I’m writing from a strange computer in a familiar place.
Back “home”, which is Pennsylvania.  
There are a myriad of mac computers, which are quite complicated to me.
Control + C doesn’t copy. I don’t know how to paste.
And I love my little shortcuts on a normal computer.
I’m behind the mac-times like that.

But I am finding myself in the midst of a quiet afternoon, all alone in the house actually.
Sister-to-be-married is getting some beauty things done :)
Other sisters took one of my girls,
mother took the other on another errand,
brothers and father are gone,
husband is still in the south and will be arriving over the weekend.

It’s so fun to be here, to have time to spend with the family before the busyness of the wedding next weekend.
It’s harder to be gone from husband with two little children for a longer amount of time,
but he was gracious and my family is so helpful.
The Little Love is due is less than five weeks, so we are not giving him/her any options but to hold tight until after the wedding. :)

There hasn’t been a wedding in the family for almost 7 years, when Ben and I got married,
so this is high excitement.
I get to be in on last dress fittings, wedding details, reception decor,
and I love it. :)

But I can’t show too many pictures yet and give away the bride’s wedding detail secrets!
Later. :)

But I wanted to do the third [and last] edition of the Tricks of the Trade!
There have been some wonderful contributions, and I love it!
Thank you so much to all of you who sent in pictures and ideas!
I was a little nervous at first that I’d have some blank posts, and no responses, but it’s been wonderful.
I am very much indebted to you!

So enjoy these last ideas and tips! :) 

And it’s with a resounding cheer that I bring you these lovely ladies!



i LOVE organizational bins!boxes!jars!labels!

(if i had a label maker and laminator? i would need an intervention for sure.
nothing would be safe. i’m a dork that way.)

and yet. while i can point at what i’m working on. there’s so much more…haha. that i’m not.
and should be.

but this is all about sharing. learning. and fun. right?

my top three fav things are:  
(my favs are directly related to staying sane efforts.)

1. my bin labeled “too small”

my kids grow out of stuff left and right.
it gives me a place to stash those items out of the way,
till i can sort what i want to share with friends or give to the goodwill.

2. my box labeled
“things i am not wearing but cannot part with yet.”

sounds dumb.
but. it gets my odds and ends out of the way.
while i pray for a re-purposing brain cell to suddenly activate in my head.

3.color coded cups and folders for my kids.

seriously. before color assignments for precious children?
we would have used 20 or more drinking glasses a day. made me nuts.
the folders are mine to keep important school info, report cards etc. throughout the school year.
handy because i can read colors faster than words. ;)

i want a bulletin board for my kids…but till then…
old frame (needs to be painted. what do you think?) for free.
thick dollar store foam board. (can you guess how much?)
hemp string and clothespins.
cheap with acmoore coupon
free map and i now have a…
a place in addition to my fridge, doors and walls :) to hang my kid’s masterpieces!

i am loving making tags and labels using old book pages.
i use alot of cardboard boxes for bins that i got for free.
(the bigger bins here are for shelves above our desk.)
bought brads with coupon at hobbylobby. cheap.
covered boxes with fabric scraps. free.
using spray adhesive. cheap.
i like writing free.
sorry ’bout that.
or paper and glue sticks. which are cheap.
i like writing cheap too.
sorry ’bout that.

if you haven’t thought *dork* already, this one will do it.
but trust me. i have very good reasons.
our house is old, we heat with coal, our closets were built on stone walls.
let’s just say dusty, dirty and damp.
so to save my shoes, i keep the boxes (yes. space hogs i know)
and when i was weary of digging through boxes…
i *blush* had a photoshoot with my shoes and pasted the pictures on the boxes.
like colors, i read pictures faster than words.

the remainder of the pics are just misc for toys, shoes, ribbon etc.



and this one is seven recipes taped to the inside of my kitchen cupboard.
it’s my “save my procrastinating butt” approach to dinner. :)
all of them are ways to use one pound of hamburger
and have a meal ready in about 30 minutes or less. 





I love our spices like this.  Years ago we’d done the lazy-susan idea but we never could find what we needed fast and we’d tried the stair-stacking idea but then when you get one in the back all the rest would fall down.  Here we used the spice racks from the container store.   I love ours like this because they’re right by the stove and I can quickly get to them and they’re put in there alphabetically so their easy to find too.  Actually the ones we use the most don’t even have labels on them because they’ve worn off.
If you had more room on your door and did it just right you could probably figure out a size of spice you buy at the store and just use those jars instead emptying them into glass ones.  We just didn’t have enough room here and it works fine.

Next up is our teeny tiny corner closet.  Literally its not more than like 1 foot by 3 feet at the most but its 9 feet tall. 
What do you do with such a closet?  You make it into a wrapping “center” 

The wrapping paper is held up along the outside of the shelf at the top of the roll
by jumbo rubberbands fastened onto long nails sticking out in the corners. 
So all we have to do to get it is slide it out and its easy to put back too.  Hope that makes sense.  
(though right now weve got a couple wrapping papers that are either to long or too big that dont fit too well.)

Second Shelf is bows and ribbon

Third is gifts and packaging stuff

Fourth is bags

Tissue paper is on the door in ziplocks nailed on the door with pins


Here’s my mom’s card/craft room.  She just recently organized this and I thought I’d show it off. :)
  Again this is a really tiny room. It was hard to get pictures.   It’s actually one of the 3 dormers and right off a bedroom and closet.



Here’s where we keep the stamps, idea books, paper and some supplies. 
The ribbon and glue and ink pads are in old sewing machine drawers.


And lastly laundry, that thing that all mothers seem to talk about and that’s never caught up.  Growing up we had baskets labeled for whites, permanent press, towels, jeans, and maybe a few others.  Even little kiddos can do this. Every morning people would bring their clothes to the laundry room and sort them out.  Then, when the washing was done, each person had also a box-you can kinda see the big brown boxes at the bottom of the picture and that’s where all the clean clothes would go.  They could then empty them out whenever they got around to it.  That means all the laundry would stay in the laundry room unless it was put away.  Nowadays since there is only 3 of us we each have our own baskets and then a whites and towels one and a few extras.




Organizational theory #1. Put everything in its place right away instead of making a pile to take care of later. It might mean a couple extra steps now, but will save time. Which leads me to. . .

Theory #2: If it doesn’t have a “place”, it might need to be gotten rid of. That theory either motivates me to find a space quickly or take a trip to the thrift store.

Theory #3: Be a minimalist. I hate clutter and since I live in a two story row-house with two closets and no attic, storage place is precious. It has turned me into a bit of a minimalist. I seriously look at my overflowing closet full of clothes, sometimes and just want to rip out half of it and give it away. And honestly, I can live with way less. 

P.S. Just a side note about the minimalist theory. After a trip to Ikea’s showroom one day, I lay in bed that night freaking out about how much stuff and space we really have. I figured out that we could totally live on our first floor (if we had designed things different during the remodel), and we could divide our upstairs into two rental units . It would be so practical. Crazy, yes, but practical. :)



Thank you so much! All you who contributed, and those of you who encouraged those who contributed!
This was such a fun thing for me to do, and I was often in open-mouthed amazement
at the wonderful ideas that came in! Some of these I will definitely be trying in my own home!
Many many thanks! 





18 thoughts on “{Edition Three} Tricks of the Trade

  1. mlt10202002

    whew. i *thought* i was organized…but i have room to improve. :)
    some fabulous ideas here!
    i really enjoy series like this. it gets me inspired to make housekeeping an art.

  2. appalolly

    Wow, Cindy!! I had no idea. I should have totally had you give me the “organization tour” of your house when I was there. I am super impressed.  And yes, lots of great ideas here. I SOO need to do a spring cleaning and get rid of a bunch of stuff and then organize away.  I sort of wish, though, that someone would just come and do it for me.  Hint, hint!

  3. mytoesareblue

    yay for all three lovely ladies and their tips. so excited that you are getting to celebrate the prewedding stuff wiht your family. hoping that little love stays put and doesn’t make an appearance til after the wedding. i’m sure its a bit exhausting being away from Ben, bt i’m sure the little girls are lovin the extra time with your family,a nd soon he will be back by your side ;) love you girl!

  4. grace_to_be

    awesome tips!!

    i just want to know if y’all do house calls?? like international ones?? ;)

    i like things clean, but i’ve realized when it comes to organization i’m a bit of a lazy butt. but {and that seems like a double negative right there butt and but} but anyway.. ;) in trying to find some of emma’s warmer clothes i was SO frustrated by having to go through every single bin since nothing was labeled. so that frustration combined with THIS post, tells me i’m going to be digging out the construction paper and sharpie markers! :)

    thanks for sharing, ladies. and cindy, what audrey said.. i had no idea!! and clarita – enJOY your family and this special time of your sister getting married. hugs.

  5. Carsonsmom2

    Great ideas here! Love all of Cindy’s boxes and labels, i need that! And I want the recipes she has inside the cupboard door…I so need a ‘procrastinating supper saver’! :)

  6. fruitloops115

    goodness i love this post. and i kinda love seeing you around online too Cindy’s caption are just to die for hilarious, they make me just smile out loud It is a good idea to have a box for things that you still love but don’t wear, kinda a transitional time to help you break that emotional attachment I also like her idea for things that are outgrown that she hasn’t found the time to do anything with yet…i need a box like that. kids are always outgrowing things. I guess I esp. loved her set of pics just cuz i saw it IRL, and it’s just as organized as it looks, she didn’t just make these up and the pics of the shoes on the boxes. just kill me

  7. singingrachel

    wow, that cindy girl just keeps amazing me. move over martha stewart. anyhow, great ideas here. i’m terrible at organization and i KNOW having a setup with a plan would go a long way in simplifying life. i just may surprise myself yet. thanks for this clarita.

  8. WasabiBek

    some great ideas here. hope you have a wonderful rest of your time with all your family. and yes i would love to see you if it works out sometime.:) maybe i should just drive down there, get some coffee on the way and chat with you for a few mins!:)

  9. ajoyfulnusiance

    I love the spice rack idea! That is something I could do. Right now I have mine in little baskets that I can pull down when I am cooking, but it gets really annoying. The spices on the cubboard door seems very practical. Thanks for sharing!! :)

  10. zanyzeal

    Love the spice idea – I am constantly fighting with my lazy susan spice rack holder. It is such a challenge for me to be organized. I am doing soooo much better then I used to with the remodeling we have done.

    I also love the clothes 2 small bin. Great idea. I totally drooled over the card making room.

  11. down_onthefarm

    i’m thinking that i’d love to eat at @redladybug18 ‘s house. with all of those spices and herbs, that girl must surely know how to cook. :) your laundry basket organization, mini craft room and wrapping closet are awesome too, gabrielle. and lucy, the minimalist intrigues me. great tips. i think that i’m a minimalist sometimes…until i run into a real one. ha. i don’t like lots of clutter, but we sure have it.

    and while i have liked reading, learning and seeing everyone’s ideas in these posts, clarita. truly. i’ll admit that the opportunity to peek into my friend’s places and spaces has been lots of FUN too.

    these friends o’ mine here are making me feel the need to suppress an embarrassed hypocritical chuckle though…*blush* as i sit in my messy unorganized home. just saying. :)

  12. scuppernog

    I love to see how other people manage all the stuff you need/have with life and family.  Some really good ideas.  I have color hangers for specific closets, but I need to try the color coded cups.  The kids are supposed to claim a water cup for the day but, we have oddles flying around that “nobody” has used. :) 

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