Wednesday, February 29, 2012

whistle while you work.

As we were moving into our apartment last year, I was desperate to just put stuff away. I didn't really care where it went, as long as it was away. The result of this was a whole lot of storage that was neat and orderly, but dysfunctional. For example, I didn't want to put ALL of my cleaning supplies under my kitchen sink, so I settled with putting all of my bathroom supplies and refills in our guest bathroom...
(This picture makes me look like an Extremem Couponer, but fear not, I just buy all my cleaning stuff at Sam's.)

...and putting all of my general cleaning products (Windex, bleach, etc) under my kitchen sink (which, unfortunately, had fallen into a bit of disrepair).

Disregarding the unsightliness of the cabinet, this set-up was also inefficient. In order to clean our master bathroom (cue "My Heart Bleeds for You"), I would have to head over to the guest bathroom, gather some required supplies, head into the kitchen for more supplies, then stop by the laundry room for a roll of paper towels. Typically, I could only do this in one trip on days where my arms were super elasticky, but on the whole, I was making 2 to 3 trips to gather all of my supplies for Cleaning Day. Tragic, I know.

As I started planning this little fixer-upper, I decided that I would place a bucket of all of my "Cleaning Day" supplies underneath the kitchen sink, and then store all of my excess supplies and refills in the guest bathroom / Sam's hoarding area.

As I perused the aisles of lovely Le Target, I first went to the caddies created specifically for cleaning supplies and found items like:
But with the cut-out in the middle, when I tried to place several bottles of cleaning solution in the caddy, I could only get 2-3 bottles to fit neatly. I also wanted something that was big enough to hold a roll of paper towels. Strike one.

It was becoming more evident that I needed to get a general storage tub to hold all of my goodies, and just around the corner from the cleaning supplies, I found just the tubs I needed! I found a fabulous, turquoise, chevron-print tub (no longer available online) that just screamed "cleaning tub" and a smaller, green-handled tub that I knew would be the perfect size for storing my sponges and gloves.

I went ahead and placed all of the items I use for Cleaning Day in the chevron tub to insure everything fit, and I was not disappointed!

Knowing that the tubs were a good size, I printed out some letters in "Smiley Monster" ( and got to cutting! No, Santa still has not brought me my Sillhouette. After cutting the letters, I applied two pieces of tape from the edge of the bucket to insure that I applied my letters in a straight line.

I then got out every DIY Girl's dream tool, Mod Podge, and got to gluing! After my first coat of Mod Podge, we were looking pretty phenom:

And after a night of drying and removing the tape, I was in Cleaning Day heaven!

Now, my cabinet under my kitchen sink no longer feels embarrassed to be so messy, and I can just grab my cleaning supplies and get to cleaning! Everyone wins.

  • With just 2 tubs, I was able to streamline my cleaning routine saving both time and sanity.
  • Rather than having my cleaning supplies split between two rooms, I now have all of my supplies under my kitchen sink with refills living happily ever after in the guest bath.

Do you have all of your cleaning supplies in one place? How do you contain them?

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

a little facelift.

In my opinion, one of the primary requisites of having a space that is organized in a lovely manner is having matching bins, containers, or tubs. Varied bin shapes, sizes, and colors can make your space look even more cluttered than when you started organizing. The clear choice to avoid this problem is to buy several bins (even a couple of extras)at once of the same shape, size, and color. But my beef with that solution is: where am I going to store all of my “extra” bins until I use them? Further, what if I still run out of bins? I feel like every time I go to the store, the bins look different. They might be the same, clear tubs, but they always have different colored handles or lids.

I tell you my philosophy because, of course, when I went to Target this weekend to buy two new bins for some upcoming projects, my trusty blue-handled, clear bins were nowhere to be found! The sales associate acted like I was a mad person for asking if they had any, and proceeded to tell me the only tubs they had were purple. Fantastic.

Ten minutes and a brief jaunt around the store to confirm that the sales associate wasn’t pulling my leg later, I found myself once again staring at those fabulous clear tubs with the newly “improved” purple handle. After about 4 minutes of endless staring, I finally decided that I could probably paint the handles to match my other tub’s blue handles, right?! The handles had a slightly rough texture which told me the paint would probably stick with no problem. What an easy fix!

So I pulled out my old bin and set it with my new bins, ready to start mixing up some paint!

But as I started comparing which paint colors I had with the blue handle to start matching up, I thought I would probably end up spending all day just getting the paint to match. That’s when I threw the hat in and thought I would just paint all three tubs’ handles a new, fabulous color!
So I taped off all of my boxes with blue painter’s tape.

And 2 coats of acrylic paint and 1 coat of sealer later, we have lovely matching tubs again just waiting to be filled and labeled!

While I love the results of this project, I love even MORE what it implies. This means, that when the ugly-colored handle tubs (i.e. eggplant purple) go on sale, which they ALWAYS do, I can just grab up those at a lower cost and paint the handles to match what I have! Saving money AND matching bins?! Halle-to the-lujah.

  • This was a simple solution to my trusty tub color being discontinued.
  • I used supplies I already owned, making this little project cost-free!
  • With just a couple of coats of paint, we can insure that we always have tubs that match making our hard organizational work look smashing!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

a thank you and a grand opening.

Y'all, seriously. Woke up this morning to a sweet little message from Molly over at Lessons with Laughter telling me that she had awarded me the Liebster Award! What a kind and thoughtful gift, Molly! Thank you for reading my blog and passing this little award on to me! Josh from Mr. B.'s Beach Brains was certainly right to give the award to you!

But let's back up a little bit - if you are like me, you probably said "The what-ster award?" But Molly wouldn't leave us hanging. She tells us that the Liebster Award is given to blogs with less than 200 followers and passed from Blogger to Blogger, each hand picked by the previous recipient. It originated in Germany and means dearest or beloved, and Liebe is the word for love. <3

Now, let me step down from my pedestal for a moment to share some other exciting news with y'all! I have had so many requests for my labels that I thought the best thing to do would be to open up a little Teachers Pay Teachers store. Click on the icon to the right, or the linked text in the previous sentence, and it will take you directly to my store page! I have uploaded all of my label images for you to download FOR FREE (at least for now) so grab them while you can!

Once you have downloaded the images, you may simply import them into the program of your choice (Microsoft Word, Power Point, etc.).

Browse to the file name or thumbnail image (I have selected the image highlighted in blue in the following screen) and select "Insert".

The image will then appear on your page. Now that it's there, create a text box.

Place the text box on top of the image so that you may insert any text you wish! Once the text box is inserted, you may format the font name, color, and size at your leisure.
*One note, be sure that your text box has "no line" and "no fill" - this will insure that the entirety of the label image is visible and not obstructed in any way.

Now that we've all had a quick, crash course in label-making, head on over to my TPT Store and start downloading! I hope y'all will enjoy the labels! Please leave me a comment if you download the labels - I would love to know how you plan to use them!

Saturday, February 25, 2012

update: pantry labels

Happy Saturday, y'all! I have had several requests for the full document of my pantry labels from my pantry heaven post, so as a little sussie for your Saturday, click on the image below for the full list of my pantry labels!

I'm finalizing a couple of projects today that I can't wait to share with y'all! Here's some hints: the gift of Christmas is going to keep on giving, and we'll be finding joy in scrubbing the toilets.

Friday, February 24, 2012

computer log-in cards.

At my school, we love us some technology! Teachers love it, kids love it, parents love it - we all love it! But seriously, who wouldn't? We can use it in so many different capacities - virtual math manipulatives, online storybooks, comic-strip writing, podcasts, movies, the list is endless. Be still my heart.

But it's not always unicorns and butterflies. Our little techy world has one major hitch that can bring our digital utopia crashing down in an instant. In order to operate any device in the building, all kids have to log-in with a username that is a combination of bits of their last name, first name, and student ID number (I'm sorry, what?!) and the password is their legal first name.

Now, I'm not at all complaining about the kids having to log-in to the computer - I absolutely understand the reasoning behind it! It's just the difficulty with teaching a six year old a complex web of capital and lowercase letters and numbers, and a password that is probably going to require them to tack on an extra 6 letters to the name they already know how to spell. Oh, and by the way, don't even think about messing up because then we get locked out of your computer and can't get back in for 2 hours. No pressure, young one.

To help alleviate a bit of this stress, at the beginning of the year, I made each student their own "log-in card". I had a plethora of sentence strips, so for lack of a better option, I cut the strips in half and decided those would house the information nicely.I wrote their name so that it was the largest component of the card, then wrote their case-sensitive username along with their password below. I threw them in a bag and set them behind the computers for the kids to access each time they were logging-in to a computer.

Needless to say, it wasn't the most attractive place to house our cards. And the cards themselves were not the least bit lovely. But that wasn't the only problem - the kids would spend tremendous amounts of time digging around in the bag for their log-in card! Cards were sticking together, getting wedged in between papers and other cards - the system just was not working.

As I started thinking about what I could change to make our system of log-in cards easier to use for my kids, and more aesthetically appealing all at the same time, I knew that I would definitely need to type the cards' information. I also wanted to store the cards in a more easily accessible location. As for the "digging through the cards" problem, I knew that I could easily solve that problem by alphabetizing the cards by first name.

I typed up the cards and printed them on heavy cardstock. The child's name is still the largest text, their log-in name (partially blurred in the picture) is listed right underneath their name, and then their password is on the far right of the card.

But no collection of cards is complete without an adorbs cover, so I just HAD to make one of those as well.

And after hole-punching each card, alphabetizing them, and throwing them on a binder ring, our new log-in cards are lovely, compact, and easy for the kids to locate, remove, and replace!

I placed a Command hook on the side of the easiest-to-access computer monitor, creating the perfect new home for our log-in cards! They are easy to reach and always visible, which also encourages the kids to use them more often!

  • By using supplies I already owned, the project was no-cost.
  • It improved the system we had been using to make it easier on the kids.
  • It drastically decreased the space consumed by our log-in cards.
What simple changes have you made in your room that have helped your kids in a drastic way?

Thursday, February 23, 2012

keepsake boxes.

If you haven't figured it out already, Mr. Spouse is pretty phenomenal. The man smokes the best ribs in town, brings me flowers for absolutely no reason, cleans the dishes nightly, and puts together every piece of organizational furniture I throw at him. Like I said, I'm supremely spoiled. But my absolute favorite thing about Mr. Spouse is that he is FANTASTIC at holding on to little life trinkets that hold significant meaning to him. He still has the cup he was drinking from the night we met, the receipt from our first date, the ticket to our first baseball game together, and that's just year one.

In stark contrast, I am the girl that holds on to cards for a couple of months, enjoys their presence for a time, then takes a little "mental picture" (or for the really good stuff, I take an actual picture), and allows that trinket to move on so that I might reclaim the space it was occupying. You can see, that when we got married, Mr. Spouse and I had two totally different approaches to treasure-keeping. But who am I to say, "Dear, it's purging time - please throw away every tangible object you have that reminds you of a special time."? I am many things, but the "Ice Queen" is not one of them.

In my effort to practice compromising and let Mr. Spouse hang on to everything he holds most dear, I started researching ways that I could neatly store his items. I was attempting to create a win-win situation: he got to keep his stuff, I got to contain and label.

 In the meantime, since I didn't have any better ideas, I gave the Mr. a file in our filing cabinet to keep his goodies from our relationship.

But after a bit of Pinteresting (yes, it's a verb now), I stumbled upon Deliciously Organized and their idea to wrangle these treasures into a single box.

Hello geniusness! Off to Target I go! And what do I find, but these fabulous little tubs on sale and everything for me!

I went ahead and picked up three tubs so that I could give us some room to grow. After velcroing some labels to the tubs, we had a lovely little stack of memories that fits snuggly into our storage closet!

I made labels for both past and future years so that I don't have to worry about storing our treasures for years!

And an up-close look at Mr. Spouse's first box to fill:

The box is the perfect size - a bit longer than your typical piece of paper, and deep enough to hold pretty much anything you want to hang on to, and a lot of it.

{I feel that I need to explain Tiny-Tiki-Man. He was presented with our check at our six-month anniversary dinner locale. Totally normal.} 

I chose to apply the labels I created with velcro so that we can expand or shrink our little collection without worrying over the year's label on the tub.

  • Both Mr. Spouse and I got our wish: marital bliss reigns.
  • All it took was a box and a label.
  • We have all of our happy little memories in one, perfectly organized location.
How do you store your tangible memories? Do you like to hang on to your keepsakes as much as we do?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

resurrecting the cast iron.

Today's post has absolutely zero to do with organization. Like zero zero. But, it does pertain to my heart's third love (obvi, the order of my heart's loves stands thus: 1) Mr. Spouse 2) organizing 3) cooking 4) making it on Broadway). When we were registering before our wedding, I was the bride that shamelessly scanned both the crystal candle sticks and the cast iron skillet in one session. Any girl from the South knows that only goodness can come from the cast iron's ebony depths. It is a kitchen essential.
However, the cast iron skillet, despite my core beliefs regarding it's Southern charm, has done me wrong. You see, the cast iron skillet does not like soap. Like really doesn't like soap. I, being a clean freak, feel that soap is a life essential. Not touching one of my kitchen utensils with soap, to me, is the equivalent of dousing my dinner plate in salmonella and forcing me to eat from it. Vomit. On. A. Stick.
So what did I do about my soap-hating skillet? I washed that cast iron with as much soap as I could fit on it. I was determined that my cast iron would love soap as much as I did by the time I was finished with it.
At first, I thought that I had brought the cast iron around to my way of thinking. It was having it's nightly bath in the bubbly goodness, I was sleeping soundly knowing that all of my pots and pans were perfectly germ-free, everyone was happy. That's until I pulled my little cast iron buddy out last week and found this:

Rust, food particles, and stuck-on horror!

I tried to use it, but literally every bit of food I put in stuck like taffy sticks to braces. I had no idea what to do! But what does any girl do when she feels lost, alone and afraid? Pinterest it. Now, I'm a girl who does her research and then combines a little bit of everything I find out to make, what I deem to be, the perfect mix! After reading a couple of blogs and what seemed to be a government-run cast iron website, I discovered that I would essentially need to coat the inside of my skillet with shortening, lard or bacon grease, bake it at a low temperature for an extended time, and then I should be back to my Southern Dandy-ness. Not too hard!
Here were the steps I took to resurrect the cast iron to its former glory days:
  • I preheated my oven to 250 degrees. I read that as long as your oven is between 225 and 275, you'll be golden.
  • I rubbed the inside of the cast iron skillet with Minnie's solution to everything: Crisco.
**An important note for this step: During my research, most everyone noted that you DO NOT want to use any type of vegetable oil - it will leave a sticky residue on your cast iron and will not season it properly.
  • I put the cast iron skillet in the oven for about 15 minutes to allow all of the Crisco to melt, and then removed it just long enough to drain any excess grease that had pooled in the bottom of the pan, then put it back in the oven.
  • Let the skillet bake at 250 degrees for 2 hours and when you pull it out of the oven, you will have...

Hallelujah, praise the Lord, it was saved! Talk about a new lease on life! The little guy has never looked better! Let's do a before and after comparison just for giggles…
You may repeat the entire process up to 3 times to really allow the seasoning to set in. I only had time for one go-round, but next time I'm in the kitchen for a bit, I'll definitely do it again.
For the future, I have learned my lesson and now know that cast iron HATES soap! It's best to scrape the pan (if necessary) while it's hot and wipe out any residue with a clean paper towel. Rather than thinking that my sizzling, soap-hating skillet is a hotbed for germs, I will just remind myself that it's full of flavor.
  • It required only 5 minutes of active participation from me.
  • It was a simple solution to a HUGE problem.
  • No special remedies were involved – thanks Minnie, Crisco really does fix everything!
Happy frying y’all!