’t want you to do anything else. I simply want you to reflect on the activity and keep thinking about the relationship between your home and your emotional state of mind. We are getting back to the basics, and we will move through this process one step at a time for the next several weeks.

One other thing. If you are looking for some words on loving one another, check out my post Watching and Waiting over at The Bottom Line.

5 Inexpensive Under-the-Bed Storage Ideas

“For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace,” I Corinthians 14:33a

underbed8

I cannot tell you how many times I have heard the words, “I don’t have any storage.” Inwardly, I cringe. Most of us have some storage. Maybe not as much as we need or as much as we would like to have, but we still have some. My question people saying they have no storage is this, “Are you utilizing every bit of the storage potential that is available to you? “

In our 1900 bungalow (which has only three closets), we are deeply aware of potential storage areas and extremely determined not to waste even a single inch of potential storage space. With that in mind, we have scrutinized our home to try and find untapped storage opportunities.

Today, I want to talk about an often forgotten and probably untapped storage power source—under the bed. Growing up, this was one of my worst catch all spaces. Mom would tell us to clean our rooms and half an hour into the task, I would give up and shove everything under the bed. The room would look presentable and mom would never know the difference. Until we couldn’t find something, and she would eventually look to see if it had been accidentally kicked under the bed. Busted!

As adults, we no longer fear the wrath of mom that inevitably would come upon discovery of our secret mess, but if we are not careful, under our beds can still become a clutter stash. Things can pile up unnoticed, we can forget that we designated the space as “put away” for certain items, or we can store the wrong things under there making the space inconvenient and unused.

Keeping storage limited to what you use in the bedroom, I have the following five, inexpensive recommendations.

1)  Re-purpose an old dresser drawer by adding casters and a handle to create added drawer space. This space is perfect for pants, socks, sheets, etc.
underbed

2)  Use an old metal tray for shoe storage. The tray pulls out easily and cleans with just one easy wipe.

3)  Instead of having an eye sore present in the corner of your bedroom, hide your computer wi-fi tower under the bed.  You don’t use it on a daily basis, so tuck it away!
underbed7

4)  A low metal basket is a perfect solution for storing flip flops, rain ponchos, or other items that you are not worried about getting dusty under the bed.

5)  A bus tray from a restaurant supply store slides easily under the bed while allowing you to store out of season clothes, donations for charity, or even bedroom sheets within arm’s reach. Things are close but out of sight.

Today, I want to challenge you to think about your space. Are there items that tend to sit out because you have no place to store them? Are you storing bedroom items in a different room because you didn’t think you had a place to store them in the bedroom? Now think is there a way that you could move this item(s) to its rightful room by placing it under the bed?

Whenever you are planning any storage venture, I recommend using the same three steps. 1) Evaluate needs. 2) Plan solutions. 3) Implement change. To illustrate this procedure, let me share two of my solutions.

Pant Storage
1) Evaluate Needs:
With only one small under the stairs closet in our master bedroom, I was unable to hang all of my pants. I needed storage where I could fold and put away my pants.
underbed6

2) Plan solutions: I found an old drawer at a yard sale. Installation of casters and a handle made this an ideal storage solution for my pants.
underbed underbed3

3) Implement Change: The drawer slides easily in and out from under my side of the bed.
underbed8

High Heeled Shoes
1) Evaluate Needs: Non-heeled shoes fit easily in small plastic containers at the base of my closet, but my heels were too tall for the containers.
underbed2

2) Plan solutions: I found an old metal tray for my shoes.
underbed1

3) Implement Change: The tray keeps the shoes in place, slides in and out easily showing me all my shoe choices at one glance and wipes out in just seconds.
underbed8

What bedroom items do you currently need to create storage for? What plans have you made for your unstored items?

Letting Go of Things

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me.” ~ Exodus 20:3

ys10Inspiration
In early January, author Kathi Lipp posted the 2014 Things Challenge (Kathi Lipp’s 2014 Things Challenge) where she inspired women to give away 2014 good, usable items throughout the year. That’s 5.5 things a day. 38 things a week. 168 things a month. Basically, she wanted 2014 fewer items (not counting consumables) by the end of calendar year 2014. (This employs my one in, one out rule from Live Simple: Limit What Enters Your Home in addition to purging 2,014 items.)

I loved that idea. Since both of my parents, all four of my grandparents, and Chris’s grandma have passed away in the past seven years, we have way too many things at our house. The things need cleaning and maintaining which costs us time, energy, and money. The things can easily become a priority over what really matters. The things tie me down and shift my focus from God.

Kathi gave readers the option of being all in, simply getting rid of 2014 (not doing one in, one out part) or partnering with a buddy to get rid of a total of 2014 items. So I talked about Kathi’s challenge to Chris. Chris agreed hands down we were going all in. Considering how much we have, Chris and I decided to go all in January through June and then all in July through December. This would mean purging 4,028 items in the year. That’s 11 things a day. 77 things a week. 336 things a month. Talk about MONUMENTAL!

ys1 Progress Report
We have religiously followed the one in, one out rule for the past six months. Every time we acquire something new, we purge something old. Friends and family members often tease us when they give us a gift about what we will be getting rid of to keep it. In most instances, we try to get rid of something in the same family. For example, if I get a shirt, I try to get rid of a shirt. If that isn’t possible, I try for some other clothing article. I try not to mix rooms.

On June 30, I sat down with my tally sheet to figure out where we stood on our 2,014 items. We had one day until the end of our first goal, and I knew we had a little ways to go. We were at 1613 items which was 80.08% of the way to our goal. Chris’s company is closed the week of July 4, and I had planned to take off and do something fun with him, but instead we opted to get busy planning a yard sale.   Anything we didn’t sell would be loaded directly into the back of the car to be taken to the county’s free store on Monday. That way, no matter if we sold everything or not, we would definitely hit our goal.

Before we could change our mind, I went down to the newspaper office and put in an advertisement. Then I hit the garage, basement, and two guest bedrooms (one of which is more like a storage room) to find the remaining 401 items.

ys8ys6 Finished Totals
At the end of the weekend, we were exhausted! We worked so hard all week finding items to sell in the yard sale and getting them cleaned up and priced. Then we fried in the sun all day on Saturday selling our stuff. We priced things affordably and watched as hundreds of items found new homes. It was a little sad at first, but at the end of the weekend, we completed our goal and then some!


For the first half of our personal challenge:

local free store: 188 items
sisters: 180 items
anyone else: 358 items
eBay: 364 items
yard sale: 463 items
trash: 461 items
Total: 2014 items

For the start of the second half of our personal challenge:
local free store: 13 items
sisters: 8 items
anyone else: 17 items
eBay: 4 items
yard sale: 399 items
trash: 52
Total: 493 items

« Older Entries