SoBo Mama's Tips & Tricks











As I clean and declutter, one thing I’m focusing on is the best use of my available space.  When I clean out a drawer, I ask myself, “What is the best use for this drawer?  What needs to be in it?”  Before you can organize a space, I feel you have to give it a purpose.

Take, for example, my repurposed hall closet.  It used to store crafts and games and anything that was in my way.  I emptied it, wiped the shelves down, and decided how I could best utilize that space.  Because of its size and location, I decided to make it a linen/stockpile closet.  Towels, bed linens, and bathroom supplies are now residing in that closet.

After you decide on an area’s purpose, you have to decide how to keep it organized.  I find it easier to do this before I get started, rather than try to fix it down the road.  If you follow my phenomenal friend Jeepnmom‘s blog, she has made incredible progress in her kitchen/dining.  The reason these changes work is because she has a plan.

The Linen/Stockpile closet has bi-fold doors and then shelving (I think it was a coat closet once upon a time).  The shelving is not of the most ideal configuration, but I’m making it work.  For me, it didn’t make sense to designate this shelf for towels and that for sheets. I’m a container girl.  My towels are folded on a shelf, but my rolled washcloths live in a small CD crate next to them.  For my stockpile storage, I had some photo boxes on hand (often 3/$5 at Michael’s or Hobby Lobby) and they work well for deodorants, shaving stuff, lotions, etc.  Shampoos, conditioners, and body washes stand up in plastic sweater boxes from the dollar store.  Another shelf has a four-drawer organizer I’d purchased years ago from AVON, and in it I’m storing batteries.  There are small baskets containing lightbulbs, candles, and other things that I need to keep on hand but not necessarily access on a daily basis.

As with my other spaces, this closet is a work in progress.  And like my other spaces, I use containers to keep things situated and separated.  I’m going to add labels to the fronts so that anyone can find what they need, when they need it.  I’d love even to containerize the towels and bedding at some point.  I plan to add a tension rod to one side of the closet to hang my pants hanger with my table linens.  Even though I’ve containerized this space, I’ve not purchased anything for it.  I’ve used what I already have on hand and I think that’s important.  Why spend money when I have it already?  Sometimes you just have to be creative and make do.

How do you organize your spaces?  Containers or no containers?

~ Katie

 

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{February 9, 2013}   Organizing Spaces: the Bedrooms

Nightstand 469710772

So first of all, let me mention that it was a long and exhausting week.  We’ve (finally) started the novel unit in my classes, squeezing in additional test prep here and there, and all of this was interrupted by a Mardi Gras celebration for the 8th graders (which went off without a hitch, thanks to the amazingly organized and efficient 8th grade team leaders) and I am WHOOPED.  I stayed after school Thursday to help decorate the gym for the dance, only to arrive at PaPaw and MaMaw’s to find Monkey 1 had checked out sick and we would be putting karate off till Friday.  And did I mention I had not touched lesson plans all week?  Except to cover them in red ink because I had so totally over-planned.  So last night, I tried not to fall asleep as I wrote lessons for the upcoming week.

I’ve been a little busy.

But I woke today feeling fresh and rejuvenated with a big idea in my head (not really – more like a ton of sinus pressure!).  It was too early to call Jeepnmom and organize a kitchen drawer, but I wanted today to be productive around the house in some way.

And I looked at my bedroom.

Last summer, Grizzly and I bought our first-ever non-hand-me-down bedroom suite.  I’d been drooling over one in particular for almost a year and decided I didn’t love it after all, but we found another we absolutely loved.  With new furniture comes a new desire for cleanliness and organization and my room was gorgeous for quite a while.  Grizzly went to Vegas (some big APA tournament or something) for a week and a half right after school started in August and my room was immaculate.  The bed was made every day.  No junk on surfaces.  Laundry neatly contained in the hamper.

Somewhere along the way it’s gotten off-track.  There is junk all over his nightstand, a pile of dirty socks on his side of the bed.  All kinds of mail and miscellaneous foo-fah lines the top of my dresser.  The only time the bed is made is when I change the sheets and on my side of the bed is a basket of ironing, school books, and the leftovers of various craft projects.

On the bright side, my closet is still amazing and fabulous.

I think Grizzly needs to go back to Vegas.

Just kidding.

Sort of.

So feeling productive as I am, I decided today is “Bedroom Cleaning Day.”  I’ve sent to monkeys to their respective trees and declared “No TV” in the House of Cheaptitude today.  Grizzly headed to work and so, in my way, did I.

I’ve not gotten far.

I cleared the top of my nightstand and you would not believe what I’ve found.

  • A red pen (I grade papers in bed – so sue me)
  • A broken calculator (Monkey 1)
  • A credit card bill (I pay online, thank goodness)
  • A small blank canvas (because I paint in my room?? not!)
  • A copy of Freak the Mighty (Monkey 1 read it last semester for class)
  • Monkey 2’s iPOD (ok, I’m addicted to Dream Heights)
  • Some odd-sized pieces of felt and tulle (Monkey 2’s Halloween costume – I just knew I’d use those scraps)

Obviously, these items will return to their homes or go in the trash.

Once I got the top of the stand cleared, I went to the kitchen for my handy-dandy homemade dust spray and it’s not where it’s supposed to be.  Which sent me on a slight treasure hunt and then inspired me to blog for a minute.  Yes, I can be easily distracted.

I’m really excited about my plans for my nightstand, though.  Our laptop lives in our bedroom and I usually shove it under the bed when I’m not using it, but now it’s going to live on my nightstand by my alarm clock.  The drawer is going to have my paper grading junk, whatever book I’m reading, and I think that’s it.  I can use small baskets in the drawer to separate the junk.  What really has me excited though is the under-cabinet.  For years it has housed books that I used in college, some of Grizzly’s business crap papers, and so forth.  All of that is going elsewhere.  Some of my craft stuff that is sharing real estate with my repurposed linen closet will be moving in.  I want to keep a tv tray under my side of the bed for when I’m feeling crafty (that way it’s not a permanent fixture) and get a small lamp for my night stand.

And I still want another of those awesome chairs to put in my hidey-hole corner, but that is going to wait.  I need to find my dusting spray!

What project will you tackle this weekend?

~ Katie

Today’s To-Do’s

  • Clear surfaces in bedroom
  • Dust surfaces in bedroom
  • vacuum
  • Iron
  • Change bedding
  • Re-purpose night stand
  • Fix Grizzly’s broken dresser drawer (ARGH!)
  • Sort & wash all dirty clothes in bedroom
  • Clear out under the bed – Ok, this one is not happening the way I had planned.  I did pull everything out, but I found it to be a good space to stash the text books I use for lesson planning!

2 PM – Making Progress:

The top of my nightstand, post de-clutter session!

The top of my nightstand, post de-clutter session!

I used some leftover dollar store baskets to sort teacher tools from lotion, gum, etc.

I used some leftover dollar store baskets to sort teacher tools from lotion, gum, etc.

My husband doesn't keep his dresser neat like I like...

My husband doesn’t keep his dresser neat like I like…

My jewelry case, right by the bathroom door, usually collects all kinds of hair bobs and stuff...I like to see the top of it!

My jewelry case, right by the bathroom door, usually collects all kinds of hair bobs and stuff…I like to see the top of it!

Grizzly's nightstand, free of the usual trash!

Grizzly’s nightstand, free of the usual trash!

I can find everything and the open spaces make me happy happy happy :)

I can find everything and the open spaces make me happy happy happy 🙂

I have yet to change bedding due to the fact that all of my decluttering ended up on the bed for a few minutes….I’m getting there, though.  When my room is clean, I feel so much better!  How about you?

~ K

5 PM

Bedding is changed.  And the Cheaptastic chick is pooped again!  The vacuum and laundry may wait till tomorrow.  I’m ready for a pleasant crafting project!

I really want to buy new bed linens but the frugalista inside won't let me right now.  Missing the quilt my mom made - it's in the wash!  So pretty though, maybe I'll post a pic later.

I really want to buy new bed linens but the frugalista inside won’t let me right now. Missing the quilt my mom made – it’s in the wash! So pretty though, maybe I’ll post a pic later.

 



{January 5, 2013}   Organization: Orphaned Socks

Round basket mandelette

 

The other day I discovered a blog that addressed one of my big time-sucks:  Mt. Washmore.  I’ve started involving the monkeys in the laundry process and am proud to say they collected a hamper-full of clothes today during a ten-minute tidy and they sorted the entire mess themselves.  Monkey 1 now knows where the laundry soap is located and how to operate the washer.  He also knows how to transfer a load to the dryer.  This shaves about fifteen minutes off my chores already.

 

This lady’s blog addressed some other laundry simplification strategies.  For example, after drying, she stacks clothes according to their final destination before folding.  Too cool.  And in her laundry room, she has one of those plastic drawer set-ups and uses two of the drawers for sock orphans.  I love this idea but I am space-challenged in my utility room.

 

Enter waste-not, want-not, use what you got!

 

For a few years, I have thrown socks into a pretty wicker basket while processing laundry.  Then, once a week, usually on a Sunday while catching up on my DVR shows, I sort socks and the orphans return to the basket.  That evening, socks are in some semblance of order, by color, or style, or what grey is on the foot (toe and heel, whole bottom, none).  Unfortunately, the monkeys scavenge the basket through the week, not caring if their socks match exactly, and it’s a mess by the time I get back to it.

 

It’s not working.

 

I’m about to try something new with my orphaned socks.  Instead of the one wicker basket sitting in the middle of my living room, I have two medium-sized utility baskets.  One will be for white socks and one for all the others.  My plan is to stick these in my repurposed hall closet.  When I’m putting towels and linens away, I can pull these out and situate socks.

 

I guess it’s still not ideal, but at least it’s a little more organized.

 

Do you have a Mt. Washmore monster?  How do you tame it?

 

~ Katie

 

 



{January 4, 2013}   Cleaning Out My Closet

I hate cleaning my closet. Which explains why it looked like this till 3:30 today:

imageimageimage

And my stupid phone died before I took pictures of the bottom. Horrible!

According to my organizing books and a good Google search, I realized there is no one best way to organize a closet. So, with my DH due home within an hour or so, I completely emptied the closet. Not just shoes and apparel. Oh, no, I found half-finished projects, scrapbook pages, old lesson plans, as well as two sticker books I’d gotten for the monkeys the year Toy Story 3 came out.  Not good.

The thing is, I got brand new bedroom furniture this summer. I kept my room SPOTLESS till September-ish. I just kind of forgot the closet. Oops.

I decided the most important thing was to determine the purpose for that piece of real estate. Obviously,  clothing storage. And it needed to be readily accessible. The layout pretty much stinks, but I am really good at making lemons into lemonade. Till Monkey 1 goes to college and his room becomes my closet.  But I digress.

Part of the problem with my closet has been that it is way overstuffed. Every piece of clothing that came out of my closet was tried on.  Some things I’ve never worn (hand-me-downs or “great” buys), some things I’ve not worn in years, and some things just didn’t fit at all.  Now, pants for work I’ve invested a good deal of money since starting to teach and I will just get a lot of those altered if possible.  But blouses that are too short for my 5’11 frame, shoes that are not comfortable or are not functional for any function, dresses that I never should have worn all hit the Goodwill bag.

I left Grizzly’s clothes alone after a quick re-organize.  He’s not the clothes-horse he was when we met, just a shoe-whore now.

Then I had to sort all of the stuff that had been crammed in the closet.  Movies and TV series that I kept in our closet so we could watch in our room (The Sopranos, One Tree Hill, The Godfather) all came out to the living room.  School stuff has just been set aside to be taken to my classroom.  Projects have moved to the hall closet to be finished, hopefully this weekend so I can complete that closet finally.  Extra pillowcases, blankets, etc. have been added to Mt. Washmore.

And this is what I ended up with after:

imageimageimage

Please excuse the glarish, fuzzy Droid pics. My DH and I have completely separate sides of the closet now.  Ok, he has one side and I have the rest, but I’m a girl so I can do that.  There is a hanging organizer at the back of the closet for my purse skirts and other accessories.  Stashed underneath and behind that are photo frames – I haven’t found another home for them yet. Above the organizer I have my dressy shoes and purses.  DH’s shoes are on the floor on his side, while my sneakers and slippers are on the floor on my side.  In an awkward corner of the shelf on my side  I have a box of baby keepsakes (cut down dramatically!) and Monkey 2’s very expensive Pooh Bear bank that her Grandma Cher gave her as a baby.  Also on the shelf on my side, I have folded all of my spirit t-shirts.  I used to hang them so they’d be easily accessible, but think this will work better, especially after I containerize them.

I think that covers all of it.  You’ll notice I haven’t got pictures of the rest of my room on here!  Work in progress.  Is it ideal?  Is it perfect?  Heavens no!  But it’s a lot more functional than it was.

I absolutely must give a shout-out to missscarlet88 because her blog inspired me to tackle my closet yesterday.  Left to my own devices, I’d have waited for a snow day.  And probably made jelly instead!

What projects will you tackle in this New Year?

~ Katie

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{November 28, 2012}   Repurposing a Closet

English: virtual closet lower left empty

 

In the hall off the bedrooms, there is a closet.  This closet is wide and full of shelves, and has stored many things over the five years we’ve been in this house.

 

When we first moved in, I kept movies, kids’ crafts, and board games in this closet.  The movies were taken to the monkeys‘ rooms, never to be seen again.  The kids’ crafts were started and never finished.  The board games decided to cohabitate and mix up pieces, losing many along the way.

 

Then I decided to move to kid-centered junk to the built in cabinet in my living room and put my craft stuff in the closet.  But it was still in reach of the monkeys, an Mom’s stuff is so very tempting.

 

And of course, I’d started stockpiling.  My favorite, toilet paper, is in the monkeys’ bathroom.  I’m almost as proud of my toilet paper as I am my homemade jellies and my cereal stockpile.  Ok, a little weird, but it is what it is.  I stored a lot of toiletries under my bathroom sink and above the toilet in a little cupboard.  I thought it was cool, but my stockpiles were terribly limited due to the confined areas.

 

Last week while I was off work, I decided I wasn’t happy with that hall closet.  It was a mess, which wastes my valuable real estate, and disorganization is expensive.  I hauled out everything and started sorting.  My scrapbook supplies were condensed and reorganized.  Several projects that had been started, I kept out to finish as Christmas gifts (I have 3 photo frames almost completed now, as well as a photo album and several hair bows!)  Once I decluttered, I had beautiful open shelves again.

I used clear plastic sweater boxes to store shampoos and conditioners on one shelf.  In those cute matchy-match photo boxes from the craft store, I have shaving supplies and deodorants. One shelf will be dedicated to toilet paper (woo hoo!) and another to extra linens.  Thankfully, Monkey 2 has a big chest in her room where I keep her extra quilts and things.  But the hall closet will be perfect for extra sheets, towels, and my cleaning rag bag.  It’s a work in progress, but I’m really excited.

By cleaning out that closet, I also found enough valentines to get Monkey 2 through Elementary, projects to give for Christmas, and space to store my stockpiles!

Do you have extra space you can repurpose?  How would you use an extra closet?

~ Katie

 



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