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Posted on: May 27th, 2015 by Darla | No Comments

How’s your summer going? I’ve been in a bit of a funk lately, with about 89 blog posts 90% written, and just a few too many projects on my plate. But it’s all good. I’ve been reading a few good books (see below*), teaching my little ones to ride bikes, and doing some organizing at my place.

One of those organizing projects is always and again my garage. I’ve got a few too many things in my garage since the girls both traded up a size in bikes. You know how much I love the Just Between Friends sales, but I didn’t have my act together that early this year, and so I went to Plan B.

Have you heard of Play it Again Sports?

Today I took a van-load of gear to the one in Berwyn, PA and made $22.25 cash by selling 2 sets of skates, some training wheels, a helmet neither of my girls ever wore, and an itty-bitty scooter (in the second picture below).

sell sports gear and organize the garage (1)

I also consigned two items, a 2-seater wagon and a small princess bike. If they both sell before the end of the summer, I’ll net another $30.

sell bikes and sports gear and organize the garage

Things they didn’t take? Two sets of black skates, a double bike rack for a sedan, and this sweet child seat for a bike. So, this is going up on CraigsList tonight.

sell sports gear and organize the garage (1)

My point? Certainly not that $22.25 is going to change my week. It isn’t.

Or even that I have more space in the garage. I do.

But these things that have been gunking up my basement, my garage, and my life have now moved on to make another family happy. That just makes sense for everyone, and another child will get to use these things before they are damaged or decay.

I hope if you find yourself tripping over unused sports equipment this summer, you find your way to a local consignment sale or store to pass it on. Maybe you’ll even fund part of your next project, $22.25 at a time.

make money, sell sports gear and organize the garage (1)


*Interested in what I’m reading these days? I’d highly recommend these books (affiliate links below). Let me know if any of them make your summer reading list:

Posted on: May 19th, 2015 by Darla | No Comments


Easy ways to organize beauty products in the bathroom

1. Keep only the items you use every single day in your medicine cabinet. Leave room for the basics like toothbrush and skincare. At least that part of your routine can be simplified to just one product for each step in your routine, even if you have a million choices for color and finishing touches.

2. For beauty items that coordinate with your outfit or the season, like blushers, eye shadows, and lip color, group them together by category so you can see your choices at a glance.

3. Use clear acrylic drawer dividers or decorative boxes to hold groups of each makeup type in drawers or on shelves. Organizing your items will cut down on the time to get ready and will start your day off on an organized, empowered note.

4. Use wall space by adding bins like those found in kitchens to hang utensils. Add magnetic or hook and loop (Velcro) fasteners to hang items in plain view on the back of the medicine cabinet door. The back of the bathroom door can offer even more storage space with the addition of a clear see-through shoe pocket organizer.

5. The under-sink space is super-high value real estate. Use a 2-tier sliding organizer to make use of all the room under your sink, and to reduce spills and messes.

6. Minimize the amount of beauty product in your tub area. Find a shampoo and body wash that the whole family enjoys using rather than tripping over multiples.

7. Most tubs don’t have much built in storage. Add racks that hang over the shower head and offer 2-4 shelves to hold beauty products and gear. Or suspend another shower rod on the inside back wall at eye level to hold baskets that can hold even more beauty items or bath toys.

8. The 80/20 rule applies to most beauty products. We usually use 20% of our products 80% of the time, and most products get used barely at all. Decide which items are your favorites, and pack the rest away for a month. If you don’t go back into the box to retrieve any of those items, you can probably do without them altogether.

9. Repurpose whenever possible. Use mason jars, wooden boxes that were original packaging for nicer beauty products, and small tin pails from the garden department to help you sort items together and make them look nice.

10. Even simple plastic bins from the dollar store can look great if they are in the same color scheme and labelled nicely.

11. Update your light bulbs. It’s hard to organize what you can’t see.

12. If you are updating your space, ensure there are plenty of drawers to store your beauty products in. Most basic vanities don’t come with drawers. With drawers, you can easily separate your beauty stash and keep your counters clear so you have room to prep each morning.

Posted on: May 16th, 2015 by Darla | No Comments

Can you really organize the garage in just one day? You betcha. In fact, you can completely re-organize a small garage in just a few hours.

This garage has always been a place to park the car, but recently a home renovation meant that some things had to be moved out here, and the car got moved to the driveway. That was last fall. Brrr.

Now, with spring fully unfolding, it’s time to get that car back in the garage. Not only is it safer, but the car won’t be covered in green pollen all the time. Achoo!

Honestly, I wasn’t sure how much was going to be moved, purged, or stored.

organizing garage

We had about 6-8 storage tubs worth of items that got moved back into the basement where they belonged.

We had an overabundance of plastic and decorative plant pots for this gardener. She sorted them out and kept just a handful.

We had squirrel baffles. As if squirrels aren’t baffling enough…

We found an old broken garage door mechanism, some gutters, some unloved lawn chairs, and a few other construction items that are never going to be used by this homeowner. They went out for bulk trash/recycling collection.

And we had plenty of good-for-nothing garden tools just loafing in the corners.

We lucked out because this masonry garage has always had wood mounted along the sides, so we screwed in some regular old screws to hang up everything possible. Doesn’t it always seem like there are a few tools that don’t have a hole or loop for hanging? Easy, peasy. Just drill through the handle about 2 inches from the top. Sorry, I didn’t bother to take a picture in this garage, but I’ve done this plenty of times before. Just drill, lightly sand, and hang.

make any wood handled tool a hanging tool

We go through the same five steps to organize: S-P-A-C-E every time. If you haven’t read them, click through to see those critical five steps, in order.

Three hours later, yes just three hours with 2 people working, this is what we had.

organized garage

We re-set the back shelves so we could use them all. The top one was set too high to be useful at all. Those big cone looking things are the squirrel baffles. They go around bird feeders to block the squirrels from getting too much bird seed.

We got nearly everything off the floor except a cooler, the ladder, and a few bags of soil and grass seed that she’ll try to use up this spring.

If you’ve ever organized the garage only to feel like it immediately gets disorganized again, labels are the answer. But they don’t always have to be fancy schmancy. We took a Sharpie and hand wrote right on the wood what tools hung where, so they’d be easy to put back. I forgot to take a picture, but this is kind of what we ended up with.

organized garage hanging tools

While I love the look of a great garage system, sometimes it works just as well to keep it simple and use only what’s on hand, as it did here.

If organizing the garage is on your summer list, you might want to pin this for later.

garage organizing

If you want to see some more organized garages and ideas, check these out:

Organized Garages

It’s Perfect Weather to Organize the Garage

3 Frugal and Cute Tips for Organizing the Garage



Posted on: May 14th, 2015 by Darla | No Comments

Last year at the end of the school year we did something for the very first time that worked so well for us, you are going to want in on this summer organizing tip for sure. Our summer plans included daily homework.

Summer homework

The day after school let out for the summer, I already had these two workbooks in hand from the local teacher’s store for my rising second grader and rising kindergartner. We don’t get out of school for another month, but some schools call it quits earlier than ours, so I wanted to give you time to order your books online or visit the local teacher store.

I let them know that we would be doing homework every single day right after the morning routine, and that it was part of their requirement to get screen time. No yelling. No fussing. Just the facts.

The real trick to making summer homework work is pulling the pages out of the book. So simple, but it was a defined amount of work for her, with no opportunity to waste time searching for easier or more attractive pages. I just had to hang onto the completed pages because sometimes they related to the next few pages. I loved this BrainQuest book. Even though it’s rated for a 2nd grader, my kiddo got through everything with little help from me.

There are also “bridge” books made specifically for the summer, and they’ll be marked as bridge books from one grade to the next.

The younger one got just one page, front and back. She was practicing her printing, matching, and coloring, just like she would be in school.

The beauty is that the work took about 15 minutes, which is exactly the amount of time I needed to get myself ready for our trip to camp or whatever summer adventure we had planned.

OK, so I admit it’s not particularly creative to ask your kiddo to do worksheets, but the non-negotiable routine is what made it work. They absolutely did not lose skills during the summer, and they were both proud of themselves for finishing the books. We’ll be doing it again this year.

Do you also have a summer homework routine for your kiddos?


Posted on: May 12th, 2015 by Darla | No Comments

Stains happen. They are as inevitable as those other two, death and taxes, and they happen more often than either of those two. You can minimize clutter with common household stain removers by knowing a few stain removing tricks. Reduce the number of specialty cleaning chemicals, and organizing is half done.

Minimize Clutter With Common Household Stain Removers

The rule of thumb for stains on fabrics and carpets is to only use the amount of treatment needed, starting with the most mild treatment, working gradually to more powerful stain fighters. Rely on common stain fighters that you already have own to limit your exposure to chemicals and allergens, and to save money.

If you know what kind of stain you have, your battle is half over. Treat it immediately with the right stuff. Work from the outside edge of the stain inward to avoid spreading the stain.

Oil stains should be blotted, then covered with a layer of fine cornstarch or even talcum powder, which will soak up excess oil. Wash with a spot treatment of liquid dish detergent, such as Dawn liquid. Simple Green is a great all-purpose de-greaser that can be used at full strength if needed, and diluted to treat oily laundry stains. (It’s smart to test in an inconspicuous area first.)

Protein stains, like food or blood, can sometimes be soaked out with regular water or seltzer water. Baking soda is a great scrubbing booster.

Baking soda and white vinegar works to eliminate both stains and odors. In fact, you can replace your fabric softener all together and replace it with vinegar in your washer’s cycle to refresh and soften clothes.

Hydrogen peroxide is also a stain lifter, especially for organic stains on light or white fabrics.

White paste toothpaste (not gel!) can also be used to remove ink marks from leather. It works to remove permanent marker from woodwork, too. It also works as a wall spackle in a pinch.

White shaving cream can clean many carpet stains, including red wine.

Hair spray and rubbing alcohol can remove ballpoint ink. Place a towel underneath the stain and spray until wet. The ink should work through to the paper towel.

Get wax or gum on the tablecloth? Place in freezer (or spot freeze by applying ice), then scrape off as much as possible, following up with a spot treatment for oily stains before laundering.

Orange and grapefruit essential oils (or any cleaner with an orange base, such as lemon oil used to polish wood) can be used to remove stickers from glass and furniture.

Another all natural stain remover is a steamer. The multifunction SteamMachine from HomeRight can steam your carpets, clothes, and grout. Steam machines are notorious for being weak or clogging easily, so it’s best to buy a good one for your needs.

If you only stock one commercial stain remover in your arsenal, my choice is an oxy product like Tide with Oxi. The oxi action works to break down many kinds of stains, while being kinder to your clothes than bleach. And it’s a multi-use product that can clean many household items in place, and even things like cleaning patio furniture.

A surprising stain eliminator is bright sunshine. Lay freshly laundered whites in the sun to dry, and many organic stains, like baby spit-up and diaper stains, disappear. This works best with direct summer sunlight, and does not work in the winter where we live in PA.

Lemon juice from a real lemon will attack sweat stains, coffee stains, and will even shine copper pennies and pots when you scrub with a little salt. Who doesn’t want clean pennies?

Some of these stain removers are so easy to forget about, and it’s easy to reach for that toxic stuff from the grocery store. You might want to print this list for your laundry room or pin it to your Pinterest boards.

I’d love to know what kind of common household stain remover works for you.