Friday, September 16, 2011

More Simple than Real Simple

Yesterday I ran some errands while Little Man was at school (eeek! I'm the mother of a preschooler). I went into Target with the sole purpose of buying a specific jar for Diesel's sourdough starter and another pair of generic Crocs for Little Man. I stuck Duckie in the baby wrap and started trolling the aisles for what I needed. My search was a bust, but since Duckie had fallen asleep and I knew that transferring him from wrap to car seat would wake him up, I ended up wandering around Target for an hour (well-rested infants are key to Mama's sanity!).

During my stroll, I stumbled upon a GLORIOUS find. Real Simple hanging mail sorters:

They were just what I NEEDED.

You see, Diesel and I have had an on-going skirmish about the mail. He brings it in and he pays the bills. For this I am eternally grateful; however, he piles it on the entertainment center and it makes our living room look junky and cluttered. I have tried EVERYTHING to create a system, to no avail. I just want a nice, neat, tucked out of sight, system for dealing with the mail. and Diesel wants a super easy system. So the Real Simple hanging system is perfect because I can hang it on the inside of the pantry door and create a system that works for Diesel and keeps the piles of crap off of my entertainment center. Case in point:

Being a very restrained shopper, I said to myself "Cluttered Mama, tuck this into your memory and run it by Diesel when you get home. Do NOT purchase."

When I eventually got home and got a spare moment, I showed the system to Diesel. He was a fan. So we started mapping out what we thought we'd need. At LEAST 3 of the big folders and 3 of the divided folders. Then I did the math... 6 hanging organizers at $16 a piece=$96+tax. That is right folks, $100 for cute envelope-y things in the hopes that this system would finally be THE system. Lemme put this as Dana Carvey doing his best George H. Bush impression: "not gonna happen. Wouldn't be prudent."

Diesel suggested hanging an accordion file, which might work, but I thought would be too bulky. Then a light bulb went off in my head: I have a zillion manila file folders that I'm not using. I'm marginally crafty. I have tape and adhesives galore, thanks to my scrapbooking habit... I can MAKE something.

So, with a little card stock, adhesive, packing tape, letter sized file folders and a paper cutter, here is what I fashioned:

The large folders are: To File, To Shred, To Sort, Circulars/Ads and one called Little Man (he decided he NEEDED a folder of his own, which is actually brilliant because now I have somewhere to stick all his preschool art when it comes home); the small folders are: Cluttered Mama, Diesel, To Pay, and Supplies (checkbooks, stamps, etc.). We'll add more as we find we need them.

The BEST part?
IT IS HIDDEN AWAY!!! YAAAAY! Now my entertainment center looks like this:

When I'm sure that this system works for us, I'll pretty it up with some scrapbook paper and nice labels, but for now, we're just seeing if it'll work.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The $4 Organizing Solution

I have a love/hate relationship with our chest freezer. I love that we can buy in bulk, that I can make meals ahead of time & have space to store them, that I can freeze produce when it is in season and that I have a nice deep freeze place to store my milk. But I hate trying to find things in it. We have had the freezer for about a year and up until now, the organization process for it was to toss items in, pack them down and hope we could find them later. More often than not, we forgot what was in there.

Case in point-- when I reorganized the chest freezer yesterday I discovered we had not one, not two, but THREE 5 lb bags of blueberries. Yeeeeeah.

So I was desperately looking for a way to organize the freezer. I didn't want to shell out for pricey freezer baskets and while I had seen pictures of people using plastic baskets to organize their freezers, I didn't want to do that because I know how brittle plastic gets in the deep freeze. Yesterday while I was up for a 3 am feeding, I Googled "organizing a chest freezer" which took me to a post on Living the Frugal Life. And then the heavens opened up and the angels sang and I nearly leaped from my bed to begin organizing!

Reusable shopping bags!! What a brilliant idea! I could organize the bags by type and when I needed something, I could just pull the item out and dig through the bag to find what I needed. That is MUCH easier than the full-scale archaeological dig that finding items in the freezer required previously! And this solution is cheap! Most grocery stores charge $1 for a reusable bag. My freezer can fit 4 filled bags, meaning that my freezer reorganization project cost a whopping $4!

Now I have a bag of meat, 2 bags of pre-made meals (both homemade and store bought), and a bag of dairy items. The freezer basket that came with the unit now houses Diesel's convenience dinners (for microwaving at work and eating while driving to school) and the little ledge under the basket holds my Ziploc bags of sauces (I lay them flat to freeze), breast milk and a few pints of "real egg." Our fridge freezer holds the bread products, fruits, veggies and dessert items, because they are our most frequently used items and they hold up to the open-close nature of the fridge freezer a little better.

I am so happy to have a nicely organized freezer for so little money! Huzzah!

(PS-- I'd post pics, but blogger seems to hate my laptop and doesn't play nice with photo posts. I have a large queue of blogs that I have written this summer, but haven't finished because I can't get the pictures to cooperate!)