I am a self-diagnosed neat freak. I love to clean and I love to organize. (If I could have a container, holder and/or label for EVERYTHING, my life would be complete!) And this is my brand new blog for everything NEAT!
I have a toddler in perpetual motion, a packrat daughter, a dog and a disorganized husband... and I hope to share the challenges, trials, errors, rewards and insights of being a bit "too clean obsessive" in a family that's not so in love with neatness. And I am making a promise to clean, rearrange, organize and simplify my life... and help you along the way! SO stay tuned for my journey toward everything orderly and efficient!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Day 70: For the Love of Books (PART 2)

Ok, as promised, here is the second part of my post about books! As I mentioned earlier in part 1, I LOVE books... and I have a LOT of them! This leads to a problem on where to store these books. I mean, I am a neat freak, after all, so I can't live in a house with haphazard book crazies all over the place! So, I've come up with a few different ways to display my books so they are organized, easy to use... and lovely to view!

Here, in my daughter's room, books are neatly displayed (by height order) in a doll-house-style bookcase that my husband made. She pulls books out and reads them, and then she and I later figure out where/how to put them back! (That's why her books are leaning over right now.... there are several just-read books you can't see that are sitting nearby on the floor!)

In my baby boy's room, we have a cute little canvas sling bookshelf. I LOVE this thing! It's a perfect size for him to pull out books he wants to chew on... uh, enjoy... and since all the books are displayed face out, it's easy to find which one you want! The different levels are different depths, so you can place little books in the bottom sling and bigger books in the top sling. It's quite fun and easy to use! (I think we got ours for about $50. So, they are not too pricey, either! You can even get colorful ones and ones with names or monograms. But we decided on plain and simple!)

Our guest bedroom serves, in part, as office space. Hence the desk. This is also where many of my teaching reference/resource books are. They are just neatly stacked and organized in various patterns, again, mostly based on size.

This unit in our family room was built by my husband, on my request. I really love the ladder bookshelves, and I was so thrilled to have one of my own! I think they are such a fun style and just compact enough for smaller spaces. As you can see, this bookshelf is covered in books! But I have mixed in some decorative items, like greenery and pictures, even a candle or two. This unit also holds one of our speakers. Another stands nearby. And the sub woofer sits on the floor (to the left)t. I stacked up some books here, too, and finished it off with a family photo. If it HAD to be there, I figured it could be more a part of the decor! :)

Also in the family room are two large standing bookshelves. Some of our electronic equipment is housed here, but intermixed are books and photos and some other decorative items (can't go wrong with a little greenery here and there!). Just so you know, the books here in the family room are some of our most read/enjoyed books (so, no resource and reference books here). I keep them in order (or grouped) by author or by topic, but they are not alphabetical! For instance, the books behind the clock (that my father-in-law made) are all John Grisham books! The books next to the swirly green vase are all about Disney. This makes for a nice "look," but it's also purposeful, and I can find THAT book that I am searching for... to reread or to pass along for someone to borrow. (ON a side note: I am VERY picky about my books. Some would say obsessive, actually. I hate dogeared pages, and I don't like creases in the seams of my paperbacks. So, if you ever borrow a book from me, use caution... and kid gloves!)

Finally, the last book storage area in the family room is yet another piece of furniture that my crafty, talented hubby made. It ,also, was a special request. I wanted a "bookshelf you can sit on," and this is what I got! Right now, the top is a bit covered up with stuff, but that's because we have Christmas decorations up, and I've had to move things around. But you get the idea! It's a handy, beautiful, useful bookshelf. And it has TONS of room. There are actually two levels deep. The books you can't see (in the back of the books on display) are the ones that I don't use or need as much. (But I know they are there!)

Now, THAT's neat!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Day 69: For the Love of Books (PART 1)

I have a lot of books. And by "a lot," I mean, way more books than I care to count right now!

I have some books packed away in boxes and in clear, plastic storage bins in my attic (mostly text books -- from both my student days and my teaching days), but then there are the "other" books... the reference books, the just-for-fun books, the classic books, the silly books, the I'd-read-them-over-and-over books, and the really-big-books-that-I-might-not-ever-read-but-they-look-cool-and-I-keep-them-around-anyway books! ;)

However you look at it, there has to be a place for all these books. And as a neat freak, I MUST have a good place for them. That means a place that LOOKS good and a place that WORKS well! Oh, and consider these two other things: books don't have to be in a specific order (the Dewey decimal system is not mandatory) AND books don't have to be standing up to be displayed.

That being said, I guess there' a bit of an art to storing/displaying THAT many books... all around the office and all around the house. So, I am starting here in my office, to show you what I've done with the books that I believe might be most helpful here (as reference or as inspiration)!

Here on my desk, within arm's reach, I keep dictionaries, reference tools and books that might be of immediate help for grammar conundrums or punctuation puzzlers. I have a few stacked underneath my desk lamp and others in height order right beside it. Cute. And useful!

If you look over my cabinets, you'll see the remainder of my books. Some I have lined up neatly in between my bookends, using the tallest books toward the middle and the smaller ones toward the ends.

And the books on the other side are arranged with some books laying flat and stacked up next to the ones standing up, also in height order. I've also thrown in few odds and ends (storage boxes, a basket with greenery and some plush friends) to finish the look.

Maybe this helps inspire you on how to create a useful and aesthetically pleasing arrangement for your books!

(Come back later to read about neat book arrangements around your home!)

Now, THAT's neat!

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Day 68: A Fear of Nails... and the Holes They Leave Behind!

I hate nails. No, not the kinds on the end of your fingers and toes (although, it IS pretty creepy when people grow them to obscene lengths!). I'm talking about the kind of nails you hang pictures on, the kind that leave lovely, flaky holes in the drywall... holes you have to repair if you ever have second thoughts about your decor... or if you decide to move.

At any rate, I wanted to share one easy thing you can do in a child's bedroom if you, too , have a fear of nails... or if you just want a fun way to display artwork and pictures!

I used this simple technique in my daughter's room, and it has been a big hit -- for years! It's cute. It's fun. And it can be changed year-to-year (or week-to-week if you are so inclined). AND... it only used TWO nails! ;)

Just select a wall space where you would like to show off some of your offspring's handiwork. Hammer in two nails (preferably nails with big heads!) on either side of the chosen space. Then tie on some string or twine, leaving a little bit of slack. (This string will serve as a "clothesline" for pictures, and it will hang down a bit in the middle, so be sure to calculate that in as you place those darn nails!)

Next, gather those works of art, and hang them up! I used some cute little decorative clothespins that I picked up at Ikea. Just about any little clip will do!

Arrange them however you'd like, and, voila! A neat -- but very cute and fun -- display!

Now, THAT's neat!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Day 67: Rethinking Laundry

See shirt.
Think shirt.
Red shirt.
Pink shirt.

Yep. I actually did it: I turned one of my husband's t-shirts pink! Agh! Thanks to my son's fire-engine-red onesie, a perfectly good, bright-white tee is now in the cabinet over my dryer. In the "scrap" pile.

This got me thinking about the way I do laundry. I have a great rolling sorter in our laundry room. It has a clothes bar and three separate mesh bags to catch whites, darks and delicates. Kind of like this one! (BTW, you can get these "laundry centers" for around $30.... or you can spend upwards of $200 for some suped-up models with ironing boards and drawers... bread makers... KIDDING on that one!)

Of course, currently, this handy sorter is being used as an extended closet for the above-mentioned baby boy. And the handy pouches are being used for 1. baby clothes that are too small, 2. clean crib sheets that need to be put away, and 3. whatever else happens to not have a home in the laundry room but ends up there anyway!

Hmmm... so maybe this organized-obsessed momma needs to get her neat freak on! :)

I don't know about y'all, but I tend to do about 3 to 4 large loads of laundry a week right now. Currently, I just dump all the clothes in the washer until it's near full! (Of course, I do put delicates in their own wash bag!) Then I dump in some liquid detergent and let 'er go! (Two rinses, please.)

When the wash cycle finishes, I do sort clothes before moving along to the dryer. (Maybe I am more picky about drying my clothes than washing them!?!?!) Delicates are hung up or spread out to dry. Pant legs and long-sleeves shirts are untangled. And I always use a dryer sheet and dryer balls.... you know, those bumpy, dog-toy-looking things? (The texture helps to separate clothes as they tumble around, which is supposed to cut down on dry time!)

So, what do YOU do? Bleach? No bleach? Sort? Don't sort? One big load? Several small ones? I am looking to improve my laundry skills, so bring on the tips and hints!

Now, THAT's neat!

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Day 66: Beware! The Black Light is NOT your friend

My husband really enjoys decorating for Halloween. So, for a few days around October 31, each year, I try my very best to stay calm and ignore the scattered piles of pumpkins, straw, moss, plastic spiders and styrofoam tombstones that take over most of the kitchen and dining room as he prepares his frightful displays!

One of the items he uses for the ghoulish decor is a black light... and if you have ever watched CSI (or a similar show), you know that black lights can be used to see things that aren't visible to the naked eye. Of course, I have no need to search for blood or, uh... other possibly incriminating crime-scene-type fluids... BUT... since we have had two male dogs in our home, we thought it might be a good idea to check for urine.

Not a good idea. NOT good!

Not good if you really want to know how much your furry, 4-footed children might be messing up your seemingly clean home! And NOT good if you want to discover just how deep the layer of dust really is, despite countless hours of swiffering and vacuuming.

I swore I wouldn't do this, but here is the evidence:

SCENE 1: Here is our lovely, striped, sage-green dining room rug in normal light.

And here, you can see me pointing to a lovely urine stain, softly glowing in the black light.

And here is another similar stain under the chair. But I'll spare you from the rest... {shudder} :)

SCENE 2: This is a shot of the baseboard and carpet in our master bedroom, right behind the door, in regular lighting.

And here is that same spot in the black light. Luckily the photo does not do it justice... because it showed a LOT of dust all a-glow along the baseboards and all over the carpet. ICK! (Either that or I spilled a bucket of glitter in my room!)

Looks like I have some cleaning to do....

Now, THAT's neat!