Monday, September 26, 2011

The Master Bathroom

I'm declaring this "done" for the decorating and organization process; I've met those goals on my OrgJunkie project list. We still intend to replace the vanity and countertops because they are damaged, and the shower needs retiled also due to damage (the home we purchased was a pre-foreclosure and while we've fixed lots, a lot remains that needs to be fixed.)

I also intend to add artwork to the walls, but art is very personal to me so that will happen very slowly over time. In 5 years I've only found the one picture I wanted to put in there (and still haven't painted the frame, haha).


After (same view)
Hanging screen courtesy of The Container Store,  4 panels per pack at $10. I ordered some black ones of a different design for my Master Bedroom project (backordered, not in stock yet). These also make an appearance in our Media Room in a different manner. The panels are plastic so easily cleaned and no problem using them in a humid environment like the bathroom. I wanted a little privacy as the bathroom door, and view of the tub, are in a direct line with the bed in our bedroom.

Alternate view of the bathtub area:

What I dislike about the window is that it doesn't open. It's functionally useless. At a later point I will replace the blinds with 2" white plastic ones. You can see here a little better the different color that I have used for the walls. The cheap wooden frame on the painting I intend to paint in the off-white color of the tub and trim. 

 This is the vanity that needs to go. That's not an optical illusion on the righthand side; the unit actually dips down badly and the door isn't hung square. The lack of drawer space is killer. Under my sink are my hair products that I use frequently (right side basket, no pic) and teeth supplies (mouthwash, replacement brush heads, toothpaste etc in the left basket, no pic) on either side of the plumbing. On the tall side the cabinet holds my husband's Axe collection - I am a "coupon queen" and since he loves this brand/particular scent I stock up whenever I can. We've limited the space given for this to that one single cabinet, which is full of body spray, body wash, and deoderant (no pic). I'm sure he has a year's supply at this point!

This tower is something I'd like to replace, but I'm not yet sure with what. The top bin holds miscellaneous things like sunscreen, sunburn lotion, and washcloths; second bin holds my hairdryer, hair styler, and a huge selection of Curlformers (which are awesome); the large open section holds our towels, the next bin down holds my huge collection of nail polish and related nail care products (these are shared between me and my two daughters); the final bin at the bottom holds first aid supplies like larger bandages and wraps, splints, and such.

I just carry the green basket over to the sink area when I want to do my makeup. It holds my train case, roll of brushes, and various other makeup. I need just a larger train case, but haven't yet found one that I like and can afford. I have an addiction to Benefit and Tokidoki and while the Benefit fits well in this case (especially the mini's I love for travel), Tokidoki was definitely not created with storage in mind! My hairbrush and favorite couple of clips and headbands are also in the green box.

This is a four drawer dresser - the top holds medicines; the second drawer holds small containers of hairbands for DH, my face cleaning products (eye in one, face in a second), DH's facial care products; third drawer holds my makeup overruns (a company I loved, Aromaleigh, went out of business and I stocked up. It's minerals so will never go bad, and I don't intend to get rid of any of it - it's not replaceable. It will, over the next few years, get used up) and feminine products and extra TP rolls; the bottom drawer holds razors and shaving cream.

Anyone have suggestions on what to do for storage replacement? The kids bathroom only holds extra shampoo in terms of stockpiling; my closet has shelves at the entrance that hold hair dye overstocks - I'd love to get these centralized with the rest of "the stuff". A different vanity will help a lot, but won't hold everything. I've considered the "ladder style" shelving where the current dresser is with pretty baskets, each one defining the limits of the "stockpile" of that particular item. I'd love some alternative suggestions, though.

Ones that don't require "get rid of X" - these things will ultimately get used up and are used on a daily or weekly basis. I have dramatically slowed my stockpiling and imposed limits on it, and some things (like the Aromaleigh) will eventually dissappear entirely.

Also, I do not like unconcealed storage for these types of supplies, so no hanging shoe organizers of items or the like. I'd love to hang my hairdryer and such on my vanity door, but the current vanity doesn't allow that (the wood is only 1/16th" thick to hang from O.o) - although maybe Command Hooks would work?

Friday, September 23, 2011

First stage of kitchen renovation: Measurement

Today I met with our contractors to start the kitchen renovation process. I've already spent the past few months researching the materials, style, functional assessment of the existing kitchen, and such on my own. I'm pretty sure DH is sick of it, and they haven't even started yet! Heh.

Measuring was the word of the day. We discussed many options. This is going to be a complete rip out of the existing cabinetry; custom built cabinets and installation; possible upgrade options that will be decided on dependent on cost; and last but not least, we may have to replace most of the downstairs tile floor as they are unsure it will be undamaged by the ripout (we do not have any extra tiles, and are not the first owners of the home that chose it). I will be getting an estimate on the flooring after the estimate for the cabinetry comes back to see the overall budget we are looking at.

I was pleased that we seemed to be very in tune balancing their suggestions for what they've seen be successful or functional, and my desires and needs. We are definitely incorporating some unusual elements based on my grandmother's old-style custom kitchen - a pull out chopping block above the tableware drawer, and a cookie sheet "slot" cabinet next to the stove. These can be incorporated pretty inexpensively. Other things may get the axe because of cost, but are being included in the estimate because of Style, such as a wine rack above the fridge instead of a plain cabinet, or extending a pretty nonfunctional workspace to the left of my sink to hold a bookshelf where that end sticks out into the eating area. I would love the additional counter space and shelving, but again, that will depend on cost, after I see what the flooring will be to replace.

Next step will be Decisions when the estimates come in. I'm excited, but anxious - we've never done such a large project before, ever. I'm very nervous about the expense, the time we'll be without a kitchen at all, the cleanup, and hoping everything looks the way I'm envisioning it and that I don't make some silly expensive mistake on a choice like stain color!

Have you redone your kitchen? Did you encounter any unforeseen issues, or make helpful and interesting alternative plans you whipped up for "odd" areas or spaces?

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

The Binders of Doom

Each teacher requires a certain set of things for their class. Four require binders, six require folders, five require notebooks, two require a journal, and miscellaneous writing utensils and such. It's been really difficult for the kids to keep up with, so I invented The Binders of Doom.

Remember to keep it easy.
  1. It has to meet the requirements of the teacher and class.
  2. It needs to hold everything that class needs, or as much as possible.
  3. If you can afford to, I highly recommend these for each desired subject in the front of each binder: Quick Reference Guides.
  4. It should Come With Its Own Instructions built in.
The binders the teachers require are 2". I bought 1" - I'm just a rebel. No, honestly there's two reasons for this: one, I'm not spending $12 on a binder times 8; and two, there's just not that much room in their backpack or in their lockers. The system should hold up for a semester, and then I will archive things over the winter break with binder clips or paper clips and store them in one single 2" binder per child at home (which at the end of the year will hold everything and join our Reference Library at home).

I found these at Staples on clearance for around $2 (they are more expensive online). They met my criteria: the spines have an insert for the subject name; they have a clear pocket on the front; two pockets in the interior; and they use a D-ring format. (If you don't know why to use D-rings, you will eventually find out.)

I used my handy dandy LetraTag because the refills are cheap and I use it on everything (yes really, everything...) to label the spines by subject in extra large font.

Then, the front of the binder I printed full 8.5x11 copy paper sheets I made on WordPad. These are the Built In Instructions. It tells what class it is, what materials to bring to that class, what dividers are in the binder, what to put in the folder, what to do with returned papers and handouts, and what to do with homework. At the bottom is a reminder to bring the Binder of Doom home with them every Friday.
(Every Friday we go through the binder to make sure things are filed correctly - and just because their teachers live to make my life hard (half-joking), some of the handouts aren't hole punched so we have to punch them to get them IN the binder.)

Inside the binder are 5 subject dividers, labeled to match what the Instructions say (and what the teacher requires OR if the teacher didn't provide label names, the best organization I can find for the typical papers in that class.)

In front of the dividers is a 2 pocket vertical poly folder that has holes in it to go in a binder, also from Staples (on clearance for 70 cents in store!). Vertical folders take getting used to, but they work really well; when the binder is closed, papers cannot accidentally fall out the top of the binder if it gets dropped or messed about with. The folder is also labeled with the subject in case they need to take it out and remember where it goes back.

If the subject requires a spiral - do not try to put it on the D-rings! There's a much easier way. Take the front cardboard or poly cover of the spiral, and insert it into the lefthand pocket of the binder interior. It easily opens to take notes and doesn't interfere with the D ring which can use its full 1" capacity this way. This does, however, keep the notebook within the binder, which is one of the "rules" instead of it being loose. If it covers your D ring too much and the binder won't close well, trim the outside edge of the spiral by 1/2" all the way down so it will slide in further, and this should fix your problem. I also label the spiral, like the folder, in case they do need to take it out and replace it.

You can also see that everything is color coded. The folder, spiral, and binder all match, and the same color is used on the Subject on the front of the binder. This carries over to their color coded schedule in their agendas (a post to come later) and is ALWAYS consistent. They know if they pick up something and it's green, it goes with the other green stuff - no exceptions. If the item doesn't come in a color you need, $2 will buy you a sheet of duct tape (indestructible! YES!) in any color you can imagine. I had to do this to one of our spirals as I just could not find - anywhere - a pink one, for some reason.


The Binder of Doom holds dividers, a folder, a notebook, instructions, and is color coded - and takes up 1.25" of space total when full to capacity.

Some advanced tips? If you're okay using paper (I got cases of paper super cheap before school started, and used the rewards to get printer ink) - scan in and print notes, handouts, or things you need to "shrink down" - but print them *doublesided*. Instantly, you've halved the space they need. Use the thinnest spiral notebook you can find, and remind your children that they can write on both sides of the lined paper. This goes double for that expensive graph paper *shudder*.

Thanks for checking out our system - and please post if you've made one of your own! There's always room for improvement and sharing ideas can be the best way to do it!

Posting to OrgJunkie.

The Homework Folder

I remember middle school - and high school. I had one 2" inch binder, one pencil pouch in the binder, 5 subject dividers (English, Math, Science, History, Geography), and 1 folder and 1 spiral for each core subject. That was it, and that was the limit of what would fit in your backpack. They were all trashed by the end of the year and replaced each year.

Today's schools are far different - or at least ours is. We have 3 children, but the youngest is in Kindergarten so I'm only addressing our older 2 that are in Middle School (Junior High) in 6th and 8th grades in this post. Each teacher requires their OWN binder, folder, journal, composition book, notebook spiral or some combination thereof. It has been a NIGHTMARE trying to keep the kids organized, and we have had papers everywhere, disappearing homework, forgetting which materials go to which class..

Did I mention both my daughters have autism? Well, that presents its own challenges, so I knew whatever way I found to "Hack the System" to help my kids out had to: work for the teachers, be easy enough for my daughter to use, and be easy to replicate for my older son.

The first thing I invented was: The Homework Folder. This is a basic two pocket poly folder (whenever possible, I've used poly to help things last. It's not the best for the environment, but we started off the school year with paper and they are *already* trashed three weeks into school... so poly it is.)

The front of the folder says Homework and the child's name, grade, and class level. The left side inner pocket is labeled Turn In, and the right side inner pocket is labeled Bring Home.

The Homework Folder accompanies the child to *every* academic class along with their agenda. All homework goes into this folder, notes from teachers, things I need to sign, etc. At home, it is gone through daily. Completed homework and signed papers go into the Left Pocket, and we empty out the Right Pocket. Easy Peasy!

Of course, that's not all they need, which brings me to my next post...

posting to OrgJunkie!

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Laundry Room conversion

I don't really have any "before" pictures for most of my projects. If I do, I'll post them. For this room, I don't.

Our laundry room is very large - approximately 10 foot by 7 foot, the size of a small bedroom. It holds my washer&dryer (HE's on pedestals), a large freezer, my Dyson, steam mop, and a lot of other things as you'll soon see. Too large to fit into one picture, I'll go through an area at a time.

This is the TV stand version of the EXPEDIT line at IKEA. I wanted the 5x5 EXPEDIT unit but it was constantly sold out in white and I became impatient. I'm glad we went with this one now because it's incredibly more versatile. The blue LEKMAN bins are expensive at $10 a pop (the ones seen inside the Expedit cubes) and are a bit fragile. They are working even holding heavy and bulky items, but the construction of them is not top notch. We have to be careful handling them. The bins hold, variously: candles, oils, and Scentsy bars; Lysol wipes; mismatched socks; the kids' karate gis and sparring gear; my upstairs Cleaning Bucket; Air Fresheners; miscellaneous cleaning products; dusting supplies; a Shark handheld vacuum for the stairs (yes that actually fits in one of these cubes...they are 14x14"!); my Shark steam accessories; Dyson accessories; and bathroom cleaning supplies (scrubbers, mildew spray, etc). 

The TROFAST lighter blue containers at the top have various functions. The two left-most ones hold "small rewards" and "large rewards" for the kids. The middle one holds clothes that are outgrown that I pull out of the clean laundry as I come across them (when it gets full, they are moved to a larger storage bin until I can sell or donate them). The last ones hold fabric I've been saving for years with the intention of having historical costumes made - silk velvet, dupioni silk, and other things that I just can't bring myself to let go of yet. Maybe someday! For now, they meet the rules of being Contained and Organized.

The lower shelf with the 2 lighter blue cubes now holds 2 larger blue plastic baskets. During the summer we used these to hold towels in one and swimsuits in the other. During the winter, I'll put those away (where? no clue yet) and one will hold mittens and hats, and the other will still hold towels for when snow or water gets tracked in on the tile floors.

The interior center of the EXPEDIT is neat. There's juuuuust enough room to fold smaller items on it. The vinyl applique I got on Etsy done in my laundry room colors just for a perky uplift to a room that's based around, face it, work and crummy chores. At the top I hung a bar (sorry, don't remember the name) from IKEA that was $2.99, and the little dark and light blue containers were 99c each. I use them for "stuff I find in pockets", lint from the dryer screen, trash, money, clean up towels (have to wipe down the gasket for the washer every once in awhile and clean out the drum). 

Here's the view over the washer&dryer with the ANTONIUS shelving line from IKEA. They hold a LOT of weight and are 24" deep! How awesome is that? The hanging rods are part of the line; here you can see I use them to hold the extra hangers so I can hang up laundry right as it comes out of the dryer. The top shelf is devoted to toilet paper (barely started the stockup in this pick) - it fits about 10 of the huge packs of Charmin across and one of Bounty (we rarely use paper towels, but they are nice to have around sometimes for like, killing bugs *ew*). The blue bags that say "Laundry" came from Lakeside Collection for $5; these hold our spare sheets. The smaller blue boxes (since replaced with slightly larger ones) hold tissues and feminine products. My actual laundry products are in the pedestals under the W&D.

The right side of the same thing (you can barely see the edge of the dryer to the left - to the right is the freezer edge) is where I hang clothing up as soon as it's out of the dryer - no more wrinkles! Also the perfect place to hang-dry items as well as they get some mild heat from the dryer in the room to release the wrinkles as they hang dry. More sheets are in the "Laundry" bin above (we have 6 beds, one of which is a king, and sheets for a queen size aerobed as well).

Below the hanging items are my laundry bins. I've since labeled the edge of each with a Sharpie to read "DARKS" and "LIGHTS". These neat bins from The Container Store are on rollers, so I roll them round to the washer when it's time to load - no lifting required! I am currently searching for an alternative though that will hold 3 across; I actually wash "darks", "lights", and "COLORS" so I'm still having to do after-sorting that I'd rather not. These work great for now though.

And finally, my $5 huge IKEA clear box on rollers. Yes, that thing is so large it covers the entire top of the freezer. That bin holds all of our extra and winter blankets and STILL HAS ROOM IN IT! I hope to move some others from the kids upstairs' linen closet to this soon, but I keep forgetting and those actually get used often.

So, that's my pretty awesome laundry room now! It's functional, it does everything it needs, and I love that it's fairly "decorated"!

Backpack Station version 1.0 vs Charging Station

I loved this, but sadly, it was replaced later with something that fit the needs of the library/office better, and was moved. However it was cool while it lasted, and worked, so here it is for reference sake:
This was taken around Halloween (thus the fall jackets, and the decorations on the top shelf). Everyone's coats hung here, you could sit on the bench to put your shoes on, and the backpacks slid under the bench. 

Problems: It looked really junky with all the coats there sticking out in my main hallway. Nowhere for umbrellas, shoes, or accessories (hats etc). And while the pieces matched each other, they matched nothing else within view of them.

Replacing them is this:

This is a shoe cabinet from IKEA. It's really neat - we have it positioned where the bottom right section is over the wall plug. While here it's got Mardi Gras stuff on it (only good pic I had with the mirror included), it normally hold out cell phones charging on top of it (our Charging Station). The other 3 sections are juuuust wide enough to hold 17" laptops - the two older children's (to get them out for the kitchen table to do homework) and my own if I need to clear off my desk for a project. This is right across the hallway from the library/office and about seven feet away from my desk. I love it. And it's only 4" deep, which doesn't impede the view or function of the hallway. The previous bench was 18" deep.

Much more functional and appropriate for that particular space.

Playroom conversion

Linking to OrgJunkie's post today for 9/30 on the topic of procrastination. This room is a PERFECT example. Why? Because waaaay down at the bottom, you'll see the room that used to be the play room and is now our media room. We converted the playroom in *February*. It is now September. Guess who doesn't have a real media room yet?

At least we got the playroom part done..

This is what the "formal living" became - it's right around the corner from my office so the kids are within hearing (and with very slight effort, within sight).

Yep, it held bookshelves, and was basically "the christmas room".  Pardon the mess, this was during a birthday party/clothing swap between family member's kids! Which was converted to:

 There's also a "dishwasher" that goes with the kitchen, but there wasn't room for it. Since this picture was taken the following was added: a shelf over the kitchen to hold dolls; a 12 unit Cubeicals (2 6's stacked high) to the right of the kitchen with bins for the smaller toys, and the hanging meshes to the left were moved elsewhere to be covered in a later post.
A shorter bar like the one in the laundry center with multi colored cups holds the kitchenware that was always getting lost in the larger kitchen pieces. It's neat, tidy, and easy to keep up with! Bonus - it cost $6 total.
You can see the art supply bookcase on the left. Changes since this picture were made: I ordered 3 matching tie dyed scarves from a friend that are longer than the middle one pictured, and got rid of the "dressy" grey ones. We added a canopy over the table from one of my favorite places ever, Hearthsong  that used to be in my older daughter's room, she'd outgrown. We also added a rug from IKEA to assist with dried playdoh (and then theraputty) droppings. The table was replaced with a natural colored one with a hidden leaf that expands for when they have friends over and need more room.

Not pictured at all: A Tangled tower that youngest got for Christmas that year standing next to the fireplace, and a spinning egg chair from IKEA for her sensory needs on the other side of the fireplace. The room is getting a little crowded, but considering that this used to be the playroom (size: 30ftx18ft) and it's been put into a room that's 11x13, I'd say we're doing pretty well.
The room above, btw, is going to be our Media Room, but is currently our junkroom while all these other rooms are being taken care of! Eeeeek. It will be the LAST room to be completed, by our plan.

Library conversion

We have a typical McMansion with the design of having a small formal living room and a small formal dining room. After living here for 4 years maintaining those rooms - which were basically useless, gathered dust, and got used maybe once a year - we decided to ditch them! This is how the formal dining room became our library (which we always wanted) and my office (which I desperately needed).

We had painted the accent walls green already and decorated the room, but this is *basically* what it looked like before. Antique furniture I was scared for people to sit on, antique hutch and mirror that served no real purpose to hold my 2 tableclothes and became stuffed with "junk" over time, tiny sideboard dresser that also held mostly junk.
After conversion! These are BILLY bookcases from IKEA yes I do shop there a lot! We got the half-glass/half hidden doors for a specific purpose - the glass portions hold the hardbacks and books we wish to show off, and the hidden area holds a ton of cardboard magazine files for my office filing, reference books that aren;t in good shape or covered with post-its sticking out, and the like.
My desk, with a matching BILLY tv-unit-spanner-thing hung above it. The boxes are for receipts, stationary, and catalogues I'm not ready to get rid of. My stereo is on top, but shortly it may be leaving.. it hasn't been used at all in the six months since we put it up there. (We went to ipods from CD's during this same time period).The lower desk drawer I THOUGHT held a file drawer, but it doesn't *sad face*. However, it does hold an entire case of reamed paper, so that's what I stuck in there. A corkboard and a letter sorter now hang on the wall between the desk and BILLY. (Respectively from a Slickdeal at Staples, and a 3 portion mesh sorter from the Container store with pretty file folders - one portion for each child. Works great!). 

The right hand side of the room holds more bookcases. Under the pass through bar are actually media (DVD/CD) BENNO holders that matched the Billy's. We converted them to hold paperbacks and they now have matching doors on them. They stick out exactly as far as the pass through (WIN!). The right most cabinet holds our Dragon collection and other various sentimental items that I wanted to display but was tired of dusting. Now they only need dusting during Spring Cleaning, instead of weekly.

Every library needs a good plant :) The faux-stained glass on the windows replaced the dark and forbidding wodden blinds we had and leave a nice clean look while bringing in a little bit of color. They have a little of the green from the walls and carpet, and the wood tone from the furniture, and a little bit of blue/steel to complement the stainless steel aspects of some of the items. Whee! I heart them.

And finally, we got rid of the chandelier after DH kept hitting his head on it. This beautiful "marble" fixture fades into the ceiling while still being pretty. It also holds CFL bulbs so I can leave it on most of the time without worrying about wasting too much energy (I spend a LOT of time in this room). 

We also added a nice nuetral large microfiber ottoman to the middle/right of the room for people to lounge on and read; chairs would have been visually too tall and crowded the room. The ottoman works nicely.

The Lunchstation

Sadly, this entire thing is going to become obsolete later this month when we redo the kitchen and install cabinetry along this wall. However, we'll be keeping drawers and a large open space so that the basics of this organization remain. It's still hella cool and what I have right now, so here we go.

Start with one large hutch. Anything will do that has an open area in the center for prep work that's around waist high. Some TV stands might work (like the EXPEDIT in our laundry room).
The basics you're looking for are drawers, cabinets, and a prep area. That's it, realy. Pegs to hang things from could come in handy; so can a plate rack. Try to think outside the box.

Sorry no pictures for this part - the top glass cabinets hold mesh baskets I found on Amazon. These hold packets of tuna, containers of peanut butter, freeze dried fruit, and popcorn. The top shelf holds handled containers with pour spouts for dehydrated fruits and veggies, nuts, crackers, cookies, and the like as well as a breadbox. Basically, almost all the non-perishables that my kids need to make lunch with. (Unfortunately since I buy some things in bulk, they do have to retrieve some items from the main pantry, and of course things from the fridge.) This still gives them a place to make their lunches that doesn't take over my kitchen counters when they happen to be in use (they make lunches around the time I'm making dinner or clearing up from it!)

There is a fruit bowl with a banana hanger on the left hand side, and the plate cutout that you can't really make out holds flexible cutting boards for them to do prep on, then wipe off and put back. Each child has their own color board.
The first two drawers hold our Chicco bags (work as lunchbags in a pinch, such as when other things are dirty because my children can be lazy..cough cough) and Ziploc baggies. The Ziploc drawer also holds chip clips and disposable spoons and forks.

The second two drawers hold our Bento supples, including sandwich cutters and *reusable* plastic spoons and forks. Also holds egg molds, egg slicer, rice molds, cookie cutters, picks, and sauce containers.
Left side of the cabinets holds lunchboxes. The top shelf holds small container of Bento Buddies seperated by child/color; below that are the actual Laptop Lunches that make use of those and icepacks. To the right of the Bento Buddies are large Thermoses that have their own built in containers but keep things warm for use in the winter. Not pictured: Soft sided lunch kits that I've added for when we're not Bento'ing next to the Laptop Lunches.  We also got an alternative to the LL's off Zulily that I love but are too large for daily use; we're saving them for picnics, or I might sell them off. Takes up the rest of that space.

The right hand side holds my Rubbermaid (replaced all the worn out and mismatched stuff with a couple of sets of the new kind with the mix and match pieces and lids) and saran wrap, foil, parchment paper etc. Added to the top left shelf were the re-usable water bottles - or what was left of them as I got sick of my kids losing the expensive bottles and switched to cheap, non-eco friendly disposable bottled water. *Sigh*. Totally not perfect, but it's what works for us.

I'm linking this to OrgJunkie - it was my 13th week of the 52 week Organization challenge.

Kids' art supplies, workbooks, and therapy items

I love this. We took a bookcase that wasn't functioning well in my youngest daughter's room and moved it to the downstairs playroom (a topic I'll cover some other time). Linking it to OrgJunkie's post about like-with-like items this week - although this was my FIRST 52 weeks of Organizing project! How cool is that?

I got the clear PLASTIC jars on the top shelf from Oriental Trading quite cheaply. They are great - don't break if dropped. The smaller size is perfect for standard and toddler crayons; the taller ones work great for markers, paint brushes, colored pencils and the like. The bottom shelf houses all the workbooks we use to supplement their schoolwork on holidays and during the summer, and the scissor set was a gift from my mom to them.

Changes made since this photograph was taken:
The Playdoh went away and was replaced with Theraputty containers when my youngest was diagnosed with autism. The top shelf where the Playdoh was now holds the jars seen on the second shelf that are my oldest daughter's beads roughly sorted by color, thread and elastics, etc. The scissors gained a home in a bin in my craft closet due to an UnfortunateIncidentTM. The middle shelf now holds 3 bins I found at IKEA - one for therapy items, one for the aquadoodle items and one for miscellaneous supplies. The bottom shelf now utilizes poly magazine sorters in a rainbow of colors from The Lakeside Collection. Each grade level has an assigned color except for the last two which are used for coloring books.

The jars are just so cool! I have 3 dozen more in boxes in the attic for future organization ideas and/or replacement needs. If you can't find them on the OT site, check under "imperfect items" - I scored a dozen tall jars for less than $3. They are not food safe, nor are they water tight - so I don't suggest trying to grow sea monkeys in them, use them as beta bowls, or make cocoa mixes in. Stick strictly to non-cosumables unless they packaged (medicines, for example.. a possible future use for some of my extra jars!).

Making use of odd space

Some of my not-quite-finished projects I'd like to share with you. When they are totally complete, I'll post the final results as well (either updating this post or doing a new one). These are all part of my weekly projects for OrgJunkie's 52 Weeks of Organizing.

We have an entryway closet that was a nightmare. It was cut 2" too short to the back to actually hold hangers, let alone thick coats. The top shelf was too high and hard to keep mittens/hats/etc on that came down. The door is very skinny, 23", even though the closet is actually about 30" across, making it hard to get "back into" that little side area. It also means most shoe storage hangers and such are too wide to hang on the back of the door.

My DH helped me find the solution for this, which was to create a storage closet instead and move the coats elsewhere.

My 95% done project (shelves are done, bins purchased, organization within the bins is done.. labels remain to be done in a way that stays on the damn cubes but isn't permanent so I can change it as needed later):

I did make a few changes after this picture was taken. The bottom dark green cube has been replaced with a matching pink one; and um I put them in rainbow order going down for visual impact. DH also fixed the shelf that wasn't spaced correctly. You can only see 4 shelves here, but there are in fact 5 and then an open area at the bottom where my Cropstation rolls away and my camera bag sits.

The tied-on labels don't work. I experimented with badge holders, horizontal format, to tie them on with ribbon but they keep coming undone and falling off. I'm now currently debating some iron-on fabric I can print out, trim, and iron on but not sure if they will be removable enough if I need to change them in future, while remaining well stuck on so that the corners don't peel away with use.

I use this closet A LOT - it holds everything from basic party supplies (streamers, plastic tablecovers, solid colored napkins and such), to extra office and school supplies, all my hobby items including my coupons and scrapbooking supplies, photos, etc. It meets all of my goals - it's clean, neat, and organized; it's easily and quickly changed to meet future needs; it makes the best use of this odd space.

Jumping right in!

Sometimes there is no clear "beginning" to start from, you just have to jump in.

Hi, my name is Raven, and I'm an organization junkie. I'm starting Week #36 (and still have about 10 previous weeks to actually "finish" the projects they were assigned..) courtesy of OrgJunkie.

Here are the major lessons I've learned in life regarding organizing:

It never ends. You have to be okay with this. It ends when you die - actually even then it doesn't end, but someone else has to take it over once you're gone. Take laundry for example - there's a universal law that says once you've completed the wash, at least one rag, three socks, and a pair of pants will mysteriously appear in the bin within five minutes.

It doesn't have to be perfect. Actually, that's a lie for me.. it does have to be "perfect". Which contributes to why it never quite ends. What is perfect now may not be perfect tomorrow. What's perfect for your baby's room won't work for your middle schooler. The point is to keep it functional as long as possible because while you're busy battling one organizing operation, life is still going on around you and things are changing faster than you can keep up with. Always look towards the long term and save yourself a few headaches.

Finish strong. I mentioned above that there are still about 10 things on my Weekly Organization Challenge that I haven't checked off. If I had written the goals differently, broken into smaller jobs, they would be - but because they are only about 90-95% complete, they don't get a check mark yet. Let this be a lesson to be totally clear on what your goal is, and then break it down further. If you've half-assed the job, or it's not totally done, DON'T CROSS IT OFF. That just means you'll be back doing that job again later from scratch instead of "finishing up" shortly. Each week I work on getting one of those "incompletes" finished along with my current Weekly Goal. Next year, I'll know better how to structure my goals to actually complete them within the time limit.