Category / Organization

moving checklist (free printable!)

movingchecklist

As promised — coming at you today with a moving checklist! I know there are several floating around in cyberworld, but I found myself needing one that applied to those who have to move TWICE — both to temporary housing and a storage unit, and then again in a few months. So I included some line items (if applicable) for anyone else in the same boat.

moving checklist | lifeinyellow.com

movingchecklist

Click the link above (or hover on it, right click, and save) to download a copy to your computer.

Happy packing!

***Pst! You can snag other free printables from Life In Yellow:
Sitter Notes
Meal Planner
Holiday Decorating
Gift Planner

organizing our move

moving

At this point, boxes are all over the house!

We have three weeks until our move. But in those three weeks, I have a handful of photo sessions to shoot and edit (in addition to my day job), plus I’ll be out of town for a few days. Page is overloaded with web work between his day and freelance job, and he’s handling the logistics of the move itself and the apartment/storage unit/truck rental, so the physical packing part of the move is on MY to-do list. (It works well… because I’m a tad neurotic about knowing what’s where and how I want it all transported!) 😉

sharpie

This move is a little more complicated than past moves, because things are being split up — some things go to storage (evaluating what items we won’t need for the next 8 months), and others will go to our apartment with us. Keeping the destinations of the boxes straight, in addition to labeling the contents, is a process I’ve been able to streamline a little…neon labels are my new best friend!

72782-06724-p01p

Each box gets packed, and a Sharpie note in the front/top/right corner of either what’s in it, or where it needs to end up. If anything inside is fragile, it gets a hot pink sticker — I buy the large rectangle ones, that I can quickly tear into pieces and stick a bit on each side, so no matter at what angle one of our helpful friends picks it up, they can see if it requires a little extra care to move. (This keeps me from writing out “fragile!” over and over…and over!)

Boxes going to storage have a lime green sticker – so we can quickly sort on moving day and know which boxes go in which trip. Before I knew we could secure some temperature-controlled storage, I also was using orange labels to denote temperature-sensitive boxes (anything that can melt, warp, or freeze).

styrofoam plateAnd while we’re on the packing topic…this tip I came across on Pinterest has worked like a charm: the fastest way to pack your plates? Styrofoam plates between each — so much faster than wrapping each one individually!

Check back next week — I’ll be posting a FREE PRINTABLE moving checklist! 

spring cleaning!

spring cleaning recipes | lifeinyellow.com

I don’t know who let this lady into our house, or where she came from, but she’s into cleaning lately.

I know. Whaaa??

I chalk it up to a mixture of Spring fever and wanting to get the house feeling fresh for the changing seasons. Plus, having it on the market makes me look at it with new eyes and clean with just a little more vigor. At a moment’s notice, the house has to be sparkling from floor to ceiling for a showing!

I got on a Pinterest kick one night and started researching homemade cleaners using natural products that were cheap to whip up. (Since we seem to be cleaning daily lately, I was not opposed to something with a lower price tag.) I also like the idea of getting away from the chemical stuff, and using something greener.

To start, I stocked up on some microfiber rags, (way cheap at TJ Maxx if you’re looking for some) – rather than going through rolls of paper towels, I like that these have a little more durability to scrub with and I can use them over and over.

spring cleaning recipes | lifeinyellow.com

Then I made a batch of two kinds of cleaners, using the following “ingredients”:

spring cleaning recipes | lifeinyellow.com

Lemon essential oil and Dr. Brommer’s lavender castile soap (I found these at Whole Foods)…

spring cleaning recipes | lifeinyellow.com

…and a jug of distilled water and one of white vinegar.

Then I made my two cleaners. First, an all-purpose cleaner:

spring cleaning recipes | lifeinyellow.com

Fill a spray bottle with distilled water and add a teaspoon of castile soap. Add a few drops of essential oil if you like for added scent oomph! Shake before using. This is great for wiping down cabinets and baseboards, and I used it to clean the inside of our fridge and microwave. It smells SO good!

Then, I made a water and vinegar mix for cleaning our stainless sink and appliances as well as glass surfaces:

spring cleaning recipes | lifeinyellow.com

Half distilled water and half vinegar. And LOTS of essential oil to combat the whiffs of vinegar.

I’m loving the way my house smells (and glistens) lately 🙂 Happy spring (cleaning)!

laundry room…check!

updated laundry | lifeinyellow.com

Don’t get the wrong impression…just because this project has taken two years to complete does NOT mean you will be overwhelmed with the results. But, it’s a definite improvement over what we had, and I actually enjoy opening the laundry room door now!

laundry before

To begin, we started with this laundry room. Standard wire shelving, organized enough, functional.

Next, the game plan hit some bumps. First, the rug I ordered (and was basing my whole idea to stylize this space) didn’t fit quite right and had to be sent back. This translated into an entirely different wall color pick for the room. I think this worked out for the best, though, as “Soft Mint” by Glidden made this room feel SO much lighter/brighter (and dare I say, bigger).

Next, we built and painted a pedestal to go under the washer/dryer and house three laundry baskets. Cue the forehead slap…we literally couldn’t angle the room-width creation enough to get them INTO PLACE! So we took them apart and kept one section as a sort of riser to line up with our baseboards. I do feel the difference in bending over a few less inches to get clothes in and out, so the project wasn’t a total waste.

laundry in progress

Since that debacle, we focused time and energy on the basement, and the laundry room was “good enough” – meaning there were a couple improvements checked off, but all of the laundry/cleaning supplies collected in here, and without a storage system for keeping it all organized, making it not too easy on the eyes.

updated laundry | lifeinyellow.com

Finally, I feel like this is a space we can mark off as done. I’m glad to see the cheapo 12″ wire shelving gone. In its place, we added a 16-inch deep piece of pine, primed and painted to match our trim, for a bit more custom/built-in look. We had a plethora of leftover trim in the same finish from our basement, so we re-purposed a piece of that along the edge to take it up one more notch. The two white bins keep supplies sorted into one of two categories…

WASH: detergent, softener, bleach, OxyClean, stain stick, Color Catchers, etc

DRY: starch, lint roller, dryer balls, defuzzing comb, etc

updated laundry | lifeinyellow.com

…and a roll of paper towels is close on hand, in the corner where we stash a small waste basket for lint, and our mop. I like that this corner is out of sight, when looking in from the hallway.

updated laundry | lifeinyellow.com

We finally have a place to store our laundry baskets that is NOT on the floor, blocking the machines, or on top of the machines to vibrate noisily while they’re running.

updated laundry | lifeinyellow.com

This was a big check off the list of house projects, and gets us one step closer to being ready to list the house! Stay tuned for details on THAT story in the coming weeks!

 

‘january’ is synonymous with ‘purging’ and ‘organization’

…at least for me it is!

Along with a fresh start (and a renewed sense of energy to get to the gym!) I love to use the cold post-holiday month of January to take a pass through our house and eliminate STUFF we don’t need and make SENSE of what we do and where to keep it. There’s nothing like the reward of zen that comes from not having more stuff that you can keep track of! Less stuff means less time spent to keep it all straight – and it’s easier to appreciate the things you LOVE when they aren’t overshadowed by a bunch of stuff you just don’t really need or use. I think this just about sums it up:

too much stuff -- resolution 2014

January inevitably sends me into OCD mode, cleaning out and organizing every pocket in our house — closets, junk drawers, shelving – anywhere stuff accumulates, and also getting some rhyme and reason to collections of things – like gift wrap supplies, baking stuff, etc. I know there is more storage space in this house — it’s just a matter of creating it!

The goal is to tackle a space or two each week – some small, some large. Judging from my list this could go on for many weeks…

Purge/organize the following spots around the house: 

  • Gift wrap (simplify – too many odds and ends)
  • Baking/cake decorating supplies (I only use about 10% of what I own – an abandoned hobby)
  • Kitchen cabinets (in general just clear out dishes/tools we don’t need or use, including the TEN-plus water bottles for two people)
  • Pantry (decently organized, just needs a once-through for expired stuff and to regroup on what needs to be restocked)
  • Junk drawer (this can barely open/close!)
  • End table drawers in living room
  • Coat closet (out of control)
  • Bookcase cabinets (not even sure what it’s there anymore…)
  • Cubbies/baskets in front entry bench (same)
  • Bathroom cabinets upstairs (a whole mess of bath products, some being used, some not)
  • Nightstands in our room
  • Jewelry (I’ll always keep a TON of fun costume jewelry, but there are some pieces that have seen better days and need to go…and free up space for new ones!)
  • Makeup (pitch stuff I tried and hated, but felt guilty about the money spent, check expirations)
  • Nail polish (pitch colors I didn’t love on, anything over a couple years old)
  • Our closet (this deserves about ten bullets in the list – pull it all out and seriously evaluate what stays and goes — bribe Page to do the same)
  • Linen closet (not using space well in there)
  • Laundry room (get shelving built/room finished, organize the basics that need to go in there)
  • Guest room closet and under-bed (random storage, not sure what all’s there?)
  • My office (clear out books not needed, paperwork for our taxes/ClickSmith documents in order, get a system for organizing camera equipment)
  • Page’s office (add some shelving to max space in his closet, clear out paperwork, books, magazines, organize Page Smith Design documents)
  • Basement under-stairs closet (random stuff in an odd-shaped space – clean out and figure a better way to use this precious storage square footage
  • Utility closet (turn into seasonal decoration storage room! – get rid of xmas decs no longer needed and organize what’s left in there)
  • Basement bookcases (I have empty baskets/totes as “decoration” in them – need to figure out what to store there and fill them up!)
  • Garage (last as we’ll wait til it warms up past 1 degree F! We started to re-org out there before the cold season – finish this up in the spring)

I’ll try to check in throughout the month with any good “before and after” photo opps! Anyone else bitten by the organization bug this time of year? 

step 1: purge

I’ve never had too much trouble with cleaning out, purging, and pitching stuff. I am so motivated by the zen of no clutter and not too much “stuff” to manage that I actually look forward to a good clean-out session around my house. And I tend to do a lot of them during this time of year.

But there are some areas where I simply forget to take a fresh look and evaluate what I have on hand. And one of those areas, for me, is my own bathroom where I keep my stash of hair supplies, makeup, bath products, nail polish, and other miscellaneous girlyness. I’m always amazed at how much stuff I can get rid of when I DO remember to clean out this part of my house – not only do I come across some stuff I tried once, didn’t love, but felt guilty throwing out right away, but there’s tons of stuff I just don’t use or that has actually expired.

expiration_label

I recently read that many products (I notice about 2/3 of the stuff I own) have this little jar icon on the label, with an approximate date of how long the product is good for, once opened. The tube of hand cream above is good for 18 months. Maybe I’m just oblivious, but I had never noticed these before. Until now, I was just keeping track of “approximately” when I bought stuff in my head, but let’s face it, that’s not very accurate. I know some people say they just throw stuff out when it starts to smell different, but quite frankly, that just grosses me out. So I thought this time around, as I narrowed down to just the stuff I love and use, I’d keep better track of what was still usable. I did a little research and made a chart to share with anyone else looking to purge through their beauty products:

makeup shelf life | life in yellowWhen you’ve pitched the stuff that’s expired or you just no longer want or need, you could use a Sharpie to write an approximate date on all your tubes and compacts and bottles as a reminder of when to throw them out. I’m not sure how on top of that I will be, but knowing the above guide certainly helps me get a grip on what’s still okay to be using.

Oh and my purge efforts? Thankyouverymuch, I parted ways with:

  • six full-size bottles of hair and body products
  • two travel-size bottles of product (I buy these a lot to try out something new)
  • eight expired nail polishes (and still dozens left…I may have an addiction…)
  • a handful of eye shadows
  • two compacts of powders and bronzers
  • one concealer
  • two lip glosses
  • three lip/eye pencils
  • two handfuls of free samples I’ll never use
  • one makeup brush (came in a set – I don’t even know what to use it for!)
  • one extra nail file (one is enough)
  • one extra makeup pencil sharpener (again, one is enough)

Can I get a high-five?! There are a couple items in there I need to replace but otherwise, I love having a much more simplified collection of the stuff I love and actually USE. It’s easier to keep it organized and find what I need in the mornings. Looking for a way to STORE all your makeup? My mom over at BeColorful recently compared a bunch of clear acrylic organizers and reviewed her favorites!

Guest Blogger Series: Tracy Pierce, Professional Organizer

guestbloggerseries

Who doesn’t love to kick off a new year in an organized home?! Today’s guest blogger, Tracy Pierce, is a professional organizer and has written an awesome guest post to share with us all as we tackle getting our homes together for 2013. Based on feedback from YOU the readers, Tracy is helping us all tackle pulling together a command center in our homes. Not sure what that means? You’ll want to! Read on… 🙂
TracyKPierceTracy K. Pierce is a holistic professional organizer, clutter coach, and certified B.E.S.T. practitioner based in Iowa City, IA. It is her passion to help her clients reclaim space for what matters most. Tracy will consider travel to anywhere in North America for professional organizing services. She also offers Skype clutter coaching sessions to anyone in the world. For more information visit www.SynergyOrganizing.com.

Getting Organized in 2013? Start with Your Command Center

January is National Get Organized Month, and if there’s one thing every home needs it’s a command center. Also sometimes called a landing/launching pad, some people are lucky enough to have a mudroom-type area specially designed to catch all the stuff that comes in and goes out of their homes every day.

Although there are plenty of custom design options to remodel and create this space in your home, if you don’t have the bucks for that right now, all you need to do is look around your entrance/exit area/s of your home and start observing where these items are already falling.

Every command center needs to create space for:

  • Keys
  • Purse and/or other bags
  • Coats and other outer gear
  • Shoes
  • Mail and other incoming paper
  • Anything else you regularly take with you or bring home

Here’s how we do it at my house. Our main entrance opens into our dining/kitchen area. Keys are immediately inside the door.

Creating a Command Center: Tips from a Professional Organizer 1

I love the 3M command hooks – great if you’re renting too, they go up and come down easily with no damage to walls.

My husband stores his work bag and bike helmet at the end of the dining room table.

Creating a Command Center: Tips from a Professional Organizer 2

Many might think this is not ideal as far as being aesthetically pleasing, but until we get our remodel done, it’s the best and easiest place for it, and I’m all for easy. (Part of good organizing is knowing when you’re organized enough, and this is organized enough for us). Plus his stuff has a second home for when company comes over and we want to use the entire dining room table.

My purse goes across from the door.

Creating a Command Center: Tips from a Professional Organizer 3

I also keep extra glasses and sunglasses in this area. I don’t really like having my purse out in the open all the time, and this is one of the things I’m looking forward to changing in our remodel.

We have coat hooks just inside the door with a shelf for the outer gear. Just below are racks for shoes.

coatshoearea

Our “shoe rule” is that we each get three pairs that go in the white slotted holder and one pair sitting out. All other shoes get stored in our bedroom closet when not in use. Establish boundaries for how full the area can be with your household.

We also have an outer gear overflow area. If you live in the Midwest like I do, you know you may be using heavy mittens one day and a light jacket the next, and it’s nice to have easy access to all of them. We’re using one of the drawers in our built-in dining room storage for our extra outer gear.

diningstorage

outergear

Since we don’t have kids and the tons of incoming paperwork they tend to create, and since we’ve made huge efforts to reduce the amount of mail that comes into our home, our mail station is quite small.

mail

At our house, we normally enter through the back door, but our mailbox is by the front door. For this reason we located our mail station in the center area of the kitchen. As you can see, one of the residents at my house is more diligent about filing the mail than the other (I’ll let you guess which is which).

Underneath we keep the shred box and a shredder (Magoo loves to model for blog post photos!).

shredder

Note the white shred bin behind the blue seltzer box – see how small it is? I set it up that way the bin would never take more than five minutes to shred. The bigger your container is, the longer it will take you to process when it finally gets full (this is also one of the reasons we have such small mail receiving bins too).

Our recycling area is set up at the end of the dining room, so any paper recycling that doesn’t need to be shredded goes immediate here.

recycling

Keep in mind if you have kids (especially!) or lots of incoming paper you will probably need a different set up for your paperwork. Many people have a container like this to round up paperwork they need to keep at hand, like school forms that need to be signed or bills that need to be paid.

As you saw in the picture of my husband’s work gear above, we do use the end of our dining room table as a staging area. Again, it’s not pretty like the magazines show us, but it is practical. Since there are only two of us and we have a six-person dining table, we’re still able to keep two-thirds of our table clear for eating while using the other third for prepping for getting out the door.

stagingarea

When you’re setting up your own command center, notice where items are already naturally piling up. Usually stuff ends up some place close to where you use it. It often makes sense to give items a real home near this area. The most important thing is to give all of these items a home and to be diligent about putting them there – this will help you get out the door in the morning exponentially faster, especially once your brain is used to the routine, usually after about a month.

Have you established a command center at your home? I’d love to hear about it  in the comments below!

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Thank you so much, Tracy! Be sure to check out her facebook page for even more information! You can view all of the Guest Blogger Series posts here.

Deck the Halls: Decorating Checklist Printable

I am BEYOND excited to decorate our house for the holidays this year! It will be the first year decking the halls of this house (which means an all-new plan from our townhouse, and some new decor goodies!) and after we spent last December moving in to our new home, decorations of any kind at our new OR old house all fell by the wayside so I’m ready to make up for a year off. If you are like me and prefer to plan ahead, I hope this download today is helpful to you!

I’ll be back later this month with a series of posts on decking our halls for the season ahead (I have already started shopping!), but to get myself (and all of you!) started, I wanted to share this decorating checklist printable to keep you organized and save time and money as you prepare to  festify your home!

If you are like me, I go all out decorating one or two main areas in the house, but still do a few small touches in other rooms as well. I tried to structure this checklist to accommodate that – with DeckTheHalls_Page1 having quite a bit more space to lay plans, but DeckTheHalls_Page2 still has room for additional spaces in your home. Print as many sheets as you need of either page – or make one double-sided copy – as you bring some “fa la la” into your home.

Once you’ve filled everything in, SAVE your printable and stash it with your decorations for next year — it will be helpful in saving time and money as you’ll know what you have on hand (and won’t buy doubles). Notice the “photo taken!” checkbox for each space – be sure to take photos as you decorate and save them somewhere to reference the next year. They can serve as instant blueprints for decorating come next year when you get all the decorations out again!