Pantry Organization – Rice Storage

The rice that I purchase comes in these cute little plastic containers.  I love the look.  The problem is that I buy different kinds of rice so I stack the containers and they end up falling out of the pantry.  I keep the rice in the highest cabinet in my kitchen and I need the items up there to be sturdy so that I can grab them with no problem.  I am 5’3″ on a really perfect and sunny day.  As a solution to my problem, I decided to move the rice into these “Lock-and-Lock” containers that I had purchased years ago and was no longer using.

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I can make white rice without a recipe but brown rice for example has a different recipe to follow.  Have you noticed that based on the brand of brown rice they will give you different cooking times?  I usually use the same brand and I printed these small labels (that I made on Microsoft Word) and typed the suggested recipe.  I placed it on the outside of the container using double stick tape.  If you have the patience you can laminate the label before sticking it on the container and that will make it water-resistant.  I love and admire patient people.  I really do.

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I did the same for quinoa.  I could do a whole post on how much I love quinoa.

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I used the rest of the matching containers to put arborio rice, cracker meal and polenta.  As you can see on the very side of the cabinet there is a label that says “oatmeal”.  I did that to remind myself that there is a large container of oatmeal behind the rice.  Only do this for items that don’t get used weekly.  They can be stored in the very back of these deep cabinets and the label will remind you that it’s there.  Otherwise, you will buy an item that you already have and you end up with enough granola to feed the church!

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That’s it!  Another quick, easy project to make your life easier!  You like?

Happy Organizing!

Maria 

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Kitchen: Refrigerator Organization

Give them food and they will come…the fridge.  Everyone congregates in the kitchen and everyone is always checking out what there is to eat in the refrigerator.  With all the hands coming in and out of the refrigerator it is bound to get messy fast.  There are ways that I have discovered to minimize the mess.  Here I will share with you how I organize the refrigerator in my home.  These systems work for me and maybe they can work for you too.

The fridge.  We have had this refrigerator for about 5 years now.  When it is clean it is perfection.  When it’s not….its gross.  I have to clean it everyday to keep it looking like this.  It’s part of my night routine to give it a little wipe down before I sit down to watch some TV with the boys.  Considering that I have a toddler that is always putting his little sticky hands on the freezer drawer, it doesn’t stay clean for very long.  I must admit it is kind of cute when I see his little hand print there at the end of the day.  When I see my 40-year-old husbands hand print it isn’t quite as cute :-) .

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Here it is on the inside:

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It’s ready for its close-up!

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The first thing I want to share with you are these adorable fridge coasters that you can see below and also peeking through the picture above.  They are so cute!  This proves that you can bring beauty to anything and everything.  They are from fridgecoaster.com and they are very absorbent and should be changed out as often as you change out your water filter unless they are still in great shape.  They come in many colors and designs.  I couldn’t decide on one design so I mixed and matched different designs in the yellow.   I don’t endorse the product, I just love it.  I will be doing a giveaway on the coasters at a later date so I will keep you posted!

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You see the huge blue water bottle?  How could you not?  Well, here is the story behind it:  I used to buy individual water bottles which I would later recycle.  The recycling helped me feel better about the environment but not about the BPA that was in the bottles.  I found these gallons at Whole Foods Market and they are BPA free and just cents to refill.  I place two of these in the bin (I took one out so that you could see the cute coaster).

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Here is the deli drawer.  My favorite drawer (also my toddlers favorite because it’s the only one he can reach) because somehow it stays organized most of the time.  I purchased the clear refrigerator containers that you see below and they help keep the items from shifting and the refrigerator clean from spills.

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More bins!  I have one container that I use exclusively to hold meat that is defrosting or marinating.  So many times I have had to clean one whole side of the refrigerator because of some spill from meat…gross.  This avoids that problem so I don’t put anything else in the large shallow container.  Next to it is a smaller container that I use for the boys juice boxes.  My 9-year-old started taking his lunch to school so I grab a juice from here everyday.

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Below is where I place the milk and creamer since I now place the large water gallons on the door bin.  As you can see the shelves on my refrigerator don’t line up.  I move them around to fit what I currently have in the fridge.  I have a really tall space for the milk and then a really narrow space for tortillas and small items.  You can really maximize the space in your refrigerator if you do this.  The bins on the door are also removable and I have moved those around as well.  Most newer refrigerators have bins and shelves that can be repositioned.

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The freezer.  I don’t like it.  I love the rest of the fridge so much that I just try to work with the space in the freezer.  We have to have a separate freezer in the garage because this one is so small and I can’t stock up here.  Also the ice bin takes up quite a bit of space.  In the top wire bin I keep homemade chicken stock and homemade waffles.  The bottom wire rack has an awkward shape so I just place things in there the best I can.  I do love the design of the fridge and having the freezer in the bottom.  I just think the freezer should have a better design.  Oh well!  That’s a first world problem.  Not a big deal!

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Enjoy organizing your refrigerator and thank God for the sticky hands!

Maria 

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Organizing Kids Bookshelves

My 9-year olds bookshelf.  He uses it for books but I also use the bottom shelves for toy storage.  I don’t know if you can identify but no matter how many times I fix this bookshelf it ends up looking like this:

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He has had those orange and brown baskets for years and they started to show it.  When he was smaller they served their purpose but now he needed stronger baskets.  I had to find baskets that wouldn’t warp and could handle being pulled out by kids who are not always the most gentle on their toys.  I also needed larger baskets to house the countless cards that my son collects.

Target saved the day.  Again.  I found these bins with the basket weave design which are VERY sturdy and I chose the putty color.  I also purchased some white ones that I will use for some bathroom storage.  I will post on that later.  They had the bins in white, putty and brown.  The baskets also nest but that wasn’t my intention with these.

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I used one of the small baskets to hold magformers.  I love that toy!  They are like legos with magnets and kids (and adults) don’t seem to outgrow them.  I purchased them like 4 years ago on QVC.com

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Next, I used this sandwich container to hold one of his little card games and its pieces.  That’s the thing with kids toys…ALL THE SMALL PIECES!  They end up scattered everywhere especially when they don’t have a home.

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This container was $1. and not the best quality for lunch but perfect for this little game.

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There were cards that he only had a small set of.  I used small bags to put those in and I added a label.  I placed the bags inside one of the tins seen in the pictures below.

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The second small bin is only for card games.  It holds tins that are full of cards and the sandwich container.

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The large bin was a good size to organize all the miscellaneous small toys.  I used boxes on the inside to keep them in place.  If I used a separate small basket for each type of toy I would have a wall of baskets and bins.  Not an option.  This bin was large enough to fit the smaller items and his DS perfectly.

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The finished product.

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The bins fit nicely in the shelves.

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Notice the labels on the shelves.  My son did that on his own with my label maker.  Should I be proud or scared that he is doing this?  At least it’s not color-coordinated.  Now I am giving myself ideas. :-)

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Of course we all know that this much order wont last in a kids room but creating systems for everything makes the clean-up easier.  If it’s easier, then the kids are more likely to do it.  If not, at least it’s easier for mom.

Maria

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Kitchen: Baking Drawer Organization

I don’t always bake but when I do…I use 47 baking gadgets!  My baking stash started small but then I kept adding different tools as needed.  I only have one large drawer in my kitchen and I decided to dedicate it to baking.  I don’t use the baking items often so the drawer stays pretty organized.  The tools that get used most often are all the measuring cups.  Years ago I organized the drawer using a utensil organizer and it did a pretty good job housing everything.  Here is what the drawer looked like a couple of days ago:

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The other day I was looking for a dresser at IKEA and I spotted this drawer organizer.  I thought it would be perfect to house all the baking items.  It was.

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The first thing I did was clean the drawer since it hadn’t been thoroughly cleaned in years.  I used my favorite method cleaner (that I buy at Target) to get it spotless.

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Then I placed all the items in their new home!

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I use measuring cups all the time because I don’t like to have to wash them mid-recipe to be able to use them for the next ingredient.  With most recipes having wet and dry ingredients, multiple measuring cups are a good idea.  Besides all the practical reasons…I like how they look nestled in there.

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Food Coloring.  I prefer these gels and I purchased them through Amazon.

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Since the organizer doesn’t go right up to the side of the drawer its the perfect spot for longer items like the icing knives.

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In the very back I placed the pop sticks and the fondant smoother.  My favorite set of decorating tips are the ones pictured below from Ateco.  I also purchased those on Amazon years ago.

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This is how I store my cupcake liners.  I have seen many cute ways to display them on Pinterest but this works for me.

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More measuring cup pics!

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So here it is again.  Not a huge difference but I like this organizer much better.  There is no way to make this drawer look uncluttered because there are so many things (all shapes, all sizes) but it can still look pleasing to the eye.

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What do you think?  Now lets get to baking!

Maria

Kitchen: Junk Drawer Organization

The junk drawer (insert dramatic orchestra music!).  We all have one.  We all need one.  And they all need a little (a lot) of TLC every now and then.  Since this drawer is full of miscellaneous items it is easy for it to look like a mess pretty fast.  I used to have this whole drawer dedicated as the “junk drawer” but I decided a while back that since I don’t have many drawers or space for that matter in my kitchen, I could just use half of it to store my miscellaneous items.  I am pretty sure that was a run-on sentence but I digress.

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On one side I keep the steak knives in that nifty knife holder (from Target…where else?).  On the other side I have a small organizer that holds:

Memo pads, tape measure, toothpicks,  tape, pens, flower food packets, an extra cell phone charger and finally, candles (because you don’t want to ruin that special moment by looking for a candle like a madwoman…not that I would know :-) ).  My timers fit nicely in this drawer and in the middle I keep a notepad for grocery items that I want to remember to buy.  In the very back there is a container for snack bag clips.

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Here is a little container that came with my sons lunch bag.  It is so small that I just had it in a drawer knowing that at some point I would use it for something other than lunch.  My son collects BoxTops for school and they are always floating in the junk drawer.  As I was cutting one off of a cereal box the other day the light bulb went off!  They fit perfectly inside the small container.  YAY!!!  It takes so little to make my day!

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So what do you think?  Maybe you can scale down your junk drawer too if it is way too big or if you don’t need 35 pens in there.  If there is a place for everything then it will stay neater longer.  That is the case for most areas in our home.  We are done with the junk drawer (Insert relaxing classical music).

Maria   

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Kitchen: Utensil Drawer

The utensil drawer.  Nothing daunting, an easy-peasy project.  I like projects like this because they offer instant gratification.  You can do this task in 5-10 minutes and then stand back and marvel at the results (I marvel at lined up shiny silverware…I am dorky like that).

Below is my junk drawer and my utensil drawer.  I will later do a post on the dreaded junk drawer.  Let us postpone that nightmare for now!

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As far as the utensil drawer, I encourage you to take everything out even if your drawer looks organized.  Once everything is clear you can wipe down the drawer and the utensil tray.   When you take everything out you will sometimes notice that there are food particles in the very bottom of the drawer.  Don’t ask me how a drawer that only holds clean utensils has food particles.  It is a mystery for sure.

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As you can see my utensil organizer is clear.  I like it because I can still see my drawer liner (from Target).  On the side I place my larger serving pieces that we use at dinner time.  The really large ones (for cooking and serving large crowds) are in a crock on top of the kitchen counter.  In the horizontal spot I place all of my toddlers utensils that are bulky.

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I cant leave scissors in in the front of the drawer (because of my toddler) so I tuck the kitchen shears and a pair of regular scissors in the very back of the drawer.  He doesn’t even know they are there.  I also keep some jar grips in the very back of the drawer.  Having all these things in the back maximizes the organization in the space and keeps my utensil tray from shifting around in the drawer.

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So there it is!  The utensil drawer.  It’s the little things.

Until next time!

Maria

Beach Bag Organization

It summer!  Sand, Salt, Water…and a beautifully organized beach bag just waiting for you by the door!  I decided to share with you my beach bag and how I organize it.  Taking the time to do this now will pay off when you actually need the bag.  It is a great feeling to get in the car with your bag and the kids (don’t get so excited about the bag that you forget the kids…although you will get more reading done :-) ) knowing that everything that you might need is already there.

Here it is!  Behold!  The BEACH BAG!

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I use these bags from “thirty-one” because I love the color and the all the pockets.  I am a sucker for pockets!

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The large utility tote is in the turquoise color and the one in the front is in a print called Party Punch.  I don’t sell these bags but I love them!  If you are interested in them, send me a message and I can put you in touch with someone who can help you.  If you already have a nice large bag of your own consider setting one up exclusively for the beach or the pool and leaving it prepared all summer long.  I also have a similar bag for picnics.  I will post on that at a later date.  I keep all these bags high up in my closet.

I like this bag because it is large enough for towels and it has a zipper closure.  Inside I keep towels and a matching foldout bag that I use for miscellaneous beach items.  In the front pocket you will notice a small turquoise bag that holds a trash bag and a large zip lock bag for wet bathing suits.  In the other outside pockets we put our water bottles.

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In this small bag that is meant to be used for make-up I keep a book, lip gloss, pens and suntan lotion.  Toni, writer of the blog “A Bowl full of lemons” uses the same makeup bag and I noticed that she also puts dollar bills in hers.  I immediately did the same thing and they fit perfectly in that middle zipper.  It is a good idea to have money and some change for beach parking.  You can check out Toni’s blog HERE.

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In the outside pockets I put a first aid kit.  This one is kind of large but it holds a little bottle of wound cleaner and it fits nicely in the pocket.  In the middle pocket I put a pair of sunglasses.  I don’t use these sunglasses unless I am at the beach or pool.  They stay there waiting patiently until I need them.  They are inexpensive sunglasses that are polarized and don’t have any metallic hardware so that I don’t have to worry about them getting rusty from salt water or chlorine.  I also have inexpensive sunglasses that stay in my car at all times just in case I forget my favorite pair and I have another pair in the baby stroller.  Maybe it’s overkill but living in Florida and forgetting your sunglasses can really put a damper in your day.

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In this small thermal pouch I keep my sons epipen.  He is allergic to shellfish so I try to take this everywhere.   I also take a small cooler with snacks and drinks for the boys but that is something that I didn’t take pictures of because I don’t do that ahead of time.  I pack that cooler right before we head out.

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In this big bag I keep all the beach/pool toys.  It is big enough that things can get thrown in without any special placement.  I like that.

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So that’s it!  All ready to place on the sand.

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Remember to enjoy the summer!  Remember to enjoy living!

Maria

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I’m hooked!

Ok, so I LOVE command hooks. I find a use for them everywhere in the house. My favorite use for them is behind cabinets to hang cleaning gloves and even pot holders. It is amazing how many uses you can find and they even match your existing decor because they come in different colors. The other day as I was looking at my toddlers high chair a lightbulb went off. I couldn’t believe I had not thought about this before! We use the plastic washable bibs and they sit right on top of the high chair tray. It does not look bad but it certainly does not look good. Every time we sit Matthew down to eat we have to move both bibs (one he wears of course). For most normal people this is not a problem…but this is ME we are talking about. I kept thinking there had to be a better way to store these out of sight. Command hooks! Of course! That was my solution and it only took me 2 years to think about it…I borderline on genius…at least my parents say so. Back to the idea, better late than never.  So here is the super simple project:

Here is the before picture.  It doesn’t look bad but the end result is so much better and functional.
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Here is the back of the high chair
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And here is the back with the command hook!
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Here is the finished product. A clean looking chair and the bibs are out of sight.
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YAY! No clutter!
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Maybe I am the only one who gets excited about this stuff but I love simple ideas that make a big difference!  Please let me know what you think.

Maria

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Purpose and Grace

Right now my boys are sleeping and the house is so quiet. Quiet enough to miss the noise. Just kidding…its never THAT quiet! However, it is quiet enough to reflect on some things.

I know that I want to be purposeful in how I live and enjoy my life. There are no guarantees of tomorrow and I need to get better at putting into perspective all the little things that bother me and I need to magnify the “little” moments that get away from me.

You see, this blog is about order, it’s about cleaning but mostly I want it to be about living. I want the organization to give you freedom and a feeling of peace when you are home.

I confess that I want a house that is perfect ALL the time but guess what? I have NEVER had that. As organized as I am I have never had that. The moment you finish all the laundry someone changes their outfit and laundry is back on your checklist. Nothing is ever perfect all the time in the home or anywhere else for that matter.

However, there are “moments” that are perfect and I don’t want to miss those because I was stressing over socks that didn’t whiten in the wash. I want to try my best to live a balanced life. A life where I do what I can and give myself grace for what I can’t. A life where I am in charge of my home and not the other way around.

We have to know ourselves in order to correct behaviors that won’t lead to our happiness. I love checklists and planners so I need to learn to be flexible in spite of my need and love of order.  For others, it’s the exact opposite.

What do you feel you need to work on so that you enjoy the ride a little more?

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One perfect moment.

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