A Magnetic Family Calendar to Keep You Organized

Keep Track Of All Those Activities In One Space!

By Amy Trauntvein

I received this calendar for review, but all opinions and pictures are my own.

When you’ve got a house full of kids and adults who are busy, you’ve got a lot of activities, appointments, practices, lessons and everything else to keep track of!  Jen at Calendarsandchores.com must have seen me in her crystal ball because she asked to send me one of her beautiful and functional calendars to check out, thank you Jen!  Oh yes, I‘ve got a smart phone with a calendar and all which I use, a lot, but I needed something that my whole family could see every day and also add to as things come up. (Large Magnetic Calendar seen here with 6 weeks and bonus Memo strip $82.00)

Magnetic Calendar

This magnetic calendar is the perfect solution, because it is a perpetual calendar!  What’s that you say?  It means that when your week is over, you wipe everything off the top strip, and move it to the bottom of the calendar to start filling in for later weeks!  You see, each “line” is it’s own magnetic strip that you can organize yourself and it all fit’s on the included frame any way that you fancy.  When my calendar came, I slapped that thing on the wall and got to filling it all in!

So many of my kids activities are for multiple kids so instead of using one color per kid, I use a certain color per activity/lesson.  I’ve got 2 kids in the high school marching band, so I used Red for their school color, I have 3 kids in piano/vocal lessons with the same teacher so I use blue for those, I have 2 kids in gymnastics and I picked orange for it and so on and so forth.

I adore the magnetic pencil cup! ($10)  Not only is it cute, but it holds all the extra month labels that aren’t in use, and my wet erase markers (I like them better than dry erase for fine tip writing and they don’t smudge) right where I need them.  No more looking in drawers and wondering what my kids did with them!  They stay right here.  Period.

Magnetic Calendar

The weekly Menu List ($4.50) comes in handy for those busy nights that I just don’t want to figure out what to fix for dinner.

Magnetic Calendar

And Memo strip (included in calendar kit) with categories of Upcoming Events/Grocery/To Do/Notes section you can use in place of one or two of the “weeks” on the calendar, if you just want to post a month at a time.  See bottom of the calendar…

Magnetic Calendar

The calendar comes in many colors and styles and sizes, but I love the Antique White frame with the Vintage White magnetic strips.  They are perfect for my living space!  As you can see, I chose to use all 6 weeks and even figured out a way to let me know when the next month is coming up.  I separated the two months a bit and stuck the September strip between the two.  Easier for my kids to know what month they are looking at.

Magnetic Calendar

I am so happy with my new calendar and so are my kids.  No more, “Mom, what time is practice? Mom, what day is the party?  Mom, when is picture day?”  They can just look themselves.  Thank you calendarsandchores.com!  You’ve just made my schedule a whole lot easier to handle!

Be sure to check out her online Etsy store.   She also carries other cool products like chore charts cute locker memo magnets.

Love To All! ~Amy





I have been married for 23 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep me young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening, yoga, walking and saving money! I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.

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The Carlson Maxi Pet Gate is Saving My Sanity & Carpet!

Surviving The New Puppy with The Carlson Maxi Pet Gate.

I was thrilled when the Carlson Pet Products company agreed to let me do a review on their Carlson Maxi Pet Gate.  I received this gate at no cost, but all thoughts, opinions and images are my own.

Knowing we were getting a new puppy, I was in a bit of a panic.  Knowing all the work that a puppy is, and thinking about all the accidents on our family room carpet were really stressing me.  I wanted to figure out a way to keep the puppy in the kitchen, but we have this 96″ opening. How do you block that?

Carlson Pet Gate

I started researching and came across this Carlson Pet Products Maxi Gate on Amazon.  I was SO EXCITED that something existed that would be large enough to do the job.  (I had to get the gate and 2 extensions for the 96″ opening. When you add the numbers together, I thought one extension should have been enough, but they have to overlap each other when putting them together. I suggest that you ask on the Carlson Facebook page or Twitter handle @CarlsonTheDog to be sure you’re getting the needed extensions if you have a larger opening. I talked to someone and they walked me through what I’d need.) My excitement for this gate grew when I saw there was not only a walk through door, but also a little pet door. Gizzy (my other dog) would be able to come and go through the kitchen through this little door, while Ellie (when she gets older and bigger) stayed in the kitchen.

The first couple days that we had Ellie, the big gate hadn’t arrived, so we had to block off the kitchen area with a home made block-aid. We used a combination of a chest of drawers, 3 foot table and older pressure gate.  It worked, but wasn’t fun to climb over.

temporary dog gate

This is what it looked like on the other side.  There is my sweet Ellie.

dog gate

Once the gate came, just a couple days later (it came from the corporate office, not Amazon) I had my son put it together. He liked the measuring tape strip that came with it. He told me it would be really helpful for lining up where to put in the screws.

dog gate

Tim waited for Dave to get home to actually screw in the gate to the wall.  He didn’t want to be responsible if he messed that up. Isn’t this SO much nicer? I was excited! I loved that I could block off my kitchen from the puppy.

dog gate

Dave was surprised that the screws they had included were very small screws.  We weren’t able to put this into a stud and he wasn’t certain the screws would hold.

dog gate

As it turns out, they didn’t hold. It was just a couple days and one side came out of the wall, tearing up some dry wall with it. (This photo was prior to it coming out of the wall). The other side came out too. Dave got some anchor bolts and put it back in. He should have done that to begin with, since we weren’t putting it into studs.  But I would also suggest to Carlson that they should include them, as even into studs, I can’t see the small screws that were included, being enough. We also weren’t able to screw in the bottom because of our floor board, molding, whatever you call it. If we would have gone up above that, but then the floor support wouldn’t be on the ground and it would be too high to step over. But it still works with just the pressure against the floorboard.

One of the things I love about the gate is that Gizzy, who is about 20 pounds will be able to come and go from the kitchen, once Ellie gets bigger.  The little pet door opens and will allow Gizzy to go through, but will be small enough that Ellie won’t be able to go through.  Ellie is up to 30 pounds right now, and I just tested it this morning, to see if she could still fit through. Yes, she is thin enough still that she just angled a little bit and happily went through. Gizzy will be able to run to freedom when her new sissy constantly wants to beat her up by constantly biting her neck and legsplay” with her.

dog gate

The other wonderful feature is that there is a walk through door.  You don’t have to step over a gate all the time. This makes it so easy to come and go. That first couple of days have to either move things or step over our temporary gate was not so fun!  You do have to step over the bar at the bottom of the gate. I can certainly understand there would have to be one for support of the gate with a door. But you do have to let guests know to just be careful when stepping through. Small price to pay in my book, for having the convenience of a walk through door.

dog gate

The latch at the top just snaps down into place. At first we weren’t clicking it into place every time. You almost need 2 hands to pull back on the red mechnisim to release the latch, but it can certainly be done with one hand. But you can close the gate without the extra snapping.  But, now that Ellie is 13 weeks old, she has already learned that if she jumps up on the latch and it’s not snapped down, she can lift it up with her paw and open the gate. Dang those smart dogs, right?  So we are now snapping it down each time we go in and out. This latch isn’t not as large or strong as the other Carlson dog gate I purchased for the other opening in the kitchen. I was surprised by that, but I think because this gate had to be made longer, it wasn’t able to be made with as heavy as construction as the other gate, hence the smaller, lighter latch. (I’ll show you the other gate below)

dog gate

The other thing to note that I was surprised, that I didn’t realize until my son was putting it together, was that the gate/door has to be on one end or the other. I had planned for that to be in the middle. I wanted her crate to be up against that brown wall on the left, like it is in the picture above when I had the temporary gate up. But it has to be on one end or the other. I adjusted, we moved her crate and it’s all good. Just another thing to know when you’re planning out your space.

dog gate


We also had another opening in our kitchen that I needed to block.  It was wider than a normal doorway, but I didn’t need anything this long for it. I ordered and paid for myself, another gate – the Carlson 0930 Extra-Wide  Walk-Thru Gate.  It is a pressure mounted gate, so no screws! I had thought that the extensions for this gate were extra, but the 2 extensions come with the gate.

This gate seems sturdier than that maxi gate. Again, I think because it has to go in a smaller place, and I’m guessing that it would be too heavy to have this long of a gate for the maxi gate.  This gate also has that wonderful walk-thru feature and the extra pet door.

pet gate

Carlson pet gateThis latch is a much nicer latch. I really wish the maxi gate had the same one. It works the same, the red lever pulls back to release the latch. So far, Ellie hasn’t learned to open this one when it isn’t snapped into place, but I’m sure she will soon.

We’ve not had any issues with the pressure mounted gate not holding. Ellie is 30 pounds and jumps up on it, and we’re still fine. I guess we’ll find out when she’s 75 pounds and jumps up on it, if it will still hold – but it seems pretty strong, so I think we’ll be good.

You can get the Carlson Maxi Pet Gate or Carlson Extra-Wide Walk-Thru Pet Gate the on Amazon through my code, which I’d love of course! You can also find them and other places you can purchase them, along with their other products on the Carlson Pets Products Page. 

I can HIGHLY recommend the Carlson Extra-Wide Walk-Thru Gate, it’s very sturdy and strong.  I can also recommend the Carlson Maxi Gate. It’s awesome to find a gate that can expand to cover such a large opening! I love the walk through gates and the mini pet door features on both gates. (I do recommend getting your own anchor bolts to anchor the maxi gate securely in the wall.)

These gates have really made having a puppy SO much easier! If there is an accident, I don’t stress. It’s easy clean up and it’s not ruining my carpet. I can work (I work from home) and I don’t have to crate her all the time, when I can’t be constantly watching her. Of course, it’s not like she can’t get herself into trouble being left out in the kitchen, but I know the noises now of what to listen for.  She is in the kitchen, lying on the floor asleep right now as I write this post. I’m not running around the house, worrying about where she is, or if she is going to have an accident at any moment.

Thank you so much Carlson Pet Products, you really have helped to save my sanity!




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Lands’ End Canvas Storage Totes Giveaway

Lands’ End Organizing and Storage Solution

By Amy Trauntvein

I received this set of Lands’ End Canvas Storage Totes, but the pictures and opinions and storage ideas are my own.

I adore Lands’ End! With their classic designs and high quality, you can never go wrong when choosing a Lands’ End product.  So when Lands’ End offered to send me a set of their Canvas Storage totes AND give a set to one of our readers, I was ecstatic!  Set of 5 Canvas Storage Totes (value $195.50 online)

Land's End

Lands’ End also asked me to come up with some creative storage solution for my beautiful totes and let me tell you, this was no easy task!  Only because I had TOO MANY ideas for each size! But in the end I chose one storage idea for each tote that worked best for my home.

Extra SmallI do a lot of cooking and baking and so I keep my cookbooks out on my kitchen counter.  I like having them out because I use them so much, but everytime I’d grab one, they’d all fall over.  The Extra Small Canvas Storage tote was the perfect size to hold my cookbooks!  No more books toppling over whenever I need one.  And it looks cute too! I do have other cookbooks in a cabinet, but these are the ones I use most.

Land's End

Small– I use tablecloths, a lot of tablecloths.  When we moved into our new home 8 years ago, I bought myself a nice, solid hard wood dining set.  Then my kids started using my beautiful table and chairs. Yeah.  So now, to preserve the top of my table from craft projects, spills and whatever else they come up with, I use tablecloths which help immensely!  Since I’m always changing out my tablecloths almost daily, I need easy access to them.  I’m kind of embarrassed to show you where I use to keep them, but here it is…  In a lower cabinet all stacked up and ready to fall out at anytime.

Land's End

No longer!  I was able to fit all of my table cloths into the Small Canvas Storage tote and find an open spot at the bottom of my pantry.  Just open the door, and there they are!  All neat and tidy and ready to be used.

Land's End

Medium– During the summer, we go swimming. A lot!  Not only do we go to public pools, but we have some great friends to own a pool and invite us over many times during the warmer months.  I have needed a bag large enough to fit all of our towels, sunscreen, goggles, sunglasses and pool toys and the Medium Canvas Storage tote was the perfect fit!  It held it all, plus had some room to spare!

Land's End

And when the season is over, I can just take the entire, filled bag and store it in my hall closet ready for the next year!

Land's End

Large– One of my favorite things to do when the day is done, is to snuggle up in a cozy blanket with my hubby and either watch a movie or catch up on our favorite TV shows.  I have invested in some pretty awesome blankets but where do I keep them without it looking a mess all piled up in a corner?  I used a big basket in the past, but it quickly fell apart.  Not so with the Large Canvas Storage tote, this thing is top notch and sturdy!  I also love how it matches my blankets…

Land's End

HamperI wanted to do something different with the Hamper, but what else do you do with a hamper besides hold dirty laundry?  I put it in my youngest daughter’s closet to hold all of her dress ups!  I used to store her dress ups in a large plastic tote with a lid, but as with all those big plastic totes, the lid was hard for her to get off and pretty bulky for her to pull out too, AND it was so full it was starting to bulge and hard to get it closed.  Not with the hamper, it’s plenty large enough to hold all her pretty things, shoes and all, and with no lid, there’s no more, “Mom, I need help!”  Also, with the sturdy metal support rods, I’m not worried about her breaking the supports.

Land's End


Land's End

I love these Land’s End Canvas Storage Totes for their quality, functionality, gorgeous construction and finally, for helping me find some great storage solutions in my home!

Giveaway-  Land’s End is giving one of our readers a full set of 5 Canvas Storage Totes as seen here (color may vary).  One set contains the extra small, small, medium, large and hamper. Retail online $195.50.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also be sure to go over to visit Toni at A Bowl Full of Lemons too! Her awesome organizing blog is having a giveaway of the Lands’ End Storage Totes too!

Love To All! ~Amy






I have been married for 23 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep me young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening, yoga, walking and saving money! I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.

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Organize for July 4th celebrations

Staying Home or Heading Out for July 4th?

Whenever you plan for the July 4th, or any holidays, vacations or just weekend getaways…. you usually always forget something if you aren’t prepared. Right?july 4th

We don’t usually do anything real big for July 4th. Our town has a nice firework display that we go to every year.   We don’t want to go to some massive display downtown and deal with all the traffic and mess you get into down there. Usually we grill out and then head to the high school. Nice and simple.  We’ll also head to the farm on some years and grill out our hotdogs over an open fire. 

It was my dog Sadie’s worse holiday of the year.  She was so scared of fireworks and for a few days prior to 4th of July and a day or so after, there are always those in the neighborhood setting off their own displays. She was a bundle of nerves! It was will strange this year without her, having to leave with the TV blaring and fans running to help cut the noise of fireworks for her.

You might just be staying at home and grilling out for your family, or some friends for the fourth….but you will still need some supplies you weren’t counting on. Chances are you might be going to some friends house for fireworks , or going on a weekend camping or getaway trip.

Get out Your Paper and Pen and start your list for what you will need to have for your 4th of July celebration.  Here are just a few suggestions:
2)Ice – Make your own ahead if there is time!
4)Place settings/cups
5)Napkins/paper towels
6)Trash Bags
7)Bug Spray
8)Sun Screen
10)First aid kit

There is the beginning of the list. Of course there is more, but be prepared.  Have a fun 4th of July weekend and please be safe if you are going to be messing with fireworks and even sparklers!

Your day/weekend will go much smoother if you have it planned out and aren’t forgetting half the things you need.


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Organizing and Planning Ahead For A Trip

Be Sure To Organize Ahead Of Time For Your Travel

Organizing prior to a trip isn’t hard, it just takes time management.


Planning for a trip, of course depends on what kind of trip you are going on.  Is it a family vacation, are you flying or driving? How many people are going?  Is it a business trip and you’re leaving the family at home?

For this post, I’m going to plan for a business trip with one adult going from the family.  For our family, this has been me doing all the traveling. Dave doesn’t travel for work, but for the last several years, I have been traveling multiple times throughout the year.

I’m planning this week for my trip next week to Bentonville, Arkansas for our first Collective Bias conference, SoFabCon. I’ll be gone for a week from home.

Plan at least two – three weeks prior to your trip

Plan what you are going to wear. Go through your wardrobe to make sure you have the clothing, shoes and accessories you’ll need for the trip. More than likely, you’ll have all you need, but there might be occasions that you do need to shop for something new prior to the event.

If you have to order sometime online, you should probably plan out further than 3 weeks to be sure you receive it on time, and it fits.
You want to give yourself enough time to return or have something altered if needed.

Be sure to check your accessories to be sure you have any jewelry, cosmetics, crazy socks etc that you might need.

Plan Week Ahead

1) Plan out meals for your family, or at least make sure needed grocery items are stocked in the house.
2) Get all the family laundry completed before you go.
Personally, I do this because if my hubby needs to do laundry, I come home to baskets full of clothes that I can’t tell if they are dirty or clean (nothing folded when it comes out of the dryer). He will use my sorting bins to put clean clothes in, I find my sorting bins upstairs in bedrooms.. oh my – an organizers laundry nightmare!
3) Prepare a packing list.
It is so easy to forget things when you are packing.  Make sure you add things on there like business cards, extension cord (if you take your laptop etc with you), phone chargers, camera download cords etc. In this day and age of electronics, there are a lot of accessories needed to use them.
4) Prepare a Family “To Do” List
Especially if you are going to have teens at home without you. When do they have to be at practices, events? Does anyone take daily medicine that needs to be remembered? Will they remember to feed, water and walk the dog or clean out a litter box. What day is trash day?
5) Make a copy of your itinerary.
Make sure your spouse knows how to get hold of you, what flights you’re on and where you’re staying.
6) Be sure to print out any tickets or passes you might need. It’s great to have everything on your phone, but if you can’t get service, you could be in a bind if you count on having important documents stored electronically.

Couple Days Prior To Your Trip

1) Start packing for your trip. You won’t want to pack any clothes that will wrinkle until the last minute, but have them ready to go. You can pack underclothes, jewelry and other items that you don’t have to worry about the “wrinkle factor”.
2) Prepare any food items you’re family might need while you’re gone

Planning ahead will make you’re preparation go much smoother, and generally you have what you need while you’re gone. It also will help to decrease stress for you and the family while you’re gone.



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Never A Pen When You Need It!

February 25, 2013 by  
Filed under Blog, Donating & Causes, How To Organize, Offices

But We Have A Bazillion Pens In The House!

Why is That? Pencils and pens accumulate, we put them away, but then don’t use the ones put away – we buy more.  Right? We also get them from all over. Trade shows, expos, conferences or company reps give them away freely. Of course there are always those who use them at work and walk home with them in their pockets. (Tell me it isn’t so!)


So what is the solution? Clean them out, organize and disperse them in locations where they will be used and needed.

You first want to gather up the pens, you might be cleaning out a desk drawer, or kitchen junk drawer – but try to gather up as many around the house as you can fine.

You want to test all the pens to see what ones work and which ones don’t. There’s nothing more irritating than grabbing something to write with and having it be out of ink, dried up or with broken lead.


Only keep the ones that write nicely. If you wouldn’t want to write a letter to someone with it, then you need to get rid of it. Why keep it if when you grab to use it, you don’t like it? You’ll just put it back and go look for another one? I’m right aren’t I?

Make 3 piles

1) Keep – Keep what you need. You don’t have to keep ALL of them, if you have oodles.
2) Donate – Pens, markers that work well, but you don’t like them or you have over flow. You can donate them to underprivileged school districts, or underprivileged countries.
3) Trash / Recycle – For the ones that don’t work, you can trash/recycle them. I had a reader, Vicki; comment on my other post on organizing your pens, say that you can donate your pens to  http://www.penguyart.com/ (even ones that are broken or don’t work). This guy makes artwork with used pens.

 Disperse Them. 

You don’t have to have fancy pencil/pen holders. You can use baskets, check book boxes, plastic containers from food items, etc.
do it yourself

Put them in places you will utilize them.

Desk Drawer
On top of the desk
Kitchen counter
Near your home phone
By your couch or chair
By your bed
In your car
In your workshop

You can also bag some up to give to someone, donate, or keep in your car, or keep for your kids for school.


I did another post, Pens & Pencil Clean Out a couple years ago. You can find some more info concerning this, there.

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Simple Inexpensive Closet Solutions To Maximize Your Space

Use All Of Your Closet Space!

By adding extra closet shelves in your closet, you can maximize your closet space.  We have a fairly small walk in closet and we have maximized the space for minimal money.

Of course I’d love to have a custom closet, but it isn’t something we can afford to sink money into. So we have utilized our space by adding extra shelves. You can see where the normal clothes hanger is. On this wall we just added a short shelf to use some of that upper space.  I can put things such as my suitcases up there. Things I want to keep out of the basement, but I don’t use that often. It’s just a wire shelf and cost us under $15 I’m sure. Be sure to measure to see what size will work for you though.

On the wall when you first walk in, I added some extra shelves as well. I can keep travel supplies, extra bathroom supplies, beach towels (when out of season) and I also have my wedding keepsake box up there.

You can see that one other solution I’ve used is to add an extra hanger bar. I have my pants and purses hung on that. You can get a wooden extender bar like I have for $19 on Amazon. It works great and gives me extra space for my clothes.

You don’t have to have a expensive custom closet to accomplish the task. Would we like to have one? I’m sure most of us would.. I know I sure would! But it isn’t a priority for us right now. But I do want to get the most space out of my relatively small walk-in that I can. By doing simple things like adding extra shelves and extender rods you can really maximize the space.


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Chalkboard Labels Using Chalkboard Contact Paper

Chalkboard Labels For Your Pantry Baskets

I got my labels completed for my pantry baskets…. I told you I was going to do them!

chalkboard labels

There are so many uses for this chalkboard contact paper.  I have several other things in mind!

But I want to show you how I made these simple labels for my baskets in my pantry.

organized pantry

I took some of my old business cards (they are such a good size for so many things) and used those for the basis of the chalkboard labels for the baskets.

I cut the chalkboard contact paper so that it would go over the sides just a bit and would fold back and cover the entire card.

chalkboard label

When I fold it over I make sure to make a crisp edge and I smooth it out so there aren’t any air bubbles or creases in it.

chalkboard labels

Then I trim the short edge of the card. I do pinch the edge so that the contact paper adheres to itself to seal the edge.

chalkboard labels

I used the hole punch and punched a hole in the center top so I can hang it.

hole punch

Simple enough

hole punch I used the same color chalkboard marker and basic design so that they matched the jar labels I made and showed you yesterday.

chalkboard labels

I looked for twine to tie the labels on, but evidently we didn’t have any. I found some fishing line and decided that would actually work really well.
basket labels
It won’t show much and it will take care of the problem I worried about … getting through the thin basket weave.

tying on labels

And it looks like this:

chalkboard labels for baskets

I was pleased how they turned out… what do you think?

chalkboard labels

One of the other little things I did was to use these little buckets that I hung from my wire over the door can holder.

kitchen buckets

Remember I mentioned that I didn’t like the baggie that was holding the chip clips in my pantry? That I was sure there was something cuter?  I decided this was cuter!

chip clips

I had a 2nd bucket that I used and wasn’t sure what to put in it….. but had an onion sitting on the pantry shelf and thought… ok.. done!


So of course I made labels for these pails too.  I used the business card as the stencil and cut out a piece of the chalkboard contact paper.  I wrote the name on it with the markers and stuck it on the side of the bucket.

chip clips

I think they turned out cute too… don’t you?

chalkboard labels

Adding little touches like this, makes your pantry look a little cuter, but it also makes it functional by letting the family know where to put things away.

chalkboard labels

And of course that makes me happy!!
You can find the Chalkboard Contact Paper, 18″ x 6′ and the markers I used Liquid Chalk – Works like a Marker Dries like Chalk – Set of 8 Earthy Colors at the two links I have here. They are affiliate links, but that’s not why I’m giving them to you. I had a hard time finding both products and thought I’d make it a little easier for you all.

 This post was revamped and reposted from 4/7/2011


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Organize your Office Desk Drawer

Start Simple! Organize A Drawer

Organizing can become so over whelming to many of us, that it’s easier to look at an entire room and all of the mess, and say – “it’s too much, I can’t do it.”  But if you focus your efforts on something small to organize, like your desk drawer, it’s a start… it will motivate you to keep going.  The feeling of accomplishment you get from having an organized and cleaned out area is awesome!

organize office drawerOffice desk drawers can very quickly become a “catch all” for all kinds of things.  This is my desk drawer as I opened it to do this post.

There is some organization there, but I want to to show that organizing your drawer doesn’t have to be scary or “too big” to do.

organizeI used baskets and also just the plastic trays that the sharpies came in.  But it needs some freshening up.  You don’t have to go out and buy expensive supplies. The boxes your checks come in work great. These baskets are from the dollar store.

organizeLOL.. look at all the mini hand sanitizers!

office drawer before Then in this front built in tray…. there is a whole bunch of little “stuff”

So this is what you need to do

Take everything out of the drawer

cleaning out the desk drawerThen clean the drawer.

dirty drawerAnd this is a long narrow drawer, so I had to get it all the way out.

All the little crud and bits and pieces that get back in the corners.

Grab what ever products you use to clean with and a clean rag and clean well.

I’m use OdoBan for a lot of different cleaning projects. It is the smell of clean to me. I also just realized it was green. I had no idea, I’ve been using it for years.

Once you have cleaned…. then you sort the items.


1) Keep – You use it, love it and Need it
2) Donate – You don’t use it or need it and it is in good shape then donate it to others who can use it.
3) Move it – It doesn’t belong in the office. (for instance a child’s wallet – or that little hand held fan in my desk drawer)
4) Trash/Recycle – If you don’t use it, and it isn’t in good enough shape to donate – then trash or recycle it.

This is all the little stuff that came out of the front little tray

I mean really…. do I need all these hand sanitizer?  And what good are they doing in my desk drawer?  They are all half full.
hand sanitizerThen of course you always end up finding loose change anytime you clean don’t you?

changePicture hanging supplies

Tacks and paper clips

thumb tacksAnd doesn’t everyone have a couple of stray keys?


Lots of pens and markers


For the pens, pencils and markers go through the exercise that I described in this post I just posted yesterday on pens and pencils organizing.

Now go through and take the items and distribute them where they belong. Do you have a bank somewhere on the main floor of your home for loose change?  I have one on top of my refridg and another one in my laundry room.  Any change that goes in here goes towards the family vacation fund.


If you have things like hand sanitizers or hand lotions in your drawer. You don’t need as many as I have here. hand sanitizers

Consolidate them into 1 or 2 containers.

hand sanitizersI had 2 containers that had the rubber holders on them, so I poured the others into those and got it down to two containers.

hand sanitizerThen I put them where they would do some good. One went on my purse and the other went on my bookbag.

hand sanitizer

If there is a key that belongs in the office (for a safe, desk drawer or locked cabinet) make sure you label it.

labeled keys

Separate your pens from your pencils, from your sharpie markers, from your highlighters. Just be sure they all work properly.

sharpie markers

After you have gone through and sorted out what doesn’t belong in your desk drawer you can put your drawer back together.

I did not go out and buy anything for the drawer. I just used what I had in the drawer… I want you to realize that you don’t have to go out and buy a lot of things to organize.   We always find excuses not to do things, I want you to know that you can go in and clean out…. sort….clean…..put back  ANYTIME!  You don’t have to wait to go buy things!

Now… put things back in.

I did something a little interesting here.  This drawer goes back really far and I have problems with the baskets sliding back into the drawer.  I could go and buy a really cool fitted desk drawer organizer, and I could have ravaged around my house for more organizers… but I also want to show you… your organizing can take place in about 30 minutes.

So…..I used a ream of paper that I had stored underneath the desk to put in the very back of this drawer to help keep things from sliding around so much.

** Great tip from a reader Daren. Daren said to use pieces of velcro underneath the baskets or trays to hold them in place from sliding! I love that! Never even though of that. I’ll be trying that one for sure!

I had extra room in the drawer after I cleaned it out, so I moved a couple things over from another drawer that had too much in it. The tapes from a labeler, some extra staples and thumb tacks. I also put my nursing hemostats and tweezers in here. I do use the hemostats for things like taking out knots in cords etc…so I actually do use them in my office.

Here is the final product.30 minutes…. and a reorganized and clean desk drawer.

Now it is your turn!  Go take just a little bit of time and organize that drawer!


This post was revamped from it’s original post date of January 27, 2011.


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Preparing For The New Year!

December 31, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Holidays & Special Events, How To Organize

New Start For New Year

I always love the New Year! It motivates me to make changes. Do I make resolutions? Yes – No – Kind of.  I make goals for the new year. I think goals are always good to have.

New Years

My goals for this year?

1) Lose weight (yes, I know.. everyone’s goals. Dave and I are joining Weight Watchers together.)
2) Exercise (although routine one .. right?)
3) Not work as many hours – now that is different, right? I’ve been working between 60-80 hours per week for a year an a half now with my social media job. I LOVE it… but my house, my health and my family have suffered.  I have to consciously not work so many hours, and because I love what I do, it’s difficult.

Those are my biggies.

What are some other things I like to do with the new year?

I like to clean up and clean out.  When that Christmas Tree and decorations come down, I like to get into other areas of the house and clean them up too.

Today I dove into the pantry, the refrigerator, my office, my paperwork, my tax information.

I make myself a check list for the new year. I use them for work, so made another one.   What is on it?

1) Weight
2) Exercise
3) Household jobs
4) Tracking food for each meal

There are a few other goals on the list. But I used excel, put the tasks I wanted to accomplish down the left side. Across the top I put the days of the week and I’ll check off as I do things.

What works best for you?  I don’t know.. that is up to each individual.  But I suggest the following:

1) Decide what goals you’d like to accomplish for the new year. Personal and business
2) Write them down
3) Make yourself some kind of check list. Documenting what you accomplish each day is helpful.
4) Prep other areas of your home, life to get ready.

Happy New Year!


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Coupon Cubby and Card Cubby Review

Organizing Your Coupons and Cards with the Coupon and Card Cubbys!

By Amy Trauntvein

Aren’t these just the cutest things ever?  These are the Coupon Cubby and Card Cubby for organizing your coupons and your cards in your purse, home, car or anywhere else.  They come in a variety of colors to match your style and personality!

Coupon and Card Cubby

The Coupon Cubby is perfect if you are not yet ready for a full size coupon binder but do use coupons.  It fits easily in your purse OR comes with it’s own removable and adjustable strap if you’d like to use it on it’s own for couponing or or even as a small purse or clutch!  It also includes 30 handy dividers with alphabet, grocery store category and blank (create your own category) labels for easy coupon organization.  There is an inside zipper pouch for anything else you may want to keep in your Cubby.   Retail $25.99

Coupon Cubby

The Card Cubby is smaller and is the perfect size to hold your gift cards, business cards, frequent traveler cards, membership cards, rewards cards and discount cards.  A portable mini card file or Rolodex!   It’s all in one place and comes with alphabet dividers for easy reference and filing. Like the Card Cubby is also has a small zipper pouch for cash or anything else you want to stash.    Retail from $19.95-$23.95 depending on options.

Card Cubby

Both the Coupon Cubby and the Card Cubby have a clear pocket on the back for your drivers license business card or a picture.  Both could easily be used as either a purse or wallet and has a durable cover that can easily be cleaned with a wet cloth.

Coupon and Card Cubbies

Not only are these two Cubbys handy, fun, adorable and easy to use, they are even easier to purchase! Perfect for yourself or as a gift!  Just go to the top tab here at Organizing With Sandy where it says “SHOP” and click on the drop down menu where it says “Card Cubby” or go here: Card Cubby 

I love my Coupon Cubby and Card Cubby and know you will too!  Even though I was compensated with the product for this post, all pictures and opinions are honest and my own.

Love to all! ~Amy






I have been married for 22 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep my young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening and puttering around my yard. I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.

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Tips For Organizing for Christmas

Making a Christmas List – Checking it Twice…

We have so much to do this time of year, don’t we?  Dave and I we have even a little bit more than just Christmas, out of our eight kids, five of them have December birthdays! The youngest five to be exact.  Wowza!

christmas listIf only our lists were this easy?  Making lists and keep track of what you are doing, what you have done and what you still need to do can be your survival for the holidays. I will be referencing Christmas, because that is what I celebrate – please just insert your own holiday. Thanks!

Preparing Your Home

*With decorations comes moving things around, rearranging and cleaning.
*As you go through your decorations this year. Look in that box. How many things have not come out of that box to be used, in years?  Hint- It’s ok to get  rid of it. Just because it is from Christmas’s ago…doesn’t mean you HAVE to keep it. Take a picture with it…and let it go. This will make more room  if someone gives you more decorations, or there is something you just have to have in the store this year.
*Cleaning and sorting as you put things out, makes putting them away that much easier.

Holiday Meals – Things to Think of

*Which big meals will you be preparing and on which dates?
*How many people will be there?
*What will you serve? Along with appetizers, side dishes, desserts and beverages.
*Make out your grocery list.
*Look for coupons (big meals can be expensive! – This is one expense that many people don’t think to budget into their holiday spending
*If people ask what they can bring, give them an answer – salad, appetizer, dessert. Don’t hesitate to let them help.

Christmas Parties

*Be sure to write any invites on your calendar with times to keep track.
*Be curious and RSVP  (so many people don’t do this anymore. Let the hostess know how many to plan for)
*Plan what you are going to wear ahead of time.
*Do you need a gift for a gift exchange? Put that on your list
*Plan babysitters early (and get one for New Year’s Eve now if you need one!)

Christmas Cards

*If you still send them (and I hope you do…. I do) then purchase your cards if you haven’t already.
*Update your address list.
*They are great to take with you to appointments – sit in the Dr. office waiting room and fill out your envelopes!
*Buy your stamps.
*Fill out your cards. Personally I love the letters (I save and open those last when I get cards) – but at least a short note is appreciated to let people
know that you are actually thinking of them when you write your cards.
*If you are ordering a Christmas card with pictures, be sure to order SOON if you haven’t done so.

The Christmas Gift List

*Decide on your budget! (before you start buying)
*Make a list of all those you need to buy for
*Write down what you plan to buy them, or thoughts of what you’d think they would like if you don’t know specifics
*Watch for deals!
*Suggest no gifts, just time together (if possible). You may be surprised – other family members may thank you for this!


This was originally posted on Dec 2, 2010. I’m revitalizing it for this year.

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Maintenance Is Needed To Stay Organized

November 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Basement or Garage, Blog, How To Organize

Once Organized Is Not Forever Organized

It feels SO good to have a space organized doesn’t it? But how long is it before that once organized space is a total mess again? Organizing requires maintenance. Your system has to be functional and easy to use in order to make it easy to stay organized.

The more steps it takes to organize, the less likely it will to stay organized – in my opinion.  That is one of the reasons I like open organizational systems. Cubbies, containers that don’t always have lids on them, so that they are easily accessed.

Today was reorganizing the shed and the garage.

shed maintenance

Maintenance of a once organized area.

  1. Take everything out of the space (if possible)
  2. Clean the space
  3. Decide what stays and what goes – which shouldn’t be as large of a task as it was orginally
  4. Place everything back in the space and place it where it goes. Keep “like with like”

This should go much faster than the original organization of the space because there should already be a system in place.  There should be designated areas for the items already established, it’s now just a matter of placing the items back in those spaces.

This is a project that the whole family can help with.  I think that when the family helps to clean out an area like this, they are more likely to put things back where they belong for two reasons. One because they know where they belong and also because they take pride in keeping it looking nice.

shed maintenance

See my original shed organization posts.

1) Shed Storage – Tool and Loft Storage

2) Garden Shed – Make an area inside your shed for your garden area

3) Shed – Making systems inside to increase storage

4) Shed Plans – How to increase storage

It feels good to have the shed back to it’s original organized state.

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Tips To Prepare For Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Will Run Smooth If Your Prepared

The last thing we want to be doing on Thanksgiving day is running around trying to figure out how to accomplish things, because we didn’t plan ahead.

Planning ahead of time makes it possible to borrow or buy the things you need.  Need more chairs or card tables to set things up? This is a good time to ask family  or neighbors if they have what you need.  You might find you need baking dishes, freezer space, extra dishes, oven space – you want to plan this all out ahead of time.

Using labels can help you in your pre-Thanksgiving Day preparations.  To have your Thanksgiving day move smoothly, planning needs to be done ahead of time.

One way to make things move smoothly is to use this idea from Good Housekeeping.  When you set your table, or get out your serving dishes – label them. Use a non-sticky note card and label what is going to go in the dish and make sure you have a serving utensil to go with it.

It makes it very easy for anyone to help you when it comes time to fill the dishes.

thanksgiving organizing

Good Housekeeping

Thanksgiving Day Tips for Planning Ahead

  • Make sure you have enough seating for all your guests
  • Make sure you have all the place settings you need, plates, silverware, glassware.
  • Make sure you have the necessary serving dishes and utensils.
  • Have all your recipes gathered together
  • Make sure you have all the necessary ingredients for your recipes
  • See if there are any recipes that can be made ahead of time.
  • Be sure you have enough refrigerator space (you may need to ask a neighbor for extra space)
  • Write out a schedule of times as to when you need to put each item into cook/bake so that all your food is finished and warm for the meal.
  • Write out place cards ahead of time and have your tables set up and ready to go.
  • Plan any Thanksgiving day activities, so your guests aren’t bored while you are in the kitchen

I also love this idea of making notecards noting what each item is. We can’t always assume your guests will know what your dishes are. They might be something that is very familiar to us, but something completely new to a guest. They might wonder, but wouldn’t want seem rude to ask. This is especially important if you have any guest that might have some kind of food allergy. In that case, find out what that allergy is, and make a note if it is allergy free for that guest.


Good Housekeeping

Simple steps like this can help your Thanksgiving day meal go smoother.  Being prepared and thinking through things ahead of time will make your day much easier.  It also makes it possible for more people to be able to assist you in the kitchen to prepare the meal.

Here are a couple more of my posts from Thanksgivings past.

Organizing for Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving Is About Being Thankful – 2010

Organizing for Thanksgiving Dinner – 2009

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How to Organize Your Coupons

November 9, 2012 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Food, How To Organize, Paper, Sales, Shopping, Stores

Organizing Coupons Continued…

by Amy Trautvein

Today we are going to talk about clipping coupons, when to pull out expired, and how to organize a shopping trip with your coupon binder.  Are you as excited as I am?  Good!

I only get one Sunday paper, believe it or not.  I don’t want to spend hours cutting coupons and I can get some great coupons on the internet anyway to help bulk up my binder a bit and get some coupons that you won’t see in the Sunday ads.  Every Sunday night, or Monday morning I pull out the coupon inserts, have a seat on my couch, turn on the TV and cut away.  As I’m cutting, I stack the coupons into my categories so it saves much time putting them into my binder.  A must do! Here are my coupons after they ‘ve all been cut and are ready to be filed.  Classy, huh!?coupons
REALITY CHECK:  Do NOT clip every coupon that is printed. Only clip coupons for products you regulary use, would like to buy if it was on sale, and/or are willing to try.  If you’re not sure, say to yourself, “Would I buy this if it was a steal?”  If your answer is yes, then clip it.  I don’t have babies in the house anymore, so why clip coupons for baby products?  I don’t drink coffee, so I obviously pass by the coffee coupons, there are certain products (that I won’t name) that I’ve tried and not enjoyed, and even if it were a steal I wouldn’t waste my time so those get trashed too.  I know it’s just common sense, but I’ve talked to a lot of people to clip every coupon that is in the insert.  Don’t, just don’t.

Internet coupons are great, but it can be overwhelming.  There are SO many places you can go.  My suggestion is to pick your 2 favorite coupon sites and just stick with those.  My top favorite is coupon.com. They have a wide range of coupons from grocery to nonfoods and you don’t have to give your name, address, phone number, first born to print them, and it’s free.  You are also allowed to print up to 2 of each one you want.  I’m not a huge fan of clipping services because you are having to PAY for coupons to then save you money?  Plus like I said, I’m not a shelf clearer and don’t recommend it either. Why would somone need 50 coupons of ketchup?  Here are my internet coupons from this week.  They reset and add new coupons at the beginning of the month so that’s why I have such a stack for this week.  They had some good ones this time.  :)couponsNow back to filing your coupons into your binder…  Just start at the front of your binder and go to your first category, mine is the breakfast asile.  Before  you add any new coupons, go through that section and pull any expired ones.  Then add your new coupons into any empty slots. Do this every week!  It saves time in the long run and saves you from trying to use a coupon that expired a week ago at the reigister.  No need to organize by expiration date.  That adds TONS of time shuffling all your coupons up to the front and adding new ones to the back and doing it all over again week after week.  Remember, you only have 2-4 pages in each section to go through.  Why create more work for yourself?  See how nice and pretty?  coupons
*One other thing I do that is a good idea:  As I’m putting coupons in my binder I keep a sitcky note list of high value coupons that I want to use, but the product may not be in any of your sale ads.  That way, while you’re at the store, it’s easy to take a look at those products, see what the price is and decide, at the store, if they are worth using that day.  My rule: it needs to be more than half off for me to consider, OR just a really great coupon that I don’t want to forget about.  I then put the sticky note on my list for easy reference.

Now you can go through your store adds for the week and compare with the coupons you’ve got.  As you find coupons to use on sale items, pull them out and paper clip them together.  I only do 2 grocery stores and one drug store.  That’s as much as I can handle without having to run around alot.  Also, some weeks are way better than others.  If I find that I’ve only found 2 or 3 good deals for a store, I scratch it and don’t even go.  It’s not worth my time and gas to only save on a couple items.

First, I list how many items I want to get, then I list the product, next the sale price, then my coupon amount (double it if your store doubles coupons, which mine do) and then the final price.  Once you’ve gone through all your ads, put your list into the front of your binder for east reference and marking off as you put it in your cart.  Here’s what it all should look like.  My list of “on sale” products with coupons and final prices, my sticky note of high value coupons, and my paper clipped piles of coupons I know I will be using this week.  Just keep those in the front pocket of your binder.coupons
**Don’t forget about digital coupons either.  Most stores let you add electronic coupons from their website to your store card AND they let you also use a paper coupon fro the same item!  Double the savings!  The only store I know of that does NOT do this is Kroger, but check your stores coupon policy just to be sure.  Also, some stores let you combine a store coupon and a manufacture coupon together for ONE item (CVS, Target to name a couple), also double the savings!  So yes, please check their coupon policy, you may be missing out on saving even more than you thought!

Now you are ready to shop and save!  And be organized so you can save time AND money!  Just remember, this is what works for me.  You may need to do some tweaking for what works for you.  There’s no one right way to do it, just do it!  Let me know how you coupon, I’d love to hear from you!

Love to all!  ~Amy






I have been married for 22 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep my young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening and puttering around my yard. I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.

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Coupon Organization

November 6, 2012 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Food, How To Organize, Sales, Shopping, Stores

Organizing Your Coupons

by Amy Trauntvein

Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you that I love, live and breathe coupons.  Even though I have been couponing for over 20 years, I am not what some people call an Extreme Couponer.  I do not keep stacks of coupon inserts nor do I clear shelves.  I coupon to save money, and yes, slowly add to my stock of food and nonfood items in my home.  I wouldn’t call it a stockpile either, just some extras to have on hand when I get a great deal so I don’t have to buy it at full price when we run out.  And if I find that I’m starting to “pile” my stock, I spread the love by donating items to various organizations and/or give away to friends who can use it.

So let’s start organizing those coupons!  For years, I used an accordion coupon organizer and thought it was great, but it took me a LONG time to grocery shop since every time I wanted to grab something off the shelf, I had to pull out the pile from one section and sift through it all to find the one coupon I thought I might have, but couldn’t remember.  It finally came time to swtich over to the binder system.  Here’s my lovely binder…Coupon Organization
When looking for a binder, it MUST have a zipper closure and a handle.  Ease for carrying and also, if you drop it (like me), you won’t have coupons flying everywhere.  Been there done that. I found mine at Staples for around $12, but you can buy one at most places that have a school supply aisle. The next thing you need is a zippered pencil pouch.  Enclosed I keep a calculator, pencils, and paper clips.  The front pouch on the left holds general store coupons that don’t really belong in any of my categories (example: $5 off $50 grocery purchase).Coupon Organization
The next essential supply you need for your coupon binder are Tab Dividers.

REALITY CHECK: I actually had a bunch of tab dividers from school supply shopping for my kids so I just used those.  Some were used but still in great condition and they don’t match, but it’s ok!  You don’t need to go spend a bunch of money just to make it look cute when you’re trying to save money!  Use what you’ve got and then purchase only if you have to.  Notice mine don’t even match.  Some are solid colors while the ones in the back have designs.  Truthfully, this helps me find the category faster since I know what all my nonfood category tab dividers look like.  :)Coupon Organization
Finally you need Baseball card inserts. You can find these and any discount store (Walmart, Target etc) wherever they sell baseball cards. Just ask any associate, they’ll point the way. You can usually find boxes of 25-30 pages for around $5. This is what keeps your coupons nice and clutter free!  Can you tell mine are well used?Coupon Organization
When putting your coupons in, many times they need to be folded to fit.  Just try to fold it so you can easily see, 1. the product 2. the amount off 3. the expiration date.  If its too big, just do your best.  Many of my coupons are folded so #1 and #2 are on the front, but #3 is on the back, but it’s ok because you can just flip the page to see the exp. date on the back.  Also, one great thing about these pages is that you are constantly looking at all your coupons so it is easier to remember if you have a coupon for a certain item.  It’s amazing what you remember when you are looking at them all the time!  Here is what it should look like once your coupons are in.Coupon Organization
Now…What categories do you choose for your dividers?  I have 19 different categories.  I have chosen to divide my categories into “aisles” meaning, how the grocery store aisles are usually set up.  That way, as I’m heading down an aisle, I normally only need to open up one category and flip through 2-4 pages of coupons.  I know some people have a tab divider for EVERYTHING like; (Breakfast aisle) cold cereal, hot cereal, granola bars, fruit snacks, on-the-go breakfast bars/pouches for 1 aisle so they are flipping through 5 categories in 1 aisle!  I just keep all “breakfast aisle” coupons in one section.  Remember, I’m still only having to look through 2-4 pages instead of 1-2 pages of 5 categories! Plus, by dividing everything up in the sub categories you have even more dividers and baseball card inserts you have to flip through and it makes your binder thicker and heavier with all those extra pages.  Just simplify, please.  Here are the categories that I use and work for me.

1. Breakfast/Fruit Snacks/Granola

2. Fruit/Vegetables/Juices ( includes fresh produce)

3. Cookies/Chips/Crackers

4. Condiments/Soup/Dinners (Mac & Cheese, Box Potatoes etc.)

5. Baking/PB&J/Breads

6. Inernational foods

7. Frozen

8. Deli/Dairy/Meat (basically the refrigerated section)

9. Candy/Nuts and Popcorn/Drinks

10. Paper Products (includes sanitary items)

11. Cleaning Supplies

12. Laundry

13. Pets

14. Body (Lotion, Shaving men and women, shower gel etc.)

15. Hair (shampoo, style)

16. Face (makeup, contact soluction, face wash, fingernail polish since it is with makeup)

17. Meds/First Aid (includes vitamins)

18. Teeth

19. Office supplies/Clothing/Misc. (include batteries)

Work with the categories and adjust to what works for you or how your favorite stores are set up.  It took me a few months of moving coupons here and there and creating new and taking out hardly used categories.  These 19 work great for me!

In the very back of my binder I keep a copy of my favorite stores’ coupon policies.  Very nice to have on hand when you need to win an argument with a checkout employee who is not familiar with their policies.  I’ve been glad I’ve had them for a few occasions.  Just to the stores website and you can find a link to  their printable coupon policy near the bottom of the home page.  If not, just use their “seach” box at the top.  Keep updated around twice a year and reprint the new policies as needed.Coupon Organization

One other “coupon divider” I do still use for my purse is a small accordion coupon folder for those stores that I DON’T need to haul my binder in with, but I DO have a coupon for.  Clothing stores, for example.

Coupon Organization

This little one also holds any gift card I have, and any TOTALLY FREE coupons (that aren’t for groceries) I need to use.  I’ve found they can get kind of lost in my big binder and forgotten since I don’t want to carry my big binder into clothing stores etc.  Notice my pile of CVS Extra Care Bucks! Those are like cash so I keep them in my little binder right in the front so I don’t forget about them and can see them and their expiration date clearly.  I keep the FREE coupons in the front also according to expiration date.  And then other coupons in the other sections.Coupon Organization
I hope this post has gotten you converted to a binder system if you haven’t switched yet.  It’s not that hard, and in the end, it WILL save you time AND money!  Later this week I will do a post on coupon clipping, when to pull expired coupons and which coupons you should and shouldn’t clip and more.  Stay Tuned…..! Love to all! ~Amy






I have been married for 22 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep my young! Our favorite thing to do together is travel. I enjoy gardening and puttering around my yard. I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children, and I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.

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Clutter Can Cause Stress

Clutter In Your Home Can Cause You Stress

Clutter – we have all seen it, and chances are we all have it. Too much “stuff” for the space we have. What do you do with it? What do I keep, what do I give away? Where does it all go? Indecision on what and how and where to put everything is the source for the majority of people who have a problem with clutter.


How would you feel walking into this dining room? Relaxed, calm…ready to take on the world? I don’t think so. If you are anything like myself or most of the people I know (and no, they are not all professional organizers by the way) you would feel instant tension, stress and frustration. This family has not been able to eat at their dinner table for a very long time. The household was full of tension due to this living condition throughout the entire house.

Clearing out the clutter, the extra “stuff” and “fluff” that you don’t need and use, can clear out our heads. It can give you a calm and peace. Too much stuff in our visual field can put too many thoughts in our head of other things. Say for instance you have to go into the spare room to water the plant. You walk in and see a huge mess of things; instead of walking directly over to water the plant you think, “Oh, there is the shelf sitting on the floor that I have to fix and I almost forgot that I have to move that box of books up to Tommy’s room. But wait I can not forget to get those pictures over to Grandma Millies! Now what did you go into that room for to begin with? Oh yes…to water the plant that is crowded on the desk and is almost dead.”


Our lives are so complex in this world. Mail, e-mail, bills, taxes, work, family, lessons, sports, more bills, poor economy, cooking, cleaning, more bills, etc…
We already have so many things floating around in our heads and we are trying to keep them straight that we need a place that can be “de-cluttered”, feel peaceful and be relaxed. If it isn’t our homes, where will it be?

I know it can seem completely over whelming trying to think about how to get rid of it, how do I begin? There are people who are actually trained to help you. I know that money is a major factor right now, and if you do not have the budget to hire a Professional Organizer (they actually go through things with you and help you make those decision and work out a plan as to how a system can work) you can still find many resources that are free to help you.

The internet is one major free bookstore!! There are articles and web sites and blogs to read mammoth amounts of information on and gleam ideas from. If you go to your local library there are books that you can read to help you on organizing. There are TV shows (although not realistic in the time frame it appears to transform a room or home in)you can still pick up tips from them.

Don’t try to do it all on your own. Make this a family project and work together to discover that living in a home with “less” can actually give you a lot “more” than you imagined.

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Kitchen Pantry Wire Shelf Idea

October 4, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, How To Organize, Kitchen, Products for Organizing

Take Off A Door & Put In a Pantry Wire Shelf?

Who does that? Me! We took off the pantry door and used a pantry wire shelf mounted to the wall to increase storage space and room. I previously had been using a door hanging pantry wire shelf and I did like that option, but we have such a small space between our counter and wall to get into our pantry. We also keep a trashcan in that space.  So.. I decided to have Dave take off the door (we kept it open all the time anyway) and we mounted a wire shelf on the wall to add to our pantry space.

pantry wire shelf

These shelves were just a little deeper than my door mounted shelves. So we were able to put the 2 liter bottles of pop and larger cans of soup on them, where we weren’t able to with the door mount.  My little green bucket I attached, that is where we keep all our chip clips.

pantry wire shelf

Here is what we had previously. This over the door pantry wire shelf  was helpful, but didn’t give me as many shelves to work with and they weren’t as deep.  But if you like to close the door to your pantry, this is still a great option to increase your space.

pantry wire shelf

I was considering having Dave build me shelves on the wall, and we saw this when we were in Home Depot and decided it would work. I’m really happy with it.

pantry wire shelf

Of course we still have the door, so that if we decide to move or change our minds, we can always take this back off the wall and put the pantry door back on.

It’s ok to think a little outside the box with your home. We don’t always have to stay within what we think is “socially acceptable”. I’m one who tends to be much more practical and would rather have options that work for my family and are functional, rather than trying to impress the masses with my picture perfect home.

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Ziploc Storage idea for Guest Bedding

Ziploc Has An Easy Way To Store Entire Bedding Sets

I found Ziploc totes are an easy way to store guest bedding all together in one nice neat package. I  now have five sons who live out of the house, but come back to visit often.  Since we don’t have a large home, we have air mattresses and futons they usually sleep on.  Each time they come, I have to go to several different places to get a clean pillow, sheets and blankets.

I decided I wanted to figure out a system, so that I could have them all together in one place. I was going to get clear plastic trash bags, but  I decided to try the Ziploc Extra Large Storage Totes I have seen in the stores, instead. I purchased (this is review I’m doing, I wasn’t asked to do via the Brand and the products were not given to me) several of the 22 gallon bags.  I bought one at Krogers for $5.99 on sale.  I realized they were going to work and wanted to get a few more.  I saw them later that day at Target for $7.49 or $7.99 (I forget which), but they weren’t on sale at the time. I went back to Kroger to buy a few more.  My guess is that there might also be coupons out there for them, but I didn’t have one.


This is a more expensive option than buying clear plastic bags, but I like that they have zippers and that there is a defined shape to it.  The plastic seems pretty heavy duty… so I’m assuming they were last for awhile. (At least I hope)

I placed a pillow, twin set of sheets, blanket and a comforter in this bag.  I’m sure I could have done a little maneuvering, maybe rolling the sheets or making them all Martha Stewart like in how I folded them… to make this look a bit neater.  lol  But I was so excited it all fit!!


My next step was to label each bag with the size of the bedding and contents.  Again… you could make a darling label for these for display, but obviously I didn’t.  Mine are going into a metal cabinet in the basement.


The plan is to give each of the boys a bedding set when they come to visit.  They will bring up the dirty bedding to me when they get ready to leave, along with the plastic bag.  At that point I can wash the bedding and place it right back into the proper plastic bag, so they will be ready for the next time they visit.

Of course these bags can be used for many other storage needs than this, but this solved one of my storage issues and I was excited enough about them to share it with you!

Let me know how you store your bedding for guests.

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School Papers!

August 20, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Family & Friends, How To Organize, Paper

How To Handle All The Kids School Papers

How could you possibly think about throwing away the school papers your kids bring home? That just doesn’t seem right… right? Wrong! If you kept all the papers your kids did during school, your home would be over taken with papers!

school papers

School Papers – What do you do with them all?

Now we have a sorting system for mail and other papers coming into the house. But what about all those school papers that come in everyday?
You also need to work out a similar system to sort those papers.
I have the triplets come in each day (they are in 2nd grade) and take out their folders and put on the couch where I sit so I can go through them. They get their snack and then do any homework they have for the day. While they are getting their snack I am going through their folders.

Sort the Papers
I first of all see if there is any weekly papers to update us for the week from the teacher. They usually send something like that on Monday and Friday. Then I see if there are any homework papers for the kids to do. Once I have pulled those out to read in a few minutes…I go through the rest of the papers. Most of them are worksheets with a few pictures thrown in. If there is anything really special, like a story they made up with pictures then you can set it aside to keep it. I recommend only keeping at the most one paper per month. Yes…per month!! Think about it. That is still 12 papers per child per year. Multiply that times 12 years in school and that is still a lot of papers to store! It is enough to remember what level they were on and to see how they drew.

Blended Family
Our situation may and hopefully is different from yours in that since this is my 2nd marriage and these are my step kids. So I have to save all the papers so that their mom can see them when they go to her house at the end of the week. I have a folder that I keep all the papers in for the week from the kids. At the end of the week on Friday when they are going to go home with their mom I put all their papers in one of the kids book bags so that their mom gets to see everything. We let their mom keep those special papers for them. If there is something that we really like, we make a copy of it and give the original to their mom. Then when they come back to our house again in a week, they will have a boat load of papers that their mom kept for us to see.

Ok to Get Rid of School Papers.

We go through those to see what happened that week and read everything. After we have seen everything and have gone through it with the children (if necessary), then I throw them away. (recycle)

You don’t have to feel guilty about throwing these away!! These are worksheets for the most part. If you keep everything….then nothing will seem special.
I have heard some mothers say that they want to keep everything to give their child when they grow up. Is this really a favor you are doing for them? You hand them over boxes and boxes of papers. Now they have to go through them and either throw them away or store them (more clutter)themselves. They may enjoy looking at a few of them, and if there was just a few from each year it would be fun. But if its all their stuff then it is cruel to do to them. You are basically giving them boxes of guilt so they can decide what to do with it and its off your chest now. I think that you would find that most kids wouldn’t want you to keep everything they did.

What To do with Special Papers and Pictures
You can have a bulletin board that you keep a special paper of the day or of the week on to showcase it if its a little special and they worked hard on it that week. This will make them feel proud. Then when you take it down, if its not that most special paper of the month…throw it away. The kids don’t have to know you are throwing it away, chances are they will never miss them. I have done this for years with my kids and my step kids and I can not think of a single time that the kids have been upset or realized that their papers were gone.

Remember, it is not like you are saying your child isn’t special or you don’t like the work they do by throwing it away. But keeping everything is not feasible if you want to have a home that is comfortable and not cluttered.

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