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I am back with part three of a four post series I have put together with the best of the IHeart Organizing best. It's been a long time coming to take everything I have learned over the years, whether it is working in my own home or working with others, and compiling it all in a single place here on the web.

The four-part series will include:

Gearing Up for Your Next Organizing Project with a FREE Printable Kit!

Need helping getting started or prioritizing where to begin? What is the plan of attack? What is currently working well and what isn't? What storage do you need? Trying to get rid of things, but finding it hard to decide what to keep and what to pass on?

I have put together a great printable kit to help you prioritize, sort, and navigate your way through your next organizing project(s), which includes a total of TEN free printables!

FIND THAT POST HERE!


My Top Organizing Tips!

Instead of digging through years of my archives to find individual tips, I am going to compile the best of the best in a single, very informational post! It's going to be a whopper and a really great resource for projects of any size.

FIND THAT POST HERE!


Labeling 101: Quick & Easy Labeling Techniques

I have tried almost every type of label on the market, from vinyl to label makers to stickers and chalk markers, and they all have their place. But what are my tried and true favorites? What do I reach for with almost any project due to time, cost, practicality, and ease? I will be sharing three labeling techniques that haven't failed me yet, and that you won't need any fancy tools to utilize.


Practical, Everyday Storage Solutions!

If I have learned anything from raising three boys and organizing along the way, it is that storage can be expensive and that our needs are constantly evolving. Gone are the days where I purchase pretty bins and baskets to decorate with. Although I will always appreciate beautiful storage, it has to be versatile and it has to last! With that in mind, there are a few storage products that I have found that continuously work hard for me in a variety of situations, so they end up being the types of products I gravitate toward when working on any new projects. For the final post in the series, I am putting together the ultimate storage source list with tips and products that I have fallen in love with over the years.


So let's dive in with part three of the four-part series: Labeling 101: Quick & Easy Labeling Techniques.




I have always enjoyed the creative side of organizing, and labeling has really allowed me to play with a variety of craft tools, papers, vinyl, and embellishments. Labels can really add to the overall aesthetic of a project while being extremely useful at the same time!

There are times that I may decide to invest more time and energy into the creative process of an organizing project, but for the majority of my projects I have THREE tried and true labeling techniques.

However, before I dive in and talk about those methods, let's quickly go over the reasons behind WHY we label in the first place.





Labeling is definitely a personal preference that doesn't have a one-size-fits-all rule.

The overall purpose of labeling is to create easy identification. Generally speaking, it is best to label for safety purposes or to keep your household on the same page:

  • Label food containers to indicate a specific ingredient (or lack of ingredient) due to allergies and sensitivities.
  • Label food containers/leftovers with dates to prevent serving expired and spoiled consumables.
  • Label to indicate if an item is fragile or hazardous.
  • Label to identify the contents of a solid container or bin.
  • Label to differentiate multiple items that appear similar.
  • Label to help children identify where to find things/put things away (toys, snacks, clothing, etc...). 
  • Label to identify the possession of items between household members.
  • Label to create consistency or understanding between household members.

Again, it really comes down to how your household functions and the dynamic of everyone who resides there. Labels can be extremely helpful but are not always necessary.

I use to label clear pantry containers and fridge containers with the contents, only to change the contents each week with my grocery shopping. Changing the labels became too much maintenance and we really weren't gaining much by labeling the obvious clear bin of crackers, as "crackers". So I stopped. Now, I quickly add the purchase date on the bottom of the container with a dry erase marker and call it good (unless it is allergy specific of course). If a label is causing extra work, then is it really adding value?

That said, we have benefitted greatly by labeling over the years. Having a household of five, labels have really made it easy for all of us to collectively pick-up and get things back to their proper homes, and also identify our personal belongings to avoid mix-ups. And by labeling cleaners, drawers, bin contents, etc..., I avoid a lot of questions from my crew.


OK, so now you are ready to start labeling, but what are the best methods? Here are three that haven't failed me yet!


LABEL MAKER

This one is obvious but also the most important. I used this label maker for many, many years, but after a few drops, it broke and I was left scrambling to replace it. It doesn't seem to be available any longer (because the prices on it have since skyrocketed), so I shed some tears and set out to find something similar. I am not too picky, I just wanted something that was inexpensive, had a couple font options, offered clear labeling tape, and also offered inexpensive replacement cartridges. I also appreciate something battery operated/portable so that I can use it quickly and easily without any additional accessories.

I decided on this Brother P-Touch option, I found it for under $20 and the value is definitely there! I have been liking it so far, it checked all of my boxes and I really appreciate that it is an extremely flexible and affordable option. I was also able to find some off-brand tape options on Amazon, and they have also worked out really great! (I purchased these white on clear and these black on clear cartridges). I find this label maker to be really user-friendly, the font options are OK, it prints quick, and the labels stick well yet are also removable. All around a good, go-to option.



Label makers are the clear choice for almost any organizing project because they are quick to use, easy to create, and can adhere to just about anything. I have also found that most label tapes are semi-waterproof, so they can take light cleanings and handle being in kitchen/bathroom settings. Here are a few ways I use my label maker around our home:



Labeling Cords: Wrap around the base of the cord to identify what gadget/person the cord belongs to.



Labeling Cleaning Bottles: Because I make most of our cleaners, I use my label maker to identify the type of cleaner and the general purpose. And because they are semi-waterproof, they can hold up to frequent use and refills.



Labeling Canisters: Perfect for labeling baking powders and coffee beans/add-ins, as well as specialty food items.



Labeling Shelves/Drawers: This has helped my boys tremendously in putting things back where they belong and keeping some general order around our home.



Travel Toiletries: Label tape wraps perfectly around those small, clear travel bottles that constantly need refilling. And because face wash looks like shampoo and lotion looks like conditioner... well, you know how that could result in a bit of a morning disaster.



Spice Jars: If you transfer your spices to jars, label tape is a great way to identify the different varieties.



File Folders: For file folders that I reuse for the same purpose over and over, I love the look of label tape over my handwriting any day.




As you can see, I gravitate towards the clear label tape because I find that it gives a very seamless look. For some reason, the white label tape reminds me of daycares, office spaces, classrooms, and Dr. offices, which is not necessarily a bad thing, it just feels more commercial than personal.


ADHESIVE LABEL HOLDERS

There are quite a few times when I want to add labels, but I am looking for a more polished, long term effect. This is generally in spaces that we see and use often, or for items that are typically left out in the open. In these situations, I use an adhesive label holder, and then just print out the actual label to slip inside. The holder just sticks right to the surface, making it another fairly quick and easy labeling solution.

The two styles I use are the Martha Stewart Bookplates and the Bigso Adhesive Label Holders.










Just like label tape, these label holders are adhesive and fairly versatile. I typically use them on bins and boxes that either have a rougher surface or in situations that label tape would get lost due to the shape and size of the container (because you can print your own labels, you can design the color/font to be sure they really stand out). These work well on the infamous Target Y-Weave baskets, common rattan baskets, as well as on canvas style bins. If you ever find the stick is fading, a little hot glue can give the holder new life. The narrow options also work really nicely on the face of shelves.


CLIP-ON LABEL HOLDERS

Last but certainly not least, clip-on label holders are becoming a new favorite! They are a really great size which makes them a perfect solution for labeling larger bins and baskets. They couldn't be easier to use, straight from the package they literally just clip right to the container. For bins receiving a lot of use (think toys, linen closet, tool storage, etc...), these are big winners because they are really substantial and won't fall off easily. Yet, they are completely reusable/not at all permanent.

I find these great clip-on holders at Target and The Container Store.





These holders are especially great for large baskets of children's toys, as the surface offers enough space to print an entire image of the product inside for easy identification. Because our kids are older and we don't have many toy bins any longer, I like to use these on woven baskets in cabinets and closets, on canvas bins, and for our tool bins in our storage room.

_______________


Now that I have covered my top three favorite ways to label, I thought I would chat really quickly about vinyl! I still receive a lot of questions on oldie posts about my vinyl labels, which I would create at home and cut with my Silhouette craft machine. I will always love the look that making these labels offer, but I find myself reaching for the machine less and less due to the mess it makes and time constraints. There will always be a place in my heart for vinyl lettering, I especially appreciate that it is extremely durable, waterproof, and can look really, really sharp.  Below are a few examples of how I have used vinyl labels around our home:






I wanted to share one last time-saving labeling technique in the kitchen. Dry erase/chalk markers! I can use them to write on our clear plastic and glass containers, and then erase the writing if the contents change. I usually use markers to add dates to leftovers or dry goods to show when the product was purchased, and also call out items that may have specific food sensitivity information. It gets the job done and just wipes away each time we change out the foods inside.

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I am back with part two of a four post series I am putting together with the best of the IHeart Organizing best. It's been a long time coming to take everything I have learned over the years, whether it is working in my own home or working with others, and compiling it all in a single place here on the web.

The four-part series will include:

Gearing Up for Your Next Organizing Project with a FREE Printable Kit!

Need helping getting started or prioritizing where to begin? What is the plan of attack? What is currently working well and what isn't? What storage do you need? Trying to get rid of things, but finding it hard to decide what to keep and what to pass on?

I have put together a great printable kit to help you prioritize, sort, and navigate your way through your next organizing project(s), which includes a total of TEN free printables!

FIND THAT POST HERE!


My Top Organizing Tips!

Instead of digging through years of my archives to find individual tips, I am going to compile the best of the best in a single, very informational post! It's going to be a whopper and a really great resource for projects of any size.


Labeling 101: Quick & Easy Labeling Techniques

I have tried almost every type of label on the market, from vinyl to label makers to stickers and chalk markers, and they all have their place. But what are my tried and true favorites? What do I reach for with almost any project due to time, cost, practicality, and ease? I will be sharing three labeling techniques that haven't failed me yet, and that you won't need any fancy tools to utilize.


Practical, Everyday Storage Solutions!

If I have learned anything from raising three boys and organizing along the way, it is that storage can be expensive and that our needs are constantly evolving. Gone are the days where I purchase pretty bins and baskets to decorate with. Although I will always appreciate beautiful storage, it has to be versatile and it has to last! With that in mind, there are a few storage products that I have found that continuously work hard for me in a variety of situations, so they end up being the types of products I gravitate toward when working on any new projects. For the final post in the series, I am putting together the ultimate storage source list with tips and products that I have fallen in love with over the years.


So let's dive in with part two of the four-part series: My Top Organizing Tips!



Below you will find 20 Tips and Tricks that I have learned over the year and have been crucial in setting up our home, creating more family time (what it's really all about), saving money and sanity, and even encouraging better habits by all of us.

(I touched on a few of these tips in the printable post, however, they are important enough that they are worthy of the repetition).


U N D E R S T A N D   Y O U R   " W H Y " 



Before you start an organizing project, it is a really good idea to reiterate why the project is so important to you. Everyone has their own "why", but I encourage you to do it because it will make your life easier, it will save you time, it will bring you joy, it will reduce your stress, save you money, and because you truly understand the positivity that results from organizing. Avoid striving for perfection, comparison traps, or thinking that organizing will ultimately solve all of life's messy problems. Stay intentional and do what is best for you to get the biggest reward for the time that you invest.

In the image above you can see that we have invested in organizing our fridge, and do our best to maintain it on a weekly basis. Our "why" is that we are able to promote healthier and easier snacking, we eat more meals at home, we waste less food (and money), etc....


G E T   M O T I V A T E D



Sometimes I think getting yourself motivated can be the hardest part! Just getting started can be really overwhelming. And knowing where to begin can be even more daunting. You may feel like you have plenty of areas you want to streamline, but my first tip is just to take it one small project at a time. My recent printable post offers tools to help prioritize where to begin, and to summarize I typically recommend ranking your projects in terms of what is costing you the most time, money, and sanity. But also start small just to get the momentum going. Once you finish one project, you should feel some natural endorphins and also reap some immediate benefits.

It is also important to know what motivates YOU! There are definitely times that I look at a mess and feel overwhelmed, so I personally find a way to put a creative twist on it. Getting to the creative side of the project feels like a fun reward to me (making labels, lining drawers, wallpapering, painting, etc...). The excitement I feel for the fun part of the project is what keeps me going during the messier moments.

Are you wanting to get into a good book? Allow yourself to listen to a recording while you are sorting. Behind on your favorite television season? Sorting and organizing is a great time to binge watch something. Try researching some inspiration and #goals to get yourself visually stimulated. We know why organizing is so important, but sometimes that isn't enough, so look for your own ways to get jazzed up and excited about it!

Most importantly, sometimes you just have to force yourself to start. When I am feeling sluggish or really dreading a project, I try to just push myself to take the first step to get it started. I am often surprised how quickly I can get invested, and that it is never as bad as it seems. You just need to get the blood flowing and adrenaline running. Do a little cardio, turn on some good music, and move your body... it is all SO helpful and really important.


C R E A T E   A   S M A L L   P R O J E C T   T O O L   K I T 



I find myself reaching for a few common items on a frequent basis, so I toss a few of these things into a small, portable bin to keep handy while working on an organizing project:

  • Phone:  I use my phone for time management and listening to music/podcasts.
  • Headphones:  I prefer to utilize headphones while sorting to keep me focussed and drown out distractions.
  • Sorting Signs:  These are great for identifying specific sorting piles (download free here). I also like to keep a couple of empty cardboard boxes to pair with the signs and keep the sorting piles corralled and portable.
  • Cleaner:  Spray cleaner/wipes are key to giving yourself a clean slate. I always like to wipe down all of the surfaces of the area I am clearing out, as well as items that haven't seen the light of day for some time.
  • Rubber Bands:  Rubber bands work well for bundling/corralling small items like cords, pens/pencils, papers, etc...
  • Zip Bags:  Just like rubber bands, zip-locking baggies also inexpensively corral and categorize smaller items. I find them especially useful when organizing craft supplies and small tools/hardware. 
  • Scissors:  Scissors are helpful for snipping loose strings on linens and garments, opening packages and boxes, and cutting ties/bands.
  • Notepad, Flags, Pen, and Sharpie:  The notepad and flags are really great for jotting down ideas that arise during sorting, or for making a quick list of labels that need to be created (the sticky tags can also act as temporary labels mid-project). The pen is for note taking, while the Sharpie is nice for labeling boxes and baggies.
  • Label Maker:  I am going to dive deeper into my favorite label making tools in my next post, but having a basic label maker on hand is a household essential in my book. 



B L A N K   S L A T E



As you begin, I recommend removing everything from the area you are focussing on (cabinet, drawer, closet, fridge, etc...) to give yourself a clean and blank slate. There are a few benefits in doing this key exercise:
  • It allows you to give the area a good cleaning.
  • It requires you to touch everything before putting it back.
  • It encourages you to re-think how you are setting up/using the space.


C A T E G O R I Z E 



This tip comes in two sizes; small and large!

Starting with the bigger picture, try organizing and sorting your belongings based on categories. This can be a little challenging to wrap your mind around, but if you are sorting items in a bathroom, then bring all of the items from ALL of your bathrooms together and sort/pare it all down accordingly. This gives you a bigger picture of what you already have, what should live where, what can be condensed, what you need to add, etc... This concept applies to linens, clothing and outerwear, kitchen items, office supplies, medications/first aid, tools, etc...

The same idea should be used while you are loading up your cupboards, drawers, and closets. You will want to create categories of similar item types and group them together in the space. This will help you (and others) to recognize and locate the items quickly and easily.



Z O N I N G   L A W S 



Whenever possible, it is always better to keep specific item types in as few places as possible around your home, which will ultimately cut down on the time it takes to hunt something down. For example, you may keep charging cables in your living room, entryway, automobiles, bedrooms, etc... When the time comes for needing a charger, suddenly you are looking in multiple places. In that situation, I would recommend creating a zone in your home where all of your tech lives, which would not only include charging cords, but may also include batteries, tech cleaners, keyboards/mice, media, remotes, etc... With everything within that category stored in one specific place, everyone should naturally fall into the habit of checking that one place when they need something tech related. We are generally groomed to practice this concept in the kitchen (dry items go in a pantry, silverware goes in a utensil drawer, etc...), but the same idea should be implemented all throughout the entire house.

Zones can be created in bookcases, cabinets, drawers, closets, nooks, etc... It is just used as a general term for an area in your home where everything with a similar responsibility is stored.



G I V E   E V E R Y T H I N G   A   P R O P E R   H O M E 



Bottom line, clutter happens when things don't have a home, or when we aren't disciplined enough to put things away. While organizing, everything you sort/touch needs to be assigned a proper home. When you run out of space, that is when it is time to purge. And when something new comes in, it is a really good rule of thumb to let something go right away. It is a good idea to know how and where you are going to store your belongings prior to adding them to your shopping cart.

If you notice piles/items consistently out of place, first assign it to one of your home zones. Go from there to find a way to make it fit. Paper piles? Give yourself an inbox to corral mail until bill paying day. Returns need to be done? Put a basket in your coat closet or car to hold those returns until you are out running errands. At the end of the day, if an item doesn't have a proper home, it will cause a trickle effect of frustrations.



M O R E   I T E M S ,   M O R E   P R O B L E M S



I have never been a minimalist, but I have seen first hand the problems that come from owning too many things. Not only do you run the risk of creating piles and clutter (which can ultimately lead to emotional distress), you also carry the responsibility of having to maintain every last item you own. That means keeping it clean and fixing it if it becomes worn out. When it comes to linens and clothing, if you have multiple options, you may be less likely to keep up on washing duties. You may also spend more time contemplating what to wear each day. More items require more space to store those items, and space usually equates to dollars. Dollars in home size, containers, closet systems, etc...



S H O U L D   I T   S T A Y   O R   S H O U L D   I T   G O ?



The sorting process can really be daunting and be the one act that slows us down while organizing. We become emotionally and financially invested in our belongings. Eliminating our items can overwhelm us and even deter us from finishing our projects.

Last week I shared a list of sorting questions that can be really helpful in aiding you through the process of letting things go (download free here). I like to keep it laminated and use it as a tool to help myself and others stay on track during the paring down process.

The biggest roadblock is typically those sentimental items; belongings we received from a special someone or tied to specific memories. A few tips for handling those situations:

  • I am typically pretty good about understanding the benefits of paring down and letting things go. But I am also a sentimentalist. I frequently tell myself that items do not equal memories, that memories live in my mind and heart. However, items can draw emotion and connection to moments in our lives. These days we are really lucky that we have the technology to help us retain those items without having to necessarily hold on to every last birthday card. Sometimes I think tech is taking over the world, and I miss the days of paper book pages and magazines, face to face conversations, and tangible items that are real and nostalgic. But tech can also be a blessing. We now have the ability to photograph our belongings, so when they are passed on we still have some sort of visual record of them. We can also scan our children's artwork, letters from our pen pals, and old photographs of our grandparents. Take advantage of technology and use it to store your memories digitally vs. in boxes around your home.
  • Assign each member of the household a special box for memorabilia. These boxes could be considered a bit of a time capsule or treasure chest of sorts. It allows us to hold on to the most special of items but also encourages us to keep things pared down to a single container.
  • Collections are best displayed in a grouping vs. spread out around the home. If you (or someone you love) collects specific items, group the best of the best on shelves or in a display cabinet. This creates more of a statement and also pays tribute to the passion while reducing the amount of clutter spread throughout.
  • Which brings me to my next point, what good are your memories and belongings doing living in boxes in your basement or attic? Why not get them out and enjoy them, or pass them along to someone that will. Put old photos into an album or frame them on the walls. Display grandma's china or grandpa's camera collection on your shelves. Create shadow boxes of children's clothing, artwork, or clay creations. Make a blanket out of old textiles. Pay tribute to your family history in tasteful and creative ways.
  • Finally, if you just can't decide, I recommend using a bin or box as a holding cell. Pack up the items you just aren't sure about, put the box away on a shelf or in storage, and set a reminder on your phone or calendar for three months down the road. In that time, if you have not reached for or thought about those items, then you will probably be OK letting them go for good. Don't use this as a crutch for everything, but it is a useful way to really decide before doing something you might regret. This works especially well when sorting down your child's toys that they are insistent they can't live without.


A   T E A M   E F F O R T



If you are organizing for more than just yourself, then make the process about everyone involved. It might be as simple as brainstorming and asking for suggestions, but I also recommend getting the individual(s) active with the sorting, moving, cleaning, and organizing. This will get them invested in the process and increase the success rate of maintaining things going forward. 

Also, be sure to consider everyone's existing habits when setting up your systems. If your spouse has a habit of dropping their change, keys, and wallet in the same place each day, then maybe consider adding a decorative tray in that exact spot to corral it and make it look more intentional. Sometimes it is easier to create a solution based on the habit than it is to change the habit itself.

In the image above I worked with my son to organize his work area in a way that caters to his study style. He needs a larger, empty surface to spread out on, so giving him wall organization allows him to keep his desk clear. He does best when there are fewer distractions so we kept things fairly basic.


K E E P   I T   S I M P L E 



The easier it is to put things away, the more likely we are to do it! One of my most basic tips is to use open-top bins and baskets as often as possible. If you have to remove a lid or move an item to put something back, then you may be less inclined to keep up on it. Only stack lidded bins that are not utilized frequently. If stacking is ultimately the best solution to make the most of a space, consider using pull-out drawers instead of lidded containers, which will allow you to quickly access (and put away) the contents inside.

You can see more of how I encouraged this concept throughout this entire client kitchen here.
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Hello, hello! I am excited to be dropping in with a small series I have been putting together for you all, which includes my all-time favorite organizing tips, tricks, advice, and products! It's been a long time coming to take everything I have learned over the years, whether it is working in my own home or working with others, and compiling it all in a single place here on the web.

The four-part series will include:

Gearing Up for Your Next Organizing Project with a FREE Printable Kit!

Need helping getting started or prioritizing where to begin? What is the plan of attack? What is currently working well and what isn't? What storage do you need? Trying to get rid of things, but finding it hard to decide what to keep and what to pass on?

I have put together a great printable kit to help you prioritize, sort, and navigate your way through your next organizing project(s), which includes a total of TEN free printables!


My Top Organizing Tips!

Instead of digging through years of my archives to find individual tips, I am going to compile the best of the best in a single, very informational post! It's going to be a whopper and a really great resource for projects of any size.


Labeling 101: Quick & Easy Labeling Techniques

I have tried almost every type of label on the market, from vinyl to label makers to stickers and chalk markers, and they all have their place. But what are my tried and true favorites? What do I reach for with almost any project due to time, cost, practicality, and ease? I will be sharing three labeling techniques that haven't failed me yet, and that you won't need any fancy tools to utilize.


Practical, Everyday Storage Solutions!

If I have learned anything from raising three boys and organizing along the way, it is that storage can be expensive and that our needs are constantly evolving. Gone are the days where I purchase pretty bins and baskets to decorate with. Although I will always appreciate beautiful storage, it has to be versatile and it has to last! With that in mind, there are a few storage products that I have found that continuously work hard for me in a variety of situations, so they end up being the types of products I gravitate toward when working on any new projects. For the final post in the series, I am putting together the ultimate storage source list with tips and products that I have fallen in love with over the years.


So let's dive in with the first of the four-part series: Gearing Up for Your Next Organizing Project with a Free Printable Kit!




Today I have for you all TEN free printables!

Now, you don't have to use all of these printables for a single organizing project. They all serve different purposes and can be helpful to guide and encourage in a variety of ways. They really emulate my thought process when working on projects of any scale, and serve as really wonderful tools to keep organizing projects organized!




Below you will find a link to each printable as well as a brief explanation on how to utilize each one.

____________________

click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Daily Schedule printable
The Daily Schedule printable is typically my key to prioritization when I am feeling overwhelmed and not quite sure where to begin. It also really helps me when I need to reconsider how I am using the hours throughout my day.

It can be really eye-opening to spend a single day and track how your time is being utilized. It may shed light as to how much time is being wasted on social media, or simply bring attention to parts of the day that are just too chaotic.


H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

From sun up to sun down, track the tasks you are doing throughout the day, as well as the specific details about what is working and what is not. Tasks could include exercising, making kid's lunches, getting ready in the morning, homework hour, dinner, clean-up, bill paying, etc... Are you noticing that certain times of the day cause you frustration? Do some tasks take longer than they should? Are there ways to streamline specific tasks so they are more manageable? This is a really great way to get a visual of a typical day and provide some insight on what tasks could use some organizational attention.

____________________

click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Top 5 Organizing Projects printable

My biggest tip when trying to figure out where to begin and prioritizing your projects is to focus on your day-to-day routine FIRST. The storage room can wait, it is important to get your days running smoothly before you can invest time on the outlying projects.


H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Looking at your day and tasks listed in the first printable, select the top five areas of your day that could use improvement. It is extremely important to factor in what those specific tasks are costing you in terms of time, money, and sanity.

For example, if you are finding that you are unhappy with the process of lunch making for yourself or your kids each day, you can probably equate it to costing you money in wasted food or eating lunches out, and costing you time in the act of preparing the lunches each day. The solution may be creating a list of favorite lunch items, setting up a lunch making station in the pantry and fridge, and spending time making lunches in bulk on a Sunday afternoon.

Prioritize your projects by the highest cost to the least (cost equating to time, money, and sanity). List out the problem as well as possible solutions. This printable is a great way to encourage brainstorming and to give yourself a starting point.


____________________

click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Home Zones printable

Homes work best when they are set up into functioning "zones". That means categorizing specific closets, drawers, nooks, etc... into a specific zone and then detailing out what items make the most sense to be stored there.


H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

In the first field, list a specific location or zone in your home. For example, an entryway closet. Then, give that location a general category in terms of how it should function. An entryway closet would generally function as a place to store outerwear and shoes, but may also act as a hub for cleaning and pet supplies.

In the belongings field, list out the specific items that should be stored in that zone so that they match up with the working category. This is a very eye-opening exercise and really ensures that items are only being stored where they make the most sense vs. being scattered in multiple locations throughout the house.

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click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Project Planner printable

Now that you have a specific project in mind, it's time to plan it out! This may not apply to smaller organizing tasks, such as a single drawer or your handbag, but it really comes in handy for those larger scale projects.


H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Utilize the top portion of the form to recognize and detail the specifics of what was already working, as well as what needs to be addressed by the end of the project.

The bottom portion of the form is helpful for keeping track of specific steps or tasks to get from start to finish, as well as any products or supplies that need to be purchased along the way.

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click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Sketch It printable

Sometimes it can be helpful to draw your drawer or closet to scale. I have been known to sketch out closets, pantries, and drawers ahead of time to be sure all of my storage needs fit and make sense. This exercise allows me to maximize the area that I am organizing and helps me to visualize the end goal.


H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Assign a specific measurement to each square and sketch up a general plan for your project. Grid out drawer organizers or design a full closet installation. The graphing area is useful for creating the outlines of bins and baskets to ensure that you get a nice fit and make the most of the available space.

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click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Storage Planning printable

Do you have a really large project that requires a lot of new storage? You can keep track of it all with this helpful storage printable!


H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Larger closets and whole room makeovers require a variety of storage options for various belongings and item types. This printable allows you to keep track of the different categories, assign the ideal container, source the storage from a variety of locations, and most importantly, keep track of all of the dimensions.

For example, you are organizing a walk-in closet. Item categories might be handbags, jewelry, dress shoes, sweaters, etc... Storage types would then be shelf dividers for the handbags, drawer organizers for the jewelry, shoe boxes for the dress shoes, and canvas boxes for the sweaters. In the form fields, keep track of the sources, quantities for each, and total available space/dimensions for each container type. In the end, you will have yourself a very thought-out shopping list to work from.

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click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Sorting Signs printable

After you have done all of the planning, it is time to empty the space and start your sorting!



H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Download, print, and cut the sorting signs, then score some bonus points for running them through a laminator to get multiple uses out of them. Clip or tape the signs to cardboard boxes, bins, laundry baskets, or garbage bags to keep your piles separate and clearly labeled. 

Four sorting signs are included:

Move It!  Items that need to be moved to another area of the house.

Give It!  Items that are heading to a donation facility, friend, or family member.

Toss It!  Items that no longer serve you (or anyone else) due to quality/function.

Sell It!  Items that need to be listed on Craigslist, Facebook, eBay, etc... or added to a yard sale pile.

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click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Donation Tracker printable

Now that you are in the sorting mode, keep track of the items being donated for your tax records.


H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Make note of the donated item description and condition, as well as the organization that the item is being donated to. There are a variety of resources online to help you determine the appropriate value of the item, like this one and this one. Clip the receipts that you receive from the charity at the time of the donation to the printable, and file it away with your tax documents.

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click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Clutter Clearing printable

Right now the trend when sorting your belongings is to ask each item if it truly "Sparks Joy". While I agree that when you are sorting and touching each item, you probably get a gut sense of whether you should keep or discard the item, there are times when you need some extra nudging and guidance to make a decision that you are comfortable with.



H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

I recommend printing (and laminating) this document and attaching it to a clipboard to keep nearby while sorting your belongings. If you find yourself holding something that is leaving you conflicted, use this printable to ask yourself a series of questions. A lot of times we continue to hold on to items out of guilt, maybe because we spent too much money on it or because we received the item as a gift. Many belongings hold sentimental value, but could possibly live on by taking a photo of it or scanning it in digitally. Other times it may come down to the amount of space you have vs. the number of items you would like to keep. Belongings can cost you in space, special storage requirements, ongoing maintenance, etc, and these questions will help you reassess that reality.

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click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Clutter Clearing printable


Organization and habits go hand-in-hand. The act of organizing and adding storage will get you halfway, your habits are what complete the process. In fact, good habits are the most important part of living a more organized life. Whether it be encouraging your child to take his/her backpack to their room each day or reminding yourself to go to bed with an empty kitchen sink each night, creating a habit makes it easier and easier to get things accomplished each day and guides you in slowly changing things for the better over time.


H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Use the fields down the left-hand side to add the good habits you are trying to create. There are enough fields to do this as a family or to track multiple personal habits throughout your own day. To the right, there are 30 boxes to check. You can either start at the beginning of the month or start halfway through and set a goal to check as many boxes possible. I have heard that it takes 21 consecutive days for a habit to be formed, so by day 30 you should really be on your way to making a small difference in your life.

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All of the free printables shared in this post are designed to be downloaded via the links provided. Simply click the Download button at the top of the linked document screen, you may be asked to log-in to Box.com, but that is not required to download and save the document. Once the document is downloaded, it should be opened via Adobe Reader (find it for free here) and can be printed and used as many times as you wish.

If you prefer to use these forms digitally by filling in each field on your computer, tablet, or phone, you can purchase the fillable versions of all of these forms in my Etsy shop here.




I hope this post offers a few general tips to get you going with your next organizing project! The next post in this series will really elaborate..
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Candles are one of my favorite ways to add ambiance and warmth to our home. I really appreciate how they can change the entire mood of a space just through scent. What I don't love is wasting my candles, whether it be the wax or the actual vessel that it comes in.




Over the years I have learned to look for candles that are not only delightful in scent, but also come in a pretty jar. The jars they come in can always be upcycled and used as vases or storage around the home. More on that in a minute...

And candles are not always cheap. I try to purchase the majority of my candles inexpensively (Marshalls/HomeGoods/TJ Maxx, Michaels, Tuesday Morning, and Target), but some of my favorite scents are typically found at Anthropologie and local boutiques. I don't mind paying a little more for a really great quality candle, but it is ridiculously frustrating when the wick burns down before all of the wax is used. I might be doing something wrong, but so often the wick will be out and 1/3 of the candle wax is still in the jar!

All of the wax has to come out from the jar before it can be reused. I have tried a few methods to remove the wax over the years and recently heard that freezing the candle was a really quick and easy way to do this. So I gave it a try...


It actually worked pretty well! I left a candle in the freezer overnight and just chipped the wax out with a spoon. But look at all that wax! That seems like a lot of waste!

So I went back to the method that I have typically used in the past, which is to heat the candle up on the stove in a pot of water. The water doesn't have to be boiling hot, just warm enough to melt all of the wax within the holder to a liquid (I remove the wick prior to warming up the wax on the stove, but it can be done after as well).


Now to save that wax! I recently had four candles leftover from Christmas and quickly realized that there was a lot of wax remaining in each of the containers once the wick burned down completely. I use to just pour the hot wax into the trash and reuse the container... but I decided to come up with a way to stretch that wax out going forward.

Years ago I had a plug-in warmer that would heat wax as an alternative to lighting candles. They were all the rage back then, and I remember having packs of wax molds in different scents stocked in our junk drawer. So off to the craft store I went in search of some sort of mold. In the baking aisle I came across a plethora of silicone options which are typically used for candies and small treats. PERFECT!

(Don't forget that most craft stores offer great coupons/discounts on a single item purchase!)

Now, when I melt the candle wax, I just pour it into my special mold! Below you can see how many wax melts I was able to create from four burned down candles. I can't get over how much wax I was able to save! (Similar mold can also be found on Amazon here.)


It only takes a few minutes for the wax to naturally harden back up, and then they just pop right out of the silicone.

Quick Tip: Pouring the wax out of the different candle holders can be a little messy, I recommend placing wax or parchment paper under the mold to catch any drips. Also, the candle holders can be really hot from the melting process, so use caution!! I found wearing a winter glove gave me control to pour without burning my fingers.

Right after the wax is poured, I grab a paper towel to clean out the rest of the contents of the jar and quickly wash with hot water and dish soap.


The different candles were a variety of scents so I store the wax molds seperately in canning jars or these wax sandwich pouches until I am ready to melt them in the warmer.


I noticed that they still sell plug-in candle/wax warmers at many home and craft stores, although, I prefer something a bit more discreet and mobile, so I just use a basic butter warmer for now. It was less expensive and I can move it around my home without plugging it in. It may seem like a bit of an odd choice, but I sort of love it. And YAY for extending the life of my favorite candles scents, I can't believe I was going to dump all of that wax away!



Now that the wax is out of the holders, here are a variety of ways to reuse all of those pretty vessels around the house.



Above I placed two on our bookshelves! One is working as a vase while the other tucks away a dice game that our family enjoys playing.

Quick Tip: This gold hammered candle is a true bargain, especially considering the container itself is so fantastic (especially if you line the bottom with a piece of felt). 



I find candle holders are most useful in the bathroom. Above you can see one being used for holding cotton swabs, but they also work as toothbrush holders, floss pick holders, hairbrush and comb holders, etc...



Another bathroom scenario, hair ties and bobby pins are hidden away while keeping the nearby counter clutter free!



One of the first candle holders that I ever upcycled was used for makeup brushes, and they were the perfect match!



Let's talk office supply storage for a second! Candle vessels are perfect for corralling paperclips, rubber bands, washi tape, small craft supplies, pushpins, charger cords... The possibilities are pretty endless.


It is always a bonus when the holder has a nice lid to really hide the contents and to act as a true container.



In the bedroom on a nightstand or dresser, candle jars are wonderful as a change jar or jewelry holder. Or toss your lip balm, medication, hand lotion, earplugs, etc... inside and keep your bedside table nice and tidy.


How about in the laundry room? They work well to keep track of pocket treasures, clothespins, safety pins, and buttons.

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That's how I use these charming candle vessels around our home, but I bet you all could come up with even more creative examples. I know that this isn't a new fad, but it's always a great reminder to upcycle and reuse when we can.

One last quick thing! I recently found these candle warmers, but can't personally speak to how well they work. I imagine that they actually melt the wax of a candle more evenly and allow you to use the entire candle without lighting the wick at all (or needing to make molds). That would definitely be another great way to get the most of the candle before reusing the jar. Just wanted to try and offer up all of the options I can find.


And it goes without saying but I will anyway, it is always important to be careful with candles in general. Both plug-in options and the use of any flame should always remain monitored. ♥
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First, THANK YOU! I sincerely appreciate all of your encouraging comments on my last post, as well as the abundance of emails and messages I received. This community really amazes me, and I adore that we all bond over a passion for our homes and organization! It sounds like many of you are on a quest to simplify and reduce home clutter with me this year, which keeps me awake at night with excitement! Let's do this 2019!




I have always been a bit of a sentimentalist, and I really love giving gifts to friends and family throughout the year. Just as much as I find joy in the process of looking for something thoughtful to give, I also really enjoy the process of wrapping it all up! I have absolutely nothing against a gift box or bag, but sometimes it just feels a little more special to add a ribbon, embellishment, a handwritten note, an ornament, monogrammed tag, etc... And those extra touches don't have to take much time, but they really go along way.

Five years ago I put together the ultimate gift wrapping station. It had extra of everything from twine, bows, bags, boxes, tissue and quite a few rolls of gift wrap. It was epic and went viral and I don't regret the project for a second. It served me quite well over the years, and it has taken me a long time to work my way through a lot of the supplies and cards. But it was a bit much. And over the years as the nearby counter became cluttered with toys and Lego builds, I would gather my supplies and take them to my office or the kitchen table to do my wrapping. In my quest to reduce and simplify this year, I decided that it was time to downsize this part of my life in a way that takes up less space and offers some portability.


I actually put all of this together last month before Christmas, and it couldn't have worked out better. And because I can still use it year-round for anniversaries, birthdays, and just-because days, I decided I would share the tote-tastic idea with you!


I began with the large KUGGIS bin found at IKEA. I have used smaller versions of these bins and I absolutely LOVE them. They really have become one of my "go-to" storage items as of late. However, this is my first time using this particular size, and I was ridiculously eager to try out the addition of the divided organizing tray that tucks away nicely inside.

The top tray is really great for smaller embellishments and cards. It can also fit a smaller address book (if you are old-school like me and still use one of those during the holidays).


If I am at a stationery store and spot a nice greeting card, I pick them up so I can be prepared ahead of time for special dates or for those celebrations that come up last minute. The larger areas of the tray are a really wonderful size to fit all of those greeting cards, thank you notes and envelopes.


I also like to add tags, ornaments, bows, etc... and the smaller divided areas are a nice way to divide out the tapes, twine, and gift toppers. I also keep a few gift cards on hand to hand out randomly when the mood strikes (I just put a small amount on each and will give them to strangers or kind employees as a random act of kindness).

There is more magic happening below the tray, which is completely removable.


The nice thing about this bin is the amount of space/storage to keep everything all together. The base of the bin is a nice size for gift bags, boxes and larger sheets of tissue. I found some food storage containers at the dollar store to add a little extra division for the bows, tissue and smaller ribbon spools. They are light-weight and inexpensive and couldn't have worked out better.


I used a small tension rod for my larger spools of ribbon, placed at the outer edge of the bin. It is easy to be removed if I need to swap out a roll but stays in place for grabbing a quick bit to add to a package.


I use a small piece of masking/painters tape on each spool to keep the ribbon from loosening inside of the bin in-between uses.


Above you can see the entire bin in action and how everything stacks in a compact and portable tote.

I have also really condensed my gift wrap rolls down; I find it best to actually only purchase solid craft, black or a simple stripe/dot gift wrap that can be versatile year round. That allows the ribbon and toppers to shine and also keeps the number of rolls that I have to store to a minimum. I currently just keep them in a corner of my office closet until I can finish up with a little refresh of that space in the near future.

I also looked into an under-bed bin that would allow me to store the rolls and cards/embellishments together, however, our bed frame doesn't allow for most of those bin sizes. But they are another great option for doing something similar. Here are a couple of those options:



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I was able to condense my large bookcase of packaging and gift wrap items down into a mobile gift wrap station and it couldn't have worked better this past Christmas.

Also, I am totally sold on the amount of storage and functionality this KUGGIS bin offers! I have also seen the tray insert used inside of a drawer as a divider for tech and office gear and it was brilliant. So tell me, have you tried these bins and if so, how do you put them to use around your home?
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Happy New Year to you! I hope that the holidays have left you with a full love tank and that your 2019 is off to an incredible start!

Oh, how I have missed you all so very much!




It always feels a little awkward coming back from an extended break, especially when they are unplanned and much longer than ever anticipated.

Truth be told I have always had huge goals and amazing intentions for this small slice of the internet, but 2018 just wasn't meant to be my year (again, womp womp). For someone who is generally an energetic go-getter, learning to navigate the past few years has been a true personal challenge and journey. And having to do it online has been flat out tough, especially when I am trying to walk the line of personal and professional in front of an audience. If I have learned anything, it's that no matter how much you plan, life can change those plans in an instant. And as a self-proclaimed planning obsessed girl, that has been a hard pill to swallow.

I am not 100% ready to dive into my absence, although I hope to someday down the road. Just know that your support is deeply cherished and I appreciate those of you who continue to check-in. The outpouring of love, comments, emails, DM's, etc, has been so overwhelming over the past couple of months, and for that, I am eternally grateful. They continue to uplift and encourage and I truly hope that THIS IS THE YEAR that I can give that back to you.


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I have a few things to cover since I have been away, so let's begin with Christmas decor storage.


I have never been a minimalist by any means and I truly enjoy layering our home with our character and personality. At the same time, I am making 2019 the year to reduce and streamline. This last Christmas I only put up a fraction of our decor, and I noticed that our time entertaining and enjoying the holidays wasn't at all negatively impacted. I also appreciated that it took much less time to pack everything up this past weekend! Keeping it understated was refreshing and allowed me to focus on what really mattered most to me, and it was also the most relaxed I have been during the holiday season in years. I definitely need to continue to remember this and apply that understanding to more areas of my life this coming year!

I know some of you probably had your decor packed up December 26th, but for those of you who extend the season and enjoy the layers a little longer, I thought I would share my top Christmas decor storage tips (a refresh of this post here). And if you already have everything packed away, tuck these tips in your pocket for next year (or give your bins a quick remix when the mood strikes).

CLEAR STORAGE BINS

For so many years I selected solid bins because I didn't like the visual clutter that generally comes with the clear versions. A few years ago I decided to give clear bins a whirl (I love these) and it really has been so helpful! I appreciate that I can get a quick idea of the contents without having to do any rummaging or digging.

LABEL


Even though the bins are clear, and some of the contents are simple and obvious, other bins still have a mixture of items such as ornaments, embellishments for different trees, stockings, garland varieties, books, wreaths, ribbon, tree skirts, lights, etc... Therefore, labels can help to differentiate categories and assign items/bins to specific areas of the house. This year I updated my labels to an editable version, that way I can just type the contents, print them out and slide them into the label sleeve attached to the front of the bins. I saved my labels to my computer to easily edit and reprint down the road if needed. You can download the editable label printable for free here.


CATEGORIZE


Make the most of your bins and divide them out in a way that makes the most sense for how you decorate. Zippered storage bags work really well to corral and categorize smaller items like ornament hooks, ribbon, beads, special ornaments, replacement bulbs, light clips, stocking and wreath hooks, etc...

THINK OUTSIDE OF THE BOX

Are there other items that you only use during the holidays? Specific items for entertaining or baking or cooking? Maybe you use certain pillows, candles, appliances and serving platters for a month or two out of the entire year. If your storage is limited around the house, don't give those seasonal items prime real estate with your day-to-day belongings. Instead, pack those pieces away with the remainder of your Christmas decor.

TIS' THE SEASON TO CLEANSE

This is the best time of the year to streamline your Christmas inventory. While packing everything up, take the time to recategorize your bins and eliminate the items that didn't make the cut this past year. Handle each object and ask yourself if it is worth your time, space and energy moving forward. Also discard any items that are broken, torn or worn.

Donation Ideas:

  • Drop off your gently used holiday decor at your local donation center (Salvation Army, Locally Owned Thrift Stores, Goodwill, etc...)
  • Check with your local Habitat Restore, some do holiday-specific sales throughout the year.
  • Inquire with local shelters to see if and when they typically accept holiday decor, and what specific items are most beneficial.
  • Does your city decorate for the holidays? Think of areas around town that put up Christmas trees or string lights that may benefit from the items you no longer have a use for. Libraries, hospitals, community centers, etc...
  • Have you heard of Give Back Box? I recently read about this donation program and I love it! It really emphasizes the one-in-one-out rule, but can be used beyond that method! When you receive merchandise in the mail from select retailers, you can reuse that box along with a free shipping label to donate your household goods and clothing items. Give Back Box selects a charity based on your location, however, there are ways to select your own if you wish. Christmas decor is accepted, so pack up a box and ship it on out!

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Remember last year I flocked our artificial tree? I promised to give you an update on how it held up through storage and I am happy to share it did really well. I have noticed that flocked trees will shed no matter if you DIY or purchase them that way, and ours did drop some flocking during setup and decorating. However, not enough to notice on the tree itself, and minimally throughout the time that it was up. I am excited to try the flocking process again down the road on some garland and outdoor topiaries, and I love that I can always easily add more to the tree over the years as necessary with the remaining flocking powder.

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If you are looking for a couple of idea-inducing reads for the New Year, I contributed to two publications on newsstands now:


Inside this month's issue of Parent's Magazine, we focussed on Little Ways to Love Your Home.




While inside the Family Circle issue you will find a great section dedicated to making the most of your home's hot spot: The Kitchen! So many great suggestions in this one!

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In other iHeart news, 2019 planners were released in my shop last month and I get so much joy filling in the colorful pages for the new year. I am thrilled to see that you do too!



The FAQ page is loaded with details on the sizes, layouts, coversheets, printing suggestions, and images. The pages are fresh and beautiful and seeing them being used by you all throughout the year is a true treat, so thank you for Instagramming and sharing those images with me.

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This time of the year is generally known for starting fresh and setting goals and organizing every nook and cranny of your home. I have had a few conversations with friends and they have mentioned that the new year gets so built up that they feel like once the clock hits midnight, they should have this automatic boost of energy, and that when they wake up they should feel some sort of magical feeling and clear vision for what is to come to finally get their lives together. So. Much. Pressure.

While I personally do love that the new year is a great benchmark for setting goals and reflecting and evoking change, I want to remind you all (and myself), that lifestyle changes are gradual and don't happen overnight, and all big things come from a culmination of smaller steps. It's great to set goals and be fired up, but also be realistic and break those goals up throughout the year. Think of little changes that you can make each day that will help you reach a larger goal by next month, next quarter, or even by the end of 2019. That is how I am personally approaching this year; day by day, bit by bit. It doesn't all have to be done by the end of January.

I am still wearing a lot of hats, and aside from trying to be an involved and loving wife and mom, I have a lot of business-centric goals that include updating and organizing my website (and a new home tour!), moving my online shop and adding fresh new items, working with clients (best feeling), and writing a book (big goal). Pair that with the administrative responsibilities of running a business, freelance writing, creating content and sharing it actively on social media, I get a little overwhelmed managing it all and managing it well. When I work on a project, I get so hyperfocused on that one specific thing, that it can take away from all the rest. Sometimes the blog takes a hit, sometimes my personal goals take a hit, sometimes my family takes a hit, sometimes my shop takes a hit. I can organize a closet no problem, but maybe I need to find someone to organize my life (ha!). Time management, prioritization, and balance are all my personal top priorities for 2019. Some things will have to move to the bottom of the list so I can actually do the more important things. And this is that moment where it all rounds right back to my small steps towards the big goal mantra.




I don't want to drag this post out any longer, but a few final notes about our year to come:


  • Last year we didn't focus a lot of attention on our own home or projects. I am approaching my 10th year of blogging and that is a LOT of organizing, crafting and remodeling. We simply needed a break, even if we still have a lot of wish list updates to make, going at it around the clock is exhausting, expensive and disruptive. It was time to let things rest, and we did. Buuuut, our oldest is graduating high school this year!!!!!! He is receiving college acceptance letters and about to spread his wings and I am holding back tears of joy (and let's be real, tears of selfish sadness) on the daily. With graduation comes a graduation party and a big party is a great motivator to check lingering home tasks off of the list, as well as a lot of deep cleaning. Time to relight that fire!

  • How do you all feel about doing a home cleanse with me this year? I really wanted to do this last year, so the past few months I began researching and building a really great resource of ways to clear clutter from your homes. It always pains me a bit to see how piles of trash bags can so quickly be associated with organizing, so I am diving deep into options for feeling less guilty about getting rid of our belongings. And I would really love for it to become a library that can be referenced and built-upon over time. You in?

  • I don't have a lot of closets or drawers left to organize around here, this year my biggest pain points are PAPER (I have a plan!) and photographs (I don't have a plan!). What are your biggest organizational pain points? Knowing your problem areas could really help me come up with new content, so if you could take a quick second to leave a comment on this post with your organizing goals and struggles, I would appreciate it to the moon and back!


Let's raise a glass of wine, a coffee filled mug, or a bottle of water, and cheers to 2019!



P.S. I just went back a re-read my intro to 2018 post. Wow. Sounds like I am rewriting history and even mimicking a few of the same sentences word for word, nodding and still feeling a lot of the things that I felt last year. Believe me when I say that as frustrating as that is for me, I know it is also frustrating for you. Please know that I never take you all for granted and I really hope to break the cycle. There are definitely some things I need to change, and I appreciate your continuous grace as I work on bettering things around here. ♥
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We are officially a couple of weeks into the new school season, and with that, all of us are re-finding our routines and putting a few systems into place that correlate with this busy season of life.

This year I have a senior in high school (!), a freshman, and a 6th grader. By now, we have done the back-to-school organizing and routine changes quite a few times, and most things continue to get easier and easier. LOVE that! And over the years, I have shared quite a few of the things we do to prep, but this year I realized I haven't really posted about school lunches. So today is the day because they are a huge part of our daily life!



A few things I want to mention right off of the bat; lunch and food is a personal parenting decision that I never judge and hope that we can definitely keep this conversation helpful and encouraging. There have been times that I have felt bad that I wasn't making bear shaped sandwiches for my boys, and I definitely have my kids eat school-prepared lunches as well. That shouldn't make me feel bad and I know that now. We all do the best we can for our kids, period. I know that some people truly enjoy making art out of food, that some kids are vegetarian, have food allergies, only eat organic, or don't do sugar. This post isn't about that, it's just a few really quick and simple tips for how I handle the lunch prep/making process around here. So let's dive in.



TIP #1

The first thing I did this year is sit down with my boys and figure out what each of them enjoys most. My biggest problems leading into this year have been over-purchasing foods, trying to over-cater to their specific taste buds, then ending up in a hamster wheel of packing the same things on repeat with very little variety.

So, I sat with the boys and asked them what their favorite foods are, and wrote down all of the items that they could all agree on. We took some time to look for quick ideas online together to come up with 15-20 different lunch options as well as a variety of quick and tasty sides.


You know me, I couldn't miss an opportunity to whip up a free printable for you all, and I am SO glad I did. I made it editable so that we could type in all of our lunch ideas (which are broken down into categories: main course, fruits/veggies, sides/desserts), and then print it off and keep it inside of our pantry with our shopping/meal planning items. You can also just save it filled in digitally and access it from your phone or computer.

CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE & FILLABLE SCHOOL LUNCH PLANNING PRINTABLE


CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE FREE & FILLABLE SCHOOL LUNCH PLANNING PRINTABLE


Now when I am grocery shopping/meal planning for the week, I can glance at their list and be sure to stock up accordingly. This list has items they will all eat, so I can now quickly put together lunch ideas without over purchasing food while offering some variety from week to week.


TIP #2

Keep it simple! One of the primary goals is to be speedy about lunch making. Whether in the morning or the night before, I don't want to have to invest much time in putting everything together. And really, the best case scenario is that I give the boys the tools they need to be able to do everything themselves.


So, that might mean giving into some pre-packaged items or creating my own quick snack packs that we can all just grab-n-go. Typically I portion off crackers, popcorn, fruits, veggies, protein bites, etc... Whenever I can, I select fruits and veggies that I know I will get the longest life from (I have found that grapes, carrots, celery, cucumbers, pea pods, oranges, peppers, melon, and apples will typically stay fresh throughout the course of the week without concern of spoiling, and are easy to portion out). This is HUGELY important and probably my biggest tip.

I will also purchase individual meat snacks, cheeses, nuts, yogurts, granola, etc... if the price is right for the time I am willing to invest. If I have more time on a given week, I might opt to purchase in bulk and create those portions myself.


TIP #3

OK, so basically the first step was to select the simple sides that can easily be tossed into a lunch, and next, I like to do a little prep. Again, I am putting groceries away anyway, why not just put them away in individual grab-n-go packages to make the entire week go smoother?

Aside from the fast fruits and veggies mentioned above, we all really love berries as well. So, while putting groceries away and doing my weekly meal prep I will soak/rinse them in a bowl of water and vinegar for a couple of minutes. They seem to last longest if I do a quick soak and then let them air dry before refrigerating. This is one more step, but if I multitask during other meal prep, then it isn't too bad and I know I will prolong the freshness for a few extra days. I do this with all berries, not just strawberries.


Also fresh from the grocery store, I will cook up chicken to create grilled chicken strips that I will put in wraps, tacos, on salad, etc... And every couple of weeks I will freeze sandwiches in a few varieties in bulk.


I recently switched to these wax paper bags because they are compostable and keep the sandwiches fresh in the freezer. I will make a few loaves of bread worth of sandwiches at a time (I will also use rolls/croissants with meats/cheeses, etc...) and I find they work best if I don't use spreads other than peanut butter and jelly directly on the bread. I will put together a few sandwich varieties to select from, and just label the sandwich type on the wax paper bag.

The bulk sandwiches go into freezer zipper bags (which I just keep reusing) and into the freezer until a school morning when they are transferred directly to the lunchbox and they are ready to eat by lunch.

All of the pre-prepped snacks and sides are put together in a section of the fridge that the boy's love to grab from.






TIP #4

If you have the space for it, I recommend storing all lunch related containers together. That way everything is quick and easy to pick from during the lunch making sessions.


We have a nice deep drawer in our pantry and it holds all of the lunch boxes/bags, containers, water bottles, thermos, reusable bags, etc.... It has become a pretty popular drawer!


TIP #5

Tip five isn't as much of a tip as it is just some of our favorite lunch products.




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We have done bento-type containers and boxes in the past, but now that the boys are bigger, they have outgrown many of those. We prefer containers that will hold a full-size sandwich or wrap without having to turn it into bite-sized finger food.


These sandwich boxes are our new favorite and I appreciate that they are dishwasher safe! They can hold the main course as well as two adequately sized side items. They are also really handy for sending snacks to school to get the boys by between classes and their extracurricular activities.


With all of the fruits/veggies/sides, and my quest to eliminate our use of plastic sandwich bags, I invested in some reusable options and so far I have been really happy with them.


I went with both the snack and sandwich sizes and they are great for keeping a variety of snacks ready to go and fresh in the fridge, and the rest stay on hand for the dry goods. They can be washed in the dishwasher, but I usually just wash them out with this dish brush in an attempt to prolong their number of uses even more.

Above you can also see the containers I am smitten with for dressings and condiments. They are typically used for baby food storage, but they are completely leak proof and durable and reusable so we give them major thumbs up for lunch boxes.


An insulated food jar is also high on our list because it allows us to really expand on what we send to school. We can quickly heat up items in the morning, pop them in the insulated Thermos and everything stays nice and warm until lunchtime (think leftovers, rice, pasta, soup, etc...).


An insulated Thermos can also keep items cold, but we don't find ourselves using it for that purpose as often (but love that we can if we would like to). We do have these ice packs on constant rotation to help with keeping items fresh and cool for the few hours they are packed up.

As you can see in the lunch drawer above, we also have a few airtight snap containers that work well for bulkier items and salads (similar). In general, I looked for containers and products that can be reused, are durable, and are dishwasher safe, all of which keep our day-to-day process running quickly and smoothly.


Finally, these fridge bins (similar) rank so high on our list, they are wonderful for corralling all of the individual servings of our lunch and snack sides and act like a deep drawer in the fridge.




If you are looking for a couple of easy peasy ideas, here are the lunches we currently have on our list that all of our boys are willing to eat and are pretty simple to assemble or prep at the beginning of the week:


M A I N  C O U R S E S

Grilled Chicken, Ham & Cheese Croissant, Hard Boiled Eggs, Turkey Apple Sausage, Pepperoni/Cheese/Tomatoes, Soup & Crackers, Lunch Meat Wrap, Pasta Salad, Quesadilla, Peanut Butter & Jelly, Chicken Taco, Spaghetti/Pasta, Sub Sandwich, Salad, BLT Pita Pocket, Bagel Sandwich, Rice Cake w/Peanut Butter



F R U I T S / V E G G I E S 

Pickles, Clementines, Grapes, Peppers, Applesauce, Melon, Peaches, Pears, Apple Slices, Strawberries, Raspberries/Blackberries, Carrots, Pea Pods, Celery, Cucumbers, Bananas, Side Salad



S I D E S 

Almonds/Nuts, Cheese Sticks, Pretzels, Peanut/Almond Butters, Crackers, Yogurt, Rice, Taco Chips w/Salsa or Guacamole, Pita Chips, Veggie Straws, Granola, Cottage Cheese, Fruit Strips/Snacks, Popcorn, Cookies, Trail Mix, Beef Sticks




And because you all educate me just as much as I try to share what is working for us, I would love to hear more lunch ideas that are a hit in your households. It could be a quick meal, a quick tip, a favorite product, a helpful website/app, anything! Please take a moment to chime in below!
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With the kids home all summer and a lot of conversations with friends happening about general household chores, I thought I would take some time to focus on the basics. Because just as much as I love a little hack for cleaning shower heads, a great homemade cleaner recipe, or an amazing cleaning checklist, the basics are what keep our house running on a daily basis.




Having the kids home from school all summer is always a quick reality check of how messy the house can get oh-so-quickly, and how important our "all hands on deck" mentality is. From beach towels to athletic gear to multiple meals a day and sleepovers galore, things can spiral out of control in the blink of an eye. The following "basics" have definitely been our glue, and although some of these tips might seem ridiculously obvious, they are absolutely worth mentioning.




I have talked about this before but here it is again because it is my top tip for quickly maintaining your home: Set yourself up for success.

I recommend storing your household cleaners in the primary areas of your home so they are easy to grab and use. Also, simplify your cleaners down to just what you need to reduce confusion for the entire family. Many all-purpose cleaners are just that and can tackle counters, windows, stovetops and even quick floor cleanups. Keep bathroom cleaners under a bathroom sink and kitchen cleaners under the kitchen sink.

The basic cleaning supplies that I have found I can get away with using for 99% of our household chores are:
  • Duster
  • All-Purpose Cleaner (I just use a mixture of distilled water, 2-3 drops of dish soap, vinegar, and tea tree oil, and apply it to counters, appliances, glass, and floors)
  • A couple cleaning cloths (one for glass, one for surface)
  • Vacuum
  • Mop
In the bathroom:

I have loved and used cleaning caddies for years now, and they are great when I am doing a bigger room-to-room deep cleaning session, but for daily battles, I like that my go-to cleaners are right within an arm's reach of the mess. I also recommend keeping a vacuum and broom on each floor of the home and storing less-used specialty cleaners together and out of the way (I keep mine in our laundry room).

By removing a lot of the extras and keeping it simple, my family asks me fewer questions and are quicker to just grab what they need to get the job done.





Color code the cleaning rags.

We use microfiber cloths for just about everything, and to prevent cross-contaminating the bathroom germs with the kitchen germs, I assigned the two spaces their own cloth colors. Green is used in the kitchen and blue is used in the bathroom (or for other dirtier jobs). I also added a stack of pink for our pets near their feeding station. Easy enough for all of us to remember and the rags just get stored in their designated areas.

At the end of each week, the bathroom rags are washed with my mop heads and bath mats, the pet rags are washed with dog bed covers and their bath towels, and the kitchen rags and dishtowels are washed together. I always wash these items on a sanitary cycle during my Sunday linen wash day.





Baking soda and dish soap can clean just about anything.

Clear dish soap makes a really great stain remover and I use it all of the time on furniture, clothing, rugs, and spills. Because it is clear, I don't have to worry about it damaging colors or materials (I always start with a small drop or two and paired with some water it typically does the trick). Baking soda is a good deodorizing agent and also helps to absorb the spill/stain/wetness.

For those tougher messes (think pots, pans, baking sheets, ovens, etc...), soaking items with baking soda, dish soap and water is a major sanity saver. After cooking I always soak our pots and pans with baking soda and dish soap and by the time I am ready to wash them, they come clean with little to no scrubbing.

Baking soda and dish soap seem to be a powerhouse cleaner when combined, and I wouldn't hesitate to reach for the combo when tackling any major cleaning job around the house, inside or out!





Clean from top to bottom.

This general rule applies to just about any cleaning task; it is always easiest and quickest to work from the top down. Washing glass? Start at the top and make "S" motions down to the bottom. Cleaning the kitchen, wash counters and the table first, then vacuum/mop the floor. Bathroom? Clean the mirror and work down to the sink and counter and finish at the base of the toilet. Spraying down the siding outside, start at the top and... you got it! Work your way down.





Clean with the grain.

There are times when I actually encourage folks to go against the grain, but that is not the case when it comes to basic homekeeping. Washing items against the grain will bring out imperfections and may cause the surface to appear less clean than it is. It is always best to clean floors, stainless steel, wood furniture, etc... with the natural grain of the item. When the cleaner dries, it should blend right in and enhance the beauty, not fight it.





Dishwashers are not just for dishes!

Did you know that so many other things can be cleaned in a dishwasher? A few examples of things we have washed in our dishwasher are light fixture shades, toothbrushes, sponges, scrub brushes, toys, soap dishes, shower caddies, combs, vases, canisters, baseball caps, drawer organizers, basic tools, vent covers, etc...

Of course, I say this with my use with caution warning, the top rack is usually best for anything you worry about. Avoid putting anything too precious in the dishwasher, also avoid washing anything made of wood or with a delicate metal finish. Always rinse items first to prevent clogging up your dishwasher and when in doubt, leave it out.





Fold/hang clothes straight out of the dryer.

In the past I would get in a habit of taking clothes out of the dryer, tossing them in a basket, and taking them to another room of the house to deal with. Then I would do my best to fold things during a nightly T.V. show, but too many times the contents wouldn't end up put away. And just as I did when I was a kid, my boys would mix dirty with clean or would leave piles on their beds which would then tumble to the floor...

A while back we decided to try something new, so straight out of the dryer the clothes are either immediately folded or put directly on their respective hangers (I just grab the empty hangers out of the closet on my way to the laundry room), and stacked in a portable basket. Same for linens. It only takes a couple of minutes and makes it much easier to put everything away right away. I also have the boys doing this with their personal loads and it has completely cut down on the piles of questionables around the house and in each bedroom. The wire baskets we use are lightweight and portable making it easy to tote around the house and return back to the laundry room (as shown here).

Laundry can quickly become a monster if not managed regularly but really isn't all that hard if you just get into a good groove with it. I am not sure why it works so much better for us to just deal with everything right out of the dryer (vs. taking it to the couch or our bedroom to fold), but it has been a huge sanity saver so I call it a very basic win. And while we are on the subject, giving each member of the house their own designated day to do their laundry has also been amazing.





Multi-task whenever possible.

I have gotten into the habit of building some of the basic household cleaning tasks into my routine each day, which makes it much easier to maintain the home in general. For example, I wash the bathroom sink/counter each time I brush my teeth. I scrub down the walls of the shower while actually taking a shower. I quickly wipe up the kitchen counters while making my coffee. I wipe down the inside of the fridge each week when I put away groceries. These very quick add-ins really add up each week.





Make your bed every day.

Maybe I should move this one to the top because it might just be the most impactful. I will admit that I haven't always been a believer in making my bed every day, and never really encouraged the kids to do it either. But after it became such a positive habit, I can't imagine not doing it. It makes a huge difference in quickly pulling our bedroom together, but it also has been really uplifting to my mood. And I love leaving our bedroom door open and catching a glimpse of the tidy bed, which can be exactly what I need when I am having a messy day.

Not buying it? I encourage you to try it for two weeks and check out this article (or listen to this awesome speech). It is a great basic housekeeping and life-changing task!





Homekeeping takes some effort.

Dang, if I could teach my kids anything about basic housekeeping, it would be that life is so much easier if you just pick up after yourself right away. And if that just isn't possible, to set aside a few minutes at the end up each day to do so. Too many times we have spent an entire afternoon on a weekend dealing with a week's worth of random piles and messes. I can think of 1,001 other ways I would rather spend a weekend day, and my family agrees.

I know that some people are naturally more tidy than others. That some people can look right past a pile or mess and be completely unphased by it, while others can't focus or relax until that pile is gone. We have both personality types living under our roof and it has always been a give and take and compromise.

There are definitely days when I say, "the chores can wait", and the clean freak in me has done a lot of letting go over the years. There is something to be said about soaking up the little moments in life and I know first hand that our time with our kids goes much too quickly. So cheers to playing a card game after dinner instead of stressing out about those puppy nose prints on the patio door.

But the matter of the fact is that the mess will continue to be there until we deal with it, and it only snowballs if we don't.

So we try to find that right balance and do our best to take care of a lot of the basics each day and to pick up after ourselves when we take things out.

We also work together to do a quick pick-up at the end of each day. I leave a flexible basket hung on a hook near the stairs to corral random items that need to be brought down, and it also works great for running through the house and collecting things like electronics, mail, crafts, toiletries, socks, etc... that have been left out throughout the day and need to be put away. We always tidy up the kitchen (run the dishwasher after dinner, quickly sweep or vacuum, wipe down the table/counters) and fluff the sofa pillows before bed. It makes all of the difference just taking 10-15 minutes each evening to start the following day off right.

I wish there was a red "easy" button or magic cleaning fairy that would come in and get things done while we sleep, but general homekeeping just takes some work and discipline. We aren't always perfect or on top of every mess, and we still have times when we have to play catch-up and binge clean parts of the home, yard or garage. But we continuously instill in the boys that we are all responsible for our home, and always have them help with the basic homekeeping responsibilities.




I think this is one of those discussions that could really benefit from your added ideas and advice in the comments below. I hear so often that people are generally overwhelmed with household chores and keeping up with daily duties. People want quick tips, shortcuts, and basic ideas to make homekeeping more manageable and less discouraging. Do you have additional ideas to share? How about small things you have added to your routine that have had a big payoff? Any ah-ha moments that we all could benefit from? Let's chat!
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It is safe to say that July is our busiest month of the year. Our middle P turned 14 last week, we celebrated our 17th wedding anniversary this past Sunday, and our oldest turns 17 next week! Toss in baseball tournaments, graduation parties, summer activities, birthdays for parents and friends...We are lovin' all of the summer fun! And to top it all off, Amazon had to go ahead and toss in their biggest sale of the year; PRIME DAY! I am guessing many of you marked it on your calendar as a celebratory holiday too! *wink wink

I originally considered sharing my favorite Prime Day deals like I did last year, but then when the sale is over, the post is only partially relevant. Instead, it inspired me to finally get a post out that I have had on my list for a very long time.




Amazon.

I am pretty sure they are taking over the world.

I want to start out by saying that I prefer to shop on Etsy and with small businesses as often as I can, especially when looking for unique and special gifts, home goods, textiles and even clothing. But did you know that a lot of small businesses are also turning to Amazon to launch and sell their product? Love that! And because we are a busy crew, my Amazon app is always running so that we can use the benefits of our Prime membership to the fullest. Free shipping on everyday items saves me so much time on running errands, which I truly appreciate. Not only that, the product selection on Amazon is generally pretty extensive, and their prices are also generally pretty competitive.

I dislike that this sounds salesy and like an #ad, even though it is not, but the matter of the fact is that I source 60-70% of my cleaning and organizing products from Amazon for both myself and the clients that I work with. And I have always thought that I should create a space on my blog specifically for my favorite Amazon products because of how universally accessible Amazon is compared to many alternative retailers. So hopefully this list is not only a great resource for myself and my clients, but for you all as well!




















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The refrigerator is meant to keep things cold, but it is one of the "hottest" spots in the home! This is where much of the food is stored that nourishes our families, and it is accessed multiple times a day. Knowing that, I always recommend that folks invest a small amount of time creating a few easy systems that aid in streamlining the meal planning and food preparing process. And I am not talking anything fancy, just really obtainable and sanity-saving ideas that save time with fewer trips to the grocery store and provide quicker meal making over the course of a busy week.



GE Appliances recently invited me to Louisville, KY, to help a family of five organize their fridge. Just like us, this family has three growing boys in a variety of activities, and needed some organizational tips to simplify their food storage just in time for the hectic summer months.

Now, we have all seen those organized fridges that go viral because they are perfectly styled with rows of bins filled with flowers, colorful fruits and pretty cans of fizzy water. I could look at pictures of fridges like that all day long, and I always appreciate a good bin, but I do have to wonder, where is all of the food? The meals for a large family, the leftovers, the snacks, the breakfasts and lunches that last for the entire week? I really wanted to offer up some of my favorite usable and practical tips to help this family, and you, take control of the fridge.

When I arrived at the family's home, I was welcomed with a new, large capacity fridge and a week's worth of groceries straight from the grocery store.


I showed up with a few of my tried and true organizers and got right to work assessing what a typical week's worth of groceries looks like for this family, and how I can best set up their fridge to accommodate both the food and their lifestyle. My number one goal was to put a fridge together that is easy to maintain, offers future versatility, and remains functional week after week.

The fantastic team at GE Appliances was there to see how it all went down, and they put together a quick video of my ten go-to, no fail refrigerator organizing tips. Check it out below!

Quick & Easy Tips to Organize Your Fridge - Vimeo



Here is a quick recap of the video's talking points:



Although I generally encourage folks to empty a space first, when it comes to the fridge, I actually recommend the opposite. Fill your fridge just as you would on a typical week, or maybe even shop and plan for those times when you have more food than usual (think extra kids visiting or a party or eating home every night of the week, etc...). This is really helpful in setting up your fridge to work for you week after week and to consistently accommodate your routine and lifestyle. This is also the best way to plan for any organizational bins and storage you may wish to add.



Whether you are organizing an entire room, a cabinet, or the fridge, I always recommend keeping like items with like, and sorting things into general categories. By placing items back in specific locations, you create a bit of muscle memory and can quickly find things time after time. Keeping the fridge categorized is also quite helpful before heading to the grocery store. Just open the fridge and do a quick visual scan to see what foods and condiments need replenishing.


In this specific fridge, I did condiments in the door (even divided out spreads, juices/beverages, toppings & dressings, and garnishes), salsas and sauces on the top shelf, kits on the next couple of shelves, main dishes and leftovers alongside milk & eggs in the large middle area, followed by veggies, fruits and deli items in the drawers below.



These days refrigerators help you easily store the majority of your items in specific temperature controlled areas. That said, it is good to know the ideals temps and locations for storing your food, to be sure to get the most out of that food. Take advantage of the specific drawers for keeping your veggies crispier, your fruits fresher and your deli meats and cheeses ready for lunch making.


Beyond that, I have read a few different articles that also recommend keeping your milk, dairy, and meats at the center of the fridge where it is coldest. The door is not recommended for eggs or milk because that is generally the warmest location and can cause early spoiling, but this location works great for juices and dressings. Also, there are a lot of fruits and veggies that actually do better stored outside of the fridge, and knowing which ones with help to free up even more space for the items intended to stay nice and cold inside.



I have been a long time kit maker and kit cheerleader! And for this fridge, I spent no more than ten minutes putting together five fuss-free kits.


Kit number one was a breakfast bin to hold yogurts and rolls. It can also be a place to store some berries, spreads, toppings, etc... whatever you relate to breakfast specific meals. Kits 2 - 4 were snack kits; one filled with finger veggies portioned into snack bags (snap peas, carrots, sliced peppers, celery, etc...), one filled with finger fruits portioned into snack bags (berries, melon, orange slices, etc...), and the last with some grab-no-go snack cups. Finally, a tray to hold deli meats and cheeses that can quickly transfer to the counter for sandwich making (I also like to add some other sandwich toppings to the tray such as sliced tomato, onion, and avocado).


Investing a few minutes after grocery shopping to put together these really quick solutions saves so much time for the entire crew over the course of a week.



You may have noticed, but the majority of the bins used throughout the fridge are clear! That's because clear storage gives you that quick visual and reduces time spent looking through and for things. Before heading to the grocery store, just open the fridge and you can see which bins are running low without pulling everything out.


Another bonus for using bins for corralling the majority of the fridge contents is that they can be individually removed and cleaned at the sink, which is much quicker and easier than trying to scrub down the entire interior of your fridge when things spill and leak.



Not only do bins help to categorize your fridge contents, they also act as additional drawers!


To make the most of a fridge, it is best to adjust the shelves throughout, but that may limit your ease of accessing the items near the back. Extra long bins help to bring those foods to the front in one quick motion. I also recommend selecting bins that have handles or are lightweight for portability.



Why label? Because it keeps everyone on the same page and allows the entire family to quickly identify and locate where things are. Even if you put a variety of breakfast items into a clear bin, your little one may not know what everything in that particular bin has in common without the help of a simple label. Labeling also helps everyone put things back in the right "zones" and to keep general order.


As much as I love a good label, try not to over-label. The goal is to keep the fridge flexible yet simple from week to week, so general categories are best.



Just like deep bins, turntables are another really wonderful solution for preventing items from getting lost near the back. They are especially great for heavier jars or bulkier containers.


We have used a turntable in our fridge for quite some time now, and I absolutely love it. But this larger version with a lip really stole my heart and I will be upgrading immediately. It makes better use of an entire shelf and also reduces the risk of items falling off and breaking or spilling. So many wins.



I divide my utensil drawers, my junk drawer, my dresser drawer, so why wouldn't I divide the drawers inside of the fridge?


Smaller open-top bins and baskets are a great way to prevent fruits and veggies from rolling around. They also work well for separating out the contents of the deli drawer.



Did you know that you can write on most glass and plastic storage containers with a chalk or dry erase marker, and then just erase it away when it is time for a change? I love this so much, it is so easy to label our food storage containers with the meal contents, prep instructions and the dates that they were prepared or purchased. (Be sure to test your marker/bin combo in an inconspicuous spot a few times just to be sure they are compatible.)


No more questioning if the food in the container is yesterday's dinner leftovers or last week's science project.  #beenthere




So there you have it! I was so thrilled that GE Appliances asked me to help this family setup and organize their new fridge. As you may have noticed, this specific fridge had more space than I was even able to fill, which was a first for me with the many different refrigerators I have organized over the years. I am obsessed with how many main dishes, leftovers, and sides were stored throughout, and the flexibility there is for adding additional items for cookouts, birthday parties, entertaining, etc... But what tickled me most about this whole experience was watching the homeowner open her fridge and point out all of the details, and getting excited about the solutions I whipped up for their clan. There was a bit of relief, and she also expressed how easy it was to find things and transfer items to the nearby counters. That is the best feeling ever.

There are a few products that continue to be superstar workhorses for me each and every time I organize a fridge, and I have sourced them for you below.



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** This post was created in collaboration with GE Appliances to share my favorite fridge organizing tips. All of the ideas and opinions shared are my own. I sincerely appreciate brands supporting my content and work! **

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