Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Conquering the Paper Piles

Paper piles....Do you have them? Would you like to get rid of them? I am here to help you do just that! I will admit to you that sometimes you really have to push yourself to go through a pile of papers. It isn't overly exciting...and it forces you to make some important decisions. Once you decide you are ready to get rid of those piles, let's dive in!

You can choose to start with one pile (if you have numerous ones) or bring all piles together to make one big pile that you will commit to tackling right now.

Now you start going through piece of paper at a time. This is where you will make more piles...but these piles will each have a specific purpose. You will need one pile for each of the following:

* To File
* Trash
* Shred
* Processing
* Keepsake

Each piece of paper *must* go into one of these piles. Here is a break down of the sort of things you would put in each pile: 

To File
Bill Stubs/Pay Stubs
School Papers
Important Documents
Insurance Documents
Medical Documents
Birth Certificates 

All papers not needed anymore that do not have any personal information on them.

To Shred
All papers that are over 7 years old (if they are important documents) or just not needed anymore that have personal information on them (phone numbers, names, addresses, etc.). 

These are papers that are needing to be taken care of now....bills that need to be paid, forms that need filled out and sent back in somewhere...that sort of thing.

This pile may or may not be needed. If you are going through your paper pile and come across a beloved memory item, artwork from your children or something of that sort...those sort of things would go into this pile. **Remember though: You can't save it all!

Once you have gone through your entire paper pile and put things into their proper labeled piles...then it is time to put them *away*!

To File papers should be filed away in a filing system. I have one set if you don't have a way to file your important papers, I will be sure to share mine in the neat future! For now, if you don't have a system ~ put all those papers into a folder and label it so when you are ready to file, everything will be all ready in one place.

Items that are ready to go to the trash or be shred should be done so right away (so they don't get shuffled around and have to be gone through again sometime)!

Items that are in the processing stage can be put into a labeled folder and put somewhere easily accessible, put into your daily planner, or hung up on a cork board for easy access to them.

Keepsake items are things you will treasure and should be kept in a separate tote or bin (properly labeled) wherever you have room to store it. If these keepsakes are all just can also have a file for them in your filing system (I have a filing cabinet. The top drawer hold my filing system and the bottom drawer hold my memory/keepsake papers!).

This system...if used properly...should get rid of your paper clutter. Always go through incoming mail immediately and discard junk mail. (You can use all the paper shreddings to keep the weeds down around your garden plants in the summer!).

I don't always have time to immediately file or shred something when it needs done. This is why I have the folders (located in a photo in the middle of this post). Then I know that when I have a moment, I can file all the papers in the one folder....or shred all the papers in another folder. If I just laid it all in a pile I would have to go through it all again...who has time for that?

I hope this post has been helpful to you. If it has been, I would love for you to share it with your friends! If you have any questions...please ask away and I will do my best to answer them!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Organizing with your Kitchen Island

 Kitchen islands come in all shapes, sizes and designs (like THESE ones on pinterest). If money allowed, I think I would love one like THIS or THIS. However, having enough money to truly get exactly what we *want* is often not possible. This makes it important to find something within your budget and kitchen style. Often, you can repurpose something you already have!

I found this lovely little gem a couple years back. It has been such a blessing...adding storage and extra counter space for us....

The best island you can have is one that has space to store things. If it doesn' really is just taking up space. 

This island of mine has these neat wooden boards that slide out too (although we don't use's neat that they are there in case we ever do need them for something!)...

Over time, we have used the drawers for different things. I had utensils in there at one point...but ended up moving them to a different drawer in the kitchen. Now they hold larger cooking utensils/supplies such as the veggie peeler, measuring spoons, spatulas and the like. The bottom doors open up and hold bowls, casserole dishes, glassware and more...

*Speaking of silverware: I use plastic organizing baskets for our silverware. We have two different silverware sets and a regular silverware holder/organizer just didn't hold them all and it bothered me. Now, each basket holds all it needs to...

I have also, now, utilized the outside of this island by hanging up my much-loved and oft-used cast iron skillets! (And although I don't have pictures to show it, I have a cast iron skillet hanging on each end of the island as well!)...

Making use of a good kitchen island is vital for an organized kitchen. I realize some kitchens are very small and don't have room for an island...that is when you have to be very strict about the items you allow to fill up your cupboards.

Get creative and don't let "keeping up with the Jones'" make you feel as though only an expensive, high-end kitchen island will work. Your kitchen can be organized, well-functioning and beautiful with some great old/vintage/antique items found for a fraction of the price!

Friday, September 20, 2013

Organizing Your Laundry

The never-ending cycle of laundry. The more children you have...the more dirty laundry is created. Some helpful tips I have learned over the years are:

** do at least one load of laundry every day
** keep a basket for knick-knacks and container for change on your dryer
** hanging clean laundry out on clotheslines can save you a lot of money
** pajamas can be worn more than once

You may have seen all kinds of laundry room organization on pinterest and other blogs. I have seen many laundry basket dressers where the baskets hang on side holders (like THIS). While that does has been my experience that these laundry baskets can break easily. I didn't feel they would hold up well with the weight of laundry in them.

To remedy this, my husband made me one where the baskets actually sit on shelves. I absolutely love it and have been using it for a couple years now. It has worked beautifully for us and keeps everything neatly contained between washings.

I also love making my own laundry soap. Here is the recipe for it (from my homemaking binder):

It is a wonderful, inexpensive, easy way to clean your dirty laundry! For a detailed DIY tutorial on making your own laundry soap you can go HERE.

Laundry only seems like a tiresome chore when it gets out of hand or overwhelming. When you keep up with it and keep it really isn't burdensome (getting my children to put their clean clothes away in their drawers neatly is a whole 'nother issue!)!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Homemaking: Canning

Canning used to be a most necessary way of preserving foods in most homes in years past. Sadly, it has almost become a lost art. The introduction of grocery stores with their own version of "canned" vegetables has taken over. Harvesting your own foods (or even purchasing them from a local farmer's market) and canning them at home is one of the healthiest ways to keep food for your family.

An important part of canning is keeping your jars organized with the dates written on top of the lids. You want to use the oldest jars first...and work your way to the most recently canned ones. This ensures you will not waste any of your bounty and hard work! Plus, you must admit...seeing those jars lined up perfectly with each other is a beautiful, organized site to behold!

If you don't can but would like to start (but don't know the first thing about canning and don't have someone to assist you) I highly recommend the Canning DVD from Homestead Blessings. You can see a clip from it HERE. It may take a few years....but soon, you will be canning with ease! It can be a bit time consuming but the end product is so worth it! 

I must admit...I am also a huge fan of mason jars. They have so many uses...they are perfect for storing dry food, using as decorations and vases, turning into soap dispensers and much, much more! Maybe that will be a fun future post!

Canning season is drawing to a close this year...but it is the perfect time to read up on/ learn about it so you can be prepared for next year! Canning, in my opinion, is an essential skill all homemakers should practice. Even if you aren't able to actually do least knowing *how* is a skill to be treasured and passed down to future homemakers!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Place to Begin

I am a wife, mother, homeschool teacher, housekeeper/organizer and finance-keeper of our home. I find it most enjoyable, beneficial, and profitable to keep my life as organized as possible. I keep a daily planner and have since high school. I can't imagine how anyone can keep their appointments, housework and commitments straight without writing them down (maybe everyone but me has an awesome memory!). Pictured above is my newest planner...this photo was taken soon after its purchase. Now, the days and boxes are loaded with information! I plan on doing a post on how to plan one day soon!

We are debt free (except our mortgage) and believe in staying that way. I want to help *you* get there as well. You don't have to have a lot of just have to know what to do with the money you *do* have. You probably have more belongings than you even realize, as well. One way to truly know what you have is to dig it out of those piles and get it organized. There are so many ways to reuse things you already own...thus saving you money from making purchases you don't truly need.

Organizing can fit your lifestyle as well. No matter what your decorating style...there is always a way to get things organized. One way I love to use a personal touch in my organizing is by using baskets. In my home, baskets hold towels, cloth napkins, crayons, magazines, yarn, incoming mail, dog bones, garbage and so much more! 

I am also a huge fan of binders. I love all shapes, colors and sizes! You'll soon see how I use them to organize lots of different areas of life! But more about that later...I hope you will find how keeping your home can be more simple than you ever imagined!