Category Archives: Organizing

Borrowing Tip

Friends have kindly been loaning me bags of clothes lately, to help me keep my growing belly nicely covered. The tricky part of borrowing, of course, is being sure to return things properly. I’ve been trying a new system lately, though, which has made a big difference: as soon as I get a bag of clothes, I lay them all out, with tags showing, and take a picture. I also sometimes make a little notecard with the person’s name and any other relevant details (like “that tear was already there!), and set it in the corner before I snap the pic. I’ve started a “borrowed” file on my computer to keep all the pics in, to easily see what I’ve got.

Now, when I need to return, I know exactly what belongs to who, what condition it was in, and I can make sure I’m not forgetting any parts or pieces. Its such a useful record, I wish I’d started a long time ago!






Do you have lots of pretty hooks and knobs lying sadly around in your junk drawer? Well I finally put some of them into action, without putting a bunch of holes in the walls.

I grabbed a board from the garage, gave it a coat of off-white acrylic paint, and let it dry. Then I gave it a coat of dark blue paint, and let that dry. Finally it got a third layer of light blue paint which dried just a little bit. Using the pointy end of the paintbrush to lightly scratch through the tacky paint, I drew a squiggly vine around the edge of the board. The dark blue paint showed right through wherever the brush handle touched. It was so fun to do some “reverse drawing” that I kept going and drew some wood-grain down the middle.

Once this was all dried, I screwed the hooks into the board, and Hubbs kindly hung it on the kitchen wall. The aprons went on it right away, and both my apron drawer and my junk drawer are happier for it.




Now that everyone is excited about lint rollers, I’ll tell you about my second favorite cleaning tool: the timer set for 15 minutes. Flylady taught me about the wonders of the kitchen timer when I was in my first months … Continue reading

Getting ready for 2011

As 2010 comes to a close, its time once again to get next year’s calendar. (Although its actually been kind of freeing to have no obligations in the New Year – if its not on the calendar, its not happening, right?) Mine is all picked out. Even though I like artsy calendars, there is one that is SO helpful and practical that its won out the past three years, no question, even though I don’t always love the pattern. That says something for its functionality, right?

So what is this great calendar, you ask. Well its called the File-It 2011 Pocket Wall Calendar, and its an amazingly helpful tool in my attempts to be organized. Its wire-bound, like a normal calendar. But each month is printed on the front of a full sized pocket. So when an invitation, bill, orĀ  theater tickets arrive that occurs at a future date, the info gets marked on the calendar and all related paperwork goes right into the pocket of that month. So when February’s wedding comes around, I will look in the pocket and find the map, invitation and instructions all there waiting for me. How nice!

You can buy birthday cards in advance and put them in the pocket of the month they will be sent, or load up the pockets in January with surprises for yourself to find throughout the year. The pockets also are good for holding a pen and any calendar stickers that you might use.

The other brilliant feature is that the pockets are perforated at the top, so when the month is over you can easily remove it, fold down the top, and then the whole thing turns into a standard sized file folder with the date printed on the top tab (see the photo above). How smart is that!

If you’re interested in getting one (no I don’t get any cuts from the company for saying this!) they are available here, and typing in SAVE10DEC will get you 10% off. Enjoy, you’ll be thanking yourself all year.

Oh Christmas Cards

Isn’t December the best time to go and check the mail? For all the work and stress it can be to get the cards designed and the envelopes addressed, it sure is fun to see the postman leave and know that there’s going to be mail to get excited about.

The dilemma for us has always been where to put the cards when we get them. Growing up they were often placed in a basket on the dining room table, and each night at the dinner table we would pick out and display the card at the top of the stack, and pray specifically for that family. Our cards may end up in a similar basket, but until they do we want to display them, and we’ve only got a finite mantle (which is already filled with Christmas decorations). This year we found a solution.

We had an extra length of 1×2″ board with a row of eye screws, left over from a curtain making project. So I snagged a handful of coordinating ribbons from the ribbon box, tied them to the hooks, and hung the whole thing from fishing line on the wall, using clothespins and binder clips to clip cards to the ribbons. (Hubbs was much happier with the prospect of one small hole in the wall than 8 small holes in the wall)

Now if you don’t happen to have a length of board with eye bolts screwed in, you could easily push-pin ribbons to a board, tie ribbons to a tree-branch, or tack the ribbons directly to your wall. The nice thing is the long ribbons to clip the cards to.

Now that this is solved, on to the bigger job for today of getting my own Christmas cards figured out…

Cheap Wall Art Part 1: Making Art From a Collection

I’ve been looking for some wall art for our bathroom, and thought I’d begin by finally giving a home to a small collection I’ve accumulated: small because I’ve only got six of them and they’re all only an inch or two tall.

To display the collection I started looking for some sort of shadow box. Any sort of old tray or frame would have worked and by being flexible I was able to find this great old wooden wall hanging for 50 cents at a thrift store. It wasn’t the German blessing that drew me to it, it was the wonderful weathered wood on the back that provided a ready-made frame. And it matched the style of the coral and shells that I wanted to show.

Once I laid out the 6 shells on the dark wood I saw that they weren’t visible against the dark wood. So I put down a few watery layers of off-white acrylic paint. Then, using a dry paintbrush, I built up 6 heavier paint spots to even further pop the shells from the background. Once the paint was dry I used some cheap, dollar-store epoxy to glue everything down.

One artist’s trick to add some texture is to take your wet paint and sprinkle salt onto it. As the salt dries it pulls up little puddles of paint water, which leaves a bunch of tiny speckles in the dried paint. And don’t brush off the dried salt; it adds a nice little sparkle in the background (you can see it in the picture below).

Here’s the final display, all ready for the wall. My little shell collection is finally safe (it certainly wasn’t doing very well at the bottom of the junk drawer) and I’ll smile every time I see it up on the wall.

Keeping Track of Gift Giving

With all the holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, etc to celebrate in the family, it can be hard to keep track of all the gift giving. One trick that has helped me to (hopefully!) be a more thoughtful gift-giver is to keep an on-going record of gift ideas and gifts I’ve given. Having this information organized gives me a great starting point when the birthdays roll around.

I’ve created a document in excel (password protected, of course) to help me. The doc has three pages with all the names of those we give gifts to running along the top row of each page. Here’s a peek at how I organize it.

First Page: Gifts Given

(I had to blur these out so that no-one in the family peeks!)

Down the first column are the gift-worthy events of the year, starting with the current year and repeating back to 2006 when I began. This way I can look down the list and see all the gifts we’ve given a particular person, so that I don’t give anyone the same thing twice. It also serves as a fun record of our life that we enjoy looking back at!

If I won’t be buying a certain gift for a certain person (example, sister won’t be getting a father’s day gift) I put an x in the spot. That helps me see how many gifts I have left to get this year.

Second page: Ideas

When I talk to family members I listen in case they mention any needs, wants, things they love, new hobbies, etc. On the ideas page I have different categories listed with general information about the person’s favorites. Below that I add a whole list of ideas for each person as I think of them during the year. When its time for a birthday, I can peruse the list of info and then have a big list of ideas to pull from.

Third page: DO NOT GIVE!

When I hear someone talk about a random thing that they dislike (something that I would have considered buying for them) I write it down here. Or if I hear that they own something I may have wanted to give them, I make a note. If I learn that they don’t have pierced ears, or got rid of their video game console, or have stopped eating chocolate, etc. it all goes here so that I don’t accidentally get them something they don’t want or can’t use.