I think order speaks for itself. Order is so crucial to everything we do. Order helps to create a sense of calm and balance, vital to running a smooth and efficient home. Ever have that sinking feeling, like things are getting ahead of, or behind you? Believe me, I do as well, but I have found several ways to keep on top of things. I’d like to share my ideas for you here. Use some as inspiration for your own home.
I love silver. Teapots, sugar and creamers, trays, decorative frames and items. When grouped together and gleaming, silver can look very luxurious. But with silver, comes the tarnish – which some people loathe so much, they rarely take out their silver to be used. If you’re a “Downton Abbey” fan, I’m sure you’ve wished your tea would be served out of one of those gleaming teapots! Personally, I don’t mind polishing silver. If you keep on top of it, there really is very minimal effort. I usually polish about 2, maybe 3 times a year. I have used many different types of polishes. I recently purchased a silver tea service that was so badly tarnished and had residue from past poor polishing. I experimented with the following method and in less than 15 minutes my entire set was shiny as new! This is my new go-to method to clean my silver! So try this and I’m sure you’ll be hooked back on your silver and dragging it out of the closet to put on display.
What You Need – these are small amounts, increase as needed
• Aluminum foil
• Glass dish or aluminum baking pan (the disposable types used for roasting turkey, etc.)
• 1 cup boiling water
• 1 tablespoon baking soda
• 1 tablespoon salt
• 1/2 cup white vinegar
• Tongs to remove silverware from boiling water
1. Bring water to a boil. When combined with the other ingredients the water will activate the baking soda and start the process of transferring the tarnish to the foil.
2. Add the dry ingredients into the pan and slowly pour in the vinegar. You will cause a slight reaction, so pour carefully! It is possible to clean your silver without adding vinegar, but the vinegar will dramatically speed up the process.
3. Pour in the boiling water and then place the silver into your pan, making sure each piece is touching the foil. Try not to let any of the pieces overlap. This should only take about 30 seconds but if you have heavily tarnished pieces you may need to let them soak a few minutes longer.
4. Use tongs to remove the silverware and work off any remaining spots by buffing dry.
I rinsed my silver under warm water and then dried. If you want to store your silver, wrap it tightly in saran wrap and it will remain tarnish free until you need to use it.
When the tree comes into our house, it feels as though I lose significant square footage – likewise, when it goes out I feel as though we’ve put an addition on! Needless to say, we get a big one and every year it’s the same problem – how to rearrange the furniture (and the knick knacks!). The solution is simple enough, if you have too many small tables or extra chairs, remove them. Yes, delegate them a spot in another room or in the basement until the holidays are over. Keep in mind however, that if you are entertaining, you will need that extra seating so you can always bring them back out as needed. As far as the bric-a-brac, if you have many small decorations, ie: santas, sparkly balls and candles – too keep things from looking too cluttered, it is essential to just put some things away. Put away extra picture frames and such this way your holiday decorations will take center stage and keep your home looking organized.
OK, here’s a simple tip that has huge impact, on your home and your sanity as well! We are entering the holiday season for sure. If you have children, you can already anticipate the mini home invasion that is going to occur. Here is how I have always handled it. Early in December, I go through the playroom toy closet. I clean out all those toys that haven’t been played with in awhile, lost a part or two, things we have duplicates of (you know you have those too!). It’s just a matter of organizing to create room for the new. You can do this with your children as active participants or on a day when they’re not around. It can also be a valuable teaching moment if you have your children donate their items to those less fortunate. I encourage you to do this early in December so that if you are donating, your items will be available to those in need for the holidays. Satisfaction on all levels!
Using jars like the one below, or others with interesting shapes, is a neat way to store all those note cards, stickers, and the like. Plus, it is easy to see the contents, instead of rummaging through the drawers. Group a few together for a pretty display in your home office.
Yes, sometimes I think that all those pairs of shoes in our home will come to life and take over! If your home is like ours then you probably have enough boots, sneakers, shoes and sandals to supply a small country. When they start piling up around the entry doors it’s enough to really set me off!! As with anything, I have found that organization is the key to harnessing the madness. In an effort to corral the foot wear, I store them in easily accessible unique containers organized by type. For example, I have an iron basket that stores all the flip-flops and sandals, a tray for wet boots and I found an old chicken hutch that houses our collection of sneakers and golf shoes. Try using shelving for your foot-wear. Going upwards with your storage eliminates those rows and rows of shoes lining the garage walls, plus having the added advantage of easily being able to find what your looking for and encouraging your family members to store back in the right spot at the end of the day.
Yes, it is true the digital age has created monsters for all of us regarding the numerous amounts of photographs we take and all the easy ways to take them. So much so, that to save evey photograph taken, we’d need to contact the National Treasury for extra personal storage space!! Between the cameras and phones, those sent by freinds via email, twitter, instagram and on and on, it can be bewildering come time to figure out what to do with them all.
I am a little ‘old-fashioned’ with my pictures, I love a photo album. I like the ease of randomly taking an album off the shelf and flipping back and forth through the pictures. Plus, I just like having a tangible picture I can hand out if needed (there are alot of grandparents without computers out there!). Here is a system that works for our family. Once every 4 months or so, I collect the phones and the cameras. My husband downloads all the content onto a computer we have that is designated solely to photo archiving and storage. You can do this on your regular home computer as well, but it will soon eat up all your memory. I have my husband do this because he has more patience than I do. It is a simple process, but can take awhile depending on the amount of pictures you are downloading. Here is the vital step, once they are downloaded, I sit down and delete all non-important, fuzzy, cut-off, terrible pictures. Be diligent and delete. Do you really need 4 of the same picture with just the slightest variation between them? Now, they are categorized on the computer into their separate folders: Fall 2014, Summer 2014, Summer Vacation, etc. Then they are loaded onto a USB stick which I take to a photo lab (this can be done electronically as well – I’m just the type that likes to actually physically bring it). I don’t print my own pictures, I just have too many. Now when my photos are ready, I slide them all into photo albums. These are always in chronological order, Halloween before Thanksgiving before Christmas, and so on. I like the albums that have a small space next to the pictures in which I just make short comments on such as “Cape Cod 2013” or “February 2013” and I usually put down the childrens ages as well. I’m the type that looks at a photo album and asks “How old was so and so then?” So now you have your pictures sorted, organized and handy to look at either on the computer or in an album. One more thing very important thing to consider. We all know how vital and important those pictures are to us in documenting our lives. When my husband is organizing the pictures on the computer, he always, always, burns the pictures to a disk, this disk is taken off site and stored in another location, ie: vacation home, safe deposit box. This is just one more measure meant to keep those memories safe in case of fire, flooding or any other potential danger, which I hope never befalls you. Happy picture taking.
Like most people, you probably have enough of your childrens ‘artwork’ to fill the national treasury. Too precious to throw away and too much to do anything with!! When my children were starting to go to pre-school, elementary school and on up this is how I solved the problem. I purchased a plastic bin for each child. The long and not too deep variety, say 3′ by 8″ or so deep. I stashed these on a top shelf in their closet or under the bed. Anywhere that would make sense and out of sight. Each time they came home with their beautiful creations (which was almost every day!), I would determine what was worth keeping, on the back I would record the month and year, the school, the grade they were in and their age. I know, some of that seems redundant, but really, when they pull it out some day, who wants to do the math as to “how old was I when I made this?”, it’s all there. Takes about 30 seconds. Then I would place it in the bin. In the bin also goes report cards and those ‘welcome to the new year’ letters teachers would write. Essentially anything that was sentimental and worth saving. Here is the key. If you do this from the beginning and don’t go through it, each piece placed on top of the next, you will have a chronological history, so to speak, of all your childs elementary years. I plan on giving my children their bins some day and what they do with them will be their business, but I am sure they will have fun going through memory lane.
When the kids are home for summer it can be so difficult to get enough time to really tackle some of the projects and ‘need to do’s’ around the house. Constant interruptions, driving here and there, camps, etc. The inevitable happens, we fall behind and consequentially start to feel a bit overwhelmed. Not to worry, the gardens aren’t going anywhere. However, now that school is back in session, I feel like regaining my control over the tasks at hand. I’m a list-maker. I can’t say enough about how just making the list can make you feel in control. The satisfaction of having things written down helps to organize not only the ‘to do’s’, but also contributes to order in the brain – hugely gratifying, not to mention the satisfaction of crossing an item off. I urge you to do the same. Take some time to yourself. Think of what you want to accomplish this fall, projects around the house, cleaning up the gardens, organizing a closet, etc. Keep the list somewhere you’ll glance at it a few times a week to remind yourself and slowly you too will regain your calm.
Ok, kids are all back in school, happily or not. Time to start a little organization around the house now that we have a little time back to ourselves. If you’re like me, you buy the annual “school picture”. I buy them all, every year, the good, the bad and the ugly. I can’t help it, even though I rarely put them in picture frames, I have to admit they are great for handing out to grandparents, godparents and the like. Nonetheless, the packages are never perfectly catered to what I need. So, I usually end up with a few odd sizes and extras that I did order “just in case”. Now what? This is what I do. Purchase a traditional 3-ring binder (thickness depending on how many children you have). I have one which allows for a piece of paper to be inserted in the front, which I cutely printed out the words “School Days”. Inside purchase tab dividers, again, based on how many children you have, and clear full insert sleeves. Each child is labeled on the tabs. I label the back of one of the extra photos with year, age, school and anything else you need to remember. Then into the clear sleeves they go. Each year gets filed in behind the previous. Now you have a chronological file of all your school photos and they are easily accessible for those times when you need that “just in case” extra! Of course, the same goes for all those sports and band photos as well. Plus, the bonus….you never have to feel guilty about finding them all tossed into that catch-all drawer!