20 Weeks of Organizing

20 Weeks: The Last Junk Drawer

Last summer, during my 20 Weeks of Organizing project, I organized two of my three junk drawers, with the promise to organize the third one the following week.  But the next week I had my hands full with this:

And it’s taken me a while to get the last few items crossed off of that original list.  But last weekend, I tackled the last and worst of the junk drawers in my house.  The one in the kitchen.  It’s a big drawer, 26.25″ x 16.5″.  Too big really.  It collected all kinds of things.  Things we needed, things we didn’t, useful stuff and… junk.

Something had to be done.  But it was overwhelming and one of the projects I put off the longest.  There was way too much in there.  The bottom of the drawer kept slipping out of its slots.  It nearly broke one day, so I finally took care of the problem.

First I took the drawer out and emptied and sorted its contents.

There were FOUR broken watches in there.  Four, people.  A dead cell phone.  Two empty calling cards.  A recorder flute and a bird whistle.  I’m not kidding.

And YES that little blue thing really is a bird whistle.  You put water inside of it and blow through the little spout and it makes a sound like a bird singing.  I know what it looks like, but it’s not that.  My mom always kept it in the junk drawer of our house when I was growing up and I loved it, so she passed it on to me (and my junk drawer).  Unfortunately it’s gotten a little chipped in the years of getting tossed around with all the junk in the drawer.  But it still works and I still love it.  


There was a lot of stuff in the drawer that didn’t belong in there.  And I wasn’t sure what to do with it either.  I emptied the drawer, and I grabbed some wood glue and started fixing the drawer.  I enlisted Rick’s help to reinforce its huge bottom, which he did with a scrap of wood from the garage.

And then I bought a drawer organizer – the biggest one that I could find that would fit inside.  It was $20 bucks.  And totally worth every penny.  I also used three little wooden baskets from the kids’ wooden play food set.

And I put the stuff we use back into the drawer.

The empty space is for Rick’s things, like his wallet.  Since the garage door-opener is in this drawer, it’s the last stop before leaving the house and the first stop when coming home.

Yes, I know there are still things in there that some people would not hang onto.  The flute is in the way back and the whistle is still in there.  And you never know when you’ll need a puzzle ball.  But it is mostly organized, and I’m really happy with it.  What I really need now is some of that non-slip stuff to keep the organizer thing from sliding around.

I still don’t know what the heck to do with the watches.  Do I just throw them out (not the guitar one)?  Can they be repaired?

There are only two items left on my 20 Weeks list.  I’m loving that this challenge is almost over, no matter how long it took me. Are you organizing anything in your life/home?

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

20 Weeks: Kitchen Cabinets

So, back on the wagon, I promised to get that list of twenty problem areas in my home taken care of.  This week, I cleaned out the kitchen cabinets under my counters.

Here are the before pictures:


YIKES!!  These cabinets are particularly troublesome.  They always start nice and neat and then, after a few loads through the dishwasher, they end up a jumbled mess again.

To tackle them, first I took everything out.  Yep.

Things got sorted.  The thermos made it all the way to the top shelf cupboard next to the water bottles.  The potato ricer went into the roasting pan in another cabinet, since I usually only take the time to rice potatoes when I’m making a big fancy roast or turkey.  The ice cream attachment for my mixer got put away with the stuff in the basement that only gets used occasionally.  A few things got donated.  The rest I tried to put away in some way that would make it simple to keep nice.

The mixer attachments are inside the bowl under its cover.  The pitchers and flower vases have been removed from this cabinet as well.  I got a nice drink container for Christmas that I’m storing in the buffet, so I could get rid of the lame old plastic pitchers I was hanging on to.

And speaking of plastic…

Besides that pitcher back there, one large Tupperware container and the popsicle molds, I finally chucked the rest.  Well donated.  But, I finally feel like I have enough glass containers and have slowly over the last two years weeded through most of our plastic to the point where I feel like I can be plastic free.  That should make things a lot simpler!

Looking at the before pictures on this project, it looked huge and daunting.  But really it took me less than half an hour to get the job done.  Looking forward to finishing this last few items of the list!

Be sure to check out the other projects I’ve completed: 20 Things.

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

20 Weeks: New Year Organizing Revival

Since I’ve been talking about goals lately, I thought I better address something that I left as a loose end last year.  Remember, back when I was half-way through my pregnancy with Cora,  my goal of organizing a list of 20 things in 20 weeks?

Well, I got all behind, and then I had my baby, and cleaning with a newborn, a toddler and a preschooler during the harvest season… forget it!

So the day before Christmas eve, I went on a frenzy in the bathroom.  And I redid the storage in there.  And then I remembered it was on the list of 20 things I wanted to get organized!  Woohoo!

So here’s the before…

Ok, this cool shelf thing that hangs on the wall holds our towels and a bunch of other stuff.  Q-tips, nail clippers, Rick’s beard trimmer.  Extra soap is up there in a brown box, a ton of random things are in that basket, some bubble bath and a low-flow shower head that’s not going to be installed in the shower anytime soon is up there too.

Under that shelf thing, we have the potty chair and a basket of bath toys.

Then, lastly, in front of the toilet we have a little storage bench full of our extra towels and wash cloths, and on top; my many, many magazine subscriptions (yes, I’m a magazine junkie).  Hey, everyone reads in the bathroom, I need variety.  And it’s my only place without the kids.  It’s peaceful.  Just like every mom.

And here’s the after…

First I moved the bench.  Lots more space here now in front of the toilet.

Then I emptied and reorganized the extra towels (got rid of a couple oldies that were worn out) and recycled or filed old magazines.  Now just the most current ones are out… and stacked nicely.  Went through the bath toys and tossed any that were too icky.  Cleaned any that needed cleaning and washed the basket liner.  The potty chair is used for emergency trips in the boys room – been saving E’s sheets this way.  Thinking of skipping the potty chair all together for C if we can, by the way.

And the biggie – the shelf.  Cleaned out that basket, tossing anything expired or irrelevant (yes, irrelevant).  That basket in the bedroom closet caught the extra soap and the shower head until we are ready to use them.  We used the bubble bath up and the bottle is now a soap dispenser in the kitchen.  Hair ties were corralled in the blue jar, and lotion is up high so it doesn’t end up in the two-year old’s hair again.  After all that, there was room for my apothecary jar of bath salts that used to live on the tank of the toilet.  Not like I ever have time for a bath, let alone many baths to necessitate an apothecary jar full of salts – HA!  But it’s pretty and the kids enjoy them, I guess.  😉

Anyway.  It looks much nicer in there and I’m really loving it.  We desperately need a remodel in there, but I’m holding off until C is potty trained.  Hopefully by then, the boys won’t be missing the toilet any more either.  😉  In the mean time, this is working great so far and it feels a lot more relaxing in there.

What about that list of 20 (which I later cut to only 18)?   I’m gonna finish it this year if it kills me.  Click this link to see what I’ve already done, and below is what’s left:

  1. Bathroom cabinet
  2. Boys closet shelf and clothing
  3. Boys toys and bedding storage
  4. Desktop/drawers and move desk out of office
  5. Office corners
  6. Office closet upper shelf
  7. Junk drawers
  8. Buffet
  9. Our bedroom closet
  10. Seed Storage
  11. Make a place for table linens
  12. Canned goods/canning and food storage supplies
  13. Find a place for Rick’s work clothes and my business supplies
  14. Kitchen glasses cupboard
  15. Bathroom linens/storage
  16. Scrapbooking table
  17. My sewing items
  18. Lower kitchen appliance cabinet

Not too bad, eh? So what if it’s late.  It’s still getting done!  Yippee!  This whole thing was inspired by Organizing Junkie’s 52 Weeks project.  Check it out to be inspired.

Is reorganizing anything on your list of resolutions this year?

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing | Tags: , | 4 Comments

20 Weeks: Junk Drawer No More!

Well, it’s my 12th project from my 20 Weeks of Organizing Challenge!  Unfortunately I got sidetracked, so I’ve been at it for 19 weeks.  Ha!  I may or may not catch up (most likely not), but I’ll keep going until I get all my items crossed off anyway.

Buffet Drawer - BEFORE

Here’s what my current list looks like:

  1. Bathroom cabinet
  2. Boys closet shelf and clothing
  3. Boys toys and bedding storage
  4. Desktop/drawers and move desk out of office
  5. Office corners
  6. Office closet upper shelf
  7. Junk drawers
  8. Buffet
  9. Our bedroom closet
  10. Seed Storage
  11. Make a place for table linens
  12. Canned goods/canning and food storage supplies
  13. Find a place for Rick’s work clothes and my business supplies
  14. Kitchen glasses cupboard
  15. Bathroom linens/storage
  16. Scrapbooking table
  17. My sewing items
  18. Lower kitchen appliance cabinet

Notice that there are only 18 items on there?  See – this is me not being all crazy A.R.  😉

This week, I get to cross off the junk drawers!!  I have a confession.  There was not one, or even two junk drawers in my house.  There were actually THREE!  Now this week I wasn’t able to get all three done, but I did tackle the first two and I wanted to share them with you.

The first drawer I took care of was the easiest and the smallest.  The drawer in the buffet.  We like to keep playing cards and dice in there for quick access when guests come over.  But it sort of became a catch-all for extra coasters, batteries, phone chargers (for a phone we don’t even have any more?), and what ever random things that were on the buffet that needed to be stashed before a guest came over.

Here’s the cleaned out drawer…

Buffet Drawer - AFTER

Now it’s back to it’s purpose… cards to play games with guests, matches to light candles when guests come over, and that is pretty much it.  There are two plug covers in there because this drawer sits right under an outlet that we use to charge the batteries for the camera.  That charger is about the size of a deck of cards and does not have a cord, so I deemed it worthy to get use of the drawer too.

The second junk drawer in the house was in the desk.  The big center drawer.  This is an especially problematic area for me, because the drawer is so big and wide that I have a tendency to just clear off the desk into this drawer in a pinch, so when people come they won’t see the mess on my desk.  Are you noticing a trend here – I’m a stasher… I hide my messes instead of finding places to keep things.


To get this mess in order, I emptied the drawer.  There was a lot to recycle, and a lot that didn’t belong in there in the first place.  I put those things in their rightful homes.  After the cleaning out, there really wasn’t much left to put back in the drawer.

I added a paper file thingy, since our desk is out in the open now and we often have paperwork that needs addressing, but also kept away from the kiddos or put away until we can get to it.  There are spare pens in a ziplock and some sticky notes, and our box of checks.  That’s it.  I’d like a drawer organizer for this space, but until them, this will do.

Next week, I plan to get that third drawer done too.  In the mean time, here are my other 20 Weeks projects.  If you really like organizing or need some more inspiration, check out the Organizing Junkie.

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments

20 Weeks: Nursery Done… ish.

Last week I posted pics of the before and after job I did on the basement junk room – turned guest room.  This project kinda happened along side it.  The new nursery was formerly the office and getting it in shape was pretty intertwined with the basement project.  Neither of these things were on my 20 Weeks of Organizing Challenge list.  But I did them, so here is the second part for you to see.


Since this used to be the office and you saw how that changed already, these are sort of “during” pictures.  Here you can see the three chairs that I’m selling on craigslist.  The book shelf went downstairs to the guest room.  The cedar chest under the shelf was packed and there were some blankets without homes.  You can see that Rick’s work clothes are no longer in the closet, but there is a new hanging organizer in there for the newbie and a nightstand that went downstairs too.

Here are the after pictures:


You can actually SEE the cedar chest now, blankets have been organized (some donated) and the shelf above cleaned off.  The afghan on top of the chest was made by my great-grandmother for me when I was a baby.  I kept it stored all this time, but I finally decided that, girl or boy, it’s coming out and getting used.

The closet is cleaned out and ready for some baby clothes (some are in the wash, some I need to buy yet), and a hamper.  I might (if I get ambitious) make a little curtain to hide my birth class supplies on the top shelf.  but I might not.

This corner has the crib and dresser.  I had that dresser as a little girl too, and I gave it a fresh coat of paint before H was born.  I changed out a few knobs this week, since one of the old ones was broken.  You can’t really tell in the picture, but the sheet in the crib has little lambs all over it.


I stole the idea for fabric in embroidery hoops from my friend Meg.  Her nursery is SUPER cute… perfect to go with her new super cute baby boy!  And the sheep and shepherd mobile is probably my second favorite item after the afghan.  Last is the shelf-turned changing table.  I’d like to get some picture frames put on the wall above this.

As you can see, it’s pretty simple.  I’m still missing some details, like curtains for the window, a lamp… a few little things to make it feel homey.

This week, the Organizing Junkie posted about Enough.  The bones of the space are essentially done.  I’d like to get a rug and some cute things for the shelf and the walls too.  But, the set up, cleaning and organizing is finally done.  The rest is just details.  That’s good enough for me right now.

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing, Simple Living | Tags: , , , | 3 Comments

20 Weeks: Finishing What I Started

Um, if you didn’t notice, my 20 Weeks of Organizing went to hell in a hand-basket.  Yeah.  The idea was to make a list of 20 things, one to be completed each week, and then DO THEM!   Back in March, when I started, I even gave out the rules, including, “Keep the projects small – don’t list “organize office,” that’s too broad.”

So, naturally, I put items like “# 11) Completely gut and reorganize that junk room in the basement into a guest room, while simultaneously making the former office into a nursery” on my list.

Ok, so I didn’t really.  I kept my list to the rules.  The problem is, I got ahead of myself, which gave me a couple extra weeks.  And while I really wanted to listen to the wisdom of friends, telling me to taking it easy, not get in over my head, I mentally added #11 to the list, and then proceeded to work on it.  Dummy.

Then I got overwhelmed.  The basement and it’s junk room took over our lives.  I got obsessed.  Suddenly I was on a first name basis with the donation guy at the Goodwill, I was sewing curtains, my husband moved cabinets and counter tops to the garage.  I even called my mom over for reinforcements (and then wouldn’t let her do anything), like I said, Dummy.  I scoured craigslist for shelving.  I moved and rearranged and scrubbed walls.  I painted.  I panted.  I felt like passing out and giving up.  I gave up.  Then I read this post last week by the Organizing Junkie and I got up and did a little bit more.

There is still more to do, but I am to the point where I’m calling it good enough, so I can MOVE ON with my life and maybe get something else done.

So, here is the before of my basement junk room:

Suffice it to say that the other side of this room was equal to or greater than the mess you see above.

This is the other half DURING the work:

You can see that I set up a bed, painted a wall, and found a place to store canning supplies.  Hey – canning storage was #14 on my list!  I got to cross something off!

Here is the basement today – guest room.  I still need to hang the curtains that are sitting on my sewing table in the second window, and a couple of pictures, but you get the idea.

It’s done enough.  Next week I’ll post pictures of the nursery, and then I’m getting back on the wagon.  One small, specific item, that’s actually written on the list, per week.  From now on.  Oy!  Wish me luck!

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing, DIY | Tags: , , , | 5 Comments

20 Weeks: The Space Between

So you may have noticed that it’s been THREE WEEKS since I last posted an update on my 20 Week Organization Challenge.  The good news is that I’ve given you plenty of evidence to support the fact that I haven’t just been laying around this whole time.

I’ve entered into my third trimester with this baby, and the need to get projects completed has gone into some kind of overdrive.  Poor Rick.  We hammered out the garden and he’s been working hard at the tree, and we’ve been collecting materials for the various other to-do’s this summer. Mostly with the beautiful weather, my head and heart have been outside and I’ve let the indoor projects sit on the back burner.  I’m so grateful to the wise woman who suggested that my updated 20 Week list might have a couple of gaps in it for a reason.

As I sat with my midwives, giving them a run down of all we’ve been up to and all the projects on the list yet to do, they asked what we’ve done to get ready for the baby.  Um…. I looked at Rick.  He grinned.  The crickets chirped.

So, as prescribed, a shift in focus has come about.  Not completely or anything.  Outside is still getting plenty of attention, but working inside is alright too.  We ordered our birth kit, the new car seat, and a grub hoe (see).  I got serious about cleaning out the former office-turned-storage room that will become the new baby’s room.  That of course meant that I had to get the downstairs junk room (let’s just call it the “spare room” for simplicity’s sake) reorganized quite a bit as well.

I had stored craft supplies on the changing table in the spare room, as well as a 4Runner’s cargo area full of stuff for the Goodwill.  The bookcase from the office was going to need to move downstairs to the spare room, the end table Rick was mending needed to move up.  Half my canning supplies are down in the spare room and three chairs we’re trying to sell on Craigslist are still in the nursery, leaving no room for the crib.  The area rugs we used in the office will need to go downstairs too.  These rooms are, in other words, impossible to organize separately.

I’ve shifted and shuffled, and taken that load of junk to the Goodwill.  I painted a wall, set up a bed, and cleaned out boxes that I’ve gone through twenty times since we moved seven years ago but never gotten rid of.  I moved two book shelves, reorganized DVDs and board games, got the end table upstairs and my business library put in order.  I’m nowhere close to done.  And, to be honest, my back hurts.

I’ve enlisted Rick’s help.  He helped me set up the bed, and I’ll need him to tackle the organization of his tools that are in the spare room.  I’ll also need him to carry the remaining furniture pieces from one place to the other.  I knew all this was coming.  The after picture on it will be worth three week’s wait – trust me.

Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing | Tags: , | 4 Comments

20 Weeks: Seed Storage

This week in my 20 Week Organization Challenge, I decided to organize my seed storage, in celebration of Earth Day.

To the left here you can see the many, MANY packets of seeds shoved into a little tin bucket and a re-purposed recipe box, as well as two bags of seed potatoes and some onion sets.

My original seed storage was in that recipe box.  The seed packets were all alphabetized and filed in the box.  But seeds take up more space than recipe cards, so the box filled up quickly and was soon overflowing into paper bags, baskets and that little bucket there.  Many of the seeds we ordered this year came in packets that were a bit too big to fit in the box anyway.  And, with spring planting upon us I have been struggling to find everything I want to plant and I’ve even run across seeds that I bought last year that never made it in the ground because they had gotten lost in the shuffle.  I needed a new storage system, stat!

I wanted a storage container that can keep the seeds dry and dark, is well organized, and that all the packets can fit into easily.  I considered a basket, but I really wanted something with a lid.  In the end I settled for a photo storage box.  It’s paper board and I got it from Hobby Lobby for $4. It was supposed to come with twelve dividers, but there were only six, so I made a few more from some extra folders I had laying around.

Here’s what the seeds look like now.  I have a feeling this will get tweaked over time, but it’s much better than it was!


What have you organized this week?  Are you planning to do anything in the coming week?

This post is part of the Organizing Junkie blog party!  Check out here drawer organization this week.  I’m getting up the gumption to tackle my drawers soon.  Stay tuned!  To see what I’ve done in the last eight weeks, check out my other 20 Weeks posts!
Categories: 20 Weeks of Organizing, Garden | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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