Organizing the Fridge

Organizing the Fridge

We are organizing the fridge…again.  My fridge stays fairly organized until the holidays.  During the holidays every system that I have in place goes out the window and the priority becomes making space for the ham or the casserole.  This is how my fridge looked after hosting Thanksgiving, a Christmas Day brunch, a small New Year’s party and a New Year’s Day brunch.  My fridge needed some love (and soap!).

The picture below was taken at night so the lighting is horrible.  I wasn’t intentionally trying to make the before pic look bad.  Totally off-topic, but isn’t it funny how people always have to look miserable in those before pics before they start a diet?  They are never smiling.  Can’t they also be happy pre-diet?

But I digress.

Organizing the Fridge

So the next morning I decided to empty my fridge and give it a good clean.  I spot clean the fridge all the time, but sometimes deep cleaning is necessary, and this was one of those times.  Almost all the drawers, bins and shelves in my refrigerator are removable and they are easy to clean.  I am always surprised how much food falls through the back of the bins in between cleanings.

Once the refrigerator was clean, I added some FridgeCoasters to line every bin and shelf.  I have been purchasing these for years and they really help to keep the fridge clean from spills and (almost more importantly) they are so cute!  I change them out every year and chose a new color.  This year I ordered 2 different colors (gray and blue) and I think I will do that from now on because I love how they look!

Note:  There is a FridgeCoaster giveaway and discount code at the end of this post!

Organizing the Fridge

When the fridge is empty is a great opportunity to move the shelves (if adjustable) to the best positioning for the items that you purchase.  So many times we leave things the way that the manufacturer placed them, instead of taking advantage of the adjustable shelving.

Once the shelves are where I want them, I add all the food back.  I had not shopped for our regular food items for a few weeks, since I was making space for all the food I needed during the holidays.

Organizing the Fridge

I also added fridge bins to my deli drawer.  I am a big fan of these bins but only for the items that you purchase again and again.  They have some that are perfect for placing little juice boxes, but if you rarely buy those for your kids, then it will be another bin taking up space in your fridge.  Only buy the ones that will be used every time.

Organizing the Fridge

I did get rid of a few condiments that were expired and I tried to put back the good ones into the fridge with like items.  Fun fact – I don’t even like mustard.  I do use it for cooking sometimes but my husband is a mustard fan and apparently he has enough to last for the rest of 2016.

Organizing the Fridge

One thing that I purchase frequently is asparagus.  I always keep a wide-mouth cup with a little water to store it and it seems to last longer.  Also, I like that I see it and it doesn’t get lost in the crisper bin until it’s past it’s time.

Organizing the Fridge

This refrigerator model originally came with 2 bins on this side and a butter bin (the one with the little retractable door).  I eventually got rid of that butter bin since I prefer to keep my butter in the deli drawer and I ordered another regular-sized bin online.  There are a few websites that you can input your appliance model/serial number and then choose what you would like to purchase.  In this case, I added the top bin that I use for chicken stock cartons.

Organizing the Fridge

Another shot of this organized fridge so that I can at least document that once upon a time all the cans faced forward.

Organizing the Fridge

I know that not everyone keeps oranges in the refrigerator but since I often juice them, I like to keep them cold.  Also, I keep a bin within the drawer to separate items.  Otherwise, everything in that big drawer ends up mixed.  Also, this keeps produce from getting damaged by heavier items.

Organizing the Fridge

I have a fridge bin in the very top dedicated to defrosting meat.  This will avoid so many yucky spills!  Next to it, I have a small turntable that I place all my jellies and jams.  You know that I am a big fan of turntables and they are even great for the refrigerator.

Organizing the Fridge

Here is a closeup of the deli drawer.  There is so much butter and cheese that was left over from the holidays!  I can’t possibly consume that much leftover cheese?  Just kidding.  I can and I will.  Then I will go on a diet, but not before taking a before picture with a miserable look on my face. :-)

Organizing the Fridge

One more exciting detail…a giveaway!  FridgeCoaster will be giving two winners – two Fridge Packs of their choice!  Follow the prompts to be entered into the giveaway.  You do not have to complete all the prompts to enter the giveaway, but each one will better your chances of winning, since you will have more entries.  So no worries if you don’t have an Instagram or Pinterest account, you can still enter by leaving a comment.

If you want to order them for your fridge, they have also generated a special discount code for all Graceful Order readers – just enter SWEET16 at checkout and save 16% off your order!

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cleaning Makeup Brushes

Cleaning Makeup Brushes

I don’t use a whole lot of makeup but I do like to have the right tools for the job.  Makeup brushes over time get dirty and need cleaning and I wanted to share my easy method of cleaning makeup brushes.

We all know that you can buy brush cleaners and if your brushes are really dirty then maybe that’s the way to go.  However, when my brushes are just lightly dirty, I use a simple method to clean them with an item that you may already have at home – baby shampoo.

Cleaning Makeup Brushes

 

Here is how I clean my brushes.

  1.  I wet the brush head under the running faucet with warm water.  Be careful to wet them pointing down so that water doesn’t go into the handle.  If water goes into the handle, it can later cause the bristles to come loose and that will ruin your brush.

  2.  I place a dot of baby shampoo on my hand and I slowly swish the brush in my hand to loosen the makeup.

  3.  I place the brush back under the running water and carefully press on the bristles which will spread them slightly.  It is important to do this carefully so that your brush does not lose it’s shape after drying.  You may have to repeat step 2 and 3 in order to really clean the brush from makeup buildup.

  4.  I gently dry the brush with a towel, also being careful to keep the shape of the brush.

  5.  I lay the brushes flat on the sink counter, allowing the brush head to hang over into the sink.  Do not stand them up before they are dry because water will travel into the handle which will ruin your brush over time.

Once dry, I place them in an acrylic cup full of beads, just like the fancy makeup store.

Cleaning Makeup Brushes

 

One last tip:  I find great makeup brushes at Marshalls (the ones in the picture are from there) or TJMaxx so check those stores out before shelling out the big bucks at the makeup stores.

Hope you have a great week, friends!

 

This posts contains an Amazon affiliate link.  Buying through the link does not affect your price of the item. As always, thank you for your support of Graceful Order!

Cleaning with Lemon Essential Oil

Creating a healthy home has been a process for me.  I started buying more organic ingredients years ago and the more I read about pesticides and toxic chemicals, I started to turn my attention towards the things that I was feeding my home, not just the kids.  I slowly realized that I was helping our family in one way but still allowing products in our home that could potentially hurt us.  While I still used the other products that I already had, I integrated more natural products into my home cleaning routine.  I wasn’t ready to pull the plug until I knew that these new, more natural products actually worked.  I mean, could I really consider my home “clean” if I wasn’t using anything toxic to really get in there and do the work?

Cleaning with Lemon Essential Oil

Well the new products worked and I no longer had to run out of the bathroom to avoid the fumes after I had sprayed down the area.  I also continued being cautious about where I store my cleaning supplies but I wasn’t worried about my toddler putting a piece of cereal in his mouth that had just fallen on the floor.  My kids don’t eat meals off the floor, but it feels good to know that I am creating a healthy home for them to live in and also a more economical way to clean the home.

Natural cleaners can be expensive but you can also make your own cleaners at home and save a ton.  Some of my favorite natural brands are Mrs. Meyers, Honest Company, Shaklee but I also like to make my own ever so often and I wanted to share with you how I use essential oils to clean.  There are so many essential oils and recipes that I could feature, but I decided to start with lemon.

 

Cleaning with Lemon Essential Oil

 

The following recipes are sure to bring back your zest for life!  Well no, they won’t – but your house will be super clean and that will make you happy, so yeah…

 

Bathroom Fixtures:  Use a towel soaked with several drops of Lemon oil to sanitize bathroom fixtures.

Dishes:  I add 2 drops of Lemon oil to the bottom of my dishwasher before the wash cycle. Dishes will shine and the dishwasher smells great.

Window Cleaner:  Pour into a glass spray bottle 1 cup distilled white vinegar and 10 drops of lemon essential oil and fill the rest with water.  Mix well.

Natural Disinfectant – This also works great for a moldy shower.  Add 30 drops lemon oil and 20 drops tea tree oil to a glass spray bottle, add a splash of vinegar and fill the rest with water.

Wood Furniture Polish:  Add 4-5 drops lemon essential oil to a small amount of olive oil for polishing wood.

Floor Cleaner: Add a splash of vinegar and 10-20 drops of lemon essential oil to your bucket of water.

 Of course, always test a little spot on your furniture before you use a new cleaner.

 

I encourage you to take small but consistent steps towards creating a healthier home.  Enjoy your green cleaning!

5 Places We Forget to Clean in the Bathroom

5 Places We Forget to Clean in the Bathroom

This post already has me trembling inside my hot pink cleaning gloves.  Cleaning our homes is such a repetitive routine that we can often forget obvious areas that need attention.  I’m sure there are more than 5 places we forget to clean in a bathroom, but these are the ones on top of my list.

Clean the Door Handles

Cleaning the door handles should the part of our cleaning routine.  Not only because sticky hands touch the door handles, but germy ones too.

5 Places We Forget to Clean in the Bathroom

 

Clean the toilet flush handle

Just like the door handle, it is easy to clean the rest of the toilet and forget the flush handle.  Usually people flush before washing their hands so …enough said.

Clean the toilet hinges and caps

Especially if you have boys, there can be a lingering odor in the bathroom even after you have cleaned.  The answer to this issue is periodically removing the hinges and bolts off the toilet and cleaning underneath.  I know…eww.

 

5 Places We Forget to Clean in the Bathroom

 

Clean the toilet brush

The toilet brush is used for cleaning but it can get pretty dirty itself.  After cleaning the toilet bowl, I throw in about a 1/2 cup to 1 cup of washing soda and let the brush sit in there for a few hours.  Then I rinse it and place the brush back in the holder.  Don’t forget to also wipe down the holder before placing the clean brush inside.  This is a natural and biodegradable way to clean the brush without having to use bleach.  You can do the same for the plunger.

 

5 Places We Forget to Clean in the Bathroom

 

Clean the waste basket

If the bathroom waste basket looks pretty clean, you may want to just clean it with a disinfecting wipe.   If it looks like it needs a bit more attention, I do the following:  fill halfway with water and add about half a cup of vinegar and a few drops of tea tree oil.  I let it rest while I clean the rest of the bathroom, then I dump out the water and wipe down the inside and outside.

5 Places We Forget to Clean in the Bathroom

 

There are other areas in the bathroom that need attention but I just mentioned the ones that tend to skip our minds.  What areas can you think of to add to the list?

Until next time!

Maria

Other related Graceful Order posts are:

Updating the master bedroom

Under the bathroom sink

Organizing small bathroom sinks

 

This post includes a few affiliate links.  Thank you for your support of the Graceful Order blog!

 

 

 

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Organizing the Kitchen Sink Area

Organizing the Kitchen Sink Area

Let’s talk about organizing the kitchen sink area, shall we?  Does the area around your kitchen sink get a little messy “looking” at times?  I say “messy looking” because sometimes you need all the items that you have out on the counter, so they are not technically out of place, but it can look a bit cluttered.

My first solution for organizing the kitchen sink, is to place all your sink necessities on a narrow plate or small platter.  Once items are grouped, they already look neater.  The second solution is to buy matching bottles.  Find one cleaner that you like and buy all the items from the same brand.  You can even refill the bottles later if you decide to change brands, make your own cleaner, or if you buy the product in bulk sizes.

In this case, I am using cleaners from J.R. Watkins, but sometimes I use all Honest Co. products, Shaklee products, Mrs. Meyers or Method products.  (Most of those are available at Target unless I added a link).  Those are some of my favorite brands and they all have cute packaging.  Cute packaging isn’t a must for cleaning but…I take that back, cute packaging is essential, second to quality but essential nonetheless.  Especially for our little project here, if it is visible, make it pretty.

Another thing that I notice is that really fancy soap bottles that you are supposed to refill, don’t have the best pumps and get jammed all the time.  I prefer  the bottles that already come with the brands I like.

 

Staples for organizing the kitchen sink area:

  1. Baking Soda.  I keep a little shaker of baking soda because that is what I use to clean my sink at night.  I also use it to clean pots and pans, if they have a little stain here and there.

Organizing the Kitchen Sink Area

2 –  If the sink needs a really good scrub, or the glass stovetop had a bad spill, or a pot has a  stubborn stain, I use this natural scouring paste from Shaklee, called Scour Off.  Like most Shaklee products, this product lasts a long time because you need so little of it when you use it.  It smells divine!

I use this brush to clean my sink, although it’s  really meant for dishes.

Organizing the Kitchen Sink Area

 

3 – I also keep a cleaner for the counter, hand wash, and dish detergent on the plate.

Organizing the Kitchen Sink Area

4 – Find the tiniest plant in the world and add a little “pretty” to your sink area.  I found this one at Homegoods.

Organizing the Kitchen Sink Area

5 – You need to find a plate large enough to hold all your items.  I found mine at CB2.

Organizing the Kitchen Sink Area

And that’s an organized kitchen sink area!

* In the picture you will notice that my sink has a built in soap dispenser.  I use that one most of the time, and if I run out, I use the one on the plate.

Organizing the Kitchen Sink Area

I hope this post was helpful!  Let me know in the comment area if you already have a similar system.

xo,

Maria

This posts contains links, a few are affiliate links.  As always, thank you for your support of Graceful Order!

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Basic Housekeeping – Morning Routine

The Morning Routine

Mornings are hectic.  No routine will completely do away with that, but with a basic housekeeping morning routine, the first part of the day will be smoother, setting the tone for the rest of the day.  Part of an organized morning is an organized evening, which we discussed earlier this week with the night time routine.  If you have a night time routine, the mornings are smoother.  If the mornings are smoother, you will be less stressed.  If you are less stressed, the kids will behave like angels.  Well…sometimes I take things a bit far to drive a point home.

Kids are kids.  I ask my 10-year-old if he is ready for school and he says “yes” and then as we walk out, I realize that his hair looks like a birds nest, or he is missing his belt, the toddler starts doing the I-gotta-go-potty-dance, even though 2 minutes ago he said he was fine…Not exactly a Zen moment!

Because of the things that I can’t control, I try to do the ones that I can.  Of course, I don’t always follow the routine.  If we have guests, I want to enjoy their company more than sticking to some cleaning routine, so I ignore the dishes.  That’s ok and that’s the way it’s supposed to be, I think.    So lets leave it at, this is what I do MOST mornings:

  • Make the bed.  The room can be disorganized but if the bed it made, it looks peaceful.  On the flip side, if the room is organized but the bed is not made, it looks like a mess.  It’s just the largest piece in the room and the bed only takes 2 minutes to make.  Even if you don’t want to add a bunch of pillows, just smoothing out the covers makes a big difference.  At night, I love pulling away the comforter on a bed that has been made.

Morning Routine

 

  • Make coffee.  My husband is the designated barista in this house, but maybe you make the coffee in your home.  No to-do list has to remind any of us to make the coffee.  We usually make it while we are still sleeping, right?  Check out our coffee station if you have a chance.

Morning Routine

  •  Empty the dishwasher.  Since it is part of my night routine to load the dishwasher, I unload it in the morning and start filling it up after breakfast.

Morning Routine

 

  • Place a load of laundry in the washer.  I believe in a-load-a-day keeping the piles away!  I know some prefer having a designated laundry day or days, but I can’t seem to manage that without getting overwhelmed with all the laundry.  I prefer knowing that one full load will get done (almost) everyday.  See more details about my laundry closet here.

Morning Routine

 

  • Defrost whatever you will be making for dinner.  This way you don’t have to worry in the late afternoon about what to make.  I place the meat that is defrosting inside a refrigerator bin, so that juices don’t spill in the refrigerator shelf.  You know this is a big time saver if you have ever had to clean up one of those messes!  You can see the rest of the refrigerator here.

Morning Routine

Everyone has a different morning with different tasks, such as preparing lunches for the kids if they take their lunch to school, and your morning is different if you work outside the home.  The steps will vary but the need for the routine won’t.  When I take the time to implement this routine, I feel so productive!

Gotta go comb someones crazy hair (can’t specifically say who, but it’s not the 10-year-old and she likes to blog)!

Have a great morning!

Maria

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Basic Housekeeping – Night Routine

The word “routine” already sounds a little daunting.  I mean, do you really need to commit to another to-do list, another task?  I have worked inside and outside the home and I know that creating a routine is challenging and getting the family onboard is even more so.  However, if I commit to completing simple tasks in the morning and in the evening, my day goes by so much smoother and I accomplish more.  Of course, there are checklists that point out to clean doorknobs and behind the stove (and I am all about that too) but that isn’t feasible to do all the time.  However, I can commit to a basic housekeeping night routine to make my days at home smooth, or at the very least, manageable.

The Night Routine

Do I do this routine daily?  Ah…NO!  I certainly try to, but there are days that I have to leave the house and the beds are not made, the sink isn’t clear, it’s life.  I just notice that on the days that I have or make the time to complete these tasks, I am so grateful that I did.

  • Arrange the couch pillows.  This is a pet peeve of mine.  These couches are 10 years old and let me tell ya, they have not been babied!  In the weekends, we may take naps on these couches, we lie down to watch tv, my boys jump on these couches, they are USED.  Basically, the pillows are usually a mess or they fall on the floor.  I am always picking them up and threatening that I am going to get rid of them FOREVER.  I quickly learned that this threat doesn’t evoke any reactions when you live with men.  They are like “cool, more room to play”.

I feel like when the pillows are a mess, the whole room looks messy.  So at night I like to prop them up again and I wake up to a neat couch and pretend I live in a world where people care about couch pillows.

Night Routine

  • Load the dishwasher.  Throughout the day, I load the dishwasher without running it until I get in all the dinner dishes.  I set it to run at night and I unload it in the morning and start again.  You are more likely to load the dishes at night if there is space for them in the dishwasher.  If you are already exhausted (and we usually are at night) and you have to unload the dishwasher before re-loading it, you may just skip it all together and leave it for the morning.

Basic Housekeeping - Night Routine

  • Wipe down the sink and stainless steel fridge.  I LOVE waking up to a welcoming kitchen!  After putting away the dishes in the the dishwasher, clean and wipe down the sink.  Also, stainless steel refrigerators are great but they are also a magnet for little hands.  Go ahead and wipe it down with your kitchen towel before your throw it in the hamper.  A little bit of extra work but you will be thankful you did this in the morning.

Night Routine

  • Set out a new kitchen towel.  We rarely use paper towels, so our kitchen towels get dirty fast.  Every night, I place the used one in the hamper.

Night routine

  • Wipe down counters and kitchen table.  Sitting down in a clean, cleared-out table is more enjoyable for the whole family.

Basic Housekeeping - Night Routine

My husband makes our coffee every morning, but you may also want to grind the coffee ahead of time, or set some time aside to go over your agenda for the next day.  You can certainly add items to this list, but the point is to make your home a place that welcomes you, in a manageable way that isn’t overwhelming.  If I add too many things to my daily routines, I fall behind and get overwhelmed.  I like to keep it simple.

House is looking good, so I will go to bed and enjoy a good book…which I will end up falling asleep reading.  A day with toddlers will do that to you.

Night Night,

Maria

 

 

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Cleaning with Lemons

Cleaning with Lemons

Got lemons?  A week ago I shared how I clean my microwave using lemons, and I thought I would also share some of the many ways of cleaning with lemons. Going green has been a priority for me, and it has also been a process. I have slowly replaced my old cleaners with more natural store-bought ones or even homemade cleaners. I think we are all second guessing our cleaning supplies and we want to get away from anything potentially toxic. Of course, we need to replace them with alternatives that are natural and effective. Lemons are both.

Since lemons are acidic, they have antibacterial and also antiseptic properties that can help clean our homes, the natural way.

 

I use lemons to clean:

The Sink

Surprisingly, sinks can be one of the dirtiest places in the home. You can clean the sink by sprinkling some baking soda and scrubbing it clean. Once you clean and dry it, you can use a lemon half to scrub the sink some more. Squeeze as you clean and use both sides of the lemon and even the pulp. If you have any rust stains in the sink, you can try a mixture of salt and lemon (paste consistency) to scrub that area.

Cleaning with Lemons

Cutting Boards

I recently shared in detail how I clean my cutting boards. I use a mixture of salt and lemon to scrub the board, before oiling it.  You can also remove food stains from plastic cutting boards by using half a lemon, squeezing it into the board and letting it sit a while. Then rinse.

Cleaning with Lemons

Garbage Disposal

To get rid of odors in the garbage disposal, you can cut up a lemon, throw it in and grind it up.  I usually do this after I have already used the lemon to deodorize my microwave. If its just a drain, pouring a little hot water with some lemon juice will help to deodorize the drain!

Cleaning with Lemons

Microwaves

For details on how I clean the microwave, you can read about it here.  You can use a microwave-safe bowl and fill it up halfway with water and a couple tablespoons of vinegar and add a lemon half to the mix. Microwave this for 5 minutes and let stand for a couple of minutes.  (Don’t stand in front of the microwave while it’s heating up the water, just in case your microwave is super strong and 5 minutes is too much.) Wipe down the microwave. Squeaky-clean!

Cleaning with lemons

Kitchen Odors

To get rid of lingering smells, fill a pot with water and add slices of lemon rind and bring to a boil. This will not only do the trick in the kitchen but your home will smell so fresh!  You can also add a cinnamon stick to the mix if you like the scent.

Stovetops and Ovens

I have a glass stovetop and anytime that food splatters, or worse, boils over, a simple wiping down of the stove won’t do. You can make a paste of lemon juice, water, and baking soda and spread on the food spill. Let this paste sit for about 20 minutes and then scrub the area as much as needed before rinsing.  The same will work for cleaning the oven.

Cleaning with lemons

We know that lemons have great properties for our bodies, but they are also great for maintaining the home!

Let’s remove toxins from our homes and let’s clean the natural way. It’s like cleaning with a “twist” :-) .  Are you also trying to go “greener” with your cleaners?  Do you already use lemon as an alternative?

Maria

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