Friday, August 28, 2009

Emergency Preparedness

Last year events like hurricane Ike and the earthquake in China reminded how ill prepared I am for an emergency. Once upon a time I had a 72 hour kit for everyone in my family. That was back when we were a family of 3. We have since doubled our numbers and have all outgrown the clothing. It is time for me to update my family's emergency kits and plan. Here is what you can do to make sure your family is prepared.

  • Create an emergency plan for your family. The US Department of Homeland Security has created a downloadable one here.
  • It may be hard to make local phone calls so have an out of state emergency contact. Know the emergency plans for your schools and work places.
  • Create a 72-hour kit for each member of your family. To view a list of items to include go here.
  • Make copies of drivers licenses, passports, insurance policies, birth certificates, marriage certificate, any important documents you need to help facilitate getting things back in order. Keep these copies in your kit. (I want to keep a CD with photos I don't want to lose in my kit)
  • Make sure your kit can be transported easily inc as you have to walk. Back Packs are excellent containers. Once you have your kit together be sure to store it in a location that is easy to access with short notice.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Creating a Personal Budget

For some the word “budget” is a dirty word that evokes negative feelings. Those who understand budgeting know that it is a word that can equal financial freedom. So, if you don’t already have a personal budget, here is what you need to do.

Figure out what your entire monthly income is. Include paychecks, bonus, tips, and any interest you may make. From this figure out what your yearly income is. Now you know what you have to work with. Creating a budget is much more enjoyable if you have a goal in mind. Maybe you want to save money for a down payment on a house, or a family vacation, or maybe it is just to eliminate some debt. So, create a goal and think of it as you work through your budget.

Now you need to make a list of all of your fixed expenses, anything that gets paid monthly. These are things like rent/mortgage, car payment, church/charity contributions, medical insurance, dental insurance, garbage, gas, electricity, natural gas, phone, water, etc.

Make a list of all your occasional expenses. Occasional expenses are the things that come less frequently than monthly but are paid on a regular basis. Examples are: car insurance, car registration, home insurance, life insurance, magazines, property taxes, vehicle inspections, etc. Don’t forget to include money for b-day presents, vacations, and Christmas. Then there are those wonderful variable expenses: Car maintenance/repair, dry cleaning, Home repairs, school fees, pictures, prescriptions, stamps, tires, yard supplies, etc.

Once you have all of these things listed, create a practice budget. Write down how much you propose to spend on each item. At the end of the month record how much you actually spent and compare the two. Did you spend more or less in certain areas? Was it feasible? Adjust your budget accordingly and now you are ready to start saving for your goal.

You can view a budget worksheet here. You can also download budget templates of all kinds from here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Keeping the Romance Alive

I think keeping the romance alive is something every couple struggles with at one point or another in their relationship. There comes a point where we just go through the routine of life, get up, go to work, take care of children, do the things around the house, and go to bed just to start it all over again. We get so caught up in our own lives and needs that we forget about our partners. If you find that you are at a point where you are not getting the romance you need stop and ask yourself if you are giving the romance your partner needs. Romance is reciprocal, you get what you give. When you get to a "dull" point try doing this:

Make a list of 10 things that your partner can do to show he/she loves you. Have your partner make a list too, of the things you can do for him/her. You will find that men and women feel loved in different ways. Men tend to feel love with physical expressions like a kiss, or embrace. Women tend to feel love by words like actually saying "I love you" and by actions like notes or a phone call.

Share your lists with each other and discuss why you put what you put on your list.
Make it a point everyday to pick at least one thing from your partner's list and fulfill it. Do not repeat the same thing more than once a week.

I promise you that as you do something every day for your spouse that shows them your love, you will receive the same and the romance in your life will increase. I have experienced it in my own relationship as well as seen it in those around me.

What are some of the ways you and your partner keep the romance alive?

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Baked Ziti Recipe

This is one of my family’s favorite dinner dishes. My Aunt shared it with us almost 2 years ago and I’ve made it at least once a month ever since. It is perfect for when you have company because it makes 12 servings. It is super simple to make as well. We love it for the leftovers. I hope you will try it and enjoy it as much as we do.

Baked Ziti

1 lb. pasta- I use rigatoni
1 large red bell pepper chopped
1 large green bell pepper chopped
8 oz shredded white cheese (Monterey jack)
8 oz. shredded cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
28 oz. Canned diced tomatoes mostly drained
1 tsp. pepper

Add Later:
1 cup milk
1/2 cup bread crumbs

Preheat oven to 350. Cook pasta in large amount of salted water according to package directions. Drain and rinse in cold water. Place pasta in large mixing bowl, and add remaining ingredients and stir well. Pour into large casserole dish that has been sprayed with non-stick spray. Pour 1 cup milk over entire mixture. Cover and bake at 350 for 30 min. Remove and sprinkle with 1/2 C. bread crumbs and return to oven and bake for 30 minutes more uncovered. You can make it the night before; just add the milk right before baking.
Makes 12 servings.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Texting While Driving

It wasn't too long ago when I was driving to a store and received a text from someone. I retrieved it and then began to text a response when it dawned on me that I'm doing exactly what I gave my niece a hard time for doing. How easy it was to just start texting back. I immediately put my phone down and paid attention to my driving. Texting while driving is becoming more prevalent and so are the accidents caused by texting while driving. Many cities are now are trying to implement laws banning cell phone use/texting in cars. The following clip is what happened when a VIA bus driver in San Antonio, Texas decided to text while driving.

Many people are criticizing the following PSA about texting while driving as being too graphic to show teens. I personally don't believe it is. People need to see what the ramifications are.

What is so important that you need to text while driving? If you feel the need, pull over. The second you start to text you are no longer driving a vehicle, you are driving a weapon.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Common Childhood Illnesses

It's back to school time which for many means trips back to the doctor’s office. If you have a child who attends daycare or school, chances are good they are going to get sick with some common childhood illnesses. So, what are these illnesses? The following is a list of these illnesses (minus the stomach flu because I'm pretty sure we all know what that looks like) and what you should know about them.

  • Chickenpox- This is a virus that can spread easily by an infected person sneezing, coughing, sharing food and beverages or by touching the fluid in the open sores. A person can spread the virus before even knowing they have it. Signs/symptoms of chickenpox are, a fever, headache and sore throat. A red rash usually appears 1-2 days later. After exposure to the illness it usually takes 14-16 days to get the symptoms. When you have it you are no longer contagious once the blisters have all crusted over. People who are generally healthy don’t need to see the doctor and can treat it safely at home with Tylenol or Motrin to relieve the fever and anti-itch cream to help with the itch. There is now a vaccine to help prevent it.

  • Colds/respiratory problems- This is probably the most common childhood illness. There can either be upper respiratory problems (ears, nose, sinuses, and throat) or lower respiratory problems (in the lungs and bronchial tubes). Symptoms are earaches, stuffy or runny nose, sore throats, coughing, and a fever that increases rapidly. With lower respiratory problems you will see difficulty breathing, wheezing, deep coughing, and maybe a fever. Upper respiratory infections are usually viral and you can treat the symptoms but some are bacterial and require and antibiotic like ear infections and strep throat. Consistent hand washing can prevent this illness.

  • Fifths disease– This is also called “slap cheek disease” because you look like you have a slap mark across the face if you have it. This can be spread by coughing and sneezing. Early symptoms are flu like and this is when you are most contagious. Once the rashappears you are no longer contagious. You can view a picture here Not everyone gets the rash or flu like symptoms. This is a virus so there is no need to go to the doctor unless you like to. Treat the flu symptoms.*if you are pregnant you must see your doctor because this disease can cross the placenta barrier and affect the fetus.

  • Pinkeye- This is very common and goes away within 10 days without medical treatment. Symptoms are eye redness (hyperemia), swollen, red eyelids, more tearing than usual, feeling as if something is in the eye, an itching or burning feeling, mild sensitivity to light (photophobia), drainage from the eye. It can be prevented by frequent hand washing. You may need to see the doctor with this one to help determine if it is viral or bacterial. Viral will not need to be treated but bacterial will be.

These are just a few of the common illnesses our children are likely to face. Remember, with viral infections you don’t need to see the doctor and you treat the symptoms at home and with bacterial infections you need an antibiotic. If at any time you feel your child needs to see the doctor than get them in. It is better to be safe than sorry. If your child has a fever keep them home until they have not had a fever for 24 hours.
Please share your thoughts on any of the illnesses or any experiences you may have had with them.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The Power of Vinegar

Oh, the power of distilled white vinegar. If you have white vinegar on hand there really is no other cleaning product you need. It is so acidic that it takes care of most bacteria and mold. Using vinegar eliminates all of the harsh chemicals other cleaners have making it green and safe to use in homes with children. There are so many uses but here are a few of my favorite.

  • Remove hard water deposits in your dishwasher and washing machine by running them every once in a while with a cup of distilled vinegar.

  • If you get lime build up around chrome sink fixtures you can remove it with a paste made of 2 tablespoons salt and 1 teaspoon white distilled vinegar.

  • To rid your microwave of hard baked on food, place 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar and 1/2 cup water in a microwave-safe bowl inside your microwave and bring it to a rolling boil. You can now wipe it clean and odors will be gone.

  • Clean counter tops and make them smell sweet again with a cloth soaked in undiluted white distilled vinegar.

  • Deodorize the garbage disposal by pouring in 1/2 cup baking soda and 1/2 cup hot white distilled vinegar. Let sit for 5 minutes then run hot water down the disposal.

  • Rid a faucet of lime and Calcium deposits by tying a plastic bag containing 1/2 to 1/3 cup of white distilled vinegar around it and leaving it there for two or three hours. If mineral deposits don’t wipe off, scrubbing with an old toothbrush should complete the job.

  • To clean a scummy showerhead, pour 1/2 cup baking soda and 1 cup white distilled vinegar into a sandwich bag and tie it around the showerhead. Let this set for an hour after the bubbling has stopped. Remove the bag and then turn on the water.

  • Get cleaner laundry! Add about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar to the last rinse. The acid in white distilled vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, yet strong enough to dissolve the alkalis in soaps and detergents. Besides removing soap, white distilled vinegar prevents yellowing, acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer, and attacks mold and mildew.

You can find these tips and a thousand more thanks to the folks at Vinegar Tips
Please leave a comment with your favorite vinegar tip. When you use one of these tips please be sure to let us know how it turned out.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Coupon Clipping

With the cost of living going up these days we all need to save money anyway we can. The use of coupons when buying groceries is one way to save a little money. I used to subscribe to a newspaper just so I could have access to all of the ads and coupons there but I got so tired of having to sort through all of the stuff I didn’t need so I canceled my subscription. I have recently discovered that I can get all of the coupons I need as well as all of the ads I’m interested in from online sources.
At this website you can print grocery coupons, department store coupons, and get coupon codes for discounts at online stores.
This is a great sight that offers coupons for groceries as well as recipes and how to lessons.
Memolink has tons of codes for great savings when you shop online. Memolink members earn points for visiting Websites, sampling products, playing trivia, completing marketing research surveys and making online purchases. Points can be exchanged for cash or gift cards, or donated to a charitable organization. It is free to join.
CouponCabin has printable coupons for non grocery stores like JCPenney, Toys R Us, and Baskin Robbins just to name a few. They also have lots of code for discounts in online shopping.
If there is a particular grocery store you like to shop at most have a place where you can view their current ads and sign up to have them sent to your email address.
These are a few of my favorites. There are so many out there, please share with us the ones you have found.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Stinky Rags

There are few things I hate but I can honestly say that I hate grabbing a dishrag to wipe down a table or counter and having it have that horrible, awful smell. You know what I'm talking about. I thought everyone knew how to get rid of the smell but I was mistaken. I was at a family member’s house and went to help out with the dishes. I grabbed the dishrag that was already out and instantly my nose hairs curled. I got a clean one out of the drawer and got it wet and the stink was there as well. That smell my dear friends, is the smell of bacteria. If you wipe things with rags/sponges that smell you are only spreading the bacteria around. So, how do you get that smell out? Good old fashioned Bleach.

The first thing you want to do when you are finished using a rag is rinse it out good and if possible lay it out to dry completely. Have a designated place for dirty rags to go until you are ready to wash them so the germs/smell doesn’t get transferred to other items. I use the bucket you see above. It just sits in my laundry room and I throw all of my dirty rags and dish towels in it. You can get rid of the stink by using one of three ways.

  1. Fill up your sink with warm water, add some bleach (For the amount, follow instructions on the side of the bottle), then toss in your rags. This is one of my favorite methods because you also disinfect your sink at the same time.
  2. Fill up the bucket with warm water, add some bleach, and add the rags.
  3. Fill up your washing machine with the right amount of water, add the bleach and your regular detergent, and then add your rags.
    If you suffer from stinky rags, please, please, please, get rid of the smell, if not for you, for the people who can't stand the reek.

There may be other ways out there to make it so your rags don't stink. Please share your ideas with us.

Creamy Chicken Italiano

I apologize for no pictures but this really is a fabulous meal. It is my oldests favorite and she does a little dance everytime I make it.

Creamy Chicken Italiano

4 boneless, skinless chicken-breast halves
1 envelope dry Italian salad dressing mix
¼ C. water
8-oz pkg. cream cheese, softened
10 ¾ oz. can cream of chicken soup
4 oz. can mushroom stems and pieces, drained

Place chicken in slow cooker. Combine salad dressing mix and water. Pour over chicken. Cover. Cook on low 3 hours. Combine cheese and soup until blended. Stir in mushrooms. Pour over chicken. Cover. Cook on low 1 hour or until chicken juices run clear. Serve over noodles or rice.

Tortellini with Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

Last summer I had an extended growing season where I live we enjoyed the fruits of our labor. My Roma tomato plant produced like crazy in the fall. All of those tomatoes were perfect for this dish. Unfortunately the fire ants won the battle this year so I haven't been able to enjoy it as much. For those of you who have a bumper harvest of tomatoes give it a try. I serve it hot the first day and then the leftovers we eat cold.

Tortellini with Fresh Tomato Basil Sauce

1 pkg. (20 oz) uncooked refrigerated cheese-filled tortellini
medium tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped (3 cups)
3 Tbsp. snipped fresh
basil leaves
1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
½ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground black
2 Tbsp. olive oil
2 large garlic cloves, pressed
¼ C. (1 oz)
grated fresh Parmesan cheese.

Cook tortellini according to pkg. directions and drain. Meanwhile, core
tomatoes; cut tomatoes crosswise in half and remove seeds. Coarsely chop
tomatoes, place in small mixing bowl. Snip basil. Add basil, vinegar, salt and
pepper to tomatoes and mix gently. Heat oil over med. Add pressed garlic; stir 1
min. or until garlic is lightly browned. Remove from heat. Add tortellini and
tomato mixture; toss gently. Spoon the pasta into a serving bowl. Grate Parmesan
and sprinkle over pasta.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Read the Fine Print

You may have noticed that the packaging on some of your everyday items seems to be a little smaller but you are still paying the same price. Well, that is because it probably is smaller. Companies are changing their packaging sizes thus lessening the product amount yet the prices are remaining the same. They determined that they will lose more money by increasing the price on the item then they would by dropping the size slightly. A while back on the Today Show they talked about this and had a gentleman on who runs a website called MousePrint. At this site he exposes the fine print on everything from product packaging, ads, and coupons. I felt it was worth sharing so that you can see the "tricks of the trade" companies employ. I found this site very interesting and I'm sure you will too. The next time you go shopping check the fine print to make sure you are really getting a good deal.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Chicken Rolls/Pillows

I was able to try this recipe for the first time last year after I had my last baby. My cousin had made a bunch of these and then froze them and sent them over for me to bake and serve my family so I didn't have to prepare a meal for them. They were a big hit. I finally got around to making them myself. Pretty easy to throw together. I actually didn't have green onions so I used onion flakes. I also added in some celery seed. I used Italian bread crumbs too. So really, I substituted just about everything except the cream cheese, chicken, croissants, and egg. The cool thing is you can add whatever your family likes. I served them over rice and then drizzled Cream of Chicken soup that was slightly diluted over the top.

Chicken rolls (pillows)

4 C. cooked chicken, diced
8 oz softened cream cheese
2 Tbsp. Softened margarine
2 Tbsp. green onions, thinly sliced
1/8 tsp. garlic
1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. salt
16 refrigerated crescent rolls
Pepperidge Farm dressing mix or crushed croutons
Melted butter for dipping

Mix first 7 ingredients thoroughly. Divide into 16 portions. Roll each
portion in a crescent roll. Dip in melted butter or margarine and then in
crushed seasoned croutons or Pepperidge Farm dressing mix. Bake them at 350 for
20-25 minutes or until lightly browned. These freeze well uncooked.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

How to Save Money While Dining Out

Dining out seems to be more of a luxury in these financial times no matter which restaurant you choose to go to. By the time you add up the cost of the food, the tip, and the baby sitter in some instances it can be a costly event. Here are some ways you can save money when you dine out.

  • First off, do not order an appetizer. If you feel you need to eat something before you go eat something at home. By not ordering and appetizer you can save anywhere from $5-$10. Plus, many restaurants offer bread or chips free of charge anyway.
  • Order water only. Adding drinks to your order will cost you anywhere from $2-$5 extra per person.
  • Eat dessert at home instead of ordering it. You can purchase and entire pie, cake, brownie for the cost of one little slice at the restaurant.
  • Consider purchasing one meal and sharing it with another. I do this with my children. Many restaurants are happy to bring you an empty plate. There are some which will charge you a small fee for the extra plate but it is better than paying for the whole meal.
  • Choose a dish that comes with all you can eat soup and/or bread. Eat this at the restaurant and then take home the main course for a meal the next day.
  • The time of day and the day of week you eat can save you money. Most places have a less expensive lunch menu. Some places have higher prices on the weekend so eat mid week instead.
  • If you are taking children with you choose a restaurant where kids eat free with a purchasing adult. Not sure where to look to find these deals? Check out My Kids Eat Free for a listing of your local restaurants or check out this site for a listing of National chain restaurants where kids eat free.
  • Take coupons with you to pay for your food. Did you know that at you can get gift cards for local restaurants for a fraction of the price of their value. For example, you can get a $25 Melting Pot gift card for $10. There sometimes are minimum purchase amounts though, so read the fine print.
  • Ordering items as carry out saves money on tips and allows you to eat anywhere you want to, like a park.

By following one or all of these tips you will save some money but still enjoy the benefits of dining out.

Leave a comment and let me know how you save money eating out.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Post Tonsilectomy Advice

I'm currently experiencing my second bout of Strep throat this summer and it is making me think I might need to get my tonsils out. 16 months ago my husband and 6 year old daughter got their tonsils taken out. Thinking about that time makes me cringe at the thought of getting mine out although both of them say they are glad they did it. I did learn a few things from their experience that I'm going to share.

  1. Children have an easier time recovering than adults.

  2. Taking the pain medication every 4 hours or whatever is directed is a must, even if you have to wake up in the middle of the night to take it. So much easier to stay ahead of pain then to catch up.

  3. Keeping the throat moist with water helps because when it dries it gets itchy and hurts.

  4. Don't serve Popsicles-serve ice cream instead. It hurt my family to stick their tongue out to lick the Popsicle and it hurt to suck.

  5. Warm foods hurt. Serve room temperature or cold soft foods.

  6. Drink Ensure or Pediasure if you it hurts too much to eat. You will get some vitamins and nourishment your body needs to recover.

  7. Stay hydrated. To help my daughter be motivated to drink when she didn't want to I would draw a line on the water bottle and when she drank down to that mark I would give her a reward. Rewards included time on the computer, a movie, a new book, etc.

  8. When they tell you to wait 2 weeks or whatever time it is before you can eat harder foods wait that amount of time even if you feel like you can handle it. My husband learned the hard way.

  9. It doesn't matter how many different flavors you make, you will get sick of Jello and pudding by the end of the 2nd day.

  10. Don't schedule tonsillectomies for family members anywhere near your pregnancy due date. I gave birth the day after. Fortunately my Parents were in town for 3 weeks to help out.

  11. Be patient. It takes time for your body to heal.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Remove Blood Stains

I came across a useful tip to remove blood from laundry. Put some hydrogen peroxide on it. And, now that you can buy hydrogen peroxide with a spray nozzle it makes it even easier. Just keep a bottle of it in your laundry room and when you come across some blood, spray, scrub, rinse, and wash.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

House Fires Started by Candles

All you need to do is a google search for house fires started by candles and you will see what a serious problem this is. In 2002, 18,000 fires were started from candles.
Candles can also burn children and pets who get to close to the flame or wax.
There has been an increase in candle use because they are used for more then just candle lit dinners now. Who can resist having something that will make your home smell like you've been baking all day or that you just walked into a garden?

There is a company that has created a product that eliminates the use of candles but provides the same benefit of decorating with candles and providing great fragrances with out a flame.

The company is called Scentsy and they have created a wick less candle. They use a food-grade petroleum based wax that has a low melt point and can hold a lot of scent. It works by placing the wax in a Scentsy Warmer which uses a 25 watt light bulb to which melts the wax and releases the fragrance. There is no sooty mess, or wick which eliminates the fire hazards associated with candles. The wax does not get hotter than a typical paraffin wax dip so little fingers will not get burned.

In addition to no flame I also like the fact that they have over 80 Scentsy fragrances and over 50 warmers to meet any decorative need. If I want to change the scent I just need to pour the melted wax back into the container it came in, wipe out the warmer with a paper towel, and then add the wax of the fragrance I want. The wax I had previously used can be used again and I don't have to mess with storing a bunch of bulky candles.

If this sounds like a product you would be interested in having or selling then you are in luck. I recently signed up to become an Independent Scentsy Consultant. You can purchase your wick less candles at my Scentsy website. While you are there, check out the business opportunity. I think you will love selling the product just as much as you love owning it. I know I do.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cardiovascular Exercise

Cardiovascular Exercise is one of the most common forms of exercise. There are so many different forms of cardiovascular exercise it is easy to find one just right for you and your exercise needs. It is named cardiovascular exercise because the most important muscle that benefits from it is your heart. Cardio can lower your blood preasure, increase circulation, and significantly lower your risks of cardiovascular disease. Some other benefits are and increased metabolic rate (the rate at which your body burns calories), burning calories, and improved mood. To get the best results from cardio exercise you want to do a gradual warm up to get the blood flowing and then keep your heart rate elevated for at least 20 minutes and then slowly bring it back down.

Here are some excellent cardiovascular exercises.

  • Walking is one of the best forms because pretty much anyone can do it. You do not need special equipment other than a good pair of shoes. For people who are really over weight it is a good starting point.

  • Jogging/Running is the next step after walking. You burn calories faster while jogging and running.

  • Swimming is perfect for people who have bad backs and knees and for those who are overweight. The water helps support the weight so there is not as much pressure on joints. It is a total body workout to swim laps.

  • Aerobics is a fun way to get exercise. Coordinated movements to music is fun and really gets you moving. It can be done on a flat surface or you can incorporate weights and steps into it.

Don't forget to stretch following your cardiovascular exercise. Find something that works for you and most importantly, have fun.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Strawberry Spinach Salad

I attended a luncheon this weekend and my friend served this delicious salad.

Strawberry Spinach Salad

1/2 lb pre washed spinach

1/2 lb torn romaine1 pt strawberries, sliced

1/2 cup of sugar toasted pecans or prepackaged sugared sliced almonds (found in the produce section)

1 1/2 cup of grated Swiss cheese

sliced red onion-however much you'd like


1/2 cup sugar

3/4 - 1 cup oil

1/3 c red wine vinegar

1tbsp minced onion

1tsp dried mustard

1/4 tsp salt

1 tbsp poppy seeds

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Storing Strategically with Containers

Most people have a hard time getting rid of things even when they don't use it or have no real use for it. Instead it stays around collecting dust and using up valuable space. If our homes are cluttered with these things it creates more work and stress with in the home. So, if you find yourself wanting to hold onto things that you have no use for, then put them in storage. Ideally it would be nice to have a storage unit away from home but since those cost money not everyone is able to benefit from them. There are many storage solutions for use at home. One such solution is to use containers. Containers are great because they come in all sorts of sizes and shapes. Here are some tips for storing your things in containers.

  • Use transparent containers as often as possible. When you use solid color containers you can't see inside to know what is in each container. Transparent containers allow you to easily see inside and know what is in the container so you can find things when you need them. If you do use a solid color container put a list of the contents in a page protector and tape it to the side of the container so you know exactly what is inside.
  • Stack the bins as high as you can safely, with out the risk of them falling over. Select an empty corner or wall in a closet, pantry, spare room, etc. and use the vertical space available. I have a huge walk in closet where we only need 2 walls of the room for our everyday things. The other 2 walls have floor to ceiling shelves with tubs and boxes of things we just can't part with yet.
  • I have a pile of papers that gathers on a little counter in my kitchen. I try to organize them by placing them in stack-able files but the space on the counter is still taken up even with the files. So, I'm going to buy a vertical file for these papers. If they are stored upright they are only taking up 8.5" x 3-4" of space instead of 8.5" by 11". Don't be afraid to place containers on their side if they will take up less space this way.
  • Have items that you need access too often but not all the time in containers on wheels. This way you can roll it out when you need to use it and then roll it back into a closet when you don't. My craft supplies are in bins on wheels for this very purpose.
    Store items in bins with slide out drawers for things you need to get into frequently. This is how I store my children's toys.
  • Incorporate storage boxes into your decorations. Stack bins that are the same and then throw fabric that matches the room over the top. You can create an end table or side table this way. Or, take corrugated cardboard boxes that are used for storing office supplies (get these at office supply stores) and cover them with fabric. You can do this by spraying glue to the outside of the box and then covering them with coordinating fabric.

These are just a few of the ideas that I have found. Please share your ideas for storing solutions using containers.