Introducing ‘Things I Love Thursdays’

There are so many things that I love: people, food, gadgets, places, the list goes on and on. However, when it comes to Neatening the Nest, there are some that make a bigger impact than others. To start off the Things I Love series, I present to you:

Ode to My Shredder:

Oh shredder, gadget of plastic and razor sharp teeth!

How you simplify my life, how you clean off my desk!

Ok, I can’t continue with the Shakespearean feel for more than 2 lines with a straight face. But I do love my shredder. It is one investment that has made itself worthwhile again and again. Now it doesn’t actually save me money in the strictest sense, but it saves my peace of mind. And it could save me money if it helps to prevent people from stealing my identity.

Now data varies on how many identity thefts actually occur per year, but it’s no secret that there are a lot and the number is growing. While you can’t prevent every piece of personal information from falling into the wrong hands, it’s important to do what you can. That means keeping certain info out of your trash can, such as social security numbers, credit card #s and passwords. The way I do that is through shredding them.

Several shredder tips:

1) My number 1 tip is to get a cross cut shredder. This mean that the paper is not just cut into vertical strips, but it is also cut horizontally. That makes papers exponentially harder to put back together.

2) Get a decent shredder. It doesn’t have to be top of the line, but if you plan on using it, you should get one that will work hard for you. My shredder will do 6 pages at a time and I have had it for about 7 years. It’s still going strong!

3) Shred the obvious stuff (like items with your social and credit card #s). However, consider some of the other items that might not be so obvious. I shred every credit card offer I get. Though the only information they have on them is my name, the thought of someone using one of these applications to open an account in my name is enough to freak me out. I also shred old utility bills and anything else that has identifying information. I probably go overboard, but I don’t care. I have a shredder and I’m using it!

4) Keep it where you will use it. If you keep your shredder in the bottom of the closet, chances are you won’t be shredding as often as you should. If you have kept up with my posts this week, you will notice that I just moved my shredder from the office floor to the top of a file cabinet. I now can shred things the instant I realize they aren’t needed and they are out of my life and mind forever! Yeah!

Trust me, this is a worthwhile investment that can actually save you a lot of hassle in the long run. Happy Shredding!


My life in plastic

When you have kids, everything changes. One big change I’ve noticed is that everything is plastic! Plastic tables and chairs, plastic toys, plastic bins, plastic trays. And it all gets dirty, dirty, dirty! Play-doh, crayons, food, mud, and all sorts of things I don’t want to mention.  And how do I clean up this assortment of messiness? Well, not with an assortment of cleaners, that’s for sure. Almost exclusively, I use plain old vinegar and water to clean. Now I have several other novelty cleaning products, but vinegar is my cleaner of choice. Here’s why:

-It’s a natural cleaning product, none of the harsh chemicals found in most cleansers. This is a great quality when you’re constantly cleaning kid’s items!

-It is also a natural disinfectant. It can be effectively used against bacterial, mold and mildew. While it won’t kill all bacteria (for certain areas, such as cutting boards used for meat, I still don’t use plain vinegar), it is extremely effective as a basic cleanser.

-It has so many other uses. How many of your other cleaning products can you use to soothe a sunburn AND make a baking soda volcano?

-It is oh-so-cheap, which I oh-so-love!

Anyways, I keep a bottle of vinegar in my kitchen and also in my bathroom for daily upkeep. It works great on all those plastic kid’s items so I always keep it full!

Speaking of plastic…if you have small children, chances are you are familiar with these:

My kitchen looks like Rainbow Bright swooped in and swapped most of my ‘real’ dishes with hers. So many small pieces can cause an organizational headache. So I decided to re-organize my kids dish cabinet. Here is the before:

Kid’s Dish Cabinet – Before

Now it wasn’t completely horrible before. I could still get to everything. But there were certain things about it that were so inefficient and I hate that! I also have a baby who is just about to start on bottles, so I needed to be able to access bottle stuff AND toddler dishes. So here is what I did:

-I got rid of stuff I didn’t use. Now this seems obvious, but there were a few things I couldn’t let go of for the longest time, like that cute cup with the kid’s name printed on it (but leaked when you actually used it) or the spoon that was part of an adorable gift set, but that was completely flat, so it couldn’t be used as an actual spoon (it was really more of a cute stick).

-I put hooks on the cabinet door for bibs.

-Instead of a silverware basket, I switched to a cup as a silverware holder. Well, it’s technically a can covered in scrapbook paper. (idea from

-I then just did a basic organization of everything that was left.

Here is the after:

Not only can I get to stuff for both crazy kids, but it looks nicer, uses the whole space well, and I got the bibs out of my ‘dish towel drawer’! This took about 30 minutes to do and has such a great impact already!

Lessons Learned:

-It’s not always necessary to keep things just because they were gifts. If they are not functional or you don’t like them, then dig deep and find strength to get rid of them!

-Organize up! Maximizing vertical space creates more places for things. For example, when I got rid of the basket of silverware and switched to a can, I created space for teething rings and pacifiers.

-Small projects can make a room so much more functional. By concentrating on a small area that you use a lot, you can create a much more organized environment without investing a lot of time.

My life in plastic is so much nicer now!


Let’s get personal

I have always kept my personal files in my bedroom. There are several reasons:

-I felt it was a safe place to keep them away from tiny kiddos.

-I have never had a home office that was  structured to handle both work and personal files

-I didn’t want to put anything else in the office. I think this was because my office wasn’t a pleasant place to be before I started this organization. Who wants to try to work and sort in a cluttered, frustrating environment?

Now, technically none of this made any sense.

-My kids are in my closet a lot more than they are in my office.

-And my home office is definitely big enough to accommodate both work and personal things.

-It doesn’t make sense to have all files in different places. They should all be where the envelopes, pens, stamps, etc.are.

-If I had organized my office a long time ago, it would have been a great place to work and be from the beginning!

-When I kept my personal files in my closet, I would go through the mail in the kitchen, then I would put ‘stuff to file’ on the stairs for when I went to my room. Then I would put other papers in the ‘to shred’ box for when I finally got around to that. Then I would have a ‘to do’ file on my kitchen counter. Way too many steps, right? So incredibly inefficient and very time-consuming.

So as the ‘Great Office Organization’ continues, I have consolidated everything into the office!

Here is a picture of my file box in my bedroom before:

These are not clothes…So why are they in my closet???

Notice the pile of papers on top that I had yet to file. Oh, and the box on top of the papers, which I thought I might use as a ‘to file’ box. Not anymore friends! Time to downsize!

I have moved the files upstairs and put them into a file cabinet. This file cabinet has been my only purchase in the office reorganization and cost less than $40. The bottom half of the cabinet is personal files and the top half will be for my Neaten Your Nest organization business. I already had a file cabinet for my regular work files. Is this all confusing enough for everyone!

So here’s the wrap up.

-I was able to get my files OUT of my closet. I feel the calm coming back to my room already.

-Not only are my personal files upstairs, but all of my office supplies are too. This makes it so easy to go through mail there. I open everything and put it in piles: Recycle, shred, file, pay or take other action. Since I also put my shredder on top of the file cabinet, I can do every single one of those things within minutes. No more boxes, no more piles on the stairs, no more waiting. So, so easy breezy!

Lessons learned:

-When organizing, efficiency is key. Removing steps from a process can save time, money and sanity.

-Sometimes you have to be selective when making purchases for organizing. But it’s important to consider what will make the most impact. Buying one file cabinet helped me consolidate files, save time, it makes going through mail easier, elevates the shredder, and looks nice.

-Organizing something that needs it soooo much can bring a lot of calm to your life. I can’t tell you how much of a difference this change has already made in my life.

Sunday Survey time!


Charge it please!

I know that charging stations have been the ‘it’ gadget holder for numerous years now. I just never ‘pulled the plug’. Ha, ha. Plug.

Anyways, I knew that I needed somewhere to store 2 phone chargers, along with camera batteries, a USB cable and a charger for my new Kindle (which I love!). However, I didn’t want to invest the money in one, so I decided to re-purpose a storage box I already had. Now I might cut holes in the back to make it an official charging station, but for right now, I’m just using it to store my cords. The good thing about this little project is that I moved a bunch of other clutter that was on my kitchen counter and now the cord box is really the only thing that gets to stay (aside from a small basket for the actual phones). Here is what my kitchen counter looked like before: 

I took all of that stuff away and replaced it with one smaller box. And here’s what’s inside!

I love how compact it is and that every cord has it’s own place. And nothing else is allowed in the box! Now we always know where the cords are and they don’t get tangled or lost. It’s perfect! I’ve seen charging stations for well over $100. Maybe someday I will invest in a nice wooden one for my cords, but right now, the compartmentalized box (that I originally only paid $7.00 for) works great and it didn’t cost me a thing to re-purpose it. Sometimes organizing solutions are right under your nose and you just have to think outside the (charging) box. Was that the second bad pun in this post? I think it was.