Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Taming the kitchen counter paper monster

This is a question I get a lot as a Professional Organizer. It is also an issue I deal with myself. PO or not I still have a lot of paper that comes in and one thing I have noticed in my own home as well as clients homes is that even if you have a home office or another place you designate as the place you pay bills and deal with mail it all comes in and winds up on the kitchen counter first. They say that the kitchen is the heart of the home and so it stands to reason that whenever anyone comes in the house they tend to gravitate right toward the kitchen. A lot of kitchens are connected to the door that leads to the garage where everyone comes in anyway, but even without that the kitchen counters seem to have an invisible paper magnet in them! I decided to tame my paper monster for good. First I took note of where the paper mostly gathered on the counter and realized that it also gathered on top of my microwave.
overall area the paperwork gathered
Top of Microwave

Other counter w/day planner and phone
Notice the extra coupons &notes on the fridge

I realized after looking at these spaces that I needed to re-arrange them so they made more sense. For one thing what you don't see in these pics is that the microwave and toaster was on the opposite side of the kitchen from where everything else is cooked and so when making anything I had to take more steps across the kitchen and back track to whatever I was doing otherwise. On the other side where the microwave and toaster were was also the first area you pass when you enter the kitchen and therefore seemed to be the main landing spot for all the paper, except for things like takeout menus and pizza coupons etc. which were put over on the fridge and my day planner which sat over there because that is where the phone was. So..I switched them! I moved the microwave and toaster over to where the phone and other stuff was, and moved the phone over where the toaster and microwave were. I purchased a new file system through Clever Container that I absolutely love, that is designed to file the mail in keeping your counter free and clear. It literally has a file for everything that comes in from school papers to bills and in between. It included had labels to put on the folders and even had a laminated sheet explaining how to file everything the folders are a complete system not just folders. Plus it was cute so that is always a bonus. It cost me $40.00 which I thought was reasonable considering it was sturdy, the quality of the folders was exceptional, and it saves my sanity by not seeing all those papers cluttering up my counter!
Now that the Microwave and toaster are over near the fridge my cooking is streamlined and I can take messages, file the mail, answer the phone,& have a recycle bin directly underneath the "mail center" all in one spot.  I should note that the mail fail system is not supposed to be permanent and should be cleaned out each week when you deal with the stuff in it, but it is great to have it all organized in the short term. I love it! Check out the after pictures below and let me know what you think.
Clever Container "File the Pile" #0812  $17.95
Labels that come with file folder system

Folders are "panic no more" #0811 $22.95

my dayplanner is now in the back of my file systemR

New incoming mail and paper center!

New cooking center!

There you have it, my new system for taming that paper monster. What solutions have you found? Leave them in the comments below I would love to hear what others have used to tame their paper monster. Also to order any of the products I listed above go to: clever container. Consultant # 544

Have an organized day!

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

How I threw a GREAT bday party for $25 total.

This last week my "baby" turned 10. Ack! that means I have no more kids in the single digits. This Momma is not ready for that. lol However the fact is his birthday did come and since it was a landmark birthday we wanted to throw him a special birthday.  Of course I went straight to pinterest for ideas. I found many wonderful idea there and amazing decorations etc. but honestly I have to admit kids birthday parties nowadays are sooooo lavish. I have thrown both the more lavish parties complete with hiring someone to come dressed as a princess and all that and I did enjoy those parties but they were a  LOT of work and a lot of money. So this year we decided to do something different, plus we are trying to be more frugal as well. So instead we had a "summer splash" party. Now the part of the country we live in even in August is a crap shoot as to if it will be sunny enough, but it is usually warm enough and we are the one part of the country that has not been suffering under extreme heat conditions this summer so I figured it would be ok. Well not only was it ok but the weather turned out great! It was hot and sunny that day. The boys had a big water balloon and water gun war outside. After they did that for awhile they dried off and came inside and played for a bit then opened presents. One of the presents my son received was a nerf gun with a bunch of extra bullets. This was great as he had a bunch of nerf guns already but we had been out of bullets so he used his new one and all the boys used the other ones and they had a giant nerf gun war too. What group of 10 year old boys doesn't love that? lol. We served pizza and chips for lunch and I made an old fashioned chocolate birthday cake...and by that I mean from scratch. I used this recipe from the amazing Pioneer Woman. I had most of the ingredients I needed and only had to buy one thing. After it was over my son came up to me and threw his arms around me and gave me a big hug and told me this was one of his most favorite parties ever.  Mission accomplished. He was happy and our wallet was not empty.
Here is the cost breakdown:
1 package of 100 water balloons: $1.00 (dollar tree)
2 bigger water guns:  $2.50 each (summer clearance isle at Walmart)
1 package of 5 smaller water guns: $2.00 (summer clearance isle at Walmart)
Total: $8.00
Grocery store: (I used safeway)
3 large frozen pizzas: $3.49 each (with a coupon from Safeway)
2 bags of chips: $1.50 each (on sale)
3 bottles of soda: $.69 each (on sale)
1 carton heavy cream: $1.50 (on sale...for frosting on cake)
1 package of 30 paper plates: $2.99 (on sale)
1 package of 30 cups : $2.00 (on sale)
1 bunch of birthday balloons: $5.00 (on sale)
Total:  27.03
MINUS $10.00 (store coupon I had for $10.00 off my total purchase
Total: $17.03

Grand Total=  $25.03!!
(ok maybe not exactly 25 dollars on the nose but close enough)

My son having such a great time at his party = Priceless :)

And there you have it, how I threw a great bday party without breaking the bank.
In our family when you turn 10 you get your own library card. 

 Have an organized day!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Menu Plan Monday.

It is Menu Plan Monday again!  Here is my menu for the week given that I will be busy, Cheer season has started again and my beautiful daughter is on varsity this year which means extra practices this year. Here it is!

Breakfasts: fruit smoothies & toast
                   Cereal & hard boiled eggs
                    Peach Pie Oatmeal

Lunches: Leftovers
               Tuna Casserole
                homemade tomato soup & grilled cheese sandwiches
                stawberry cream cheese tortilla rollups
                BLT quesadillas

That is about it for this week! :) Have a great week everyone and be sure to checkout Org junkie for more Menu Plan Monday ideas.

Have an organized day!