simplify 101
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September 30, 2006

what's that?

I have a blog? Oh yes, I vaguely remember something about that ... hmmm ... I seem to have abandoned you. I've been pondering what to do for a pre-holiday challenge and amid all the indecision (plus sending out my newsletter this week and some other exciting diversions like my lab puppy munching on a battery) I seem to have just avoided blogging. I feel like I need to decide what I'm going to do about the pre-holiday challenge before I can post again ... so perhaps now's the time. I'll just write and see what I come up with. This should be interesting ... but first ... I have to share a few things.

I'm sitting here with the world's worst headache --- the kind you wake up with and hope will somehow just magically go away. The kind that hurts so bad you can't even fall asleep when trying to take a nap. The kind that goes down into your neck and circles your entire head. And yet ... I have been awake for approximately 8 hours and 43 painful minutes and it just now occurred to me "Take an aspirin! Take two! Make the pain go away!" And so I did ... perhaps by the end of the post I'll have 1) a plan for the pre-holiday challenge, and 2) a pain-free head.

Do you know what that's all about? Why are there some things we feel we should just be able to bear? Be able to handle on our own? Be able to tough it out and just take it? Or just figure out all by our lonesome? For some reason I'm like that with headaches. How about you ---- is there anything you have like that in your life --- or am I all alone in this insanity?

I have a feeling this post is going to be one of those that my husband won't get ... the "random girl-talk" type of post. Do you ever do that? My best friend from high school, Liz, and I will do this ... we'll have about three to four conversations going simultaneously and they can extend over an entire weekend. We'll seamlessly jump from one topic to another and back again without missing a beat ... and if Jay overhears any of it he's completely lost. I miss that. I miss Liz. I should pick up the phone and call her as soon as I'm done with this mish-mash of a post ...

Hmmm ... maybe I don't need to create anything new! That's it ... we'll just do the same drill as last time. (I'm back to the post-holiday challenge again, Jay.) I'll pick one thing that I'm going to do by the end of twelve weeks and post about where I am each week. And you do the same. I'm feeling braver this time ... I'm going to tackle my PILE of magazines! It's true ... I have too many. There isn't much I overindulge in, magazines seem to be one exception. The other used to be plastic food storage containers, but I've got that one under control. This is scaring me ... am I really *that* boring???????

Alright ... here's what we did last time. So let's just do it again! Here's a recap:
1) Decide on a goal and describe the benefits of accomplishing your goal. For example, how you will feel, or your space will look, etc.
2) Make sure your goal is measurable (three times a week, four hours a day, eight pages a month, fits on a bookshelf, etc.)
3) Set a deadline.
4) Post your goal here and then, check in from time to time and let me know how you're doing. It's a simple way to create change in your life ... and just in time for the holidays, in this case. Yeah!!

So here's my goal:

1) Reduce my collection of magazines and magazine clippings so the collection will fit in my magazine bookcase, metal basket by my desk and one other small "in-process" basket (to be designated.) Also, set up a system for storing magazine clippings so they're useful and accessible. Doing this will help me to feel more in control. I will be able to easily find all the beautiful and inspiring photos I've been saving. And my space will be more organized by containing the magazines in a single location. (OK ... maybe it's two.) 

2) The magazines will fit in the spaces designated above --- and as new magazines come into my life, old ones will go bye-bye. (Ouch!)

3) My magazine collection will be organized and in control by December 23rd. What has not been gone through or put into a system will be pitched if it doesn't fit in the spaces designated above. And I need to add a space ... the clippings will probably go in binders ... and those can be on my other bookcases that I use for reference. And I have to decide if it's OK to keep the large picnic basket full of clippings ... OK ... I'll decide soon.

4) I'll check in with you --- if you'll check in with me. Deal?

Oh before I sign off, update on the headache: gone ... yeah! And, do you want to see my "collection?" These are some old photos --- I thought about doing this before but I wasn't ready ... now I am ... or at least I'm making myself be ready. Here we go:


aren't they lovely? here's more ...


and last but not least ... the picnic basket. Again, this is an old photo ... currently the very large picnic basket is loaded full of clippings!


I think this is the world's largest picnic basket ... roughly 2 cubic feet of storage. (A TON of clippings!)

Better go get busy! Have a great weekend :)

September 22, 2006

organizing with your kids!

Lucinda wanted to know if I had any kid closet re-do posts in my future. Luckily my kid's rooms and closets are good for now ... whew ... at least until the annual "onslaught of stuff" known as their birthdays and Christmas (which is just around the corner! Ahhhhh!) Anyway, in lieu of an official kid closet re-do post I thought I'd share a link to some organizing with kids tips on my web site. Hopefully these will help in the pursuit of organizing the kiddos! Good luck!!

So how about you? What are you up to this weekend? Any fun organizing projects on your to-do list this weekend?

September 17, 2006

More On Organizing Your Comings and Goings

As promised, here's more info about organizing your comings and goings. It's a long post, so go get a snack for maximum enjoyment.

If your home is anything like mine ... you looked at the ideas from the other day and thought "Yeah, that's great Aby, but my house is in the real world. We enter and leave through the laundry room! I don't have space for another paper clip in that room ... let alone some great bin storage system like you're talking about."  I feel your pain. My house is in the real world too, complete with a laundry room right smack dab in the midst of where we come and go every day. I'd like the name of the architect that came up with the brilliant idea of having the laundry room also serve as the mud room. Actually, this was probably a good idea until the cost accountants came along and told the builders how much money they'd save if they just squeezed out every extra square inch from the space except what's absolutely needed between the wall and the dryer door so that if you're a size zero you can still turn around! Ah... but I digress.

Here's my story ... along with nuggets you can use to transform your area for coming and going ... or revamp your laundry room for the fun of it all!

About two years ago, I gave my laundry room an organizational overhaul. Before the overhaul, things didn't have convenient, designated places. Aside from accommodating dirty clothes and laundry gear like detergent, bleach, dryer sheets and the all important washer and dryer, my laundry room tried to wear many other hats as well. The washer, just inside the main access to my home, had become the landing spot for mail, purses, coats, keys and cell phones – the place to drop everything as soon as we walked through the door at the end of a long day. (Sound familiar?)

As if that wasn't enough, we thought it'd be fun to give this tiny space a few more roles and responsibilities. It was the primary storage area for all sorts of miscellany from cleaning supplies like brooms, dust pans and the vacuum, to out of season coats, light bulbs and even the bread machine. Plus, the room housed a trash can and recycle bin just inside the door, “greeting” my upon every arrival back home after a busy day.

Wanna see a picture? Maybe I should have called this post "organizer airs her dirty laundry." ;)


OK ... the laundry shown *IS* clean. But just for grins, here's another before pic.


When I decided it was time to reclaim the space, I crafted a plan. The first step was to take a good hard look at what *should* be kept in the room. If your laundry room is your comings and goings area, too, I encourage you to really take this step to heart. Which items really deserve a place in your valuable space? Talk about prime real estate. This is ultra prime!

The next step was to take action.

The large cleaning tools like mops and the vacuum cleaner were moved into a storage area in the basement. A hook was added in the garage right off the laundry room for the broom and dust pan, allowing quick and easy access without taking up precious space in the laundry room. Extra cleaning supplies also took up residence in the basement. Out of season coats found a new home in the main coat closet, near the front entrance of my house.

Once the space was pared down to the essentials, it was time to designate spots for everything that remained. Simple modifications to the room created a place for everything and an easy means for getting things into and out of their assigned spots.

The washer and dryer were pushed closer to one wall, creating enough space for a laundry sorter to be rolled into the room on laundry day. Keeping the sorter on the side of the washer frees up access to the washer and dryer, making laundry day much more efficient and enjoyable.


The coat closet door and a second door were removed, improving traffic flow and access to the closet area. In other words, we could actually use the closet square footage since we could see it and get into it!

The old shelving and closet rod were removed, making way for a cubicle tower unit. Everyone in my family was assigned two storage cubbies to corral purses, school papers, cell phones, keys, gloves, and briefcases … eliminating the frantic rush through the house in search of the car keys each morning. (Yep ... used to be guilty of that, too!)

Coat hooks were installed at child-height, carving out a home for coats, umbrellas and backpacks.

My hubby installed new shelving adjacent to the cubicle tower. The shelves are used for mail, bills, coupons, and reading materials. The trash can and recycle bin sit in a corner just below the new shelving, making simple work of purging unwanted junk mail.

A bucket filled with basic cleaning supplies was assigned a home on the top shelf in the laundry room.


And of course, labels, labels, labels are used to help everyone know where things belong – making easy work of putting everything back in its place.

September 12, 2006

more creative organizing fun!

I've really had the fever lately to get some spaces in my home reorganized and changed around a bit ... maybe that's why I haven't been blogging so much ;) We even rearranged the furniture in our great room and it's like having a whole new space in our home! We use it more and everyone loves it! It's such a great feeling to create positive change in your home. Wouldn't you agree? Ah ...

Is it just me? Or do you have the fever, too? My fever is really on par with my normal spring cleaning binge. Must be something in this cooler, fall air!

So ... have you ever noticed that when life changes, it becomes harder to stay organized? Sometimes, it can be as simple as getting a puppy. (Did I just put puppy and simple in the same sentence?) Well, anyway when our little lab puppy joined our family things had to change a bit. We have a cubby system in our laundry room that has been a real life saver in keep us organized ... until the teeth known as Maggie came on the scene. Suddenly, four of twelve cubbies were no longer safe and we had to make room for puppy paraphernalia --- dog food, chew toys, treats, water bowl, food bowl, leash, and so on. Now ... this doesn't seem like a big thing (and certainly compared to really BIG life events like, say, a new baby, it's really nothing.) But ... considering the essential role this cubby system played in keeping my family organized ... it was big for us. Reclaiming this space was my focus this past weekend.

So, here's a question for you. Do you have a workable system in place for you and your family's comings and goings? Do cell phones, back-packs, purses, lunch boxes, keys, wallets, umbrellas, jackets, shoes, MAIL, etc. have a happy home? Or ... do these things wander into other areas of your home and make *you* a bit unhappy? I'm living proof that if you can designate a spot for these things --- those that came into and go out of your house on a regular basis --- you'll be taking giant leaps forward on keeping clutter at bay.

My challenge for you over the next few weeks is to simplify your comings and goings. Designate a spot for mail. Assign a place for backpacks, keys, cell phones, and everything else that left to it's own devices would mysteriously end up on your kitchen counter, dining room table or other space in your home that truly has a different intended purpose.

So that's the organizing part: simplifying your comings and goings by assigning homes to the things you take with you when you come and go. Now for the fun and creative touches ... a glimpse at one piece of my coming and going system.


The bin is from IKEA --- so, from the get-go this is fun, yes? (Wish I had an IKEA in my neck of the woods ... now THAT would be fun!) As you can see, this bin is now labeled "summer" so as it's name would suggest, it holds all sorts of summer related items --- bug spray; sunscreen (yes! it's Hawaiian Tropic, Lisa!); sunglasses; hand-sanitizer; etc. --- things you may want to grab when you're headed out the door to a picnic, the pool or a trip to the beach. (Or for this time of year, a neighborhood block party or bonfire.)

Here's a  close up of the label:


The label was made using BaisicGrey [un] dressed chipboard tags and Making Memory rub-ons. I used a binder ring so it'd be easy to change the label as the season (and our storage needs) change. Underneath the summer label is label called "winter." Once the first frost hits and we no longer need sunscreen or bug spray, we'll simply switch the label to winter and load up the bin with ice scrapers, gloves, mittens, scarves, and so on. The summer gear will go into storage until next year (except for sunscreen which we'll buy new next season.)

So how about it? Are you up for making your comings and goings more simple and more fun? Great! Check back here for more ideas ... coming soon! :)

September 03, 2006

creative organizing project: create a fun craft + homework cabinet!

In keeping with the back to school theme, here's a great project for all of you with kiddos in school. It's a fun way to keep art, craft and homework supplies organized and in easy access of the little ones. No kids in school? No problem. Use a similar approach for organizing *your* craft or scrapbook supplies.

Here's the cabinet before creative organizing intervention:


And ... drum roll please ;) ... here's the cabinet after creative organizing intervention:


Here are some of the details. Small plastic drawers hold the basics: glue, stickers, pencils, colored pencils, crayons and markers. They drawers are labeled using rub-on letters and die cut monograms adhered with rubber cement.

The glass jars hold assorted goodies like wooden stencils, erasers, rubber stamps and small fabric scraps and other fun stuff for gluing (like foam letters and wooden shapes.) These are labeled using ribbon, metal rimmed tags and rubber stamps for the lettering.


A paper sorter holds plain white paper and colored construction paper. And that rounds out shelf one.

On the second shelf each child has their own supply basket ... with their personal supply of favorite pencils, glue sticks, markers, erasers, scissors and so on. (The drawers serve as central supply for sharing and restocking their own basket.) These are labeled with each child's initial.


The bottom shelf holds workbooks and coloring books in a dish-washing bin. And next to that are magazine sorters that hold notebooks and magazines (for cutting and gluing.) And then we have little metal buckets full of stamp pads and markers! And play doh and play doh tools are in the toolbox and shoebox below.


So ... all in all, this makes me happy. It's simple for the kids to find their stuff and put everything away. (Love that.) And if they forget or don't do it? I really don't even mind ... the cabinet makes me so happy ... I'll gladly do it myself!

It's late ... so I bet I forgot some details ... let me know if you have any Q's!

Happy Labor Day to you. Hope you spend the day doing something fun and creative!

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