Posts Tagged ‘Organizing’

How To Make A Knitting Needle Holder From Vintage Linens

Monday, February 10th, 2014

From our managing editor, Jami Boys.

You may not know it, but Jami, from An Oregon Cottage, has been writing on here for a year now. She handles all of our regular features like our weekly notebook, the giveaways, freebies, and round-up posts that you see on our site. She has become my right arm and I would be lost without her. Jami has a diverse background in frugal homemaking, manages her own blog, manages this blog, and is my new managing editor. How is she managing it all? I have no idea! But, I am so excited she has agreed to share her expertise on frugal homemaking with us!

How To Make A Knitting Needle Holder From Vintage Linens

I love vintage linens, especially linens that women have used their time and talents on to create works of art using embroidery, drawn-thread techniques, applique, crochet edgings and other needlework crafts. Since cruising thrift stores is a major pastime of mine, I have amassed quite a collection because I have a hard time leaving such treasures in a heap on a table.

How To Make A Knitting Needle Holder From Vintage Linens

However, I’m not a purist and I recognize that since we don’t use doilies, table runners and other small linen items in our homes anymore, I need to find other ways to be able to use and appreciate these little pieces of art once again. In the past I have made cafe curtains from old tea towels, pillows and tote bags from tablecloths and attached small embroidery pieces to the tops of ready-made pillows. Reusing these special pieces is also a way to use worn or stained linens that still have useable areas.

Since one of my other favorite hobbies is knitting, today I’m sharing how I transformed two vintage linens – a table runner and a pillowcase – into rolled knitting needle holders to organize and carry both my straight and circular needles. And the best part? It’s super easy and uses only straight line sewing!

How To Make A Knitting Needle Holder From Vintage Linens

Supplies Needed

(same for all types of linens)

Vintage linens – table runners and pillowcases for this example worked best because they were long enough for 13″ straight knitting needles (if making a needle holder for crochet hooks, tea towels would be long enough).
Coordinating ribbon – a 32″ piece of ribbon for tying in a bow. A grograin ribbon where both sides are the same is best.
Fabric marker – either vanishing or eraser style
Straight pins, sewing machine & coordinating thread

How To Make A Knitting Needle Holder From Vintage Linens

How To Make A Needle Holder From a Vintage Table Runner:

1. Fold linen piece with wrong sides together, using the needles you want it to hold as your measuring guide. Leave a top flap for folding over either over the needles or the other way, depending on if you want to see the tops of your needles (this example has the flap cover the needle tops, the next goes the other way leaving them visible). Pin edges where they meet.

2. Fold ribbon piece in half and insert folded edge 1/4″ into pinned edge; pin in place.

3. Set your machine to a longer stitch length (3.0) which makes a cleaner stitch for decorative sewing and doesn’t bunch as much as smaller stitches can.

4. Sew a straight line right along the edge of your linen. My embroidered runner had a crochet edge, so I sewed right where the crochet started.

5. As you come to the ribbon pinned to the edge, make sure it is straight and sew right over it, catching it in the edge.

6. Use a fabric marker to mark where the needle pockets will go.

7. Start at the bottom of the folded pocket and make marks at intervals for the individual needle pockets. For the 13″ bamboo straight needles I used here I made 1-1/4″ pockets which held sizes 13 to 5. You can make the pockets all different sizes as well for a custom needle holder (see below).

8. Use the marker and a ruler to make marks evenly up the inside pocket at about 3-4″ intervals – just enough that you can follow with the sewing machine.

9. Starting at the bottom of the large pocket, sew from the first mark straight up to the top of the pocket, using the marks as a guide. Bar-tack at the beginning and end to lock in stitches (sew back and forth one time before starting and ending the seam). Repeat to make remaining individual needle pockets.

How To Make A Knitting Needle Holder From Vintage Linens

Add your needles to the pockets. I like to organize them from largest to smallest.

How To Make A Knitting Needle Holder From Vintage Linens

Fold the flap over the needles, roll up keeping the embroidery visible, and tie with the ribbon. That’s it! Pretty easy, huh?

How To Make A Knitting Needle Holder From Vintage Linens

I also made a needle holder from a pillowcase that had embroidery and a scalloped crochet edging. The benefit of using a pillowcase is that it comes out thicker, liked a lined fabric.

How To Make A Knitting Needle Holder From Vintage Linens

How To Make A Needle Holder From a Vintage Pillowcase:

1. Follow the same steps outlined above, but make sure that your pillow decoration will fold over the way you want – either covering the tops of the needles or leaving them visible. You can see above that I left mine visible as I usually have the sizes marked on the needle tops and being able to see them will make them easier to find. If you plan on traveling with them and think they may fall out, cover them with the top flap.

2. Sew right along the edge of the case to make the seams for the large pocket before marking for your needle sizes. I made this case to hold some smaller 9″ bamboo needles and some circular needles.

3. When making custom sizes like this, it’s best to start measuring from each edge the sizes you want and work towards the center, so the last center pocket can be a larger or smaller size. In my example, the two outside circular needle pockets on each side (4 total) were 2-1/2″, the next three pockets on each side were 1/14″ and the center pocket is 2″ which ended up being perfect for the size 15″ needles.

How To Make A Knitting Needle Holder From Vintage Linens

You can make holders for all your needles – double pointed, circular, crochet hooks, or any others that you use. And wouldn’t these make a sweet gift for the crafters in your life? I know they would appreciate not only having their needles organized, but also the beauty of the original handiwork.

Vintage Linen Paint Brush Holder

Not a knitter? If you have paintbrushes to organize, you can make holders this same way for them, as this example from Jeannie Oliver showed on Instagram.

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21 Back To School Organizing Ideas

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Can you believe that school has started for many already, and will be starting for everyone else within the next couple of weeks? It’s crazy how fast the summer goes, yet I always look forward to a brand new school year and that great fresh feeling of fall!  Dealing with all the busy schedules, paperwork, homework, and meals during the school week is part of the fun, but also can lead to feeling overwhelmed if not tackled in the beginning.

Now that my kids are a bit older, I’ve found that if I start out on the right track with simple, doable organizing strategies, then the rest of the year goes much better than when I put off setting up simple systems or decide to just wing it.

21 School Organizing Ideas

With this in mind, I’ve put together 21 Back To School Organizing ideas to inspire you and help you get the year off to a good start for you and your kids. I’ve picked some classic tried-and-true Mom Advice systems that work for us and gathered a few other amazing ideas in three main categories:

  • Making School Memories/Showing Love
  • Life Organization Tips for The School Year
  • Organizing Dinners, Lunches, and Snacks

Teacher School Supplies Cake :: MomAdvice.com

Making School Memories/Showing Love

 

Teacher’s School Supplies Cake (use the sales!)

Creating Back to School Traditions

First Day of School Pin/Barrette

19 Teacher Appreciation Ideas

Mason Jar With Chalkboard Printable Tags @ The Crafted Sparrow

First Day of School Journal @ Happy Clippings

School Year Time Capsule @ Family Volley

DIY Command Center :: MomAdvice.com

Life Organization Tips for The School Year

 

DIY Command Center

DIY Homework Station

The Top 7 Apps to Organize Your Life

Simplifying Your To-Do List

Organizing School Papers @ One Creative Housewife

Simplifying the Morning Routine @ Homey Home Design

After School Routine with Free Printable @ Living Locurto

Clothing Organization @ The Idea Room

DIY Lunchbox Creation Station :: MomAdvice.com

Organizing Dinners, Lunches, and Snacks

 

DIY Lunchbox Creation Station

Dorm Mini-Fridge Healthy Makeover

Free Weekly Menu Planner Sheet

15 Back to School Treats @ Rainbows & Honeysuckle

Quick Tips for Packing Lunches @ House of Hepworths

Pantry Organization for Easy Weeknight Meals @ BHG

I hope this helps you all get off to a successful school year start. And I hope you share with us some of your favorite back-to-school organizing tips!

 

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Spring Cleaning All Year Round With Windex Touch-Up Cleaner (& a Giveaway!)

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Sorry! This giveaway is now closed! We would like to congratulate entry #2 (Stephanie) and entry #10 (Heather) on winning these prize packs! 

With spring comes all of the beauty of the changing season. We finally began to see our grass; we enjoy seeing the new buds on our trees, and the sweet smell of a good April shower. What also comes  is the time for spring renewal and spring cleaning inside our homes to bring the freshness and sunshine into our space.

This year, I have vowed to “spring clean” all year long rather than trying to set aside a specific time to do this. With a very busy family schedule, it can often feel daunting to just keep up the daily maintenance of my home.  If you are anything like me, try and incorporate these tips into your daily routine so that you can relax while everyone else is tired and haggard from their day of spring cleaning. Here are a few ideas for getting these tasks done:

  • Begin by making a checklist of everything that you would normally do during your spring cleaning. Things like washing all the linens and drapes, wiping down baseboards, washing windows inside and out, cleaning out your pantry, washing your shower curtains, organizing your linen cabinets, wiping down walls, and cleaning doorknobs and light fixtures.
  • Take inventory of your cleaners and the tools that you will need in order to accomplish all of the necessary cleaning. Nothing is worse than getting ready to do it and then finding out that you are missing that one component needed to complete your task. Put the items that you will need on your shopping list and get them on the day that you perform all of your errands. Some items I like to always have on hand are microfiber cloths (for dusting and wiping down electronic surfaces), newspaper for a lint-free swipe on my mirrors, dusting spray, and a good all-purpose cleaner. I love the Windex® Touch-Up Cleaner for easily and effortlessly cleaning your home’s surfaces. Use this cleaner for wiping down sinks, counter tops, toilets, the outside of your appliances, stove tops, sealed granite, sealed marble, glass, chrome, glazed ceramic tile, finished wood and more.
  • Continue doing your normal daily routine, but add an extra hour each week towards accomplishing just one of these tasks on your list. Check off the items that you accomplish and press on to the next one. By just devoting one hour a week towards your spring cleaning goals you will have a more manageable deep cleaning routine.
  • Clear out as much clutter as you can. Make a box for trash and a box for charitable donations and fill these with all of the unnecessary clutter in your home. By donating these items to those less fortunate you will gain so much. Not only will someone who needs these items more benefit from your donation, but you can receive a tax break and reclaim space in your own home. My theory is, if you don’t like to dust it and aren’t in love with items in your home- donate it!
  • Try keeping a cleaning schedule that fits with your life and your family’s life. Some people work better during morning hours while others of us would rather be snoozing and do better in the evening. Take advantage of the times that you work best.
  • Put your spring cleaning task on your calendar each week. It sounds silly, but don’t you remember your appointments and engagements better when it is written on your calendar?

 

  • Enlist your helpers to help you on these tasks. Your children and your husband can be active participants in getting your home organized just like they help to contribute to the clutter. Schedule dad for clearing out the garage, taking inventory of the tools you will need to do your gardening, cleaning out the basement, or other tasks inside and outside of the home. Children can aid in cleaning their own rooms by helping to remove some of the clutter in the house. Involving your family can be beneficial in showing them all that you do to keep your house running smoothly.

 

If your children need an extra incentive, be sure to print out our free handy chore punch cards to motivate your kids to be involved in the cleaning process!
For product details, visit http://www.windex.com/ and check out the Windex® Facebook page at www.facebook.com/windex for information, coupons and more; additionally, don’t forget to check out the Shineboard for creative cleaning ideas!

Disclosure: I have partnered with Windex® and am being compensated for my posts. However, my opinions are my own.

 

GIVEAWAY: Two (2) lucky readers will receive tools to make spring cleaning a breeze as well as samples of Windex® Touch-Up in Multi-tasking tool-kit!

To Enter: Leave a comment below telling us how Windex® Touch-Up Cleaner will help you spring clean!

*If you are a winner, please leave a testimonial here once you’ve tried it out!*
 OFFICIAL RULES
NO PURCHASE OR PAYMENT POST OF ANY KIND IS NECESSARY TO ENTER OR WIN. A PURCHASE OR, PAYMENT WILL NOT INCREASE YOUR CHANCES OF WINNING.
 
1. Eligibility:Mom Advice’sWindex® Touch-Up Product Giveaway (“Sweepstakes”) is open only to legal residents of the fifty (50) United States (including the District of Columbia) who are at least eighteen (18) years of age.  Employees of Mom Advice (“Sponsor”), Daniel J. Edelman, Inc., and SC Johnson & Son, Inc. and any of their parents, subsidiaries. affiliated companies and their advertising and promotion agencies, as well as the immediate family (spouses, parents, siblings and children and their respective spouses, regardless of where they reside) and household members, whether or not related of each such employee are not eligible to enter or win. The Sweepstakes is subject to all applicable federal, state, and local laws and regulations.
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3. Timing: The Sweepstakes begins on April 9, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. Pacific Time (“PT”) and ends on April 16, 2013 at 5:00 p.m. PT (“Promotion Period”).
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Back From Vacation Cleaning & Organizing

Friday, August 10th, 2012

Our family has just returned from a trip to Gatlinburg for a special family reunion for my husband’s side of the family. We had the incredible opportunity to climb Clingmans Dome with Ryan’s grandma to check climbing this mountain off her bucket list for her 80th birthday. We climbed this mountain in honor of his grandfather who recently passed away from cancer as a symbol of his motto to, “live strong.”  It was a very special moment for us all and I am so proud of my two kids who RAN the entire mountain for their great grandma & grandpa. There are no words for this moment!

We are still in recovery mode from being gone for the week. Unfortunately, there were many projects awaiting me upon my return. This week on the Kenmore Genius Blog you will find me sharing a few of the strategies I am working on to get my home back on track before the kids head back to school. Be sure to read this post for strategies on back from vacation cleaning and organizing.

I am also sharing my tips and strategies for organizing my closets this week! My car is fully loaded for a trip to Goodwill to donate items from our closet. It will be nice to start the Fall with a freshly organized space.

 

 

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Amy’s Notebook 04.11.12

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Welcome to my little notebook of ideas to help improve your life. This is a collection of gathered links to DIY crafts, food projects, and thrifty ways to spruce up your home. Nothing brings me more joy then to highlight other fabulous bloggers. I hope you will enjoy this weekly does of loveliness with beautiful links that are individually handpicked just for you!

 

I can’t believe how cute this repurpose is of your child’s old crib. It makes me wish I had hung on to mine (@ Life as a Thrifter)

This rain gutter for earring storage is a smart jewelry storage solution (@ Blue Cricket Design)

I love this idea for dressing up your push pins for your bulletin board (@ Under the Sycamore)

This tin roof ice cream sounds like a fun summer treat to make (@ Confections of a Foodie Bride)

I want to try this recipe for brown butter rice crispy treats (@ Handle the Heat)

Black and white angel food cake looks like a fantastic way to end a meal (@ shutterbean)

I love this idea for freshening up an old folding table (@ Tadaa!)

This DIY toddler activity board is a great way to keep little hands busy (@ Mollie D)

I love this simple alteration of jeans from straights to skinny (@ Fine & Feathered)

This parmesan crusted pesto grilled cheese sounds like a fun way to switch up the traditional cheese sandwich (@ Two Peas & Their Pod)

This Asian edamame fried rice sounds like a delicious lunch (@ Skinny Taste)

I am dying to try this recipe for pasta bolognese (@ Smells Like Home)

This honey prosciutto flatbread appetizer looks like an easy appetizer to make for my next party (@ She Wears Many Hats)

I love these tips for using Evernote to get organized (@ Small Notebook)

I adore this idea for throwing a craft birthday party (@ How Does She?)

Giveaway Results: $50 Container Store Gift Card

Tuesday, June 21st, 2011

Sorry this giveaway is now closed! We would like to congratulate Janet (Comment #27) on winning this $50 gift card to the Container Store from ApartmentGuide.com to organize her space. Thanks for all of your entries and we hope to have many more giveaways in the future!

Summer is here and this is the season in my life where organization seems to fly out the

window and chaos ensues. I was excited when Apartment Guide contacted me to see if I would be interested in making over a corner in my home that could use a little TLC and good-old fashioned organization.

“Oh, I think I will do the office,” I told them.

“Wait. My craft supplies really could use a little organization.”

“Do you mind if I change my answer? My entryway.”

“Oh, and my pantry.”

They  have graciously offered to be open to any of these scenarios and are giving me a $150 American Express gift card to spruce up one spot in my home as part of a Smart Solutions: Control the Clutter Blogger Challenge. Of course, I have to share the organizational love too and I will be giving away a $50 Container Store gift card to get you started in controlling the clutter in your home.

Apartment Guide is committed to cutting the clutter and offers a lot of valuable information for others who might be looking to make the most of their space. They have compiled a ton of articles to help you organize and make the most of the space in your home. I love that many of the ideas are low or no-cost ideas to make the space you are in organized and manageable. You can check out their articles here.

Let’s take a peek at my summer hot spots of hideous clutter.

No one sees this travesty since the only people that enter the house through our garage is ourselves, but it provides hurdles getting into the kitchen in our house. I would love to find a solution to our shoe mess, get the plastic bag chaos controlled, and streamline activities that are happening in our home through this entryway.  This should be an inexpensive solution so I can spend the rest of my money on our pantry.

I love my bigger pantry, but items do have a tendency to get lost in there. I have found myself buying repeat items and would love to add a little organization to this space. I know that if  get this spot in our home in shape that it will save me a lot of time and money in the kitchen.

Next week I will be sharing with you what I did with my gift card, but in the meantime, you can get your entries in to organize your own space. Good luck, everyone!

To enter to win a $50 Container Store gift card from Apartment Guide.

Leave one comment for each item that you complete to enter:

  • First Entry: Tell me one spot you would like to organize in your house or a helpful tip on how I can revamp these two spots in my home that have worked for you.
  • Additional Entry: “Like” Apartment Guide on Facebook for helpful organizing tips for any room in your place.
  • Additional Entry: Follow Apartment Guide on Twitter for real-time tips and updates on making the most of your space.

One winner, chosen at random, will receive a $50 Container Store gift card that can be redeemed in the store or online. Please submit your entries by Tuesday (06/28) at 8PM EST.  Our winner will be drawn at random. Good luck, everyone!

Apartment Guide Disclosure: Apartment Guide is owned by Consumer Source, Inc. Apartment Guide partnered with bloggers such as me to participate in its “Smart Storage Solutions: Control the Clutter” Blogger Challenge.  As part of that program, I received compensation.  They did not tell me what to purchase or what to say about the products used for the “Smart Storage Solutions: Control the Clutter” Blogger Challenge. Apartment Guide and Consumer Source believe that consumers and bloggers are free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Consumer Source’s policies align with WOMMA Ethics Code, FTC guidelines and social media engagement recommendations.

MomAdvice Giveaway Guidelines: Want to know more about how things are handled here at MomAdvice? Be sure to read our Disclaimer which clearly states how things work and know that we will always offer only the best reviews and giveaways to our readers. In full disclosure, the email addresses that are collected for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner(s), and will never be sold or given to anyone. This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older. Entries that do not follow the above criterion will automatically be disqualified. This giveaway will close Tuesday, June 28th at 8PM (EST). I’ll announce the first name of the winner(s) that will be added to the top of next week’s post and contact the winner(s) by email. I will draw the names of the winner(s) by using the random number generator at Random.org from the eligible entries received. If a winner does not contact me within 72 hours by email, I will draw a new winner. The winner(s) will receive their prize from the PR agency/company  responsible for this giveaway.

Revealed: 30 Day Cut the Clutter Challenge Results

Tuesday, April 19th, 2011

Last month I decided to challenge myself to cut the clutter in our home over the course of thirty days. My house and my life has been feeling chaotic these days and I knew that a thirty day challenge is just what I needed to get back to the roots of the organization in my home. If you have been a long time reader, you may remember the results from my clutter challenge last year. I am finding by making this clutter challenge a yearly one that it helps bring me back to center again in my home.

The closet, pictured above, is representative of what my home has been looking like. The bones of organization are there, but they are hiding amidst the overflowing drawers, shelves, and cupboards of endless amounts of unnecessary items. I planned to get rid of four car loads of items from my home and challenged myself to a weekly stop at Goodwill.

Pictured here are my first three drops to Goodwill. I have another round of items leftover from our home renovation to take over to the ReStore that are currently sitting in my garage. Once our weather finally warms up, my husband & I have a Saturday date planned with our cluttered garage.  All in all, I removed FIFTEEN garbage bags and three totes of random uselessness from our home. In these bags you would find books that we will never read, toys that the children have outgrown, clothing that is too small, a bazillion plastic containers that I do not need, bedding & blankets that are never used, shoes, & items from household projects that have been abandoned.

Can I say,  I was not sad to see any of these items leave our home?

Maybe when you see some of the corners of my home now, you will know why!

There is still much more clutter to be conquered in our home, but these corners that I have worked on really have me reassured that having our home organized is an attainable goal. If I was going to offer any advice on tackling the clutter in  your home, I would say this:

Start Small…Really Small- When I would survey my house as a whole, I could immediately become defeated. There is so much to do and my to-do list on any given day is enormous. Adding on trying to organize my house to the list and it just did not even seem like a feasible goal. Instead, start with one small spot in your home that has been bothering you. It could be as small as the kid’s bath toys, a junk drawer that could give under its weight of uselessness, or simply a single shelf in your home office.  I found that once I began a junk drawer, for example, I would then start moving into the drawer below it, and then I would move to the next drawer. Most of the time it is just getting the momentum to climb that cluttered hill that holds us back from achieving a little organization that is the hardest part.

You Don’t Need Another Basket, But You Might Need Another Donation Bag- I remember when I first began organizing my home, I considered home organization to be about buying organizers, storage containers, and pretty baskets to house everything. All of a sudden my home was filled with a dozen baskets of items I didn’t need or never used. Instead of thinking of how to make the items you have more attractive, consider if you really need the items themselves. If you don’t really and truly love or use them, get rid of them!

Sentimentality & “This Was So Expensive” Has To Be Set Aside- Two things get in the way of me letting the items go in my home. The first is the sentimental feelings that I have about things in our house. Usually it is a gift, an item that was special to my children when they were small, or something that was special to me that I would like to push my children into also loving. The other thing that gets in the way is my, “This Was So Expensive,” feeling about items that we spent too much money on, but no longer have love for.  If I could get rid of these two feelings about things, I could almost gather another car load of items. Instead, I have dedicated one tote in our basement that is specifically for sentimental mementos and we are working on passing on the gadgets in our life that we don’t use on to others that can use them.

Your feelings about items might be different than mine and it may take some time to figure out what holds you back from letting things go in your life. When you feel an attachment to an item, try to address where that attachment is coming from and if there is a way that you can manage those attachments to achieve the space you desire.

Embrace Your Power to Live Small- The more I cut the clutter in my home, the more I find that I have just the amount of space that I need in my home. When my closets began to feel too small, when the cupboards are bursting at the seams, when the basement is overflowing…those are the times when I think how nice it would be to move to a bigger home. Each time I cut the clutter in those spaces, I rediscover how perfect our home is for us. Basically, I save myself from a heftier mortgage payment AND I find a renewed sense of commitment to stay right where we are.

Our story of giving things away didn’t end there though, in fact, this is a story about the coolest thing that I have ever gotten to give away.  My husband had his ’99 Ford Focus for almost eight years and it was very good to us over the years. For the last five years though, he had been price researching his dream car and dreaming of the day that he could own a Lexus.  At the end of this month, his dream car dropped below the price of my Subaru wagon and with some serious negotiating and a couple of hours in the hot seat at the dealership, he drove that car home.

We talked a lot about what we wanted to do with our Ford Focus. While we could have gotten a little money to trade it in, we knew we could make my brother’s whole year if we gave him our old car. That very day we bought our new car, his car began to leak gas and he had no idea how he was going to get around. Later that afternoon I called to tell him that we had a birthday present for him.

I felt a little like Oprah handing over those keys.

He told me he felt like he won the lottery.

We both couldn’t stop grinning.

I don’t say this to brag, but to showcase how wonderful it can be to pass on the things we have in our lives to others. No matter how much or how little you have, you can always give with your whole heart. Look for creative ways to give back to your community, pass the items on that you no longer use to someone in need, use your talents to bless someone else in your life, and live a life of great thankfulness for all that you have.

If you have taken the clutter challenge, feel free to link up below and share some of the spots in your home that have been transformed or what you plan to work on this month. I can’t wait to see your projects and hear what you have learned from this experience!

New Year’s Goals: Banishing the Paper Clutter From Your Home

Thursday, January 13th, 2011


As I shared with you last week, I am working on getting happier this year through the help of, “The Happiness Project,” by Gretchen Rubin.

The first month of her book focuses on boosting energy and has several ways that you can do that.

I have been working on four specific goals for this month.

1. Going to bed on time.
2. Dealing with the nagging list of things to do.
3. Kicking clutter to the curb.
4. Returning to a good exercise routine.

Last week I shared with you my closet transformation. That little transformation helped me see the possibilities that our space could hold if I could let the clutter go. This past week I have taken not one, not two, not even three…No, I have taken SIX car trunks full of clutter to Goodwill to reclaim my home.

As each batch of clutter leaves my home, I am discovering  the potential of my home and the potential for my space to be exactly as I want it. It might not be a space that resembles the pages of Real Simple Magazine, but it brings me one step closer to the home I desire.

Ironically, I asked my husband if he had noticed the house potential peeking through the clutter after my sixth trip to the Goodwill drop-off box.  “Do you even know what is missing?” I asked. He looked around and said, “I guess I will figure it out when I try to find something.” Yes, we don’t even know what is missing which goes to show how little those items had meant to us.

Now that we had begun to see our house through the rubble, it was time to get a few organizing systems into place to get rid of the paper trail that makes its way into my home.

Finding a system that makes sense in your home and that you can maintain is the most important step towards transforming your paper clutter. What works for me might not work for you. Admittedly, I have tried more systems than I can count.

I have realized two things about myself and my paper clutter:

1) My system needs to be convenient- I would love to banish all papers down to to our home office. Walking down to the office though is not convenient though and that is why the clutter continues to build on my kitchen counters.

2) Everything must have a home- Half of the problem for me is not having a home for the papers in my life. I needed something that could house the chaos, yet I could find the papers at a moments notice.

I decided to use a magazine organizer that I had bought years ago that had housed dusty magazines. I bought a set of decorative file folders in the $1 section of Michael’s and created a folder for those troublesome papers.

The file folders you create might be different than mine, but this is what was needed to organize our family papers.

1.  Coupons- This coupon folder holds the newspaper coupons and coupons for places that we might like to dine out. I also tucked any gift cards that we might have in there so that I can grab them when we go out.

2. Emily & Ethan’s School- Each child has a folder where I can put the month’s current newsletter and school calendar.

3. Tax Information- As tax information comes through, I can add it to this folder along with any receipts that I need to keep on hand for tax deductions.

4. Amy’s Work- Check stubs from jobs I have done and reports from my ad network go in here.

5. Recipes/Crafts- I always find things in magazines or recipes that I want to try and end up losing them. Now I have a folder where I can keep these on hand for dinner or crafty inspiration.

6. Receipts- I try to tuck receipts for important items somewhere. What ends up happening though is that they immediately become misplaced. Now I know exactly where they are!

I decided to implement the same system down in my office where my cluttered desk resides.  As a work-at-home mom, I needed organization to do my job well. Again, I had another dusty organizer in my office that needed to be put to good use.

In my work file folders were these categories:

1. Current Projects- Anything that I am currently working on goes into this folder for easy grabbing.

2. Inspiration- I try to keep an inspiration folder on hand. It could be something I see in a magazine that would make the perfect article for our site, a recipe that I would like to try, or ideas from other bloggers that I want to keep in mind.

3. Product Reviews- If I request a product to review for The MotherLoot, the company usually sends a product sheet. Now it is all neatly tucked in a folder and the papers can be easily recycled once I am done with the review.

4. Contracts- This folder contains the contracts that I am under with different companies and can be referenced when needed.

The papers are still all there, but I have reclaimed my counters. What a beautiful thing! I couldn’t be more pleased or feel more organized now that everything has its home.

The next thing I needed to do was organize the kid’s art and special papers that I wanted to keep. I went to Walmart and got a two decorative banker boxes for a total of $6.88.

Each of the kids now have their own box to put their treasures in. These will go in their closets so they can save what they really love and then we will do an editing of the box in the summer for the next school year. It is just a big open box of possibility for them and will keep these papers from being strewn all over the house.

What systems have you found work for your family when it comes to organizing life’s papers? Please share or share links to your organizing systems. I would love some additional inspiration!

Giveaway Results: Cheer brightCLEAN Detergent for One Year

Wednesday, December 15th, 2010

Thank you all for your entries! We would like to congratulate Michelle S. (Commenter #202) on winning our Cheer for a Year Giveaway! Happy Holidays to you all!

Editor’s Note- Don’t forget to enter our Tassimo T20 Coffeemaker Giveaway from Monday (valued at $139),  our $1,300 Prize Pack from The Talk, and our Nintendo Wii with Family Game Night 3 Giveaway. Check back tomorrow for more!!

Over the last few months I have had the incredible opportunity to work as the spokesperson for Cheer brightCLEAN detergent which has been a fun and exciting opportunity for our entire family. I have been working hard to share with moms easy ways to keep their clothes looking great for the back-to-school season, but my work doesn’t end there since a mom’s work with laundry and clothing is never done!

Today I wanted to share with you some easy tips for organizing your closet in under 30 minutes. If you are limited on closet space, like me, or you simply like to organize your clothes by season, I have a few easy tips to incorporate in your life to help keep your closets organized and fresh!

Pull All of the Clothing Out of the Closet- To begin organizing your closet, you really need to know what is in it. Begin pulling all of the clothing out of the closet and eliminate any items that have not been worn in the last six months, clothing that no longer fits, clothing that is no longer in season, or clothes that are no longer in style.

Organize Clothing by Color- Next put your items back into the closet and organize it by color and then by type. For example, put all of the black clothing together and then organize it by style of shirt (knit, blazer, sweater, cardigan, etc..) I have used this advice over the years,  that was offered to me by my closest fashion confidant, Kathy Friend. Sorting items by color makes it easier to find what you need quickly and also discover what areas in the color scheme needed a boost and what areas need some scaling back.

Repeat these steps above for your children’s closets and I am sure you will notice a true difference in how easy for you all to get ready in the morning!

Store Your Out-of-Season Clothing- Storage depends truly on the size of home you have and the space that you can use to tuck your out-of-season items away. In our house, Rubbermaid totes are our clothing storage option and I keep my personal (freshly washed)  out-of-season items tucked away in the basement, while the kids have two bins going all of the time in each of their closets.

With my children, one bin of clothing that they are outgrowing is stored throughout the year and can be added to as items are outgrown. I have been lucky enough to have a “bin exchange” program with my best friend and we trade bins of clothing with each other for our children. When a bin is filled, I pass it on to her in exchange for a bin of her clothing. With this exchange system, I can probably count on one hand the amount of items that I have had to buy my daughter this year. It is great if you can work something like this out with a friend and by keeping a bin on hand, it helps to keep your closets tidy and organized.

The other bin of clothing that is housed in their closet contains items that they will soon be growing into, sometime in that next year. This bins helps serve as a reminder to me on how much or how little I really need to buy for the upcoming year or season. If you do a lot of thrift shopping, consignment shopping, or hit the garage sales for your children’s clothing, an itemized list of items you have on hand and sizing can help reduce the amount of duplicate purchases.

Implement a Free-For-All Drawer for Kids- Maintaining organization in your house, let alone your closet, with small children is practically impossible. I have learned over the years to choose our battles, but I never knew what battles were until I met my strong-willed and wildly independent little girl.

It is because of her that I have developed the, “Free-For-All,” drawer. This nightstand is my daughter’s drawer that she can organize and do exactly what she pleases with it. Each day we were battling her about what she could or could not wear for school. Now we have compromised and this drawer is filled with all of her favorite nightgowns and pajamas. At the end of the day, she can do whatever she wants and where whatever she wants from this drawer, provided we are spending the day at home!

Make sure that if you have a drawer for your children, that it is the lowest one or a safe one to access. When my daughter began climbing on a chair to grab her favorite nightgowns and toppled the drawers on herself, we knew that she needed a drawer that she could access with a few of her favorite things in a safe location.

Donate Often- Make donating to your local thrift store or shelter a part of your weekly routine and just imagine how much space you can reclaim in your closet and home. I like to keep a bag or bin going all week long and add as I see items that we no longer need or have outgrown, that can be passed on to someone else. It is amazing how these little things really add up over the course of the week, and how much simpler my life has become thanks to ridding myself of clutter. Make it a part of your routine just like paying the bills and caring for your home each week and you will begin to see the power you have in transforming those cluttered corners and closets.

Switch to a Wallet-Friendly Detergent- Before storing those clothes for next season and when caring for those clothes for this season, be sure to look for a wallet friendly detergent to care for them with that will keep your clothes looking fresh and bright for this season (and many seasons to come).  Do a price comparison on the detergents in your store and I am sure you will find that Cheer brightCLEAN detergent is  not only inexpensive, but that it performs just as well as the more expensive detergents.

At only $.15 a load though, it is great to know that if you need to buy it, that this detergent is very budget-friendly and they offer different (including unscented) varieties to choose from! It is a product that I am using for my own family and one that I would love to share with you! The best part though is that it will remove the day’s dinginess from your clothing and brighten the clothes you already have at a fraction of the price. Who wouldn’t want a little of that in their life…or perhaps, a year’s worth of that!

I don’t want to just talk about how much you will save by using Cheer brightCLEAN detergent, I actually want to give it to you and save you that expense for an entire year! Cheer brightCLEAN™ detergent has graciously offered to give to one of our lucky readers a year’s supply of laundry detergent. Imagine not having to pay for detergent for an entire year and what you could do with that money.

Today we are offering one lucky reader a year’s supply of Cheer brightCLEAN Detergent to help inspire you to get your closet organized with fresh clean clothes with Cheer brightCLEAN Detergent!

Leave one comment for each item that you complete to enter:

  • First Entry: Leave a comment and let us know one tip you use to get your closet and out-of-season clothing organized in your house or one tip that you have discovered through this post that would really help your family!
  • Additional Entry: Let us know you are a fan of MomAdvice and join the MomAdvice.com Fan Club today on Facebook.
  • Additonal Entry: Follow me on Twitter and get an early scoop on all of our giveaways and articles that we are formulating for the year!
  • Additional Entries: Subscribe to my feeds and never miss another thing on our site again! We have a landing page where it makes it easy to subscribe to our blogsFor each one you subscribe to, leave one additional comment.

One winner, chosen at random, will receive a year’s supply of Cheer brightCLEAN™ Detergent . Please submit your entries by Wednesday (12/22)  at 8PM EST.  Our winner will be drawn at random. Good luck, everyone!

Please check out this video below where I share more great tips on organizing your closet in 30 minutes or less!

I am a spokesperson for Cheer brightCLEAN™ Detergent and have a relationship with the company. Want to know more about how things are handled here at MomAdvice? Be sure to read our Disclaimer which clearly states how things work and know that we will always offer only the best reviews to our readers. In full disclosure, the email addresses that are collected for this giveaway will only be used for the purpose of contacting the winner(s), and will never be sold or given to anyone. This giveaway is only open to residents of the United States who are 18 years of age or older. Entries that do not follow the above criterion will automatically be disqualified. This giveaway will close Wednesday, December 22 at 8PM (EST). I’ll anneounce the first name of the winner(s) that will be added to the top of this current giveaway post and contact the winner(s) by email. I will draw the names of the winner(s) by using the random number generator at Random.org from the eligible entries received. If a winner does not contact me within 72 hours by email, I will draw a new winner. The winner(s) will receive their prize from the PR agency responsible for this giveaway. There is no guarantee that this item will be received by Christmas.

Giveaway Results: Cheer Detergent for a Year

Tuesday, August 31st, 2010

Sorry this giveaway is now closed! Thank you all for your fabulous entries. We would like to congratulate Nikki (Commenter #710) for her winning entry! A huge thanks to Cheer for sharing this giveaway with our readers and we hope to offer more in the future!

These past couple of months I have had the incredible opportunity of working for Cheer brightCLEAN™ Detergent as a spokesperson for their back-to-school season. I sometimes want to pinch myself because running this site and the jobs that have come from a mom’s simple idea of teaching frugal living have been so amazing for me & for my family.

The opportunity to represent a wallet-friendly detergent and to promote ways moms can save for the school year is a perfect fit for what I do every day as a mom and I couldn’t be more pleased to represent the company.

Today I am heading to NYC to do a media tour on Wednesday for a variety of morning and afternoon news shows promoting ideas for ways moms can save in every room in their house during the back-to-school season. As the years have gone by, I have become more in tune with what puts a strain on our budget and, to me, it is often the little things that add up the most.

Let’s take a tour through the home, shall we, and find some hidden expenses in the home that could be corrected with very little effort and by making small changes in your house and purchasing habits.

Kitchen

It is the heart of the home, and one of my favorite places to start saving money! Here are some simple switches you could make when preparing those back-to-school lunches that could have a really positive impact on the family budget.


Avoid Snack Size Products- The aisles are brimming over at the grocery stores with snack-size products during the back-to-school season, but do your best to avoid these products if you can. By paying for the convenience of these products, you are paying double or triple the amount for a lot less food. Invest in a set of inexpensive containers that can be filled with your very own snacks for a fraction of the price.

Buy in Bulk- With the convenience of online shopping, it makes it very easy to shop for school supplies in bulk and do price comparisons from the comfort of your own home. Jot down the prices and ounces/sizes of the products you commonly purchase for school lunches at the grocery store. When you get home, visit your local wholesale club’s website to compare the prices there and see if there is some savings by buying in bulk. I love to use this price sheet and this Price Book 101 article has great information for keeping your own price journal. What I have found is some snacks, fruits, vegetables, and drinks can be bought in bulk for a lot less than buying them in the standard sizes at the grocery store.

Chop and Create At Home- Designate one day a week (my day is on Sunday) to creating your snack packs and making items that can be tucked in your children’s lunches. For example, instead of buying pudding packs ($.89 for four at Aldi), buy a box of instant pudding and make it at home for half the price. Instead of buying pre-chopped vegetables, chop them yourself and pay half (or less) on the price.

To keep your lunches organized and accessible, designate one refrigerator drawer towards school lunches and allow children to select one sandwich, one healthy snack, one “fun” snack, and their drink from the drawer. I even tuck commonly forgotten items in the drawer like napkins and spoons to trigger my tired brain to kick in on busy school mornings.

Bathroom

Getting ready for the big first day of school can sometimes feel like you are flushing money down the toilet, but it doesn’t have to be! Here are a few of my favorite ideas for saving money in your bathroom.

Shower Yourself in Savings- Did you know that the average shower uses six to ten gallons of water?  Consider investing in an egg timer and a low-flow showerhead to reduce water waste in the bathroom. By cutting showers down to five to eight minutes per person, you can save an easy $200 a year by taking quicker showers. The bonus, of course, is that this will help keep the entire family on schedule for getting out the door on time in the morning.

Designate Towels- Instead of having everyone use a towel only once, designate a towel to each family member that they can use for a whole week before putting it in the hamper. Two ways you could keep track of the towels is by assigning each family member a specific color of towels or you could sew a simple loop of grosgrain ribbon at the corner of each towel in a particular color for each family member that the towels could also be hung from following showers.

Shop Drugstore Deals & Coupons- While I am not a typical coupon-user for groceries, I LOVE the savings that can be had by shopping at the drugstores and combining them with coupons. Consider visiting sites like Money Saving Mom or Deal Seeking Mom to track coupon and rebate programs to score those health and beauty items for free.

Ditch the Expensive Bathroom Cleaners- Making your own cleaners is thrifty, frugal, and a lot better for the environment. Most cleaners can be made from simple ingredients that you can buy in bulk at your local wholesale club. Consider stocking up on baking soda, white vinegar, and dish soap to create your own cleaners at home. For a simple bathroom scouring paste, mix dishwashing liquid with baking soda until you have a thick paste and use this throughout your bathroom. For an all-purpose cleaner for your bathroom surfaces, mix together two tablespoons of mild dishwashing soap and two cups of water in a spray bottle and give it a shake. Glass cleaner can easily be made with one part white vinegar to one part water. All surfaces can be swiped with microfiber cloths (found in the automotive section of your wholesale club) and windows get a lint-free shine with a little of your newspaper from the recyclables.

Laundry Room

If there is anything that I have learned since school has started, it is that the laundry definitely seems to multiply with play clothes and school clothes every single day. Luckily, we have you covered with a few ways to save in your laundry room!


Switch to Cold Water- I have found that washing in warm and hot water are very rarely needed in our house. Just by switching to a cold water cycle you can save approximately $200 a year and it is a much greener alternative too!

Line Dry Those Clothes- Before the winter weather hits, take advantage of these beautiful fall days and consider line drying your clothing to save your family money.  There are many great benefits to utilizing a clothesline.

One of the best benefits of line drying your clothes is that they will last much longer than they would if they were just thrown in the dryer. Did you ever think about how much lint is in your dryer when you are done drying it? That is actually all of the worn-away fabric, that would have remained on your garments if you had line dried them. Zippers cause snagging on clothing when tossed in the dryer, but when line dried your garments will remain intact.

The second benefit is the energy-savings.  Did you know that electric dryers are often among the top energy-uses in a home, followed by refrigerators, lighting and water heaters? You will save your family $.36 a load by line-drying and you will keep those back-to-school clothes looking fresher for much longer

Switch to A Less Expensive Detergent- It may seem like a no-brainer, but switching detergents to one that is more wallet-friendly will save you oodles of money. Most brand-name detergents  cost family around $.30-.33 per load, but you can still have brand-name detergent at only $.15 a load if you switched to Cheer brightCLEAN™ detergent.That means each time you do a load of laundry, you can put $.15 back in your pocket to put towards all those back-to-school supplies. Hurray for savings!

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I don’t want to just talk about how much you will save by using Cheer brightCLEAN™ detergent, I actually want to give it to you and save you that expense for an entire year! Cheer brightCLEAN™ detergent has graciously offered to give to one of our lucky readers a year’s supply of laundry detergent. Imagine not having to pay for detergent for an entire year and what you could do with that money.

At only $.15 a load though, it is great to know that if you need to buy it, that this detergent is very budget-friendly and they offer different (including unscented) varieties to choose from! It is a product that I am using for my own family and one that I would love to share with you! The best part though is that it will remove the day’s dinginess from your clothing and brighten the clothes you already have at a fraction of the price. Who wouldn’t want a little of that in their life…or perhaps, a year’s worth of that!

Today we are offering one lucky reader a year’s supply of Cheer brightCLEAN™ Detergent to kick off your back-to-school year right!

Leave one comment for each item that you complete to enter:

  • First Entry: Leave a comment and let us know one tip you would like to implement in your house for saving during this back-to-school season.
  • Additional Entry: Let us know you are a fan of MomAdvice and join the MomAdvice.com Fan Club today on Facebook.
  • Additonal Entry: Follow me on Twitter and get an early scoop on all of our giveaways and articles that we are formulating for the year!
  • Additional Entries: Subscribe to my feeds and never miss another thing on our site again! We have a landing page where it makes it easy to subscribe to our blogsFor each one you subscribe to, leave one additional comment.

One winner, chosen at random, will receive a year’s supply of Cheer brightCLEAN™ Detergent . Please submit your entries by Tuesday (09/07) at 8PM EST.  Our winner will be drawn at random. Good luck, everyone!

I am a spokesperson for Cheer brightCLEAN™ Detergent and have a relationship with the company. The thoughts and opinions expressed will always be honest and heartfelt and no reflection on receiving samples from the company.  We promise to always do our best to give away products to our readers because it is always better to give than to receive!  Want to know more about how things are handled here at MomAdvice? Be sure to read our Disclaimer which clearly states how things work and know that we will always offer only the best content for our readers.