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 

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Enjoying the Better Part

Let me be the first blogger to welcome you to 2014!  Ok, maybe I am the last.

I have a perfect excuse though.  My husband surprised me with an apple computer for Christmas.  I was so excited to use it, I disconnected my old computer and connected the new shiny silver one.  I sat down to start blogging and then…I had no idea how to even open the internet browser.

GracefulOrder.com

Of course, it took me 20 minutes 2 minutes to figure out how to open the browser but the rest was a new world for me.  Basically, I have spent the last week getting acquainted with this computer and I know that I will love it, once I know how to use it.

About the blog…

I want to do something different this year with the blog.  I want to go room by room, so that we can organize our entire home together.  I didn’t want it to be a “challenge” where you feel pressure to keep up.  We have enough pressure from other venues.  Not here.  Nothing “graceful” about pressure.  I just want you to go at your pace and be inspired to start somewhere.  In a few days, we will start with the kitchen and then move into the rest of the home.

Graceful Order

2014!  My biggest resolution this year is to be Present.  I don’t want to be in a hamster wheel that keeps me from one event to the next, because I want to enjoy today.

I have two boys that still want to share every aspect of their days with me and I want to cherish that.  I want to be more organized so that I can be more spontaneous.  I want an organized kitchen so that I can be inspired to bake cookies and get flour everywhere with the boys.  I want an organized closet so that I can put things away quickly and I can get back to the things that matter.  I want more order so that I can enjoy the disorder.  Does that make any sense?

Of course, this means that I have to say “no” a lot more than I am used to because I am, without a doubt, a people pleaser.  I want to be liked, loved.  Don’t we all want that?  But when we say “yes” to too many things, we indirectly say “no” to others.  I don’t want to say “no” to spending time with the boys, with my husband.  I don’t want to say no to spending time with the Lord and even having some alone time.

And of course, spending time with my apple computer.  I seriously need to YouTube some tutorials (as soon as I find the YouTube icon).

So my resolution is simple but difficult for me to execute.  I want my focus to be on what I am saying “yes” to.  I intend to make memories.  I intend to take less pictures.  Is that a shocker?  It’s kind of crazy because I really see the importance of pictures, but I feel that I stay behind the camera way too much.  I want to create the moments and not worry as much about documenting them.  Here is one moment I had to document last week.  The boys playing at the park and my little one, who insisted on wearing his dino pajamas at 4 o’clock in the afternoon.

At the park

I want to let go of guilt.  I always feel like I am not doing enough.  For example, I scrapbook and I am always behind…like years behind.  Will the kids not know how much I love them if I don’t have pictures of every missing tooth and a journal entry about it?  Think about it.  I have like 1 album for my entire childhood…zero journaling…and I feel loved.

We always notice people who seem to do more than us.  I recently shared with a friend something that I read and impacted me.  “We compare our behind-the-scenes with others’ highlight reel”.  No one has it all.  We all fall short somewhere.  So you didn’t bake cookies with your kids this past Christmas.  So what?  There were lots of things that you did do.  So you didn’t work out as much as you would have liked last year.  Don’t let that disappointment keep you from believing in yourself this year.

One of my favorite bible stories is about Martha and Mary.  Jesus and his disciples stay at Martha’s home and she is consumed by working on being a good hostess while Mary (her sister) sits at Jesus feet listening to what he was saying.  Martha eventually complains that Mary is not helping her by saying “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” and Jesus replies…“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed—or indeed only one.  Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

When I first read that scripture I didn’t understand because I tend to be such a doer.  I used to think that her sister should help her and that way she wouldn’t be so stressed out.  But I was wrong.  This is not a story about how being busy is bad.  This is a story about priorities.  Martha is not wrong for serving food, she is not wrong for being a good hostess, she is wrong for being worried and upset over trivial things.  Her priority at that moment was incorrect.

If you have a choice between listening to words that feed your soul and arranging food perfectly on a platter….well…Mary certainly chose the better part.

So I want to remind myself to be more like Mary.

I will not eliminate taking pictures, or journaling, scrapbooking, cooking big meals or any other thoughtful thing that I do for my family and friends to show love.  I do want to eliminate the guilt.  The little voice that always says that I am not doing enough.  I will never be able to do it all, all the time.

I want to put the serving platter down and sit down and listen.  I want to be present.  I want to choose the better part.

And I wish the same for you!

Maria

A New Year

Almost 2014.  Wow!

The older we get, the faster time seems to pass.  Or maybe we are just more aware of the value of time?

Either way, it’s a new year.  New goals, dreams and opportunities to make memories.

In our family we start the year by eating together.  We end the year the same way…

I see a trend.

January 1st we always make the same meal.  Lentil soup and Spanish omelets.  They don’t seem to go together but somehow they work.  Spanish omelets are hearty and can stand alone.  Sometimes we serve it with a salad.  Lentil soup can also stand alone or you can serve white rice as a side.

A New Year

Since we purchase a Ham for Christmas Morning, I freeze the bone with some of the ham and I use it for my soup days later.  Here is the lentil soup.  Enough to feed the entire neighborhood that I live in.

Or just enough for my family.

A New Year

I usually make some sort of white cake as a dessert.  Either coconut cake or carrot cake.  This year it’s carrot cake.

As a refreshment, we serve white sangria.

A New Year

Basically, this is just another excuse to get everyone together.  We are all so busy that if we don’t schedule time for family, we don’t see each other.  It is important to make an effort, make traditions, make memories…

Start the year with family.

This year let’s spend more time with family.  Let’s extend more grace to others.  Let’s add that to the resolution list.

Happy 2014!

Maria

Breakfast Scones

I wanted to take the time to thank you all for your support of Graceful Order and for your comments, emails, suggestions…all of your time!

This blog has been so much more fun than I ever imagined and I look forward to a new year with new ideas to share with all of you!

Merry Christmas and I hope you enjoy this recipe for Cranberry Scones.  The recipe is from Ina Garten and I have modified it very little by adding extra sugar.  These scones are not super sweet, just sweet enough.

I usually make the dough ahead of time, I cut the scones and then freeze them in a single layer with instructions on the bag on how to bake them.  I make the drizzle right before I bake them.

Enjoy!

Chirstmas Scones

  • 4 cups plus 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
  • 2 tablespoons baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange zest
  • 3/4 pound cold unsalted butter, diced
  • 4 extra-large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup cold heavy cream
  • 1 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 egg beaten with 2 tablespoons water or milk, for egg wash
  • 1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar, plus 2 tablespoons
  • 4 teaspoons freshly squeezed orange juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, mix 4 cups of flour, 1/2 cup sugar, the baking powder, salt and orange zest. Add the cold butter and mix at the lowest speed until the butter is the size of peas. Combine the eggs and heavy cream and, with the mixer on low speed, slowly pour into the flour and butter mixture. Mix until just blended. The dough will look lumpy! Combine the dried cranberries and 1/4 cup of flour, add to the dough, and mix on low speed until blended.

Dump the dough onto a well-floured surface and knead it into a ball. Flour your hands and a rolling pin and roll the dough 3/4-inch thick. You should see small bits of butter in the dough. Keep moving the dough on the floured board so it doesn’t stick. Flour a 3-inch round plain or fluted cutter and cut circles of dough. Place the scones on a baking pan lined with parchment paper. Collect the scraps neatly, roll them out, and cut more circles (or triangles).

Brush the tops of the scones with egg wash, sprinkle with sugar, and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the tops are browned and the insides are fully baked. The scones will be firm to the touch. Allow the scones to cool for 15 minutes and then whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and orange juice, and drizzle over the scones.  Enjoy!

Love you all!

Maria

Organizing Christmas Gifts

I love everything about the holidays.

Except the long lines at the market, in the department stores and the post office.

I don’t know what it is about me and waiting in line.  I realize that no one likes waiting in line but…I could have a shopping cart full to the brim and when I see that there is a long line for checkout…I start to ask myself if I really need anything in the cart (besides my toddler).  🙂  Does this ever happen to you?

Now back to what I love.  Back to the merriness of Christmas.  Back to the beauty of giving.

Christmas Gift List

Back to how to avoid lines.  I avoid the lines by shopping way ahead of time and also shopping online.

I never shop during black Friday unless it is online.  With my fear of lines and crazy mobs at the mall, there is no way that I am leaving the house that day.  Visions of not finding a parking space and women fighting over the last special edition Barbie doll for their little girls, keep me home.  With my doors locked.

I am all about saving money but I find that the deals online match most of the deals at the store and even if I get an extra 5% off on black Friday, it’s just not worth it to me.  I need a cup of lavender chamomile just thinking about it.

Whether you are courageous enough to shop black Friday or just shop another time…have you noticed that there is always that ONE gift that drives you back to the mall during Christmas week?

To avoid forgetting that one gift, I started keeping a Christmas list years ago that keeps me on track for purchases and holiday spending.  I created a similar list for all of you to use.

I do realize that I should have thought of this a couple of weeks ago but I have been wrapping gifts like a madwoman and I figured it would still be useful.  You can either use it to check off the gifts that you already purchased and/or see what you still need to buy.

Here is the list:

Graceful Order Christmas Gift List Copy ”

I hope the list will be helpful!

I am excited about our Christmas breakfast and in a couple of days I will share with you my recipe for Cranberry Scones, so stay tuned!

Until then…Happy Wrapping!

Maria

Christmas Morning Breakfast

Every Christmas morning we host a pajama breakfast at the house.  Our whole family knows that they are invited to swing by, eat and hang out.  They also know that they are welcome to come in their pajamas.  I really look forward to this day and so do the boys!

Christmas Breakfast

The menu is plentiful but the cooking is really simple because most of all, I want to enjoy my boys opening their gifts.

The night before, I prepare a couple of casseroles and I place them in the fridge.  These casseroles are supposed to be refrigerated so that the flavors can marry.  One is sweet and the other is savory.  As soon as I wake up, I turn on the oven, get the casseroles in there and turn on the timer.

My husband buys a ham the day before.  I prepare a fruit platter the night before.  I bake some cookies with the boys the day before and also bring them out to the table.

Christmas Baking

I prefer to buy or make everything myself because that way I know that all the food is laid out on the table and I don’t have to fuss with it again.  If I delegate the dishes, then I constantly have to come back to the table to re-arrange once the guests arrive, I have to re-heat dishes…you get the point.  It may sound easier to delegate but if your goal is to spend time with little kids…consider an easy menu that you can execute yourself.

My husband gets up really early and starts making the hot cocoa and grinding the coffee beans.

Christmas Cocoa

We put both the coffee and the hot cocoa in carafes so that they will stay hot for the duration of the breakfast.  Thermal carafes are a great investment because you wont have to re-heat or make more coffee.  These are pretty inexpensive and you can find them “here“.

I set up this coffee/cocoa station the night before.  Hence the dark cell phone picture!

Christmas Drinks

I sometimes make scones and freeze them in zipper bags with instructions for baking.  If I have any left in the freezer come Christmas morning, then I will bake them but only if I have extra time.  They are delish!  The ones below are cranberry scones.

Chirstmas Scones

Whatever you do, keep it simple.  Do as much as you can ahead of time.  Buy some of your items, they don’t all have to be homemade.  Have a checklist.  Have fun!  Whatever you do…don’t miss this!

These are my boys opening their gifts…this is my favorite part.  There is no scone that is yummier than this moment.

Christmas Gifts

I love you all!  Remember to give.  Remember to live.

Maria

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, Isaiah 9:6”

Organizing Thanksgiving

Yes!  Even the holidays can and should be organized.

There is definitely an art to hosting a dinner party and my goal is to share some of my tips with you so that you can avoid some of the mistakes that I have made in the past.  These are general dinner party tips but you can definitely use them for Thanksgiving.

Our Thanksgiving table last year.  I buy items right after the holiday is over so that I can decorate the following year to my heart and wallets content!

Our Thanksgiving table last year. I buy items right after the holiday is over so that I can decorate the following year to my heart and wallets content!

Have you ever had a dinner party that 30 minutes before your guests arrive you are still running around like a chicken turkey with your head cut off?  The moment they arrive everything is done and you think to yourself…”if you only knew how crazy my day has been in order to pull this off!”  Basically, they are ready to start having fun and you are ready for a nap!

Situations like this make us want to avoid having people over.  It’s a shame to avoid dinner parties altogether considering that when we move into a home, when we buy new dishes…we think of entertaining.  We think of well orchestrated dinner parties.

In my case, I love to entertain and have dinner parties.  I have had great and not-so-great dinner parties and I can tell you that planning makes the difference!  The ones that were not so great had nothing to do with the people I invited.  I was just simply too exhausted to enjoy what I had worked hard to put together.  Nowadays, although I have small kids and I can’t entertain as often as I would like, I still have dinner parties.  And….

I plan.  I plan EVERYTHING.

I have a timeline of when things need to get done.  I even write down when to turn on the candles, when to start playing the music…those are the little things that you can easily forget to do until after the guests arrive.  Those are the things that really set the ambiance for your party.

Whether you like to be really fancy or really laid back, a list will make all your gatherings more enjoyable.  Whether its paper plates or fine china, a list will keep you on track and relaxed.

These little pumpkins were about 1.00 each on clearance.  I had to wait a whole year to use them but I loved the result!

These little ceramic pumpkins were about 1.00 each on clearance. I had to wait a whole year to use them but I loved the result!

The point of the to-do list is not to stress you out or to try to impress anyone with “the perfect dinner party”.  The point of the list is to help you relax and know that everything is on schedule and that you don’t need to be anxious about anything that you may be forgetting because everything is written down and accounted for.

The point of a dinner party is to have fun and to entertain but that is impossible if by the time that guests arrive you are so tired that you are counting the minutes until they leave and you can take off your shoes.

The truth is that even with a schedule, things happen.  Food can burn, overcook, things can spill.  However, these events are much less overwhelming when you have a schedule.

So with Thanksgiving around the corner, I wanted to share some printables with you to help make this dinner party go as smoothly as possible.

Let’s face it, Thanksgiving is the mother of all dinner parties!  There are so many dishes to keep track of that without a schedule I would not be able to pull it off AND have fun.

Even if you decide not to do a list for all your dinner parties, consider doing one for thanksgiving.

Some of the things that I suggest adding to your list are:

  • Setting the table one to two days before a dinner party.
  • Make ahead anything that can be so that you can check it off your list.
  • If a dish cannot be made ahead then perhaps do the chopping and prep-work ahead of time.
  • Take out all your servewear so that you can have all the platters handy on the day of the dinner party.
  • Print out or make copies of all the recipes you are using so that you can staple them together and have them handy on the day of the event.
  • Set up your coffee maker ahead of time so that you don’t have to fuss with it when your guests are there.  Just press a button and you can join your party once more.
  • Set up a coffee station or a platter with coffee cups, sugar, creamer and stirrers so that you can just bring the pot to the table along with all the necessities.
  • Have a couple of music playlists that you can play during parties.  A more soothing one for the dinner portion and a livelier one for later.
  • Try to wash dishes as you go to lessen the clean up later.
  • Empty your dishwasher so that you can fill it up after your dinner party is over.

The most important TIP is that you have fun.  I love lists but the list goes out the window the moment that my guests arrive.  It’s all about them at that point and about enjoying myself with them.

Your guests will feel it if you are stressed out, so relax.  If you are relaxed then they are relaxed.  If something burns, just move on…laugh about it.  No one really ever remembers what they ate or the table linen that was used…they remember how they felt.  People remember having fun, good conversation.  In the end, the list was never to assure that they had fun.  It was to assure that you could have fun with them.

Here you can find the lists that I made on JPEG format.  I hope they make your holiday a more enjoyable one!

THANKSGIVING MEAL PLANNER

THANKSGIVING MEAL PLANNER

THANKSGIVING GUEST LIST

THANKSGIVING GUEST LIST

THANKSGIVING COOKING SCHEDULE

THANKSGIVING COOKING SCHEDULE

Below you can find them in PDF Format :

THANKSGIVING MEAL PLANNER

THANKSGIVING GUEST LIST

THANKSGIVING COOKING SCHEDULE

Remember: Do as much as you can before your guests arrive but when they do (regardless of what still hasn’t been crossed off your list) throw this list away and just have fun!

With that being said, Have a Happy Thanksgiving and count all your blessings.  There are many.  You can make a list about that too!

Happy Organizing,

Maria

Organizing Little Girls’ Drawers

Little Girls Drawers

You already know I had to ask a friend for help to pull this one off considering…I don’t have girls.

Yup, I live in a land of denim, fishing lures and camouflage.

I was so excited to organize this beautiful dresser that was full of color and cuteness.  So girlie!

So let’s see the dresser.

Little Girls Drawers

Inside the dresser you find the expected 525 hair clips and ribbons…

Little Girls Drawers

This is a great time to sort through the items and toss the ones that are broken and give away what is not used.

Little Girls Drawers

I decided to use clear acrylic organizers because I wanted to showcase all the color.  I also grouped the items by color to make it easy to find and to put away the bows.

Little Girls Drawers

Little Girls Drawers

I forgot to take before pictures of the rest of the drawers.  I get excited and forget to document things.

At least, here are the after pictures…

Little Girls Drawers

I used plastic spring-loaded dividers to keep all the clothing in it’s place.

You can find the OXO dividers HERE or at The Container Store.  I have also seen them at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Little Girls Drawers

Little Girls Drawers

Little Girls Drawers

This post is for all of you that asked me for organization tips for your princesses!

I hope you enjoyed the pictures and thank you all for your comments!

Until next time,

Happy Organizing!

Maria

Makeup Drawer – Before and After

Organizing your makeup

Anyone up for some before and after pictures??

A while back I shared where and how I store my makeup.  You can find that post “HERE“.

A friend of mine has a huge bathroom…with a huge vanity…with a huge drawer to store all her glam!  Is green the color of envy?  I forget.

Well, she was nice enough to let me photograph her space and share with all of you.

Here you will see the before and after of the drawer.  It’s really not a bad before picture and most of us would consider it an after shot.  Here it is:

Make-up Before and After

All we did was purchase some clear containers that had more customized dividers.  That way everything has a home!

Doesn’t it look better already?

Make-up Before and After

And the makeup lived happily ever after…THE END.

Make-up Before and After

Well not really…not until I say goodbye and ask you how you store your makeup.

Please share and as always,

Happy Organizing!

Maria

Organizing the Car Glove Box

We all want a neat car.  That’s established.

I will be sharing tips during the next couple of days on how to keep your car free from clutter.

A good tip is to try to empty your car when you are pumping gas.  This is the best time to throw away all the little receipts that you accumulate during the week.

Another tip is to always take something with you (besides your purse) that needs to be thrown out or put away when you leave your car.  We shouldn’t have the attitude that if we can’t clean the whole thing we won’t do anything at all.  However little you do adds up and you have less to clean later on.

There are things that need to stay in the car.  There are certain papers that we need and I like having them all in one spot.  I do this with an accordion organizer.

Car Organization

I’m sure you already have one of these files lying around and you can put it to use right away!

I created the following tabs on mine:

All of our bank accounts  /  Roadside assistance info  /  Car Registration  /   Maps  /  Repairs  /  Car Insurance Info  /  Note pad

Glove Box Organization

In the bank account tabs I only file deposit slips that have no account information.  This way when I need to make a drive thru deposit (the only sensible way to deposit with kids) I have the slips ready to go.  I just grabbed a stack from each of our banks.

The car insurance cards I have in my wallet but I photocopy them and place the copy behind the “Insurance” tab.

In the “Repairs” tab I only keep receipts such as car battery purchases and the latest trip to the mechanic.

All the other tabs are self-explanatory.  I hope you liked this quick tip on organizing your car.  You can personalize this further by filing other items that you use often.

More to come later this week!

Happy Organzing!

Maria

Organizing your Car

The day you get your minivan.  The day that elation and depression collide.  A mixture of excitement and resignation.  Your chances of coolness have fled forever.

The thing is…they are SO darn practical that you knew it was a matter of time before you caved in.  You are a minivan owner.

So here she is…look at those clean lines…those curves…that exquisite paint job that screams…P-R-A-C-T-I-C-A-L-!!!!

Organizing Your Car

The truth is that I LOVE IT.  The storage that a minivan offers is unmatched.

How to keep it clean:  I try my very best to avoid eating in the car.  If we are in a time crunch or going on a longer trip we do it but we (we means only me) try to avoid it.  You have to be flexible with kids but I find that if I set the standard that we don’t eat in the car I end up having to clean up so much less.  Even with “the standard” I end up picking up a bowl of Cheerios from the backseat every two weeks.

Here is the interior.

Car Organization

I keep a box of wipes and an umbrella in the front.  The box of wipes fits on the floor in the very center and doesn’t move about because the umbrella keeps it put.

I basically don’t know what I did before baby wipes.  I don’t recall my life before them.  I am pretty sure I was miserable.

Car Organization

I put these hooks on the passenger seat to hold my purse while I drive.  I flip them towards the back when I need them to hold groceries.

I have spilled the contents of my bag so many times after breaking hard.  No more.  You can find the hook HERE if you want to try it out.

Organization

Here is my favorite feature of this minivan (Chrysler Town & Country).  The latch on the floor of the second row opens up and there is a world of storage under there.

Car Organization

On one side I keep a TON of grocery bags and a beach towel.   In the next picture you can see the full size of this storage space because here it is only half-open.

Car Organization

Here is the other side fully open.  Isn’t this space huge?!

There is a wagon full of toys, rain coats for the whole family, and large first aid kit under the tool kit (just in case I have to fully assemble my car roadside although I have AAA and a number of other roadside assistance programs).

Car Organization

Now the trunk.  I only keep a small stroller in there since my 2-year old rarely uses a stroller when we are out.

Car Organization

I line the bottom of the trunk with a blanket that I can wash if it gets dirty from a spill or dirt from when I buy plants.  If you ever need a blanket for the park, it’s there too.

Car Organization

On the side of the trunk I keep a roll of paper towel, cups, sunscreen and a bottle of water.  I realize that you shouldn’t drink water that has been sitting in a car getting hot but I like having one there just in case someone starts choking while they are assembling the car roadside.  Am I the only one that thinks of these things?

Don’t answer that.

Car Organization

So you have a minivan.  You now make a new commitment to yourself.  “I will never wear mom jeans.  The minivan is as low as I will go”

This gives you hope for the future.  You may still have a chance at being cool…when you are not driving, of course.

Share with me what else you store in your car.  Do you have a minivan?  Do you love it too?

Happy Organizing,

Maria

How to Fold T-shirts

We are continuing the “how-to-fold” series and today we are folding t-shirts.

How to fold t-shirts

I fold all of our t-shirts in the way I am about to show you.  Today we will be focusing on men’s t-shirts.

Do drawers like this look familiar to you?

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I used to fold t-shirts this way and when my husband needed a shirt from the middle or bottom of the stack…the drawer looked like a category 5 storm had paid a visit.

The solution (and it really was a solution because its been years since I started the new folding method) was folding the t-shirts in fourths so that they all stand up in the drawer.

Here is how I fold a t-shirt.  I picked the most wrinkled one for the pictures.  I am smart like that.

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Then the other side.

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Then the bottom half.

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Up to this point we all pretty much fold the same.

The next step is what made all the difference.  Fold ONE more time.

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In this case we are folding a white t-shirt with no design.  If there were a design it would usually be visible after this last fold.  This helps if you have a lot of t-shirts and end up pulling out the wrong one.

Now here is a folding tool that I started using this year.  I.LOVE.IT.

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The one that I have is from the Container Store so you can find it there as well.  Right after I purchased it I found it for half the price on Amazon.  Apparently, I am smart like that too.

You can find it HERE.

It’s basically the same steps but the tool makes it go much faster and the lines are cleaner.  It helps to create a crisp fold like in the stores.  Minus the wrinkles.  No tool can help the wrinkles on this shirt.  Except an iron.  And I avoid those.

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Next side.

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Bottom.

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Not quite done.

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And then the last fold by hand so that you end up with fourths.

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And then do it another 127 times and fill up your drawers!

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Do the same for the under-shirts.

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I use the dividers above for some of my drawers.  You can find them HERE.

Some drawers I use no dividers at all like in the picture below.  My son benefits from the dividers but my husbands drawers do fine without them.

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This is one of my favorite organizing tips because it made such a difference in my home!  I also find that I can fit more shirts per drawer.

Just make sure that the shirts are not jammed in the drawer.  They should come out without much hassle.

Please share with me if you already do this or will you be re-doing some drawers this weekend?

Happy Organizing!

Maria

Organizing Your Purse

Here is my purse.  One of them.  Same story with you I’m sure.

Organize Your PURSE

Now inside my purse.

You will notice that I place all the items vertically.  I can easily see what is in there and easily pull out my wallet (not sure if that’s a good thing).

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Most women have more than one purse.  We usually rotate them and we do have a couple that are on the top of the rotation list.

I like this little purse.  However, it doesn’t have as many pockets as I would like.  Basically, no purse ever does.

So I purchased an inexpensive (as in under $5) little insert on Amazon.  You can find different colors HERE.

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Inside the insert I keep a diaper, a small wipes container, tissue, my wallet, a small bag that contains my sons epi-pen along with band-aids.

When I change purses I simply move the insert to the next purse.

Other contents in my purse are…

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A small bag that contains some makeup, breath mints (because I do care), a set of earrings and a bracelet.

I am notorious for leaving my home without jewelry on.  Then I freak out when I am already in the car but it’s too late to run back and accessorize.

I usually remember my earrings but you never know.  It’s good to know they are there just in case.

Makeup Bag

This is the BEST. IDEA. EVER.  I did this years ago and I absolutely love it.

My wallet used to be so thick with store reward cards.  I am a sucker for anything that gives me points and rewards.  It somehow eases the guilt of spending.  Knowing that after paying for 100 coffees at $5.00 a piece but I get a free muffin at the ends feels redemptive.  Go figure.

I hole-punched every single reward card and I put them into a key ring.  Voila!  No more cards stuffed in my wallet.  They are now easier to find too!

Reward Card Holder

Another clever product that I found at the container store was this key ring holder that grabs on to the side of your purse.

No more fishing for the keys in the bottom of the purse.

Key Holder

By the end of the week my purse gets a little messy with receipts but it is easy to tidy up with this system.

I try to throw away receipts as soon as I get home and place the ones that need to be filed in the office.  I also have a separate area of the purse insert where I keep current receipts that I may need for returns.

It also helps when changing purses that you empty the one you are storing.  Have you ever lost a receipt and had to pull out 4 purses and violently empty them onto your bed?  Be honest.  I have.

I hope you enjoyed this purse and that it inspires you to clean up your purse.  It’s an easy thing to do and you get immediate satisfaction!

Happy Organizing and please share with me your thoughts on organizing your purses!

Maria

Organizing Perfume and Cologne

Perfume Organization

You already know that many of my organization ideas revolve around turntables.  Revolve…haha!

I need to learn to focus.

Well, this is no exception.  You may recall that I used turntables HERE in my linen closet and I use them in my kitchen as well.  I usually purchase white ones.  I added this stainless steel turntable to the Amazon store because I thought it was nicer for fancier items like perfumes.

{You can find the turntable HERE or in any home store that you frequent}

Here is the before picture.

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I love how the perfumes look on the turntable!  They are accessible and contained at the same time!

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Don’t leave the hubby out in the cold.  Lets work on his too!

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And here is the after.

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Simple idea but it really makes a difference!

Share with me where you store your perfume.  In the bathroom, closet or bedroom?

🙂

Maria

Breaking out the Spray Paint

Spray Paint Mirror4

This isn’t really a tutorial.  Its more like an idea that you can apply to many things in your home.

Before I was introduced to how easy it is to spray paint an object, I would purchase gold picture frames when I was tired of the silver.  I would want to replace weathered doorknobs instead of just repainting them and so on…

When you get into spray painting you start walking through your home (with a scary look in your eye) looking to see what’s next.  What will you transform next?

I think everyone should have basic colors like an Silver, Gold, Antique Bronze, White, Heirloom White and Black in their spray paint arsenal.

In this case I found the perfect mirror for my master closet but the color was wrong.

Spray Paint Mirror

So I took it outside with a can of Rust-Oleum Silver Metallic and lots of paper to cover the mirror.

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And I went to TOWN!

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As soon as it dried I put it up in my closet and it was perfect!

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So look around your home.  Is there a patio set that you have been wanting to replace but didn’t want to spend the money?  It is a lot less expensive to buy 3 cans of spray paint than a patio set.  Maybe you have grown tired of some picture frames; give them a refresher coat!

Door knobs also get lots of use and the finish starts to wear quickly.  I need to touch up mine real soon.

So that’s it!  Just an idea to break out the spray paint.  As you read this is there anything you have in mind to tackle next?

Until next time,

Maria

By the way, always spray paint in a well-ventilated area!