Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home Organizing Ideas

I am a list-maker at heart.  I always have been.  I remember coming across a list a long time ago that I made when I was about 8 years old.  It was a packing list of stuff to take to my grandma's house.  I had divided the list into two parts:  one part was for my mom to pack (stuff like clothes and underwear and toiletries and boring stuff like that); the other part was for me to pack (books, Barbies, and fun stuff like that).  I still make packing lists.  I also make lists of things to get done on a particular day or for the week.

A few months ago, I made up a form to use each week which serves as kind of a summary for the week (minus activities on the calendar).

This has been a help in getting things done.  I aImost always have to go to the places listed under Weekly Errands each week.  I will list special errands under that category.  "Things to Look For" are things I am looking to buy, but I do not know what store I will find it at.  (I am currently looking for travel soapboxes in which to store playing cards.  I can't believe I can't find any!)

The second section is for the week's menu.  Extras are usually some kind of dessert or appetizer or breakfast item.

Projects are usually Pinterest projects.  "Eat the Frog" means the tasks do I NOT want to do, but I know I need to do them.  Toddler activities are to list Storytimes and other activities that I want to do with Gracie.

The bottom section is kind of a shopping list for specific projects that I want to do.  I do not always use this.  It depends on how busy my week is.

I like to use a BIG calendar in my kitchen for writing down activities and other things I want to remember.  I also use it as a journal of sorts, writing down cute things that Gracie does or says.  Unfortunately, I don't always remember or take the time to write things down.  I've used several kinds of calendars, and my favorite one so far is the 2012 Amy Knapp's Big Grid Family Organizer wall calendar: The essential organization and communication tool for the entire family.  The one thing that sets it apart from other calendars is that it has a space at the bottom of each square for writing in what's for supper that night.  It also has different ideas for things to do each month and stickers to use.  In all honesty, I can't/don't use most of the stickers, but I do like the idea of them.

Over the years, I've toyed with different forms and charts listing daily/weekly/monthly/etc. tasks to be done.  I've set up numerous different systems.  Some I've liked better than others.  This year, I decided I would try the Motivated Moms planner which is an e-book style planner that you print out on your own printer.  There are different formats available.  I bought the one that is a Full Size Page Per Week.  I have only been using it this week, and let me say, it has made a noticeable, positive difference in my home!  I don't know if it's the system itself or the fact that I have *something* to follow or what.  I feel like I am getting things accomplished, and my house is looking better and better all the time.  Actually, I haven't even done everything on the lists (and have done some extra things NOT on the list).

The only negative thing about Motivated Moms is that not everything is tailored for my specific needs or preferences (and that's ok!).  I spent some considerable time analyzing the tasks (this is a dedicated geek project) and putting them into categories of how often they are done.  I also developed a revised form that I think works a little better for me.

I was toying with the idea of putting something together to share with you that you can use to develop your own chorelist for the year.  (If this is something you would be interested in seeing, please let me know by leaving a comment or by emailing me.  I already have much of the work done; it's just a matter of getting it in finished form with instructions.)

Another helpful thing I have done is make a shopping list form to use at Walmart.  It is different in that it is laid out so that I go in order according to how I travel the aisles.

This is a very plain format, no pretties to look at, very functional.  I usually fold it in half lengthwise so that the writing is on the outside.  As I go through Walmart, I shop from the left side of the page top to bottom, turn it over and then go down the right side.  Only when I have written something on the wrong aisle have I ever had to backtrack (or if I accidentally overlooked something).  I keep a magnetic shopping list pad on my fridge that I use to write items down.  Whenever I plan my week (usually on Sunday nights) and figure out what I'm cooking for the week, that's when I fill out this shopping list form.  Whenever I'm ready to go shopping, I add the things from the list on the fridge.

For the 99% of you who have never been to my house, I have a very small kitchen.  When two people are in there trying to do stuff, it gets very crowded.  I also have an abundance of stuff in my kitchen.  I have been incredibly annoyed at the way I have next-to-no countertop space in which to prepare meals.  Most of the space has been taken up by stuff laying on the countertops!  I am happy to report that I have doubled and maybe tripled the amount of usable space this week!  I found new homes for things (some being temporary homes) and have rearranged things around.  I have two lower cabinets that are gigantic wastelands for stuff.  They are deep and tall and have one half shelf in the back which renders 25% of the space as unusable.  I cleaned out one of the cabinets and rearranged it, and I'm very happy with the results.  I should take a picture, huh?  OK, here you go.

I can tell my husband has been in there because I used to have a lot more sugar in that canister on the left (which is out of place).  He made two batches of root beer tonight.  I now keep most of my baking staples on that little shelf.  I love those plastic containers from Walmart.  I have several sets used to house not only baking staples, but laundry detergent as well (in the garage).  The back row of the bottom of the cabinet houses a large tupperware container of flour (which you can't see because it has the slow cooker liners and sandwich baggies on top).  A note about the baggies -- I use them when I have to grease pans or muffin cups with shortening.  I put one over my hand, get a dab of shortening, grease up, and dispose of the baggie.  Next to the flour container are my meatloaf pans, shortening cans, and small crockpot.  In the front is my regular crockpot (the crock is in the fridge holding the yummy stew I made this week), a container of cookie cutters and some muffin liners, and another plastic container of miscellaneous baking supplies such as extracts, food coloring, funnels -- mostly small things corralled together.

The other cabinet (not pictured) houses my pots and pans, lids, oils, muffin tins, etc.  It's not in terrible shape, but I know I could make it more user-friendly.  I have already considered that when it comes time to buy new skillets, I believe I will get two of the large deep skillets (with straight sides) since that is the one I use most of the time.  I hardly ever use the saute pans (though my husband does, so they will stay).

My kitchen last summer.

Hopefully later this year, we will be doing a remodel of the kitchen.  Our kitchen doubles as a laundry room (which is the one thing I would LOVE to change - get the washer & dryer their own little area someplace OUT of the kitchen).  We have a stackable front-loading washer & dryer.  The washer, for some reason, has this nasty-looking black stuff (mold?) growing in it that will not come out.  Robert wants to replace this unit with the old-style top-loading washer and front loading dryer (side-by-side).  Our refrigerator will be moved to the pantry area (where you see the microwave in the corner).  Because it is a smaller area, the refrigerator will also have to be replaced.  I will NOT be getting another side-by-side refrigerator/freezer.  I have never liked that style.  I feel all cramped when trying to get into the freezer.  I have not yet decided if I will get the kind with the freezer on the bottom or on top.  I like the idea of having the freezer on the bottom.  Ultimately, it's Robert's decision, but I know he will take my preferences into consideration.  With the refrigerator moved over and the washer and dryer taking up all of the lower space in that area, I also want to put in a countertop over the dryer and upper cabinets over both the new washer and dryer.  I will then move the microwave and coffeepot to the countertop over the dryer.

You may be wondering what about the stuff that is currently in the pantry area?  Well, we have a utility closet of sorts that is in between the dining room and the garage.  The fusebox is in there and all kinds of man-stuff that Robert has had in there forever.  It was his wonderful idea that we turn that closet into a new pantry!  I am so excited about this!  It's a narrow room about 32" wide which will only have room for shelves at either end and maybe some hanging space on the long wall.  [I had a great idea after writing this post of using  hanging wire racks on the long wall to use for canned goods.  That would free up more space on the shelves at either end for other things!]  Robert wants to make an open doorway from the dining room, but I'd rather not.  I don't mind getting to it from the garage, and I'd rather not have it easily accessible by Gracie.  I am We are hoping to get a nice tax return so that we can get this project completed this year.

Well, this was longer than I anticipated.  I took two naps today [Saturday] and am not ready to sleep because of it.  I woke up feeling like a steam roller hit me this morning.  I also had a slight fever.  After my morning nap, I found out my daughter had a 102 fever!  I called the after-hours nurse to make sure I knew what dosage of Tylenol to give her.  She felt better after the first dose.  We've been taking it rather easy today.  My fever went up again this evening.  I'm not sure what tomorrow will be like, whether both of us will be able to go to church at all.  Usually when Gracie is sick, my husband and I will take turns staying with her while the other ones goes to church.  If just I am sick, Robert will take the baby to church so that I can get some rest.  (Yeah, free babysitting, terrible, I know.  Good thing the ladies love her!)  I really hope to go since our pastor's parents are visiting, and I have never met them.

UPDATE:  We are both doing better, but neither of us were able to make it to church.
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