How to Organize Your Desk Drawers

Over the Christmas holidays, I tackled some organizing projects, and one of them was the desk space in our master bedroom. I’ve avoided it since 2013, the year Mother passed away. This space was her spot to write notes, play on the computer, and pay bills.  I went through the drawers shortly after she passed away to look for important papers, but after that, I just didn’t want to move her things. It’s the last space in the house that was still “hers.”  But, it was time to claim it for me, and I think she’s smiling down seeing that I am enjoying using her desk.

Just like the organizing project in the kitchen, I went through each drawer removing everything, sorting it into piles of keep, donate, trash, or find space elsewhere in the home. I went through each pen and pencil and if it didn’t work it went into the trash. I wiped out all the drawers. The two drawers I will show you today are the center drawer you can see in the photo above, and the top drawer on the right.

This is a really shallow drawer so the challenge was finding drawer inserts to keep my supplies organized. Guess what? I went around the house gathering up trinket dishes and trays. Brilliant twist if I do say so myself. I got six dishes into the drawer and I love how it turned out.

I have a dish for stamps and return address stamps. The little plastic box for stamps is from the Container Store here. I love the size for keeping smalls together. I use two trays for sticky notes and tabs. My favorite tray houses little notes from friends. I used to leave mother sticky notes by the coffee maker so when she started her day she’d have a  nice note from me until I got home from work. I found all the notes I wrote her tucked inside an envelope.  I like keeping them close.  Since the drawer is super shallow, this is about all I can fit.

The next drawer houses all the office supplies. I bought these inserts from Amazon. I use them all over the house because they are so versatile. Now I have space for pens, pencils, highlighters, scissors, hole punches (I almost bought one because I didn’t think I had one – then I found two!), erasers, staple removes, clips, paper clips, glue stick, pencil sharpener, and white-out.  I can’t tell you how nice it has been to open the drawer and easily find what I need. At the very back of the drawer holds staples and larger binder clips.

I’ll share next week how I organize my technology cords.  Exciting stuff!

How to Organize Bedside Table Drawers

Last week I shared how we organized our kitchen drawers. This week is a quick inspiration for cleaning out and organizing your bedside table drawers.

My first suggestion if you are in the market for new bedside tables is to purchase ones with several drawers. I inherited from my parents a set of beautiful French provincial bedside drawers. According to The Insider, there are “Eight Popular Design Trends for 2021” and one of the trends is non-matching furniture pieces. Here are some ideas I found on Pinterest:

I love using a secretary’s desk as a bedside table in a bedroom. Source Pinterest
Different tables, both white with drawers. Source Pinterest.
One side a table, the other side a cabinet. Source Pinterest.
Same idea, but with a different finish. Source Pinterest.

Now, if you aren’t in the market for tables a simple fix is to use baskets to help you organize books and other essentials in a beautiful way.

Source Pinterest

If you have drawers, let’s talk about how I organized my drawers. First, clear everything out of all the drawers (yes, everything). Have a trash bag handy and small boxes or bins to sort piles for “Keep” “Trash” “Donate” “Move Elsewhere.” Wipeout or vacuum the drawer so it’s clean.

Next, I like to use these SmartStore Inserts in white from Container Store to organize drawer contents. They come in a variety of sizes making it easy to find the best fit for your drawers. I’ve got compartments for pens, nail care and hand lotion, medicines, lip balm, remotes, and so on.

I use the second drawer for magazines and books I am reading and after cleaning out the clutter, it gave me a completely empty bottom drawer. I learned that tip from my organizer friend – Elizabeth Jones.  Her philosophy is after your purge and organize you should always have empty space to grow into. That empty bottom drawer gives me space to stash a blanket – or snacks I want to hide from my family!

I hope this was inspirational. Next week we will tackle my desk drawers.

Organizing Kitchen Drawers

The easiest way to tackle organizing any space is to work on it in small segments. Use a calendar and write down a goal each week for an area of your home that hasn’t been tackled in a while.

Last week my goal was to clean out my kitchen drawers.  I immediately went into this with the mindset that the only project for me that week was drawer organization. This kept is manageable and achievable. It may take a full day to just go through each day, then you have to order the supplies for the drawers. Plan on this being a few days so you don’t put pressure on yourself for a quick turnaround.

For the kitchen project, I enlisted the help of Mr. Bee. I asked him to help me remove everything from each drawer, I mean everything and lay it out on the counter (he even asked me, “take out everything?”).  Yes, and the reason is that you need to look at each utensil and ask yourself when was the last time you used it, does it work, do I have more than one, can I donate or throw it away. This was a good exercise for him because he never seems to know where things are or where they go when he empties the dishwasher. Does this sound familiar?

Once we did that, we wiped out the empty drawers and cleaned the dividing containers we use to separate our utensils.

Once we finished sorting we found several things we set aside for when Miss Bee moves into an apartment after graduation, we threw things away that didn’t work properly, and we even found gadgets we didn’t know we had – one thing we have no clue what it was, but Mr. Bee insisted we keep it because you never know. I obliged since it’s a tiny gadget and may disappear soon anyway.

Here is the kitchen utensil drawer:

Click the pic to shop the drawer organizers

The white baskets are from my Amazon store. They fit nicely and compartmentalize like items –  all the measuring spoons in one space, our most-used utensils in front, etc…

Here is the “party drawer”

I have this set of ten clear organizers in many drawers in my home. In this drawer, they are perfect for sorting cheese knives, cake servers, salad tongs, little spreaders, and spoons for a charcuterie board and serving cakes and salads.

Here is the gadget drawer:

These are items we don’t readily use but still need.  Things like a pastry brush, zesters, candy thermometers, etc.. We used the same clear organizers in this drawer. The organizers are the perfect profile for a narrow space.

Then we have the silverware drawer:

The expandable silverware caddy is from Container Store here.  I like how it’s adjustable based on your needs. In the front of the drawer, we have our chopsticks and chopstick rests from Le Creuset.  That tiny little box I found at the dollar store and it holds corn cob holders!

That’s a roundup of this week’s organization project. I’ll be back next week to show you the results of my desk drawer and bedside tables.

How to Use Cook Books as Home Decor

For years I stored my cookbooks on a shelf in my pantry.  In the last several years, I transformed my formal dining room into a “lady’s lounge.” It’s a quiet and inviting space for reading or gathering with friends. I put two large bookshelves from World Market on one of the walls and decided to display not only serving pieces, and cake pedestals, but also my cookbooks.

Cookbooks are much more than reference books, they are works of art. They make perfect coffee table books. Sometimes I like to just prop cookbook on a stand on the counter in the kitchen to inspire me with a photo of beautiful cupcakes. Or, I will stack several on the kitchen counter with a plant on top.

One trick for organizing your books is to sort them by color. I take off the book’s jacket and file the cover away if I decide to donate the book later. The spine of the book brings out the pretty colors.

Speaking of donating, here is an article on five ways to recycle cookbooks you no longer want.

I usually try to donate a book when I bring a new one to the shelf.

Here’s more inspiration from my Pinterest board on the ways you can use books to bring color and interest into a room.

Apartment Therapy
The Home Edit
Stray Dog Designs

I also use chalkboard bins to sort my books by category – Let’s Bake, French cooking, What’s for Dinner. A calligrapher friend, Megan Clegg, lettered the bins for me.

And I love this idea of putting cookbooks in a basket on the counter with a few wooden cutting boards.

The few last tricks, stack books next to a chair or sofa to create a twist on an end-table.

Or pile them on a coffee table, especially if they are all one color scheme.

Driver by Decor

The point is, use your cookbooks like art, share them with guests, and open the pages to reveal the beauty inside.

How to Make Your Home Smell Clean

As the weather gets cooler, I think we all want to treat our homes to a good cleaning from being cooped up from the summer heat.  I love to make a batch of homemade three-ingredient stovetop simmering potpourri to fill the home with the smell of clean.

Slice one lemon, add three rosemary sprigs, one teaspoon of vanilla, and enough water to cover.  I let it sit on the stove at a low simmer.*  It fills the house with the smell of the soaps you purchase at Williams-Sonoma.  I usually have all the ingredients on-hand, especially the rosemary from the garden. You could also use oranges or cloves.

And here’s a time-saver from PureWow for the upcoming holidays regarding cleaning — fake a clean home!  “A deep clean would be lovely, but you’ve got 45 minutes, woman. The most important thing you can do: Clear every counter and tabletop of clutter and hide the mess away, you can deal with that stack of mail in the hamper later.  Then give each surface a spritz of all-purpose cleaner for a little extra shine. No one will be scrutinizing the corners of your baseboards anyway.”  Try this set of Holiday scent counter sprays for your countertops — people will be so obsessed over how yummy your house smells they won’t even notice the cobwebs!

That’s a tip I need to tattoo on my arm — why do we clean before company comes when the mess is after they leave?  I am raising my hand guilty on all counts on this because I get so overwhelmed with cleaning before a party that it makes me crazy.

*Be sure to add water, as needed, and never leave the saucepan unattended.  Turn the stove off when you leave the house or go to bed.

Organizing Your Photos in Binders

This is a project I have been meaning to share for a while.  Without the help of my dear friend, podcast sidekick, and professional organizer with Nest & Transformation I would have never been able to downsize my photos and mementos from the huge cardboard boxes into seven neat and tidy binders. Elizabeth readily took the boxes and went to work.

First, she had me order personalized binders in a pretty pattern with numbers on the spine to help me know which binder to source depending on the subject. I found these custom mint and gold binders on Zazzle. She also suggested order at least two more than I needed so I have extra binders for the future (that way they will all match).

Next Elizabeth ordered plastic three-ring binder pages for the variety of sizes of photos (you can find all these suggestions in my Amazon store here):

  • Trading Card photo pages for school photos, concert/sports tickets
  • 3 1/12 x 5 photo pages
  • 4 x 6 photo pages
  • 5 x 7 photo pages
  • And 8 1/12 x 11 sheet protectors for love letters, certificates, full page recipes, playbills and travel memorabilia.

Elizabeth sorted through all my photos and memorabilia organizing them by subject – like my school photos in one book, photos of family members in one, and so on.

Then Elizabeth returned the finished binders for me to store neatly in my closet. When I want to use a photo for my blog or just enjoy it, I can easily find what I need.

And the best thing about three-ring binders is that when you find a forgotten stack, you don’t have to redo the whole album. Just insert the pages in the right spots. It feels so good to have all my photos neatly organized in one space. How easy is that?! Please reach out to Elizabeth for her help on residential and commercial organization projects. Her team will do just about anything and with a big smile!

 

A Page from My Planner: Create Themed-Days

This Forbes interview with Mike Vardy, a productivity specialist, addresses how daily theming is a great way to boost your productivity. It gives you an overarching focus for every single day.  It’s a framework, but it’s a framework with flexibility. “What day is it? This day. This day means this.” Vardy’s website Productivityist is full of all sorts of articles, tips, and resources to help you better manage your time.  His company is built with the quest to help people stop “doing” productive and start “being” productive through developing practical and tactical approaches to their work and lives.  He also has a podcast here.

In my 90-day planner (My Next 90 Days), there is a section designated for “structure” and an outline on creating my themed-days. This allows me to batch projects together, creating a weekly rhythm and gives me peace of mind.  I sat down and created mine:

Motivation Monday – start the week with the mindset to have a positive attitude and practice flexibility so I can overcome unexpected obstacles with as little stress as possible. I want to achieve the desire to profit from my week ahead, professionally, and personally.

Try it Tuesday could be lots of things – listen to a new podcast while I get ready for work, try an original recipe, try out a new machine at the gym, and so on. The goal for Tuesday is to be open to new things.

Weed Out Wednesday is dedicated to decluttering and organizing. I will set this weekly goal to drop off one new bag of things for Goodwill, or clothes to take to the resale shop, go through a junk pile, or sort through old mail I’ve stacked on my desk, organize a drawer.

Thoughtful Thursday is intentionally thanking someone with a hand-written note, and the best part it could be for someone not even expecting it. Keep a stash of pretty thank you notes in your desk, a few stamps and set aside just a few minutes every Thursday to express your gratitude.

Feel Good Friday  – yay! I finished the week! Today I get to do something that makes me happy.  Meeting a friend for a cocktail after work, going on a date-night with Mr. Bee, taking my dog for a walk.  This is my day to choose to #celebrateeveryday.

Self-Care Saturday – Whew, I made it through the week, and today I focus on putting myself into a charger for a reboot for the next week. Self-care could be napping or cleaning my house – because a clean house makes me feel productive and happy.  Or it could be “nesting” in my home – moving furniture around, decorating for a holiday, and planting flowers on my front porch.

Strategy Sunday – Prepare my weekly meal plan for dinners and lunches, get out my planner and schedule days I will go to the gym, look ahead at meetings or evening events on my calendar where I might need to adjust my free time.  Get my clothes ready for the week, or make my grocery list for Walmart pickup on Monday.

Do you see how I have planned my week, so I am intention and not spinning my wheels overlapping things or double-dipping? The spinning makes me feel out of control and overwhelmed.

To help you give this strategy a try, I am gifting you with a blank printable here. Print and create your themed-days.  Put into your planner, in a frame on your desk or your fridge.

Let me know how it works for you! #nourishtoflourish

Mrs. Twist Makes This – How to Make Your Own Cleaning Sprays

I love to clean. Now, finding the time to do it and having energy is a different story. However, once I jump in and get it done I like how my house smells.  I like the tidy order of things. It makes me feel content.

I’ve been testing some new “homemade” cleaning recipes I’m sharing with you.  These are not my own creations – I leave it to the experts to do the chemistry.  Two reasons I am attempting to make my own supplies, rather than buy them: one, I know what’s in them; and two they are very cost-effective. Plus, I really like the results!

I’ve pinned all the recipes to my Pinterest Cleaning Board here.  And, I have included them below directly from the source with links to resources.

Everyday Counter Cleaner – 

I have Quartzite countertops and clean them every day with this counter cleaner from Clean my Space.  I keep a bottle of this handy to wipe down the counters every day after we finish cooking dinner. I also use clean microfiber E-cloths I purchase from JabosAce .  They dry quickly which means they don’t get that moldy smell.  Here’s the recipe:

    • 2 cups water
    • 1 tsp dish soap (I use Dawn)
    • 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (tea tree is a great natural disinfectant.  I also like peppermint, orange, and lavender)

Using a clean spray bottle (I like these from JabosAce because you can write on the label what the spray is designated for), add the ingredients and mix the solution together.

Floor Cleaner:

From Clean my Space here is her story on how to clean different types of hardwood floors.   I use this recipe of hers to clean my engineered floors since they are not hardwood:

    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/2 cup white vinegar
    • 1/2 cup rubbing alcohol
    • 10 drops of your favorite essential oil (optional)

Floors oftentimes look streaky and hazy after being cleaned…which shouldn’t be the case after all your effort! Working in sections, spray the mixture and wipe with a flat head microfiber mop to get rid of those streaks for good.  I use a Libman Microfiber Dustmop here.  My house smells so clean afterward, like a day spa.

Tile Floor Cleaner:

This recipe comes from One Essential Community.

    1.  Fill a 24 ounce or larger bottle add 2 cups of distilled water
    2. add 1 cup unscented liquid Castile soap
    3. add 50 drops pine essential oil and 30 drops cypress essential oil

How to use your homemade floor cleaner:

    1. add 1 gallon of hot water to mop bucket (tip: be sure to add the water first so that soap doesn’t bubble up too much)
    2. add 2 Tbsp floor cleaner to the water
    3. mix well
    4. mop floor or wash floor by hand- this one-floor cleaner works well for all types of floors (hardwood, laminate, tile, and vinyl).  It doesn’t leave any residue, so there’s no need to rinse.  This makes three cups of floor cleaner, enough for 24 moppings.  Between moppings, I use my Shark Vac Steam Mop.

Next time I will share ideas for cleaning your bathroom.  Let me know if you have homemade recipes for cleaning you’d like to share.  Happy cleaning!

My Easy Three: In the Kitchen

My Easy Three are achievable tasks you can apply to keep you and your home organized.  For September I’ve got three easy things to do in the kitchen.

First — go through your plastic storage containers.  Every few months or so, I sit down on the floor in my kitchen in front of the cabinet that stores all my plastic and glass food storage containers. I take each base and try to find its lid.  Does the lid snap on easy, does it even fit?  Is the container stained, warped? Toss or recycle the rejects.I got a set of Pyrex glass containers from Costso.  They are easy to clean and don’t melt or warp in the microwave or dishwasher.  I keep the lids snapped on and stack them in the cabinet.  Having this nice set means I only need a few plastic or disposable ones for food I might want to give away.  For those containers, I stack them inside each other and I use a divider to stand up the lids.  It keeps everything neat and organized.

Second — Do the same process from your travel cups and mugs. Do they work, are they cracked, stained, do they have matching tight fitting lids? Do you even like them?  Recycle all the ones you don’t have an attachment to. Do you really need 20 travel cups?  I have 3 travel mugs and about 8 tumblers with lids like this.  I like to drink from something with style not a faded, old Quicktrip cup.  I stack the cups and keep the lids in a long, skinny drawer divider and the straws stored upright in a cup.

Third, — Kitchen towels and dishcloths.  Go through each one. Is it faded, torn, stained?  Some can be recycled to the cleaning or car wash container in the garage.  Invest in a new matching pretty set for the fall.  I roll my towels into cylinders and keep about 20 in a drawer.  This method keeps the drawer from being over stuffed with towels.  If I bring a new towel into the drawer, I clean out the drawer again.  Here’s a pretty set for the holidays from Williams Sonoma.

What’s a constant trouble area in your home you’d like help with?  Leave a comment and I’ll try to help.  For more ideas from My Easy Three check out the Homekeeping and Organization tab under HomeStyle.

My Easy Three — Sunscreen, Flash Light Batteries and Picnic Coolers

It can be very overwhelming to tackle the day-to-day list of everything we want to accomplish, but if you can just try and do three simple tasks every day or every so often, you will accomplish so much more with ease and less frustration.  I call this “My Easy Three.” Here are some previous ideas to inspire you:

Today we are going to tackle three summer-time tasks – first Sunscreen.  My go-to is the perennially popular, PABA and paraben-free Trader Joe’s SPF 50 Spray Sunscreen to save the day—and your skin—with broad-spectrum UVA & UVB protection and skin-nourishing ingredients like aloe, Vitamin E, & coconut oil.  Their sunscreen is never tested on animals and at $5.99 this product continues to appear on the “Best of” lists for years — including Consumer Reports 2019 Best Sunscreens.

Here is a great article on the 10 Best Sunscreens of 2019, how much and how to apply them, what strength dermatologists recommend and more. The FDA is currently proposing big changes to sunscreen regulations, and only physical sunscreens with the active ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are recognized as generally safe right now.

Flashlight batteries.  Now is the time to replace all those flashlights with fresh batteries so you are prepared for summer storms when the power goes out and for late-night walks – the only time to take a walk with your dog because it’s so hot.  It’s good practice to change the batteries every 6 months so you can avoid corrosion and it will insure you always have a ready to use flashlight. We try to keep a flashlight in each bedroom in the house, especially in the guest bedroom so your company doesn’t have to navigate around your house in the middle of the night. Here’s a helpful article on battery safety from Consumer Report.

Picnic Coolers.  When was the last time you actually used soap and water to clean out your cooler?  Usually we are so tired from a day at the beach or lake we just dump the ice out, let it air dry and put it away until the next time.  Between seasons, take them outside hose them down, fill with hot water and a little dish soap and give them a good scrub. You might even add a splash of bleach, let it sit for a bit, then give the coolers a good rinse.  Dry them out and let them dry out in the sun.

Travel and Leisure magazine rated the top insulated cooler bags for 2019 here.  I love this Igloo cooler called the Daytriper. This sommelier-inspired tote stows a mini foldable table, a bamboo cutting board, a corkscrew, and a set of cheese knives. Inside, the cooler has two separate compartments with an adjustable divider. And the front straps are flexible, too, so you can easily tote a picnic blanket or beach towel along, too. And, it’s only $79.

Now you are summer-ready!