Create convenient storage solutions

You want to find the best “home” for all items in your home. If items do not have a home, they become clutter. All items need to have a purpose, be used or loved, and have a home. Otherwise, why do we have them?

When trying to organize your home, you may move items from one area in a room to another, or one room to another.

Have you ever…

  • Relocated items from one place to another, and within a few days, those items have returned to the place where you had moved them from?
  • Been “cleaning up” or “straightening up” around the house and moved items that belonged to another family member and then that person gets upset and puts the items back where they originally had them?
  • Moved items and then forgot about them (unpaid bills, greeting cards to mail, items to take to the dry cleaners, etc.)?
  • Decided that you think some items in your home should be stored in a certain location, but other family members never return them to that location?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, take a deep breath and read on.

What’s the secret to end such madness? Create convenient storage solutions. Stop relocating the items and create storage where the items tend to end up anyway. If the storage solution or location is inconvenient, it will be not be used.

You may want everyone’s shoes to be stored in their bedroom closets. But if it doesn’t happen, create shoe storage by the doorway. You may really want all the toys to remain in your child’s bedroom. However, they always end up in the living room, so create a storage solution for toys in the living room (e.g. a storage ottoman that doubles as a coffee table, or a storage bench that can also be used for extra seating).

For me, I wanted an more organized way to store incoming mail and paperwork. I prefer for paperwork to be in the office; however, my husband likes to work on stuff in the living room and if his to-do items are not in sight, they are out of mind. He prefers for papers he needs to look at, bills we need to pay, etc., to be either on the kitchen table or the coffee table.

My solution: Two attractive paper trays that sit on the coffee table. The top tray is his to-do pile. I place items there that he needs to do something with. The bottom tray is for filing. When he is done with a paper, but we need to keep it, he places it in the bottom tray, and then I know to file it in the office.

File tray

This system works great for both of us. The papers are not scattered all over the coffee table, but they are still where my husband can easily access them. The paper trays offer a convenient storage solution.

File tray

You can get these handy trays from my Amazon store.

What items in your home could use a more convenient storage solution?


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5 simple back-of-the-box recipes

I am always on the lookout for new and simple recipes that I can use for dinner. I have some recipes that we eat regularly, but I like to throw in new ones when I find them. But the recipes need to be simple, easy and use common ingredients.

A great source of recipes: the back-of-the-box (or the back of the bottle or jar, or inside the packaging, etc.). To keep it simple, I’ll just call them back-of-the-box recipes even though they may not always be technically on the back, and on a box.

Here are 5 of my favorite back-of-the-box recipes.

Simple Bolognese

I had never made Bolognese before, and I am not even sure I had ever had it besides in a microwave meal. Now, this is one of my favorite meals. The recipe is simple, and the result is absolutely delicious. It makes a beautiful and delightful meal.

You can find the recipe on the back of the Giada de Laurentiis Fusilli Col Buco pasta box, which you can buy at Target.

Fusilli Col Buco NoodlesSimple Bolognese

Oven-Baked Meatballs

The Kraft Fresh Take packets are great. I have used the Italian Parmesan one to make chicken parmesan and the Cheddar Jack and Bacon one on pork chops and both were delicious. Plus, they are simple to use.

But the best use for the Italian Parmesan packet can be found inside – a recipe for Oven-Baked Meatballs. They are so good. The recipe is so simple and easy that you can make them every night, and they taste so good, you might just want to.

Fresh Take Parmesan PackageMeatballs Recipe

We recently had these yummy meatballs with some pasta so I quickly grabbed a picture. They are very filling; one box of pasta, one jar of sauce and the meatballs make three meals for two people easily.

Meatballs with Pasta

Peachy Chicken

The name says it – this chicken is down right peachy. It is sweet and savory – with just the right amounts of both.  You may be surprised where this recipe comes from – a bottle of Malt Vinegar. If you enjoy peaches, this is definitely a recipe to try.

Malt VinegarPeachy Chicken Recipe

No-Bake Rotini, Ham and Cheese

When I cook pasta, I usually use Ronzoni Garden Delight because it includes vegetables! This is a great way to get vegetables into the mouths of picky non-vegetable eaters. They offer several different types of pasta with recipes on the back. The recipe I tried is on the back of the Rotini box (not pictured). Again, it is simple and easy and pretty good for an evening meal.

Garden Delight PastaGarden Light No Bake Ham Pasta Meal

Seasoned Chicken and Rice

Here is a super simple meal that I started making on my own before they either put the recipe on the back of the box, or I noticed it. With two simple ingredients – a box of rice and some cooked chicken, this meal is super easy and very delicious. You can find the same recipe, but for the beef version, on the beef flavor box.

Rice a Roni ChickenChicken and Rice recipe

What are some of your favorite “back-of-the-box” recipes? 



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Foyer Redesign

When we moved into our house, the foyer was decorated nicely, but the wallpaper was peeling off in some places. Plus, I really wanted to design a foyer that fit more of my style. I found an inspiration piece and based the design around that.

This is an image of what the foyer used to look like.

Photo of Foyer

Here are some pictures, after the redesign. We added the following:

  • New wallpaper that has small burgundy stars.
  • White beadboard wainscoting.
  • Three burgundy stars on the side wall.
  • A sign above the door, “Hugs, Kisses, Stars for Wishes.” This was the inspiration piece for the whole design.
  • New door mats with stars and country house.
  • A small black bench with a country pillow featuring a country house.
  • A boot tray and a burgundy pail that has a star on the front. It holds slipper socks for guests, if they would like them.

Sign Above the Door

Photo of Foyer

  • We also added a burgundy wood cabinet and, of course, hung some stars below (stars for wishes!). The blocks on top of the cabinet also have stars and say Welcome to Our Home.

Photo of foyer after redesign

On the other side, we keep the white mirror that was already there (I liked it anyway), and added a distressed burgundy cabinet.

Photo of foyer after redesign

The key to this design was the inspiration piece. Once I had found that, everything else fell into place. And I think I have a knack for finding items that coordinate together, so it was easy and fun to find the rest of the items that made up the design.

Designing around an inspiration piece really makes the whole process simpler. You can use it to help you develop a color scheme and a design concept, and inspire your furniture and accessory selections.

Do you use inspiration pieces when you design a space?


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Master Bedroom Closet Remodel

Before the closet had one rail that went around the entire closet. Additional storage space was not being used effectively above or below the rail. The clothes and accessories needed to be sorted into keep and donate piles and then rearranged in the closet with a system that offered better options and containers.

Closet photo

Closet photo

We sorted all the clothes into two piles; clothes that were being used went into the keep pile and clothes not being used went into the donate pile. It is much easier to find the clothes you do want to wear if they are not being overcrowded by the ones you don’t. And really, how many clothes do you really need! 🙂

We installed beautiful hardwood floors in place of the old gray carpet to really give the closet a finished and clean look.  We painted the closet white and added a brand new, and larger, ceiling light to brighten up the area. You are not stuck with builder-grade ceiling lights, and one way to improve your chances of finding something in a closet is to add sufficient lighting.

The light is so bright that I couldn’t take a good picture with it on so that is while this picture is dark.

Closet Ceiling Light

We purchased and installed a closet system that provided areas for long and short hanging, pant hanging, shoes, drawers for additional clothes or accessories, belt hooks, and shelves. The system also included an accessory tray, which was perfect for storing cufflinks. Baskets were used for storing winter scarves, hats, gloves and other items.

Closet photo

Closet photo

Closet photo

Closet photo

We added wall hooks for hanging extra jackets above the area where the hamper was placed. The hamper is a 3-bag sorter to make laundry day one step simpler.

Closet photo

Every inch of the new closet is utilized, including the angled wall by the doorway. A hanger hamper for extra hangers fits perfectly in this spot.

Closet photo

By eliminating items that were no longer needed and by taking advantage of every inch of closet space, this closet is organized and extremely functional. Every piece of clothing and accessory has a home and can be easily found.

What do you use to organize your closets?


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Make Your Home More Attractive to Buyers

Image of a home for sale with Sale sign

Did you ever think that your family photos would make your home less attractive? What about your children’s doodles on the refrigerator? Or your favorite oversized chair that is perfect for late night reading? How about the beautiful purple color you carefully selected for the bathroom?

If you answered no, don’t worry. The potential buyers that visit your home would probably answer the same way. But your style, comforts and personal belongings affect how attractive your home is to potential buyers. Most of the time it affects them subconsciously; they don’t realize how much your favorite chair turned them off from the entire house.

When you have your house on the market and you want to sell it, it is all about staging and it’s worth it. Based on various statistics I have read, homes that are staged sell more than three times faster and at a higher price than homes that are not staged.

You can pay a professional stager to get your home ready or you can tackle it yourself. Here are some of my staging tips for making your home more attractive to buyers:

  1. De-clutter: Rent a storage unit to store everything in your home that you can live without, including your family photos, books, extra toys, and off-season clothes.
  2. Minimize furniture: Put large pieces of furniture in storage to make your rooms appear more spacious.
  3. Define spaces: Define each room in your house. If a room is a bedroom, it should look like a bedroom. Using a bedroom as an office is fine; many buyers are including an office on their wish list.
  4. Revitalize: Paint each room with a neutral color and do it neatly. Remove any scuff marks on the walls.
  5. Let the light in: Add new lighting or add new light bulbs to existing lighting. Open the curtains during a showing and open house.
  6. Finish the floors: Clean the carpets or replace carpets with hardwood floors.
  7. Create curb appeal: Put out a new doormat, plant some colorful flowers, paint the front door, replace the door handles if they are worn, and replace an outdated or damaged outside light.
  8. Clean with a toothpick: Clean every inch of the house and keep the house clean.

Put yourself in the buyer’s shoes. Are there parts of your house that do not work for you anymore? A potential buyer will probably notice those defects as well; do your best to minimize them. If your kitchen is too small, remove items from the countertops and put extra plates and cups in storage. Use your imagination and look at your house in a whole new way. You never know. You may end up finding it more attractive and decide to not to sell it after all.

photo source

How do you prepare your home for sale?



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