Thursday, June 28, 2012

Kitchen Organizing Part 2 - Utensils

I mentioned last week about our summer project.  Since hubby and I are both off, I have convinced him to redo part of our 1st floor.  We have been in our house almost 10 years!  The 1st floor hasn't been touched since we painted in the first month we lived here way back when.  Definitely time for a change!  Part of fixing things up involves moving some things around (in my mind, maybe not in hubby's:) and reorganizing.

I have a plan to do away with the hutch portion of my buffet because it is just too big for the room it is in, really gobbles up the whole space.  I have been moving things around and making room in my kitchen for some of the dishes I was keeping in the hutch. 

Last week, I posted my spice cabinet reorganization.  This week I worked on my utensil drawers.  My kitchen is not very spacious.  My cabinets and drawers are very skinny so I am trying to make the best use of space and still be organized...mostly.  Here is what my utensil drawers looked like before...

Not entirely sure what all is in the front of the drawer, but I do know I usually have to dig for things.  This is the 2nd drawer...

A little better.  Then there is the 3rd drawer.  What a waste of space!

I started by taking everything out and sorting it on my kitchen table.  I put similar items together and tossed ones that were old or never used.

I bought another utensil organizing tray at Home Goods.  I also washed and reused the organizers I already had in two of the drawers.

I tried to have a process for finding a home for the items after sorting.  I put steak knives and all our silverware in the top drawer.  The basket in the back holds straws and corn holders.  The basket is from the dollar section of Target.  I bought a set of 4 for $1 and used a few in my spice cabinet also.

The next drawer is smaller items. 

Finally, is all my larger utensils.

I keep all my wooden utensils in a crock on my counter for now.  I love the crock and haven't found anything else that works as well in it.

While it is taking some getting used to opening a different drawer for many of the items, I no longer have to dig for the can opener or cut myself on the peeler before I find it in there.  I also feel good that I was able to toss a few items that were worn out or didn't really serve a purpose for me.  It gave me some extra space.  I hope you were able to find an idea that might work for you!


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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Kitchen Organizing Part 1 - Spices

Summer vacation from teaching = projects!  I have a need to always be doing drives hubby crazy:) I FINALLY convinced him to repaint and touch up some areas of our 1st floor.  This required me to pack up the china and family dishes in my hutch.  I am thinking I may do away with the hutch but I'll address that in a future post.

The reason I mention this project is that it ties into my kitchen.  We will be painting part of the kitchen, but I am also thinking about putting some of my china in kitchen cabinets if I decide to do away with the hutch (I'd keep the bottom buffet part of the cabinet).  Therefore, I have started cleaning out cabinets and throwing away things we don't use or don't need.  I'm guessing the things with a good layer of dust, we don't really need anymore:)

There are two main areas of my kitchen that I wanted to reorganize as I clean out.  One is my spice cabinet and the other consists of my three utensil drawers.  This post is step 1, which was my spice cabinet.  Here is the you know what's in there?  Because I don't:)

My first step was to clean it out.  I had a few empty boxes and lots of expired spices (who knew they expire?)  Then I went to Target to search for a shelf like I have seen used to stack the spices so you can see them.  After Target and Home Goods, I didn't find a shelf.  I did find this little gem at Home Goods, though, and decided to run with it.

I also bought some baskets in the dollar section of Target.

I put the spices into the rack and labeled the fronts of each section using the premade labels that came with the rack.  Some of the spices were pre-printed on the labels and the others I wrote on the blank ones that were included.

Next to the spice rack are extra spices (full and unopened) of ones already in the rack and baking soda which we use a lot.  Here is what the inside of the spice cabinet looks like.  Each of the three drawers pulls out.

I put spice and sauce packets into one of the baskets.

I put this basket along with baskets of baking needs, such as sprinkles and icing, on the second shelf.  I don't do a lot of baking so I don't really need much access to these items.

The third shelf up is taller items that I don't use as often or have smaller containers on the counter for cooking (like salt and pepper).  These include extra salt, cooking spray, and dip mixes.

The very top shelf holds our coffee grinder and extra tea and tea bags.  I keep tea on the counter as well in a pretty container since I drink it a lot!  I fill that container from these boxes.

The after of my cabinet.  So much better!  Even my husband commented on it.  He noticed!:)

The final step was an inventory of spices that I attached to the inside of the door.  I included the name of the spice, the expiration date, and if I had any extras on hand.  I left blank spaces so I can fill in when I buy new spices as well.

A close-up of the inventory.

I am so happy with my organized cabinet!  I have limited kitchen space so purging as been so helpful this week!  I have found lots of extra space, although it was hard to realize I just need to let go of some things to make room for things I know we will use.  Work will now begin on my utensil drawers so stay tuned.


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Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Reorganized Desk

I am on summer vacation.  Yeah!  That means I can start the long list of projects I created for myself to do over my break from teaching.  Although, I also love to spend the summer planning and preparing for next school year (crazy, I know:).  The last week of school was crazy and things were dumped everywhere!  Yikes!  My desk was piled with various piles of stuff.  I couldn't find things my daughter needs for the summer, things I need for my masters program...very unlike me.  So, the problem has been remedied.  In the process, I also fixed another problem in our kitchen (I'll explain more on that below).  Here is what my desk looked like before...not horrible but you can see the piles of paper.

Here was the desk drawer, not sure it had ever been organized:)

We have a bulletin board and cubby in our kitchen that has always been a catch all for coupons, ads, gift cards, invitations, etc.  It just looked like a mess all the time!  So, in organizing my desk, I incorporated a place for some of those items.  Here is the wall of the kitchen before.

I had a nice green fabric tub sitting empty in my house.  I decided to use this to help organize the desk top (yeah for free!).

I created labels for items I need to access frequently and put them on folders for the green tub.  These included folders for my daughter for school and extracurricular activities.  She will be starting kindergarten in the fall and will also go to a before/after school program.  The school folder has forms I need to complete for the fall, school supply list, calendar and items I need to reference for her school.  The extracurricular folder contains her dance schedule, gymnastics schedule, park district class info, etc.  I also created folders for retail coupons and restaurant coupons to help clean up the spot in the kitchen.  Now I don't have to shuffle through the mess on the wall, I know they are in the folder.  I can also put the coupons directly into the folder as we get them from a store or restaurant instead of in a pile somewhere.

I put the folders in the tub on my desk.  The tub also contains my notebook where I put all my to-do lists and blog ideas.  In the back is books and notes for the current masters class I am working on.

Since I had to organize the piles of paper on my desk, I did some reorganizing and relabeling of my file drawers.  I created new labels (I like them to look the same:) and reorganized them a bit in the drawers so the placement/order makes more sense when I need to file something away.

My final step was to clean out the crazy desk drawer!  Here are the after pictures of the desk drawer and desk.

To recap, here was my process:
1.  I went through the piles on my desk, throwing away and sorting as I went.
2.  I sorted and tossed items from the bulletin board in the kitchen.
3.  Labels were created for the items I wanted to keep close at hand on my desk.
4.  I organized the folders and items I needed to keep in the green tub.
5.  The rest of the papers were put away in my file drawers (which got new labels and a little reorganizing as well).
6.  I cleaned out the desk drawer.

Much better!  Now, papers I need are easy to find in the folders on my desk.  I have pens and post it notes in a cup so I have them handy.  My Household Management Binder sits on the corner of my desk for reference as well.


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Recipe Organizing

I love to cook!  Now, if you ask hubby, he was sure he would starve 11 years ago when we got married.  And the first year was a little sketchy, but now I love to find new recipes, try them out, and add variety to our weekly menu.  The new meals either get a thumbs up from the family or a thumbs down.  Therefore, I needed to do a big cleanout of recipes that hubby vetoed or we didn't really like.  In addition, I had been scanning Pinterest for new ideas to organize my recipes.  Then, I saw Megan's "Reader Space" post on IHeart Organizing.  Megan also has her own blog Here.  I loved the way she organized her recipes, among other great things!

I had been using two binders that I had around the house.  There was no rhyme or reason to which recipes were in which binder.  I was constantly flipping pages to find what I wanted.  Dividers for different categories within those binders was an idea I had been tossing around.  I have very little counter space, though, and the big binders were taking up a lot of room sometimes.  So, I decided to give Megan's idea a try.  Here is what I started with.  Yikes!

And the inside...bigger Yikes!

I started by sorting everything on my kitchen table.  I made piles by category and also pulled out recipes that could be thrown away (the thumbs down ones).  That process looked like this.

I found these skinny folders/binders at Staples.  I like using sheet protectors for my recipes and these would fit the sheet protectors.  Many of the types I was looking at were only going to work if I 3-hole punched the actual recipe.

Here is what the inside of the folder looks like.  I also like that it has a pocket so I can slide new recipes I find into the folder if I can't immediately get them into a sheet protector and put into the folder.

Each category of recipe was then put into one of the folders.  I put a few categories into one folder if they were smaller.

My final step was to label the edges of each folder so I knew which categories were inside.  This was my absolute favorite part of Megan's post.  The ones she made were so pretty!  So, I used large labels and Microsoft Word to create labels for the edges.  Due to the plastic and bending on the edge, I also covered them with some clear packing tape to be sure the labels don't peel off.

It has been so easy lately to find the recipes I want to use for dinner and meal planning.  These folders can lay flat on my counter, but are also light enough that I have been able to prop them up while cooking without them falling over.  And it's so much prettier!