Short and sweet post!

So I have been MIA this week and will continue to be all next week. This week was a craaaaaazzzy week with the ‘day job’ and next week my husband and I will be enjoying the peace and beauty of Yellowstone!!!!! I figured the blog can take a hiatus….it is time to reconnect with a few things, including my husband, nature and my sanity.

Here are a few pics from the last time we went to Yellowstone and Jackson!

See you all soon!

~Erin

Another quick fix…kitchen cabinet

I have a deep corner cabinet in my kitchen that is home to lots of those extra kitchen type things that don’t really fit well anywhere else. It has cookie sheets, cutting boards, casserole pans, mixing bowls, a waffle maker, cheese graters, a turkey pan and a big Tupperware cake holder. Here is a picture of what it looked like last week:

While the overall impression wasn’t horrible, the cabinet was incredibly inefficient. The front of it was filled with items I hardly ever use and some of the things I used daily were not easily accessible at all. Case in point….where are my mixing bowls?????? Waaaaayyyy in the back:

See that red arrow? It is pointing to my mixing bowls which are behind the turkey pan and the cupcake holder? That hardly makes sense. So I did one of my 15 minute organizations. I took everything out, cleaned the bottom of the cabinet and assessed what I had. I realized that I never have used the drawer underneath my stove, so the turkey pan and the muffin tins went under there. The mixing bowls were moved to a ‘front and center’ spot and I restacked my casserole dishes to make them easier to get to. Here is what it looks like now:

Soooooo much better. There is so much more room, it looks cleaner and I can actually reach the items I use most. And it only took 15 minutes! Happy neatening!

~Erin

Saving my sanity – cleaning schedule

We try to keep up with the cleaning at our house. But with full time jobs, kids, dogs, and activities, it’s sometimes hard to keep track of. Even if things get done, its hard to remember when they were done last, especially when it comes to tasks that need to be done monthly, quarterly or twice a year. So I finally made up a cleaning schedule for our house. Here are the basics:

A couple notes on this cleaning schedule:

-I did not include daily cleaning tasks. I figure that if I can’t remember what I cleaned that particular day, then I’m really in trouble.

-The list I made will not ultimately be the final product. I left a little room so that as I think of things that I forgot (I’m sure there will be many), I have room to add a few. I already realized that I left ‘clean windows’ off, so I’ll have to make an adjustment.

– I created a little section for general ‘To Do’ items. I have a calendar that we write events, appointments, etc on, but sometimes I just need a little place to jot down something I don’t want to forget to do.

On to the next step! I couldn’t just tape this to my fridge and be done with it because then I would have to print a new one every week. So I decided to make it into a dry erase cleaning list.

A couple weeks ago, I found an 8″ x 10″ picture frame at a garage sale for 50 cents. Score! I painted the frame with some leftover paint I had and let it dry.

I’m not known for my vibrant color palette, so I went with a neutral gray that I recently painted my pantry with.

Then I just popped the cleaning list behind the glass:

Ta da! A dry erase cleaning list. Now I can write the dates/ months on the list and check off tasks. When the week, month, quarter or year changes, I can just wipe off the marker and start fresh. I even have a little notes field. Here is an example of the board in use:

I only had one dry erase marker in my whole house, so my plan is to go find a couple different colors and maybe one with a finer point, but you get the idea!

I also added some magnetic strips to the back of this so I could hang it on my fridge. Now I have a clear schedule for everyone to reference, and it’s in a convenient place. The other bonus is that since I had all of the other materials, I only invested 50 cents in this project. Yea!

Happy Cleaning!

~Erin

Get rid of stuff by asking questions

I have found a new way to get rid of stuff! Usually, I try to sell items or donate them or even throw them away if the other two options won’t work. However, I found a new way to get rid of things! It sounds ridiculous, but it’s all about starting conversations and asking questions. Let me give you a couple examples:

Last weekend I was hanging out with a friend who has a newborn. She had him in one of those baby carriers and mentioned how he always slipped down. I have a cute little Seven Sling I got when my second was born.

It’s in the donate pile right now, but I asked her if she wanted to try it since it is a different kind. She said yes. Instant de-cluttering of an object in my house and I got to help out a friend!

Yesterday another friend mentioned she wanted a new hobby. My question….what kind of hobby?

Her answer?…..”I have always wanted to learn to play banjo.”

My response?…..”I have a banjo!!!! And I never use it! You can borrow it!”

So today I said a temporary farewell to our beloved banjo:

Now I’m not gonna lie…a little piece of me misses it already, even though it sat unused in our guest room for 2 years. However, I know that one of two things will happen:

-My friend will love the banjo and I won’t miss it enough. Then I can sell it to her.

-I will decide I really want to play the banjo and when she gives it back, I will finally pursue my long standing dream of being a blue grass musician (not even kidding).

Either way, I have temporarily cleared out a space in my home. This will cause me to finally be rid of the darn thing or finally learn to play it. I’m happy with either outcome.

So just by asking a few questions, I was able to get rid of a couple items and help some friends.

This brings me to another subject…bartering. This is a great way to exchange goods and services. Case in point: I am working on building a portfolio for Neaten Your Nest so I’m doing a couple ‘pro bono’ organizations. However, one friend of mine is a great photographer and I am severely lacking in this area. So I’m going to trade some organizing for some photography tips.

So if you have things to get rid of or a service to promote, start talking! Ask questions, offer help, look at social media posts, get outside the box! These kinds of things have the potential to help you clean out your stuff, increase your business, build relationships and more. Get talking!

~Erin

Initial Baskets

I am not a creative person by nature. I like the idea of creativity, but it is not something that comes naturally. So I, like so many others, have turned to Pinterest for inspiration. Today’s project comes from something I repinned from my blog friend Kelly’s board. See her other pins here!

The concept was to cover wooden letters with book pages. My plan was to do this with the word READ and put it in the boys room. But I wanted to test it first, so I got two small wooden letters. I chose E and O because that’s what the kids names start with:

Then I bought a Winnie the Pooh book at a used book store. I told the guy at the store I was buying it to cut a couple pages out and I thought he was going to faint. But I assured him it was for a reading corner project and that no other books would be harmed in the making of this project.

I flipped through the book until I found a picture I thought would work size-wise for the letters. Then I cut a square of the page out for each letter and glued it to the top of the wood. I used Mod Podge for the first time ever!

Then I took a super sharp craft knife that I got for an art class in college. When was the last time I used that thing? The art class in college …and that was a looong time ago. I flipped the letters upside down and cut the extra paper off. When I flipped them back over, they looked like this!

I loved them! I sanded the edges a little and then used a couple coats of a  spray adhesive over the top just to protect them. Soon I will be posting about the other, similar project I was doing at the same time. It was NOT so easy breezy as this one.

I wanted to do something really cute with the letters since they turned out so good. I knew I had two wicker baskets in the boys room so I decided to attach the letters. I didn’t have any specific to attach them with, but I was able to find some small picture hangers in the garage, so I just hammered them into the back (well, actually my husband hammered them in while I fretted about the wood cracking).  But it was all good!

Anyways….I put a piece of string through each bracket and tied them to the baskets. Ta da!

Cute labeled baskets which are personalized, fun and easy to make. They look adorable in the boys room….now I just have to figure out what to put in them….

I’m kind of liking this DIY Craft stuff. More to come!

~Erin

 

http://cobwebscupcakesandcrayons.com/

Guest Bathroom – Under the sink must haves

I recently reorganized underneath the sink in the guest room. It wasn’t a huge project, but it’s certainly worth mentioning. Here is the before photo:

It’s not a crazy amount of stuff, but there was still a lot goin’ on here and it needed some attention. Let’s take a tour, shall we?

-I already had the small, plastic organizer with 3 drawers so that got to stay.

In the drawers, I have all sorts of ‘extras’ for our guests: tissue and toothpaste in the bottom drawer, lotion in the middle drawer, and Q-tips and razors in the top. I also have a small hair dryer which I set on top of the organizer. I keep a couple other items in the shower (shampoo, etc), so between those things, I hope to have whatever a guest might forget. I think it’s important to make people comfortable in your home and one of the ways you can do that is by providing little things that they don’t expect, but might need and/or like.

I had also recently added my nifty plastic bag holder, which you can read about the creation of in my post here. Then I put the extra toilet paper in a plastic bin to make it easy to grab and also off of the cabinet floor. There are extra tissues behind the bag holder. It’s definitely important to always have these extras so no one gets left high and (not) dry. :)  There were also several magazines just thrown underneath there for storage so I put them in a file holder to corral them.

Please also note the handle in the back right corner:

That, my friends, is a plunger. Because where is the last place you want to be without a plunger? That’s right….someone else’s guest bathroom. So be a nice host and stock your guest bathroom with a plunger. Ours is also sitting on the lid of an old can so that it never actually touches the cabinet.

Here is the after photo!


Another thing to mention. This is a guest bathroom, but it’s also a bathroom we use regularly. We have items in there that I wanted to keep, but wanted to organize. So I took two bins for extra stuff. One is for vases, because this is the only place I could think of to store them. The other bin is for all the rest…lotion, dog shampoo, bathroom cleaners, etc. It’s a quick way to keep our stuff contained so that our guests still feel like it can be ‘their’ bathroom when they visit.

Almost every item is in some sort of bin or container. I like this because if I need to move things around, it’s manageable. If something ever happened with the pipes and I needed to get everything out, I would just have to pull out several containers instead of piles of smaller items. Everything is easy to get to, easy to restock and easy to clean.

I also shopped my own house for the container so I bought nothing! However, I took them out of an upstairs bathroom, so I won’t even show you what that looks like right now. The other bathrooms are works in progress and I will hopefully be sharing the outcomes shortly!

One more Before & After:

Guest Bathroom – Before

Guest Bathroom – After

It’s easy to make guests feel more at home when they visit by providing a few of these ‘extras’. It’s also so much nicer for my family to use this space when it’s so clean and organized.

How do you make your guests feel at home?

~Erin

Dollar Deals

People say a dollar doesn’t buy you anything anymore. Well, they obviously don’t shop at the dollar store…..or the bargain section at Target…..or the dollar bins in the Walmart toy area…..or the bakery when they are trying to get rid of bread that is close to the expiration date. Let me tout the benefits of each!

Dollar Stores

I LOVE Dollar stores. Seriously, it’s an affliction. It’s too bad the closest one to me is an hour away! It’s ok though, I get there when I can. I go to dollar store for a lot of different items, however there are a few things that I think get you the best value. The first are gift bags/ wrapping paper.

Have you tried to buy a gift bag at a party store? They ask some ridiculous prices for these things! I love the dollar store because you can find some really cute ones for a buck, but you can also sometimes find several of them (a bag of bags, if you will) bunched together and you still only pay a dollar. Especially around Christmas, I go to dollar stores for my bags, wrapping paper, ribbon, gift tags and bows. SUCH a better deal.

Another thing I get there is aluminum pans for cooking.

They have all different sizes at the store I go to and have several in each package. Score!

I have also found cute fabric bins for my kid’s socks and toys there.

Dollar Stores are also a great place to go for kids coloring books, party supplies, and seasonal decorations.

Target/ Walmart Discount Sections

Now these are the classic ‘impulse purchase’ areas (especially Target who cleverly slips this section right next to the shopping carts in the front). I have found myself sucked into this section and holding 4 containers that ‘look like old fashioned popcorn bins’ on more than one occasion. Have you seen these things?

They are so cute, but really? I have to then pry them from my hands and convince myself that I need no such thing! Anyways, be careful when you wander into these sections. However, you can find some great items. I have found perfect stocking stuffers for the kids here. I have found frisbees for the dogs here. I have found those socks that are so soft you feel like you’re stepping into a cloud here. If you are careful, you can great deals without buying unnecessary items. And in the Walmart toy section, they have a little area with cheap toys. These are perfect for my 3 year old’s prize basket. When he gets a certain number of stickers, he gets something special. Sometimes it’s a popsicle, sometimes it’s a cartoon, sometimes it’s a toy from this basket:

Silly little things, really. But to a 3 year old, the best prizes ever! And nothing in the basket ever costs over $1.00.

Bakery at Your Grocery Store

My husband and I buy the bread from the bakery at the grocery store because it tastes soooo much better. The Italian loaves we get are only $1.60 at their highest price. However, if they have some at the end of the day, they will discount them. Otherwise they have to throw them out. There are also entire stores dedicated to ‘almost expired’ bakery items. I don’t have one near me anymore, but in Arizona I used to go to one all the time. It was great….breads, pastries, bagels, desserts….all over half off.  And when you buy these items, you are not only saving money; you are keeping the items out of the trash!

Now I am not advocating buying items just because they are a dollar. That is how we all get too much stuff! What I am advocating is planning ahead, considering your options and buying certain items in bulk because you know you will use them.

So don’t listen to those people complaining about the dollar. It can still go far!

~Erin

File Cleanup

It’s September 1st and I can’t believe how quickly the summer has gone by. There are several different things I do throughout the year to keep things running smoothly and one of them is back up my files. I try to do this right around the 1st of every month. I know I’ve posted about this before, but it’s worth a repeat, because it’s a process that should be done often if it is to be valuable! I back up my files on My Passport external hard drive:

I know there are a lot of websites that you can buy subscriptions to that will store your data for you and also create automatic backups. While I love this idea, I have so many pictures, videos, files, etc that it would be kind of pricey for me to pay for the service. I have looked at a lot of different recommended backup sites and many charge by the amount of info you need to store. Sooooo anyways, until I win the lottery, this handy little ‘My Passport’ will do. For my photos, I also do some other things to back them up, which you can read about here.

Another thing I try to do near the beginning of each month is do a quick run through on my documents and photos and have myself a little ‘organize and delete’ party. You have to be diligent and selective with what files you keep or it will get overwhelming, so while I try to keep up with it on a day to day basis, my files still need a good once-over at least once a month.

Here’s one more thing I did yesterday just to save my technological sanity…..I unsubscribed from a lot of email feeds I get (sorry Groupon!). There were several others that were clogging my inbox and giving me a headache so away they went.

Between those three things, I feel a little more clearheaded and more secure that my files are safe in case something happens to my computer.

What else do you do to ensure your files and computers are organized?

~Erin