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!

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Happy Recycling!

~Erin

Seasonal Dusting and a Furniture Find

Every 3 months, there are a few things that I deep clean. Here is a link to my full cleaning list. One of these is clean every baseboard in my house. I try to wipe them down a little as I do my weekly cleaning, but once a season, I do an all out, clean-every-inch-of-baseboard marathon. Right now I use a highly diluted solution of Murphy’s Oil Soap. Murphy

I have been doing extensive research on how ‘green’ this product is. I have found a few things:

-It contains Potassium Hydroxide…sounds scary doesn’t it? Well, it is actually an equivalent to Lye, which is used in anything that can be officially called a soap. While it can be harmful in larger quantities and if ingested, it is considered safe in small doses and with proper handling.

-Many books and websites devoted to green living tout the benefits of Murphy’s Oil Soap and include it in their green cleaning mixtures.

-It smells soooooo refreshing. It is just one of those nostalgia smells for me….taking me back to childhood and reminding me of a clean house.

I am looking at alternatives to Murphy’s just to test them out and I’ll be sure to share my findings. But for now, I am siding with my research and using Murphy’s in small doses.

I also clean my leather furniture with it. Again, I use just a little bit of Murphy’s diluted in water. I also make sure all surfaces I clean are thoroughly dried.

What started my frantic cleaning episode today was the need to clean one of my most recent purchases….this amazing wood armoire from an antique market.

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I bought it with the full intention of putting it in my office. However, it wouldn’t fit up the stairs into the office. Boo. So it was sent packing into the guest room.

Yes it is way to big for this room. And no I am not getting rid of it. I love it too much. I am not overly attached to a lot of furniture pieces right now, but this one just struck my fancy and I couldn’t let it go. I have the antiquing bug again.

I have put some extra blankets in the bottom shelf and will add some baskets for storage to the large compartment.

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I love the details on this piece. The interesting hardware, the knots in the wood….it has so much character.

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Now I’m working on magically enlarging the guest room so this piece actually fits in there. I’ll let you know how that goes….

~Erin

 

 

 

Beautiful Jars in Organizing

I used to be all about the function of organizing. I didn’t understand why cabinets and containers possibly needed to be beautiful. To an extent, I am still that way. The ultimate goal of organizing is to make your life easier. However, I have made an about-face on my opinion on being beautifully organized. I now find that pretty organizing tools make me smile, add a touch of class or creativity to my spaces and encourage me to keep things looking neat. Here are a few ways I use jars to pretty up my spaces:

I used to keep change in an old Tupperware container. But that’s not very inspiring, is it? We now drop those extra coins into a pretty ceramic pot that sits on our dresser. It’s handy, but also beautiful to look at.

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A lot of people have toothpicks in their pantry. But I have found that an adorable toothpick vase adds a little character to my spice shelf.

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Sometimes you have to get creative with what you have. I had a large jar that I didn’t have any clue what do to with. Then I spotted a really cool piece of fabric my sister brought me from The Gambia in Africa. I didn’t have the perfect spot to hang it, but I wanted it displayed. So I folded up the fabric and nestled it inside the jar. It is now part of the display on top of my cabinets. Two Birds. One Stone. Done.

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Last year, I switched to making my own detergent. I could have put the concoction in a plastic bin, but what fun is that? I found 2 awesome jars at a thrift store for $4 each….score! They are now happily occupying the top of my dryer and make laundry just a tad more enjoyable.

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So I will continue to pretty up my spaces. A little personality in my items goes a long way. What do you do to organize in an inspiring way?

~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:

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To this:

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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.

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

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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!

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

~Erin

 

Credit Time!

It’s that time again…..time to check our credit! 3 times a year, I check my credit through the ONLY reporting agency that doesn’t negatively affect my credit…and it’s free. I use https://www.annualcreditreport.com. I do this post several times a year as a reminder to check your credit. There are 3 reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. I pull one report every four months. That way, I keep an eye on my credit throughout the year and since each reporting agency may have slightly different info, I get to compare them every year.

Read these posts for the detailed info on checking your credit and what I think is the best routine.

Credit Check: Get Your Credit Check

Who Gets the Credit

I check Equifax in January, Experian in May and Transunion in September. I remember the order because I check them based on the alphabetical order of the agencies.

Now that I am familiar with the reports, it is very easy for me to look them over for any red flags. So take 5 minutes, pull your credit and make sure YOU are the only one involved in your financial transactions!

~Erin

 

A Time of Reflection – Organizing my Priorities

Well friends, I have taken quite the hiatus. It has been almost 2 months since I have written a post. I was overwhelmed with life and needed a break. Often times, we have too much on our plate and, instead of reducing our commitments, we suffer through them. I decided it was time to stop and really reflect on what I need for myself, my family and business. I have been busy with the holidays, recovering from the holidays, guests, traveling, and the all encompassing feat of potty training a 2 year old. It’s exhausting! But I’m ready to jump back in to everything I’ve put on hold!

Up and coming in 2014:

The Mindful Nest is going to be front and center this year. My focus on organizing is going to center on our mental well being, how we got to a disorganized state in the first place, and how we can using positive thinking to make changes in our lives.

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Crafty Organizing – I am not a crafting guru, but I love to personalize my organizing solutions (like my DIY Jewelry Board and Decoupage Letter Baskets). I’m going to put an emphasis on Cheap and Crafty this year!

The Green Nest is also going to be a huge focus this year. This will include posts on green cleaning, ways to donate and recycle all sorts of items, and making use of things you already have in your home.

Time Management – This is vital to creating a well balanced and organized life. Properly managing our time allows us to pursue creative outlets in our lives.

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I am looking forward to new organizing adventures and sharing my successes (and failures) with you!

~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

 

Thanksgiving Dinner Preparations!

It’s almost time for Thanksgiving here and I’m ready! I love food….not so much cooking….but the promise of Thanksgiving dinner makes me cook. With 2 kids running around, I need to make sure I’m well prepared for Thanksgiving because there’s just not a ton of extra time around here! Also, we live in a VERY small community with no grocery store, so there’s no running to the store for a forgotten item. I have to make sure I have everything I need ahead of time. Here are some of my tips and timelines for a stress-free Turkey Day!

3 Weeks Before (If you’re counting, we’re already heading into 2 weeks before, so do these things NOW!):

Finalize the menu. – This is a pretty easy one for me because we have all of the ‘old reliable’ recipes that we make every year. Sometimes I’ll throw in a new dish or appetizer, but for the most part, the menu stays the same from year to year. Last year I started making Holiday Binders to hold all of my info for each major holiday. For my Thanksgiving Binder, I had a section where I put all of our go-to recipes. That way, I never have to search for the recipes, they are all kept together:

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-Finalize the Guest List – We are doing a small Thanksgiving dinner this year, so it’s much easier, but there were 13 of us at our house a couple of years ago, so it’s always good to pin down what you’re getting yourself into!

-Do an inventory on Chairs, Tables, Dishes, Glassware, etc. – Do you need a kid’s table, an extra crock pot, more wine glasses? If so, try to buy or borrow these things a few weeks out. It’s too stressful to be worrying about buying chairs 2 days before Thanksgiving…..but you don’t want Aunt Kim sitting on the floor. I’m a big fan of the dollar store for extra glasses, plate charges and small serving dishes. Ikea is another great spot for some kitchen and serving basics.

-Grocery shop for non-perishables. – I don’t like to go over budget on groceries, but it’s hard not to when it comes to large holiday meals. The way I stay under budget is to start purchasing a couple weeks before. That way I can go a little light on that week’s regular purchases to make room for Turkey day fixings. I have already bought any non-perishables, such as cream of chicken soup and canned pumpkin.

2 Weeks Before

-Clean out and organize the fridge and freezer. I continue to use up what we have for meals and I also rearrange, toss anything that’s past its prime, and clean the shelves.

-Grocery shop for frozen items – 2 weeks out is when I buy things like frozen broccoli for a casserole I make, the rolls we serve and of course….the turkey! I don’t want a turkey sitting in my freezer for weeks, but if you wait to long, you might not be able to find the perfect size you need. Keep in mind that if you special order a turkey or ham, you may have to place the order much earlier than this.

-Evaluate Decorations. – I don’t have too many Thanksgiving decorations, but I have a few things I put up. By this time, many decorations are on sale, so if you need a little something extra, it’s a great time to pick it up.

-Do any Hosting or Hostee (that’s an official term) Tasks – If you are hosting, you can do things like make placecards, set out linens for overnight guests, or attached wine glass charms. If you’re going somewhere, you could write a thank you note, buy a small gift, or set out your dishes and recipe if you’re bringing something. Doing this ahead of time will make sure you don’t forget any small details.

Week of Thanksgiving

-Buy all perishable foods – Get everything else you will need to make your dinner.

-Thaw the turkey. Remember, it takes about 24 hours for every 5 pounds of turkey. The first year I hosted Thanksgiving, I COMPLETELY forgot to thaw the turkey. One day before and I had an 18 pound block of turkey ice in my freezer. Somehow, we made it work. Last year, I threw away the wrapper of the turkey when I started defrosting it….then I forgot how much it weighed. This was our solution:

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How to properly weigh a turkey

-Set out the serving dishes you will use for each recipe and put a sticky note with the name of the recipe.

-Do one more fridge clean out so you’ll have room to put leftovers (my real favorite part of Thanksgiving!).

-Make cooking a joyful experience. Pour a glass of wine, put on some great music and remember that things will never be perfect, so go with the flow! When I was little, our sheepdog ate our entire turkey that was sitting on the counter. It happens!

-If you have kids, either give them some crafts or involve them in the cooking. Either way, they will be occupied!

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-Be Thankful! -Remember, the message of the holiday is not just to eat a bunch of food. It is about reflecting on the things in our lives that we are truly grateful for.

Of course, there are countless other ways to organize for a large holiday meal. I have just found the above tips to be helpful for our family. What other ways to you keep yourself prepared for big holidays?

~Erin

After Halloween…..

As much as I LOVE Halloween, on November first, I am ready for it to be OVER! I’m like that with Christmas too. I get mentally ready to move on to the next thing and I want to get all decorations from the recent holiday put safely back in their places. I used to have one large bin for my Halloween decorations, but that started to overflow with skeletons and pumpkins, so I had to add a bin this year. Instead of throwing everything in, I categorized just a little bit. One bin holds only costume items:

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I have a giant bin to hold all of the other decorations. Inside that bin, I have a smaller storage container for Halloween craft items.

IMG_2198This is full of construction paper, googly eyes, purple yarn and other creepy craft items. I also put in my construction paper bats that I had taped to the wall. That way they won’t get bent and I can use them again next year.

I also laminated the signs I put on the doors during my Halloween party so I can use those again too and they won’t get ruined.

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Another thing I laminated was my costume photo banner:

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I also ordered photos of this Halloween to put in our Halloween photo album. I try to do this right after Halloween each year so that I stay caught up.

I really do love Halloween and I’m already planning next year’s festivities, however, I am now in Thanksgiving mode!!!!

~Erin