Looking for the perfect cleaning resource? Check out my book, The Organically Clean Home!

A Simplified Week : Homework Station

a simplified week

As part of Start Here. I post a weekly recap with a couple ideas (mostly simple and easy to implement) for the week’s focus and a few ideas from the web that I’ve enjoyed over the week. Did you grab September’s FREE cleaning and organizing calendar? Go here to grab it!

Homework Station:

  • Streamline the homework routine and set everyone up for success with these tips on creating a homework station from Clean Mama
  • I love this little homework station nook- it fosters all sorts of creativity and keeps everything at kiddo’s fingertips. The supply caddy is perfect for housing all the supplies kids could possible need. Via Mom 4 Real
  • If you are short on storage space or are looking for something more portable, you need to peek at this tutorial on creating a homework crate. Paint it to match your space, stock it with supplies and move it from room to room with ease. Via Uncommon Designs Online

Something to Eat:

  • This chicken and nectarine salad is simple enough in it’s ingredients- nectarines, blueberries, grilled chicken, almonds, baby spinach and homemade poppyseed dressing. The combo of these rather unexpected flavors is so good and so perfect for a busy night where you need to throw together dinner in a hurry. Via Pinch of Yum

Something to Make:

  • Mason jars are all the rage right now and I am happy to be on that bandwagon.  This simple 5 minute project is perfect for adding a touch of style to your bathroom while fulfilling a need as well. Put together this Mason Jar Toothbrush Holder with your favorite jar color.  Via The Country Chic Cottage

Something to For the Kids:

  • With the weather cooling down and school starting up, my mind is moving on towards all the fun fall decorations and activities there are out there for kids.  I love these paper lantern pumpkins- wouldn’t they be cute as a garland decoration for the kids to make this fall? Via Your Homebased Mom

Simplify:

  • Company coming unexpectedly and your home is a disaster zone?  Try some of these Speed Cleaning Tricks from Buzzfeed for some ideas to get clean in a hurry.

Just in time for the weekend…a little shop coupon code – use the code 20LABORDAY for 20% off your entire order!  Sale ends 9/1//14 at midnight CST!

Labor Day Coupon Code

 

 

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FREE Make-Ahead Menu Recipe List Printable

Organize Your Menu Planning with this FREE Printable Make-Ahead Recipe List via Clean Mama

Make-ahead recipes are my saving grace in the kitchen.  Yesterday I shared 8 of my favorite make-ahead recipes and today I thought it would be fun to share a free printable to jot down make-ahead recipes to try or just to keep as a list.  Use it in your recipe binder or in your homekeeping planner – but the next time you’re trying to plan out your menu for the week, take a peek at the list and you’ll have some easy recipes to get you started.

FREE Make-Ahead Recipe List via Clean Mama

I’m a bit of a cookbook collector/hoarder – these are my 4 favorite make-ahead cookbooks…. America’s Test Kitchen’s Slow Cooker Revolution Volume 2; The New Slow Cooker; Williams-Sonoma’s Food Made Fast Make Ahead (hard to find); and The Best Make-Ahead Recipe.

Favorite Make-Ahead Cookbooks via Clean Mama

FREE Make-Ahead Recipe List Courtesy of Clean Mama

Grab the FREE Make-Ahead Recipe List here in my shop or here on Googledocs.

This FREE printable coordinates perfectly with my brand new Everyday Menu Planning Kit in my shop.  It’s a great addition to the kit or use it by itself – there is a Recipes to Try List and a Family Favorites List in the same format as this free make-ahead menu printable in the kit.  You can see the entire Everyday Line here in my shop, and read more about the whole Everyday Line here on the blog.

Clean Mama's Everyday Menu Planning Kit Clean Mama Printables

 

 

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8 Make-Ahead Recipes that Will Change Your Menu Planning

8 Make-Ahead Recipes that Will Change your Menu Planning via Clean Mama

Menu planning is one of those things that if you do it you can’t stop talking about how great it is and if you don’t menu plan, you can’t stop complaining about why you need to start.  If you’re looking for a few new winning recipes or looking to start simplifying your meal times, this little round up is the perfect thing to get you started.  The majority of the recipes are in our dinner rotation and I think you might add them to yours too!  (Recipes appear in order – top down and left to right.)  Here’s a link to a FREE printable to use for your make-ahead menu planning!

  1. Shredded BBQ Chicken Burgers – Place some of this slow cooker goodness on a bun, slather it with guacamole and shredded cheese. What’s not to love? Via What’s Gaby Cooking
  2. Homemade Frozen Pizza- This fan favorite is just about the easiest in the book. Make a batch of these homemade pizzas to stash in the freezer for those busy nights. Dinner is on the table in under half in hour! Via Love and Olive Oil
  3. Olive Garden Minestrone Soup – All you need to round out this homey, delicious and vegetarian soup is a salad or some bread. Put everything in the slow cooker in the morning and have a tasty dinner waiting for you come supper time. Via Cooking Classy
  4. Rotisserie- Style Whole Chicken - Who doesn’t love the ease of the classic rotisserie style chicken? Rather than stopping to pick one up on your way home for dinner, have one ready for you courtesy of your slow cooker. Via Design Mom
  5. Slow Cooker Turkey with No-Fuss Gravy – Who says turkey is just for Thanksgiving? Save the leftovers from this dinner for quesadillas or a salad the next day. Via Mel’s Kitchen Cafe
  6. Crockpot Brown Butter Marinara Sauce – Make your own marinara sauce rather than using a jar with this delicious homemade marinara sauce. Make a double batch and freeze half for the ultimate in easy dinners. Via Half Baked Harvest
  7. All-Purpose Slow Cooker Shredded Chicken – Nothing beats the versatility of shredded chicken for making all sorts of dinners. Perfect for pulling out of the freezer on a busy night for an easy meal. Via Mountain Mama Cooks
  8. Slow Cooker Ham with Maple Brown Sugar Glaze – Perfect for feeding a crowd or freezing leftovers, this ham is ideal for a “fancy” dinner without much fuss. Via Number 2 Pencil

Have a favorite make-ahead recipe or tip?  Share in the comments!

If you like these recipes, you’ll love my make ahead + freeze pinboard!

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How to Organize a Homework Station

How to Organize a Homework Station via Clean Mama

This week’s organizing task is a HOMEWORK STATION.  (August’s FREE cleaning and organizing calendar is here and September’s cleaning and organizing calendar is here).  If you have little ones heading back to school or already back, taking a little time this week to think through how and where they’ll do homework will save time through the year and make that potentially stressful time of the day a little easier.  Today I’m sharing a few helpful tips that can streamline this time for you and your kids.

First things first, decide what you need to make a homework station work.  My kids are in the lower elementary grades, so at this time all we need is a simple homework caddy, a place to put backpacks and lunchboxes (a huge basket in the mudroom does the trick), and clipboards to keep pending permission slips and notes on.  If your kids are doing homework on the computer, consider creating a little spot with a computer nearby for completing homework too.  Don’t worry if you don’t have a permanent spot for completing homework – my favorite place for homework is the kitchen table.  I can be making dinner while they’re working on homework, dinner might take a little longer to get to the table, but this is a great place to monitor the homework for us.

A couple things to keep in mind that I find helpful for organizing a homework station:

  • Anticipate the mess and have a plan to make it work.

    When organizing stuff for my kids I tend to think practical.  Yes, it’s fun when a project is super creative and beautiful, but if it will only stay that way for .2 seconds, it’s not worth it.  Keep kids’ organization simple, straightforward, and workable for your kids.  Who cares what it looks like at first if it isn’t workable for your family.  Simple storage is always the best in my opinion.

  • Have project supplies on hand.

    Last minute projects are inevitable.  Now that school supplies are on sale, grab a few necessities and stash them in a closet just in case.  Poster board,  glue, construction paper are the three project necessities we always keep stocked and on-hand.

  • Make it easy to access.

    If the supplies for homework are stored somewhere, make them easy to take out and put away.  Giving kids the independence to get started on homework and put away any supplies will (hopefully) keep the kids in control of homework time.

  • Create a station.
    If you have the space to give, create a desk or devoted area that can stay set up as a homework station.  This will allow for the supplies to stay out and at the ready for nightly homework.  This is especially helpful for older children that need a quiet workspace every afternoon/evening.

What would you add?  What’s your BEST homework station idea?

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Start Here. FREE September 2014 FREE Cleaning + Organizing Calendar

start here logo

Happy September! If you’ve been working through the Start Here. calendar since January I hope you’ve met successes and made some oodles of progress in your home. If you’re new here, check out the first post in this series for a little more explanation.

What’s behind the success of any clean and organized home?

Consistency and follow through.

This series Start Here. is a great place to start (and finish) because without starting something, you’ll never finish anything. Don’t get bogged down in the every day messiness that is life, you have to start somewhere to get anywhere and that’s what we’re doing today. If you are completely overwhelmed or just a little overwhelmed, start with a little bit every day – set your timer for 10-15 minutes and just do what you can on the list. It’ll get a little bit easier every day and every week – just keep at it and you’ll be making progress in no time!

Ready? We all have to start somewhere – let’s Start Here.

Here’s a little infographic that explains the cleaning and organizing schedule…

Start Here.  Cleaning + Organizing Calendar Infographic via Clean Mama

Want to join in on the fun? Grab a FREE cleaning and organizing calendar for September (this is free in my shop– if you prefer Googledocs, you can go here to grab it) and give it a go. Follow along all month for motivational posts and tips to keep up with the daily and weekly tasks.

Need a little more explanation? Here’s a post on Weekly Cleaning Tasks and a post on Daily Cleaning Tasks.  I’ve/we’ve covered a lot of cleaning and organizing ground – you can go here to see all the posts in this series.

Cleaning + Organizing Calendar - September 2014 Courtesy of Clean Mama

(If you like this calendar style, you’ll love The Streamlined Life Series in my shop!)

Clean Mama Printables NEW Product Line - Everyday Life Line via Clean Mama

Come see my BRAND NEW products and updated look – the Everyday Line- it’s so simple and perfect for this busy time of the year!

 

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A Simplified Week : Clothes

a simplified week

As part of Start Here. I post a weekly recap with a couple ideas (mostly simple and easy to implement) for the week’s focus and a few ideas from the web that I’ve enjoyed over the week. Did you grab August’s FREE cleaning and organizing calendar? Go here to grab it!  (I’ll have September’ FREE calendar on the blog tomorrow!)

Clothes:

  • Is the disorganization and chaos of clothing in your closets driving you bonkers? These five simple suggestions are perfect to get you started! Via Clean Mama
  • Paring down your clothes to what you actually wear can free up some valuable closet space in a hurry. This post by Andrea Dekker gives you the suggestions and tools you need to purge your closet.
  • Minimize your wardrobe to what you actually love and wear with these fantastic tips. Do you think you could limit your closet to 40 pieces or less?  Via Living Well, Spending Less

Something to Eat:

  • Stir fry meals are perfect for busy days with minimal time to spend in the kitchen. This Ginger Chicken Asparagus Stir-Fry is tasty, quick to prepare and a one bowl dinner. Win-win! Via Mel’s Kitchen Cafe

Something for the Kids:

  • Needing to keep kids of different age levels busy with the same activity? Check out this roundup of activities to keep different ages and stages content and occupied at the same time.Via Picklebums

Something to Make:

  • Have the itch to sew something but not a lot of time on your hands? This huge collection of quick sew projects fit the bill when you want to create something without a ton of fuss and time. Via Crazy Little Projects

Simplify:

  • Turn your stained, outgrown or underused t-shirts into cleaning rags in a snap with this tutorial from Creative Savings. Cut down on your paper towel usage and use what you already have.

 

 

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How to Make a Cleaning Planner

How to Make a Cleaning Planner via Clean Mama

If you want to figure out a way to keep your cleaning routine in order, you might want to put together a little cleaning planner – a place to plan your cleaning.  This can be part of your homekeeping binder or notebook or you can create a stand-alone cleaning planner.  If you’ve been working at keeping up with a cleaning routine or just starting out, what’s the best way to keep it that way?  Work with your homekeeping style and find a way to keep track of what you have already done and what needs to be done.  Need a little inspiration and some cuteness to kick your routine in gear?  Put your planner together in a way that makes sense for your home, style, and budget – it might just get you excited enough to follow through this time!

  1. Choose what size you’d like to use – my preference is a standard letter size (8 1/2 x 11),  but this would be great as a smaller planner as well!  (Keep reading for helpful posts on reducing the sizes and printing 2 to a page.)
  2. Once you’ve determined the size you’re going to use, you need decide what sections you need in your planner.   Here are my sections:  cleaning planner, quick cleaning, cleaning checklists, monthly cleaning, cleaning recipes, cleaning remediesDividers in a Cleaning Planner via Clean Mama
  3. Print.  Print.  Print.  Decide what you’d like in your cleaning planner and print it out.  I used my Everyday Cleaning Planner for this (on sale and intro priced! see this post), but you may have cleaning printables that you’d like to use or you might want to use free printables to fill up your planner – here are my freebies. Print Cleaning Checklists - How to Make a Cleaning Planner via Clean Mama
  4. Punch your pages – I used a discbound notebook and a discbound punch, you can also easily use a 3 ring binder and hole punch for this project as well. Hole Punch and Assemble - How to Make a Cleaning Binder via Clean Mama
  5. Put pages in your planner and add any extras you may need – stickers, a plastic envelope, pens….Weekly Cleaning Checklists via Clean Mama
  6. Put your cleaning planner where you’ll use it and USE it!  The beauty of a cleaning planner is that you’ll be able to see what’s been cleaned, when it was cleaned, and keep on top of things a little better.  I love a tidy home, but I don’t love spending a lot of time doing the homekeeping – my system does the trick!How to Make a Cleaning Planner via Clean Mama

This post exclusively uses the Clean Mama Everyday Cleaning Planner – sold here in my Etsy shop – this planner has pre-filled AND editable/fillable pages so you can customize your own cleaning planner.  I do have other cleaning kits in my shop that you might be interested in as well – The Streamlined Life Cleaning Kit, The Classic Cleaning Kit available in aqua + lime and brights.

Everyday Cleaning Planner - Clean Mama Printables

How to Make a Cleaning Planner Infographic via Clean Mama

 

A couple helpful printable posts you might be interested in:

I used the following products to create my cleaning planner  (all products were purchased with my own money and I love them – there are no affiliate links in these links):

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Shop Update – The Everyday Line

Along with the re-branding and new look of my website, I’ve been doing some revamping in my shop.  I’ve added some kits, changed some names, simplified the product lines…. each new product is introductory priced!

First up, I want to introduce you to my newest product line – The Everyday Line (click on link to see all kits in the shop on one screen).  Last month I introduced Clean Mama’s Everyday Planner and I’ve created the perfect component to that with two new kits and a cleaning planner.  Yes, a CLEANING PLANNER!  So today I’m going to introduce you to the lovely new product line – it’s perfectly simple black and Clean Mama aqua – I think you’ll love it as much as I do!

(My printables are designed as 8 1/2 x 11 pages, but are easily resized – here are two posts:  RESIZING    2+ TO A PAGE Try it out with a free printable or two and see if your printer accommodates.)

First up, the Clean Mama EVERYDAY CLEANING PLANNER – because why not plan your cleaning, right?  This planner is full of possibilities AND has some editable/fillable components as well – hooray!

Clean Mama's Everyday Cleaning Planner via Clean Mama
CLEAN MAMA’S EVERYDAY CLEANING PLANNER includes 48 documents:

•    The Clean Mama ‘Everyday a Little Something’  Cleaning Routine – 2 page explanation (one page of daily tasks and one page of weekly tasks) to guide you through the kit and establish an amazing cleaning routine
•    Everyday Cleaning Planner COVER
•    Once-a-Week Cleaning Checklist – blank -  EDITABLE/FILLABLE so you can add your own routine
•    Once-a-Week Cleaning Checklist – pre-filled
•    Weekly Cleaning Checklist – blank – EDITABLE/FILLABLE so you can add your own routine
•    Weekly Cleaning Checklist – pre-filled
•    Quick Clean Checklist – Whole House
•    Quick Clean Checklist – Living Spaces
•    Quick Clean Checklist – Bathrooms
•    Quick Clean Checklist – Bedrooms
•    Quick Clean Checklist – Kitchen
•    Quick Clean Checklist – Kitchen Appliances
•    Rotating Cleaning Checklist – with months- pre-filled
•    Rotating Cleaning Checklist – no months – pre-filled
•    Rotating Cleaning Checklist – blank – EDITABLE/FILLABLE so you can add your own routine
•    September 2014-December 2015 Cleaning Calendar – blank – EDITABLE/FILLABLE so you can add your own routine
•    September 2014-December 2015 Cleaning Calendar – pre-filled (similar to what I give away on my blog, but now you can get the whole year at a time instead of month by month)

Come see this post on how-to make a ‘cleaning planner’ – it’s full of ideas for making your own EVERYDAY CLEANING PLANNER!

The next new kit is CLEAN MAMA EVERYDAY BUDGET + BILL PAY KIT and it includes 8 documents:

Clean Mama's Everyday Budget and Bill Pay Kit via Clean Mama

•    Everyday Budget + Bill Pay COVER
•    Bill + Payment Checklist
•    Checkbook Register
•    Debt Eliminator Tracker
•    Debt Tracker
•    Monthly Budget Worksheet (with categories)
•    Monthly Budget Worksheet (without categories)
•    Password Log

And the last all new kit is the CLEAN MAMA EVERYDAY MENU PLANNING KIT includes 14 documents:

Clean Mama's Everyday Menu Planning Kit via Clean Mama

•    Everyday Menu Planning COVER
•    Kitchen Inventory
•    Pantry Inventory
•    Refrigerator Inventory
•    Freezer Inventory
•    On the Menu Plan for the Week (Sunday start) with Shopping List
•    On the Menu Plan for the Week (Monday start) with Shopping List
•    Grocery Shopping List – 2 versions – 1 block font and 1 script font
•    Menu Plan for the Month – 2 versions – 1 Sunday start and 1 Monday start
•    Shopping List + Menu Plan
•    Recipes to Try
•    Family Favorites

I’m so excited about these printables and the fresh and simple look – perfect for that time of year when things start to get busy again and a little routine is in order, don’t you think?  Come see them in my Etsy shop, Clean Mama Printables!

Clean Mama Printables NEW Product Line - Everyday Life Line via Clean Mama

 

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5 Ways to Keep Everyone’s Clothing Organized

5 Ways to Keep Everyone's Clothing Organized via Clean Mama

This week’s organizing task is CLOTHES.  (August’s FREE cleaning and organizing calendar is here!)  If you struggle with keeping clothing organized or just want to do a little wardrobe clean-out before school starts, this week’s challenge is a great one.  Take some time this week to implement one of these ideas or all of them.  Use these tips for yourself, your spouse, and/or your kids – the tips work great for everyone and are super simple to implement today!

  1. DONATE BASKET OR BIN – Keep a small donate basket or bin in each family member’s closet – when it’s filled up bring the contents to your favorite donation spot or give to a friend or family member.
  2. PASS DOWN BIN – If you have younger children or are saving clothes for other children, keep a bin in the closet pre-labeled and ready to be put into storage.  When your child outgrows outfits put them in the bin and when the bin is filled up bring the bin to its storage spot.  This is also a great solution for maternity clothing too!
  3. HAVE LESS – Frustrated by too many choices and lots of laundry?  Pare down what you and your family members have be deciding what you really need and are actually wearing.  Go through closets and donate or toss outgrown and worn out clothing.  Once you’ve purged clothing that is obviously not worth holding onto, determine what you haven’t worn in 6 months and and donate or toss those items.  Not sure if you should keep something?  Turn the hanger around – if you or a family member doesn’t wear the clothing in a month or two, find a new home for it.
  4. GROUP CLOTHING – Clothing is easier to find when it’s grouped with like articles of clothing – long sleeved shirts together, short sleeved shirts together, pants together, etc.  Put clothing in its proper spot every time and you’ll always be able to locate that favorite article of clothing in minutes.
  5. COMPARTMENTS – Add small baskets and bins to drawers to keep socks, undies, t-shirts and other items separated and easy to find.

Adding these simple ideas to your clothing organization can keep frustrations down and clothing organized.  Have any tips to share?

 

 

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A Simplified Week : Paper

a simplified week

As part of Start Here. I post a weekly recap with a couple ideas (mostly simple and easy to implement) for the week’s focus and a few ideas from the web that I’ve enjoyed over the week. Did you grab August’s FREE cleaning and organizing calendar? Go here to grab it!

Paper:

  • Feel like you have random papers here, there and everywhere?  These 8 tips to gain control of the chaos are easy to implement. Via Clean Mama
  • Set yourself up for success in taming the paper beast when you incorporate these ideas in to your home. I especially like number four! Via Like a Saturday
  • This is one of the most comprehensive guides on how to eliminate paper clutter and organize it instead. The file categories for all your important documents and paperwork are awesome!  Via Space for Living

Something to Eat:

  • I made a double batch of these delicious Beef Enchiladas for dinner this week, one for the dinner table and one for the freezer. Got to love a double duty meal that is delicious besides. Via Damn Delicious

Something to Make:

  • It can be challenging to find extra space for storage when you have limited space. These under the bed storage units on wheels are perfect for storing a lot with minimal time and energy. Via The Idea Room

Something for the Kids:

  • As a former art teacher, I am a sucker for good quality, out-of-the-box art supplies. I am loving these ideas from The Artful Parent to help round out the typical art supplies and expose kids to some new materials.

Simplify:

  • I posted this earlier this week on Instagram (follow me @cleanmama) and love this simple reuse of what you might otherwise toss in your recycles. Did you know that standard spray nozzles fit on vinegar bottles?  Love it!  Via A Bird and a Bean

 

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3 Ways to Make Laundry Easier

3 Ways to Make Laundry Easier - Clean Mama

I’m always looking for ways to make homekeeping easier, simpler, and a little more enjoyable.  Laundry seems to be everyone’s homekeeping nemesis, so today I’m sharing a few ideas for making it easier to “take a load off”.

  1. GET OTHERS INVOLVED.
    • Much easier said than done, getting others involved is critical to making laundry easier.  Even little ones can help by pairing up socks and putting socks and undies in drawers.  As kids get older, they can put away folded clothes and then they can fold and put away their own clothes.
    • Only buy one type of sock and put them in a basket instead of pairing up and folding.  Choose a brand and stock up when they’re on sale.  If all the socks are identical (my favorite is just white sport socks) then they can be tossed in a basket or drawer without folding and sorting.
    • Use a shared closet for kids to keep folding and putting away clothes easier.  If there’s only one place to put clothes away it’ll keep it easier for folding and returning clothing.  This is a great idea for families with children close in age that might share clothing anyway and/or if closet space is at a minimum.
  2. MINIMIZE THE LAUNDRY PROCESS.
    • Wash every day clothes on cold to keep sorting and separating at a minimum.
    • Have less clothing – less clothing is less washing.   Before school starts is a great time to sort and purge extra clothing, especially for the little ones.
    • Only wash clothing when it’s dirty – a sweater, sweatshirt or jeans can most likely be worn more than once before it’s put in the wash.
  3. SPREAD IT OUT.
    • My favorite laundry tip of all time – do at least one load of laundry from start to finish, (washed, dried, folded, and put away) every single day.   I know that this might sound daunting at first, but doing a little bit every day is easier (for me) than doing all the laundry on one day.  I get easily overwhelmed and if I do all the laundry on one day it will just end up in baskets, unfolded and not put away.

Have a favorite laundry tip?  Share in the comments!

This post is sponsored OxiClean.  I am a 2014 ambassador for OxiClean™ Laundry Detergent – this is a great new laundry detergent that uses one of my favorite laundry products – OxiClean.  I’ve been using the unscented, perfume and dye-free liquid laundry detergent.  I love that I can use it to pre-treat and to wash clothes with, but if I forget to pre-treat a stain, it’s probably going to come out anyway.  It’s safe on all fabrics, whites and colors and uses the power of OxiClean to get tough, dried on stains!

OxiClean Laundry Detergent

 

Available in Fresh Scent and Perfume & Dye Free (my favorite and perfect for sensitive skin and those of us that don’t like added fragrance).  I really like that OxiClean Laundry Detergent’s stain fighting abilities are meant to help moms take a load off their day.

You can read my full disclosure statement here – rest assured, as always, I never recommend a product that I don’t use and love.

 

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8 Ways to Get a Handle on Paper Clutter

8 Ways to Get a Handle on Paper Clutter via Clean Mama

This week’s organizing task is PAPER.  (August’s FREE cleaning and organizing calendar is here!)  Paper seems to be most people’s biggest organizational struggle and it’s with good reason.  If it isn’t dealt with daily or weekly, it can get out of hand in a hurry.  I’ve covered a lot of ground in the paper department in the past, so I thought a little round-up of sorts would be a fun way to inspire you to do a little paper organizing this week.  My challenge to you would be to choose just one thing to do this week – it might be one of the topics I’ve covered and it might be something else, but SORT some paper for at least 10 minutes.

  1. Not sure what to keep and what to toss?  Try this FREE printable to get you started.
  2. Want to convert your file box or accordion file into a grown up file cabinet?  Check out this post (there’s a free printable here too!).
  3. Get a paper shredder.  And use it.
  4. Deal with your mail daily.  The ‘clutter’ task on the free cleaning and organizing calendar relates to de-cluttering every day and for me, that means a couple things, but mail is big.  I sort/toss/file mail every single day.  Here’s how I keep it off counters.
  5. Feel like you need to keep papers and lists in one place?  Try a homekeeping planner or binder – my favorite method of organizing paper.
  6. Wall calendars and planners are great ways to keep dates and appointments straight.  Using one that works for you is the only way this will work – otherwise it’ll just be more paper.
  7. For me keeping the kitchen counters clear is the number one clutter busting trick I have.  See how I do it here.
  8. Go paperless or paper-less.  I’m definitely more of a paper-LESS person – I will never go completely digital.   I love pens, paper, notebooks, planners, and all things office supply related.  I do paperless billing when I can and online banking, but I still write down all my bill paying in my homekeeping planner.  I don’t do a digital calendar or planner – I write it down on the wall calendar and in my homekeeping planner.  There’s something about the pen to paper that makes sense for me and is more conducive to how I’m wired.  Here are a couple ideas for paperless or paper-less living (I am not an affiliate for any of these, just putting the info out there:
  • Evernote – a way to digitally remember everything
  • Doxie Mobile Scanners – great for small items like receipts and checks
  • Neat – digital scanning and cloud storage
  • Want to send cards and invitations digitally?  Paperless Post is adorable and they have a free section too.
  • Digital photo storage?  I’m sure that this is another post, but I use Shutterfly and DropBox, but there are lots of options out there for slimming down the picture stacks.
  • How about pdfs and printables?  I store those on Dropbox too.  Did you know that if you have a tablet, like an iPad you can use printables paperless with an app like Notability that lets you digitally write on your pdfs and take notes with you anywhere?  If you have a Kindle or Android you can use Note Everything for similar results.

8 Ways to Get a Handle on Paper Clutter for Good via Clean Mama

What’s your best tip for keeping paper clutter away?  Share it in the comments!

 

 

 

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BrightNest : Countertop Clutter Be Gone! 7 Space-Saving Tips in the Kitchen

Countertop Clutter Be Gone - 7 Space-Saving Tips in the Kitchen - BrightNest on Clean Mama

Today I have a great guest post from BrightNest.  BrightNest is devoted to inspiring and empowering you to take great care of your home. From basic maintenance tasks to fun cleaning tricks, we deliver everything you need to shape up your home and simplify your life.brightnest_logo

Ever feel like your kitchen is an appliance war zone? When it comes to countertop real estate, it’s the toaster versus the microwave, and the canisters versus the blender. And if you’re going to have space to chop vegetables, something’s gotta go.

Before you start waving the white flag, try these seven space saving tips:

Store Measuring Cups on the Inside of Your Cabinet Door

The inside walls of your cabinets are prime real estate. If they’re being underutilized, fasten a few of these key rails inside and hang up your measuring cups and coffee mugs.

Store Pots and Pans on the Wall

Hang up a pegboard on the kitchen wall or along the inside inside of your pantry. Use the hooks for your pots, pans and utensils. Tip: Paint the pegboard to give your kitchen a pop of color.

Hang Your Knives on a Magnetic Strip

Toss out your space-hogging knife block and attach a magnetic strip on the wall with a few screws. Voila! Instant knife holder. We recommend putting it in that empty backsplash space between the counter and the cabinets.

Give Kitchen Utensils a New Home

The backs of cabinet doors aren’t the only underutilized spot on the cabinets. What’s happening with the cabinets’ sides? If the answer is “nothing,” pick up some utensil organizers for the sides of your cabinets or walls. It can even work for above the stove! This will free up a lot of prime real estate: drawer space.

Install a Basket Under Your Sink

If the space under your sink is cluttered and cramped, attach a hanging basket on the inside wall of the cabinet underneath the sink. This basket is the perfect place to store your most-used cleaning supplies and dishwasher detergent.

Use an Over-the-Sink Drying Rack

Instead of cramping the countertops with drying dishes, install an over the sink drying rack. This way, your dishes won’t drip on your countertops while they dry and you free up enough space for a cutting board.

Turn Your Fridge Into a Spice Rack

Are you spices overtaking your cabinet space? If yes, then it’s time for them to find a new home. Lacking in cabinet space? Attach magnets to your spice bottles and keep them on the fridge. Try these easy adhesive magnets. We would recommend attaching two to each spice container.

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A Simplified Week : Back to School Organization

a simplified week

As part of Start Here. I post a weekly recap with a couple ideas (mostly simple and easy to implement) for the week’s focus and a few ideas from the web that I’ve enjoyed over the week. Did you grab August’s FREE cleaning and organizing calendar? Go here to grab it!

Back to School Organization:

  • Put together a homework caddy to keep all your school supplies within reach. This is so much better than digging in every drawer and cupboard for the elusive, missing supplies! Via Clean Mama
  • Start your year out on the right foot with these 10 back-to-school organizing tips from Handmade Home. I especially love tips 4 and 6!
  • Packing lunches and snacks can be seriously stressful, especially as it always seem to be last minute. Put kids in control with picking out healthy options with this handy table from Thirty Handmade Days.  I love the variety and healthy choices.

Something to Eat:

  • Make some seriously easy, simple and crowd pleasing favorites with these Back To School Dinners from Picky Palate.  Created to cut down on your time in the kitchen while providing a filling and nutritious meal, these are a win-win!

Something to Make:

  • Whip up some outdoor pillows for your deck or patio with this simple tutorial from A Beautiful Mess. Inexpensive, easy and color coordinated!

Something for the Kids:

  • What’s not to love about sidewalk chalk? This post about designing a play date around sidewalk chalk activities is so fun, plus it keeps the mess outside! Includes recipes and activities to keep little artists creating for hours. Via Learn Play Imagine

Simplify:

  • I’ve always been a fan of make-ahead meals.  I love having the option of pulling a homemade meal out of the freezer on those busy days with little time to spend in the kitchen. These tips for saving space in your freezer makes the most of your limited freezer space. Via Andrea Dekker 

     

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Three Easy Ideas for Back to School

3 Easy Ideas for Back to School via Clean Mama

I was an art teacher for almost 10 years.  I always felt a little grumpy, and yet excited, at the beginning of August knowing that my summer was nearly over (yes, I know not everyone gets a couple months off a year but I still felt grumpy).  Now as a mom, I have that same feeling of excitement for what’s to come and that grumpy feeling.  Instead of letting the grumpy feeling get the best of me I’m focusing on a couple tangible things that I can do to get this year off to a great start.

Today I’m sharing my 3 favorite ideas and tips for back to school….perfect for any age or grade level and family dynamic.  Try one or all three – they’re guaranteed to get you moving in the right direction.

MAKE A LIST -  It’s amazing to me what a difference a list can make in the scheme of things.  Just putting pen to paper and taking your ideas out of your head and on a piece of paper is huge.  Nothing is forgotten, everything’s accounted for, you have a reference and starting point.  It’s obvious by my site and business that list making is important to me, I encourage you to try it.  One of my favorite teacher colleagues used to wear a notepad necklace – as a 22 year old, I thought that was quirky and fun, but now I get it.  I don’t do the necklace but the paper and pen and awesome list?  You bet.  Need a whole plethora of list making goodies?  Grab the Back to School Printable Bundle before it’s gone (ends 8/9/14).  I love the Back-to-School Planning Kit (pictured below and included in the Back to School Printable Bundle) from Aby at Simplify 101 – full of step by step methods for a successful start to the school year – I’m working on my errands list for next week.

Simple Back to School Tips via Clean Mama

ORGANIZE SOMETHING – Do something little or something big -  spending as little as 10 minutes to sort something out can make a big difference.  You’ll reap the benefits for longer than the time you invested into the project.  Not sure where to start?  Here are some quick back-to-school organizing project ideas:  make a homework caddy, sort through kid clothing and pack away/donate outgrown clothes (make a list of what you need), set up a back pack station, sort through shoes and pack away/donate outgrown shoes, set up a lunch making station in a cupboard or pantry (include easy to pack food items, silverware, napkins, etc.), stock the snacks for after school and sports.

Load the Caddy Up with Supplies via Clean Mama

COOK OR BAKE SOMETHING – Putting food ‘up’ is a great way to prepare for the upcoming school year.  I’ve been sharing a couple ideas on Instagram (you are following me, right?)  But making food ahead is an easy way for me to prepare for the busy-ness that’s to come.  I added a make ahead + freeze board on Pinterest and am frantically (not really) filling the freezer with breakfasts and dinners to feed us this fall.  A couple favorites are baked ziti, prep ahead proteins, and lots of muffins, oatmeal, smoothies, and breakfast burritos.

3 Easy Ideas for Back to School - Breakfast Burritos via Clean Mama

 

 

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