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 http://iheartorganizing.blogspot.com/)

-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!

~Erin

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.

~Erin

What’s in a Name?

So here is a secret obsession of mine just waiting to burst forth into the world…labeling. I love labels! They make things so much more organized, easy to find and easy to store. For years I have had an automatic label machine that I could use to print labels for all kinds of things. However, the look of them was a little sterile, boring, blah. I have recently jumped into the world of customizing my labels and am starting with my pantry. I have been working on organizing the pantry for a while because it bothers me. It’s one of the few places that even when it’s actually organized, it can look cluttered. So I have been shifting things around, buying bins, baskets and shelves and rearranging like a crazy woman.

I am nowhere near finished, but I have it to a manageable state now. Someday in the future, when the pantry is pretty as a picture, I’ll do a post on the total transformation. For now, let’s focus on the labels…

So far I have 12 bins and canisters which I have organized and labeled. I used the 2″ round labels from Avery (whose products I love, but that’s a different story). These are print to the edge labels and you can use one of their existing designs on the Avery website or you can design your own from scratch. I don’t pride myself on my graphic design capabilities so I used an existing template. Here are my canisters before the labels:

Pantry Storage Jars: Before

And here are the canisters after I added the labels:

Pantry Storage Jars: After

 

Pantry Storage Jar: Close up

I LOVE THEM! I also added labels to 8 storage bins to help keep things organized.

Pantry Bin Labels

Now I know what your thinking, why in the world do you need to label food when you can already see what it is? Good question!!! Here’s why:

-It helps the whole family ensure that everything has a proper place

-It makes groceries easy to put away and ingredients easy to find

-It looks so darn pretty

Ooh! A quick tip for the canisters…since the packaging for these items is thrown away, I write the expiration date on a small piece of paper and tape it to the bottom of the canisters so I never have to worry about things expiring.

I can’t wait to expand on my ever increasing obsession with labels! (I can hear the universal groans of you all who think I’m crazy for being so excited about labels). But…it’s the little things in life people. :)

Happy Labeling!

~Erin