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Springtime Garage organization

It’s spring and finally starting to feel like it.  Time to put away the shovels and sleds and get your garage organized.  Afterall, kids will be playing outside more and I’d rather be playing with them than searching for balls, bike helmets and other outdoor gear.

First things first. Sort like items together and purge.  I always start an organizing project with a few contractor bags.  It’s usually easiest to sort through the stuff you can do without.  Put trash into one bag and items to donate into another contractor bag or other heavy duty bag or box.

Properly dispose of old paint and oil cans and empty cleaning supply bottles.  Check with your town’s disposal facility to find out when they accept hazardous waste.

Once you have like items grouped together (i.e. gardening, car care, outdoor games, bikes and other ride on toys, helmets, other pads- like street hockey and skateboarding kneepads, chalk, bubbles, etc) think about where to store them.  I like to use plastic shelving like this InterMetro one from The Container Store.  Hard working shelves are 18″ deep (any deeper and items can get lost on the shelves)  and can hold up to 300 pounds per shelf!

intermetro

Frequently  used items used should be stored at eye level or below. Seasonal items should be kept on higher shelves. Choose ventilated shelves and drawers which allow visibility to what you’re storing — they also prevent dust and dirt from collecting. I use mesh handled bins like this one from The Container store to coral

  • baseballs and whiffleballs
  • chalk
  • bubble and bubble toys
  • street hockey balls and pucks
  • wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads
  • outdoor games

mesh handled bin
Lacrosse sticks, baseball bats, hockey sticks, are oranized in a couple of tall mesh bins. Rollerblades sit on the shelf by themselves but get stored in clear bins during the winter.
mesh bin casters

About 80% of items stored in a garage can be stored on shelving — the other 20% can be organized on hooks.  These items are usually handled tools including shovels, roof rake, and gardening tools.  Other large bulky items like garden hoses, ladders, strollers and backpack carriers can also be stored up off the ground on hooks.  To organize your entire garage, you’ll need a combination of shelving, drawers and hooks to keep everything organized.

I recommend kids’ bikes, sports equipment and toys to be closest to the garage door if possible and everything else deepest in the garage.  Create a “gardening station”, “car care station”, “winter station” to keep like items together. Once you’ve designated a spot to store everything you must be diligent and conscientious about returning everything to it’s proper place.

If your storage space is limited, consider storing items hanging from the ceiling, under a workbench, behind the door, and maximize vertical wall space. Utilizing The Container Store’s best-selling elfa shelving, everything from bikes to hedge clippers to screwdrivers can be in their own designated spot!

elfa Garage

Christmas cards!!

Some friends feel strongly that they want to hand address their Christmas or holiday cards. While I admit, it does look more personal, depending on how many cards you send out, it can take A LOT longer to hand address them vs. printing out some cute address labels. Also, even if you hand address cards a few at a time, after writing out a few addresses, I don’t know about you, but I would not like what my handwriting looks like! Plus, I’d rather get the whole job done at once vs. doing it over a few days, but that’s just me.

I use Avery #18863 clear labels or Avery #5163 white labels to address our holiday cards. (I used them for birth announcements too!) There are 10 labels per page. The thing about using labels for your holiday cards, is that you can play with fonts and add images. I like to use a larger font for the recipient name, usually in a fancier script andimage then the address in an all caps font for contrast. These Avery labels are large enough to accommodate the use of different size fonts as well as including an image if you wish, such as a wreath or Christmas tree.

I use the Word template that corresponds to the labels and make address changes and additions to the list each year. Not in a bah-bum-bug scroogey way, but there are also a few deletions each year too. For example I don’t send Christmas cards to teachers from previous years and their sport teams change too, so I don’t necessarily send them to their previous year’s coaches or teams in their entirety either.

I used to print out return address labels, but a couple of years ago I ordered a return address stamp from Tiny Prints. They offer a variety of styles. Ours has a script “B” in the middle and then our family name and address in a circle around the “B”. I like how it looks and love the efficiency of it!

You can save yourself a trip to the Post Office by ordering your stamps in the mail. They’ll charge you a nominal fee, which can be worth it instead of waiting in a long line.

Can’t wait to see our friends and family’s holiday cards this season!

 

Christmas and holiday gift organizing

I cannot believe Christmas is less than 30 days away!  I’ve already created a gift list for each of our family members and others who we give gifts to, including teachers, our cleaning lady, and sitters (we don’t call them “babysitters” any more!).   I start with a list of gift ideas for each person. My husband and I go through the list together and make edits.  For the kids, we like to choose different types of gifts, for example, we try to have a gift that encourages movement (like a hockey shooting pad or a chin up bar), creativity (crafts), education (books, science or STEM activity sets) and good old fun (such as Wii games).  Listing out all the ideas makes sure we get a variety of  types of gifts and to stay within our budget for each child.  Once we have decided what we are going to get, I list out where each item can be purchased, whether it is online or at a brick and mortar store.  I prefer to do online shopping as much as possible, as I have already transitioned into my “stalker” strategy when looking for a parking space– I look for someone coming out of a store and ask them if they’re leaving and then follow them to their car.  Santa will not be nice to people who steal parking spaces from others who were patiently waiting. I digress.  The holiday season is about spending time with family and friends and joy and happiness.  In the end, whether you get your child 10 toys or 2 toys, it’s the time spent together as a family that they’ll remember.  image

Timeline project

My daughter, who is in 2nd grade, just completed a timeline project.  The project required writing out a plan, finding the right tools (pictures) and putting it all together.  It got me thinking about planning for the holidays.  Thanksgiving is coming up in just a few days and Christmas is about 30 days away. (Eeeak!  Gotta get to my Christmas shopping which I’ll talk about in the next post.)

Whether you are cooking the main course or bringing sides or dessert, making a plan will help make it less stressful.  Each day you should plan what you are purchasing and from where.  At this point hopefully your orders are already in from stores that require pre-ordering.   More specifically, you should plan what you are cooking/baking and for how long on a timeline.  You can’t double book your oven!  Unless you have two ovens, in which case I’m envious!  You should also plan what serving dishes and utensils will be used for each food item. I  like to put a small Post-It note inside the serving platter/bowl with what I am planning to serve in it.  It ensures I have enough serving pieces and the right serving pieces.  An added bonus is that when it all comes down to putting the food out, it’s easier for others to lend a hand.   Also, make sure you have enough food storage containers to store leftovers.  I prefer rectangular shaped ones, as they stack easier in the refrigerator/your kitchen cabinets.

Hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to my favorite meal of the year.  More importantly, I am so very grateful for my husband and our beautiful children, our families and our health.

 

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