Tips & Tricks

Clever Tips for Finding More Space at Home

Whether you’ve got a large home or a small apartment, it may always seem like you’re searching for more storage space. Too bad you can’t just magically expand your home’s existing areas with a wiggle of your nose! Check out these clever tips for finding and creating storage spaces in your home.

 

Go behind closed doors.

Over-the-door hooks have 4 to 6 hooks for hanging lightweight, non-bulky items such as belts, scarves, and hats. In the bathroom they are super for hanging towels and bathrobes. Use that extra space behind your doors for storage space, and it may give some things a better “home” than the floor: in my kids’ rooms they’re for hanging PJs! Just don’t use them for hanging heavy items such as school backpacks, or items so bulky, like a puffy coat, that the door can’t stay open. For behind the laundry room, pantry, or bathroom door, this white mesh shelf rack is wonderful—helps clear off your counter space!

Check under the bed…

…and you may see more than just dust bunnies. It’s an excellent space for storing your seasonal clothing and accessories! There are so many styles and types of under-bed storage to choose from. We like the ones with wheels and handles to make pulling them out easier. Pop in a dryer sheet before you put the lid on and keep it fresh-smelling.

Not everything needs to be bought in bulk.

If you’re a big Costco shopper, you know you can really save by buying in bulk. But do you really need to get everything in large amounts? Take stock of the items you buy in bulk and decide if you’re better off buying regular sizes. For instance, if you use very little oil when cooking, does it really make sense to buy a gallon of cooking oil? Or will it go rancid before you get to the “Use by” date? If you have a couple of large dogs, though, buying their food in bulk will definitely save you money. Check your pantry and freezer, as well as the extra freezer and shelves in the garage. Check your other storage areas, too. List the items you buy in bulk—toilet paper, detergent, canned goods, butter, rice, etc.—and make those determinations based on your usage and this detailed food storage chart.

Read More

Step-by-Step Guide to Organizing Your Photos

Remember when we used film in our cameras? (Kids now: “How retro!”) We had a finite number of photos to take: 24 or 36. There was work to be done before you could see those pictures. A trip to the Fotomat or Pay & Save, then later, Costco, to drop off the film. Days later, you’d go again to pick up the photos and the negatives. I recall being so excited to see the pictures from a family vacation, or birthday party, or holiday! Out of that 24- or 36-roll, you’d get a handful of really good ones (or at least, good enough for the photo album). The rest went back in the envelope and got put in the shoebox with the other photo envelopes.

With digital cameras and smartphones having bigger and bigger storage capacities, the infinite nature of photographing anything is now standard for most people. A child’s birthday party could have a few hundred photos; a long trip abroad could have over a thousand! The advantage is you can re-take photos several times to get it just right; the disadvantage is you end up with an enormous amount to cull through later. How to begin organizing your thousands of printed and digital photos? Use these five steps to help ease this task.

1. What Are Your Goals?

Before you begin, decide on what your photo goals are. A few examples:

  • Organize my old printed photos and create photo albums.
  • Combine all my digital photos into one storage drive.
  • Scan my printed photos and combine them with the digital ones.
  • Label my photo storage system so I can find what I need quickly.
  • Cull my digital photos and create a storage file system plus a backup.

When you have decided what it is you’re looking to achieve, it will be easier to work on your photos with these goals in mind. 

Read More

Organizing Your Devices

When Bill Gates said in the 80’s that his goal was “a computer on every desk and in every home” he may not have realized how prescient that would be. Fast forward to 2020, when the average U.S. home had approximately 10 connected devices. Think about that—computers, smartphones, tablets, e-readers, smart TVs, digital cameras, game consoles, smart watches, smart home hubs, etc. The list is endless when you add in the potential for smart light switches, garage door openers, speakers, virtual reality devices, GoPros, and wearable technology. Most of us love gadgets–technology has definitely made some parts of life so much easier. But don’t let your tech become your clutter problem. Here are some tips and tricks to keeping your devices organized and accounted for.

Pare Down What You’ve Got

Set aside an hour or two, and have everyone in your household bring out all their tech, plus all related manuals, chargers, cords, etc. Go through your cabinets and “junk” drawers, desk drawers, car consoles, and any other storage places where you’ve kept electronics items. Don’t forget old flash drives and SD cards. Bring it all out! Set aside the items you truly use, along with its chargers/cords/manuals. The rest, put in a discard pile. Anything that no longer works or is missing chargers or plugs? Discard pile.

Read More

7 Habits to Break in the New Year

“New year, new me!”, goes the saying. That is a daunting task indeed. Besides, I like me, and I don’t necessarily want to change me to a new one! However, I do know that I’ve got some habits—as we all do—that hinder me from being my best self. Habits that may interfere with my sleep and my productivity; that may contribute to a cluttered home; and that keep me from being as active as I’d like. Even habits that don’t bode well for my financial well-being or my physical and mental health. So let’s change that saying to, “New year, better me!” Let’s start with these 7 habits to break in the new year.

1. Tossing mail on kitchen counter

You get home, get the mail, and put it on the kitchen counter. Sometimes it may take days to get to it, and now you’ve got a pile taking up counter space. Break this habit by setting up a system to handle mail. Whether it’s a mail organizer or a few file folders, set up a situation so you can come in, quickly go through the mail in hand, and place items in their proper categories such as “To Pay,” “To File,” and “To Recycle/Shred”.

2. Constantly checking your phone

How many times a day do you think you look at your phone? You may think, “Oh, maybe about 15,” but the reality is probably at least 10 times that. Check your iPhone or Android data to find out. Then go through your phone and change settings so that only the very important apps will send you notifications or alerts. These steps from CNBC can help you with even more detail on how to lower your phone pick-ups. This will be better for your productivity, your social life, and your sense of self!

3. Sitting all day

So many of us are now working from home, which means a lot of hours spent videoconferencing with coworkers and clients. No bueno! Hours of sitting can seriously take a toll on your health, both physical and mental. Get up every 45-60 minutes, even if it’s just to get the mail (natch, don’t toss it on the counter) or use the restroom. If you’ve got a longer break, walk around the block. If you find it tough to take these breaks you might consider a standing desk.

Read More

Establish Social Distancing Boundaries with Friends Before You Gather

From Martha Stewart
August 6, 2020

 

Nail down a few ground rules ahead of time to ensure everyone is comfortable.

Clarifying your stance on social distancing has become an increasingly common—and potentially uncomfortable—conversation, especially as small gatherings resume across the country. Here, Daniel Post Senning, the great-great grandson of Emily Post and a modern etiquette expert, offers a few straightforward guidelines for keeping yourself safe and your friendships intact during this uncertain time.

 

Set your boundaries.

Good etiquette always means being clear about what you can and can’t do, says Post Senning, and that’s true whether you’re responding no to a birthday invitation or gently letting a dinner party host know in advance that you’re allergic to nuts. “In the world of etiquette, there’s something really generous about letting people know what your boundaries are,” he says. And whether you’re discussing your switch to a vegan diet, your son’s need to leave his soccer game early, or your preference for socializing while wearing a mask, you shouldn’t put off having that conversation. “The more work you can do ahead of time, the better,” says Post Senning. “You want to make your expectations explicit in a time when we don’t have the structure of our social expectations to lean on. We are navigating new information, and not everybody is making the same choices. The more you can communicate, the better. The earlier those conversations happen, the better. The more open and candid they are, the better.”

 

Read the rest on Martha Stewart.

Read More

Ideas for This Year’s Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and this year is decidedly different. If you are not taking part in a traditional gathering, there are still so many wonderful ways to celebrate. Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because, unlike Valentine’s Day, Halloween, and Christmas, it has not been fully commercialized. The day is all about being grateful. There is always, always something to be grateful for! So brew up some pumpkin spice chai and read on for some ideas on what to do this Thanksgiving Day.

Get Movin’

Take a simple walk around your neighborhood and enjoy the Autumn air and colors. Find a great hike—the trails won’t be crowded today! Walk or bike one of the Seattle’s areas 15 best city trails—how lucky are we to live in such a gorgeous part of the world! If you really want to break a sweat, do a Thanksgiving race. There are several races that have implemented COVID-safety precautions. Seattle has a Turkey Trot with waved starts, Woodinville has a Virtual Turkey Trot, and Issaquah is offering neighborhood-focused Turkey Trots.

Reconnect

Use this day to get in touch with family or friends you haven’t heard from in awhile. Give them a call; who doesn’t love to see their phone light up with a familiar name instead of “Scam Likely”? Write or type out letters/emails if that suits your communication style better—put the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade (virtual this year) on the telly to get you into the spirit.

Read More

7 Easy Habits to Keep Your Home (Almost) Germ-Free

While most of us have never dealt with a global pandemic before, we are all widely experienced at cleaning our own homes. It’s not just about using disinfecting cleaners—though it is definitely important to use these regularly to sanitize surfaces. We’re talking about simple things you can do to keep germs from entering and proliferating in your home. If you get your family to make a habit of following these steps, you’ll keep those nasty germs at the minimum (c’mon, you know no one can achieve 100% germ-free status!), for now and for the future.

1. Leave Your Shoes at the Door

According to a new study by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), shoes may potentially function as carriers for the COVID-19 virus. Think of all the places you go with your shoes (your neighborhood sidewalks, the grocery store, the doctor’s office, etc.). Our shoes are capable of tracking in and spreading germs around our homes. Keep a storage shelf and a bench in your entryway or in the garage, and get everyone in the habit of removing their shoes and then washing their hands. Have comfy slippers or house shoes nearby for an easy transition.

2. Sanitize Your Cleaning Tools

Sponges, mops, dish cloths, dust rags, cleaning cloths—these could all be major breeding grounds for germs. Sponges and dish brushes are easy: pop it into the dishwasher every time you run a load, and regularly replace sponges every few weeks. The other cleaning cloths should be sanitized in between uses with a Hot washer + High dryer cycle, or a solution of one part bleach and nine parts water. Tools with handles, such as brooms, scrubbers, and buckets, can be sanitized by wiping the handles and exteriors down with disinfectant.

3. Put Down The Toilet Lid

The term “toilet plume” is actually as bad as it sounds. It is the undetectable spray your toilet releases upward of 15 feet each time you flush the toilet, dispersing microscopic bacteria that can linger in the air for up to six hours and settling down on any surfaces (including towels) in your bathroom. The no-brainer, easy solution is to put down the lid before you flush. One second of “work” for a pretty big payoff.

Read More

10 Creative At-Home Date Nights

Real Simple
April 3, 2020

Spending quarantine hunkered up with your partner? While having all this newfound time together is great, you may have found spending too much time together can cause the romantic sparks to fizzle out. If you’re looking for ways to revive the romance, don’t worry—a solid date night doesn’t always have to be expensive or spent out on the town. In fact, these ideas are even better—for one, you won’t have to change out of your sweats, and they can take place in the comfort of your own house. Whether you’re looking for a foodie-themed night, an all-day movie marathon, or a sensual activity to do together, this list of at-home date night ideas won’t disappoint. Pick one for your next indoors date, or hey, do one every night (you certainly have the time).

  1. Create a mock movie theater

This is much more than your average dinner and movie date. If you’ve got a whole day to waste, upgrade your next “Netflix and chill” session with an old-school twist. First, pick a movie or series that you both enjoy, whether that be the entire Harry Potter saga or the new season of Ozark. Then create a snuggly environment with some comfy blankets and throw pillows. Tip: Spritz the pillow and blanket with an aromatherapy mist, like Indie Lee Soothe & Relax Pillow Mist ($28; nordstrom.com), to create a chill atmosphere. In order to really establish the mood, set up a projector against a blank wall to create your very own movie theater. All that’s left to do is pop up some popcorn, cuddle up, and enjoy hours upon hours of uninterrupted movie time.

Read the entire article at Real Simple.

Read More

Quick and Easy House Projects To Do During Quarantine

With the current “Stay Home, Stay Healthy” order extended to May 4 in Washington State, professional organizing services (along with many other services) have been temporarily halted. While we can’t come to your home and help you organize right now, we can still give you some quick and simple tips on cleaning, decluttering, and organizing! Think of these mini projects as the precursor to your spring cleaning, as most can be done in less than a day. Do you have kids at home doing remote learning? Let them take a recess and give you a hand; it may earn them some extra screen time or the chance to pick this weekend’s takeout dinner!

Remember the “forgotten” places.

Under your bed, your baseboards, under the sofas and armchairs, the fan vents in your bathrooms, the top of your fridge and kitchen cupboards—these are just a few of the areas in your home that most likely don’t get a regular cleaning. Say goodbye to the dust bunnies! Move any furniture that’s in the way, get a good, damp microfiber cloth and the hose attachment for your vacuum, and have a go at these dusty spots.

Put winter away.

Is your entryway or mudroom still looking like it’s February? It’s April…it’s time to let all that winter gear hibernate till next year. Gather up boots, heavy coats, hats, scarves and gloves; clean or wash them before putting them away. If you’ve got a rug or boot tray, give it a good shake outside or a good vacuuming. Same goes for your winter sports gear—skis, poles, ski clothes, helmets, sleds—clean what needs it, and then store them away for next season. Now you’ve got room for your spring stuff!

Read More

How to Work From Home Efficiently (And Not Drive Your Partner Crazy!)

The Greater Seattle area is currently dealing with the COVID-19 outbreak, and many companies are requiring or requesting that their employees work from home for the foreseeable future. This is new territory for many households. Can one be productive Working From Home (WFH)? Can one or two people be WFH and not drive each other crazy? Can they still do fun couples’ stuff in the evenings and on weekends? Yes, yes, and yes! We’ve got two points-of-view here, and we think they both have insights and experience to help make WFH be a positive experience for all involved.

POV 1: The Newly Working-from-Home Partner

Define your working space

Even if your WFH situation is temporary, take an hour to set up your environment as a real workspace. If it’s just the corner of a study or spare bedroom, make it your own: put up a couple pictures, have a cup with pens, and make everything in your sightline look like an office you would be happy to work in. If you don’t have a functional desk, buy one—you should be able to find something decent for under $100 (Note: There are currently over 1,500 desks listed on Craigslist.). Trying to work from a round kitchen table will feel foreign and difficult as far as forearm placement. And if you are on frequent video calls, look behind you to be sure the background doesn’t give off an America’s Most Wanted vibe.

Define and protect your working hours

The possibilities for distraction at home are endless. Most information-age jobs can look to family members a whole lot like you are just sitting around. But after even a quick distraction from a mental task, it takes the human brain about 10 minutes to restore focus. Establish your office hours and tell everyone in your household when you are available and when you are not.

Once you establish focused working hours, enjoy the flexibility. The lack of commuting time may buy you an extra hour or two per day. As you schedule your time, work in lunches with your spouse or friends, go to your kids’ games, even take a quick nap. I have found that the flexibility to segment my own time and work rhythms has made me far more productive.

Read More