Saturday, December 14, 2013

saving the spice cabinet.

When I initially organized my pantry a couple of years ago, I also tried to come up with a prettier/more efficient way to store my spices. I used some spice jars I found at Ikea, labeled the jars, and considered it a done deal. However, after only a couple of weeks, I started noticing that some jars weren't closing...

...causing a lot of my spices to dry out quickly.

Attractive, right? But being that the real world gives you bigger fish to fry than spice cabinet dilemmas, I really didn't have time to deal with this minor problem, so when we moved in to the house, I threw my spices into the storage rack on the door and called it a day!

While my spices were looking all organized and pretty in the door, the truth was that I wasn't even using spices out of these jars! Truth be told, about 80% of them were dried out, and even if I could use them, nothing bigger than 1/4 teaspoon would fit in the jar's opening when it came to measuring! Textbook definition of first world problem.

Since I couldn't use the spices out of their pretty jars, I just started buying spices as I needed them and tossing them into my bulk spice bin that lives in the pantry.

A practice that quickly turned my spice bucket into a spice bonanza.

Cute, right?

Not at all impressive.

A couple of weeks ago, though, I finally had time to deal with this BIG TIME DILEMMA! I bought a couple of flats of these 4-ounce mason jars...

...and a packet of Avery's 2 1/2 inch round, glossy labels.
I then emptied out my spice bucket and sorted the spices into two groups: specialty/bulky spices and everyday spices.

I transferred the everyday spices into mason jars and scribbled a label for them on a post-it for the time being.

After all of the spices had been transferred into jars, I created a cute, but simple round label for each of the spice jars and applied the label to the lid of the mason jar!

Once all the jars were labeled, I loaded them back into the pantry door's storage rack!

Placing the spices in the mason jars solved both of my problems: the mason jars provide an airtight seal AND they have a wide opening that will allow all of my measuring spoons to fit easily inside! Oh happy day!

Now that all of my everyday spices are in their new happy homes, my spice bucket only holds a couple of bulk spices and specialty spices!

You are now talking to one happy cook!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

bikes, bikes, baby

The closet in our guest room's main purpose since day one has been to house all of the Mr.'s cycling gear.

The closet in and of itself is unfortunate with its lack of lighting and sliding double doors that only allow you to see half of the closet at a time. I guess that's a 1940's house for you.

But despite its inadequacies on the outside, the inside was all together tragic.

Like I said, this had always been Mr. Spouse's space - a spot for him to dump all of his bike gear behind closed doors and forget about it. I was totally fine with this arrangement as I rarely enter said guest room and even more rarely open the closet doors. That is, until the Mrs. decided to play copycat and take up cycling herself! After a few months of trying to live with the closet in its current state, I could take it no more!

We did have some sense of organization in the closet, though, see? We had a shelf for water bottles and a tub for all of the tiny accessories that could get lost in the general debris.

There was a shelf for socks and nutritional products used during rides:

Each of us had a shelf for our cycling shoes and helmets:

All of our spare tire tubes were in the same general area:

And any spare, rarely-used gear was discreetly stored on the top shelf!

Ideal, right? Perfectly user-friendly, no? Truly...organizers everywhere should marvel in the beauty of that cycling closet!

Sarcasm aside, it didn't take long for both of us to realize that with two people trying to use the cycling closet, we had to rethink its organization. Hallelujah, praise the Lord!

Working with the Mr., we started by making a categorized list (is there anything sweeter?) of everything that was in the closet: water bottles, lighting equipment, nutritional items, triathlon gear, etc. and decided that everything inside the closet fell into nine categories. Therefore, I went to Target searching for nine gender-neutral bins (for the Mr.'s sake) and two larger bins that could store both of our everyday cycling items.

I snatched up nine of these...

...and used two of these that were leftover from my linen closet project.

Now, it was time to sort! I laid out all of the navy bins on our guest bed...

...and after only a few minutes of sorting, everything was transferred from the closet into a bin!

Everything was finally contained! We had a box full of organized nutritional products...

...and spare tire parts.

Never have I ever been so excited to fold up tire tubes!

I then created a label for each bin:

All of the bins were loaded back onto the top shelf of the closet! I did my best to photograph these results, but with no lighting in the closet, it was a bit tricky...

As for the green, Y-Weave bins, I used these to store items the Mr. and I use every time we ride (helmets, sunglasses, Road ID's, headphones, etc.).

So now, each of us can just go in, grab our bin and shoes, and get ready for a ride!

Now, when we slide those glorious 1940's doors open, we see this! 

The Mr.'s side:

The Mrs.'s side:

Quite a bit better than where we started, huh?

Now that we've done this small update, we REALLY want to install some lighting in the closet (shocking, I know) and figure out a new door situation. This closet is just too big to be cut in half by sliding doors. Can I get an amen?!

Happy cycling, patriots!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

a december classroom tour.

As we are two short weeks away from the conclusion of the fall semester, I thought now would be the completely logical time to give y'all the grand tour of my, now, not-so-new preschool classroom! I'm just going to give y'all the brief overview today, then I will be back to give you more specific looks at certain areas of the room to show y'all some tips and tricks I've discovered for the wee ones.

Let's get started! Here is our classroom door...

...with our daily schedule and weekly lesson plan posted!

Each morning, the kids "sign-in" for the day by placing their picture on the schoolhouse - this not gives the kids' ownership over their own attendance, but it also gives them ample opportunity to see their name in print! Above our sign-in board, I have door hangers that detail all of the places we might be throughout the day (playground, chapel, music, etc.). These are posted on our classroom door any time we leave the room.

For my 2 year olds, we have cubbies in the room where we store the little ones' diaper bags, lunch boxes, etc. so we aren't constantly running out into the hallway to grab things. The kids are responsible for finding their cubby each morning and placing their bags, lunches, and lovies inside! More name recognition practice!

Here's our helper chart for both ages:

The largest bulletin board features the kids' birthdays, the alphabet, and a place to display the two year olds' work:

The kids LOVE finding their birthday cake!

Our calendar board is super simple and streamlined - we don't want those baby eyes getting distracted!

As for centers, we have the Writing/Cutting Center:

The Home Center:

The Blocks and Car Centers:

And then, a shelf of wooden blocks, Legos, connectors, shape and color games, etc.

All of that put together...

As for my storage space, I am SO lucky to have tons of drawer and cabinet space!

And since there are two teachers trying to work in this space, I kind of went on label overload (shocking) so that we wouldn't have to constantly ask each other, "Where's the....?". I labeled where each type of game belongs...

...what is stored in each drawer...

...and where all of the various paint supplies are stored. Overkill? Yes. A more streamlined day? Absolutely.

And remember all of that sorting I did over the summer with the year's curriculum? Those monthly curriculum binders made the jump to the counter for easier access alongside our tubs for storing items to be filed, copied, and used throughout the week:

So, there you have it! Looks a little different then my class of firsties, but I love every inch of it...even more when it's full of wobbly toddlers and preschoolers!

Anyone else care to share their classroom now that we're almost halfway through the year? :)