Monthly Archives: June 2014

Organizing a Small Linen Closet

Hello everyone!! Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! It was beautiful here in NY, it started out a little wet on Friday but ended with lots of sun. I thoroughly enjoyed the weekend, my toddler attempted to ride his tricycle again, we caught a movie with our tween, I attended my second cake decorating class and had a fabulous Father’s Day dinner on Sunday. I even found time to organize our small linen closet.

Small linen closet

In a small apartment space is always an issue, having one linen closet means it has to work overtime. Now I have to admit my OCD wouldn’t allow the closet to be anything but neat so the before picture isn’t a disaster but it’s not pretty. So I worked all night and a couple hours the next day to turn the small linen closet into a storage smart, beautiful space. Lets take a look at the before, please excuse the dark photos there was no natural light since it was the middle of the night.

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The best way to organize any space means starting with a blank slate so I  took out everything. I wanted to purge the space so I went through the sheets and got rid of any sets that hadn’t been used in a while. That left three sets for myself and two for each of the boys beds. In the spirit of purging I also got rid of a few thin, ratty towels and turned them into cleaning rags. Once that was done I gave the closet two coats of Behr Ultra Pure White. When I bought the apartment all the rooms had a horrible pearl/ivory flat colored paint so priming wasn’t necessary. I use 2 inch rollers for doors and closets, they’re the perfect size and cut down on splatter. I never buy trays, I always use disposable bowls and plates when painting. I also put the roller in a Ziploc bag when I’m done, it keeps it from drying out so you can use it on another paint job.

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I wanted to dress up the shelves so I picked up a beautiful roll of paper at TJ Max, I love the graphic design. I measured and cut the paper to line the shelves. It was  secured with some spray adhesive and given a coat of mod podge to water proof them and add some durability. Isn’t the paper beautiful? I’m already in love!

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Now comes the fun part, making it pretty. I went shopping in my storage space looking for something to put the toiletries in and I found a three drawer organizer I knew would do the trick. I lined the front of the drawers with the same paper I used on the shelf. I thought it looked prettier that way and concealed what was in the drawers. I grabbed a couple of washed out glass food jars I had on hand to re purpose into apothecary jars. I grabbed two, one for cotton and one for Q-Tips and finished the look with some chalkboard stickers. I picked up two white baskets from the dollar section at Target for the wash clothes and remaining toiletries. I love the dollar section at Target and stop by every time I’m in the store.

toiletries shelf/small linen closet

I picked up two packs of shelf dividers from Bed Bath & Beyond with a $5 off coupon of course. It turns out I love them and plan on using them in some of our other closets.

Linen closet shelf dividers

I arranged the towels in color piles for a uniformed look. I was looking for another way to organize the bed sheets so I hit up Pinterest. The ideas and inspiration are endless. I found a pin from the Martha Stewart website of bed sheets folded and tucked into the matching pillow cases. It looked great so I figured why not give it a try. I went through all the trouble of folding  the sheets and stuffing them in the pillow cases and realized I hated it. Why did I hate it? Because I couldn’t get my sheets folded as nicely as Martha did for her closet. You know, the way they come out of the packaging, all nice and crisp and flat. Mine were all different sizes and anything but flat so I said no thanks. I even put them in the closet thinking it would look better on the shelf. Did they? Of course not, take a look…

sheets inside pillow cases

After that I decided to go back to the way I originally had them, besides,  they looked great with the shelf dividers anyway. There were some  blankets, pillow inserts and holiday dish towels on the top shelf but it looked messy. I wanted to fully utilize the shelf since it goes all the way to the ceiling. I had some space saving bags in my storage space that I packed everything inside. The bag goes up to the ceiling so it allowed me to add a basket to the shelf. I had a some beach towels that weren’t fitting into my new prettified closet so I put them in the basket out of sight. Baskets can be your best friend when organizing a space. They can be used to contain items for easy access but do a wonderful job hiding the mess.

When I started working on the linen closet I thought about the door and whether or not to maximize that space as well. I’d been using it to hang up my super soft super awesome robe. I decided to leave the robe there but added a hook since it had been hanging on a nail. I’m absolutely smitten with chalkboard paint and labels these days so I added a few to the baskets. I picked these up at Michael’s in the bargain bins. The bottom shelf stayed exactly the same, it holds our comforters and heavy winter blankets in a not so pretty but very functional bag.

Linen closet storage bag

Believe it or not this closet holds almost as much as it did before, minus the purged sheets and towels.

Let’s look at the before and after pics.

Linen closet before  Small linen closet after

I absolutely love our small inen closet now. Every time I go in there for a towel, bed sheets or whatever I smile. What do you think, big difference right?

Food Waste Friday #1

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In my Frugal Friday’s post I mentioned that I’m in the process of trying some new money saving ideas and Food Waste Friday is one of them. I was surfing the web and found Kristen at thefrugalgirl.com  her blog is great and of course dedicated to being frugal. She features a series, entitled food waste Friday where she takes a picture and posts the amount of food she and her family have wasted for the week. After reading it I thought what a great idea!! Taking a picture will SHOW me how much food we’ve really wasted. I mean sure, I clean out the fridge on a weekly basis and throw away food that hasn’t been eaten, has spoiled or I know no one will eat. But how often do I really stop and look at it? I’m hoping taking pictures will put things into perspective but what I’m really hoping it’ll do is shame me into doing a better job. I mean what’s the point of going through all of the trouble of meal planning and clipping coupons just to get the food home and throw some of it away every week?
Food Waste Friday
This week we threw away some strawberries and blueberries that I absolutely could’ve used to make a smoothie. We also had some beans and left over taco meat from last week that was pushed to the back of the fridge. I forgot it was there and now it’s so old I wouldn’t even give it to the dog… I’m going to try and make next week a better week. Are any of you interested in trying the Food Waste Friday challenge with me? If you are let me know, I’d love to hear about it.
Enjoy the weekend.

Frugal Friday’s – Meal Planning

menu planning pic photo came from iheartorganizing.com

Happy Friday!! In the spirit of frugality I’ve decided to start a new series entitled Frugal Friday’s, it’s going to include a variety of money saving ideas. Some that work for me personally, some I’m in the process of trying and some that I plan to try soon. As well as some websites and apps  I find helpful. I love a good craft or DIY project just as much as the next person but I also love saving money. I figure the money I save on groceries, household items and clothing can be funneled to other things like fun money or craft and décor money. Now, I’m no expert but over the past couple years I’ve incorporated some practices that work for my household. I’m not extreme by any means, and believe me there are some extremes out there that I’ve read about or seen on TV that I have no interest in. Have any of you ever seen the show Extreme Cheapskates on TLC? Those people take cheap to a whole new level… If you have Netflix and some time to kill I’d suggest watching an episode or two. My son and I saw an entire season during the course of a weekend this past winter.

We all have busy lives so I don’t like spending too much time on this but you’d be surprised how much you could save with an investment of one or two hours per month. I usually spend an hour or so for the entire month, about 30 minutes at the beginning of the month and another 10-15 minutes each week writing lists, checking sale circulars and going through coupons. It may sound time consuming in the moment but just think about how much time is wasted looking in your cabinets trying to figure out what to make for dinner.

I start by creating a meal plan for the month, Sun-Wed are fresh food nights, Thu and Fri are left over nights and Saturday is quick dinner/take out night. I usually need about 18-20 meals for the month. You’ll need a decent amount of recipes and meals to choose from, I also surf the web for new recipes. We don’t eat any beef or pork in my house and it’s pretty easy to get tired of chicken, turkey and sea food if you don’t change things up. Now, you may be asking, how does meal planning for the entire month save you money?  Well I’ll tell you, once I know what we’re eating I do an inventory of the cabinets to see what we already have and what I need to buy. This way my shopping list only consists of the things I need and I’m not buying food I already have. It also means I have all the ingredients I need on hand so I don’t have to make any quick trips to the grocery store while cooking because something is missing. Those quick trips usually end with a cart full of items I didn’t need but picked up because they were on sale, because the kids wanted it or maybe I wanted it. Planning in advance also allows me to look through sale circulars, the coupon insert in the Sunday paper, visit one of my favorite websites Coupons.com and surf the Cartwheel app from Target for additional deals. At the beginning of every month I make a massive shopping trip to pick up the bulk of what we need from stores like BJ’s, Target, Wal-Mart and Trader Joes. Then I make small weekly trips for milk, fruits, vegetables and other perishables. I also shop at the local Farmers Market when in season; they have great produce at reasonable prices.

Okay, now it doesn’t stop there and this may not be for everyone but it’s what I do and it works for me… I fold my paper into four boxes and write my list based on where the items can be located in the store. What I mean by that is, I write down all the things I need from the fridge/freezer section in one box, all the grain and canned good in another box, all the household items like paper towels and garbage bags in another box and so on. This way I’m not walking back and forth through the store wasting time. I get everything I need from one section and then I move on to the next. The last thing I do is highlight all the items on the list I have a coupon for. That way I make sure to pick up the correct item and give the coupons to the cashier. I hate going through all the trouble of looking for, cutting out and saving them just to forget I had it. I mean that’s counterproductive people. The most money I’ve ever saved was about $60 but that is not the norm, on average I save between $25-$40 a month. It varies based on my coupons, whose doubling them, what’s on sale and how much I buy. I look at it like this, that’s a movie for me and my son, a case of diapers, an afternoon in the park with Ferris wheel rides, ice cream and junk food or a trip to Michael’s with lots of goodies for my next craft or project. However you slice it, it’s money I saved with a small investment of time. I usually sit in the living room while getting things organized with the boys running around so I’m not really missing anything anyway.

I hope you found this post helpful and it inspires you to create a menu plan, clip some coupons or find other ways to save money based on your own needs and lifestyle. Do you currently have any money saving ideas your using? I’d love to hear about them!

Have a great weekend.