Tuesday, April 2, 2019

20 Gearing Up for Your Next Organizing Project with a FREE Printable Kit!

Hello, hello! I am excited to be dropping in with a small series I have been putting together for you all, which includes my all-time favorite organizing tips, tricks, advice, and products! It's been a long time coming to take everything I have learned over the years, whether it is working in my own home or working with others, and compiling it all in a single place here on the web.

The four-part series will include:

Gearing Up for Your Next Organizing Project with a FREE Printable Kit!

Need helping getting started or prioritizing where to begin? What is the plan of attack? What is currently working well and what isn't? What storage do you need? Trying to get rid of things, but finding it hard to decide what to keep and what to pass on?

I have put together a great printable kit to help you prioritize, sort, and navigate your way through your next organizing project(s), which includes a total of TEN free printables!

My Top Organizing Tips!

Instead of digging through years of my archives to find individual tips, I am going to compile the best of the best in a single, very informational post! It's going to be a whopper and a really great resource for projects of any size.

Labeling 101: Quick & Easy Labeling Techniques

I have tried almost every type of label on the market, from vinyl to label makers to stickers and chalk markers, and they all have their place. But what are my tried and true favorites? What do I reach for with almost any project due to time, cost, practicality, and ease? I will be sharing three labeling techniques that haven't failed me yet, and that you won't need any fancy tools to utilize.

Practical, Everyday Storage Solutions!

If I have learned anything from raising three boys and organizing along the way, it is that storage can be expensive and that our needs are constantly evolving. Gone are the days where I purchase pretty bins and baskets to decorate with. Although I will always appreciate beautiful storage, it has to be versatile and it has to last! With that in mind, there are a few storage products that I have found that continuously work hard for me in a variety of situations, so they end up being the types of products I gravitate toward when working on any new projects. For the final post in the series, I am putting together the ultimate storage source list with tips and products that I have fallen in love with over the years.

So let's dive in with the first of the four-part series: Gearing Up for Your Next Organizing Project with a Free Printable Kit!

Today I have for you all TEN free printables!

Now, you don't have to use all of these printables for a single organizing project. They all serve different purposes and can be helpful to guide and encourage in a variety of ways. They really emulate my thought process when working on projects of any scale, and serve as really wonderful tools to keep organizing projects organized!

Below you will find a link to each printable as well as a brief explanation on how to utilize each one.


click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Daily Schedule printable
The Daily Schedule printable is typically my key to prioritization when I am feeling overwhelmed and not quite sure where to begin. It also really helps me when I need to reconsider how I am using the hours throughout my day.

It can be really eye-opening to spend a single day and track how your time is being utilized. It may shed light as to how much time is being wasted on social media, or simply bring attention to parts of the day that are just too chaotic.

H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

From sun up to sun down, track the tasks you are doing throughout the day, as well as the specific details about what is working and what is not. Tasks could include exercising, making kid's lunches, getting ready in the morning, homework hour, dinner, clean-up, bill paying, etc... Are you noticing that certain times of the day cause you frustration? Do some tasks take longer than they should? Are there ways to streamline specific tasks so they are more manageable? This is a really great way to get a visual of a typical day and provide some insight on what tasks could use some organizational attention.


click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Top 5 Organizing Projects printable

My biggest tip when trying to figure out where to begin and prioritizing your projects is to focus on your day-to-day routine FIRST. The storage room can wait, it is important to get your days running smoothly before you can invest time on the outlying projects.

H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Looking at your day and tasks listed in the first printable, select the top five areas of your day that could use improvement. It is extremely important to factor in what those specific tasks are costing you in terms of time, money, and sanity.

For example, if you are finding that you are unhappy with the process of lunch making for yourself or your kids each day, you can probably equate it to costing you money in wasted food or eating lunches out, and costing you time in the act of preparing the lunches each day. The solution may be creating a list of favorite lunch items, setting up a lunch making station in the pantry and fridge, and spending time making lunches in bulk on a Sunday afternoon.

Prioritize your projects by the highest cost to the least (cost equating to time, money, and sanity). List out the problem as well as possible solutions. This printable is a great way to encourage brainstorming and to give yourself a starting point.


click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Home Zones printable

Homes work best when they are set up into functioning "zones". That means categorizing specific closets, drawers, nooks, etc... into a specific zone and then detailing out what items make the most sense to be stored there.

H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

In the first field, list a specific location or zone in your home. For example, an entryway closet. Then, give that location a general category in terms of how it should function. An entryway closet would generally function as a place to store outerwear and shoes, but may also act as a hub for cleaning and pet supplies.

In the belongings field, list out the specific items that should be stored in that zone so that they match up with the working category. This is a very eye-opening exercise and really ensures that items are only being stored where they make the most sense vs. being scattered in multiple locations throughout the house.


click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Project Planner printable

Now that you have a specific project in mind, it's time to plan it out! This may not apply to smaller organizing tasks, such as a single drawer or your handbag, but it really comes in handy for those larger scale projects.

H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Utilize the top portion of the form to recognize and detail the specifics of what was already working, as well as what needs to be addressed by the end of the project.

The bottom portion of the form is helpful for keeping track of specific steps or tasks to get from start to finish, as well as any products or supplies that need to be purchased along the way.


click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Sketch It printable

Sometimes it can be helpful to draw your drawer or closet to scale. I have been known to sketch out closets, pantries, and drawers ahead of time to be sure all of my storage needs fit and make sense. This exercise allows me to maximize the area that I am organizing and helps me to visualize the end goal.

H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Assign a specific measurement to each square and sketch up a general plan for your project. Grid out drawer organizers or design a full closet installation. The graphing area is useful for creating the outlines of bins and baskets to ensure that you get a nice fit and make the most of the available space.


click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Storage Planning printable

Do you have a really large project that requires a lot of new storage? You can keep track of it all with this helpful storage printable!

H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Larger closets and whole room makeovers require a variety of storage options for various belongings and item types. This printable allows you to keep track of the different categories, assign the ideal container, source the storage from a variety of locations, and most importantly, keep track of all of the dimensions.

For example, you are organizing a walk-in closet. Item categories might be handbags, jewelry, dress shoes, sweaters, etc... Storage types would then be shelf dividers for the handbags, drawer organizers for the jewelry, shoe boxes for the dress shoes, and canvas boxes for the sweaters. In the form fields, keep track of the sources, quantities for each, and total available space/dimensions for each container type. In the end, you will have yourself a very thought-out shopping list to work from.


click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Sorting Signs printable

After you have done all of the planning, it is time to empty the space and start your sorting!

H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Download, print, and cut the sorting signs, then score some bonus points for running them through a laminator to get multiple uses out of them. Clip or tape the signs to cardboard boxes, bins, laundry baskets, or garbage bags to keep your piles separate and clearly labeled. 

Four sorting signs are included:

Move It!  Items that need to be moved to another area of the house.

Give It!  Items that are heading to a donation facility, friend, or family member.

Toss It!  Items that no longer serve you (or anyone else) due to quality/function.

Sell It!  Items that need to be listed on Craigslist, Facebook, eBay, etc... or added to a yard sale pile.


click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Donation Tracker printable

Now that you are in the sorting mode, keep track of the items being donated for your tax records.

H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Make note of the donated item description and condition, as well as the organization that the item is being donated to. There are a variety of resources online to help you determine the appropriate value of the item, like this one and this one. Clip the receipts that you receive from the charity at the time of the donation to the printable, and file it away with your tax documents.


click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Clutter Clearing printable

Right now the trend when sorting your belongings is to ask each item if it truly "Sparks Joy". While I agree that when you are sorting and touching each item, you probably get a gut sense of whether you should keep or discard the item, there are times when you need some extra nudging and guidance to make a decision that you are comfortable with.

H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

I recommend printing (and laminating) this document and attaching it to a clipboard to keep nearby while sorting your belongings. If you find yourself holding something that is leaving you conflicted, use this printable to ask yourself a series of questions. A lot of times we continue to hold on to items out of guilt, maybe because we spent too much money on it or because we received the item as a gift. Many belongings hold sentimental value, but could possibly live on by taking a photo of it or scanning it in digitally. Other times it may come down to the amount of space you have vs. the number of items you would like to keep. Belongings can cost you in space, special storage requirements, ongoing maintenance, etc, and these questions will help you reassess that reality.


click HERE to download your FREE copy of the Clutter Clearing printable

Organization and habits go hand-in-hand. The act of organizing and adding storage will get you halfway, your habits are what complete the process. In fact, good habits are the most important part of living a more organized life. Whether it be encouraging your child to take his/her backpack to their room each day or reminding yourself to go to bed with an empty kitchen sink each night, creating a habit makes it easier and easier to get things accomplished each day and guides you in slowly changing things for the better over time.

H O W   T O   U S E   T H I S   P R I N T A B L E :

Use the fields down the left-hand side to add the good habits you are trying to create. There are enough fields to do this as a family or to track multiple personal habits throughout your own day. To the right, there are 30 boxes to check. You can either start at the beginning of the month or start halfway through and set a goal to check as many boxes possible. I have heard that it takes 21 consecutive days for a habit to be formed, so by day 30 you should really be on your way to making a small difference in your life.


All of the free printables shared in this post are designed to be downloaded via the links provided. Simply click the Download button at the top of the linked document screen, you may be asked to log-in to Box.com, but that is not required to download and save the document. Once the document is downloaded, it should be opened via Adobe Reader (find it for free here) and can be printed and used as many times as you wish.

If you prefer to use these forms digitally by filling in each field on your computer, tablet, or phone, you can purchase the fillable versions of all of these forms in my Etsy shop here.

I hope this post offers a few general tips to get you going with your next organizing project! The next post in this series will really elaborate on some of these ideas even more, and of course, there will be a few new gems in there as well!

Friday, January 25, 2019

47 Save Your Scents: How to Make the Most of Your Candles (and use them as storage!)

Candles are one of my favorite ways to add ambiance and warmth to our home. I really appreciate how they can change the entire mood of a space just through scent. What I don't love is wasting my candles, whether it be the wax or the actual vessel that it comes in.

Over the years I have learned to look for candles that are not only delightful in scent, but also come in a pretty jar. The jars they come in can always be upcycled and used as vases or storage around the home. More on that in a minute...

And candles are not always cheap. I try to purchase the majority of my candles inexpensively (Marshalls/HomeGoods/TJ Maxx, Michaels, Tuesday Morning, and Target), but some of my favorite scents are typically found at Anthropologie and local boutiques. I don't mind paying a little more for a really great quality candle, but it is ridiculously frustrating when the wick burns down before all of the wax is used. I might be doing something wrong, but so often the wick will be out and 1/3 of the candle wax is still in the jar!

All of the wax has to come out from the jar before it can be reused. I have tried a few methods to remove the wax over the years and recently heard that freezing the candle was a really quick and easy way to do this. So I gave it a try...

How to remove candle wax from vessel through freezing

It actually worked pretty well! I left a candle in the freezer overnight and just chipped the wax out with a spoon. But look at all that wax! That seems like a lot of waste!

So I went back to the method that I have typically used in the past, which is to heat the candle up on the stove in a pot of water. The water doesn't have to be boiling hot, just warm enough to melt all of the wax within the holder to a liquid (I remove the wick prior to warming up the wax on the stove, but it can be done after as well).

How to remove candle wax from vessel through melting on the stove

Now to save that wax! I recently had four candles leftover from Christmas and quickly realized that there was a lot of wax remaining in each of the containers once the wick burned down completely. I use to just pour the hot wax into the trash and reuse the container... but I decided to come up with a way to stretch that wax out going forward.

Years ago I had a plug-in warmer that would heat wax as an alternative to lighting candles. They were all the rage back then, and I remember having packs of wax molds in different scents stocked in our junk drawer. So off to the craft store I went in search of some sort of mold. In the baking aisle I came across a plethora of silicone options which are typically used for candies and small treats. PERFECT!

(Don't forget that most craft stores offer great coupons/discounts on a single item purchase!)

Now, when I melt the candle wax, I just pour it into my special mold! Below you can see how many wax melts I was able to create from four burned down candles. I can't get over how much wax I was able to save! (Similar mold can also be found on Amazon here.)

It only takes a few minutes for the wax to naturally harden back up, and then they just pop right out of the silicone.

Quick Tip: Pouring the wax out of the different candle holders can be a little messy, I recommend placing wax or parchment paper under the mold to catch any drips. Also, the candle holders can be really hot from the melting process, so use caution!! I found wearing a winter glove gave me control to pour without burning my fingers.

Right after the wax is poured, I grab a paper towel to clean out the rest of the contents of the jar and quickly wash with hot water and dish soap.

The different candles were a variety of scents so I store the wax molds seperately in canning jars, back into their original vessel, or in these wax sandwich pouches until I am ready to melt them in the warmer.

I noticed that they still sell plug-in candle/wax warmers at many home and craft stores, although, I prefer something a bit more discreet and mobile, so I just use a basic butter warmer for now. It was less expensive and I can move it around my home without plugging it in. It may seem like a bit of an odd choice, but I sort of love it. And YAY for extending the life of my favorite candles scents, I can't believe I was going to dump all of that wax away!

Now that the wax is out of the holders, here are a variety of ways to reuse all of those pretty vessels around the house.

Above I placed two on our bookshelves! One is working as a vase while the other tucks away a dice game that our family enjoys playing.

Quick Tip: This gold hammered candle is a true bargain, especially considering the container itself is so fantastic (especially if you line the bottom with a piece of felt). 

I find candle holders are most useful in the bathroom. Above you can see one being used for holding cotton swabs, but they also work as toothbrush holders, floss pick holders, hairbrush and comb holders, etc...

Another bathroom scenario, hair ties and bobby pins are hidden away while keeping the nearby counter clutter free!

One of the first candle holders that I ever upcycled was used for makeup brushes, and they were the perfect match!

Let's talk office supply storage for a second! Candle vessels are perfect for corralling paperclips, rubber bands, washi tape, small craft supplies, pushpins, charger cords... The possibilities are pretty endless.

It is always a bonus when the holder has a nice lid to really hide the contents and to act as a true container.

In the bedroom on a nightstand or dresser, candle jars are wonderful as a change jar or jewelry holder. Or toss your lip balm, medication, hand lotion, earplugs, etc... inside and keep your bedside table nice and tidy.

How about in the laundry room? They work well to keep track of pocket treasures, clothespins, safety pins, and buttons.


That's how I use these charming candle vessels around our home, but I bet you all could come up with even more creative examples. I know that this isn't a new fad, but it's always a great reminder to upcycle and reuse when we can.

One last quick thing! I recently found these candle warmers, but can't personally speak to how well they work. I imagine that they actually melt the wax of a candle more evenly and allow you to use the entire candle without lighting the wick at all (or needing to make molds). That would definitely be another great way to get the most of the candle before reusing the jar. Just wanted to try and offer up all of the options I can find.

And it goes without saying but I will anyway, it is always important to be careful with candles in general. Both plug-in options and the use of any flame should always remain monitored.