Category Archives: Organization

The entryway closet: A new solution for shoes | Before and After

I am so excited to show you the progress I made in my entryway over the last couple of days! I picked up a shoe organizer from someone on Freecycle hoping I could use it in the entryway coat closet, and I am thrilled with how it’s working out so far. Of course, I couldn’t declutter and organize the closet without also working on the space around it. I went a little picture crazy on this one, so hang in there!

Here’s the before picture of the entryway area:

Yes, that picture was taken just a couple of days ago. Yes, it’s July. Yes, those are Christmas hats and winter coats.

Here’s a closer look in the bottom of the closet:

The last time I worked on the entryway, these bins were my solution to the shoe problem. I knew they weren’t perfect, but they were an improvement. Keep reading for my new and improved shoe solution…

A before of the whole closet:

Time to get started!

I took everything out from the bottom shelf down. Part of my grand plan was to actually remove the bottom shelf. Here’s some of the closet stuff:

Next, I vacuumed the closet. At this point I wondered if I could just move into the closet. You know, live in there. It’s so calm and peaceful in there. It was a nice thought.

So I had 6 coats and jackets there (one is not shown in this picture):

Mr. RSS had 11 coats and jackets in that closet. The irony of this is that I am always cold and he is always hot. I wear coats and jackets all the time (sometimes even inside the house), and he hardly ever needs one. Go figure.

I am getting rid of one of my coats and I moved one up to my closet upstairs. Mr. RSS is getting rid of some of his coats/jackets also. For now, I moved 4 of my coats and 5 of his back into the closet.

Here are some things that moved upstairs at least for the summer.

And here are some of the things that are going out the door:

I removed this add-on shelf:

Are you ready to see my new solution for our shoes? Here it is!

In case you are wondering, the lady who gave it to me (through Freecycle) said she got it at Target. I don’t even think she used it at all. Score!

This makes it SO much easier to grab our shoes and put them away. We each have 2 slots.

And now I actually have a place to keep my vacuum so that it’s not just sitting out wherever we used it last. A place for everything, and everything in it’s place, right? We’re getting there.

And now I present the organized entryway….

Before:

After:

I can close the door to the closet now!

Before:

After:

Before:

After:

And finally a view from the stairs…

Before:

After:

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Decluttering and Organizing Food Storage Containers

My cabinet where I keep all of my plastic food storage containers has been bugging me for a while. It’s basically an avalanche waiting to happen. I can’t even tell you how many times in the last year I’ve taken before pictures of this cabinet. But this time I finally did something worthy of posting an after picture!

I found this before picture from a year ago.

And here’s my most recent before picture.

Time to declutter and organize!

The Steps

1. Take everything out of the cabinet.
2. Wipe the inside of the cabinet clean.
3. Match up containers and lids.
4. Get rid of items that are damaged, disliked, mismatched, unnecessary, or just not fitting well in the space.

I used to keep lids and containers separate. I kept the lids in a bin and stacked the containers. One problem was that I simply had too many lids and containers. It was a pain to dig through that container to find the right lid.

Another problem was having too many different, yet similar containers and lids. I would pull out a container and lid that seemed like they should fit, but they wouldn’t! I have wasted way too much time with this process.

I had tons of lids that had no bottoms! These are all lids that were extra!

5.  Arrange and organize the items you are keeping. Make sure they fit well in the space so that it is easy to find what you need and easy to put them away.

Here’s my after picture!

At some point, I would love to switch over to mostly glass containers, like this Pyrex set, but for now I will use what I have.

How are your food storage containers looking?

This post contains an affiliate link.

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Guest Post: Office and Craft Supply Cupboard | Before and After

A new feature I’m starting here on Ready Set Simplify:  Guest Posts and Reader Pictures! I asked what you all thought about this idea on my Facebook page a week or so ago, and everyone seemed to like it, so we are giving it a try! If you are interested in writing a guest post or if you just want to share some before and after pictures to help inspire all of us, click the contact tab and send me an email telling me a little about it. I’ll let you know if I think it will be a good fit to share here.

Here’s our first guest post by Katy, from Purposely Frugal. I read Katy’s blog regularly and enjoy her frugal ideas! Frugality and simplicity go together, I think. She also writes about small space living. You might enjoy this tour of her home.

 

I’ve been doing some sorting and organizing around our little travel trailer home. I usually just do one spot a week. I wanted to show all of you some of the results, because I love seeing how other people organize and thought you might too!

Here’s the cupboard under our TV where we keep office supply and craft type stuff.

As you can see it was in need of some help! I worked on it a little one night but didn’t finish it.
When I finally got around to working on it again, it looked like this….

…so yeah, not much better than before. :(

This time I finished it though!

One of the things I did to try and be more organized was to make use of the many empty folders I found. I’m hoping this helps cut down on the papers that seem to always be sitting around the house, just getting moved from one shelf to another. I made one for my daughter’s drawings, one for old letters I want to hang onto, one for loose coloring pages, and  one for e-books that I’ve printed out. Now I just need to be faithful in putting papers away in their designated folder!

How do you organize your office and/or craft supplies?

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Junk drawer? What junk drawer? Oh! The organized drawer!

I’ve been decluttering along with Simple Mom’s Project Simplify this month, and last week the topic was closets, drawers, and countertops. Well, since I focused on the countertops already (and my counters still look pretty good, by the way!), I turned to the junk drawer. That seemed like just the right speed for me last week: 1 drawer.

Here’s what we were working with:

I know it looks maybe a little like a trash drawer, but really, there’s some good junk there. I piled it all up on my nice clean kitchen island and started sorting.

Mr. RSS deemed me to be a rock star for finding the plug for our rechargeable work light. Ella was thrilled that I found her little black Lego hat. See how decluttering and organizing makes everyone so happy?

I knew that I needed to do some containerizing to um, contain some of these items in an organized way, so I went on a little search to find some things that would work. I am always able to find something around the house. Most of what I found was from The Crazy Cabinet of Avalanche-Ready Food Storage Containers. Perfect.

And of course some things I put in other places that made more sense and some things I tossed or recycled.

Now for the napkin notes. I love making these for my little girl to find at lunch. And they so often seem to come back in the lunchbox still clean (just maybe a little wrinkled), so sometimes I save them and use them again on a busy day. Plus I’m turning a napkin into a sentimental thing, so that sort of makes me want to keep it, too.  I had way more than I thought in there, though. I took some pictures, and I think this will help me feel a little more free to get rid of at least most of them. Maybe save a few?

Here are some examples of what I found:

 

Sometimes I use them as a flashcard, like that 8+2 one up there. The answer is on the other side.

Now I have them by the other napkins instead of crumpled in the junk drawer.

And now….

Here’s the finished drawer!! The organized drawer!

Let’s talk about those twist ties. Are you laughing at me for keeping so many? Mr. RSS was. I don’t know why it was hard for me  to throw those away. I’m sure I don’t need that many. Although I’m sure someone has posted something on Pinterest with a cute crafty idea for these, right? In fact, I thought of one myself. A garland!

Then of course there’s twist tie jewelry. Come on. Who hasn’t made a ring out of these things at some point in their lives? Mr. RSS even made a nose ring out of one. Too bad I didn’t get a picture of that.

How is your junk drawer doing? Do you have anything interesting in there?

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Love by Decluttering | The Master Bedroom Project – Before and After!

I’ve been decluttering and organizing The Master Bedroom this month as part of my Love By Decluttering project. Laura from I’m an Organizing Junkie has helped me stay focused and motivated as I have been following along with her 29 Day Organizing Challenge this month!

If you want to catch up on all of the posts related to this project, here’s a list:

I am so excited to show you these before and after pictures!

Before – Walking in the door…

After:

Before:

After:

Before:

After – There’s floor!

Before #1 of the mega pile.

Before #2 of the mega pile to  show what was under that pile of clothes – more clutter!

After!

Before:

After – Crazy! In a good way.

Before:

After:

Before:

After:

My word for my newly decluttered and organized bedroom? Peaceful.

As part of concluding the 29 Day Organizing Challenge, Laura gave us 7 questions to answer:

1. What space did you decide to organize and why?

I chose the master bedroom because I wanted to bless my husband with a peaceful retreat, not a chaotic clutterfest. It benefits me, too, of course. And you know what? I will feel so much better about telling my kids to clean their room, now that I am setting a good example.

2.  What steps did you take to ensure you completed the space within the 29 day timeline?

I think one of the most important steps was committing to participate in all of the progress link ups. I didn’t want to link up a post showing no progress, so I knew I would at least do something each week and not procrastinate until the end.

It also helped to have a method to follow. Laura has these great PROCESS steps for organizing. These are the basic steps, but you can read more about it here.

Plan of attack – I chose the master bedroom, and worked my way around the room starting with the worst area. Then I went bask through again to get anything I missed and to do finishing touches.

Remove items – I did this in stages as I worked my way around. For example, I took everything out of my closet, vacuumed and wiped down the area and cleaned any clothes that needed it.

Organize into piles – I had trash and recycling bags, and give/sell bags to help sort through things. For the items I was keeping, I had like items with like.

Containerize – In some cases there were containers, and sometimes it was just how much room was on a shelf. This was very helpful in deciding to get rid of things until they would fit in the space.

Evaluate plan – Since the project just ended, this will be happening over the next few weeks.

Solve/Simplify any remaining issues – As I evaluate over the next few weeks, I will tweak things to make them work better!

Smile, relax and enjoy your hard work! :-)

3.  What was the hardest part of the challenge for you and how did you overcome it?

Not getting overwhelmed. It was especially hard when I realized just how much paper and other miscellaneous clutter was hiding in my room. I really wanted to just move it out of there to deal with later, but I knew that would be the wrong choice. That’s how it ended up in my room to begin with.

In order to get through this, I broke it into smaller parts sometimes by working in small chunks of time or by having a goal of one box in a day.

My friend Kristen offered to come over and help one afternoon, too, and that really helped keep me motivated towards the end.

4. What did you do with the “stuff” you were able to purge out of your newly organized space?

-Some of it went to other rooms in the house (toys, kids’ clothes, potty seats)

-A lot of it left in a recycling/trash truck! (Mostly paper clutter)

-A lot went to Goodwill. (clothes, household/decorative items, books) My friend Kristen took some bags with her, and the rest are by the door.  Mr. RSS is taking them today!

Here’s today’s load going to Goodwill:

I thought I was going to try to sell some things, but I realized that was too big of a barrier/time commitment and I just needed to get them out of the house!

5.  Tell me one of your proudest moments during this challenge?

Getting through a box of paper clutter while I had 3 kids in the bedroom with me. Need I say more? Somehow it worked. They actually loved looking through the old Family Fun magazines I was finding. It just helped me realize/remember that I can declutter with kids underfoot, on lap, running around, etc.

6.  Explain any organizing “tools” you used to help you create additional space and to establish some limits and boundaries?

A lot of my organizing tools were already there and I had just allowed them to get overrun. So a lot of the process for me was paring down so that what I have will easily fit on the shelf or in the container without being crowded and cluttered.

-I made sure my shoes fit nicely on the shoe rack (I got rid of 2 or 3 pairs of shoes)

-I Paired down my sweatshirts so that they fit in one box that is stored on the floor for out of season storage.

-I got rid of some T-shirts so that all of my T-shirts would fit nicely on the shelf or in one drawer of my dresser.

7.  What is ONE piece of advice you’d give to someone else to encourage them on their organizational journey?

Work with a deadline and tell someone about it who will keep you accountable.

Going Forward

An important thing for me in this process has been figuring out how the bedroom got this way, and how I’m going to keep it from happening again. Here are my take-aways:

-No hiding clutter from other rooms in the bedroom.

-Clothes need to be put away right away. Clothes that are dirty into the laundry basket and clothes that are clean into the closet or drawers. There is no in-between place in the bedroom for clothes to hang out in a big messy pile. Kids’ clothes go in their rooms, not mine.

-The one in, one out rule. You might be surprised to learn that shopping is not my problem. In the last year I only purchased 2 clothing items: a white T-shirt and a white tank top. And as far as clothing gifts go, there were 1 or 2 T-shirts and 2 pairs of  shoes. My problem isn’t bringing stuff into the house so much as it is never letting it leave. That has changed quite a bit this year, though. So for every item that comes into the house, I will get rid of at least one similar item.

-Maintenance. I think when I have the kids clean their rooms on Saturdays, I’ll just think of that as a time for all of us to clean our rooms!

Head on over to I’m an Organizing Junkie to be inspired by more room transformations!

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Love by Decluttering | The Master Bedroom Project – Update #2

I’m decluttering and organizing The Master Bedroom this month as part of my Love By Decluttering project. And I’m so thankful that Laura from I’m an Organizing Junkie is doing a 29 Day Organizing Challenge this month, too!

I didn’t get as much done this week as I would have liked, but I do have some progress to show you.

Here’s a before picture. If you want to see more you can check out this post.

Here’s how it looks now.

Wow. That actually makes me feel like I got more done! But the clothes in the pile were mostly dealt with last week.

Here are some things that will be leaving the house! Yay!

Trash bags!

That seems like a lot of trash. That black bag was actually in the pile with some trash already in it. I’m sure I left it there because it wasn’t full yet, but the next time that happens I will fill it up from other rooms and get it out the door!

And here are some things to sell or donate:

There will be more of this next week for sure!

Here’s what is left in this part of the room:

Blech.

What I want to avoid: Moving the clutter from the bedroom to other parts of the house and just leaving it there to clutter up another area. I had to say that out loud because it’s so tempting sometimes! Moving clutter from room to room will not solve my clutter problems.

The small box of yard sale leftover baby clothes are stained and/or ripped, so I’m thinking I will cut them up into rags. The rest of it I think I need to just set a 15 min. timer and make myself work through it bit by bit. I also have a laundry basket full of clean socks that I need to deal with. Too many are missing their match. And we just have too many!

Good news:

-I didn’t add to the pile this week! I put clothes either in the closet or in the dirty laundry basket. Yes!

-My friend Kristen is coming over next week to help me with a decluttering project! Not sure if we’ll work in the bedroom or somewhere else, but it’s a good thing! We made great progress the last time she came.

Have a great weekend! I’d love to hear if you have any advice or tips for me. 

I’ll be back next Friday with another update!

I’m excited to be linking up with the 29 Day Organizational Challenge over at Org Junkie!

 

 

 

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Filed under Declutter, Organization, Paper Clutter

My 6.5 Pound Purse

I knew my purse was getting heavy. But 6.5 pounds? That’s like carrying around a 5 lb. bag of flour and a can of soda in your purse all day. My poor shoulder!

So when Rachel over at Small Notebook cleaned out her handbag, I knew I needed to join her!

Here’s the before shot.

Of course I had to take everything out and start fresh. So here it is, trash and all! Look at my 2-year-old going for the raisins. Cutie.

I was a little surprised at the amount of sand in the bottom of my purse.

I got rid of the trash, receipts, and a ton of grocery shopping lists and did a general sort job to see what was there.

You know, it’s the typical things you might find in a purse: wallet, make-up bag, sweet note from my hubby, rock, balloons, 2 pairs of scissors, my Shrinky Dink name tag, toothbrush, socks, paper airplanes, car key from the car I sold over 2 years ago. Typical.

I just realized that I have everything I need to play Rock, Paper, Scissors with real objects! Now why didn’t I think of that before? Oh well.

Here’s what’s actually going back into the purse:

No, no one is going to accuse me of being a minimalist. I’m okay with that.

I really like having small things grouped in clear bags so that they aren’t getting lost and confused in the bottom of the purse.

And guess what? My purse lost 3 pounds in a week!

Here’s my 3.5 pound purse:

 You know you want to weigh your purse  now, don’t you? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

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Organizing the spice cabinet by category | Before and After

I wasn’t sure what decluttering and organizing project to work on next, so when I saw that my friend Kristen at The Frugal Girl was organizing her cabinets and inviting others to join in, I knew that was my ticket to motivation!

I like to cook. I like to try different recipes. I have a ton of spices. Too many, I think. And disorganization usually reigns.

Problems that lead to spice clutter:

  • I buy a spice that I don’t usually use for one recipe I want to try.
  • I buy too many seasoning blends. Aren’t they fun and easy, though?
  • I don’t use all of the spices I own, but I don’t want to get rid of them because I might come across a recipe that needs that spice, and I don’t want to have to buy it again.
  • Disorganized spices. I don’t always put them back after using them which leads to spice containers cluttering up the counter, wasted time looking for spices, and buying duplicate spices because I don’t realize I already have an extra jar of nutmeg in the back of that random shelf.

Note to self: You don’t need to own every spice and spice blend known to man and grocery store to be able to cook a variety of meals.

The spice cabinet before organizing

The first step was clearing the space. As I was doing the clearing, I found this fun discovery:

Really? 6 cans of cooking spray?

And you know what? 4 of them were pretty much empty, just sitting there. So now I’m down to this:

Much better!

I also threw out some other things that were very expired and/or gross.

Now let’s focus in on those spices. Here they are on the island along with a cute little boy.

Lots of spices

Here’s the empty cabinet:

Yuck. The counter that had all the spices on it was even worse.

This next picture is actually encouraging to me. The bag on the left contains mystery spices from who-knows-when (pre-blog). The bag on the right is recent and I know exactly what is in there. I wrote the date on it, too after I took this picture. I think I’m learning something!

Labeling is good!

Next, I separated out all of the seasoning blends (or at least the ones I think of as blends).

Seasoning Blends

Gabe helped me and we alphabetized the rest of the spices and stacked the duplicates.

Alphabetized spices

I usually organize my spices alphabetically. I’m using the word “usually” very loosely here, because I never seem to keep up with that system very well.

So I decided to take  a break to see Kristen’s before and after pictures. She used containers to group her spices by category. I kind of loved that idea, and I was really ready to try something new, so back to work I went with my new plan!

Little Anna “helped” too.

Spice hopping. A new Little People sport.

I started out just doing the spices that way, but I was loving it so much that I organized that entire cabinet.

Here’s the bottom shelf, where I am keeping my most commonly used spices. I have them separated into savory, spicy, and sweet.

Savory, Spicy, Sweet

The next shelf is more of a baking shelf. You will find a nice big, important container of chocolate, one for nuts, and one for dried fruit.

Baking shelf: Nuts, dried fruit, chocolate

The next shelf up hold less-frequently used spices, and the top shelf holds spice duplicates and some infrequently used spice blends.

infrequently used spices and duplicates

I put the more frequently used spice blends on a turntable in the corner cabinet.

Spice Blends

Let’s look at that before picture one more time, for comparison:

The spice cabinet before

After!

Organized spice cabinet with a clear counter!

Now I’m jazzed to organize some more cabinets! I’ll keep you posted on how this new system is working out, too. I’m expecting it to save me time, money, and sanity.

How do you like to organize your spices? 

 

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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, How To, Organization

Hot Spot Check Up: The Entryway – Week 2 | Shoe bins

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. This week, we’re continuing to work on the entryway. 

Well, hello there! Wow, it’s been quite a week around here. We had a stomach bug hit us and now I am just trying to catch up on everything. Thankfully, we are all better now, and back to our regular activities. So let’s take a quick look at the entryway, shall we?

This before picture was actually taken on Tuesday or Wednesday:

I admit it! I’m the one with too many shoes here.

I wanted to try the container idea that at few people have suggested, so I went on a little hunt around the house and found these:

I really should have put prettier shoes on the top there. Oh well. It's the real deal here.

Now we are going to skip along to Sunday for a new before picture:

Those shoe bins have been working well so far. I have one for grown up shoes and one for kid shoes.

I only needed to work on things for about 5 minutes to get it looking like this:


I’m happy with that! I do have more ideas for that closet, though. And my lovely readers shared some great ideas in the comments last week. We’ll check back in on this clutter hot spot next week.

Other Updates:

  • I’m still planning to show you some fun before and after pictures from the kids’ room. Hopefully this week!
  • I hope to get the menu plan for the week up tonight. I need to decide what to make with one cooked chicken breast…
I’m linking up with OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing.

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Hot Spot Check Up: The Entryway | Week 1

Every week I post about a clutter hot spot in my home. This week I’m looking at the entryway. Actually, I needed to do more than just look at it. 

Isn’t it so nice to come home, take of your coat, and kick off your shoes? That’s what we like to do.

See?

It’s just so nice to have your coat and shoes right by the door so that you can just put them on as you walk out the door.

What’s not nice is that there are 5 of us doing this in a rather small space, and with more than one pair of shoes each. They do start to accumulate, don’t they?

I picked the entryway this week because it was just driving me crazy and causing us to waste time as people tried to dig through a pile of shoes and coats before leaving the house. It was driving us all crazy I suppose, so I knew it would bless my family if I could work on fixing it up.

I started out setting the timer for 15 min, just to see how far I could get. I was able to pretty much get everything sorted in 15 min.

These are all of the shoes that were in and around that closet.

Here’s the laundry pile, kitchen, and trash/recycling.

And these were the things heading upstairs.

This is a large pile of give away/sell/return-type stuff. Some of it is leftovers from the yard sale. It’s all still there right now, but maybe we can deal with it this weekend.

The next step was removing items that didn’t belong there or that we don’t need/want at all, and organizing what was left. Gee, seems so simple sometimes. Our current rule is that each person can keep 1 or 2 pairs of shoes in that closet. So, we’re back to that maintenance problem again, because we obviously haven’t been following that rule very well.  The kids helped deliver all of the extra shoes and things to their proper places.

And here’s the after picture!

And here’s a peek into the closet.

Much better! I’m thinking I’ll stick with this hot spot for at least a couple more weeks to see how things are going. Plus I have some ideas that might help that coat closet.

Is your entryway a clutter hot spot, too? If you have any tips or ideas to share, I’m all ears!

I’m linking up at OrgJunkie’s 52 Weeks of Organizing!

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Filed under Before and After, Declutter, Hot Spot Check Up, Organization