An Organized Jewelry Drawer

My jewelry used to all be jumbled together.

So I made this necklace hanger a few weeks ago.

Honestly, it’s not really working for me. Necklaces are still getting tangled. I think the best method will be building something like this to store each necklace on a separate hook.

Now, for my non-necklace jewelry, I bought this 24-compartment case at the Container Store so I could store 1-4 (depending on the size) pairs of earrings in each compartment. This helps me immensely. I no longer have to spend precious morning minutes digging for the earrings I want to wear – or their mates! Or their backs!

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I simply keep my bracelets, rings, lipstick, and perfume in the original divider I bought at Home Goods:

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And slip the earring container on top. The whole thing gets stored in a drawer in my dresser. I still want to make drawer liners for my dressers like the ones I made here. 

THE END. 🙂

An Organized Event Stylist’s Closet: Before & After

Happy New Year!

I had the pleasure of working with an event stylist a few weeks ago – add that job to my list of dream occupations, please! Her storage space was shared with the utility room in her home and was overflowing with ribbon, tinsel, and crepe paper. She complained that her current system made it so difficult to put things away that she would often leave decorations on the floor after events, when she was exhausted.

A very important principle of organization is that items are as EASY as possible to put away. As Marie Kondo taught me, usually people organize in a way that makes it as easy as possible to access items, but they should really be easier to put away. If you need to access something, you WILL access it so its convenient is not the priority. Putting it away does not strike us as necessary, so we need to organize it in a way that is convenient – the logical convenience of the item’s home is the priority.

The MOST IMPORTANT key to staying organized is really quite simple – put things away after every use. That’s IT!

We took everything off the shelves, categorized the items logically, and put them back in a way that made sense – the categories fit together, the most commonly used things were on the shelves at her height, and everything was clearly labeled.

Here is the yummy before and after:

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No more inaccessible party decorations for our events stylist! HOORAY! Hopefully this session will help her grow her business and feel less stressed before and after working each event. Stress-reduction is truly what I’m after!

Happy Organizing!

 

DIY Tuesday: Pantry Organization!

I’m about to share something with you that is S-C-A-R-Y. Like, I should have shared it for Halloween, but it’s too late. Are you ready???

This was my kitchen pantry last night. I know, it’s bad, I warned you. I especially love how the flash from my crappy camera phone makes it look even more terrifying. We were constantly shuffling around for things, bags of chips were falling out, we could hardly put groceries away when we did our 2 week shopping trips. I am an organizer, ashamed.

It’s not that I hadn’t tried. It’s just that with only two very shallow cabinets to store everything in, it took a dose of organizing magic. The hardest part about a small space is maintaining the organization – that will be my, and my husband’s, biggest challenge.

Now for the big reveal! Drumroll, please…

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Cabinet 2

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It’s amazing what a little clean out can do! In twenty minutes, I had it looking a billion times more inviting, more spacious, and much easier to access.

Here’s how I did it (and you can too!):

  1. As always, pull everything out! You’ve got to start with a clean slate.
  2. Purge – throw out what has expired, what you will never use, and what needs to be stored elsewhere.
  3. Sort – put like with like: baking supplies together, cereal together, snacks together, etc.
  4. Think about the best storage solution for each category, based on what you already have. I was seriously lacking in the container department, because I preach about not buying organizational tools until you know what you need. Once I thought about it, I realized I needed bins to hold the snacks, granola bars, dry goods, and microwave popcorn because these were the items that were either always falling out or whose boxes were too bulky. Unbox what you can – make sure you recycle! 😉
  5. Find storage equipment you already have or make or purchase what you need, buying being the last resort. I had heard other organizers rave about these simple multipurpose bins from the Container Store, and now I see why! They can be used like drawers, file holders, fridge bins, and you can clearly see their contents. I also purchased Tellfresh containers, because they were the cheapest, air-tight boxes sold at the Container Store. You can see how I used them below.
  6. Label bins and shelves so you know where to put things when you come home from the grocery store, rather than trying to fit items in like a game of Tetris. I used my label maker, but you can use your printer and packing tape to make it prettier. Use something that will come up easily in case you need to switch around bins in the future. The best organizing methods are somewhere between temporary and permanent, and the most organized people are always thinking about new and better ways to improve on their current system.
  7. Make it pretty! This is a step I realize I am lacking. I plan to DIY some more cabinet shelf liners in the future, like I made for our dish cupboard here. We are mere renters, so anything that is temporary and pretty is a winner in my book.

Here’s a shelf-by-shelf look inside:

On the top shelf of the first cabinet, I put popcorn, granola bars, desserts, and drink mixes. I used a 1.2 quart Tellfresh container for granola bars, and a 27 oz. one for microwave popcorn, and I used a tupperware container I already had for powdered drink mixes.

The middle shelf holds canned goods, broth, and nut butters. I made this the most narrow shelf because I needed vital space for the bottom shelf – gotta love adjustable shelving! I hate wasted space.

The bottom shelf stores the tallest items – dry goods, coconut water (it’s so tall!), snacks, and cereal. I used a large Container Store multipurpose bin for all of our dry goods – rice, couscous, quinoa, oatmeal, and pasta. I had to turn it on its side because our shelves are so shallow, but I think it is well worth it. I used a 5 quart Tellfresh container for our snack storage – I left the chips and pretzels in their bags and cereal in their boxes because we are always buying different brands and go through them quickly. If I had more space, I would take them out of their bags to preserve freshness, but for now, it works.

Onto the second cabinet…

On the top shelf, I re-purposed a wire basket I already had to corral coffee equipment (french press, espresso, and coffee beans). Then I used the lid to one of the containers I purchased as a cat food tray for easy access. Finally, I left room for our tupperware that either is being used or needs to be washed. We don’t have much, but it seems to take up quite a bit of space. Someday, I would like to have all glass tupperware that is stackable, for now #WWWYH (Work With What You Have) #madeupacronyms.

The middle shelf holds tea, cocoa, and Christmas mug storage (we only have two – LOL) – I used a pretty mini loaf pan I’ve never used to hold tea bags and cocoa is stored in a Trader Joe’s tin. On the right is our cheese grater, flour, and sugar. I used a 3.2 quart Tellfresh container for flour, a 1.9 quart one for sugar. You can add scoops if you wish, I usually just use my measuring cup.

The bottom shelf houses our nesting mixing bowls, and bake ware I rarely use holds baking supplies (chocolate chips, extracts, sprinkles, baking powder and soda, pastry bags, cookie cutters, active yeast).

And that’s it! We are already immensely benefitting from this DIY. The simple joy of opening your cabinets and not having an avalanche of food fall out. The wonder of knowing exactly what you have and where it is. This could even be a money-saving DIY, because less food will expire or go stale due to our ignorance of its existence.

Did you like this post? What time-tested kitchen organization ideas would you like to share? Post pics of your pantry organization with the hashtag #GetOrganizedWithEllen and #DIYTuesday! XO!

DIY Tuesday: Necklace Hanger!

Today’s DIY is the quickest and easiest yet. I try to base these projects on what I truly need to improve organization in my life. This summer, my necklace hooks broke and it has resulted in a tangled mess of necklaces living on my dresser and I haven’t worn a necklace in months. Never again!

At Michael’s I found this adorable wooden arrow. They sell a ton of cute wooden shapes for cheap, so you could choose anything! Buy a picture hanger and a package of screw-in hooks as well.

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Now, you could paint your arrow or even spray paint your hooks to glam this project up. I left both as I bought them, and I like the way the industrial wood and metal go together. You can also measure three equidistant points along the wood, I simply eyeballed it. Take a hammer and begin driving in your hooks with just a few gentle bangs. Be careful not to split the wood! Screw the hooks in one-by-one the rest of the way by hand. This took me several minutes per hook. If I had used a drill to form a starter hole first, it probably would have gone faster but would have risked splitting the flimsy wood arrow.

Attach the picture hanger to the back, hang it up, and hang your necklaces on the hooks. The longest part of this project was untangling my necklaces, I also recommend cleaning them with jewelry polish! Our jewelry so rarely gets cleaned and organized, so use this opportunity.

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You could also use this cute little DIY as a key holder in your entry way, or use more sturdy wood and larger hooks for a scarf, coat, and/or purse holder.

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Another Tuesday, DIY’d.

DIY Tuesday: Wedding Card Keepsake Book!

It’s a beautiful day for a DIY!

I have had DIY-Bride withdrawals for 15 months to the day. I loved every minute of crafting our homespun wedding. But the projects don’t have to stop! After displaying some of our wedding cards in a frame for a year, I am ready to craft them into a keepsake book that we can flip through forever!

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For this project, I decided to incorporate the engagement, bridal shower, and bachelorette cards I received as well! You could make separate books for these if you wish, but I made dividers for each card category within my book.

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You will need:

  1. Your wedding cards
  2. Cardboard
  3. Ruler
  4. Scissors or exacto knife
  5. Pencil
  6. Twine or thin ribbon
  7. Hole punch (Get the most heavy duty one you can find/afford. I broke one during a particularly thick card.)
  8. Paint, pretty paper, stickers, or other embellishments
  9. Card stock
  10. Sharpie

First, arrange your cards in the order you would like the book. Find your largest and smallest cards. Measure your largest card. Using your straight edge, pencil off the size your covers will be on the cardboard, judging by the size of your largest card. For example, my largest card was 9″ x 7″, so I made my cardboard covers 10″ x 8″.

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Embellish your cardboard covers any way you wish. My cardboard was cut from a box and had writing on it, so I chose to paint it in our wedding colors. I penciled off straight horizontal lines and alternated the colors.  In the future, I might add “E & J” and/or “Our Wedding Cards.”

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Measure your smallest card and decide how many holes you would like in each card for your book. I went with two holes for each card, because my smallest card was only 5″. If using two holes, you will need to measure three equal sections – if using three holes, four equal sections. Mark these sections with a pencil. Measuring from the spine of your card, mark a point 1/4″ in where each hole will be. Punch the holes with your hole punch on your smallest card.

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Using the smallest card as a guide, place it in the middle of each card (I just eyeballed it, but you can measure!) and draw around the circles you’ve punched. Punch out all the circles you’ve drawn.

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If using dividers, measure and cut them to the size of your covers, or slightly smaller. I had short card stock leftover from our wedding reception escort cards (they were boarding passes for a travel-themed wedding), so I just used that! Always use what you have if you can! Then type, draw, or paint on the “chapters” in your card keepsake book. Mine say “Engagement”, “Bridal Shower”, “Bachelorette”, and “Wedding”. Then measure and punch holes in these as well.

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Finally, measure and punch holes in your book covers once they’ve dried. Measure and cut your ribbon or twine to two equal lengths (or three if making a three-hole book). Line up your covers, dividers, and cards the way you want them so the holes are matched up, and thread your twine through! Tie them in loose, pretty bows that are securely knotted. You can also use binder rings if you prefer.

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Now you have a beautiful keepsake of the sweet cards from your family and friends that you can flip through anytime! You don’t have to do this with wedding cards – birthday cards will work just as well.

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Happy DIY’ing and Organizing! And Happy Halloween! 🙂

DIY Tuesday: Wrapping Paper Shelf (or Drawer) Liners

Got an ugly shelf or drawer? We all do. Got some wrapping paper you would rather look at? Good. If not, head to Home Goods because OMG it’s all so cheap and it’s all so cute!

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You will need:

  1. Pretty wrapping paper
  2. Contact paper
  3. Straight edge
  4. Scissors
  5. Pencil
  6. Measuring stick or tape

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Here’s the sad before of the inside of my dish cabinet:

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I can’t even – whatever.

First, clear out all your stuff and wipe down your shelves (or drawers).

Next, measure the width and depth of the surface you will be lining.

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Then measure and cut your wrapping paper according to these measurements. I use the three point method, which means I measure three equidistant points along each axis and connect the three points with a straight edge because I don’t own a carpenter’s square. I then cut each axis drawn with scissors. I repeated this three times for three shelves.

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The next step is to measure and cut your contact paper, which pleasantly has a grid on the back for easier cutting. Make sure you leave about a quarter-inch overhang on either side. The trickiest part of this entire project is placing the contact paper on the wrapping paper, and after two mishaps I think I finally got it right the third time.

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Place the contact paper with the backing face-up on your surface. Peel back the backing half an inch at a time. Place the wrapping paper face down onto the sticky surface, taking care to line up the edges so that it doesn’t turn crooked down the line. Continue to peel back the backing and stick the wrapping paper to the adhesive a little at a time. If it begins to bubble or wrinkle, it is quite easy to pull the paper apart and start over.

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I used double-sided tape on the back of each liner to adhere it to its shelf.

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And voila! A shelf (or drawer) liner to put your pretty (or… not so pretty) dishes on! I can’t wait to open my cabinets every morning and see this pretty map paper smiling up at me as I grab my coffee mug. I am also excited to make some drawer liners for the dressers I painted last fall for our bedroom, my desk drawers, more liners for our pantry cabinets – these liners are useful everywhere!

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Here’s the pretty after (don’t you just love afters?!):

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(It got dark up in my kitchen. Also, my shelves were bowing even when empty – I promise my twelve dishes aren’t going to cause them to break! Sidebar: I would totally update my kitchen cabinets with a coat of paint if I could, but I am a sad little renter in a hella overpriced neighborhood.)

Let me know in the comments below how you would use these pretty liners in your space!

DIY Tuesday: Meal Planner!

It’s 9 o’clock at night. You’re exhausted. You’re hungry. The fridge is empty except for a bottle of sriracha. You have zero plans for dinner. Most likely, you’ll order in or just eat the sriracha, neither of which are particularly healthy choices. With a little meal planning, this all could have been avoided…

Today’s DIY project is so easy AND functional, it blows my mind why everyone doesn’t have one! This quick little meal planner has not only helped my family eat better, but also be more savvy grocery shoppers and creative chefs! Somewhere between pinning a delicious recipe at the office and ordering in late at night something gets lost. Maybe it’s the idea of grocery shopping that overwhelms you or messing up the kitchen, maybe no one taught you proper cooking skills. I truly believe cooking every meal can change your life, even better if you can grow your own produce! This little planner can significantly help you – but here’s the catch – you have to USE it!

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You’ll need:

  1. Photo Frame
  2. Printer* & Paper
  3. Microsoft Word, Adobe InDesign, or a similar design program*
  4. Dry-Erase Marker

*You don’t have to make this on your computer. Using a ruler and markers, you could make a handmade menu planner!

How To:

Much like the chore chart from 2 weeks ago, draw a grid for the seven days of the week. Label the first row with the days of the week and leave two blank narrow rows beneath. The first will be used to fill in the chef of the evening and the second will show the date – I added a backslash to separate month and day. I made ours with enough rows to plan two weeks at a time. The last row will be much wider, enough room to fill in the name of the meal for that day.

Pop it in a frame, hang it in the kitchen, and keep the dry-erase marker nearby! Make it a habit at the beginning of every 2 weeks to plan your meals with your partner/roommate/kids/whomever! In my household, we try to trade off cooking every other day, but it’s very difficult because my husband is a grad student who doesn’t get home until 10pm three times a week. Come up with whatever system works for you.

Browse pinterest for recipes everyone will love and you’ve always wanted to cook, according to your skill level! You can even create a pinterest board for each “genre” of food (e.g. Italian, Chinese, Meatless Mondays) and pick a recipe from each genre for a different day of the week. Go easy on yourself and save days for leftovers or going out to eat if it’s in your budget. Write in the days you will be on vacation or getting dinner with friends as a reminder.

When making your grocery list on the weekends, browse the ingredients list beforehand and make your paper list or virtual list using evernote or another note-taking app. I do not recommend trying to load each recipe in the grocery store on your phone, it takes forever! I find it’s easier to then organize the grocery list based on store sections (e.g. dairy, produce, grains), which is especially simple when using evernote. Again, a little planning ahead goes a LONG way!

We only use our meal planner to plan dinners. For lunches, we generally pack leftovers or make a quick wrap. You could easily add more rows for each meal of the day if you want a more comprehensive planning tool.

This project will take less than 20 minutes and drastically improve your eating/shopping/cooking habits! Bon appetit!