Posts Tagged ‘organizing’

I love necklaces.  I could live without earrings, I usually forget to wear the rings I own, and I have yet to find a bracelet that sits nicely on my small wrists, but an outfit seems incomplete without a necklace.

And I own many of them.

For the longest time they were folded, rolled, and stacked several necklaces deep in one of four little jewellery boxes that I own.  It kept them out of sight, but often made it impossible to grab the right one in a hurry.  What I really needed was a hanging necklace organizer.

And so I made myself one.  Gathering inspiration from here, here and here, I headed to the thrift store and found a framed print that would work perfectly. 

I removed the glass and since the print was glued to sturdy cardboard, decided to reuse it as the backing for the organizer.

I covered the entire thing in Mod Podge and stuck down the fabric.

I then folded in the corners, using a little of the Mod Podge to make them stick, and then folded down the sides over the back, to keep the fabric in place.


After putting it back into the frame, I was ready to add hangers. 

To create the hangers, I hot-glued small plain buttons to the surface, and then covered them with larger, prettier, buttons from my stash.  (Due to the shallowness of the frame, I couldn’t use nails or push pins without having them poke too far through, but I think the buttons were a fun solution!)

Then I hung it on the wall and filled it with necklaces!  Isn’t it pretty?

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I love my freezer.  It is the storage centre for much of our garden produce.  It is the holding place for homemade chicken stock and a wide variety of soups and sauces which I like to make in bulk.  It is the place that my green tomato mincemeat and peach jam call home. 

It can also be a bit of a puzzle.

And I love puzzles, but when it comes to trying to decide by smell and frozen texture which jar is tomato sauce and which jar is tomato soup,  it is not one of my favourites.  (especially when I guess wrong….)

This could be solved, of course, if I labelled the jars before I stored them in the freezer.  But the labels I have around the house seem to stick, and not come off, even after repeated washings (which only adds to the puzzle when a jar that is definitely not chicken stock has a label on it which reads “chicken stock, 2 cups).   

I am sure someone makes beautiful freezer labels that are easily removed during washing, but I never think to look for them until it is too late, and the jars are sitting on the counter ready to go into the freezer. 

I know what you’re thinking – stop writing this blog post right now and go and get yourself some labels!  Which I may still do, but hubby has devised the perfect solution in the meantime:

Yep.  That’s a scrap piece of paper and an elastic, and it has changed my world.  Smart man, my hubby!  🙂

Does anyone else have this label problem?  How do you organize your freezer?

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I like to keep a magnetic pad of paper on the fridge for recording grocery items we need to buy.  This makes it easy to write down what we need, as we run out of it.  Otherwise I am bound to forget on grocery day just what it is we ran out of during the week. 

Unfortunately, I do not have much luck with magnetic pads.  In many cases the magnets stick to the fridge, but the paper doesn’t, pulling right off the magnetic back, so I have a whole collection of pads of paper and their corresponding magnetic backs, but still nothing on my fridge. 

This past year the problem was temporarily solved with a snowman paper pad I was given at Christmas that stuck perfectly.   The only downside to this was that Hubby, who does most of the grocery shopping, did not like walking through the store in mid-summer with a large piece of red-hatted snowman paper.  Unfortunately for him, I wasn’t about to give up a pad that worked so he suffered through (dear man.)

But I used the last snowman today.  😦

I also make more than one list as there are several places that we shop for food so I am constantly adding new pieces of paper to the fridge with the plain black magnets torn from the back of our useless paper pads.  Functional, but not pretty.

Looking at the pile of magnets and un-sticky paper pads this morning gave me an idea.  I set about reusing the magnets to make labelled paper holders for the fridge.  Check it out!

Now I have a list for everything, and no more papers falling off the fridge!

Here’s how I made them.

I began by tearing the cardboard backs from the useless pads of paper off of the magnets.

I then raided the scrap bin for fabric that coordinated with the kitchen.  This would also be a good project for scrapbook paper scraps, but I thought of the fabric first.

I then found some Mod Podge, a foam brush, a piece of fun foam leftover from a school project (although this would also be a good project for reusing cardboard), and a glue gun. 

The foam pieces were cut so they were just a little bigger than the biggest magnet.  Even though the magnets differed in size, I wanted the finished magnets to all be the same. 

I then cut the fabric scraps to be a bit bigger than the foam pieces. 

I used the Mod Podge to glue the fabric to the foam, wrapping it like a present to keep the corners neat. 

I used a glue gun to glue the magnet to the back of the magnet, covering the folded edges of the fabric.  (Handy Hint: make sure you glue the magnet magnetic-side up, instead of upside-down like I did….)

While the magnets were drying, I went down to the computer and printed off the names of the different lists in a pretty font.  If I had return-address sized labels I think they would have fit perfectly, but since I didn’t I used the shipping labels I already had and just cut them apart. 

I then stuck the labels to the front of the magnets and put them on the fridge. An easy way to use what I already had and be a little more organized.

And Hubby will be happy that he doesn’t have to take a snowman to the grocery store anymore!  🙂

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This fall has been busy, and with holidays fast approaching, it is going to get busier still.  Multiple creative projects are calling my name, begging to be worked on, but this week-end I knew I would have to put them off for another week.

When life is busy, things get piled up, pushed off, or left undone.  And that’s ok.  But every once in a while I need to take some time to regroup and reorganize.  Today was that day.  (and inviting friends over for games after dinner kept me going…nothing like a little motivation!)

I cleaned the kitchen closet. 

  Taking before pictures would have been a good idea –  it wasn’t horribly messy, but difficult to find what was needed, and there were plastic bags everywhere from when I went looking for one of a particular size one morning and left the others where they fell (turns out I didn’t have any in that size).  Now everything is neat and in order again.  I spent time organizing printed recipes into binders so that I can find them easier, and the second shelf has two piles of recipes that I want to try (no more printing until I work my way through those!  Do you think I can do it?) 

I cleaned out the fridge and re-organized the freezer.  No need to clean out the big freezer, this freezer inventory has saved my a lot of time in that respect. 

I made stock with the chickens and veggies piling up in my stock bag in the freezer. 

I tidied up the piles of books that were everywhere and folded up all the blankets on the couches. 

I revitalized my kombucha and kefir, and prepared the ingredients for making sourdough muffins and fruit and nut bars tomorrow morning. 

In between it all I baked bread and tried a new recipe for dinner. 

Despite a work-intensive today I feel refreshed and renewed by this cleaner, calmer space, and comforted by the knowledge of a full freezer and a pile of home-baked goods on the counter. 

Tomorrow I tackle the outside…. with the exception of the root vegetable box, it will probably be my last gardening day until the spring.

How do you keep things organized at your house?

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As neat and organized as many people think I am, I often live in chaos.  Call it right-brained organization, creative clutter, or extreme multi-tasking, I always have several projects happening and bits and pieces of each one seem to find their way all over the house, from a book left in the living room, a recipe on the kitchen counter, an open journal and CD left next to the computer, you get the picture.  I like the idea of a simple, well-organized space, but have realized after many failed organizational attempts that I need organizational systems that provide parameters for my stuff, space to store current projects within sight, and storage solutions that accommodate my need to be surrounded by the materials of whatever projects I am currently working on.  So it is a goal of mine, as the renos are being completed and our house is looking more like a real house and less like a construction zone, to create spaces that are calm, simple and inviting.     

But in all the house, there was one space where I didn’t think this ideal was possible – my sewing room.  I am lucky to have that room, a space to think, plan, ponder and create.  A space where I can enjoy my hobby, where I can leave things out without worrying about anyone having to step over them.  But it is also a space that invites the most mess and chaos.  A dumping ground for all creative projects when I clear them out from the rest of the house.  A room with half-finished projects everywhere, plus drawers and organizers overflowing with materials – and this was before I inherited all of my grandmother’s sewing supplies.  I needed a kick in the pants to get this room organized, and that is exactly what came my way at the beginning of February in the form of orgjunkie’s Organizing Challenge.  A little healthy competition always kicks my Type A personality into high gear and keeps me motivated and moving even when getting halfway through, overwhelmed by the task and seemingly out of time (failure has never been an option).     

And so, this month my creative space has become the calm, inspiring place I always wanted it to be.  Here are the before and after shots:    

This is what you used to see immediately upon entering the room before:    

Here is what you see now:    

(Please ignore the unfinished trim – it is one of the last few things we are working on in the upstairs of the house)    

The view from the hallway was a really important consideration for me when putting this room back together.  In our small house that view can be seen from the kitchen and stairway and I wanted it to feel warm and inviting.      

Here is the closet before:    

And after:  I had to make some big decisions when cleaning the closet.  I decided that the sewing room was going to be the sewing room and not a storage room, so out of season clothes were not as important as fabric storage.  I purged half of my clothes in the bedroom closet in order to make room for all seasons of clothes in the bedroom.  In the end, my closet is full of the clothes that I really love, and what else would I want to wear anyway?  

The top tote is for works-in-progress.  No more half-finished projects on the floor.  And when it is full, projects must be completed before anything new can be started.    

The back wall before:    

The back wall after:    

I moved the furniture around to make the space feel more open.  Once again this provides a much nicer view from the doorway.  And that big empty wall is just crying out to be a design wall – or the home to a quilt I am currently making out of my grandmother’s unfinished quilt blocks.    

The window-wall before:    

And after:    You can’t see it in the photo (it’s a dark and rainy day so I’m afraid these photos aren’t the best) but the magazine files are all labelled by content.  And that’s my camera cover on the table – not a stray sewing project!

I did not buy any new organizers for this cleaning project, just used what I had in different ways.  

And finally, the last wall before:    


And after:    

And because a job is really not done unless it is done completely, I made sure to organize every last button, thread and piece of fabric, including all that I inherited from my grandmother.    

Buttons before:  (These were endless.  Just when I though I had sorted the last one I would find another bag.   There were two more bags found after I photographed this lot.)    

Buttons after:    

A few more organizing after shots:    

Fabrics organized by type and size

Quilting cottons organized by colour

Embroidery floss organized by colour

 I am proud of my new space and excited about keeping it a clean, organized and creative space to be!     

Because this is a challenge, there are specific questions that need to be answered.  Here are my responses:    

1. What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and were you able to overcome it?    

The hardest part was definitely purging.  As a creative person I can always imagine a use for any random thing and have a habit of saving things because I might need them someday.  I also really had a hard time parting with anything that was my grandmothers, both because it was hers, and because of the effort put in by my Mom and Aunt and Uncle in packing it all up and sending it to me in the first place.  But I was really determined to fit everything neatly back into the space and to keep the space uncluttered and useable and it was this vision that kept me going and helped me make the tough decisions about what to keep and what I could part with.    

 2. Tell us what kind of changes/habits you have put into place in order for your area/room to maintain its new order?    

Throughout the space I used containers to set parameters.  For instance, the bin in the closet which holds unfinished projects.  It gives me a place to store these (other than on the floor or draped over the table or hope chest) and establishes a limit to the number of projects I can have going at once.  I purged some of my patterns because I only have one drawer for them.  I could only keep as many buttons as would fit in the containers I had.  The fabrics I kept had to fit in the drawers or in the cubes.  These limits are sustainable.  I also am enforcing a “no dumping” rule in the room – the sewing room is now for sewing and craft projects only and everything else was either purged or had to find a new home elsewhere.    

3. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?    

The bulk of it is on its way to a local thrift store.  Some has been sold on eBay or given away to sewing enthusiasts.  The rest has been posted on freecycle.    

4. What creative storage solutions were you able to introduce in order to create additional space as well as establish some limits and boundaries?    

One of my goals with this room was to not purchase any more storage solutions but to make use of what I already owned.  The wire cubes were definitely one of the best storage options I had and by putting them all together I was able to maximize the storage space they offered.   The button organizer was a re-purposed item from my grandfather’s wood shop, which my grandmother at some point had taken over for storing threads.  I also had a number of baskets, boxes and tins which I put to good use in separating certain items – one plastic bin for non-sewing related craft supplies, one set of drawers for scrapbooking and paper crafts, one basket for sock-doll materials, another basket for completed projects awaiting homes.    It was tempting to add more storage units into the room in order to hold more things (I had another chest of drawers that would easily fit into the room), but this is a dual–purpose room that needs to accomodate a Queen-size camp bed from time to time so I had to keep this in mind at all times and utilize the storage that the room already offered in new ways.  Clearing off the top of the long chest of drawers allowed me to use the top for my sewing books (which used to be stored in the living room), allows me to have tunes while I’m working away without disturbing the rest of the house, and provided a safe, flat, place for ruler storage.    

5. Why do you think you should win this challenge?    

 Whether I win a prize or not, I feel I have already “won” in that I have a neat, organized and useable creative space in which to engage in the activities that I love the most.  I also persevered in a difficult challenge in the most challenging room in my house, and survived the emotional upheaval of going through my grandmother’s things and deciding that no matter how much I wanted to, I just couldn’t keep it all.   I organized right down to the last button, the last scrap of fabric and piece of lace.  My purge pile could fill another room all on it’s own, and the basement area where I was storing all of my grandmother’s things went from this:    

To this:    


With this project under my belt, I feel like I can take what I’ve learned from this and tackle the rest of the house with ease.  Clean, organized, simplicity, here I come!

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Weekly Menu


I have always made a weekly menu, in fact, I am lost at the grocery store without one!  Having a menu definitely saves time (no need to decide each night what to make) and money (you only buy what you need and nothing goes to waste).  I try my best to organize my menus around seasonal produce, sale items, or what I have in the freezer.  Today I was really excited to discover a whole group of people who also like to make menus!  I’m an Organzing Junkie  hosts Menu Plan Monday every week!  What a great way to share ideas and discover new recipes!  So…today I am going to join them by posting my menu for the week.  Here it is:

Muffin of the week: Whole Wheat Carrot Raison  (Made with carrots from the garden)

Treat of the Week: I’m canning this week instead of baking – so no treat. 😦  But we will have green tomato mincemeat, salsa and stewed tomatoes for the winter!

Main Dishes  (I eat muffins or oatmeal for breakfast and leftovers for lunch – simple!)

Quesadillas  (tomatoes, cheese and onions in a tortilla folded in half and fried on both sides like grilled cheese)

Veggie Stew & Biscuits

Best-Ever Bean Soup (this is a super simple, super cheap, amazingly good soup – I will post the recipe sometime soon!)

Homemade tortellini from the freezer (from this cookbook) with fresh tomato sauce and carrots from the garden

Spicy tomato chicken soup with baked pita (a product of the food party)

Pita Nachos – this is something I made up for this week – beans, veggies, salsa and cheese on a pita baked in the oven until crisp – I’ll let you know if it turns out!

Friday night Pizza

Yum!  Just reading that list makes me want to go cook!  You have probably noticed the lack of meat on that list – I am a former vegan (long story – all health related) married to a meat-a-tarian but since I do most of the cooking the compromise is delicious veggie meals most of the time and a poultry dish once in a while – oh, and sometimes I’ll put meat on half the pizza or half the nachos – just ’cause I love him!  🙂    If you want to check out some more great weekly menus head on over to the Menu Plan Monday list.  Hope there are some good things cooking at your house this week!

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