Slim Down Your Shelves

Stacks of books

I know there’s a little trend called e-readers like the Kindle, NOOK, and Kobo. Let’s face it, though, I still love a good ol’ fashioned hardbound book in my hands. So I continue to buy them. I’m a huge fan. I also adore magazines and catalogs, which is something I come by honestly. My mom is quite the catalog queen. It’s always a treat to thumb through her collection. The only downside is the stacks and stacks of paper around the house. What are bibliophiles like us to do?

You gotta sort, toss, share and store.

Let’s start with sorting and tossing.

My mom organizes her magazines and catalogs in alpha order so when the latest issue arrives, she can easily find the publication and swap it out. She has the amazing willpower to let go of past issues. I personally have a struggle tossing back issues of Real Simple, but I’ve recently let go of anything before 2010. It’s progress.

One thing that has helped is a filing system.

I tear out pages that have inspired or taught me something I want to remember, and I file them in a cute storage bin labeled by topic. Then I feel okay about recycling the rest of the publication.

This canvas file tote was from Hable Construction.

This canvas file tote was from Hable Construction.

When it comes to books, I sort by subject matter. It’s like a mini Barnes & Noble right in my living room. It helps me assess the collection and see if I have any duplicate titles, which has happened! Once you realize you have one too many books on container gardening and parenting toddlers, it makes it easier for the next step: sharing!

Share and share alike.

There are tons of great ideas for swapping or sharing your books and magazines once you’re ready to part with your beloved pages:

  • Use an online resource, such as Book Mooch to swap out your book titles.
  • Go to Amazon. They have a program where you can trade in old text books for merchandise on their site – which has practically everything.
  • Have a book swap party with friends or neighbors. Just like a cookie swap, you have everyone bring a certain number of items to share. That way everyone leaves with the same amount of fresh material. Magazines are great for this, too. If you’re left with an issue or book that everyone has read, the host can donate the stash to the local library.
  • Create a Book Hut program in your community. I was strolling around Bentonville this weekend with my niece, and we spotted this adorable house of books. The concept is to create mini libraries around town. It encourages reading, sharing with neighbors, and best of all – keeping your bookshelves to a minimum.
book hut

Look out Springdale, I want to bring this to our neighborhood!

Store your beauties.

Once you have determined your must-keep books and pared down your favorite magazines, you can store them in a lovely manner. I like using baskets for my magazines. When it comes to books, I prefer traditional shelves with some non-traditional bookends tucked in the mix.

bookcases-styling

I love how this bookshelf is styled. The magazines are stored in seagrass      baskets along the bottom and books are intermingled with vases, planters    and other interesting odds and ends. Beautiful!! {via}

I hope this inspires you to organize your books and slim down your shelves a bit. I’d love to see how your books look. Be sure to take pictures and tag me on Instagram @KateJAndersen so I can see.

Have a creative day!

-Kate

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Fridge Makeover Update

Organized fridge

This is my fridge today! My “before” pic would have frightened you.

Okay, a quick update on my fridge makeover. It’s only been a week since I posted about my endeavor, but I am LOVING this. The picture above is how things look – even after days of pilfering children and constant replenishment. It has been surprisingly easy to maintain.

My favorite thing is that our family has been digging into bags of grapes and apples instead of whatever snack foods are left the pantry at this point. The kids haven’t complained about the new situation, either. In fact, they said they feel healthy eating this way. No one has paid them to say this – that I’m aware of.

We’ve been drinking lots of water, too!

On our infused water chart, the strawberry, kiwi and cucumber concoction is our favorite so far.

Infused water

This infused water has strawberries, kiwi and cucumber. It’s said to help with blood sugar support and digestion.

We drink this and say, “Oh, my blood sugar feels very supported.” LOL. We’re so weird.

The only downside I’ve discovered so far with the fridge is figuring out a spot for leftovers. We don’t usually have tons of food left over, but I didn’t plan very well for these items. I might need to empty one of the snack bins. I’m sure I’ll have a few willing participants to help.

Overall, what I do know is that when our healthy snacks are prepped and within reach, it’s way easier for guilt-free noshing. Goal accomplished in that regard.

My next feat is to tackle menu planning. I offered a link in my post last week, and then I saw another great option on my friend’s blog. A Blonde Ambition featured free printables – including an awesome menu planner via The Creative Blog.

meal planner

Here’s to easy, peasy meal planning with these free printables!

Can I just say how excited I am? Well, I am! I’m hoping this will be the non-artificial cherry on top of my better eating habits.

I hope you enjoy these printables and have a seriously healthy day!

-Kate

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Organize Your Way to Better Eating

IMG_5256Every January as I pack up the holiday stuff, I think about what else I’ve packed away this season. I’m talking cookies, cakes and cupcakes – all of the dangerously delicious “c” words. It leaves me feeling like I need a food overhaul, or at least a sugar detox.

To top it off, I recently read that weight loss is generally 75 percent diet and 25 percent exercise. If that isn’t motivation to eat better, I don’t know what is. So where to begin? There are too many diets and fads to count, and I’ve honestly been feeling overwhelmed and frustrated.

Here’s how I’m going to approach this whole thing: be more organized.

More specifically, I’m going to:

  1. Plan better grocery lists (as in, don’t buy gross food)
  2. Makeover my fridge (to keep fresh food handy)

Let’s break it down.

{ONE}

The first step to plan better lists sounds easy. It relies on better meal planning with fresh foods (I’m thinking rainbow colors) vs. processed goods (usually shades of brown).

It also means sticking to my grocery list when shopping. There’s the rub. I usually have one (or all) of the kids with me when I shop. I’ve never enjoyed going to the store alone, and my kids are at an age where they can help pull items from the shelf while we chat and act silly.

Girls Shopping

Who wouldn’t want these goofballs along when shopping? This is us shopping at Walmart. We get distracted by everything – including bike helmets. #shoppingtakesforever

The downside is tossing items in the cart that are “off menu,” such as Pringles or chocolate-covered anything. The problem is those become the snacks we eat while the strawberries rot in the fridge. There’s definitely room for improvement here. I think I’ll add some treats (like yogurt-covered anything), but then I’m sticking to my list!

{TWO}

Next is having good, fresh food easy to access. For my family, this means having more refrigerated snacks vs. pantry snacks. Our pantry items tend to be packaged sugary or salty stuff. So eating from the fridge should already give us a head start. Here are some tricks I’m going to try:

  • Wash, process and snack-bag our fruits and veggies as soon as I get home from the store.
  • Create bins with healthy, go-to snacks for the kids that include string cheese, grapes, strawberries, blueberries, Greek yogurt, carrots, celery with peanut butter or hummus, and hard-boiled eggs.
    snack bins

    You can get these clear bins from BB&B so good food is in clear view. Image source: Four Generations One Roof

  • Organize the shelves so the good snacks are eye-level. Put the butter, jellies and other sweets in a drawer so they’re out of sight, and out of mind.
  • Have fresh water available. I actually keep a pitcher of water in the fridge at all times. It reminds me to stay hydrated. I have this infuse pitcher and like to add fresh oranges, lemons, cucumber or mint to flavor the water.
    Infuse Pitcher

    I like how this pitcher also comes with a tea infuser. Source: BB&B

    If you want interesting ideas on infused water combinations, here’s a helpful chart!

    Infused water chart

    Image source: Kasia Organic Salon

  • The last thing I’m doing is posting a healthy baking substitution chart on the outside of the fridge for a handy reference. I would have never thought of these. So smart.
    baking substitutions

    Image source: Picklee

If you’d like to join me in the food/fridge makeover, let me know! I’d love to see pictures of your before and afters – whether it’s the fridge or yourself! #noshame #weareinthistogether

Here’s to better eating and feeling better!

-Kate

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Five Tips for Holiday Storage

Christmas StorageIf you haven’t put away your holiday decorations, yet, you’re not alone. If it gets to be July and we’re having this conversation, we’ll want to get the decorative balls rolling into some sort of container. For now, it’s perfectly and socially acceptable to still have some lingering lights. When you’re good and ready to start packing, here are a few tips and tricks for closing out the season.

{ONE} Organize your business

Before jumping right in to stuffing a bunch of bins, stop for a moment to sort. Decide if you really want to keep everything. Toss old lights or donate items you know you won’t ever use.keep calm buttonOnce you’ve simplified, decide how you’re going to store your stuff. Some people organize by type of item. For example, all of the lights go in one big bin.

I prefer to pack by location. That means all of the outdoor lights go with the outdoor décor. As long as you liked where everything was situated this year, storing your things this way makes unpacking a cinch next year. Be sure to label the bins with the name of the room to amp up the ease. Speaking of bins…

{TWO} Color-code some bins

Plastic bins are ideal for storing your precious decorations. They’re waterproof in case you have an unfortunate leak in your roof or basement. They’re also pest-proof when they have tight-fitting lids. Nothing freaks me out more than opening a box and finding a spider. #notcool

plastic bin

Rubbermaid bins are durable and have tight-fitting lids.

I like using clear bins so I can see what’s inside. Some people like colored bins, such as red or green for Christmas items. While this makes it easier to distinguish between the holidays up in a dark attic, once you get the bins down, it’s kind of a pain not knowing what’s inside.

Tip: Stick with clear bins, but pick colored lids for each season.

Plastic lids

These are available at Walmart. You could pick red lids for all of your Christmas bins.

If you can’t find assorted lids, use various colors of Duct tape to label your bins. You could use green for Christmas, orange for Halloween, pink for Easter, etc.

{THREE} Divide those ornaments

I’ve had one too many sad moments opening a bin and finding a broken ornament. That’s why I pack them in individual compartments now.

Ornament Storage

This bin is from The Container Store.

You can either purchase special bins like this from The Container Store or take a “plain” bin and make your own dividers with a few cups glued to a piece of cardboard.

DIY Ornament Storage

Get the full DIY instructions at One Good Thing

Don’t forget to pack the ornament hooks. For small items like these and replacement bulbs, use a plastic jewelry organizer.

Organizer

This organizer is from Joann Fabrics.

{FOUR} Wrangle your wreaths and lights

You probably spent a lot on your wreaths – time and money or both! So when it comes to storage, give them some extra TLC. I splurge on plastic wreath holders because they snap shut (no bugs allowed), and they help wreaths hold their shape.

wreath case

This crush-free case is from Spacesavers.

I’ve used heavy-duty trash bags before, and some of my friends use dry cleaner bags. Those work too. You’ll just want to be sure not to stack items on top of them if you’re going this route.

Light storage

Image source: Curbly

When it comes to lights, I like to wrap the strands around pieces of cardboard. You can even jot a note directly on the cardboard about where the lights go.

hose-reel-for-holiday-lights

Image source: Real Simple

If you have a large volume of lights, keep them strung together on a hose reel from the hardware store. Smart, right?

{FIVE} Care for your cards

The last thing I like to do is take a minute to re-read all of the thoughtful cards we received and update my contacts with any new addresses.

Christmas Cards

Image source: BBC

Once that’s done, I always have a hard time throwing the cards away. Brené Brown shared a fantastic idea of snapping pictures of each card with your phone and adding them to your contacts. That way you can see the darling Christmas photo your friend sent every time she calls. Don’t you love that idea? I’m totally doing it this year.

So what have I missed? What’s your favorite way to pack or organize your holiday goods? Give me a shout either in the comments or tag me on Instagram or Twitter @Katejandersen. I’ll be sure to check my accounts between packing all of these bins. Gracious!

Have a great weekend and be sure to check out all of the amazing blogs through Five on Friday.Fiveonfriday

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