CD and DVD Recycling

So many of us have masterful collections of music and movies in CD and DVD form. And so many of us NEVER use them. With itunes, Netflix, and a million cable TV channels, these discs are just becoming a thing of the past. If you are looking to clear out your collection, I have some helpful tips.

-If you want to keep the actual music from your CDs, upload them to an itunes account or download them to your computer. If you download them on your computer, make sure you back them up on an external hard drive or other device.

-You can donate CDs or DVDs you no longer use. There are numerous organizations that accept them, including hospitals, libraries, VA organizations, etc. Many non profit organizations also accept them to create care packages or sell in their fund raising efforts. Here are several I found:

Operation Gratitude – This organization creates care packages for the military, including those stationed overseas, the Wounded Warrior Project, and veterans groups. Click here for a list of the items they accept.

KidFlicks – This website collects children’s DVDs for donation to hospitals. Their goal is to create a DVD library at every hospital in the US. Click here for the address to mail DVDs to.

GotBooks.com - This organization is based out of MA and accepts books, CDs and DVDs.

-You can also recycle CDs and DVDs. Did you know that you shouldn’t throw away your discs or cases? Why not, you ask? There is the obvious answer that they take up room in landfills. However, CDs have materials used to make them that won’t decompose. That means they will stay in landfills indefinitely.  CD cases are made of #7 plastic and many recycling facilities don’t accept #6 and #7 plastics. These must be properly processed so that they can be recycled. There are several organizations that do this as well. Here are a couple:

CD Recycling Center of America – You simply separate your jewel cases, CDs and inserts and mail them to their donation center. Their website is full of information on their process and why they recycle.

ACT (Alternative Community Training) – This Missouri based organization that supports career and community integration programs for individuals with disabilities. They accept donations of CDs and DVDs which they recycle to assist them with their fundraising efforts.

I have a lot of CDs, and I will be recycling what I can’t donate. In an effort to downsize years ago, I got rid of all of my CD cases and many places won’t accept donations without the original cases. At least there are ways to recycle them though!

CD

Happy Recycling!

~Erin

Junk Drawer Switch Out

PicMonkey Collage 1The Junk Drawer: my albatross……growing like one of those weird dinosaur shaped sponges you put in water and they quadruple in hours.

I have been trying for 2 years to find the perfect organizers for our junk drawer. I don’t know why it has taken me so long to organize something so small. I think it’s because it’s kind of a small drawer. All of the one piece organizers are too large. Believe me, I’ve tried to cram them in and try to mentally will the drawer to get bigger. But it doesn’t. I’ve tried plastic bins, different baskets, bamboo organizers, acrylic trays. I’ve tried to tetris them in there to fit perfectly and hold all of my miscellaneous items.

Then I realized that I wasn’t following one of my basic rules of organizing…..Don’t feel like you have to fill up all of the space.

Empty space can be tempting….nagging…taunting. We have a tendency to want to fill every drawer, shelf and closet with stuff, even if it’s not necessary.

I decided to downsize the amount of items and upsize the empty space. I also bought some bright orange plastic bins from Home Goods. I am not known for my vibrant color palette; almost everything I own is a neutral shade of blah. So I decided to add a pop of color to an unexpected place and I can’t tell you how much I love it.

From this:

DSC_1161

To this:

DSC_1248

One other quick switch I made was in another kitchen drawer. This one holds most of our cooking utensils. The organizer I had before fit perfectly, but it wasn’t right for the stuff I was trying to store. Some of the compartments were too small and it just ended up being cluttered and frustrating.

DSC_1190

So I took some of the previous junk drawer bins and put them in the utensil drawer.

DSC_1242

I also discovered I owned not one, but two, turkey basters. Ummmm. I don’t even use a turkey baster when I’m actually cooking a turkey, so why I had two of these things is completely beyond me. So they have now been delegated as the kid’s official science experiment basters and I have more room in my kitchen drawers.

So, to sum up my mantra for the year: Simplify, Simplify, Simplify!

PicMonkey Collage 1

Purge, Rearrange, and don’t be afraid of a little color!

~Erin

 

Thanksgiving Leftover Inspiration

One of my favorite things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers! We purposely cook for 3 times as many people as we have just so we can have enough leftovers to last us until December. And I could probably eat the leftovers just as they are….plate after plate of turkey and stuffing. However, sometimes it’s fun to mix it up with the leftovers and make something a little different. Here are a few tips on organizing your leftovers and then a few recipes I found online that are creative ways to use up all that extra food!

Organizing Leftovers:

-After Thanksgiving dinner, do a brief fridge assessment. Is there anything you can get rid of, consolidate, shift around? Make sure the fridge is as clean as possible. This will create space for leftovers and also allow you to see the leftover containers better.

-Use clear storage containers or get your tape and marker ready. If you can’t see the food in the fridge, you are much less like to eat it or even remember what is in there!

-Try a new recipe using your leftovers to mix it up a little!

-If you make recipes that will last a while in the freezer, make several meals that you can freeze for an easy meal on a later date.

Turkey Pot Pie – A great use for both the turkey and leftover veggies. It’s also good if you were ambitious and planned to make a cherry pie and then decided not to, leaving you with 2 pie crusts (not that I know from experience)

Southwestern Turkey Soup – serve this with some leftover cornbread you might have from making stuffing.

Thanksgiving Leftover Wontons with Cranberry Salsa – Oh.My.Stars. My one Black Friday purchase this year will be Wonton Wrappers so I can make these.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and feel free to share any leftover recipes you have!

~Erin

 

Halloween Party Wrap Up 2013

Last Saturday we hosted our 2nd Annual Halloween Party! I REALLY love Halloween so I’m finally glad to have a Halloween Party tradition. If you ask anyone who knows me, they would tell you I’m kind of into ridiculously obsessed with anything themed. So Halloween is right up there on my list of favorite times of the year. I don’t ever like spending exorbitant amounts of money on decorations so I do a lot dollar store shopping, re-using and crafting. This year I hit up The Dollar Tree, Walmart and Hobby Lobby (with coupons of course!) for all of my decorations.  Here are a few of my favorites:

I went a little nuts with Halloween colored fake flowers this year. They were just calling my name and I knew I could find a lot of uses for them:

Decorations (7)

Decorations (9)

555787_10151848086934690_280680555_n

I found the glittered skull in the above pic for $2.00 and it graced my kitchen window ledge for the month of October.

We also put up the paper bats and the yarn spiderweb that we had last year.

Decorations (2)

Decorations (8)

I found little black birds at the dollar store so those were also perched throughout the house.

Decorations (3)Decorations (4)

For our Halloween party, we put out our giant creepy talking Halloween guy.

Decorations (5)

This was a gift from my father in law. My husband tried to give it back and we actually shipped it all the way back to Atlanta from our house in Colorado. Then I called his dad and asked if he could ship it back because I wanted it so bad! So this is a well traveled creepy dude.

I also put up signs on all of the doors I didn’t want anyone to open!

IMG_2217

For party food, I had all of these visions of my wonderfully spooky appetizers and treats. But, my Pinterest eyes were bigger than my Pinterest stomach and I just made fajitas! I did make Mummy Dogs (hot dogs wrapped in crescent roll dough) for the kids though.

IMG_2123

And a friend brought some of the best queso I’ve ever eaten.

My neighbor brought adorable Frankenstein pudding cups with cookie crumble topping and another friend brought Oreo Pops and cupcakes.

Desserts

Last year I tried crafts for the kids, but this year I smartened up and just taped poster board to the wall and let them color away!

IMG_4413

For the adults, I had my second annual trivia contest, which seems to be a hit!

IMG_2202

I had so much fun at this party and may or may not have had too many glasses of Halloween Sangria.

There are about a million ideas I wanted to try for decorating, food, crafts, etc that I didn’t get to this year. But many of them are on my Halloween Pinterest Board. I can’t wait until next year! And if you want a recap of last year’s party, click here for the 2012 Halloween Party Wrap Up!

~Erin

Self Care for September Wrap Up

This month has been about evaluating what you need and making sure to take care of yourself. We are just finishing up our Self Care for September challenges. If you signed up for the newsletter, you have been following along with our daily and weekly challenges to help you develop and maintain a Self Care Routine. Here are my confessions and realizations for the month:

-I have been drinking tea, scheduling lunch dates with friends, and exercising more.

-For the day that the challenge was ‘have a healthy dinner’, I had cheetos and pizza. Does that count?

-I have been practicing saying ‘no’. I tend to overschedule myself, so this had been a valuable lesson for me.

-I have NOT been very good at getting to bed at an early hour or turning off the technology.

In our wrap up newsletter, we challenged everyone to choose 5 self care items that they could continue with or work on. Here are mine:

1) Keeping a morning routine.

2) Creating a technology free zone.

3) Take an afternoon break.

4) Get rid of toxic and negative things in my life.

5) Don’t procrastinate on small tasks.

I plan on applying my self care techniques to my organizing in the following ways:

-Take small steps with big projects so that I don’t get overwhelmed.

-Focus on one thing at a time.

-Allow myself breaks to rejuvenate during an organizing project.

-Don’t be too hard on myself. If my clothes aren’t perfectly color coded at all times, it probably won’t signal the end of the world.

Look for many more organizing projects in October.  I’ll be finishing up our guest room and also organizing a Halloween party. I love this time of year!

~Erin

 

Kitchen Desk – Reorganize and reuse

Hi friends! I am visiting sunny Phoenix, Arizona right now and it.is.hot. I mean really hot:

hot

That’s almost 9:00 at night! I grew up here, but I forget how blazin’ hot it is. So we’ve been doing some inside activities instead of braving the heat. I’m helping my mom with a few organizing projects while I’m here and the first one was the desk/workspace in the kitchen area.

Now this space was difficult for two reasons.

1) There is an office in the house so the desk doesn’t really need to be used for many office supplies or files. However, it is a desk, so it has some little drawers and some super deep drawers for hanging folders. So its’ purpose has been kind of undefined for a while.

2) There are 8 cubbies near the top of the desk. While this seems practical, it also can end up looking cluttered because everything is in view.

First we re-evaluated the drawers.

Desk Before Collage - text

My mom had decided to use one drawer for tools. This is great because they are conveniently located in the main living area of the house but they aren’t taking up valuable kitchen space. The drawer just needed an additional bin and a quick reorganization.

Then we did the middle drawer which held the office/ desk supplies:

The 3rd drawer held misc items and it still does. However, there are fewer of them!

 

As for the top half of the desk, there are several shelves and 8 smaller cubbies. Please excuse my horrible iphone before picture.

Before

Before

My mom had a small CD cabinet that she was planning to get rid of. So we stole the drawers from it!

IMG_1873

Filling all of the cubbies with a drawer would have been too overwhelming, so we used 4 of the drawers and used the other 4 cubbies for decorative accents. We had to decide which cubbies got a drawer though….that process took way too long!

Choice A

Choice A

Choice B

Choice B

Choice C

Choice C

We went with Choice C!

Now the drawers are organized and the cubbies look more updated and might get used a little more!

Drawers after collage - text

Choice C

On another note, don’t forget to sign up for our Self Care for September newsletter. It’s a whole month of self care challenges and ideas brought to you by Neaten Your Nest and Life Sprinkles!

We are offering a weekly Self Care Giveaway to a different participant each week. Tag us, link back to us, let us know your progress or ideas and get entered into the drawing for the giveaway! Sign up for the newsletter to start participating.

Giveaway final

Spices – not just for the pantry anymore

I recently posted on how I Organized My Spices. I absolutely love how I finally have them organized, but in my exhaustive search for a spice storage solution, I came across endless great storage ideas. One trend I noticed is that people seem to be pulling the spices out of the pantry or spice cabinet and making them more of a feature in their kitchens. Here are a few of my favorites:

Spice 1

I love how the spice shelves are combined with the apron hooks. So cute and handy!

spices 2

There are so many magnetic spice jars out there now, from simple baby food jars with glued on magnets to high end containers with fancy magnetic boards. Whichever way you choose to magnetize, it is sure to keep the spices handy and create and interesting look for the kitchen. I love how the photo above shows how you can really fit the spices into your decor and make them look more like art.

spices 3

How convenient is this drawer set up as a spice rack? The small angled shelves make it easy to see all of the spices and get them out easily.

spice 4

And this is my absolute favorite spice rack that I found….it is a vintage coke bottle crate hung on the wall. I love a little vintage! And it’s creative, interesting and functional at the same time.

For more ideas on how to ‘spice’ things up in your kitchen, check out my Pinterest Board on Kitchen and Pantry Organizing!

~Erin

 

The Mindful Nest – Family

When it comes to managing all there is to handle in a busy life, we can often forget the most important things of all. I saw this quote on Just a Girl and Her Blog about raising children and I think it will change my life:

“Remember, you are not managing an inconvenience; you are raising a human being.”

-Kittie Franz

I have such a huge responsibility to these two wonderful little people I helped bring into the world. And when it comes down to it, it doesn’t really matter if their closets are organized or if their shirts are perfectly clean. What matters is that I help to raise them with love, respect, manners and laughter.

Quote - Kids

 

~Erin

Project Organizing for scrapbooking, papers and crafts

I am eternally behind on my scrapbooking projects. I think it’s because, as much as I WANT to love scrapbooking, I don’t. But I’ve obtained all of these glorious scrapbooking items…paper flowers, trim ribbon, metal name tags…seriously the most adorable stuff. I’ve been using things for various other projects but I still want to at least get my photos and memories in an organized book for each year. Up until now, I have separated each year into its own reusable grocery bag and hung them in my closet. Aren’t they pretty?

bags

Um, no, they are not pretty. They look cluttered and bulky and every once in a while, the weight of one year of wonderful memories gets to be too much for a hanger and it will slowly unbend until it comes crashing down in a frantic memorabilia mess on the floor. Soooo, I needed another storage option for these. Enter the Project Box!

I was so excited to find these for $5 a piece at Walmart and to start getting a better system for my projects.

Box 2

So I’ve started a box for each year I’m behind on. The inside of the boxes still look a little cluttered but at least everything is contained and stackable!

And the best part is that I can think of so many other ways to use them after I’ve caught up on my scrapbooking (which might never, ever happen). They would be great for party planning. You wouldn’t believe how many printables and cutouts I had laying around while planning my son’s Dr. Seuss Birthday Party.  They would be great storage for thank you notes, stationary and extra greeting cards. Kid’s craft supplies? Smaller seasonal clothing items like scarves and mittens? An emergency kit for the car with batteries, snacks, first aid kit and other supplies?

I’m excited about my find and to finally have that extra space in my closet back.

~Erin

 

Paper Pile Purge Series – Organizing Kid’s Artwork

If you have young kids, you also have artwork. Tons of it….oodles of fingerpaintings, construction paper dinosaurs, and pipe cleaner caterpillars. What in the world do you do with it all? I have some thoughts on that… (keep in mind that these are my opinions and feel free to ignore any suggestion. My objective is to reduce clutter, but each person has a different level of attachment to their kid’s art.)

First, learn to discriminate. I know the 448 drawings your 3 year old did of your cat are adorable. Seriously, I know. My son draws ‘maps’ to our house every other day and they are so cute. But do I really need them all? Do I? Absolutely not. I know you feel like you’re committing some sort of crime as you toss a piece of your kid’s art into the trash, but you HAVE to if you don’t want them to engulf your house! If you keep everything, not only is too much clutter, but then your brain just gets overwhelmed with Cheerio dinosaurs or whatever the current trend is. Just keep a few pieces and they become a lot more meaningful.

Don’t let your house become a shrine to fingerpaintings. For me personally, I like to display the most recent art and then replace it as new pieces are made. This lets me proudly show off my kid’s masterpieces without them becoming the wallpaper of my home.

Kids love to doodle or draw or fingerpaint as an activity. That doesn’t mean you have to keep them all, but it’s nice to do something meaningful with them. Check out this adorable way to recycle your kid’s art into gift wrap from Roar Sweetly.

roar

She punched fingerpaintings into heart cutouts and attached them to wrapping paper. What a sweet and adorable way to personalize a gift.

I have made bookmarks out of fingerpaintings and laminated them. I plan to send them to family members as cute little keepsakes.

Evan's Bookmarks

I also take pictures of my favorite crafts that my kids make, whether I keep the actual craft or not. That way, I have a digital record of their growth as little artists. At the end of every year, I plan to make one 8″ x 10″ printout of my favorites from that year. Here is Evan’s from 2012:

Evan's Art - 2012I actually had this printed on a mug for husband for Christmas and it turned out great.

Of course I do keep quite a few of these little masterpieces. So I needed a way to organize them. I decided to put them in a regular size binder in clear plastic sleeves. This is great for a few reasons:

-I have one for each kid so the art is organized.

-The clear plastic sleeves protect things from getting damaged

-It allows me to put actual crafts/ drawings in the book, but I can also put photos of the art I didn’t keep (Yes, I mean you cotton ball ghost and paper plate rabbit!). Some crafts are bulky or big and wouldn’t fit in a binder. But a 4″ x 6″ photo fits just great.

-I also put a few photos of the kids making or holding their crafts. That way I can see their cuteness as I look at their art.

Here are a few pictures of one of the binders:

image imageimageI love having an organized portfolio of their artwork. What are some ways you organize your kid’s art?

~Erin