Friday, January 31, 2014

Clean Your Remotes

My sister and I were eating Indian food (YUM!!!!) one night and somehow our TV remote control ended up on my plate. While I was cleaning the edge of the dirty remote, I noticed just how dusty/grimy the remote was. I can't believe I didn't clean it earlier. Take a look at your remotes, bet'cha they are dirty too. If so, let's clean them. 

Cotton swabs
Rubbing alcohol (I didn't have rubbing alcohol so I used hydrogen peroxide)

1. Remove batteries.
2. Gently clean the keys with a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol. (Make sure your cotton ball isn't dripping with rubbing alcohol).
3. To get into the crevices, lightly dip your toothbrush in rubbing alcohol and clean the crevices. 
4. Let rubbing alcohol evaporate and then replace batteries. 

TADA! Enjoy awesomely clean (and disinfected) remotes!

Sorry for the differences in color- took pictures at different times of the day. SOO CLEAN!

Friday, January 24, 2014

What's on/in My Nightstand?

So, I think this might be a bit weird but I love to see what people have in their refrigerators, bathrooms, nightstands, and bags. I always think these most used spots showcase a person, in some form or another. Therefore, today I open my nightstand to you. Enjoy! :)

I don't have the typical nightstand; instead of a separate piece of furniture I have two cupboards in a bookcase. This just made the most sense for my room as I share it with my sister. Ideally, I would have a proper nightstand and would be able to tuck away the items that I use at night. I'd also get a lamp and a dock for my charging my iPhone, which I also use as an alarm clock.

Our bookshelf nightstand. I omitted showing my sister's side because I want to respect her privacy.

My "nightstand" an open cupboard and a cupboard with a door.

The open cupboard. Maybe if I get a proper nightstand I won't have as much on display.

This is what I keep behind the closed door. When I am able to invest in a proper
nightstand some of these things will move out of here.

I don't like seeing cords next to or behind furniture.
These cable drops help discretely hide my phone
and computer chargers without making these
cable out of reach.

The minute I typed up this post, I didn't like how I organized the visible part of my nightstand. So here is the new version.

I think this looks more organized and tidy. That's the thing with organizing- you have to tinker with the process
until you find a system that works for you. Something what works today might not work tomorrow and, thus will need
adjustment. It's an ongoing process about constantly meeting changing needs. 

What's in/on your nightstand?

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Trash Day Tuesday: Hangers

As I am gearing up to renovate my closet to maximize space and accommodate my growing closet, I thought this post would be relevant. Most of my clothing hangs in my closet and thus hangers are personal to me. They should be to you as well!

Why good hangers are important?
Sturdy, well structured hangers provide the best support for clothing, which helps them maintain their shape and keeps fabric in tact.

Why hanger uniformity is important?
The answer to this question is mostly based on aesthetics, with a hint of positive reinforcement. Obviously having all hangers be of the same style, color, brand, etc is pretty to look at, but it's more than just that. This uniformity, because it it visually pleasing, compels you to keep your closet neat. If something's a mess, it's harder to clean it. It something look neat, it's easier to maintain it. It's a simple change that you can make to help reinforce a behavior that is favorable.

With all this as background, let's talk about what to keep and what to toss.

To Toss //

  • Wire hangers from the dry cleaner (these are SO BAD for your clothing).
  • Broken hangers.
  • Hangers that are warped.
  • Hangers that are too big/too small.

To Keep //

  • When looking for new hangers or which hangers to keep, think about the hanger's function. You don't have to have the exact same hanger for every type of clothing. Skirts should be hung on skirt hangers, blazers should be hung on padded hangers. Keep function in mind, when choosing the proper hangers for your needs.
  • I would recommend felt, wooden, metal, or plastic hangers- all depends on what you are hanging. (Tip: If your clothing slips from the hangers, try tying a rubber band on each hanger shoulder so prevent clothing from slipping off.)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Polish Your Shoes

I have fond memories of being little and polishing my dad's shoes when we would go somewhere as a family. (Is that weird?) That said, I do not have fond memories of trying to find all the essential elements for shoe polishing! I could never find the brush or the wax- it was a nightmare. Shoe polishing is a must and I think any dapper gentleman and classy woman should always have shiny, clean shoes. For that to happen, a shoe polishing kit is in order.

You need not have a pre-made kit, you can fill your own kit with your favorite assortment of products. Your basics will be (white and/or black) shoe polish, boar hair brush (one with soft bristles and one with hard bristles), and cloth(s). My family has a few products that we like and we just place them in a container in our entryway closet. It's seriously that easy. The point is to have your kit in one spot.

Now, I'll be honest, this isn't only a shoe polishing kit. It's also a bag cleaning kit. Some of the products are
interchangeable so we keep them all in here. We use old shirts as our cloth, saddle soap for cleaning bags/salted shoes,
black and white polish for different colored shoes, mink oil (does this come from real minks?) for oiling leather, two shoehorns, and a boar bristle brush. I also don't recommend using clear containers because seeing the contents of the container isn't very nice. By the way, our basket is repurposed from a gift basket that we got from my sister's boyfriend. I love the potato sack/linen and the hand shaped metal basket- sort of reminds me of when my family used to harvest potatoes from our backyard. 

Another view of the basket. Note, it isn't filled to the brim- keep it simple and light. You don't want to be
fumbling through products when you are in a rush or have products expire. It's about ease and simplicity. 

We neatly store the shoe polishing basket on a shelf  in our
entrance way closet where we hang our coats.
What do you keep in your shoe polishing kit?

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Trash Day Tuesday: Spare Wires, Cords, and Cables.

If you suffer from a surplus of collected wires, cords, and cables, then this post is meant for you. Almost all of us own some sort of electronics that require the use of these electric snakes. The trouble is, without us knowing, they seem to multiple and engage in epic tangling wars when we are not looking. Plainly stated, they are a messy annoyance. Therefore, this Trash Day Tuesday is dedicated to purging and organizing our spare wires, cords, and cables! (Do not mistake this post for organizing solutions when it comes to cable management- that'll happen another day when I am brave enough to tackle my family's entertainment center. Yikes!)

We all feel this way when dealing with wires, cords, and cables.

The Process //

Here's the step by step guide to getting your wires, cords, and cables in order:

Use this chart to help you organize your wires, cords, and cables. 

Wrapping Techniques //

Over-Under Method- creates a circular loop which is as easy to unravel as it is to wrap. 

Daisy Chain- creates a braid by crocheting the wire into itself. Note, keeping the two ends together helps prevent knots from occurring. 

Electrician's Wrap-creates a neatly wrapped and knotted figure. Instead of laying the cable on the ground, some people loop the cable over their forearm.

Storage Ideas //

When it comes to labeling, the sky is really the limit.
I personally like the idea of small tags, such as
these ElastiNotes- simple and effective.
Label each charger, wire, and cord if it belongs to a specific
. Never frantically search for a charger ever again.

Use toilet rolls for storing cords and keep
cords separated. Label each roll and store
vertically in a container. No more tangles!
Store small cords and wires in ziplock bags and label them
accordingly. This method is so helpful when traveling
because you can just grab and go.
Use a plastic box with dividers to organize cords and
wires into categories. These dividers are home made!

For those of you wondering what my before and after looks like, here it is:

Where to start?! Our cords weren't so much tangled as they were improperly stored and not labeled.
I had tried to tackle this mess once before so the cords and wires are relatively neatly wrapped-
although, some were improperly wrapped. We also had a surplus of unused cables and electronics.
To be honest, I didn't even know what half these cables were for or to what they belonged. 
Going through the process. Took about 15 minutes and I was able to get rid of 3 routers, and give some cords to my
dad because he'll use it for work. Once I organize our entertainment center, I might toss more cords out.
I used the same box, but implemented the ziplock idea. It looks very neat- it actually closes and feels light!

Do you have a spare cord problem as well? What transformations have you made? Any clever storage ideas, like storing wires in circular tuber-ware?

Friday, January 10, 2014

Make Use Of Your Mementos

.Beautiful memory box

I am often told that the reason why people have so much clutter is because they like to keep sentimental objects or souvenirs of their memories. Physical objects can help us relive certain memories by acting like reminders. Keeping mementos is alright as long as you realize that holding on to too much of the past can prohibit us from living the future. I like to limit the number of keepsakes I have by containing everything in a keepsake box, but that is not what today's post is about. Today I want you to actually use those objects and remember your memories instead of tucking them away in a box that is often forgotten.

Memories are not meant to be boxed up, you should constantly see them. That's why we keep what we keep- to remind us of happy or memorable times. It is time to unleash these memories. Much of my mementos are paper/cards/letters therefore they make the perfect tool for what I am about to suggest. Instead of stuffing happy memories into a box, I like to give them a second purpose. I like to use my paper mementos as bookmarks. Every time I open my book I remember that specific happy memory and I instantly feel better. I think this is a wonderful way to integrate the past with the present. Try it out yourself!
This bookmark is actually a pass from a house and garden tour of Dumbarton Oaks,
Washington, DC. I went on a tour of the gardens and have fond memories of that day.
I use it as my bookmark and am delighted every time I see it. I also use photos, letters,
cards, tickets, or any paper memory as bookmarks. It's wonderful to be greeted by a
 memory every time you open your book to read. 

How are you ingratiating your keepsakes into your everyday life?

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Trash Day Tuesday: Socks

This Tuesday I had planned to write about downsizing Christmas decorations, but then I realized that this year my family didn't decorate so I couldn't actually show you examples of what to do. I thought writing a post without actually doing it myself would lead to inaccuracies. So, here we are today and I am writing about socks instead. Yes, you read correctly- SOCKS! Socks are a must for everyone! Let's tackle that sock drawer today.

Purge //
The first step to clearing out your sock drawer is purging of old, uncomfortable, disliked, or holey socks. I used to keep socks with holes in case I ran out of socks but I quickly realized that made me more self conscious if I had to take my shoes off and sometimes the opening in the sock irritated my skin. Unless it is an absolute must, get rid of socks that are generally considered undesirable.

Categorize //
You are probably getting tired of seeing the same headlines, but that's how organizing works- similar processes for handing all types of situations. You must group your socks into categories. Categories you might have are: trouser socks, gym socks, fuzzy socks, ankle socks, skiing socks, regular socks, etc.

Store //
Storage really depends on your categories and personal taste. I personally just stick all my socks into a drawer after I have balled up each pair. Trouser socks/nylon socks go with other hosiery in my intimates drawer. If I was a heavy duty gymnast, I might have specifically designated socks for gymnastics but since my needs are simple, I only have two categories.

Key Lesson //
The important thing about socks is making sure that the pairs are together and that they are contained in a separate drawer or basket. Socks are so small and numerous that they look messy and easily create disorder. If space is an issue and you are forced to store them with other items then create a CLEAR separation. Get drawer dividers or cloth inserts. Trust me, this will go a long way.

This is what my drawer looks like. Inside, yet it is messy
but this is practical for me. I don't really care what socks
I wear when, so this jumbled "mess" is fine by me.

I could organize my socks by color, as I have done above, or by season-
thin socks for warmer months and thick for colder months.
What do your socks drawers look like? Do you think organizing socks by categories is too tedious of a job or even unrealistic? How do you fold your socks?

Friday, January 3, 2014

Family Calendar


Welcome to 2014! Another year has passed, which means it's time to get our acts together! New year means new start, but let's make this one count. Most people make New Years Resolutions on which they never take action, so let's see if we can kick off the year with one resolution that anyone can accomplish. Let's create a family calendar!  Imagine this calendar to be the Holy Grail of all calendars. It will display all sorts of information for your family. We are most efficient when we know what has to be done, when/where it has to be done, and who else is involved. The easiest way to do that is to have a family calendar that clearly displays EVERYTHING to be done.  Here's how to make one: 

First, let's talk about the type of calendar you should get. Depending on your habits and needs you might prefer a paper or electronic calendar. I personally like LARGE monthly view paper calendars because to me they are more malleable, whereas electronic calendars limit you to the creativity of the calendar creator. That said, I do use an electronic calendar on my phone to keep track of personal appointments but my family uses a large paper calendar to keep track of family appointments. For the sake of simplicity I am going to concentrate on paper calendars in this post, but know that my suggestions can be tailored to electronic calendars as well. 

Appointments //
To fill in your calendar you will need to collect a list of appointments.  Here is what you should include: 

1. Schedule of payments (utilities, mortgages/rent payments, loans, credit card payments, services, memberships, charity payments, etc)
2. Schedule of special household tasks (gutter cleaning, landscaping, any large tasks that will require a lot of work and or a service provider)
3. List of birthdays
4. List of all personal appointments (dinners with friends, interview dates, movie dates, doctor appointments, football practice, special events, vacations, etc)
5. Printed school or work schedules (including addresses and phone numbers) for each house member
6. List of addresses and phone numbers for extracurricular activities or hobbies that occur outside of the house

Supplies //
Supplies will depend on whether you create your calendar on a computer or if you make it by hand. Here are the basics:

1. Different colored pens ( one per member of the house, green pen, one colored pen for mutual use)
2. Sticky notes
3. Big red dot stickers, small green dot stickers
4. Other decorative materials, if you wish
5. Poly envelopes

Creating The Calendar //
Now let's fill in the calendar. Here's the step by step guide on how to go about it:

Fill in your birthdays (and holidays) first, as these events never change. Place a ballon or present sticker near the event. Go through every month and write in people's birthdays. Don't write in everyone that you know, that's ridiculous. Only the people to whom you'd like to wish a happy birthday- the people that matter in your life. 

In green pen, mark on your calendar the due date of each bill. You can pay the bills as they come in or you can cluster and pay bills in groups. Look at your calendar and analyze how you can pay bills in clusters (give yourself a time cushion and consult your paycheck schedule). Once you decide on a few dates on which to pay bills, place a BIG red dot sticker on that date. The red dot should signify that bills, listed on the calendar after the red sticker, must be paid on that specific date. (Please note that you can change payment due dates- this is a service that most companies provide).

Fill in your personal appointments and special household tasks. Make sure to write the time and location for each event, if it's relevant. Give each person in the house a different colored pen for their appointments. If an appointment has more than one person involved, use a neutral colored pen and next to the task/event write the first letter of each person's first name. If an event requires payment make a visible dollar sign next to it. Once the event is paid for, place a little green dot on the dollar sign to signify that you have monetarily committed to the event. Once you get the tickets/confirmations for the event put it in a poly envelope and keep it near the calendar.

I would caution against writing down gym sessions, basketball practice, dance class sessions, work or school hours, etc on this calendar if you or your family is involved in many activities. Instead, create personal weekly schedules for each person. By doing so, the bulky activities that do not change will not clutter up your calendar. Store these schedules in a poly envelope near the calendar.

Use post-its for additional information. If you have to call to make an appointment, write it on a post it and stick it on the date that you want to call. If there is a phone number that you need to take with you to a specific appointment write it on a post it, don't clutter the calendar. The calendar is ONLY for appointments, birthdays, events, and payments. 

Place the calendar somewhere central where everyone can see it. That way, everyone will be informed and organized.

This is a mock calendar for married couple, Helen and Adam. Next to their calendar they would
also have all of their supplies and 2 poly envelopes (one for tickets/confirmations and one for their
personal weekly schedules).

This is the legend that Helen and Adam
would follow when using their calendar. 

Happy Calendaring!