Monday, June 29, 2009

Packing Up!

I'm sure that many of you are planning vacations soon, so here are some packing tips for your next trip. Make sure you keep a list in an accessible area where you can continually jot down items you need to pack.

  • Clothes that may wrinkle fast, should be placed near the bottom of your suitcase

  • Last minute clothes (along with t-shirts) can be rolled and stored in the crevices

  • Shirts should be at the bottom, then dresses, then pants

  • Ties should be rolled so they don't get wrinkled

  • Socks should be placed in shoes or in the flap/pocket inside

  • Undergarments should also be placed in shoes or be packed in the flap inside

  • Shoes should be lined along the borders and each should be placed in plastic bags

  • Toiletries should first be placed in a plastic bag and then kept inside the suitcase

  • Essential items such as toothbrush, medications, phones, ipods, cameras, laptops (as well as most electronics) should be stored in your carry on
A great way to get kids involved is to show them what needs to be packed. Take actual photos or drawings of things that they need to take and place it on a sheet of paper. Here is sample of what you can try out for your household. This one would be what a little girl might pack for an overnight trip (and she would only be taking one of each):

If you wanted more items you might put the number you need beside the picture or put duplicate pictures (i.e., 2 dress pictures, etc.).


Monday, June 22, 2009

Kitchen Clutter Control

Counter tops and drawers in your kitchen are the talk for this week.

A lot of people don’t have space for storage in their kitchen so they use their counter tops as storage. Well, sometimes this causes havoc and ends up creating too much clutter.

Here are some ways to reduce the appearance of clutter and get better organized in the kitchen.

  • Use baskets or pretty canisters, they can be set to match your d├ęcor or get clear canisters for cereals, cookies, snacks, etc.

  • Lazy susans are great for gathering items that might be messy (oils, spices, foods or liquids that are hard to contain elsewhere without some spillage or getting sticky)

  • Keep a big jug or container to hold big spoons, spatulas, etc. near the stove.

  • Keep an area or counter space for mail – those coming in and those going out. You can even use letter trays. Letter trays, if they have two levels, could do double duty. The top can have incoming mail and the bottom can either have outgoing mail or little items that you drop on the counter, such as your keys, ID for work, etc.

  • You can also remove items from the counters by putting them instead on your wall - such as your calendar, to-do lists, folders, even your mail can be put on the wall if you have an insert to hang up that can hold papers.

  • Behind pantry doors put a hook to hang up aprons as well as anything else that has a hook.

  • For drawers, use dividers, bags, and caddies for silverware, plastic ware, napkins, dishes, baking supplies, spices, etc.

  • Group similar items together (i.e. keep sandwich bags near the aluminum foil, etc).

  • We tend to keep our kids’ paperwork in our kitchen, their drawings, school or camp items, etc. So, although we can’t dedicate a drawer to them in our kitchen, we have kept their items in folders in a drawer along with our items.

  • Menus as well as recipes that you see in a magazine are great to be held in folders as well.

  • Store items as close as possible to where you would use them, (i.e. pots and pans should be closer to the stove than glassware should be).

  • Items that are not used as frequently can be stored in the back of a cabinet, while items that are more frequently used, should be kept up front.

Enjoy your week!


Monday, June 8, 2009

Organization on a Budget

In today's economy it's harder to think about spending money on organizing or updating your home. Here are a few tips that might help you enjoy changes without hurting your bank account.
  • Move furniture around in the room to create a new look.
  • Bring furniture or decorative items from other rooms to create something more updated.

  • Look at your old dinner ware from the china cabinet or those that maybe you have not unpacked yet and see how they would like on a wall as an art piece. Or you might want to just start eating off those instead of keeping them packed away.

  • Create your own art work with canvas and paint.

  • Put up your children's or grand children's drawings in frames. You can even remove pictures from older frames and add new items in there (i.e., handkerchief's, shawls, postcards, a great picture from a magazine, etc.), just think of something that makes you happy and that you would enjoy seeing on your walls.

  • Use interesting bowls or vases to hold candy, fruit, snacks and put it in different areas of your home to create interesting looks.

  • Use clear bowls or vases to make a theme for each month (February - for Valentine's day - use red items, for December - Christmas - use pine cones, etc.)

  • Add a throw, small blanket or even a shawl on a chair, bed or sofa to add a pop of color.

  • Use trays that are normally hidden and put candles on top of it or even put a set of books or magazines on there.

  • Who says you have to put flowers in the middle of a table. Put a huge candle or something else that you would like to be an attraction each month or for however long you desire.

  • Change the look of a sofa by just adding colorful throw pillows on there. We did this on sofas that we have had for over 10 years and no one realizes they are that old due to the newer pillows we have on there.

  • Color makes a huge difference to a drab room, use paint to change the look often.

The thing that is helpful to know is that if you don't want to keep spending money on buying things every year, make sure that what you first buy is of at least some good quality, make sure that it's not too trendy (get something that you know will last, even if it looks really simple) and once you have it in your home, take care of it. Why spend all your money on things that you will be replacing in a year? Almost everything in your home should have the ability to be re-purposed somewhere else. Just get a little creative and use your imagination.


Monday, June 1, 2009

Feeling Secure In Your Own Home

I'm sure that you all have experienced when the electricity goes out due to a power outage and you can't find a flashlight or anything to help you get through that night. What about other things that you think you should have just in case of a bad situation...

I would try to keep the following in a box or a drawer to keep for situations like this. You can keep a set on each floor but definitely have one on a main floor that is easily accessible.

  • Flashlights - with batteries - on each floor

  • Stash of batteries of all sizes

  • Battery powered radio

  • First Aid Kit

  • An area to store food items, if you lose power (bottled water, candles, matches, canned food, other foods that you do not have to cook)

  • Fire Extinguisher(s)

  • Ladder - that you can keep in a bedroom, near a window, to get out in case of a fire or another type of emergency

  • Also, always make sure that you have your phones, blackberries and laptops charged well in advance so that you are not caught in a bind

I hope the next time you are caught in one of these events, you will be safe and secure.


Whatever It Takes