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Small Projects Need Love Too

February 3, 2011

With all of the attention I’ve been giving to our major room overhaul, you’d think that all I do is take on  big projects around here.  However, nothing could be further from the truth! I thought I’d take a small break from the food-posting and show you a few smaller projects that have kept me happy this winter.

Although I do love a BIG house project, I’m also a huge fan of small house projects, projects that usually take no longer than an hour or two, but can make a huge difference in the quality or functionality of everyday life.  Mark Twain said “The secret of getting ahead is getting started.  The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small, manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”  I totally agree!

For example, one of the things that irritated me most about our workout room, pre-makeover, was all of the magazines that were scattered around the room.  I hold on to my fitness magazines like Shape, Fitness, and Women’s Health, because I like having the exercise routines that each magazine publishes every month, but keeping all of those magazines in the room turned out to be one giant, magazine piled mess. 

To conquer the mess, I sat down yesterday and ripped out all of the pages from the magazines that I want to keep—namely, the pages with strength and toning exercise routines—and tossed the rest of the magazines into our recycling bin.  There was no need to keep all of the entire magazines around, when all I really wanted was a few pages from each.  From there, I organized the pages into a binder with clear dividers:

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Cute! And now, instead of having to flip through each magazine to find the routine I want, I have an array of easily-accessible workout routines, right at my fingertips!

Another area of my life that needed organizing? SPICES! Our spices were out of control—taking over shelf after shelf of our pantry! Our pantry is in a dark area of the house too, so it was difficult to find the spices that I’d want to use—I’d often search the spices without finding what I was looking for, go out to the store and buy the spice in question, and then find two more containers of it the next day, hidden within the depths of the pantry!

And so, for my birthday, imagine my surprise when Ryan got me…spice drawers! It’s not the most romantic present, but hey—I was very excited! Check them out:

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They’re called Spice Stacks. Each container holds up to 18 spices jars (more, if the jars are little), and he got me two of them, so I was able to get almost every single spice jar into them! We’re keeping the containers on the counter, where they’re readily accessible for cooking.  This has honestly been SUCH a time saver—I LOVE not having to hunt for curry in the middle of the cooking process.  Again, it’s just a very small thing that can actually make a very big difference in the daily routine.

One more small organization task I took on recently? Organizing my underwear drawer:

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Before I got these dividers (thanks, Patti!), my underwear drawer looked like the intimates section of Target had exploded inside of it.  Now, it’s nice and neat!

Let me just wrap this up by saying, emphatically, that despite what these pictures might lead you to believe, I am NOT a neat person.  Anyone who has lived with me can attest to that.  But, I’m finding more and more that while I don’t naturally gravitate towards an organized lifestyle, it’s the lifestyle that I appreciate and desire.  So, while it might take a little more work for me to get and stay organized, it truly does make me a calmer, happier person when I take on little tasks like this and can keep a clean, organized house.  I’ve found that, while I might not be a naturally neat person, if I stack the deck in my favor by using nifty organizers and fun binders, I’m much more likely to succeed in my aspirations to become and stay an organized person.

What about you—are you messy or neat?  Any fun, smaller tasks you’ve taken on recently in your own life?

26 Comments leave one →
  1. February 3, 2011 6:04 pm

    I find that when I try to capture good ideas for organizing or streamlining, I end up creating more junk with all of my tear outs, etc!

  2. February 3, 2011 6:13 pm

    Where did you get those dividers for the underwear drawer?

    • February 3, 2011 9:27 pm

      I got the first one from my mother-in-law, and then ordered the second one on Amazon. But– I think she got them at the Container Store.

  3. February 3, 2011 6:28 pm

    I organize my workouts into binders too =) Though I have a stack of un-filed ones on my coffee table… better get on that!

    I love the spice drawers! omg! genius! what a fabulous gift!

  4. February 3, 2011 7:03 pm

    Fun, love the magazine binder! Love the spice drawers, I have way too many spices too and need to reorganize again. And the underwear drawer is awesome.

    I try to be neat, but that’s not always easy when I’m working on a huge project. I prefer a clean, de-cluttered house, but not always easy with my hubby. 🙂

    • February 3, 2011 9:26 pm

      Yeah, I’m definitely much more bothered by clutter and mess than Ryan is. I guess it’s a guy thing 🙂

  5. February 3, 2011 7:29 pm

    Love your organizational ideas! I really need to make more of an effort to be organized. I feel like I have everything in its place – but I’m sure I could do more to make it “neat.”

  6. February 3, 2011 8:05 pm

    I love the fitness binders! If you’re really organized (or a bit anal), you can divide the workouts into sections- arms, abs, butt, etc.
    Too much? 🙂

    Also love the Spice Stacks!

    • February 3, 2011 9:26 pm

      I know, I thought about that, but a lot of the exercise routines were full-body, so I thought it might just get too confusing that way!

  7. February 3, 2011 8:12 pm

    This is some seriously impressive organization. Love the spice drawers. Awesome!

  8. February 3, 2011 8:54 pm

    Well, I make stacks with no organization at all. Then I avoid the stacks until they have to be gone through. So, I like to think that I am a neat mess.

  9. February 3, 2011 9:18 pm

    I just did the same thing with my magazines over the weekend!!! Ripped out pages of workout routines and put them in a binder and then ripped out pages with recipes and put those into a different binder.

    • February 3, 2011 9:25 pm

      Yes! My next goal is to make a recipe binder…but I think it’s going to have a LOT more pages!

  10. February 3, 2011 9:58 pm

    I love mini organizations and big ones! Any idea where he got those stackers! TOO cool. And Ryan would KNOW that I would love these so it’s a great gift in my book!

    (PS…Read your last post and am going to check out the rest of your site! John Denver—I used to play Annie’s Song on REPEAT when I was 14. Weird? Perhaps. :))

    Have a great night!

  11. February 3, 2011 10:12 pm

    Those spice stacks are awesome! I hope they ship to the UK!

  12. greensandjeans permalink
    February 3, 2011 10:33 pm

    Oh my gosh, can I pay you to come organize my apartment? I’m neat to a point. I tend to let things pile up and then I freak out and do a HUGE organize session at like 1am.

  13. February 3, 2011 11:08 pm

    Man, I am seriously impressed. That spice rack is seriously sexy…so sleek, so organized! Swoon.

    When we were packing to move from IN to MA, I was watching a lot of Hoarders for some reason, and hoo boy, did that ever inspire me to de-clutter. I think I must have donated about 40% of our stuff to Goodwill, and it felt so good. This post is getting me inspired again! There’s really something so calming about a well-edited space…

  14. February 3, 2011 11:26 pm

    neat spice drawers, i could definitely use those.:)

    i’m not sure if i’m a “neat” person, but i definitely can’t stand a lot of clutter. our apartment is too small for it. any type of mess takes over the whole place.

  15. February 4, 2011 12:39 am

    omg i love the underwear drawer action, the spices AND that magazine idea…KEY

    you have just inspired me!

    i reorganized skylar’s closet. kids/baby stuff multiples AND goes obsolete all in a week’s time i swear, so it’s a major undertaking to always be on top of.

  16. February 4, 2011 3:02 am

    My spices are out of control. I find them one of the hardest things to organize. And I used have a workout binder like that too, but decided to get rid of it when I moved. It was a great way to get some ideas for new exercises though.

  17. February 4, 2011 2:19 pm

    Oh love those spice stacks. I love projects that involve organizing. Something really gratifying about it.

  18. February 9, 2011 1:41 am

    Love the binder- I’ve done the same thing, just with recipes from mags. I haven’t jazzed it up though- still boring white.

    I think I am messily neat? Neat for the most part but can definitely use some work.

  19. February 11, 2011 6:27 pm

    This might sound stupid, but consider arranging the spices alphabetically in the drawer. That can also save a bunch of searching. Mine are on a wall-mounted rack in a walk-in pantry, and alphabetized generally. Sometimes curry gets ahead of cumin, but generally they’re pretty close and it helps me find just what I want.

  20. Sara @ OurDogBuffy permalink
    February 14, 2011 9:16 pm

    Ah! I’ve been wondering what I should do to organize my spices (we have a spice rack that spins but I only use a few of those spices, the rest are wasted). I love the spice stacks! Wonder if my husband will let me put away the spice rack we got as a wedding present and buy and use spice stacks! Practical! Woo hoo. or I could dump all the spices I don’t use and relabel all the jars and try to make the ugly thing I have work. Ugh. Lovely gift. I would be super excited too!

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