Tag Archive | organization

Reuse Idea: Disinfectant Wipe Containers

With COVID-19 and because we have 2 people in the house who are immunocompromised (my daughter and I both have lupus with lung involvement), disinfectant wipes, e.g. Clorox or Lysol, have become an even bigger part of our lives. I previously posted about making your own wipes here, but honestly, these days I am more likely to buy wipes than make my own. With the rate we are using disinfectant wipes, we have a lot of empty wipe canisters. If you have any experience with this blog, you know that I love reusing things like this! Check out a collection of my reuse posts here.We already use wipe canisters as plastic bag dispensers, (thread the bags through the handles, roll up, dispense in the canister), but with the volume of wipes used these days, I think there are more ways to reuse these containers.

NOTE: Because of the cleaners that were in these, I do not store any food or items that might end up in people’s mouths in disinfectant wipe containers, no matter how much washing happens.

Here are some of my favorite ways to reuse disinfectant wipe containers:

  1. Plastic bag storage
  2. Storage for laundry or dishwashing pods
  3. Craft, art, and school supply storage (either standing or get creative and glue several together horizontally to make an organizer)
  4. Tool or kitchen utensil storage (like craft supplies, either standing or create your own organizer with several)
  5. Grab and Go toiletries kit – include toothbrush in travel case, travel toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, wipes, etc. These can be personalized for each person in the family or keep a bunch together in your car as give-always for the homeless
  6. Car or desk top trash can
  7. Bathroom tool holder – put combs or brushes in it, hair bands around it. This works especially well with the thinner containers
  8. Used cooking oil – don’t ever put your used cooking oil down the drain! Instead, collect it in a wipe container once it has cooled. When the container is full, dispose of it properly
  9. Office supplies – you can cut the containers down and create a customized desk organizer.
  10. Ribbon dispenser – on its side, cut a slot the length of the container or holes for specific ribbon, depending on size, use, etc. you can easily pull ribbon out without it getting tangled. This can be mounted with other containers for more storage.

If you want to get really creative, you can wrap the containers with contact paper or washi tapes to cover the label. Or you can do what I did and just take the label off. For art supplies, my kids have drawn on the containers with markers. You are limited only by your creativity!

Do you have a suggestion for a way you reuse these containers? Drop it in the comments!

Review: Artful Agenda

I love planners! And pens! And stationery! And pretty much all office supplies! But a combination of my body not cooperating and having 3 teens who all have calendars to manage means I really need a digital planner. So for years I have used the calendar, reminders, and notes app on my iphone to manage everything. (See my post on using color to organize your family to learn more about how I color-code our calendars.)

These all work, but left me missing the old planner that I could personalize. Stickers, a pretty cover, my own handwriting…I miss all these things. Enter Artful Agenda.

After looking and researching for years, I finally found an app that says it combines the benefits of a digital calendar with many of the things I missed in a physical planner. Here are the highlights:

Cost: $35 per year (as of 8/25/19) after a 2-week free trial. The site lists the normal price at $50/year, which is what I would expect once development is complete.

Format: App for your phone/tablet and web-based access. Seems to work best on Chrome.


  • Syncs calendar to iCal, Google Calendar, and Outlook
  • A number of covers and handwriting options
  • Digital stickers (not yet available in apps)
  • Month, week, and day views
  • Priority and other tasks in each day
  • Tracking for water and meals in day view
  • Extra customizable list in day view (I call mine “To Buy” because we seem to need to stop at some store almost daily)
  • List tab (not yet available in apps) to help you keep all your lists/notes organized
  • Weekly and monthly goals section
  • Priority tasks and meals show in week view


  • Lists and tasks do not sync with Reminders or other to-do apps
  • Lists and stickers not available on the apps yet (the “Coming Soon” section promises this is in the future)
  • Many of the cover choices are floral and all are feminine
  • You cannot set tasks as reoccurring
  • No alerts/alarms
  • No way to increase the font size in the calendar
  • Only Priority tasks show in the week view, other tasks only show in day view
  • Goals cannot have a date assigned other than than month or week where you type it and do not show in daily view

My Thoughts:

This site/app does offer a lot of the same experiences as a traditional paper planner. It gives you the ability to select a cover and handwriting, which I like. It seems to sync seamlessly with my calendar app from Apple, which means I did not have to enter things twice. However, the fact that the lists/notes and reminders/tasks do not sync with my existing Notes and Reminders apps is a major negative. When paired with the lack of notification from Artful Agenda, it means I still have to use my Reminders app in addition to the Artful Agenda. Also, until the lists and stickers sections are fully functional in the app, using the web-based version is really the only solution to get all the features. I do find that I use the task sections regularly for daily things I used to write in a notebook on my desk. This means the tasks are accessible to me even when I am not at my desk. That has helped improve my productivity.

Final Recommendation:

If you miss the feel and function of a paper planner or want to go digital, Artful Agenda is worth considering. Because this is a newer app/program still in development, some things do not yet work the way I would like, but I am hopeful that this will happen as things progress. If you are just looking for a calendar, there is no reason the to buy Artful Agenda. But if you are willing to pay for the paper “feel” in a digital app, I recommend trying Artful Agenda. Go to https://www.artfulagenda.com to start your free trial and reference code RH14913.


Homemade Non-Slip Hangers

DSCN4326My wonderful husband went to a national store on his own and scored me 4 new shirts for $8 each. They are super stylish, nautically striped with a boat neck. I love them and him for getting them for me for no reason at all (not a birthday or anniversary or anything!). But when I started hanging them up, nothing would stay on the hangers. These didn’t come with the clever little hanging straps that somehow always manage to be showing when I wear a top with them. After fidgeting with the shirts and hangers for several minutes I remembered something I saw somewhere about using hot glue to add texture to the hangers to hold wide necked shirts. I really wish I could remember where I saw it to give the truly clever person props, but alas I have no idea. Even if it was on Pinterest, the odds are it wouldn’t take me to the original link anyway, so thank you mystery person.

Here is what you do. Get your cheap plastic hangers out and heat up that glue gun. Starting about the middle of the side of the hanger (mine had handy open hook areas) paint a curvy line with your glue gun. Add a slightly thicker dot of glue at the end. Let them cool. Viola! Non-slip hangers for all those fashionable wide-necked shirts and slippery fabrics.

TIP  – If you did this on plastic hangers, should you get rid of the shirts, you can easily peel the glue off the hanger and return it to its original state.

Saturday Project: Pallet-Backed Bookshelf

DSC_0060I love using bookshelves for organization. For books, toys, china…you name it, I like to organize it on a bookshelf.  Our very first Saturday Project was adding fabric backing to a bookshelf! Imagine my delight when I found the tutorial from Lisa at Over the Big Moon for making a pallet-backed bookshelf. I can’t wait to do this to a black bookcase in the kids playroom!

Happy New Year!

new school year.001Ok, it isn’t really a new year, but back to school always feels like that chance to start over, much more so to me than January 1 actually. This year is the first year our kids are not actually starting a new grade in the fall (we “leveled up” in April, deciding to let the kids progress when they were ready and not holding them back until fall). Even with that, because my husband is a teacher, this time of year seems like a good point to hit “reset”!

Any major changes to chores or responsibilities are done at this time of year. We reevaluate kids responsibilities and privileges. We make decisions about what extra curricular, church, and social activities we will focus on this academic year. Each kid makes goals for the next 12 months.

This time of year is also a great time to do a whole home reset. If you haven’t, consider creating a family calendar.  Set up you home inventory. Do a house clearing out and cleaning from top to bottom.

Happy New (school) Year!

Saturday Project: File Cabinet to Garage Storage

Finished-CabinetI am always looking for ways to get more storage that isn’t built in and can be moved with us. I especially love projects that turn something cheap and junky into something cool. I was positively giddy when I came across this project on Trash to Treasure blog (tttreasure.com). Check out these great instructions for turning an old metal file cabinet into great garage storage!

Reuse Idea: Cereal Boxes

We don’t eat a lot of cold cereal, but we still manage to go through 1-2 boxes a week as snacks or ingredient in other recipes. I hate to throw away all that great cardboard (even to recycling) so I began looking for ways to reuse cereal boxes. Here are thee of my favorite ideas:

Decorative Stars: I have made several of these country stars out of cereal boxes. A good coat of metallic paint, and no one knows cereal file boxthey are cardboard.

Paper Stacker: We have a ton of decorative and school papers to organize.  Glue together 3-6 cereal boxes with top flaps removed for a great paper storage tower. Cover with decorative paper or fabric to match room decor.

Folder or Magazine Storage: Cut off a cereal box at an angle (see picture in link) and use this for students to store folders, to keep magazines handy, or to keep papers together. Just cover with decorative fabric or paper if it will be left out (unless Cheerios goes with your decor!). TIP: You can also use this same shape to store packages of zipper bags or foils and wraps in a cabinet.

Home Inventory: How To Take and Keep Home Inventory Records

Most of us don’t have and will never need a home inventory. I know, that’s a great way to get you interested in doing one. But the truth is that if you do encounter a disastrous situation where you need to know what you have and how to replace it, a home inventory will prove invaluable.

There are a lot of apps and software programs that you can buy to help you with taking a home inventory, but the truth is that you can do this with your own camera, computer, and scanner.

Start by setting up a spreadsheet with tabs for each room plus one separate tab for electronics. This will help you organize everything.

Next, pick a room and start. List each item in the spreadsheet. List the item’s name, brand, model number, serial number, and  purchase price.

After you have the information for an item listed, scan in any manuals, warranties, receipts, and other paperwork into your computer. Save these scans in a file labeled with the item name.

The third step is to take a photograph of the item. If possible, take one of the face of the item and another of the items tag or sticker with model and serial number. Save these photos in the same file as the scans of documents related to the file.

The last step is to back up everything! Be sure that these files are on your computer and on another storage device. Use a flash drive that is with your emergency binder or go bag so that you can grab it and go in the event of a fire or disaster. For added security, consider using an online file storage system, like Dropbox, to keep the files accessible from any location. If you don’t have a Dropbox account and would like to start one, please contact me and I will send you the information. This is a free online storage and sharing system. You can pay for additional storage if needed, but I have found that the free storage is plenty for my needs.

How Long to Save Records

file cabinetFiling and storing essential records is key to keeping your home organized. Filing is pretty simple – use the alphabet or if possible, scan records and save files digitally to save space. If you choose to use a digital filing system, be sure files are backed-up on an external drive.

But how long do you keep records? Here are some helpful tips:

Bills: Keep until you receive the next month’s bill showing your payment was appropriately applied. Be sure to shred all bills instead of just throwing them away because bills contain identifying information and credit card numbers. If the bill is for a large purchase (jewelry, home repairs, etc). keep the bill as long as you have the item purchased in a file relating to that item.

Bank Statements: Many of us get our bank statements online, so storage isn’t an issue, but if you get paper statements, keep the statements until your account has been balanced. Like bills, if the statement shows the purchase of a large item or anything that may relate to taxes or a business, file the statements with those categories and keep them as long as you have the item or business.

Tax Records: Tax returns should be kept for at least 3 years, but for your protection it is recommended that you keep the records for 7 -10 years.

Retirement Contributions: Keep these records indefinitely

Brokerage Statements: Keep these records until you sell the securities or close out the accounts. If there are tax implications file the records with the tax year they relate to and store for the recommended time for tax records.

Paycheck Stubs:Whether paper or electronic, save the records until you get your W-2 for that year and have verified that all the information is correct.

House Records: Keep records on the purchase, financing or refinancing, and any improvements made on a home until you sell the home. Save records relating to the sale of a home with the tax year paperwork that the sale effects.

Medical Records: See the article on organizing medical records for information about how to put these things together. Keep medical records permanently.

Receipts: If receipts have tax implications, file with the corresponding year. If the item relates to a large or warrantied purchase, file the receipt with other information about the purchase. Otherwise, once items have cleared you bank account for the correct amount, receipts can be thrown away.

Keep/Sell/Give/Toss Method

We approach all organizing with the same method. We employ this method every season change, and any time the kids get a lot of new things (i.e. Christmas or birthdays). What method is this? Keep/Sell/Give/Toss.

This method is simple. When sorting through anything  – a room or a drawer – set up three separate piles. Keep is for everything you want to keep. You will sort through placement for those items later. Sell is for items that have value that you no longer need. These are items you will list on eBay, CraigsList, or sell in other ways. Give is for items you aren’t selling but still have useful life. These items will be given to a friend or charity who can benefit from having them. Toss is for the items that are out of useful life. These are broken or ripped or in some other way damaged or are just things that cannot be sold or passed on to others.

Set up space for each category. If you are organizing a room or a whole house, be sure the space is separate and labeled so that things don’t get in the wrong category. Go through everything in the space you are organizing and place it in one of the 4 categories.

Once everything is in a category, start by throwing away the toss pile. Next, bag up the give pile, labeling the bags based on to whom or where the items will be given, and put the bags in your car. Thirdly, photograph everything in the sell pile and get the items listed for sale. Then box those items up for shipping or delivery. Don’t seal the boxes until you have a shipping label for them. You don’t want to forget what is in them.

At this point you should only have your keep items left. This pile will get sorted a second time. Go through it and take anything that does not belong in the space you are organizing to the correct room or area. For example, we found a cup in our child’s room when we got a new bed and organized it for her. That was to be kept, but clearly not in her room. It was taken to the dishwasher.

Now you should only have items that belong in the space left. Clean your space and put your keep items away. Now you have an organized space with less stuff, and hopefully a little extra money in your pocket too.