Thursday, January 27, 2011

Finding Order (also titled: Ode to Labels)

[warning...if you don't enjoy organizing, move on now.  or you will be incredibly bored. i promise.]

With the January 2011 goal of 31 projects in 31 days, life has felt chaotic at times with the projects going on, but with every passing day, it has felt calmer.

Every week, we've had a full dumpster of 'stuff', boxes to go to St. Vincent de Paul or the Goodwill, and a growing sense of order to the house.

And I can't begin to describe to you how much peace it's brought to the family at the same time.  A place for everything and everything in its place.  Though the word "everything" is pretty darn optimistic right now, there's a handful of places that are nearly completely done.

Both bathrooms?  Check.  The pantry?  Check.  The laundry area?  Check.  The built-in cabinets beneath the china?  Almost there

I started cleaning out the built-in cabinets last week.  The phrase "out of sight, out of mind" came to mind as I cleaned out paperwork from the early 1990s.  There were random odds and ends from more than 25 years of sentimental 'saving'.  And after Jonathan decided what was significant enough to keep?  A shoebox's worth of stuff.  I went through my stuff that had been stashed in there, keeping of mine only what was useful.  My beloved (and shrinking) stash of Illuminations candles?  Kept the pumpkin pie, lemongrass, peach and tea & honey.  My giant 75% off stash of candy cane candles went into the donate box.  I was candy cane'd out.

I am a label freak.  A few years ago, just after we got married, I put post-its on the front of every dresser drawer in our bedroom describing the contents.  It helped both of us learn where to put stuff as we adjusted to having another person around all the time.  As we'd both lived on our own for several years, we both needed an adjustment period.  :) 

With our January projects, I've reacquainted myself with my favorite clear Avery labels (in all sizes) and my printer.  I know, I am a nerd.  But I give you the first (of three) built-ins, all cleaned out.  The two drawers are Thomas-friendly.  On the left are 'puzzles and coloring books' and on the right, "colors".  I love that he now goes right to the drawers when he wants to color, and pulls out what he needs.  And I especially adore that when we play the 'clean up game', he knows what goes back in those drawers. 

The "tasting party" box was named after the "tasting party" sets I have from Pier 1.  I bought two sets - one of mini martini glasses, and one of mini ramekins.  Then I found Ace Mart Restaurant Supply, who also sell mini goodies as well (like square petites and shot glasses), for crazy cheap.  So I have a stash of those that can be used for all kinds of things. I love seeing everything tucked away neatly and easily accessible.

Thomas's craft drawers, up close.

Inside the "colors" drawer, with all kinds of goodies.  Lots of new Christmas goodies as well - thanks Grandma!  :)

And one of my favorite repurposings.  Thomas and I were looking all over Target today for a basic white bucket for "The Soak" (thanks Mama's Laundry Talk!).  Designated just for cleaning so the clothes wouldn't get destroyed by hidden bleach or something along those lines.

Every bucket I could find was bright colored or crazy big or had giant wheels.  Wheels?  Argh.  Then I remembered the bucket that I had sitting in the garage for washing windows.  Since the two solutions won't clash (like ammonia and bleach would), and I would rarely be doing both at the same time, I could use it for both.  So I took my favorite GooGone and removed the labels from one side and made up two labels for easy use.  One had the instructions for The Soak and the other had 3 recipes for window washing solutions.  One label on each side.  And now tucked away on the shelves in the laundry area.  Swoon.

The other side of the bucket:

In the pantry and bulk shelves, I also added labels for frequently used recipes.  The narrow stacking canisters from The Container Store (the store closest to "organizing porn" if there ever was one) have given me peace in the pantry for a few years now. I add to them little by little as the need arises.  I love them.

On the back of my arborio rice, I added my favorite risotto recipe, since that's pretty much all I use the arborio for.  I love not storing the rice in the original bag that's difficult to keep from spilling...and adore having the recipe handy.

And finally, bathroom medicine cabinet organizing.  Tossed old medicines and stashed everything far above Thomas's reach.  And labeled.  Reminded myself that we don't need half a dozen of the same type of medicines.  Just the most recent and the fullest.  And made sure to tuck the dosage recommendations from our pediatrician right next to the box. 

And that's how I roll, er, label


Tai said...

ah, a girl after my own heart! I wish you could come organize my house before my parents come to live (temporarily) with me.

Victor said...

Okay you so have to come down here and teach Kathy how to organize and label her stuff. I'm about ready to throw it all out!

Amelia said...

Oh you are inspiring me.....I need some container store I think!! :) Thanks for sharing!

Amber said...

I love the little recipe ideas on the back of the containers! I too have been on an "organization quest" and I'm enjoying every minute of it.

Marquelle said...

I think we were separated at birth. I LOVE labels!! My kids toy bins are even labeled. Good Work :)

Jen Strange said...

ok, it's a little sad how much I enjoyed this entry :)

very cool labels - and genius to put recipe instruction on the storage!


Unknown said...

You are my kinda lady! I am a labeling freak too!

Family of 4 said...

I am in love w/ this post!!

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