Saturday, January 31, 2015

Linen Closet Organization - Folding Towel Sets

Many (stretch it out) moons ago – about 25 years worth, I learned how to fold towels from Martha Stewart. It has worked for me ever since. They look so neat on the shelves of my linen closet, too. My daughter-in-law loves when I visit, because I always help her redo her linen closet. I never feel put out by the expectation, because I love to do this.

Take your bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths out of the closet or off of the shelves. Wash or wipe down the area where the towels were.

Source: Skiing in the Shower
Towels can be folded on a table or standing up. First, smooth the towel if you are using a table. Snap it if you are going to stand up.

The Martha Stewart method folds one long side in one-third of the way, then fold the other long side on top of the first one. Then fold the short towel ends together, so the length of the towel is now folded in half. Repeat so the length is now folded in quarters.

The second method is shown below.

Source: Unknown

Hand towels can be folded as above, but I fold them in half, thirds, then half again when I am putting them in a linen closet. When I am putting them into a basket on a bathroom shelf, I fold them in half, then thirds, then I roll them from the hem end instead of folding in half again.

Washcloths depends on the size. Small ones, I just fold in half and place in a stack. For ease of use, I alternate the hems from inside to outside, kind of like stacked paper towels. Washcloths can also be rolled and put into a decorative basket.


Source: The-Joyful-Caregivers-Guide.com
When putting your stacks into the closet or on the shelves, they can be stacked by sets, or they can be stacked by bath towels, hand towels, and washcloths. It is nice to open the linen closet door and see the neatly arranged stacks, so I think the visual reward makes it is easy to keep it up.

Source: Martha Stewart

Enjoy!


- Amelia

Friday, January 30, 2015

Bathroom Organization - Beauty Products


Beauty products can spoil, which can cause skin irritations or infections. This post is about storage length for these products. Note: Like medicine, makeup and lotions should not be stored in the bathroom. Some people do not have anywhere else to store them, so they are included in this post.

ASSIGNMENT: Take your products from the baskets, cases, or bags you store them in. Clean the insides and outsides of storage containers.

Source: Daily Makeover
Mascara and liquid eyeliner are particularly prone to bacteria, because they are in a dark and moist environment. It has the shortest usable life at three months after opening. Good Housekeeping recommends smelling these items when first opened so you will recognize the change in odor when it goes bad. The first day of a new season would be a good marker for replacement.

Liquid face makeup, like mascara and eye liner, should be replaced every six months. 

Powder-based makeup, like blush and eye shadows, cream shadows and lipstick can be kept for two years.
Skin-care products, including sunscreen, should be replaced every six months if they are in a pot or tube due to exposure to the air or your skin. In general, liquids in pump bottles are good for a year, because the dispensing method keeps bacteria out of products. With sunscreen, purchasing around the vernal equinox will keep the product fresh through the summer season. In the tropics, consider replacing sunscreen at each solstice.

Hair care products, except hair spray, are good for one year if stored with caps secured. The chemical compounds in shampoos or conditioners can break down or separate when air and water get into the containers. Any product that is dispensed with an aerosol, like hair spray, frizz control, and mousse products, can last longer.

Nail polish, perhaps surprisingly, is another product that should not be stored in the bathroom. The same heat and humidity that affects medication, can cause nail polish to go bad. Nail polish can be kept for one to two years; if nail polish gets sticky or stringy, discard regardless of the time you have had it.

Fragrance can last for two years or longer. It should be stored away from sunlight, which can cause evaporation, and humidity, which can cause dilution. Both can change the scent of the fragrance.

Look through the contents and throw away anything that is past its expiration date. Look for the icon of a makeup pot on the bottom of makeup packaging; the expiration date is signified with an “M” for Month and a “Y” for Year. If your makeup comes in a package, record the expiration dates on a piece of paper inside the medicine cabinet door or in your planner. Before returning products to their storage place, wipe down the bottles and pots. 

Enjoy!

- Amelia

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Office/Spare Room Organization - Tickler File

Can you find your desk’s top? What absolutely needs to be on top of your desk? Probably a computer of some sort, some paperwork, maybe a phone. Where do you put the paperwork that is not needed right this minute? Do you know what a tickler file is? In business, it is “a file consisting of memoranda, notices, electronic signals, or the like that serves to remind the user of matters that must be attended to," and usually has folders numbered 1-31.


Source: Amazon
At home, this is not practical for most people. A home tickler file would more likely have folders that work for you and your family like Today, This Week, This Month, To Be Signed, etc. When something comes to your desk, take immediate action; put the paper(s) into the appropriate file(s) or into the recycling bin.
  • Today – Speaks for itself. It holds the work needing finishing this particular day. When new  paperwork comes in, place it into the appropriate folder in date order.
  • This Week - At the end of each day, move tomorrow’s work forward. At the end of the  week, move next week’s items forward to This Week.
  • This Month - Examples of what would be in this folder are bills to be paid, purchase orders  (if you have a direct-sales or online business), something to read during the time period of  the folder.
  • Beyond this Month - This would hold future appointment details, next month’s bills, birthday  and anniversary cards, etc. Keep items in date order, and move items forward to "This Month," as necessary.
  • To Sign – If it needs your signature, sign it right now; if it needs someone else’s, make sure  the appropriate person receives the paperwork.
  • I keep another folder labeled “Important Receipts.” This is for orders I am waiting for or  merchandise that might be returned.
  • Examples of “etc.” - travel plans, vacation ideas, craft projects you might want to make. You  may want to have a folder for each family member, as well.
Enjoy!

Amelia 

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Toy Storage - Under Age 5

Last week, I repeated the master bedroom's plan for the other bedrooms. It would be very easy each to say, "Repeat yesterday in your other bedrooms," but I think I am going to mix it up this week.

Other bedrooms can be guest bedrooms or children's bedrooms. Guest bedrooms are easy, as there is not a lot to do in them unless they need dusting if someone is coming to visit. Organizing/cleaning children's bedrooms depends on the age of the children. Today, I am writing about children under age five - specifically, their toy storage.

Infants - The newest beings have toys, too; usually stuffed animals and rattles. At this age, the biggest mess they can make is dropping them, but the items still need a place to reside. I love BOOMERINGS® Links by Discovery Toys to keep toys off the floor. (I receive no compensation of any kind from any company I write about in my blog.)


I used these for my sons, and my youngest is 30. It speaks to the lasting quality and usefulness of these tools/toys that they are still around. Buy some white chain-by-the-yard at your local home supply store, and hang using cup hooks on the bedroom wall. Hook the rings onto the loops and then hang stuffed animals by their bows, ears, tags, etc. Rotate the animals in the crib or playpen. 

Babies - When they get old enough to throw toys, hook the rings together and loop one onto the side of the crib, playpen, baby swing, or high chair. Make it short enough that the toy will not touch the floor. (Babies can also use rings hooked like in the picture to use as a teething toy or rattle.

Babies, Toddlers, Preschoolers - As they get older, they get more toys and keeping them organized becomes more of a challenge. I would discourage you from toy chests; toys get dumped inside and, therefore, end up getting dumped out while looking for a specific toy. Instead, I recommend cubbies or shelves with plastic bins like the one below. The bins make it easy for children to access and help pick up their toys. Plus, the plastic bins are easy to clean.

Source: Schools In
Do you have any storage tips for the under-five crowd? Please share in the comments.

Enjoy!

- Amelia

Crochet - Swedish Countryside Afghan

I found this intermediate-rated, beautiful, intricate pattern at allfreecrochetafghanpatterns.com. What do you think of this pattern? Do you think you will make it?

Enjoy!

-Amelia


Swedish Countryside Afghan



UPDATE: I learned today, 8/22/2015, that this afghan is also know as Country Fresh Blanket

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Master Bedroom Organization - Dressers, Part 1

ASSIGNMENT: This week, we are going to organize part of your dresser. Just your own. Take all the undergarments – socks, bras, panties, pantyhose, tights, etc. – out of your dresser. Wash/wipe clean the inside(s) of the drawer(s). I think this project will only take an hour, depending on how much you have to sort through.

Sort your piles by category. Take one pile at a time and look at each item. This is one category where I recommend throwing away anything you no longer want. However, items can be donated or resold if they are new – still wrapped or tagged.

Sometimes, it is hard to discard things; I do not know why, but we all do it. Do you have a favorite pair of panties, but the elastic is past its useful life? Are your bras the proper size, or are your cups running over? If you’re like me, you have way too many pairs of socks. I probably will not need to buy another pair for about five years, but it seems like I am always wearing the same few pairs. I will admit here and now that I have a whole drawer committed to just my socks.

Once you have sorted through your items, it’s time to put them away. I use honeycomb drawer organizers to store my underwear and bras. I sort mine according to color, the same way I sort my clothing.  

Source: Amazon

WHAT I DO: I fold my socks in half and then roll the top of one over the other so they are still in half - I hope that makes sense. (Some websites say it stretches out the top elastic, but it does not stretch them as much as my calves do.) I also tuck my tennis-style socks one inside the other without folding.

I sort my socks by light, heavy, fleece, and wool. I further sort my socks by color within the categories. Then I put them away by colors within each category. I use organizers from Dollar Tree to hold some categories. The others can be stored between and on either side of organizers. My trouser socks are stored with my dress shoes in an over-the-door shoe holder, rather than in my sock drawer. This works for me, because I do not have a lot of dress shoes.
Source: Amazon
Enjoy!

-  Amelia

Monday, January 26, 2015

Living /Family Room Organization - Media Storage

ASSIGNMENT: Media storage. VCRs, DVRs, and Blue-Rays, Wii, Xbox, and PlayStation; whatever components you have, you probably have movies and games that go into them.
  
Source: Miss Information
Where and how are yours stored? Video cabinets, entertainment centers, bookcases, baskets, and hinged benches are some of the storage possibilities. Find places near your components for ease of use if you can.


Source: Better Homes and Gardens
Remove all the media and equipment to a sorting place, then wash/wipe down the insides of where you took them from.

Take all of your videos and games, whatever format they are in, and sort through them. There are probably some you never watch or play anymore. Sort those into your trash, sell, or donate bins.

With the ones you are keeping, decide whether you are going to store them alphabetically, by format, by genre, or by some combination. If you have not already, sort your videos from your games.

Return them to their former place; maybe you have identified a better storage spot, but was putting moving them off.  By royal decree (not really), you have my permission to put them somewhere else.

Source: overstock
WHAT I DID: Mine are sorted by categories, like action, comedy, drama, Disney, etc. Then I arrange each category alphabetically. I store the Disney videos on the lower shelves of my cabinet for easy reach for little ones. I reserve the bottom shelves for holiday videos, since they are (usually) watched seasonally.

When he was in high school, my middle son built me a video cabinet – really, a bookcase with doors. After taking the above steps, I had two empty shelves, so I use them for paperbacks. 

Which reminds me, next week, we will tackle our home libraries.

Enjoy! 

-Amelia

Kitchen/Pantry Organization - Where Should This Go?

ASSIGNMENT: This will lead to better organization without moving a single thing. Today. 

Source: El-Relampago
It is a day with a lot of questions. Everyone’s kitchen layout is different, so it is important to look at how your kitchen functions for you. Is yours working for you? If not, why not? I will admit that I have changed mine around a couple of times since moving into this apartment.

Take a look inside your cupboards, drawers, and pantry. Are the things you use convenient to where you use them? If not, can they be moved to a more convenient spot? Are your pots and pans near your stove? Where do you usually stand to make sandwiches or breakfast? What about when you are baking? Do you have a drawer under your stove? If yes, what is in it?

It is important to plan out your kitchen’s layout according to where you use items, if that is possible. Are your serving bowls and platters close to the stove? Do you eat dinner/supper in a separate dining room? Are your dinner plates close to there?

In the places I have lived in the last 19 years, the microwave and toaster oven had to be next to the refrigerator due to the space available to me. Unfortunately, it was/is across the kitchen from the stove.

I use my microwave to make oatmeal and soup, and my toaster oven… well, to make toast. And pizza. It is also a rotisserie and small oven, though, so it is more convenient for me to have my dinner plates in this area, along with sandwich plates, cereal bowls, and non-cooking utensils in that area.

My stove has a drawer with two broiling pans and some muffin tins. Why do I need two broiling pans? I avoid using them as much as possible, so maybe I will get rid of both and use a lasagna pan with a cooling rack if I need a broiling pan again. Ah, the problems of a single empty nester.  

Now, plan your layout. First, use a pen/marker to draw in permanent structures like cabinets and large appliances. Next, I recommend using graph paper, sharp pencil, and an eraser so you can easily change the arrangement until you get it the right way for you. I also recommend taking time away from your plan, then come back to it to see if it right for your family’s needs.

Next Monday, the column will be implementing the plan.

Enjoy!


-Amelia

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Pantry/Dining Room Organization - Table Linens

ASSIGNMENT: Dining room linens. Wherever you store them, take them all out - tablecloths, placemats, napkins, and napkin rings. Wash or wipe down the insides of any drawers or shelves used.




Do you have "for good" vs. everyday linens? What shape are the linens in? Are they stained or ragged? If so, can they be treated or repaired? If not, do you really want to save them? Lots of questions, I know, but these are the things that need to be thought through.

If you have a nice tablecloth, but there is a permanent stain on it, maybe make it into placemats, napkins, cloths for side tables, or a smaller table cloth if you absolutely will do so soon. If the placemats are lined/quilted, maybe they could be made into potholders. Napkins: tell me ideas for reusing them. If they are not worth saving - well, you know what to do with them. 

I use cloth napkins every day - most of them were picked up at yard sales or thrift stores for 25-50₵ each. After becoming an empty nester, I did not need all of them. My favorites, I kept.

I had several that were not true to square or rectangle. It drove me crazy over time, I like symmetry. I paid it forward by donating them, plus my non-favorites, to a resale shop. 

Are there table linens that you never, ever use? Perhaps, Aunt Ethel gave you that 1960's-patterned tablecloth in the 1990's; you do not like it, but it was Aunt Ethel. Take a picture of it, and put it in a photo album alongside a photo of your aunt. Why hang onto something you do not like? Can you donate it to charity so some vintage-linen lover can buy it? 

Once table linens are sorted, it is time to fold them. To help you out, especially with round ones, I found a couple of YouTube videos:


Once folded, it is time to put them away. I recommend putting them back according to sets – holiday #1 with holiday #1, birthday with birthday, etc. Of course, you may want to store seasonal linens with seasonal decorations. Non-sets can be stored by color or use, such as outdoor, breakfast bar, or formal dining. 

Please comment below about how this project goes for you or any suggestions you may have.

Enjoy!


Amelia

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bathroom Organization - Under the Sink

ASSIGNMENT: Organize everything that is under your bathroom sink - probably cleansers, sanitary supplies, etc. If you have a pedestal sink, then go to the location you keep these items at.
Source: O is for Organize
Take everything out for sorting and organizing. Wash out the insides of the cabinet so it can dry before putting your products back in an organized manner.

Check the dates on the products, if there are any. Is there anything hazardous that you no longer need? If so, set it aside to put in a secure spot for the next hazardous waste collection. We bring our hazardous waste to the local fire station twice each year.

Now, sort items into categories. Do you have what you need to put items back in category order? If not, do you have what you need elsewhere in your dwelling? Buying something new is just bringing one more thing in, so try to find something you already own to use. I do recommend using something to make two shelves if you do not have shelves under your sink.

Before putting anything away, wash the items down or dust, depending on what it is. Now, put everything back. If you do not have child safety latches on your doors, please add them.

Voila! One more place all organized!

Please comment below about your cleaning process.

Enjoy!


-Amelia

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Bedroom Organization - Nightstands

ASSIGNMENT: Repeat yesterday's Master Bedroom nightstand clean-up, but in the other bedrooms in your home.

Nightstand from IKEA
Enjoy!

-Amelia 

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Master Bedroom Organization - Nightstands

ASSIGNMENT: I am taking it very easy today, because the last couple of days have been more involved. Today, take everything off/out of your night stand top, drawers, and shelves. Wipe down with a damp cloth or dust the sides and surfaces, including the inside of any drawers, first so they have time to dry before the contents are replaced.

Keep a waste can handy to throw away items that you no longer need or have expired – lip balm, for example. 

As you work, set aside anything that does not belong on or in the night stand(s). Remember: Don’t leave the room until your task is done. The items that belong elsewhere should go with you when you are done.
Nightstand from IKEA

Which items belong on top of the stand? Dust each one off and replace. Next, dust off anything that goes on the shelf or shelves.

This is a good time to decide whether some items can be put somewhere else. Do you have a pile of books that you want to read, but it has been sitting there for quite a while? Make a list of those books, then put them aside to go into your bookcase(s).

Next, sort through your nightstand drawer contents. I had a nightstand with a deep drawer that I kept nightclothes in. If yours holds clothes, fold neatly and replace those that you still wear and sort those you do not in “donate,” “sell,” or “garbage” containers.

Take everything that does not belong to where it should be.

Enjoy!

-Amelia

Living Room: Cleaning - Using Vacuum Attachments

ASSIGNMENT: Vacuum. Yes, vacuum. However, I want you to do a thorough vacuuming which will involve several attachments. So, start at the top. 

Use the small brush or crevice tool to get the cobwebs off the ceiling. Next, use the upholstery tool to vacuum your drapes from the top down. Use the dust brush to vacuum your lampshades. 

Next is the stuffed furniture. Put the crevice tool back on, remove all the cushions and vacuum all the cracks and crevices out. Put the upholstery tool back on, then vacuum the areas where the cushions sit. Vacuum the fabric part of the comfy furniture from the top down. If you can get to it, don't forget the backs. Vacuum each cushion before replacing them. Use the dust brush on the surface of leather furniture.

Finish by using the floor attachment to vacuum the floor, including under the furniture

That's it! Not too bad, I hope.


Image from:
 http://www.overstock.com/Home-Garden/Vacuum-Cleaners/For-Allergy-Sufferers,/lifestyle,/2004/subcat.html

Enjoy!

- Amelia


Monday, January 19, 2015

Kitchen/Pantry Organization - Utensil Drawers

ASSIGNMENT: clean out your utensil drawers - silverware, knives, potato peelers, etc. Go through each of the "extras" - melon ballers, egg separators, and the like. Take those that you seldom use, put them away in a shoe box (or larger), and date the box. Over the next year, if you find you need one of those extras, take it out of the box and put it back into your utensil drawer. At the end of the year, sell or donate anything left in it.


Repeat this process for silverware. I know I have too many serving spoons. Repeat for spatulas and cooking spoons. Do you need all of them, or do you see that you have duplicates or damaged ones to "cull from the herd”? Repeat for knives used for carving, steak knives, paring knives, etc. 

Now that everything has been sorted, put them back neatly. Put the cooking utensils near the stove, the silverware near where you set the table or make things like sandwiches or bowls of cereal. Personally, I have two can openers, one on either side of the kitchen - beside the stove and at the sandwich area. After organizing, I know I need another pair of kitchen shears to keep one with each can opener.

Happy sorting, and please leave me a comment below.

Enjoy!


Amelia

Friday, January 16, 2015

Crochet - Sophie's Garden Block

Yesterday, I was following links from allfreecrochetafghanpatterns.com. I found the most beautiful afghan block I have ever seen. It is called Sophie's Garden, and I cannot wait to make it myself. 

The blog I found it at is:



(I love her site graphic.)

I asked for permission to post pictures and a link to her step-by-step pattern tutorial here for you. I am very honored that she granted me permission. I hope you love it as much as I do. Please leave a comment here if you plan to make it, too. And, please let Dedri know that you found her through my blog. Thanks.


Isn't it great? I love the bright colors and the intricacies of it! There is a base and the embellishments, like the flowers and the wishbone shapes are added to it after. In other words, it can be made simpler for less experienced crocheters. I have not decided yet whether to make one to use either as a pillow top or frame it to brighten my walls, or if I will make an afghan using multiple blocks. 

It's also shown in more muted colors if that's your preference. The picture below is before the framework is done, but you can get the idea.

The link to the tutorial is: http://www.lookatwhatimade.net/crafts/yarn/crochet/free-crochet-patterns/sophies-garden-large-crochet-square-photo-tutorial/

Enjoy!

-Amelia


P.S. Dedri told me she cleaned her desk off last week. 


(UPDATE: This is the new logo:)


http://www.lookatwhatimade.net/


Monday, January 12, 2015

Today is National Clean Off Your Desk Day

The 2nd Monday in January is National Clean Off Your Desk Day. I have been working on keeping my desk cleaned off for years. Lately, my “desk” is a side table, which I had cleaned off this morning before I learned about the “official” clean off. I cannot share pictures of the before with everyone.

I have an official desk, but it has been turned into my sewing table. I also have my grandmother's little desk - 28" wide, one drawer - where I keep my computer, when not in use, and another organizing tool for files.

WHAT I DID: I sorted the messy piles and put the papers back together neatly, put away some pens, and made room for my current project - putting samples of Washi tape into a notebook and labeling them. 

I have to admit that there is a side table on the other side of me needs cleaning off. I bought a couple of organizers last week, so the normal mess has been organized. Cleaning off today entails putting two things away into a drawer and shredding some papers. 

On the other side of the room, I have two shelves on the wall where extra and seldom-used office supplies are located and magazine holders hold extra paper, warranties and operation manuals. Below that is a 48" long, probably 4' tall couple of helves with more organizers. 

 


Am I truly organized if everything is located around my room? Absolutely. My apartment is small, so I have to make use of my limited space. I cannot have a dedicated office, as much as I would like to. I consider it organized because I know where everything is and can locate it within seconds.  Sort of. Some of the drawers on the one shelf are so high that I need to get out a step stool, so that takes a couple of minutes instead of a couple seconds. 

I do not have any before and after photos to share here on my blog. If you are going to clean off your desk as a result of this blog post, please comment below and then let me know when you've finished.


Enjoy!


-Amelia

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Project Organization - Donate Your New, Unwanted Office Supplies

ASSIGNMENT: I encourage you all to go through all your school/office supplies and donate them to different organizations - Girl/Cub Scouts, Sunday schools, schools, hospitals, and nursing homes. 

Some of us receive "free" notecards from organizations asking for donations. These would be good to donate to the residents of nursing homes or rehabilitation centers. Consider pre-stamping the envelopes for them, too.




WHAT I DID: It was hard for me to admit I had to give up on school supplies, so I gathered all my extra binders, notepaper, folders, etc., and put them in the mail shed for my neighbors to take. I had put out two good-size boxes, but almost everything was gone by the next day. 

This encouraged me to repeat the process. I donated all my "extra" crayons (I love crayons), rulers, and unused pencils to the local elementary school.

Enjoy!

-Amelia