Easter Follow-Up

Hallelujah! He is risen! I hope each of you had a blessed Easter and had time to celebrate the amazing joy of the resurrection of our savior among all the candy and feasting.

I wanted to take a quick moment to write a follow-up to my Clutter-Free Easter post. I’m sure you all were wondering how the Easter baskets turned out in the Brown household.  I didn’t get any good pictures as I was rushing to get them filled as we headed out the door for church and the kids were so excited when we got home and found them that they were strewn about before I could grab a photo.

But the baskets looked like this:

3 year old girl
book (Alice in Wonderland)
bottle of bubbles
pack of fun hair bands for ponytails
brightly colored tank top
chocolate bunny
handful of chocolate eggs (the Nestle Crunch kind)
bubble bath

2 year old boy
book (Peter Rabbit)
bottle of bubbles
pack of Silly Bandz
chocolate bunny
handful of chocolate eggs (the Nestle Crunch kind)
bubble bath

8 month old boy
2 packages of baby food
jar of Puffs

In addition to what I got them (which is on the sparse side compared to some people) the Easter Bunny brought gifts sent by the 2 sets of Grandparents – PJs, books, dress-up masks, candy, bibs (for the baby) and some other things I’m sure I’m forgetting.

I am happy to report that aside from some candy wrappers on the floor there was very little mess. The kids loved the baskets and the other gifts and I felt good about keeping things minimal.

One of the few pictures I managed to snap – on my phone, sorry for the blur. Showing off his new PJs and silly bandz.

Spice It Up!

While thinking about the topic of spice storage it seemed a fine time to discuss how long to keep those little jars in your cupboards!

I don’t post much about cooking here on the blog but I do quite a lot of it. We are a family that eats together at home each night and that means a meal to please a family. And while Mr. Brown is actually quite a good cook, the kitchen is most often my domain. For me, it’s important to have a variety of herbs and spices available. Many times I use a recipe but often I wing it. Just as important, is having spices that taste good! I’ve never had a spice go “bad” on me, but I have kept some well-past when they actually added any flavor to the food.

The key when checking your spices for quality is to actually LOOK at them and TASTE them. I have been known to sprinkle a bit of something on a spoon and taste it directly.

McCormick has a simple chart that breaks it down.  In addition to giving the basic breakdown on how long spices will last they also provide tips on checking color and aroma and how best to store and handle them to retain their freshness.

If you don’t like keeping ground spices around the house in full jars because you don’t use them often enough, there are a few things you can do.
1. Buy whole spices and grind them yourself. A coffee grinder works well for this.
2. Try the new McCormick Recipe Inspirations packages of pre-measured spices. I have not tried these yet (I tend to cook enough to buy full bottles!) but it’s a great idea. I think I’d like to try the Asian Sesame Salmon. (Thanks to reader Valerie for this great tip!)
If you love spices and want some fabulous high-quality additions to your cupboard, check out the great selection from Penzeys. We are fortunate enough to have one of their actual store-fronts just a few miles away and going in there is heavenly. There are so many wonderful aromas to take in and you can really see and smell the difference in the different varieties.

Personally, I have a set of their glass jars on my wish list along with the Pasta & Salad Seasonings Gift Crate! (*hints for anyone who’d like to buy me gifts!*)

Finally, I know you just read this and you’re thinking “Hmmm…. just how old IS that jar of oregano in my pantry?”  I can’t answer that. But I can tell you that when you buy a NEW jar put the date on the bottom with a permanent marker (or a little sticky label if you have reusable glass jars). Then when you check your cabinets the next time you’ll know if that jar is 6 months or 6 years old.

Kids Toy Organization

*** If you found me from Organizing with Sandy, WELCOME! I love new visitors.  I hope you find something that helps in your quest to live more organized.  And if there’s a specific topic you don’t see covered that you’d like to learn about, let me know! ***

You may not know that I am the mom of 3 little ones.  And for about one more week they are 3 under the age of 4.  Yes, our life is a lot like barely controlled chaos.  All of you moms out there know how frustrating kids toys can be.  Our house is no exception to that.  With just one child the toys were manageable.  When number two came along the collection exploded.  And my kids don’t even have that many toys compared to some of their peers.  We don’t have a playroom in our house and since the bedrooms are upstairs I like having the kids play right in the family room where I can see them.  But this means that our family room is in a constant state of toy upheaval.

A few years ago I got the idea to replace the little bench I had under our large window with a large storage shelf.  I was lucky enough to have a dad that was willing to build me a custom shelf.  He did all he building, I did the painting and the kids do the playing.  This is what we came up with:

The shelving is open making it easy for the kids to get things out and put them away.  And it fits right up under the molding on the window ledge.  I get lots of questions from neighbors about where to buy it. I think if you reasonably good at building it’s a simple design.  But you could likely find similar, pre-made options to fit the same purpose.

To keep it fun for the kids I painted the inside of each cubby a different color – red, orange, yellow, green, blue & purple from the Disney collection at The Home Depot. In fact, we got all of our supplies there.  And since we don’t own a table saw and my dad was visiting from out of state The Home Depot actually cut all the wood for us.  If you take in your measurements they will make the cuts for you (on wood you purchase there) for free!

How do we use the shelves to store their toys:
On the right we have two shelves dedicated to books.  Well, really one plus an overflow shelf.  You can see that we cut out an opening for our heat register and I bought a deflector to make sure our heating and cooling efforts were not thwarted.

The middle section is the most frequently used.  The bottom row has baskets ($2.50 each from the Target Dollar Spot) that hold a tea set, cars and trains. The top shelf has three baskets (also from Target DS) that hold stuffed animals and other small toys that don’t fit as part of a collection.  Also on top is the big box of blocks.  I love that those Trio blocks have their own storage case and the lid is a play space – makes keeping them together much easier for my 2 year old.
On the left side we keep a few bigger/awkward sized toys – the “laptops” and drawing pads.  And another basket for dolls.  Those pails on the end are actually EMPTY!  They get used occasionally and I keep them here for those times when we need them.

Things you might notice about this setup.

1. I do not have labels on my baskets.  This is on purpose.  My kids are still young enough that their interests change quickly.  So a basket may hold trains today but in 6 months it may be bouncy balls.  And I don’t really have time to be making new labels all the time.  It also makes cleanup fast.  If everything is out on the floor (yes, that does happen!) then we can just grab any basket for trains and any other for cars, etc.  Finally, the kids can’t read yet.  Any labels would be just for me at this point.

2. I have lots of small baskets instead of fewer larger ones.  Yep… my kids (especially the 2 year old) like to grab a basket and dump.  Less stuff in each basket means less stuff dumped at a time.  Trust me, I tried it with larger containers and it just meant larger mess.

3. Some things are missing (crayons, play-doh, etc).  We actually have a different home for these (I’ll show you on a different day.)  The kids actually have several places they can play throughout the house.  This makes it easier for me to get things done and still have them near me, it keeps any one room from becoming too crazy with toys, and it gives them options for changing up the scenery a bit.

4. There aren’t TONS of toys.  We actually have a fair amount of toys in the basement.  I try to rotate them every few months and take away things that aren’t getting much love and bring back old favorites and new things.

5. My baskets don’t match.  So?  The kids like it that way and I kind of like the color myself!

How do you store your kids toys?  What are the challenges you face?

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This post is linked at:
House of Hepworths Hook-Up – join the blog party.

Quick Tip Thursday

Today’s Quick Tip isn’t organizing related, it’s food!

This is one of my favorite easy, inexpensive, delicious recipes.  It’s great for a weeknight or for sharing with company.

Roast Chicken Breasts with Garbanzo Beans, Tomatoes, and Paprika
source: Bon Appetite via Epicurious.com
my notes in italics

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika* – the smoked paprika makes all the difference. Regular paprika is NOT the same as smoked.
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt or Greek yogurt
  • 4 chicken breast halves with bones – I prefer to use boneless skinless chicken breasts or even chicken thighs.  I find the thighs are usually cheaper and have more flavor. 
  • 1 15-ounce can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), drained
  • 1 12-ounce container cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, divided

Preparation:

Preheat oven to 450°.
Mix first 5 ingredients in medium bowl.
Pour 1 teaspoon spiced oil mixture into small bowl; whisk in yogurt and set aside for sauce.
Place chicken on large rimmed baking sheet. (I line mine with foil sprayed with cooking spray to make cleanup easier)
Rub 2 tablespoons spiced oil mixture over chicken.
Add beans, tomatoes, and 1/2 cup cilantro to remaining spiced oil mixture; toss to coat.
Pour bean mixture around chicken.
Sprinkle everything generously with salt and pepper.

Roast until chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes.
Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cilantro.
Transfer chicken to plates. Spoon bean mixture over. (Or you can serve it on a big platter!)
Serve with yogurt sauce.

Huge thanks to my friend Stephanie for sharing this with me about a year ago.  I’ve made it many times since and always love it. I just love the sweetness of the cooked tomatoes.  This is very fast to prepare.  I usually do not make the yogurt sauce because it’s not something I like but others think it’s delicious.

Enjoy!

While I Was In The Kitchen…

I couldn’t keep my hands off the spice cabinet!

The total cost of this mini makeover was $30 for the stainless steel expandable shelf from The Container Store.
I’ve kept my spices and other miscellaneous cooking ingredients in the cabinet next to the stove the entire 5 years we’ve lived in this house. And in the same place in many apartments before this.  My mom kept her spices in the cabinet next to the stove. That’s where they make most sense to me. I can reach them easily while cooking and put them back quickly for cleanup.
I’ve found that for some spices that we use a lot of (Italian Seasoning, Taco Seasoning, Basil, Garlic Powder) it was better for me to buy in larger size from the warehouse clubs.  They get used far more quickly than they lose potency.  But given the way the cabinets were arranged the only place they fit was the bottom shelf.  That meant all my smaller spices went in the middle.  And my poor cooking spray and measuring cups were relegated to the top.  Now, I’m only 5’3″ so seeing what was on the top shelf was next to impossible.
What did I change:
I moved the shelf height!  Yes, you can change your shelves!  I know you probably haven’t moved them since the day you moved into your home but in most cases they are adjustable.  And mine were adjustable with no tools – just need thumbs!
I raised the 1st shelf one notch giving me enough room for my sesame oil on that expanding rack.

I then moved the 2nd shelf up two or three spots (I can’t remember) making plenty of room on that 2nd shelf for my larger spice containers, the cooking spray and my measuring cups!  Hooray. This has made the whole cooking experience more pleasant for me as I no longer have to stand on tip-toes or a stool.

The top shelf is now very short.  But that’s okay.  The things up there are ones I rarely use – Christmas serving platters, pie plates, cupcake liners, candlesticks, etc.  So on the rare occasion I do need them, I don’t mind grabbing a stool (or asking the hubby for help!)

In the end I went from this:

To this:

It may not look like a big change to you but it makes a world of difference for my daily kitchen experience.

Where do you store your spices?

Tour My Pantry

Two weeks ago I spend a day giving my pantry a mini face lift.  I am so happy with the results.

Come take a tour with me!

Paint! The very first thing I did after emptying the pantry was paint it. Previously it was a hideous uninspired shade of builder-grade white flat paint.  I painted the walls a pale, butter yellow that I already had from a project I was going to do awhile back.  The shelves got a fresh coat of high gloss white.

Starting at the top:  Dry goods are stored in restaurant-style food storage bins. I love them because they hold a lot, are clear, sturdy and my labels stick easily. I use them for flour, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, baking mix and cookie/cake decorating supplies.  Other things on the top shelf are my vacuum sealer and the storage containers I use for freezing meals.

The next shelf (at eye level):  Baking supplies (this is where I’ve always kept them). 

And on the other half the larger items for everyday dinners – rice, pasta, taco shells, salad toppings

Shelf #3 (just below eye level): This is where I had some fun at The Container Store.
On the left I used a simple cabinet shelf to stack cans.  On the bottom I have just my true “staples” chicken broth and tomatoes.  On the top, everything else.

In the middle I wanted some pull out drawers like you would put in a cabinet. But since my shelves are only 15″ deep all of the ones made for the kitchen were too big. I told the helpful employee my dilemma and she suggested that there might be a 15″ pull out in the bathroom section. Sure enough, we found these Roll-Out Cabinet Drawers. I bought two – one for bottles and one for small boxes and packages.

Seriously, how awesome is it that I can pull the drawer out and find that bottle of apple cider vinegar tucked way in the back without moving everything in front of it?

The other side of that shelf holds some other miscellaneous cooking supplies (like bread crumbs, extra peanut butter, seasoning packets, and extra ketchup).  You might have noticed that my seasoning packets are in a little box.  That is a kids shoe box from Stride-Rite.  The opening in the lid was just the right size for those packets.
Shelf #4 is kid accessible.  I moved the cereal down there and snacks.  We keep a door knob lock on the pantry door because our kids are young (just 3 & 2) and I don’t want unlimited access to snacks.  But when I open the door at breakfast time they can grab the cereal themselves. The cereal is in containers from The Container Store (that I couldn’t find online.)
I did NOT label the cereal containers because we switch up what we eat from time to time and I wanted these to stay flexible.  Next to the cereal is drinks (lemonade & hot cocoa mix), popcorn kernels for our air popper, nuts, and treats for potty training in some Oggi canisters I got at TJ Maxx but I think you can find them at Target and other places as well. In addition to the canisters I have the nuts and things in a variety of old jelly jars.  These, again are not labeled because they get changed out.
Shelf #5 is also kid accessible. Here I put bigger snacks like crackers & chips along with stuff for the baby – formula, baby food & bibs. It’s great to grab a bib while I’m grabbing a container of applesauce.  I’m not sure I’m in love with the Rubbermaid containers I have here but I already had them on hand so I’m using them for now.

On the floor: This is for bulk storage.  On the far left I have an old diaper box with party supplies (paper plates, napkins, etc that I need like 3x a year).  Then water bottles.  Then this pull-out shelf I had from before that I put extra Ziploc bags and foil and cling wrap.  I keep the current package of these items in other locations.  These are just extras.  Finally, more extra supplies like paper towels, dishwasher detergent and giant jugs of vegetable oil.

Did you think I was done?  Not yet.  I haven’t showed you the walls on the sides and front!
To the left: the previous owner of our home already had these shelves installed.  I put our storage bags on the top here and my “make a turkey” stuff on the bottom self.  What is “make a turkey stuff”, you ask?  Well, it’s brining bags, twine, cheese cloth.  As my dear husband pointed out I only make a turkey a few times a year.  Well, yes, I responded, but I still need to store the tools somewhere!

Under the shelves I put a 3M Command Hook to hold a bag full of my plastic grocery bags to use for lunches for work and small trash cans.

And on the front wall, another Command Hook for my broom & dustpan

To the right, the top shelf has cleaning stuff for my Shark Steam Mop and carpet steam cleaner.  The bottom shelf is what I like to call the “Nana & Papa shelf” – things my parents like when they visit like coffee and tea.

Under the shelves another Command Hook for my Shark.

On the front wall, a magnetic strip from The Container Store for holding extra bag clips.

And finally… on the back of the door I put all of my reusable shopping bags inside of one bag on a hook.  Now I can just grab the bag on my way out the door to the store.


So there you have it!  I hope you enjoyed my tour. 
To see my previous pantry reorganization check here.

This post is shared at:
Organize With Sandy – Organizing Missing Monday #17
Organize and Decorate Everything – We’re Organized Wednesday #26

Clutter-Free Easter

As someone trying to keep my home relatively organized and clutter-free I find holidays and birthdays for the kids to be challenging.  The two big offenders for me are Easter Baskets & Christmas Stockings.  So often we fill these things with stuff that our children don’t need because it’s small and cheap.

Why?  Why do we look at Easter as a time to waste spend our money on things that we (and our kids) don’t really like, that break easily, and become easy clutter in our homes?  Because marketers have told us that’s what we should buy because they fit in small easter eggs.

This year I propose we TAKE BACK THE EASTER BASKET!  The past four years as a mom I’ve tried to keep the things in the Easter basket to a clutter-minimum. I challenge you to do the same this year. 

What can you put in baskets that kids want and won’t add to the disaster in your home?  Well, the point is to avoid the “junk” – the trinkets and bobbles that make clean-up a pain and the kids get bored of after 2 days.  Embrace things that are consumable and that you would buy anyway.

– food (dried fruit, popcorn, a chocolate bunny)
– consumable toys (crayons, markers, bubbles, bubble bath)
– lasting toys (DVDs, books, video game)
– summer fun items (new bathing suit, beach towel, inflatable pool toy)
– accessories (hair clips, belts, sunglasses)
– household goods (cups and plates for little ones, reusable water bottle for big kids, new bathroom accessories like a toothbrush holder & soap dispenser, pillow cases and sheets)
– clothing (shirts, shoes, socks, tights)
– new undies (these are fun for a little, new-to-the-potty kid… not so much for your 10 year old)
– things that add to a collection (a new train or doll to add to an existing collection)
– healthy habits items (toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion)

Look at what you already had on your list of things to buy for your kids and go from that.  Even if the item itself isn’t “fun” (hello, new socks), getting it in an Easter basket is more fun than a random Tuesday.

The goal is to get stuff that’s fun for the kids without adding to the clutter in your home.  I try to avoid at all costs the Dollar Store and the Target Dollar Spot.  I know that goes against conventional wisdom but you and I both know that those cheap trinkets will break after one use (but no one will throw away for 6 weeks). 

Where can you shop?
If you have a baby… shop Babies R Us for some toddler items (cups, spoons, bibs) she’ll need soon
If you have a toddler… find a single-serve pack of his favorite snacks.
If you have a preschooler… browse the clothing racks for things to fit her latest obsession.
If you have a school-age child… remember the last thing she begged you for at the store and try to get things related to that.

The bottom line for me is that the stuff stores try to push on you for Easter is not often the kind of thing you’d buy if you were shopping for your child on a regular day.  So walk right past those to the brands you already know you trust and that will get use in your home.

With less than 2 weeks until the big day it’s probably time to get shopping!

Today’s Blogging Has Been Interrupted By…

Consignment Sale Shopping!

I seriously love consignment sales for my 3 kids.  I’ve spent the past few weeks gathering, washing, tagging and prepping items to sell.  Now that we know we are done growing our family we are slowly getting rid of the baby girl and clothes that we can’t pass down.  This season I’m selling about 150 items – mostly girl clothes.  Hopefully I’ll make a few dollars off that. (The sale I participate in pays 70% of the sale price.)  I’ll use that to offset the few hundred dollars I plan to spend on summer clothes in current sizes.

So tonight I am off to shop!  Woohoo! 

Tips for consignment shopping:

  • Bring cash.  Even if they accept checks, cash is easier.
  • Bring something to carry your loot in while you look.  I usually bring a contoured laundry basket for clothes and a big reusable shopping bag for toys, shoes and other small items.
  • Mark your basket/bags with your name so if you get separated they might return to you.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Leave the kids at home.  This is not leisurely shopping.  You are on a mission to find great prices on good quality clothes and need to be able to focus.
  • Don’t carry a purse.  Put the essentials in your pockets – phone, cash, id
  • Bring a small snack.  I always seem to have to wait in line a long time so having a granola bar is nice.
  • Know your kids sizes – right them down if you have to.
  • Prioritize your shopping.  Girls clothes are more popular than boys so hit those first.  Big toys are more popular than toys.  I go… big toys & gear, girl clothes, boy clothes, then shoes/dvds/books/small toys in whatever order I feel like
  • Keep your receipt.  You may be able to use part of it as a tax deduction.
  • Wear layers.  You never know if it’ll  be cold or hot so wear a shirt and light-weight sweater.  Leave the bulky coat in the car – even if it’s snowing.  You can walk a few hundred feet without it to the entrance.
  • Park by the EXIT not the entrance.  Better to walk far when you have nothing in your hands then when they are full of goodies.
  • Keep a positive attitude.  Don’t get uptight fighting over things.  Just have fun!  It’s a few hours of shopping alone without the kids.  What’s not to like?
  • Next time… consign your own stuff!  You can offset a bit of the cost and at some sales you get to shop earlier than the rest of the public.

What tips do you have for making consignment sale shopping go smoothly?

50 Things To Do in 5 Minutes

No, I’m not suggesting you complete 50 tasks in 5 minutes.  This isn’t some kind of scavenger hunt.  Rather it’s 50 separate suggestions of things you can accomplish in 5 minutes. 

We all love dramatic before and after photos. It’s amazing to see all we can accomplish with enough time and resources. But the reality is that most of our lives isn’t made up of a day or a half day spent on organizing projects. Our lives are made up of 5 minutes of availability squeezed in between work, changing diapers, getting out the door, folding laundry and watching Grey’s Anatomy. And that’s how we live organized… by taking advantage of those moments.

So the next time you have 5 minutes, step away from Facebook (where you know you’ll spend way more than 5 minutes getting sucked into it) and try to do one of these things to make your life a little simpler, your home a little more organized and your heart a little happier.

  1. Check Voicemail
  2. Schedule an annual doctor visit for yourself (& write it on the calendar)
  3. Delete 25 out-dated emails from your inbox
  4. File a small stack of papers
  5. Shred a few old bills
  6. Repair a loose button
  7. Throw out expired or old condiments from the fridge
  8. Clean out your purse (or at least one section of it!)
  9. Download pictures from your camera to your computer
  10. Purge a stack of magazines
  11. Clear out the ice cubes that have collected in the bottom of the freezer
  12. Toss expired coupons
  13. Go through one file of photos on your computer and delete the duplicates and bad ones
  14. Cleanse your garbage disposal by running it with a cut up lemon, baking soda and ice cubes
  15. Clear one clutter “hot spot”
  16. Refill the soap dispensers in all the bathrooms
  17. Update your voicemail message
  18. Plan your dinner menu for the week
  19. Choose 3 things from the closet that you’ll never wear again and put them in the donate box
  20. Update your Netflix queue
  21. Write a love note to your spouse or significant other
  22. Transfer the $5 you didn’t spend on coffee this morning from your checking account to your savings account
  23. Schedule e-cards for friends with birthdays this month
  24. Update your child’s baby book
  25. Throw out expired medications
  26. Clear out the containers of last week’s leftovers from the fridge
  27. Answer 1 important email that you keep putting off
  28. Uninstall 3 apps from your phone that you never use
  29. Add critical numbers to your cell phone contact list – poison control, local sheriff department, doctor, dentist and other key doctors
  30. Move your donation bag/box to the trunk of your car so you can drop it off on your next trip out
  31. Restock your diaper bag with wipes, diapers, diaper cream, a small snack & a bottle of water
  32. Check your coat closet for out of season items that need to be moved
  33. Research options for your next vacation
  34. Search for a new recipe to try with ingredients you already have on Epicurious or All Recipes
  35. Clean off your doorbell and exterior door knob to make the welcome warmer for visitors
  36. Put away 5 things that are not in their correct home
  37. Dust the television & electronic components
  38. Clean the kid fingerprints off your DVDs with Windex and a soft cloth
  39. Clear out the unmatched socks from your drawer
  40. Sweep out the side of the garage without a car in it
  41. Empty your shredder and the bottom tray on your 3-hole punch
  42. Empty the crumb tray on the toaster and wipe off the finger prints from the outside
  43. Remove 3 outdated documents from the front of the fridge
  44. Delete 3 recurring timers from your DVR of shows that you never watch or that have been canceled
  45. Microwave a bowl of water with lemon juice for 3 minutes to loosen gunk then wipe down the microwave with a damp cloth
  46. Clear out the unnecessary receipts gathered in your George Costanza wallet
  47. Send a quick “thinking of you” email to 3 friends
  48. Unscrew the filters from your faucets and soak in a small bowl of white vinegar to clear the mineral deposits
  49. Update your to-do list.  Eliminate one thing you don’t really need to do and probably won’t do anyway
  50. Read a Delightfully Organized blog post!

What do you do with 5 minutes to spare?

Home Office Reorg in 7 Steps

I recently had the pleasure of working with Mrs. W. on organizing her home office.  This is a true home office where she does a variety of tasks for the family business.

What you see in the before pictures is just a lot of stuff.  Not bad stuff, and really not un-necessary stuff.  Just things that didn’t have a proper home.

Why were so many things out in the open, because, as it turns out, Mrs. W is a visual person.  She is the out-of-sight-out-of-mind sort of person.  Some people like everything neatly tucked away in piles.  But many of us, love to be able to SEE what’s important to us.  That’s why so many people keep their to-dos in their email inbox, because it’s immediately visible upon login.

We talked a good deal about rearranging the room but the layout actually works well for Mrs. W.  From her desk she can see the door and the window.  And since she’s left handed, having her open table top to the left of her computer was the natural option.

Mrs W’s business happens to be significantly paper-based, even in today’s digital age.  That means a lot of files, at least 5-7 in-work at any given time and lots of mailing of legal sized files.

How did we reorganize the space?

1. We added a desktop file sorter for her to store her currently in-work items.

I loved this one by Peter Walsh for Office Max because it allows you to pull out the dividers for larger files like you see in the picture.

2. We created a mailing station where she could bring any documents, weigh them and add postage easily. Above the mail spot we added a metal strip to put up shipping rates and other relevant documents with magnets.

3. We cleared the bookcase of things that belonged in other parts of the house and added a basket from The Container Store to hold the miscellaneous small things that needed to stay.

4. We made sure that printer suppliers were stored directly near the printer (in the filing cabinet underneath).

5. We made sure Mrs. W. had a spot within reach on the desk to hold the tools she uses daily but still keep them corralled. This metal letter tray is designed to hold papers but works great for keeping these everyday tools together and making them easy to move as a group to another spot on the desk.

6. We added clear wall pockets to allow her to keep papers related to upcoming events for her children and herself.

7. We added modular drawer dividers in the desk drawers for all the little extras… power cords, push pins, paper clips, etc.

photo credit {Container Store}


There you have it.  Total cost was around $50 for these changes.

One other addition for Mrs. W. wasn’t a change to the space at all. I suggested that she use the wonderful window seat she has and the floor space in front of it as a “work” space for her children when she needed to spend a few minutes on work but wanted to keep them in site but out of trouble.  Perhaps even adding a basket of small toys or crayons and paper to the bookshelf just for them so they would keep their grubby little mitts adorable little hands off her things.
As it turned out, the week after we worked one of her children had to stay home sick from school.  And she knew right away that she had the perfect spot for him to stay entertained for 30 minutes or so while she answered a few critical emails!

Ever wonder what suggestions a professional organizer might make for your space?  Contact me today to schedule a free consultation!