Office Makeover – Before and After

You all know that I love a good “before and after” and I know that you do too!  

(Before I start sharing the pictures with you, I want to apologize in advance for the before pictures.  The angles are horrible.  I took them with my smartphone’s camera, before I even decided to share them on the blog.  Also, you will notice some strategically placed squares that hide private info.)

Office Organization

A couple of weeks ago, my friend asked me to help her fix up her office space at work.  Her husband owns an automobile business and she was helping her husband with the office work…except, the office didn’t work.  The men thought that the office was perfect.  They thought that it didn’t need a thing changed.  Why mess with perfection?

The thing is that perfection looked like this…

Office remodel

and this…

Office Organization

These men were so dedicated to the sales, maintenance and growth of the business, that the back office space was just not top priority.  The store front was beautiful and we needed to make the back office match.

With the help of IKEA, a screwdriver, and lots of good conversation, my friend and I embarked on a mission.  To prove the men wrong To make the office beautiful.  To create a space that was welcoming and practical.

We started by painting the walls with a color called “Cloudy Day” by Sherwin Williams.  We painted the moldings white.  We also purchased white IKEA furniture that would be easy to clean and to customize.

Here is the “after” picture of the wall pictured above.

Office organization

We chose open cubicles in the bookshelf for binders and we installed drawers in other cubicles for office supplies.  The idea was to leave out the practical and pretty and put away the practical and unsightly.

We purchased new filing cabinets, a desk, and the lamp from IKEA.  I found the clock at Target.

Office OrganizationOf course, we had to add a little “pretty”, while keeping in mind that the office had to remain somewhat masculine.  There went all my washi tape dreams…

We decorated with modern, inexpensive IKEA plants, like this one.

Office Organization

And this one that I found at Target.  It was kind of short for the cubicle, so I lifted it with a car part.  I am not even sure what it is, but I loved the end result.

Office Organization

I love decorating with practical items, such as these little IKEA buckets that hold all the pens and pencils.

Office Organization

So one more time…We went from this,

Office remodel

To this,

Office Organization

The men at the office LOVED it and even asked for their own coffee station on top of the new cabinet.  No one misses the dark furniture and my friend is a happy camper.

With a little bit of paint, some new furniture pieces and a lot of focus, any space can be transformed.  It’s important to feel comfortable where you work.  Maybe you can’t transform your whole office, but you can transform an area.  Anything to help you laugh while you work.  Actually, don’t laugh, just smile, abrupt laughter could scare co-workers.

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and please share with me what is your favorite thing about your workspace.  Is it wall color, your desk, accessories, or your comfy chair?

Until next time,

Maria

 

 

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Adding Wheels to Baskets

I keep a basket in the hallway that leads to the boy’s bedrooms.  I use it to place small toys and items that I find around the house after the boys have gone to bed.  I don’t want to wake them up (especially my toddler…yikes) so I place the misplaced toys in this basket at night and in the morning, I place them back in their designated home.

End of story.  Perfect system, right?

Good system, yes.  Perfect, not so much.

I love woven baskets because they add warmth and texture to any space.  What I don’t like is how they are not easy to clean and they are a magnet for dust bunnies.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

I decided that the best solution was to add wheels to the basket, so that sweeping and vacuuming was easier and more effective.  I found some adhesive wheels on Amazon because screwing in wheels was not an option.

You can find these HERE in my Amazon store, but I am sure that any hardware store near you will also have them or similar ones.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

 

I followed the instructions on the package and adhered the wheels to my basket.  I also added a bit of glue to secure them further, considering the weave of the basket.  These wheels are intended for flat surfaces so I compensated with the addition of glue.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

 

Here it is with all four wheels.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

And here it is back in its place waiting for Elmo, Barney, or my favorite…tiny legos.

It’s hard to tell the difference (and that was the idea) but it is so much easier now to clean under the basket, and the wheels keep the basket cleaner.

Adding Wheels to a Basket

 

When I start spray painting, nothing in my home is safe.  I think it will be the same with wheels, no basket will be safe.

It’s worth mentioning that these wheels don’t swivel and I don’t know how much weight they can bear, but they are perfect for a simple project like this.  I think they may also work with under-bed storage since dust bunnies are another reason that I don’t keep anything under my bed.  I also have wheels on the baskets that I keep on my closets floors.  It is a simple solution that makes cleaning easier, and I am a fan of easy.

Can you think of anything that you can add these wheels to in your home?  Do you have the same problem with baskets and dust bunnies?  If so, I hope this will help!

Until next time,

Maria

 

Creating a Smoothie Station

Smoothies have become so popular in the last couple of years.  It makes sense because we are all becoming more conscious of the ingredients that we consume and we want to avoid sugar-laden carbonated drinks.  We are also very busy and smoothies are portable, quick to make, and pack a lot of nutrition.

I think the healthiest smoothie that you can drink, is the one that you make yourself.  Why?  How many of you (like me) have gone into a smoothie chain, assuming you were getting a healthy drink, only to realize that they were using strawberries dunked in sugar syrup, or adding sugar and ice so that they could use less fruit.  Nope, I won’t pay 5.00 for that!  I prefer to spend the money buying quality ingredients and making my smoothies at home.

SMOOTHIE Organization

After buying all these awesome ingredients, I needed an equally awesome way to store them.

The cabinet where I kept all my smoothie supplies, was usually my “messy” cabinet.  It was not an absolute disaster, but it wasn’t practical either.  All the little packages of cocoa, flax-seed, chia seed, needed a new home.

Here is what the space used to look like.

Smoothie Organization

Packages everywhere.  Some of them were not even resealable.  I needed containers.

Smoothie Organization

I found these OXO containers at Target and I purchased them in two different sizes to accommodate the different products.  If you want to purchase them online, you can find them HERE, in my amazon store.

You may remember that they are the same containers that I used to create my Coffee Station.  You can read about that HERE.

Smoothie Organization

I also decided that I wanted to move the shelves around, to better fit the new containers.  I removed the cabinet door so that the shelves would slide out.

I also went ahead and gave the cabinet a good cleaning.

Smoothie Organization

I placed the shelves back after measuring the height that I needed.

Smoothie Station

I then emptied all the packages into the new containers and added labels.

Everything went back in the cabinet.

SMOOTHIE organization

Notice how narrow I made the shelf holding the mugs.   The coffee cabinet is right next to this one and I keep my mugs in here.  I like everything to match, except coffee mugs.  I like collecting different ones.

SMOOTHIE Station

In the very top, I placed the larger cans and containers.  Since I lowered that shelf, I can now reach up and grab whatever I need.  Before I did this, I could never reach the top shelf.

Smoothie Organization

I finished the project by hanging a clipboard to the cabinet.  I found this clipboard in the dollar section at Target.  I plan to keep smoothie recipes here.

SMOOTHIE Organization

Here is the finished product!

Smoothie Organization

It really is a pleasure to open up this cabinet now, considering how it looked before.

Please share with me if you make smoothies at home and what are your favorite types.  This week, I will share on Facebook a couple of my favorite smoothie recipes so stay tuned!

Shaking it up! (my corniness has no limits)

Maria

Organizing The “No Junk” Drawer

This week, let’s take 10 minutes to tackle the junk drawer.  Instead of just tidying up what is already in there, lets resolve to make it a NO JUNK drawer or at the very least, less junk.

Lets face it, a drawer with the prestigious name, “The Junk Drawer” is the most likely to receive the least amount of love.  This is also the reason that its one of the most cringe-worthy areas in the kitchen.

I have always tried to keep the items in this drawer to a minimum, but lately I have simplified it further.

Here is what my “no junk” drawer looks like now.

Junk Drawer Organization

 

I have already shared with you that I don’t have the most spacious kitchen, and I didn’t want to dedicate a whole drawer for miscellaneous items.  The way I look at it is, if I dedicate a whole drawer for this, I will find a way to fill it up.  I gave myself half a drawer to work with and it made me rethink what I would keep in this space.

Half of the drawer is taken up by a steak knife block.  It fits perfectly in the drawer, it doesn’t shift and keeps the baskets next to it, in place.

Every junk drawer will look different and I encourage you to only keep items that you frequently use.  In my case, I keep scissors, writing tools, tape, memo pads and chip clips.  (By the way, I used to have like 10 chip clips in there and we rarely buy chips.  I also have a ton of workout gear and…well…back to the drawer).

Junk Drawer Organization

I also keep a little plastic container to collect Box Tops for my son’s school.  Otherwise, I know I would just throw them in the drawer and they would get lost since they are so small.

Junk Drawer Organization

So what are the steps to creating a “no junk” drawer that works for you?

1. Empty the contents of the drawer onto a nearby surface.

2.  Categorize items into Keep / Discard / Relocate  (later, you can relocate items that don’t belong in this drawer).

3.  Clean the drawer.  If you will use clear containers, you may decide to place a pretty liner on the drawer after cleaning.

4.  Containerize this space according to the items you are keeping.  I chose not to use a drawer divider made for junk drawers because it would take up the whole drawer and I would feel compelled to fill the spaces, even if I didn’t need them.  Instead, I chose clear containers with a colorful non-skid backing that I found at Target.  They had different sizes and you can customize your space.

Taking 10-15 minutes to do this small task will not only make your drawer pretty, it will also make it easier to find and put away items.  This will keep your drawer organized for a long time (or until your husband loses his keys and turns every drawer upside-down.  This may or may not depict an actual event that may or may not have occurred in my life.)

What else do you keep in the junk drawer?

Until next time!

Maria

 

 

Pantry Makeover

 
Earlier this week, I posted on my cabinet pantry.  You can read about it HERE.

This week, let’s concentrate on making over our pantries, regardless of whether they are in a closet or within cabinets.

If you do have a closet pantry, you can also read HERE about how I organized my friends pantry last year.  It is pictured below.

Kitchen Organization

1. The first step to organizing the pantry is to get everything out of the pantry.  Yes, everything.  This will allow you to think fresh about new ways of storing your items.

2.  Secondly, create 4 piles.  One pile for expired (trash) items, another pile for unopened items that can be donated (like the 4 cans of cranberry sauce that you buy as a backup just in case your recipe for the fresh one fails), a pile of daily used items, and lastly, a pile of rarely used items.

3.  Clean your shelves and allow them to dry before placing items back inside.

4.  Look for baskets or containers around the house that you can use to unite like-items.  Below, I have a picture of one of my bins that holds asian condiments.

5.  Finally, re-stock your pantry.

PANTRY Organization

A pretty label never hurts.  If you decide to containerize items by type, add a label.

PANTRY Organization

Turntables are great because everything is viewable with a simple turn.  There are different sizes, so be sure to take measurements before purchasing.

In the picture below, I have a large one towards the back and a smaller one right in front.  This way I still have space to place the boys’ cereal beside the turntable.

Pantry Organization

Stackable bins are great to put towards the back of deep cabinet with large items such as canning jars.  I purchased these at Target.

Canning can take up a lot of room and you don’t do it everyday so it doesn’t need to be center stage.

PANTRY CANNING

Once you place them in the back of the cabinet, you can label the front of the cabinet so that you don’t forget that you have 20 cute mason jars waiting for fresh salsa!

PANTRY Organization

You can now place items that are used more frequently towards the front.

OXO Containers are my favorite for dry storage.  The containers holding the green snacks are from a brand called Sistema.

 

Pantry Organization

As you are re-stocking your pantry, create zones whenever possible.  Maybe you can have a baking zone, a breakfast zone, and a snack zone.

I have my baking station right on top of my refrigerator.  You can read about it HERE.

Baking Organization

I hope these ideas are helpful and can help you custom-organize your pantry to fit your space and lifestyle.

And don’t worry about keeping extra cans of cranberry sauce.  Fresh cranberry sauce always turns out and sometimes people don’t even touch it!  😉

Happy organizing!

Maria

 

Cabinet Pantry Organization

I don’t have a pantry per-se.  I have a set of deep cabinets that flank my refrigerator.  I use these kitchen cabinets as a pantry.

Perhaps you have a similar setup or are fortunate enough to have a large closet pantry or a walk-in pantry (swoon!).   Either way, we all need to maximize the space we have so that we can see what we have and need at-a-glance.

_MG_3891PANTRYBLOGCOVER2

Deep cabinets are awesome.  They also present the challenge that things get lost towards the back of the cabinet.  Basically, the good part is that a lot of stuff fits, the bad part is that a lot of stuff fits.

The pull-out shelf unit pictured below is awesome for deep cabinets!  I purchased it about nine years ago at Home Depot and it was so worth the money!

I store most of my cans and pasta in this rack and I love that it pulls out to reveal everything that is towards the back.

Pantry Organization

HERE is a similar (nicer, more expensive) version but you can probably find something similar to mine in a hardware store.  It is very sturdy and holds so much weight!

This is what it looks like when I pull it out of the cabinet.

PANTRY Organization

The very top is perfect for pasta and flat cans of tuna.

PANTRYOrganization

In the other side of the cabinet are the snacks.

My husband added a few narrow shelves to hold smaller items.

PANTRY Organization

One of those shelves holds this garment divider that I use as a snack divider.

We like KIND bars.  🙂

PANTRY Organization

Underneath, are the boys’ snacks.  These are the two bottom shelves and therefore the most accessible for them.

I also have a basket full of asian condiments.

Pantry Organization

Above the snacks, is another pull-out drawer (used to hold chips) that now holds my toddlers plates and lots of beans.

We like BEANS and KIND bars.

PANTRY Organization

Above the pull-out drawer is another narrow shelf that holds the kids’ pasta and sometimes a loaf of bread.

I could be making lobster thermidor for dinner and they would prefer one of these colorful boxes.  Go figure…

PANTRY Organization

Above the pasta, are three lazy suzans.  I am not tall and without the turntables, the top shelf is otherwise inaccessible to me.

The one towards the front has random condiments, and behind it is another turntable that holds vinegars.

In the slot next to the oils, I place the kids cereal dispenser (pictured below).

Pantry Organization

The very top shelf is full of oils.  The lazy suzan holds everyday oils, such as coconut and olive oils.

In the back are extra bottles of vegetable oil.  I rarely deep fry, but when I do, I use a whole bottle!

PANTRY Organization

That’s my cabinet pantry!  Do you also have this kind of pantry?  How do you maximize your space?

In a couple of days I will post a step-by-step pantry makeover that will benefit any pantry style!

Until then,

I will be making beans and eating chocolate-covered peanut bars (because I don’t actually know how to make lobster thermidor)!

Maria 

Organizing Grains

I shared this blog entry last year but decided to share it once more since it pertains to our kitchen series and it is a good tip for storing grains:

The rice that I purchase comes in these cute little plastic containers. I love the look. The problem is that I buy different kinds of rice, so I stack the containers and they end up falling out of the pantry. I keep the rice in the highest cabinet in my kitchen and I need the items up there to be sturdy so that I can grab them with no problem. I am 5’3″ on a really perfect and sunny day.

As a solution to my problem, I decided to move the rice into these “Lock-and-Lock” containers that I had purchased years ago and was no longer using. I purchased these on QVC but I couldn’t find the set to link here. Instead, I found similar containers (that even had a pour spout ) on Amazon and you can find them HERE.  Also, HERE is a link for the smaller ones.  I use smaller ones for the items that I don’t buy in bulk.

Of course, any set that is stackable will work.

Rice Storage

I can make white rice without a recipe but brown rice for example has a different recipe to follow. Have you noticed that based on the brand of brown rice they will give you different cooking times? I usually use the same brand and I printed these small labels (that I made on Microsoft Word) and typed the suggested recipe. I placed it on the outside of the container using double stick tape. If you have the patience you can laminate the label before sticking it on the container and that will make it water-resistant. I love and admire patient people. I really do.

Rice Organization

I did the same for quinoa. I could do a whole post on how much I love quinoa.

Rice Organization

I used the rest of the matching containers to put arborio rice, cracker meal and polenta. As you can see on the very side of the cabinet there is a label that says “oatmeal”. I did that to remind myself that there is a large container of oatmeal behind the rice. Only do this for items that don’t get used weekly. They can be stored in the very back of these deep cabinets and the label will remind you that it’s there. Otherwise, you will buy an item that you already have and you end up with enough granola to feed the church!

Rice Organization

That’s it! Another quick, easy project to make your life easier!

In a couple of days we will finish tacking the rest of the kitchen!

Happy Organizing!

Maria

Organizing Plates and Platters

Organizing Plates and Platters

I have shared with all of you how much I (we) enjoy cooking and entertaining family and friends.  I also love plating and food presentation, so over the years I have accumulated quite a few dishes.

It is always a challenge figuring out how to store so many dishes in a relatively small kitchen.  I don’t have many cabinets and I use most of them for pantry use (we do not have a stand alone pantry closet). I keep some dishes in the dining room hutch, but the majority reside in the kitchen cabinets.

Here is how I store and organize my dishes.

Organizing Plates

I have also collected quite a few glasses over the years.  I keep most of them in the dining room hutch.

Below are the ones we use daily.  The goblets are inexpensive and sturdy; they are Libbey brand and you can find them HERE.  I have also seen them at Marshalls and Homegoods.  The smaller tumblers are not as sturdy but they are inexpensive and I love the size.  They are from CB2 and you can find them HERE.

All the other white plates are from different stores that I have collected over years.

Organizing Plates

 

A pet peeve of mine is stacked plates. It’s not a big deal if they are plates that you seldom use, but your everyday plates should be easily accessible. You shouldn’t have to lift salad plates to get the dinner plates on a daily basis.

I have cabinet dividers and risers in almost every cabinet to maximize the space and to make my dishes easily accessible.

Organizing Plates

The metal divider/shelf below is from Target.  You can find some white ones “here”.  Walmart and Homegoods also have a good selection of cabinet organizers.

Organizing Plates

I do have some colorful dishes but 90% of them are white. I think that food looks better on white plates. I also love that I don’t have to worry about them matching. Plates that I bought last week match the ones that I purchased 15 years ago.

I love cool plates like these concave ones.  By sliding the shelf against the cabinet, I made space for these narrow plates.

Organizing Plates

Most of my drawers hold serving platters.  These are too big to fit in my cabinet.  They are perfect in the drawer.

Organizing Plates and Platters

In this drawer I keep the bowls that we use most often.

Organizing Plates and Platters

Organizing is an art!  This is a standard size drawer and I was able to fit quite a few serving dishes by playing around with placement.

I love opening a drawer where everything has it’s place and is not shifting all over the place.  Because all these plates fit in here so tight, there is no room to budge.  As Martha would say – “That’s a good thing.”

Organizing Plates and Platters

The bottom drawer is the deepest.  In here I keep all the clear baking dishes.

Organizing Plates and Platters

As you can see, I rarely buy dish “sets”. I prefer to buy them separately so that I get exactly what I want. I may love a plate but dislike the coffee cups that come with them in the set.

I want to leave you with some good tips for building your plate and platter collection:

  • Get rid of plates and cups that you no longer like or use.  We sometimes keep things in our cabinets that we don’t even like, instead of making space for something we truly enjoy.
  • If you only want or have one set of plates, make them accessible by placing them on a removable shelf riser.  This will double your space!
  • If you buy plates separately like me, it is best to buy 9 if you need 8. That way if one breaks, you still have a full set.  If two break…well…try not to break two!
  • Take your time buying dishes.  It is fun to collect things that you love over time, instead of buying things that are on sale to fill up a cabinet.

I hope you enjoyed these ideas because I really enjoyed sharing them with you!

Tell me –  do you collect plates too or is one set more than enough?

Always Organizing,

Maria

 

 

Gadget Drawer Organization

The gadget drawer can either be a pleasure to open or a pleasure to close.  Mine used to be the latter.

I was never really happy with my gadget drawer(s) before.  I would put the items into baskets within the drawer but the organization never lasted.  The items would shift around in the drawer and I was back to square one.

I found these organizers about a year ago and they are called DrawerDecor.  I only bought one at a time because they were not inexpensive and I wanted to make sure they were worth the investment.

They are so worth it, I loved them instantly!

It is basically a repositionable basemat which you can cut-to-size, so that it perfectly fits your drawer.   The mat includes dividers that are also repositionable; you can adjust both the mat and the dividers to fit your gadgets or utensils.  If you ever need to change the positioning, you simply lift the matt or the dividers and use them over and over.  Genius.

They have them in an assortment of colors and since I am such a crazy gal…I chose…drumroll…NATURAL.

I totally meant to choose red or something more fun but let’s face it, my idea of fun involves rocking chairs.    Natural was the color for me.

Organizing Gadgets

I had more gadgets than I had dividers, but the cool thing is that since the mats are non-skid, I was able to place large items (like my kitchen timer) and they didn’t shift.

After I fell in love with this organizer, I ordered another set for my other gadget drawer.  However, I used the repositionable dividers that came with it, for the drawer pictured above and simply used the mat to hold larger items.

I placed all my timers and miscellaneous bowls and brushes in this drawer and they don’t shift at all.  I have had these organizers in place for over a year and they work great for me.

Organizing Gadgets

Of course, there are other ways to organize your drawer that don’t involve buying these mats.  This is just what worked for me.  I wonder if any other silicone mat will have a similar effect.  You wouldn’t have the dividers but it may hold the larger items.  Also, acrylic dividers that come in different shapes are a good option.

So lets get to work.

1.  The first step in organizing your gadget drawer is to take out all the utensils and gadgets.  This is very important because once the items are out of the drawer, you will be pickier with what you allow back in.

2.  Get rid of doubles.  Unless we are talking about timers.  In that case you need 14.  I am kidding, but I do collect them and around the holidays I actually use quite a few of them, at once.

3.  Lastly, get rid of gadgets that you don’t ever use.  Sometimes we have the best of intentions when we buy something and it just ends up taking up space.  I usually give items away so that I don’t feel guilty about not keeping them.

You will be left with your favorite tools — the ones that make cooking more fun.  Your drawer will now be a pleasure to open!

You can find the organizers that I mentioned in my amazon store HERE
.  I only recommend products that I love and have made my life easier or prettier.  This one checks off both boxes.

How do you organize your gadgets?  A crock, in the drawers like me?

Design Corner – Tray Chic

I am starting a new section of the blog, titled: Decorate.

I am not a professional designer, but in my head, I totally am.  In that part of my head, I am also a skilled ballerina, so I don’t know if that tarnishes my credibility as a designer somewhat.

I love design books and design blogs, and I am constantly moving things around in my own home, until they are “just right”. I figured I would share some of the things that inspire me to not only organize my home, but decorate it.

Every couple of weeks, I will give a new decor suggestion. They will be easy to implement and hopefully will inspire you to continue adding touches to your home, so that your home feels like you.  So that your home makes you feel how you want to feel.

This week I will share one of my favorite decorating ideas…using trays to decorate, cradle, and anchor miscellaneous items.

Traditionally, trays are used for serving food items, coffee and tea.  I keep my nicer, sturdier trays for this purpose.

Decorating with trays

But I also use them all over the house.

Starting with the coffee table in our living room.

This is actually a cake platter from Ballard Designs, that I inverted to use as a tray.  It is perfect for this small table.

Decorating with trays

In the dining room, I have a gray, narrow ottoman (Target clearance…yay!) that is nice on its own, but needed some jazzing up.

Decorating with trays

This gold croco-embossed tray was perfect to anchor the plant that sits on the ottoman.

When you have a soft surface, such as an ottoman, adding a hard element, such as a tray or a stack of books can add structure and interest to an otherwise boring piece of furniture.

I also love the gray and gold contrast.

Decorating with trays

In the family room I have an enormous tray that I found at ZGallerie (also clearance).  It is also croco-embossed.

I should have named this post “The Clearance Crocodile”.  I see a running theme…

Trays are great for tables with miscellaneous items that may not go together.  Once they are on a tray, they look organized and somehow tied together.

This is a great idea if you collect perfumes or figurines.  If they are on a tray, they will look more like a cohesive collection, and more visually appealing.

Decorating with Trays

Lastly, on the kitchen table we have a tray that corrals our vitamins, napkins and ceramic trivets.  When I need to clear the table, I simply lift the tray, instead of all the items one-by-one.

Decorating with Trays

Trays can do more than carry a tea service, they can add beauty and function to a space.

So I encourage you to dust off the trays that you have tucked away in the garage, or in the very back of the china cabinet.

If you already use trays, please share with me how.  I love to hear from you!

I hope you enjoyed this new section of the blog!

In a few days, we will return to the Kitchen Organizing Series but for now, I hope that you enjoy your weekend, your family, your home.

– Maria

The Painted Smile

I love the color green and had painted the boys bathroom a celery green about 7 years ago.  The paint held up well, but I was getting tired of the color and it started to look dull.  After years of cleaning the walls from little marks here and there, it was time to make a change.

Kid's Bathroom

I went into Sherwin Williams and took a whole bunch of their paint samples.  I brought them home and placed them side-by-side.  I then chose what I thought was the perfect shade of blue for my kids’ little bathroom.  I chose an appropriately named color, it’s called Watery.

Kid's Bathroom

I also purchased some rollers, a tray and a paintbrush for edging.  I was excited to start!

As soon as I got home, I realized that I purchased the rollers thinking that we already had the roller frame (or poll) in our garage.  I couldn’t find it.

I was so anxious to start, that I decided to paint the bathroom with a paintbrush.  It seemed like an excellent idea at the time.  I would take advantage of my toddler’s nap time, and I would paint a room.  With only a small paintbrush.  Genius.  Interrupted.

Boy's Bathroom

I start painting the first wall and my arm starts to hurt.  I start losing steam ON THE FIRST WALL.  This isn’t good.  The small bathroom starts looking like Versailles from my vantage point.

Kid's Bathroom

I start convincing myself that the WHOLE bathroom didn’t actually need painting. I convince myself that only one wall should be painted.  I convince myself that the contrast between the blue and green is actually better than re-painting the whole bathroom. I convince myself that broccoli actually tastes better than cake.

But deep inside, I know the truth.  Cake tastes better than broccoli .  I must finish the project that I began.

Also, my husband was out-of-town and groveling for help, like with my Master Closet Remodel, wasn’t an option.  You can read about that “adventure” HERE.

Boy's Bathroom

So I kept going and positioned and re-positioned our ladder “cirque du soleil style” until I finished.  My paintbrush and I were done.  We did good.  We were rock stars.

I love the new color and I want to share some pictures with you.  What do you think?

Boys Bathroom

I did end up leaving a small nook at the very top, in the old green shade.  I added some blue pots to bring in some blue from the walls.  Not sure if I love the green nook yet.  Maybe I should go ahead and paint that too.  I have to wait and see.  Its a small area that I could paint it really fast, even with a paintbrush.

I hung up the towels and the shelves.  (The photograph does not accurately show the color. There is no natural light in this bathroom, making good photos a challenge.)

Kid's Bathroom

I purchased the towels from Frontgate and I love the quality.  They are holding up well and were a perfect match to the new color.

Kid's Bathroom

The shelf and a more accurate picture of the color.

Boy's Bathroom

Since my husband was out-of-town, he had no idea that I was doing this.

As soon as he got home, I proudly told him that I had painted the kids’ bathroom…using only a paintbrush.  No roller.

He smiled.

But I knew this smile.  I have given this smile before (Usually to my toddler, when he rushes in to tell me that he has “decorated” my bedroom.  I smile and excitedly say “YOU DID?!” and inside, I immediately start crying).

Boy's Bathroom

There is no joy in that smile.  Only fear.  My husband was afraid.

You see, according to him, he loves my decorating, but my DIY projects…

He says they either culminate in total success or…fear.  I think I have a pretty good batting ratio.  His opinion has no basis.  None that I would admit to.

Regardless, I was hopeful that he would love it as much as I did.  It would make the fact that I didn’t feel my right arm, almost worthwhile.

And…He loved it!  The smile was no longer forced.  He really liked it and so did the boys.

Even this boy.

By the way, that smile gets me every time.  Even when he uses toilet paper as streamers in my room.

Kid's Bathroom

Of course, I found the paint roller pole the next day.  God has a sense of humor.  I am sure of it.

– Maria

Baking Station Organization

We are back in the kitchen!  This week we will focus on creating or organizing a baking station.

Designate an area in your kitchen to hold all of your baking supplies.  It is so much more fun to bake when everything is within reach!

You may remember that last year, I organized my baking drawer.  You can find that post HERE.

Baking Organization

Today, I want to show you more of my baking station.  I can’t keep everything in that one drawer, so I keep all of my dry baking supplies in the cabinet above the refrigerator.

Although I can reach this cabinet, it isn’t easy for me to do so.  Therefore, it is the perfect spot for large, clear containers, that allow me to see their contents from where I stand.

Here is a picture of the cabinet.  This cabinet is not always used to its fullest potential in some kitchens, but it is a great space and probably one of your widest cabinets.  Let’s put it to work!

Baking Organization

The containers that hold the flour and sugar are from a brand called Lock & Lock.  The ones that rest above them, are disposable Ziploc containers that I use to put away cookie cutters and baking chocolate.    Right next to them, is a bin full of more cookie cutters.

Baking Organization

On the other side, I have Tupperware brand containers that hold items such as, coconut, powdered sugar, sprinkles and brown sugar.

Baking Organization

My baking drawer, which I shared with you last year, holds smaller items that I use for cake and cupcake decorating.

Baking Organization

And measuring cups and spoons.  I have multiple sets of those, considering most recipes call for dry and wet ingredients (and because I like collecting them).

Baking Organization

I like these containers because the lid stays open and I can easily fit up to a 1 Cup measuring cup inside.  I also use the top of the opening to level the cup.  Love that!

I purchased them about 5 years ago on QVC but you can still find them HERE.

Baking Organization

Lastly, in the cabinet right below the baking cabinet, next to the refrigerator, I have a small turntable full of baking spices.

Towards the back, I keep tea that is not used on a daily basis.  They are also on a turntable.

Baking Organization

Since I cannot keep all my baking supplies in one drawer, or cabinet, I do keep them all in the same area of the kitchen.  Everything is within hands reach.

Baking Organization

Above the baking spices is a ceramic box, full of my favorite teas.

Tea Station

Lastly, when you are done, wake up a little kid on a saturday morning and get them to help you in the kitchen, before they even have time to comb their hair.

Baking Organization

Everyone looks better with a little flour in their hair.  But that’s just my opinion.

Until Next Time,

Maria 

Organizing Spices

A new week of kitchen organization is here!

This week, we peek inside the kitchen cabinets and reveal the spices.  I think most of us have 30 spice jars and only regularly use about 5 of them.  It’s ok.  No one wants to drive to the grocery store just to pick up “old bay seasoning” for a special recipe.

The problem is having 3 jars of old bay seasoning because you keep buying it – since you can’t see the other 2 that you already purchased last year.  Unless, you have seafood boils on a weekly basis.  In that case, it’s ok.  It is also ok to invite me.  (I will organize your cabinets if you let me, as a trade-off).

I love the idea of having spices in the kitchen drawer, but I have such a limited amount of drawers in my kitchen, that I choose to keep my spices in my pantry cabinet.

My cabinets are really deep and narrow.  Initially, I purchased tiered spice shelves and placed them the traditional way.  That didn’t work since the cabinet was so narrow and I could only fit one set.  There were always spices behind the tier organizer that were not visible.  I tried placing the larger jars towards the back and labeling the very top of the lid since I could see the label and that helped.

Ultimately, I found the best way to organize my spices is by placing the tiers side-by-side against the cabinet wall.  I added a similar tiered divider to the amazon store and you can find it ” HERE “.  Of course, you can also find these almost anywhere else…Target, Walmart…

I try to buy the same brand of spices, not only because I like the brand, but it adds more of a uniform look.

I also organized the spices alphabetically.  It seems like a crazy thing to do at first and it will take you a little while the first time you do it, but it is worth it – I promise.

Finding spices is so much easier this way, especially when you lose a bit of the visibility of the spices towards the back of the cabinet.  On the other side of the tiers, I place larger, frequently used items like salt and pepper shakers.

I also left enough room for my hand to be able to reach back, without knocking things over.

Organizing Spices

On the wall of the cabinet, I placed an adhesive acrylic box for all the seasoning packets.  I usually only use a sprinkle or two, and then I’m wondering where to put the open packet.  This solves that problem.  I think I purchased it at Walmart.

Spice Organization

 

I do recognize that this method will not work for everyone, but I wanted to share this space with all of you just in case you had a similar-sized cabinet.

We still have a couple of things to touch on before we are done with the kitchen – so until next time,

Spice up your organizing!  (I had to!),

Maria  

Organizing Pots and Pans

Pots and pans…how many do you have?  How many do you need?

Organizing all your pots and pans

Well, I need a lot of them.  I cook almost everyday and I enjoy it.  I enjoy it even more when I have the right tools.

In this cabinet (albeit small) I have:

– 8 Skillets

– 4 Small Pots

– 2 Stock Pots

– 2 Medium Pots

– 1 Steamer Pot

That’s a total of 17 pots and pans!  Not including, 3 enamel dutch ovens (probably my favorite), that I store inside my oven.  One of the enamel pots sits on the stove at all times, since I use it often.  I also have cast iron pans which are my husband’s favorite, since they can go directly on the grill.

I am not a fan of purchasing full sets of pots and pans sold in a box, although it is a good way to figure out what you use most.  The box is usually a better value, but I end up giving away the pots that I don’t use…this negates the whole “better” value concept.  I prefer selecting quality pieces that I will use often and will last for many years.

This also means that I haven’t been able to buy all these pieces at once.  I purchase maybe one piece a year or my husband will give me one for my birthday or mother’s day.  I am one of those women that is REALLY excited to receive a stockpot as a gift.  Truly, it’s what I like.  Why should I ask for pearls when I really want something for the kitchen?

Not all of my cookware is expensive or that high of a quality.  I have yet to splurge on really good non-stick, so I have pans that do the job but won’t last for many years.  A good non-stick 12-14 inch pan is on my list though (honey, I know you don’t read all my posts, but I really hope you are reading this one!).  I get points for subtlety.

Back to how I organize the pans.  I get points for segues too.

I found a metal rack that could be used to store files or bakeware, and I placed it on its side.  It fit perfectly snug inside my cabinet, so each skillet rests safely in separate slots.

Organizing all your pots and pans

Next to the skillets, I have smaller sauce pots since the skillets take up a lot of room.  Behind the sauce pots, I have a large stockpot and a steamer pot.

Items that are rarely used are always towards the back.  The most used items get the best real estate.

Organizing all your pots and pans

In the top shelf, I place medium-sized pots.  I stack the ones that are alike.  Towards the back, I keep larger, less used deep skillets and pots.

Organizing all your pots and pans

This is the largest cabinet in my kitchen and that’s why I chose it for this purpose.  In some of the smaller corner cabinets, I keep specialty pots like pressure cookers, rice cookers and slow cookers.  I label the shelf to remind me of the item behind the front pot, since it’s not visible.

Organizing all your pots and pans

The labeled shelf…

Organizing all your pots and pans

I do suggest that before organizing all your pots, you take them out of your cabinets and make sure they deserve the space that they are taking up.  Obviously, I am not a minimalist when it comes to the kitchen, but I don’t keep things that I don’t use.

At this point, if I did get another non-stick skillet, I would have to get rid of a skillet.  Otherwise, this cabinet would turn into stainless steel mess.  It already does when I don’t put things back where they go.  And by “I”, I totally mean my husband.  Sorry Babe.

Do you enjoy cooking too?  Do you also get excited when kitchen catalogs arrive in the email?  Tell me that I’m not alone!

The Graceful Refrigerator

Let us begin our 2014 organizing series with the kitchen.  More specifically, the refrigerator.

Refrigerator Organization

I don’t know about you, but after the holidays my refrigerator is a mess.  During the holidays, I purchase food items that are either for Thanksgiving, Christmas breakfast and other holiday get togethers.  All these items, in addition to our regular shopping list, culminate in a messy refrigerator.

January is the perfect time to completely empty the refrigerator and start fresh!

The first thing you want to do is remove all sauces and dressings and place them on the counter.  This is a good opportunity to look at all the dates and toss out all the expired items.  Also, you may have opened a container of ricotta or sour cream, but you only needed half a cup…throw out what has since spoiled.

Refrigerator Organization

Once you have the bottles that you are keeping, wipe them clean and set aside.

Next, let’s remove the refrigerator shelves and bins (if they are removable) and soak them in a mixture of 2 tablespoons of baking soda and 1 quart of warm water.  You can use the same solution to wipe down the rest of the refrigerator.  Clean, dry and put all the bins back in place.

I use refrigerator coasters from “Fridge Coaster” and I had not changed them out in almost a year.  I used this opportunity to pick out a new set.  I love the pop of color that they add to the fridge!

Refrigerator Organization

This is also a good time to reposition your shelves to better suit your needs.  I adjust them fairly often to fit the products I buy.

Start placing all the items back in the refrigerator.  Designate a spot for everything.

Refrigerator Organization

And the side bins…

Refrigerator Organization

I keep clear OXO containers (without the lids) inside the pull out bins so that all the garlic and onion skins that collect at the bottom, can be easily cleaned up.  Also, any vegetable that has gone bad doesn’t seep all over my clean bin.

Refrigerator Organization

Lastly, the deli drawer.  My kids favorite and the only one that my toddler can reach.

I have clear bins in here as well to keep like-items in place.  Also, I have a bin for oily items like pesto and other spreads, that would otherwise leave oily circles inside the refrigerator.  I keep a larger clear bin in the top shelf for defrosting items.

You can find some bins in my amazon shop under “Refrigerator Bin” and Fridge Bin.  You can also find them at Bed Bath and Beyond.  Sometimes, even Homegoods will have a few.  Just make sure that you purchase bins that are refrigerator safe so that they don’t crack.

Refrigerator Organization

Having a clean and organized refrigerator has more advantages than just being visually appealing.  If you always put your butter in the same spot, then you know when you are out.  Even grocery shopping gets easier.

Stay tuned next week as we move on to the rest of the kitchen, and eventually the whole house!

Happy Organizing!

Maria