Clean Cars

As promised, here’s how my truck-cleaning effort went. The entire process took 1 hour, although I did not vacuum (since our cordless went with my husband the day I did this). Most likely the time for pictures and setup this time around would offset cleaning time for a normal routine.

Back Seat Storage

Since I have a truck, the interior storage is primarily under the back seat and in the console. I tackled the largest area first! Before are pictures of the space, all the stuff originally in it, and the final arrangement.

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I put all my extra shopping bags in one bag, which fits nicely in the shallow middle. The pillow and picnic blanket went in one well. My road trip guides and other books went in the other well. The umbrella and ice scraper went on the ledge in the back. The insulated bag is on top of it all on the driver’s side, because that is what I grab most often.

Since several tools and notepads and other items had accumulated since the last cleaning, I took those and put them in the appropriate areas for when I got there.

Console

This started out pretty ugly; we use this most often when driving because it’s easiest to reach.

truck 11The keys here are to 1) only have what you need handy and 2) contain the small items. I stacked the flat books and iPod. Medicine and keys/bobbypins/money went in two separate cheap plasticware boxes that I pulled out of the kitchen drawer. The manual went in the glove box and the napkins went in the grab bag (seen later).

Doors

I love the deep pockets in the doors. My driver door has my favorite shopping bags, because usually I only use two or three, and gum. The other side has activity books for traveling and the GPS. Here I simply had to take out the trash and stuff that had migrated to the wrong section.

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Truck 1

 

 

 

 

Grab Bag

Truck bagBecause of the limited storage, I like to keep a tote bag with various things handy. Mine sits in the middle of the back seat (on the hump), but it is easy to move temporarily if the back seat is full. This is where the food items (snacks, napkins, straws), wipes, towel, emergency toy, and such are stored. It is arranged so I can reach in and get what is needed without searching or unpacking.

Other

Truck cordThis time around, I used an idea from Pinterest browsing to corral the charging cords that typically spread all over the front. A Command hook next to the charger worked nicely.

Also, I always have a trash bag in the middle of the front seat. Sometimes it is a small plastic bag. A box or cereal storage bin or cheap car accessory works well also.  The important thing is that it is handy and used (and emptied occasionally…).

The back of the truck has the big stuff, since it is available. Two lawn chairs, a tool box, and a tote to hold anything needed for transport are what stay in the back. The tool box and tote contain smaller things that would otherwise just float around and scatter while driving. They are both easy to grab for use when needed.

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I hope this encouraged and helped you — or will someday in the future. Nothing I did required a trip to the store; I just used what I had. You can put more effort and money into it, but it isn’t necessary in order to keep to the organizing principles. Best wishes on your efforts in this area!

Our Mobile Command Centers

How much time do you spend in your vehicle each day? Who shares it with you? What do you accomplish using that vehicle? Is it worth the time and effort to keep it ordered and clean?

I’m going to say “Yes!” to the last question, as you might have guessed. With as much as we use it and as many people as it affects, it is worth the time — and I consider it part of my household. That said, what would be helpful to consider as we make the effort?

IMG_4587Trash goes in a trash bag. Whether it’s a nifty car accessory or the last fast food paper bag, trash needs to be accumulated in one place. One contained place. There is no need for it to be spread all over the vehicle. If your children are old enough to generate the trash by themselves, they are old enough to put it where it belongs. If you are the one unwrapping, you can make the habit and keep it neat. It sounds simple and obvious, but it makes a BIG difference.

Bring it with you. If the bag needs to go in the house, the owner (whether you or your child) can bring it in the house. This is for those times when you think you’ll just get it later, but later is a separate trip and an interruption to your flow and doesn’t keep items in the place they belong and you have to find the keys and then you get sidetracked on the way… If you have a hand, go ahead and bring it with you. Note: groceries are usually multiple loads, and if something needs to stay in the car to go somewhere on a later trip, that is a different matter also.

Contain items. There are a number of things that I keep in my truck always. So I have a tote bag that holds all those things (snacks, towel, wipes, road map, road trip dream list, hat, etc.) in one place. I can reach in and grab what I need when I need it, and stuff is not strewn about the interior.

Truck 7Built-in storage can be wonderful for this as well, but use it wisely. Put in what you need to keep, not what you want to ignore. Because it is out of sight, you will need to treat it like a closet and refresh/reorganize every so often. In bigger storage units, use smaller containers and label them. This will make it easier to restock and find what you need.

Make a habit of cleaning. Not constantly, of course, but at some point and then repeat. It doesn’t take an unreasonable amount of time or money to vacuum (and the more often, the quicker it goes) and run through the car wash a few times a year. You and your riders will feel better about and in your vehicle when it is clean.

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Wow! All that reminds me (again) that I am long overdue for a clean-up of my trunk and under-seat storage. Now I really have to do it! I’m off — and I’ll post before and after pics, along with concrete examples, in the next blog post.

Using your Kitchen Cabinets

The time had come. Our kitchen cabinets were set up for one flow, but lately we have been using them differently. Time to reorganize! So a young friend and I set to work one morning. Below are the practical principles we used as we evaluated and restocked.

Kit Col 1Put things where you use them. Dishes usually make sense near the sink and/or dishwasher and table. Pots and pans will be used by the stove, so don’t walk across the kitchen if you don’t need to. If you have a stand mixer and always bake on one counter, go ahead and stock those supplies near there. Although you may get extra steps toward your daily goal criss-crossing the kitchen multiple times, it may not be the most effective or efficient way to accomplish that goal AND make dinner.

One step at a time. We followed the same process we have discussed when refreshing closets. Everything came out. Clean the cabinet. Sort. Decide where it will be best located and arranged. Put it back, one cabinet at a time. Although we could not empty the entire kitchen at once, due to limited counter space, we did empty the entire cabinet we were working with each time.

Match up sets. Pots have lids. Pans have lids. Casserole dishes have lids.  You will probably come up with some mismatched lids, where the dish broke but the lid didn’t go in the trash with it. You don’t have to keep the lids with the items as you place them back in the cabinet, but it will help you not keep lids you don’t need.

Cups need to go together with like cups. When all the cups are in one place, you may notice that you have more than you need. For instance, I ended up with 3 of the same size saucepan. Since I don’t often–make that never–use all 3 at the same time, one would be a good to donate to someone who doesn’t even have one.

Make the most of your space. Some cabinets have extra tall room. Some are more narrow. Use those to your advantage. Stack bigger things in the tall cabinets, or use stacking shelves inside the cabinet to stack smaller things taller.

Keep in mind, however, that your kitchen cabinets are usually well-used. Don’t stack or cram too much in any space. It needs to be easy to reach in and grab whatever is needed each time. Having your child start a cup landslide isn’t the quickest or best way to a glass Kit 3of water.

Also, remember that flat things can go sideways to allow you to grab one in the middle without having to re-stack and potentially make the most of room up.

Keep like items together. As you replace items back in the cabinet, take a few minutes to put all the same things together. All the sugar in one row. All the red glasses in one row, then the yellow glasses, then the plastic school memento cups. All the bowls in one section of the shelf. This helps you see at a glance what you need as soon as you open the cabinet door, rather than having to search through a broad category of cups or dishes. It is also easier to unload the dishwasher when the time comes. You already have a place for everything.Kit 2

High shelves are for rare items. The very top shelves, or the very back of the corner cabinet, are for the items you only use once or twice a year. Don’t strain yourself unnecessarily. You will be able to get them when you need them, but that leaves room for the often-used items on the easy-to-reach shelves.

Finally, remember our tips from closets:

  • Label enclosed containers, so you don’t have to wonder what is in the canisters.
  • Contain loose or sloppy (shapeless) items.
  • Repair as you go.
  • Decorate what you cannot fit in the cabinet, or needs to be even more accessible. Baskets, canisters or hanging bins on the countertop, if used in moderation, can be attractive and useful.
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Before & After

So if you have the need to reorganize your kitchen at any point, keep these things in mind. I hope they are immensely helpful to you! If you have anything to add for the good of all, please comment below to expand this resource.

FYI: De-Cluttering

Following is a collection of links that may be of interest to you related to our latest topic. Note, listing does not imply endorsement. Please evaluate for your own situation.

Tidying-Up — chances are you’ve heard about or read Marie Kondo’s book; here’s David Murray’s take on it

Mental Clutter — tips on streamlining your decision-making process

Your Closet — what a “wardrobe crisis” says about your heart

More on Your Closet — the impact on your brain

Further Considerations for Your Wardrobe — suggestions for choosing what you keep

Benefits — what you’ll get from de-cluttering

Summary of Methods — 6 ways you may choose to de-clutter

A Few Tips — professional organizer thoughts

Counterbalance — warning to guard our hearts as we de-clutter

 

Organized Shelves

May I introduce you to my home? It contains a lot of stuff. A LOT. OF STUFF. I suspect I am not the only one. If you choose not to be minimalist (or minimalist in spirit but not practice), you end up having to find a place for all that stuff. Once your closets are full (oh, yes!), or if you don’t have many closets (I know your pain), we often end up looking at cabinets or shelves for the rest. And that is a good option for items we use often, like shelf-stable food or cookie sheets or toiletries. But the option will fail if it’s not sufficiently organized.

It helps to be able to find what you need AND minimize visual clutter in the process. Shelving is great because it is easy to access. It can be a problem, though, if it’s just more layers of unknown piles stacking to the ceiling. If what you need is buried, you can’t get it and you are oppressing your brain in the process!

Sort. Sort. Sort. Put like items together. Make it easy to see where things are in a split-second glance. Consider also which items are often used together. Mixing bowls can be in the section next to the brownie mix. Plastic food storage containers can be in the section next to the plastic bags for post-dinner clean-up.

Do your best to fit the items to the shelf size. Big shelf, big stuff. Push the little things to the smaller shelves. The less you have stacked, the easier it is to put your hand on it when needed. This also goes for bookshelves. Keep the big, tall books on the taller shelves and the short paperbacks on the more narrow shelves. It will fill the space better and look neat.

Put what you use most where it is easiest to reach. The heavier, less frequently used stuff can go on the very bottom shelf. The lighter items can go on the top shelf. You will see and reach for the middle shelves the most, so save yourself a few inches.

IMG_4225Hide what you can in plain sight. We’ve already discussed closets, but this is also for shelving out in a room. Using baskets or bins or banker’s boxes covered in contact paper will help cut down on the clutter in the room. It is there, but you don’t have to look at it until you need it. Using a neutral color for the bins or paper cover will make the shapes blend into the background. Or you can take the opportunity to add a pop of color to the room.

Mix up your shelving. You can use the same set of shelves for books, a few boxes, a vase with flowers, a few picture frames, and toy storage. Bonus: it looks decorative, just like in catalogs! This will also help relieve some of the pressure to fill the shelf with whatever you had earmarked for it. Keep what you need and is meaningful. If you only need enough books, toys and pictures to fill one shelving unit — excellent. If it eventually expands to two, no problem, but resist the urge to force the expansion just to fill space. Note: you will still need to sort into separate areas. For instance, one shelf is books, one shelf is half books and half pictures, and the bottom shelf is toys.