A Simple + Organized Makeup Drawer

A simple and organized makeup drawer sounds easier than it is. By grouping different makeup items together in a logical way it makes it easy to locate and even easier to put items away. Keeping makeup to the essentials is also helpful to keep things simple and easy.

This post is part of a new series – Take a Peek.  Every month or so, I’m going to open a door, a drawer, a cupboard, or space and giving you a peek at what’s behind it.  I love looking at details and organizing strategies online and in magazines and I thought you might looking at these spaces in my home as well.  I’m going to share sources, strategies, and what works for us in the hopes of inspiring you to tackle organizing a space in your home.  Each post will have numbers to point to details in the picture with tips and tricks to inspire you to organize a space in your home.  You’ll find all the sources linked at the very bottom of the post.  I hope you enjoy it!

 

This drawer was a catch-all for miscellaneous makeup and I didn’t really think that there were any options for organization because the drawer isn’t deep but then I found these cosmetic drawer organizers – they’re only 2 inches deep and fit perfectly.

Measure twice and make sure that everything will fit – I bought a couple different configurations and played with the arrangement until I found what worked best.  You can see that there’s a little extra room on either side of the drawer and I’m okay with that.

I ended up putting everything in these drawer organizers in my bathroom drawers so I pulled everything out of the drawers, cleaned them out, got rid of anything that I don’t use anymore, was past its prime or expired.  Then I grouped and categorized everything and lived with it for a couple weeks and moved things around some more.  This organized space is that you see below is how the drawer looks about a month after I organized it.  I love having this space organized, it makes getting ready so much easier!

In case you’re curious, here’s what’s in each of the organizers.  I’ve been switching over to safe beauty products and love the results!

 

 

  1. LIP STUFF – lip gloss, lipstick, lip balm, lip scrub
  2. EYES – mascara, concealer
  3. EYES + FOUNDATION – I like buying eye makeup sets to keep eye makeup application easy
  4. POWDER – every day powder
  5. FACE WASH, SERUMS, + MASKS – I keep items that I use often but not every day here
  6. MORE POWDER – loose and bronzer
  7. DRAWER ORGANIZERS – love these, they have changed how I organize the bathroom

There you have it – one simple and organized makeup drawer!

How I set up My DAILY Planner

 

Last week I released my brand new DAILY planner – did you hear the news (here’s the announcement)? I am so excited for this tool and thought I’d share a couple tips and tricks for how I’m using it myself with the hope that it will help you too! If you’re using a different planner, my tips can still help you get it set up 🙂  Like a video format?  I shared a video on my YouTube channel here.

Let’s get started…..

First things first, think a little bit about how you want your planner to look – this is a tool that you’ll be using for a year so it’s important to put a little thought into it first.  Do you want to use color?  Black + white?  Choose a writing implement or two and a small stack of sticky notes and/or a notepad get started.

Here are my must-have planner tools:

  • pens
  • colored pencils
  • paper clips
  • large bulldog clip
  • sticky notes
  • notepads
  • stickers
  • eraser

Start by filling out the month you’re starting with and as many other months you’d like to start with – I recommend filling in months as you need them.

The Clean Mama DAILY Planner includes 2018 and 2019 at-a-glance and holiday calendars perfect for referring to as you’re setting up the year.

Put the DAILY planner where you’ll use it.  I keep mine in my office on my desk open to the current day and then at the end of my work day I turn it to the next day.

Choose a time of day to fill it out for the day ahead.  You might want to fill it out the evening before or in the morning or maybe a little bit all day long 🙂

I start with the TOP 3 TASKS and frame my day around that.  These are the three things that I need to get done.  It might be work related, family related, or home related – these are the must-dos.

PRODUCTIVITY TIP: On days where I have a lot going on or I feel overwhelmed, or in preparation for the weekend/week ahead, I’ll do a little brain dump and write down all the things that are swirling around in my head.  Then I prioritize them and put them into the next day.  If they’re on paper and one of my TOP 3, I know I’ll get them done.

When using other planners I have always struggled with 4 things:

  • not enough space to write
  • time slots that made me feel constricted
  • feeling like the planner was lost when I didn’t keep up with the pre-printed days, weeks, and/or months
  • the prompts were irrelevant or non-existent

I set out to create a planner that was different and encourages just the right amount of productivity in a beautiful and simple way.  I love having a spot for all those little things that I think about during the day in my planner.  Money, homekeeping, menu planning, errands, health – these categories all have a spot to jot down a reminder or a whole list.

Here are a few little things I do that help me keep things organized.

  • I use a paper clip on the current day and move it as I go.
  • I use a little color coding with colored pencils to keep things together.
  • I separate work and home.  By keeping these two things separate, I find that I get more done in each category per day.
  • I keep receipts, stamps, stickers, and notes in the back pocket so they’re handy.

A Simple + Organized Linen Closet

I love opening up a closet or cupboard door and seeing an organized space.  It’s nice to look at but it is equally helpful in the efficiency of your home.  A little organization goes a long way and an organized linen closet (small, large, or somewhere in between) is a welcome door to open.  Our ‘linen closet’ is in the upstairs hallway right as you walk up the steps.  We use this space primarily for bed sheets, guest items and paper goods.  I keep other bath towels in each bathroom to simplify things.

This post is part of a brand new series – Take a Peek.  Every month or so, I’m going to open a door, a drawer, a cupboard, or space and giving you a peek at what’s behind it.  I love looking at details and organizing strategies online and in magazines and I thought you might looking at these spaces in my home as well.  I’m going to share sources, strategies, and what works for us in the hopes of inspiring you to tackle organizing a space in your home.  Each post will have numbers to point to details in the picture with tips and tricks to inspire you to organize a space in your home.  You’ll find all the sources linked at the very bottom of the post.  I hope you enjoy it!

Previously I haven’t always put everything in a basket in our linen closet but after doing so, I love the organization and function this adds to our linen closet.  I started by emptying out the space and cleaning it and then I decided on 5 categories to separate everything into.  I made these chalkboard labels and tied them on to the baskets.

Then I put everything back in their ‘correct’ baskets and on the shelves.  And there you have it, a simple + organized linen closet.  Here are the details…..

  1. GUESTS: I keep two sets of bath towels, hand towels, wash cloths, and a bath mat in this basket.  Our guest rooms are in the rooms to the left (in our daughter’s room) and the room to the right (our kids’ lounge room has a pull-out sofa).  When guests arrive I pull out this stack of towels and put it out for them to use.  This ensures that I always have two sets of towels clean, folded, and ready for their use.
  2. QUEEN:  Two sets of queen sheets are kept in this basket.  We only use fitted sheets so I fold those neatly and place one pillow case in the fitted sheet and then put that inside the other pillow case.  This keeps the sheet set neat and in a nice little package.  Extra pillowcases go on the right hand side of the sheets.
  3. KING: One set of king sheets are kept in this basket.  The fitted sheet goes in the pillowcase and extra pillow cases go on the right hand side of the sheets.  I prefer to use white sheets (and towels) for their crisp, clean look.  (Pictured is a gray/blue sheet set that I bought to contrast our white duvet cover.  I always purchase 100% cotton and 300-400 thread count – the lower thread count gives you that crisp looking and cool feeling sheet.
  4. PAPER:  Toilet paper and tissue boxes go in this basket.  Keeping this basket stocked keeps us from running to the garage for more toilet paper (I have a stockpile in there).
  5. PILLOWS:  Four extra pillows fit neatly in this basket for guests.  I like having them handy and at the ready for company.
  6. TAGS: I used chalkboard tags and a wet-erase chalkboard marker for the letters.  I used all capital letters for the consonants and lower case letters for the vowels. I spaced them out by putting the middle letter in the middle of the tag and then putting the other letters equally spaced on each side.

There you have it – one simple and organized linen closet!  Looking for the sources?   You can find them below.

Quick Tip : Use a Lazy Susan to Cut Clutter

The Lazy Susan is quite possibly my favorite organizing and decluttering tool.  With so many options on the market, you can use a lazy Susan in just about every cabinet, cupboard, and surface.  It cuts clutter by containing your supplies in one place and keeping them intact.  You can also get more items in a smaller space, helping to create clutter-free storage.  Check out some of the ways I use Lazy Susans – you’ll find all my favorites linked at the bottom of the post!

The first lazy Susan isn’t necessarily a lazy Susan itself BUT it will make your kitchen corner lazy Susan into a rockstar.  You can get these acrylic containers in different sizes – I use it for food storage lids.

Under the kitchen sink can turn into a black hole but with a lazy Susan you can put your cleaning supplies on it and access them with a quick turn.  I love this solution here!

I keep two lazy Susans in our pantry – one for baking supplies like specialty flours, chocolate bars, sweeteners, corn starch, baking powder, etc.  Separating these supplies out keeps things neat and tidy and uncluttered.

On the same shelf of the pantry I keep the cooking supplies like oils, vinegars, and sauces.  Easy to access and any drips stay on the lazy Susan and off my shelves.

I also keep lazy Susans in the spice cabinet – this is where I keep more baking supplies that are used regularly.  The smaller turntable stores baking powder and soda, cream of tartar, and other baking goods.

The larger turntable holds baking spices and extracts and muffin liners.  I keep these separate from the cooking spices shown below on the tiered organizers.

And of course you can use lazy Susans other places throughout your home to combat clutter – here’s one that I have in my bathroom cupboard.  It’s divided and keeps my hair care supplies neat and tidy.

How about you?  Do you love the lazy Susan too?  Where do you use them?  What’s your favorite use for them?

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Screen Time Detox : Take Back Your Life One Step at a Time

If you’ve ever been on your phone or computer, scrolled through social media, clicked on a post or link and an hour later wondered what happened and why you didn’t get anything done, you’re going to love this post.

Everyone gets distracted and mindlessly strays from the tasks at hand, but there are times when you’d rather not go down that rabbit hole, so to speak.  When I’m working, doing home tasks, and/or spending time with the family and friends, I don’t want to get distracted. I want to enjoy every bit of my REAL life and I don’t want to be distracted by my screen life.  If I’m working, I want to be productive and efficient.

As great as I think the Internet is, I don’t love how easy it is to get lost in an app or social media feed.  I don’t want my kids to ever have to compete with someone I don’t know for my attention and I don’t like losing track of time due to mindless scrolling.

If you need a couple tips for staying focused on the task at hand and be the best you can be at the time, try out these tips for limiting your screen time.  By limiting your screen time, you’ll be organizing your time, and ultimately you’ll be more efficient and productive.  That’s a win all around!

Use this as a detox session for limiting your screen time:

Keep your to-do list on paper.  I find that keeping as much as I possibly can on paper is really helpful.  I don’t have to check my phone to see what I need to do for the day.  Just the simple signal of a paper to-do list is helpful to keep me on track throughout the day.

Keep your calendar on paper.  I know that the Cozi app, iCal or Google Calendar are super helpful for many families – I’m not suggesting going away from that, but if you find that checking your phone is a problem, you might find that a planner or paper wall calendar are better options.  We have a large wall calendar by the family phone (landline phone) – I love having this seemingly old-fashioned set up.

Product suggestion:  I have oodles of paper planning products in Clean Mama Home – check them out here!

Turn off phone notifications.  I only have notifications on email, text, and phone calls on my cell phone.  Keeping any other notifications OFF eliminates any unnecessary scrolling and distractions.

Set aside specific time for checking email.  I find that starting the day off with checking email is reactive instead of proactive.  I get up, start the coffee, unload the dishwasher, and head to the gym.  If I start the morning off with answering emails I have those emails on my mind and am instantly reacting to them instead of taking care of them at a specific set time.  Try blocking out time for emailing and stick to it.  You’ll focus on that task and surprise yourself with how much time you save in the long run if you aren’t repetitively checking email on and off all day long.

Limit your apps.  The only social media app that I have on my iPhone is Instagram – because you kind of have to have that on a phone for it to work 😉  I don’t have any FB or messenger, Twitter, etc. on my phone.  I only use my laptop for social media and I find that that distinction helps me limit my time on social media (I also have an assistant that helps me out too).

Stop checking your phone.  Keep the phone in a charging station when you aren’t using it.  Lock it up in the glovebox or in your purse while you’re in your car.  We still have a landline so if I am using my phone it’s more for business, taking pics, texting, and Instagram.  If you want to surf the web, set a specific time during the day just for that and set a timer if you have to.

Set a timer.  Use a timer on your stove, clock, phone and set it for your specific task.  Ten to fifteen minute increments is a great place to start.  Set the timer – focus on the task at hand until the timer goes off.  Repeat the process as needed and until the task is completed.  While working at home I set a timer for about 60 minutes for a focused work task and then I get up and do something home-related.  It might be switching out laundry, prepping dinner, or taking a break.

Figure out what works for you and use it to limit your screen time or detox it all together.  I think you’ll find that you’re much more productive by NOT multi-tasking your distractions.

Simple Systems that Will Keep Your Home Clean + Organized

Small systems can work together for a big payoff in a household.  Implement one or two and you’re on your way to a clean home.  Gradually put all of these in place and you’ll soon find that these little systems are working together to help you keep your home clean and organized with very little effort.

New here?  You’ll find that some of these tasks are on my daily cleaning checklist included in my free monthly calendar here.

whole house

create zones – Think of your home like a series of little organized zones – each of these zones work together to keep you organized and efficient.  Zones can be anywhere and everywhere in your home.  If there are items that you routinely use together, put them in a container, bin, basket, or dish so you can easily access them AND so they have a home.

corral like items together in a bin or basket – This is most likely my favorite organizing trick.  Group like with like – it makes it easy to find and if you put them in a nice basket, even boxes of cereal can look cute!

plan ahead – Set aside time ahead on Sunday night to sketch out the plan for the week.  If this doesn’t work for you, just take 2-3 minutes each evening to glance at the calendar and make sure you know what’s on the docket for the next day.  No one likes surprises like a dental appointment that you forgot about! (Clean Mama Home lists + paper products can be found here – 2018/2019 planners will be available mid-August!)

use an ‘on your way up’ basket – Sick of stuff getting stashed on the steps to go up later?  Put a basket on the steps and make sure it gets emptied and put away daily.  For some reason the basket is more obvious and a better reminder then a pile of stuff. Eventually you should be able to repurpose the basket as people start putting things away after they use them, but you might like this and just keep it!

deal with clutter daily – Figure out a system to deal with clutter on a daily basis.  Mail, papers from school, toys, clothes….whether it’s a 10 minute pick up at night or a couple clutter eliminating times during the day, make it happen consistently.

entryway

shoes off at the door – I’m sure that there are people that disagree with me, but keeping shoes at the door WILL keep your floors cleaner, thus giving you less work and bringing less dirt and germs into your home.

have a place for shoes – Make sure you have a designated place for shoes.  It’s annoying to be tripping over a pile of shoes at the door.  Ask me how I know 😉  Whether it’s a shelf, a basket, or a closet, just find a place for the shoes.  We have a mudroom with a shoe basket for each child and we still need a daily reminder to put the shoes in the baskets.  Someday it’ll sink in!

linens

fold towels a certain way – This is a silly little thing, but if you like a neat and tidy linen closet or cupboard, fold your towels the same way.  I like to fold them in thirds the long way and then in thirds again.  The method isn’t as important as consistency is – decide on a method and stick with it. Your closet will be organized without any additional effort.

place your sheet sets in pillow cases – Stop worrying about the perfectly folded fitted sheet!  Fold them up as neatly as you can and then slide them into the matching pillowcase.  Fold the extra fabric over and you have a neat sheet set ready to be stacked away.

kitchen

clean the kitchen up after dinner –  Take the time each and every night to clean up the kitchen after dinner.  Load up the dishwasher, clear the counters, wipe down the table and counters and give your sink a little scrub.  Five to ten minutes nightly pay off many times over each and every day.

unload the dishwasher in the morning before breakfast – I use the 3 minutes (it seems longer) that the coffee is brewing to unload the dishwasher and our kids take turns unloading it too.  What is it about this task that is so annoying?  Make it a system and you’ll find that the rest of your kitchen starts to run more efficiently.  No piles of dishes on the counters because they have an empty (and clean) dishwasher to go to.

store dishes and silverware by the dishwasher – Stop what you’re doing and think about WHERE your dishes are in the kitchen. Are they right by the dishwasher and/or sink?  If they aren’t, move them there today!  This system alone is a game changer.

bedrooms

stop wasting time folding socks – Store socks in a basket or bin in a drawer or on a shelf and buy the same sock to keep it even easier – just toss them all in the basket and grab two and you’re all set!

make your bed every morning – Get in the habit of pulling that comforter up and putting the pillows back every.single.day.  Time yourself – it probably takes you less than a minute!

keep items to donate in a basket – Be ready to part with stuff and have a designated place for it to go.  Keep a basket in your closet for outgrown or unwanted items.  I keep a labeled bin in each of the kids’ closets for their outgrown clothing.  Once the bin is full it either goes in the basement for the next kid or goes to a cousin as a hand-me-down bin.

Have a favorite system to share? Tell us about it in the comments!

Organized Herb + Spice Cabinet

I reorganized the herbs and spice cabinet a couple years ago but recently did a sort and toss of any old herbs and spices, cleaned it out, and thought you might like to see it for a little inspiration.  Looking for the products I used?  Everything’s linked up below the post where it says ‘shop the post’.

Here’s how I tackled this space to completely clean and organize it.

Quick clean and toss:

  • Remove everything – place everything on a counter or table while you are sorting and organizing.
  • Check expiration dates and/or give them the smell test – if they don’t smell like the spice they are, they are probably too old. The general rule of thumb is about a year for herbs and spices. Some spices and spice blends may last 1-3 years – spices don’t spoil, but they lose their potency, if they have a nice strong aroma, chances are they are still good.
  • Wipe down the shelves and dry thoroughly.  I like to use a microfiber cloth for wiping down cupboards and shelves.

I find it helpful to keep olive oil, salt, pepper, garlic, and garlic salt out on the counter as you can see below.  This makes it easier come prep time so I don’t need to look for anything.

QUICK TIP: Keep your spices to a minimum to avoid too many spices that never get used. I like to keep the blends to a minimum too just to keep things simple.

Sort and arrange:

This step really depends on the amount of space you have and how much you have to store.  I keep my herbs on on shelf with little risers to elevate them up a bit and all my baking goods go on another shelf with turntables for easy access.  You can easily do one or the other or do both like I did.  Another idea would be to use small plastic bins with handles and pull the whole thing out when you’re needing the herbs or spices.

Sort by baking and cooking, alphabetize (if you want to) and put away.

I use canning jars for storing everything from baking soda to cupcake liners.

So tell me?  Does your spice cabinet need a little revamp?   What’s your plan to make your herb and spice cabinet work for you?

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Want to see more of my kitchen? Come see my simple + efficient kitchen tour.

20 Organizing Products You’ll Actually Use

Organizing is different for everyone.  You might be a contain and label everything person, you might be a contain and label somethings person, and maybe you just prefer to use the shelves and drawers in your home and stack and stash accordingly.

I’m somewhere in between BUT I’ve found that there are a handful of organizing products that actually make our lives a little easier. Stuff stays where it’s supposed, things get put back and put away, and chaos doesn’t ensue.

I have oodles of organizing quick tips and tricks in my new book SIMPLY CLEAN that I know you’ll love – pre-order it if you haven’t!

Today I’m going to share a handful of organizing products that ARE worth the expense, have stood the test of time, and the ultimate test, a busy family. Just the good stuff folks – I strive to share just the good stuff with you all the time, but these products are just so great that I had to round them up for you! If I have a related blog post where I talked about a system or tool, I’ve also added that link so you can go there for more information. I’ve linked up almost every product at the bottom of the post – if you’re looking for something, check there first!

Bathrooms

I love using a tray for placing makeup and tools on in the bathroom – when I go to wipe down the counter I simply put the tray on the floor and spray and wipe the counter off. Bonus points, I keep makeup in that little basket and brushes and tools in the cups.

If you struggle to keep products contained under the bathroom sink, get a divided lazy Susan – you can compartmentalize your products and it keeps them organized in a smaller space. I keep lotions and deodorant in a basket on a little shelf. This keeps any extras out of the way but still accessible.

One of my favorite organizing projects of all time was when I put all of our master bedroom closet ‘stuff’ in bins and labeled them. So simple, but still well over a year later, it still looks like this. Go here for the how-to.

I use these clear acrylic divided drawer organizers in every bathroom drawer – measure your drawers and find ones that work – they are amazing tools!

I love this hack – I keep a stash of cheap (linked below) washcloths in a wire basket on the side of my sink for washing my face at night. It’s a little luxury that I enjoy.

I can’t talk about bathrooms without talking about a bathroom cleaning caddy – the BEST tool for keeping bathrooms clean most of the time. Put together your favorite bathroom cleaning supplies and keep it handy for quick clean-ups and weekly cleaning. You can find all of these products in my Clean Mama Home shop (except for the scrubber which may be coming soon 😉

Closets

Everyone’s closet has a donate basket – if something no longer fits or has seen better days, it goes in the basket and once the basket is filled up it goes to our favorite donation place or relative. This is the basket in a corner of our master closet – this is a great system!

A couple years ago we re-did our master bedroom closet and had built-ins installed – I added these laundry baskets for my husband’s socks – one basket is for white socks and the other is for dress socks. No folding, just throw them in the basket while doing laundry.  (He has a lot of socks!)

If you don’t use a hamper system for doing laundry, you might find it really helpful for cutting down on your laundry time.  This was a must for our closet (I love it!) but you can easily just use a laundry hamper with the same results. My husband’s hamper is on the left, towels are in the middle, and my laundry is on the right. When it’s time to wash the clothes I just separate them out by whites and darks and that’s it! I do wash our clothes separately about once a week and towels get washed on their own.

Kitchen

This fall we had shelves installed in our pantry and it was a game changer for organization – I love them! My favorite organizing systems in this space are the clear acrylic bins for storage – easy access for the kids and the mason jars for dry goods. I also keep shopping bags in the basket below the bottom shelf.

I use glass jars all over the house for storage and decoration but my favorite use is to store bar mop cloths in them on the counter. This helps cut down on paper towel usage and it looks cute too! I also keep a vintage Ball jar on the counter with dishwasher pods.

I love keeping dish soap, hand soap, and granite cleaning spray (get my recipe here) in a small casserole dish. So cute and all I have to do to wipe down the counters is move the dish. Easy peasy.

Paperwork and Office

I love this little caddy for keeping paperwork and daily things organized – go to the post all about 3 things every command center needs here.

I have a HUGE filing cabinet – in the top I keep our personal and business files and in the bottom I have it divided into 3 for the kids stuff. We put memorabilia, school stuff, and other things we want to keep in the filing cabinet. Keeping files cute, labeled, and organized makes it slightly more enjoyable. Here’s an oldie but goodie post all about paper clutter if you’re interested!

Kids and Toys

Milk crates – they’re the perfect size for kids toys – I like using open baskets so there’s no guessing about what’s inside.

We use felt hangers for everyone’s clothes – I get them on sale at Homegoods – they keep clothing in one place (no slipping), and I love that they take up less space and give a closet a more put together look. This is my daughter’s closet – you can see she has milk crates above her clothes for storage.

Enough with the milk crates, but if you have young kids and struggle with the constant cleaning up all.the.time, try using an on your way up basket and putting those loose items in the basket.  When the kids go upstairs, they take the basket and put away the stuff.  Everyone wins!

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Sink Side Organization

simple-sink-side-organization-clean-mama

I love an organized sink!  Having a little sink side system and organization in place will help you  keep your sink neat and tidy.  Need a little inspiration for your sink?  I’ve put together a handful of sink organizing ideas – grab an idea and get started!

First of all, you need a couple items to get your sink organized.  Here are a couple ideas:

  1. Start with a tray – this will keep drips and water off your counter and it helps to contain your items to keep them organized.  Bonus: it looks cute!
    pictured are a plate from Target, a Fiesta bread tray, a small casserole from Crate&Barrel, and a small wood cutting board from Macy’s.trays-clean-mama
  2. container to hold scrubber and/or sponge – if you do a little or a lot of dish washing, you need some type of scrubber or sponge.  Save space by using vertical storage, choose wisely and make sure that whatever you use allows it air-dry between uses. Pictured are a narrow mason jar, a couple vintage creamers, and a vintage planter – I bet you have something  already.containers-clean-mama
  3. scrubber and/or sponge – every sink needs a scrubber – the type of dish washing you do will determine the scrubber you need.
    pictured are a bubble up, a glass cleaner (I use this for washing out the coffee pot), and a dish scrubberscrub-brushes-clean-mama
  4. hand soap, dish soap, counter spray – these 3 things are why you need a little sink side organization.  Use products that you love – I like having the scent coordinated and I enjoy using seasonal scents to bring a little festivity into the the kitchen.
    pictured are my granite cleaner and spray bottle, Caldrea Pear Blossom Agave and Mrs. Meyer’s holiday collection
  5. soap-and-spray-clean-mama

Once you have your sink side components it’s time to organize them.  Put them next to your sink and arrange them in a way that makes sense for you and your needs.  Add a kitchen towel and you’re all set! Don’t you just love a simple organization ‘project’?

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Do a little revamp of your sink or ‘doll’ it up for the holidays – either way, washing dishes will be a little easier on the eyes and your sink will stay organized a little longer!

sink-side-organization-clean-mama

Organizing A Simple Pantry

organizing-a-simple-pantry-tips-products-and-solutions-clean-mama

Sometimes the littlest changes can bring the biggest results.  Switching out wire shelving with wood shelves was a game-changer for our pantry.  I always look for simple systems and ease of use when planning out a new system and the pantry was no different. One of the biggest frustrations for me in our kitchen were the shelves in the pantry.  The wire shelving wasn’t stable enough to hold glass storage containers and it wasn’t functioning the way I hoped.  I know it’s a little detail and the shelves were fine, but by adding something like stable shelving, it completely changed how I could organizing the space.  The concept is simple – add wood shelves (we hired this out), new storage solutions, more space, and an additional shelf.  Want to take a peek?

Here’s the before:

Keep Food Storage Easy - Create Different Zones via Clean Mama

The during – everything was removed, holes were filled, and the space was painted.

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Once the shelves were in I used Post-It notes to plan the space:

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Then I lined the shelves with plastic shelf liner (non-stick) to protect the surface of the shelves:shelf-detail-clean-mama

Next was the fun part – filling the space.  I used 4 basic organizing items in the pantry – acrylic bins, glass mason jars (this post has a couple sources and details), acrylic turntables, and acrylic tiered storage.  I chose all clear storage because I like being able to see everything at a glance and I find that it’s easier for the kids to grab their own snacks and gather supplies and food for their lunches.

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Once I had the space planned out I filled jars and bins and placed everything into the pantry.  Then I arranged and re-arranged and lived with it for a couple weeks, tweaking it a bit for out needs.  And here’s where it’s at today – I’m sure it’ll be tweaked a bit but as of right now we’re loving it.  I added labels to the picture so you can see what’s where – the shelves aren’t actually labeled 🙂

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One of the reasons I wanted to add wood shelves was so we could add turntables for baking and cooking supplies – I love this feature.  Not only does it make it easy to access, it frees up so much space.  I also love the tiered storage for canned goods.  I could put the canned goods on the second to the top shelf and still be able to see everything.  (The crock holds potatoes and/or squash and the basket holds grocery bags.)

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I separated the baking and cooking supplies on the middle shelf – this is also where I put the majority of the glass storage. I like having all the cooking and baking supplies grouped together.

Here are a couple more views:

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See that narrow shelf at the very top?  I keep bags of flour and ‘overstock’ of vitamins and Halloween candy up there 🙂

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So that’s the pantry redo – 6 shelves and the whole pantry gets a new life.

I labeled the glass storage jars (and I love how this functions) – check out this post for all the details and sources.

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There are affiliate links in this post – go here to see my full disclosure policy.

How to Label Jars for Pantry Storage

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Last week we overhauled our pantry – new shelves, fresh paint, and a whole new look.  I was going to do one big blog post on the whole process but when I posted this picture on Instagram I had so many questions on what I chose for my dry storage, that I decided to do a quick post on how I set it all up.  Go here for a full ‘tour’ of the pantry, but here’s a quick tutorial of what I did for the dry storage.  The best part?  Each jar is about $1 WITH the lid!  Chic and affordable pantry storage is my jam.

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After searching high and low for jars that didn’t have any logos or designs on them, I FINALLY came across mason jars at my local Wal-Mart.  Unfortunately they didn’t have the quart sized jar so I ended up purchasing them from Anchor-Hocking directly.  (Keep reading for links – I’ll link everything up at the end of the post.)

Once I found the right jar, I wanted a lid that didn’t have a ring or a rubber seal.  A two or three piece lid is a little too cumbersome for storage (for me) and I like the ease of a one-piece plastic lid.  Some other jars that I considered had a metal lid with a paper liner – like a cracker jar – that would work, but I really like a 100% dishwasher-able storage option.

Here’s my step-by-step process:

Buy jars

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Wash jars (I ran them through the dishwasher) and allow to thoroughly dry

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Use an oil-based marker to label jar – if you want a consistent look, make a template or use a ruler to keep the ‘label’ at the same spot on each jar.

QUICK TIP:  Use lemon essential oil to remove the marker if needed.  Just a drop on the surface will quickly remove the paint.

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Decide how you’ll label your jars – all caps, lower case letters – think it through and pre-write it out if necessary.  (This might sound tedious, but if you are taking the time to hand-label the jars, you will probably be annoyed if you don’t love the way it turns out.)

I wrote what was in the jar on the front

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Then I wrote cooking instructions and an expiration date (if needed) on the back

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Decant dry goods and apply the lid – if you have a powdery ingredient to transfer, make a funnel with parchment or waxed paper to make sure everything makes it into the jar

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Continue the process until you have your jars completed

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Arrange the jars on your shelf

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Sources:

Glass Jars – use any glass jar – I love the Anchor Hocking Mason Jars for this project.  They’re a slightly different shape and there isn’t any branding or designs on the sides, making it perfect for dry storage like this.  I bought some jars at Wal-Mart and some online at Anchor Hocking.  I also found them online at Farm & Fleet if you have one near you. (The jars through Anchor Hocking DID NOT have lids and the ones at Wal-Mart have a gold 2-piece lid.)

Lids – I always have these lids on hand for just about any food storage (I use mason jars for just about everything).  These Ball canning lids are my favorite because they seal extremely well, can be placed in the freezer, and are top rack dishwasher safe.

Marker – An oil-based paint marker is the most semi-permanent marker you can use for this project.  Choose a color or black or white – match it up with your kitchen or pantry.  I chose the white medium tip because it looks clean and it shows up the best with a variety of colored contents.

Psst….if you’re looking for healthier alternatives for your pantry, I love Thrive Market – most of the ingredients in my dry storage containers came from Thrive.  Check it out!

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What’s on My Book Stack : 13 Homekeeping Books to Inspire Organization

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Fall is the perfect time of year to do a little cleaning, decluttering, and getting ready for the ‘long winter’.  I find that I’m always a little more motivated once fall hits – maybe you are too?  The books I’m sharing today are ones some of my favorites and have a little something for everyone.  I’m breaking them down a bit so you can see if a book will fit your personality and needs.

Feel like getting cozy?  These 3 books have fun projects to boot, perfect for fall

Pretty Prudent Home: Your Ultimate Guide to Creating a Beautiful Family Home

The Year of Cozy: 125 Recipes, Crafts, and Other Homemade Adventures

The Hands-On Home: A Seasonal Guide to Cooking, Preserving & Natural Homekeeping

If you clean and organize a little differently or feel like you’re not a ‘naturally’ organized person

Listful Thinking: Using Lists to Be More Productive, Successful and Less Stressed

What’s a Disorganized Person to Do?

Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD : Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized

New Order: A Decluttering Handbook for Creative Folks (and Everyone Else)

Simple Household Wisdom: 425 Easy Ways to Clean & Organize Your Home

If you feel uninspired or discontent with where you are and are struggling with starting the process

Make Room for What You Love: Your Essential Guide to Organizing and Simplifying

The Perfectly Imperfect Home: How to Decorate and Live Well  

Love the House You’re In: 40 Ways to Improve Your Home and Change Your Life

Habitat: The Field Guide to Decorating

And my book – perfect for cleaning up after you’ve done some decluttering and organizing!

The Organically Clean Home: 150 Everyday Organic Cleaning Products You Can Make Yourself–The Natural, Chemical-Free Way

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Have a favorite to share?  Tell us about it in the comments!

Love homekeeping books?  My new book, SIMPLY CLEAN came out in March 2017 – it will definitely be a favorite homekeeping book!

There are affiliate links in this post – go here to see my full disclosure policy.

Simplify Homework : Put Supplies in a Caddy

Simplify + Organize Homework - Put Supplies in a Caddy - Clean Mama

One of my favorite kids’ organizing projects ever has been our homework caddy.  It’s a take on the caddies I had at each of my student tables when I was an art teacher.  I loved having everything accessible for my students – it kept them at their spots and engaged in the activities at hand.  Using this same idea, I put together this little caddy with my oldest kiddos a few years ago and every year right around school supply time we assess it, refill it, and get it ready for the next school year.  I posted about it 2 years ago – you can see that post here.

The great thing about a homework or crafting caddy is that it can work for kids of all ages – toddler-high school and beyond that if you are an adult that likes to craft, it can work for you too.  Think of what your kids use daily for crafting and homework and gather those things into one place.  I use a divided cutlery caddy – you can use a bin, a box, a basket, or any other type of container you can think of.  I added mason jars so the kids can grab just one thing from the caddy at a time.  We put the caddy on the middle of the kitchen table for homework time and one kid will grab the markers and the other will grab colored pencils and another will grab a pencil.  For some reason that one step of extra containment works better for keeping it neat and tidy, easy to clean up and put away.  If you don’t want to use glass, use plastic cups for the same idea.

Gather your supplies:

  • caddy/box/basket/bin
  • jars to hold the supplies
  • markers, pens, pencils, crayons
  • rulers, scissors, glue, sticky notes

Homework Caddy - Supplies - Clean Mama

Put your caddy together:

While you’re picking up all the school supplies your kiddos need for the school year, pick up a couple extra boxes of pencils and markers and make a little homework caddy.  I’ve found that keeping homework supplies in a caddy makes  homework time a little easier to start and finish.  My kids come home from school, have a snack, and start in on the homework.  We try to get everything done right away while we’re already at the kitchen table and having a tote-able homework caddy helps us stay organized and efficient.  This year I tweaked the caddy and system and thought you might want to see what I put together.

Caddy - Clean Mama

Then I just loaded it up with the supplies that my kids seem to use on a nightly or weekly basis for homework and crafting – markers, pencils, erasers, glue, Post-Its, and scissors.  I don’t think we’re ready for back to school quite yet, but at least we have our homework caddy ready!

Homework Caddy - Clean Mama

Fall Organizing Mini Challenge

I’m challenging myself (and you!) to a little fall/back to school organization this next week!  Follow along on Instagram for each daily challenge.  Every fall I tackle a couple areas that need to get whipped into shape and this year I’m making it public 🙂  I’ll be showing you my completed challenge in our home ‘live’ as it’s completed each day and sharing a couple posts throughout the week as well.

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The premise is that with about 15 minutes each day, we can put a couple simple systems in place that will carry us through the busy months ahead.  Most of these topics I’ve talked about on the blog before and they’re systems that WORK! I’m linking up some posts here that will be helpful if you’d like to check out what I’ve said before on the topic.  I’ll be posting all of my live progress on Instagram so follow along or peek over there each day.  If you don’t have kids heading back to school, the ideas are still applicable, just adjust it to fit your needs.  For instance, instead of putting together a homework caddy or area, organize your desk or get your planner ready.  Instead of working on kids clothes you can do a little purge of your own clothes.  I’ll be doing more of these mini challenges – I hope you enjoy it!

Make sure you sign up for my posts too!

Ready for a mini challenge?  Here are the tasks for each day:

MONDAY – Homework caddy

A Simple Homework Caddy via Clean Mama

TUESDAY – Snack and Lunch Prep

How to Organize Snacks + Lunches via Clean Mama

WEDNESDAY – Kids’ Clothes

How to Organize and Maintain Kids Closets via Clean Mama

THURSDAY – Command Center

3 Things Every Command Center Needs - Clean Mama

FRIDAY – Clean/Organize the Refrigerator

The Best Way to Clean and Organize Your Refrigerator via Clean Mama

Mud Room Tour

Easy to Clean Mud Room - Clean Mama

I’m slowly making it through my home tour this year and today I’m sharing the mud room with you.  It’s a simple space but it definitely gets a daily workout.  In the original home plans it’s supposed to have a closet laundry room but the original owners moved the laundry room upstairs (thank you to them!).  The mudroom is the first room you enter if you are coming in from the garage and while I would love custom built-ins and cubbies for the kids, it’s completely functional and easy to keep clean and neat.  Here’s a little peek:

Mud Room Entry - Clean Mama

We removed the original linoleum and had tile put in a couple years ago.  I love the look and how easy it is to clean.  I vacuum it weekly on Wednesdays and wash it on Thursdays.  (See my cleaning routine here.)

The paint color is what’s in the majority of the house – Benjamin Moore’s Revere Pewter – it’s my favorite neutral.

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I love the cast-iron rack for coats and such – we only keep one or two coats per person here and store the extras in our entryway coat closet.

Mud Room Bench + Hooks - Clean Mama

The bench is from Pottery Barn too – it’s done really well for 7 years – I just replaced the cushion this month for the first time.  The baskets are from Target.  Each kiddo has their own basket for shoes and they are in charge of putting their own shoes away.  They just toss the shoes in the baskets and tuck the basket back in the slot.

Mud Room Bench - Clean Mama

The closet is my cleaning closet and holds all those goodies – you can see that part of the home tour here.

Mud Room Closet - Clean Mama

I love having a big basket for backpacks – the kids just put them in here at the end of the school day and they’re ready to grab on the way out the door – simple and decorative.

Back Wall - Mud Room - Clean Mama

There’s an utility sink in the mud room that definitely comes in handy and I keep our cordless vacuum at the ready as well – it’s great for grabbing to quickly vacuum up crumbs, dirt, grass, whatever gets tracked in.

A couple musts for an easy to clean mud room?

  • shoe storage
  • coat rack
  • rug for wiping feet
  • easy to clean floor
  • storage for backpacks if you have kids

Here are some posts in this series that you might like – just click on the pictures to head to the post:

CLEANING CLOSET

LAUNDRY ROOM TOUR - Clean Mama

A Whole House Color Scheme - Clean Mama

How to Decorate So Cleaning Is Easy - Tips, Tricks, and Methods that Work - Clean Mama

Overwhelmed? Find success in your homekeeping with my latest book, Simply Clean! Dismiss