In our house once the nice weather hits out come the crocs, flops, and birks. I saw this at my sister-in-law's cottage and loved it- a bucket for shoes! I picked up this metal container from an antique market for the back patio door. When we come in from the backyard we just toss our shoes in the bin- easy, super kid friendly, tidy, simple to clean, and looks good too!
Have you ever thought of how your decluttering can actually help others? Here's a few ideas that might motivate you to blitz some areas of your home to help others this holiday season.
1. Clear out the pantry- it is the perfect time of year to clear out the pantry. All unopened non perishable food items that you have way too many of or are not going to use- donate. The food banks are in high need this time of year. Collection boxes are at most grocery stores and schools.
2. Outdoor clothing- there are several places including Salvation Army that take outdoor winter clothing this time of year.
3. Toys- tired of cleaning up a million toys? About to add more into your home? I think this is a great time of year to teach kids about passing on items to others. Local shelters, school toy drives or fundraising events, and churches are just a few places that generally accept gently used toys.
4. Clothing & other household items- there are always places looking for these sorts of items to help people. Maybe you know someone sponsoring a refugee family? Local shelters are often very grateful for these sorts of items. Humane Societies often need extra towels. If you belong to a church you can ask if they accept donations.
Recently my eyes were opened to how many people locally need assistance. This is such a simple way to help!
Please contact me if you need help finding places to donate items. I am happy to help.
Here is the quickest tip I will likely ever post.
Do you have random party supplies somewhere in your house like this? Here's my tip- use them!
This happens to be my collection from the last several kid's birthday parties we've had. Tonight I am having a few good friends over for pizza and guess what fancy dishes we will be using! It's a waste to throw them out and my good friends could care less about this sort of thing. In fact they will likely find it funny.
Other options- craft material for kids at home or at school.
Have a great weekend folks :)
As we quickly approach the start of another school year I thought I would share some tips that may help to keep families a bit more organized.
1. Back to school shopping. This is simple- only buy what they need for school. If they don't need a new backpack, shoes, or supplies why buy them? Those nonessential items can cause clutter and disorganization in your home quickly.
2. Calendar(s). I am a big fan of a monthly paper calendar for kids. This should be put in a spot where they can read it and mark off the completed days. Teachers will often send these home with most of the class events marked down so no need to reinvent the wheel. As emails, teacher notes, reminder apps, etc come in you can add to the calendar. Make sure the whole family is aware that this is the place you mark things down.
3. Loonie Jar. Many elementary schools have fundraisers throughout the school year that cost $1 or $2. A lot of people do not carry cash anymore. Consider going to the bank, getting a roll or two of loonies, put them in a jar along with some small ziplocks and a sharpie. You can store it in a cupboard in the kitchen. This idea may avoid a frantic morning running around looking for change ;)
4. School work. What to do with ALL that awesome school work your little buddies come home with. Here's a few tips for this. One, use two bins per child, one for you and one for them. As they bring work home decide together what you would like for your bin, they would like for theirs, and what will be recycled. At the end of the year you can go through the boxes and each pick a few special things to remember about that year. Label them with the grade, year, and child's name. It is fun to look through the boxes with your kids and might be something you do more frequently if it is not superabundant. The second tip is to take videos and photos with your kids and their work then recyle it. This is another fun way to preserve memories.
5. 10 min clean up. Take 10-15 mins everyday and deal with school emails, apps, planners, and backpacks. Try as best as you can to deal with all the communication as it comes to you. Get things marked on the calendars (step 2) so that it doesn't slip your mind. paperwork piles up you forget things (because it's buried in the pile somewhere) and it becomes a big job that no one wants to deal with.
6. Prep. After the 10 min clean up take a few mins to prep for the next day. Check the calendar(s), what's going on tomorrow or this week? Prep work the night before allows for a smother morning the next day.
7. Don't overload schedules. Be mindful as your signing up for activites, volunteer positions, weekend plans. These are all fun and important things but not when everyone is burnt out.
Some of these may seem very basic but it can sometimes be just a matter of making them hibits.
When all else fails a glass of wine and a good vent to a friend can help too ;)
I hope you find these helpful.
As I have been very busy with helping people pack their homes this summer, I thought I would share some things I've learned about cardboard boxes.
1. Cardboard boxes are a convenient, and affordable way to move your items. They tend to be light, come in many shapes, and are easy to label.
2. Cardboard boxes can be easily disposed of when your done using them. Recycling them makes them an eco friendly option.
3. Cardboard boxes are not always the most durable option.
4. Cardboard attracts moisture. Although most of us have done this at one time or another, using boxes for long term storage is not a great idea. Not only can the box go moldy (and smelly) but your contents that are stored inside can too. This is particularily true when boxes are stored in basements and attics. You're better off to use plastic bins and make sure you store them off the ground.
5. Cardboard boxes can be chewed. Gross right?! If you have ever had a rodent problem you know how much of a mess they can make. When storing items in your attic, basement, and/or garage (aka rodent's favourite places to hang out!) make sure you consider a durable material and a tight closing lid. Do not over fill the bin, making sure the lid is flat and sealed properly. I have seen mice distroy things! They need the space of a dime to get through.
6. Cardboard boxes are not weather resistant. We often store important paperwork and collectibles in our basements and attics (which is a whole other topic!). If you have a leak in the roof or a flood in your basement your items can be severly damaged or even ruined.
If you're a person who saves boxes (several people do) you may want to consider locating them to a dry, cool area of the home, or just getting rid of them ;)
My overall feelings on cardboard? I think for short very term use it can work well. For a long term solution- no way!
So this next tip might not be for everyone but it sure works for me!
My least favourite place to clean in our home was the ensuite shower.
Last year I was introduced to Norwex, a cleaning product company. They have a product called the Enviro Cloth. You don't need to use any other cleaners, you just wipe surfaces down with the cloth.
Because I always seem to get soaked when I clean my shower, this morning I thought I would just clean my shower while I was taking a shower. So in I went with my Norwex Enviro Cloth. This was literally the fastest I have ever cleaned my shower. It took no time at all and I felt like a productive champ! Not even 7:30 and I already cleaned myself and my shower! lol!
At Put To Order I pride myself on providing practical solutions. They may not always be conventional, but I strive to figure out how to make challenging things simple for people. My shower is far from my least favourite place to clean now!
I love to repurpose things! This was a super quick repurpose that I did in my own home. This was a white organizational item for the kitchen, used to hold kitchen wraps. Here's the steps I took:
1. Gave it a quick wipe down.
2. Took it outside and spray painted black. I did a few thin coats to avoid dripping. Let it dry.
3. Put a few anchors in the wall and secured the rack with screws and washers.
Voila a magazine rack!
How do you feel in your home? Do you feel overwhelmed, frustrated, tired? Do you feel cheerful, relaxed, comfortable? Have you ever asked yourself why? If you find yourslef more on the frustrated, overwhelmed, and tired side of things, maybe Put To Order can help.
1. Believe that you deserve to be happy and love your home.
2. Do you have the time and energy to maintain your home? We live in an over scheduled, over worked society that likes big things and a lot of things. It's not hard to figure out why we are all struggling to maintain this lifestyle. So maybe something needs to give. I encourage you to really take some time to think about this. Maybe you want to look at hiring a cleaning company weekly, reduced scheduled activites, even downsizing.
3. Is it the space or the things that are frustrating you? You might be amazed how much decluttering can transform how you feel about a space. Maybe you just need some organizing ideas to help with the function of the space. Pinterest is an amazing site for DYI ideas.
4. Display your treasures. I go into so many homes where their special items are in their basement or their attic. Kind of funny when you think about isn't it? Here is what I say- pull out the kindergarten art from the bin in the basement. You can make a coffee table book or frame some of it. These are the things that help make a home. They bring you happiness, that's why you've kept them, surround yourself with joy in your home.
These are just a few tips to help you love your nest. Put To Order trasforms spaces to enrich lives. If you want a hand let me know, I would love to help!
I'm not sure if it's New Years resolutions or if it people are starting to realize the impact of clutter, but so many people are decluttering lately and I LOVE IT! Once you get rid of those unloved and unused items the other trick is to not let the clutter build up again.
A few months back I created a 30 day challenge for myself. For 30 days I purchased only essential items. So what did that mean for me? It meant no take-out food or beverages, no meals out, nothing for the kids unless they needed it, no extras at the grocery store, no clothes, no activities that cost money, etc, Essential purchases only for 30 days. Here is what I found:
- I was surprised how many times I went to grab for something then thought "do we need that?" and the answer was "no".
- I was shocked at how much money we saved.
- There is a lot of free things to do out there!
- No member of my family went without or missed not buying those extra things.
- I felt proud to not emotionally shop.
- It taught me to be more concious about my purchases moving forwar. If we don't love it or need it, we don't add it to our home.
Want to take the challenge? Give it a try. I would love to hear what your experience was like!
So maybe you're not ready to put up the tree quite yet but I bet you're starting to think about the holidays. For most of us, with the holidays comes the exchange of gifts. Particularily with kids sometimes space for those gifts can be a challenge. Here are a few ideas to help make room for the holidays.
1. Go through all the clothes, coats, boots, hats, mitts, etc. There are several places that can use these items. Salvation Army runs a warm coat program for those less fortunate. What a great way to get rid of a coat that's not being used! www.salvationarmy.com
2. Go through the kid's rooms with the kids. You can encourage them to donate the stuff they don't play with anymore to another child less fortunate. In my expereince Women's shelters have been very happy to have gently used donations. TIP- you need to call a shelter to schedule a drop off. www.shelterlondon.org (London's women's house) www.ywcakw.on.ca (one of Kitchener's women's shelters)
3. As your pulling out the holiday music and movies skim through your collections. Anything there you're not into anymore or that the kids have grown out of? Consider selling it, or trading something old for something new! The Beat Goes On is a store that buys and sells second hand music, movies and games. They have stores located in Brantford, Hamilton, Oakville, Burlington, Guelph, Kitchener, Cambridge, Waterloo, London, and online. www.thebeatgoeson.com
4. Sports equipement- look to trade in or sell to places like Play It Again Sports (several locations throughout ON). I love this, particularily for kids. They grow so fast and you sometimes don't want to invest a lot of money into something, epecially if they haven't tried it before. A great way to get the old stuff out of the basement!
5. Finally when you start pulling out those decorations have a good look at them. If you haven't used them for several years, if they are not sentimental, or they are broken maybe it's time to set them free. They are just taking up space for 12 months of the year :)
These are just a few ideas but I hope they help!
With kids recently back to school I've had some inquiries on how to make a good homework space. Here are a few tips:
1. Choose a room. For some kids a bedroom works best. Other kids may work better in a common area like a kitchen. Either way choose a quiet space without a lot of distractions.
2. Choose a work surface. A desk can be a good option. However if they require room to spread books or papers out a table or breakfast bar may work better. Also consider if the child is working with someone else or independently. A table might be more comfortable for multiple people to work at.
3. Have a clean space. Often I see desks covered with decor and desk top organizers. Cute storage containers for their pencils, scissors, papers, etc. Don't get me wrong sometimes these can be useful. But more often than none they become catchalls and take up a lot of valuable working area. Try to keep work surfaces clear and clean. If you choose to work at the kitchen table try taking everything off it before starting. It is less distracting.
4. Good lighting. It works well when everyone can see ;) If you're using a desk lamp test to find out if it gets hot. I learned this the hard way!
5. Organizing supplies. Keep supplies in a consistent spot. Remind kids to put things back when they are done with them. That way they know where to find them next time they need them. Avoid frustrating experiences like looking for a stapler at the end of a busy day.
6. Creating a calendar. Having a calendar with events, schedules, due dates, birthdays, etc visually accessible for the whole family is extremely helpful. This is a great tool for keeping kids accountable, no matter what the age.
So there's some tips on a homework areas, now if anyone has tips on getting kids to like doing homework let me know ;)
How do you decide when to fix something or when to get rid of it? Ask yourself a few questions. Do you really like the item? Is it functional? Are you capable of fixing it yourself? If not, how will you get it fixed? Is it worth paying someone to repair it? After you've asked yourself these questions be decisive. Either find it a new home or get mending.
Here is a great example of a quick fix. These chairs were still liked and functional but were looking tired. They were refreshed by painting the arms with a metal spray paint, making a slipcover for the back, and adding a cushion. Voila, like new!
So don't procrastinate. Try not even adding a small repair to your to do list. Just do it or get rid of it. I bet you'll feel great!
Are you sick of having wet bathing suits, lifejackets, and towels hanging about the cottage or backyard? A clothesline is the obvious solution. But if you don't have the space or looking for something different, check out this outdoor hook by Put To Order.
This is a very easy project that takes less than an hour to complete. First think of what you want to hang on your hooks. How many hooks will you want? Next find the space to hang your wood. This will determine the size of wood to get. You can also use things like a wake board, water ski, or other fun summer items. Get creative! Next purchase your materials- boat cleats (hooks), back board (wood or other material), and some deck screws (so they won't rust). Boat cleats come in different sizes and colours. Have fun! Lay out your boat cleats in whatever pattern you like, screw them in. Finally mount the board.
This is great hosting gift for a cottage, or just for your own personal use. Enjoy!
Weather you're heading to a cottage, traveling for work, or planning a night away, packing and unpacking bags can get tiring. Here is an organizing tip to save a bit of time and maybe some frustration, ready-to-go toiletry bags. Normally I would not encourage buying duplicates but this is an exception to the rule for frequent travellers. Having a ready-to-go toiletry bag is so convenient and easy to do.
1. Before you choose a bag gather the things that are going in it. That way you can see what size of bag you need first. (This is an organizing practice Put To Order always uses.) Your ready-to-go toiletry bag might include things like: toothbrush, travel size (ts) toothpaste, ts floss, ts hairbrush, ts shampoo & conditioner, ts deodorant, ts shaving cream, disposable razor, ts moisturizer, ts sunscreen, ts contact solution and case, spare pair of glasses, and a hair elastic. Travel size toiletries can be purchased at most grocery stores and pharmacies. Note: Keeping your makeup in a separate bag allows you to easily pack it when you want it or leave it at home when you're letting your natural beauty shine.
2. Once you've gathered your items look to see if you already own a bag that will work. (Another Put To Order practice, see what you already have before you buy.) Keep in mind toiletry bags can sometimes get a bit wet so wipeable bags are practical.
3. Fill up your bag and you're good to go.
Safe and happy travels :)
What do toiletries, makeup, and spices have in common? We all hang on to them for far too long!
Let's start with toiletries. Bubble baths, salts, lotions, soaps, etc. How long have they been in the cabinet? If you're not using it, either start using it or get rid of it. It's as simple as that. Stop hanging on to all those little hand lotions, that smell so good, that you never use.
Makeup. Most of us wear the same makeup everyday. Have a look in your caboodles ladies. When was the last time you wore some of that stuff? I realize that some eye shadows or lipsticks might be used for special occasions. Beyond that get rid of it. It's time for the 6 year old mascara to hit the trash.
Spices. So here's the thing, we eat these. Now I am by no means a chef, I'm not even a good cook, but when you haven't used it for the last decade, I'm not sure you should eat it. When you need only a teaspoon of a spice that isn't commonly used in your house, try buying it where you can choose your own amount. That way you don't end up with 90% of the jar left to collect dust in your cupboard.
These are quick decluttering jobs you can do on a rainy day. Be honest with yourself, do I use that? Why am I not using that? Will I use that in the near future? Look at expiry dates. How long have you owned that for? You might be surprised at how much you get rid of.
One of the benefits after decluttering is that the things left over have more space, therefore tend to be taken care of better. That's pretty great considering they are the things that we use and love!
Ever feel like your laundry is out of control? So what's the trick to laundry management? Here are a few tips that may help if you find laundry to be a gruelling task.
1. Instead of waiting until the laundry baskets are totally full try doing a load every second night or so. Depending how much you sort your laundry this may not work for you but we find when the laundry pile is smaller it is easier to manage. If you have a young family try putting a load in just before getting the kids ready for bed. I find the wash cycle is done by the time bedtime routine is done (about an hour). Then throw it in the dryer right away. Here is the key step- commit to putting the laundry away before you get into bed. This smaller scaled system may make laundry not seem like such an overwhelming job.
2. OK so now for the folks that just laughed at the first tip. I get it, the idea of doing laundry every few days doesn't appeal to you. So try this if you have multiple people in your family. Do all your laundry in a single day. Throw the clean clothes in the middle of a bed. About 15 mins before bedtime have everyone head to the laundry pile. Have everyone make a pile on the bed with their own clothes. Designate one person to be in charge of the other household laundry like towels, dishcloths, etc. Once the laundry is done being distributed to the smaller piles have everyone put their own laundry away. You may need some patience with this as little ones might be just learning to put away clothes. They are skill building so it might not look pretty at first but they'll get the hang of it. And just remember the quicker they learn this skill, the sooner you don't have to do it for them! This method gets the family involved, gives you some family time together, and best of all the overwhelming pile of laundry gets put away much faster than with one person doing it by themselves.
I use both of these methods. Typically we use the first method. I found it easy to implement into our routine. However when we have a a busy week or have been away from the house for a few days, we all pitch in and use the second tip. They work well for us. Laundry does not need to be a laborious household task. I hope you find these tips helpful!
I love these canisters because they are easy to wash, inexpensive, come in different sizes, and you can easily change the writing on the labels. Here are the steps to make them.
First figure out how many canisters you need and the sizes you want. Then purchase smooth glass containers that are meant to store food in. These ones featured are from a local dollar store. Wash and dry them.
Next get some labels. These ones were plain white labels from a craft store. Then paint them using a small foam roller and some black chalkboard paint.
Once the paint is fully dry, peel and stick them on the jars. Write the contents on the jars on the labels. I used a white pencil crayon v. chalk because I found it easier to write with. To change the writing just wash it off with a bit of warm water and soap.
I find these super versatile and a great way to keep a cupboard or pantry organized.
Most people when they think of storage they think of plastic bins and baskets. There is absolutely nothing wrong with either, and personally I own many of both, but sometimes you just want something different.
I'm a huge fan of antique wooden crates for storage! They are durable and stylish. You can use them for so many things- storage for albums, hats & mitts, books, toys, even stack a few and use them as an end table or a shelf. Search crate storage ideas online and you'll find so many neat uses.
If you would like to have the crate mobile screw 4 swivel caster wheels on the bottom. They come in all sorts of sizes and colours. You can find them at most hardware stores. Make sure the screws are the proper length so they don't pop through the wood on the inside of the crate. You can also jazz the crate up with some paint, words (i.e. what it holds, or someone's name), or just keep them plain.
You can find antique crates pretty easy at most antique markets. They can cost anywhere from $20+ depending on the condition and size. Before purchasing one think of what you are going to use it for. That will help when determining the size you need. If you are going to use them for children's storage make sure you look for one that is safe, the wording (if applicable) on it is appropriate, and maybe give it a light sanding if need be.
They make a great gift for kid's birthdays (personalized toy box), cottage hosting gifts (to store blankets, towels, books, or firewood), or a wedding gift (maybe put their wedding date on it somewhere).
Storage ideas should be practical but they don't have to be boring!
I discovered mason jar salads a few years back and since then they have become a staple in our home. They take a bit of prep time but are well worth it in my opinion. These have become a big time saver for our family and have made it easier to eat a quick and healthy meal during the work week.
Here is the skinny on mason jar salad assembly. It is a layering process which is why they don't go soggy.
1. Choose how many salads you want to make. Line up your jars. I like to use a larger jar with a wide-mouth lid so it's easy to scoop out.
2. Add 2-4 tablespoons of your favourite salad dressing, depending how saucy you like your salad.
3. Chop and add your favourite harder veggies like carrots, beans, chickpeas (yum), celery, whatever you like. Add a layer of those on top of the dressing.
4. Add your other veggies like tomatoes, peppers, corn, cucumbers. You can also add a layer of grains like brown rice or quinoa if you want to make it a bit heartier.
5. Time for the leafy greens, spinach, lettuce, again you choose. This should take up about 1/3 of the jar.
6. Finally you can top with protein if you like, grilled chicken, tofu, whatever you prefer.
7. Put the lids on and put them in the fridge. When you're ready to eat shake them up and pour them on a plate, in a bowl, or eat them right out of the jar.
There are a ton of mason jar salad and breakfast recipes online, search them to find your favourites. This is a convenient way to stay on track with healthy eating. I hope you enjoy them as much as we do!