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, February 26, 2010

Day 15&16: A Neat Gadget -- for the kitchen... and more!

Tired of your spouse pulling a sinister-looking jar out of the fridge, shoving it toward your unsuspecting nose, and saying, "Smell this. Does this smell funny to you? Does it look kind of greenish? Moldy? Alive?"

I stumbled across a gadget not too long ago that got me really intrigued. "Days Ago." (That's the name of the gadget, by the way; that's not when I discovered them. Are y'all feeling a "Who's on first" kind-of thing here, or is it just me!?!?) Has anyone else heard of this thing? It's a digital day counter that has a really great function in your kitchen: it attaches to food containers (by magnet or suction or band) and counts exactly how many days ago you put that leftover chicken casserole in the fridge or that extra batch of sugar cookie dough in the freezer. (Ooohh...I'm hungry now!)

I don't personally have any of these fancy, new-fangled contraptions just yet.... but it sounds like a good fit for a neat freak!

Beyond just keeping track of your food before it grows legs and walks away (Ok. no longer hungry), these little counter things can be used in other ways. Put it on your medicine bottle -- or on your pet's medicine -- to keep track of when you (or your four-footed pal) last took that pain pill. Speaking of pets, we have a 55-gallon aquarium with lots of happy little fish. To keep them happy, a digital day counter would let the whole family know when they were last fed... so we don't under- or over-feed them!

I don't know; I guess you could get a little crazy with these things, if you chose to!
  • How about a digital counter on every smoke detector in the house, so you know when to change the batteries... BEFORE they start beeping in unison at 3 in the morning;
  • One in the car to track that last oil change (when you don't want the sticky plastic square melting to your window shield);
  • Put a doo-dad on your plant containers to know for certain when they last got watered. (I probably need to do this. Sadly, green things and I don't seem to coexist very well.);
  • One on the toilet bowl, so you can't put off cleaning it anymore, thinking, "it was just last weekend when I tackled that!";
  • How about one on your designer purse so you know when you are due for an upgrade!?!;
  • Maybe I could suction-cup one to my baby boy's head so I can be sure when he last ate! Ha-ha! ;)
I digress....

I just thought I'd share a neat thing I found. If you've tried this gadget out, please let me know your thoughts! Or, perhaps, we can put our collective minds together and come up with our own handy invention....

Now, THAT's neat!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 14: The Archaic Address Book?

I have some nifty electronic gizmos... including an iPhone and a MacBook Pro. So, yes, I could easily record -- and retrieve -- address information from any one of these uber-handy gadgets. But there's just something special about an address book... a tangible, hold-it-in-your-hands-and-write-in-it kind of book.

And my previous address book was driving me crazy. I, myself, have moved way too many times over the last few years, so the front part of my address book was a whited-out wasteland of new and current details layered on top of old and useless details. Very messy, if you ask me. And in addition to MY untidy page, many of my friends' entries were sloppy and scribbly and caked with correction fluid or zig-zagged with correction tape.

SO... I've been on the hunt for a new address book. (For some reason, they're a bit hard to come by these days! *Wink wink*) And I found one that looked quite nice: "Colors" by Beth Nelson.*

It's a hard cover book, so it's durable. And it's spiral bound, so that means I can easily remove messy pages. It's also kind of color coded, which makes me extraordinarily happy! "Colors" also has designated spaces for cell phones and e-mails, so it's not TOO old fashioned. As well, there's a fun little box for each entry where you can record that person's favorite color. I'm not so sure how useful that is, but it's a cute little extra.

And don't make fun of me, but I had such a nice, refreshing time copying all my addresses into my brand new book. I also found a GREAT pen to use for my address book (and for other writing stuff as well, of course!). It's a "Frixion" pen by Pilot. It's an ERASABLE gel pen!
How superb! :) It writes well... AND it erases well. So I am very pleased that I can cater to my perfectionist tendencies now without crumpling up so much paper!

* (NOTE: I included a hotlink to see the address book on, where I originally bought mine. I'm not sure if this is a collector's item now, or what, but the current prices are CRAZY! I did NOT pay more than $12 for mine, including shipping and handling! And that was only about a week or so ago!)

Now, THAT's neat!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 13: My Daughter's Desk of Horror!

My 7-year-old daughter is a hoarder of things. LOTS of things: tiny scraps of paper, shiny gum wrappers, beads, balloons, ribbons, cheap plastic toys, candy, books, napkins, stuffed animals, cards, pencils, feathers and various unrecognizable doo-dads.

Well, these things end up in her room... all over her room. So, usually about once a month, I attack her space with a garbage bag -- and a vengeance -- valiantly resolved to rid her room of the ridiculous amount of clutter... without taking away all her fun, of course.

Tough job. Especially for a neat freak.

I would love to turn everything upside down and dump it into a big garbage can. But I won't do that. I've promised myself not to infect her too terribly with my tidying obsession. :)

But since her bedroom is still part of my house, I do have to help her "sort things out" now and again. And, yes, sometimes she helps me, and we go through all the things that we can throw away or donate. At other times, however, I simply tackle the task when she's at school. That way I get more done. (And she never remembers that tiny piece of pink, Mickey-shaped confetti she picked off the ground after a parade at Disney World!) ;)

At any rate, my goal the other day was to give my child some of her desk space back. After Christmas, the toys and gizmos completely took over her desk. It was, simply, an explosion of stuff, with no rhyme or reason. There were game cartridges on the floor, paper scattered all over (and under) the desk and her new magic kit piled up in the center. What a disaster.... and what a completely UNusable desk space!

So, I rearranged her toys in her closet (on the toy shelves... go figure!) and carefully placed all her paper and folders in one drawer; all her craft items in another drawer; and all her electronic gadgets in their own space -- for safe keeping (and so I wouldn't have to dig through random gift bags, tote bags, book bags, purses or otherwise to find them later on). I also placed a cute basket on her desk to "capture" random papers, little notebooks or folders she's using to write stories or draw pictures. I also left her most recent toy/craft out so she could pick up where she left off and finish it before we find a good spot for it to "live."

Here is the result. Still a little girl's desk, no doubt. But now a much more pleasant and usable space. AND, for the record, my daughter likes it, too!

(BTW: to display her various arts and crafts from school, we hung up a "clothesline" over her desk, and we pin up her papers with cute clips and pins. This way she has her own artwork displayed, and it's tidy and also simple to change.)

Now, THAT's neat!

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 11 & 12: A few of my favorite cleaning things

I'm not getting paid by anyone to write this, nor do I get free products (which would be SO cool, by the way!); I just wanted to share two of my favorite cleaning products! (And I hope y'all will share some of your favorites, too! I am always looking for new things to try!)

One of my favorite products is the Swiffer Sweeper wet cloths.... we have hardwoods in most of the main rooms of our house and tile in the bathrooms, and this works really well sweeping up the dust bunnies, fur clumps and hair as well as the grass, leaves and gunk that the dogs drag in. It also shines up the floors and smells so great! This package (pictured) happens to be the Febreze "Lavender & Vanilla Comfort" scent, which is fabulous. But I also love anything citrus, and the "Citrus & light" is awesome.... so fresh and clean! As soon as I finish with the Swiffer, the house smells GREAT! Even my husband notices when he gets home. And I think a neat home should smell good, too, so I tend to gravitate toward products that have nice (not overbearing) smells!

I can't live without Lysol disinfecting wipes. They are SO handy -- for just about everything! It's also such a quick fix when you want to clean up in no time at all... since it's a thick paper-towel-kind of thing that has the cleaning product built-in it already! (It's nice to know that I'm killing germs, too.) I use Lysol wipes to clean toilet seats, bathroom sinks, counter tops, the shower door, the microwave, the toaster, the stove, garbage cans, door handles, light switches, remotes, the fridge (as you may have seen in the fridge refurb post).... the list goes on and on! And sometimes I grab a few wipes and clean off the bathroom floors when I see some hairspray build-up or some stray toothpaste. I've even cleaned the washing machine with a wipe or two before! (Contrary to popular belief, though, I do not use Lysol wipes on any living things in the house! While it would be rather convenient to disinfect germy dog paws and grimy hands and faces with a wipe, I have refrained! Ha-ha!)

Now, THAT's neat!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Day 10: Refrigerator Refurbish

I am NOT showing you a "before" photo on this one....

Why? Well, I don't know anyone in his or her right mind who would actually enjoy peering into the depths of old leftovers, sticky glops and goo and spilled, caked-on foodstuffs. Those words alone are enough of a picture of what lurks... even in the ice box of an obsessive neat freak! (Again, may I remind you that I, being the neat freak, am not the only one using said refrigerator. Thus, containers of all sorts of things get spilled or shoved into odd spots, even if they're old, outdated, moldy, gooey or empty!)

To get started on my fridge refurb, I chose a day when the well-respected appliance was a bit on the empty side. This made my job of discarding "unwanteds" MUCH easier! Plus, I was able to remove the "good" items or just move them around so I could clean off the shelves and clean inside the bins and such. Mind you, I did not do a complete re-haul on the fridge. I just did a little tidying. Here's a list of the things I took care of today, in about 25 minutes!
  • Checked all items and threw away anything outdated (i.e. potatoes with alien life forms growing on them; green sour cream that I am sure is not for St. Patty's Day; and dried-up, half-used ketchup packets from Chick-fil-a).
  • Cleaned all handles, surfaces, shelves and drawers with Lysol disinfecting wipes. (I also removed the fridge pieces that came out in order to dump whatever crumbs and bits were hanging around inside, trying to start-up new societies.)
  • Placed clean, folded-up paper towels inside bins and holders to help catch chunks and spills. (This will make cleaning even easier next time! Hooray!)
  • Moved foods covered loosely with foil or with plastic wrap into lidded, air-tight containers. (Wow -- what a difference in the SMELL, not just the LOOK, of the fridge!)
  • Put "like" items together. Cheeses are together. Veggies are veggin' out in their very own drawer. Condiments now live in harmony in their very own bin. Jellies are all jammin.' Leftovers have retired to their spot. And canned drinks can celebrate on their very own shelf, some even in a handy drink holder/dispenser. (No, I did not alphabetize. And, no, nothing is labeled. But it looks neat, and it makes sense!)
  • And while this is not something new for me (or new for this particular clean-up), there's a plastic container on the lower right side of the fridge for meats that I plan to use for meals that are coming up. This way things can defrost without getting wetness and goop all over the fridge. (Ever have that 4 pounds of roast defrost into a bloody mess all over the shelf, and leak into the vegetable drawer? Yeah. I learned my lesson!)
This is something I do every now and then when I get tired of things jumping out every time I open the refrigerator door! And now that you know the routine, I will share the "after" picture.

Now, THAT's neat!

Friday, February 19, 2010

Day 9: So... where's the toilet paper?

We have a tiny bathroom in our house. A VERY cramped half bath in our entryway... and it's a bathroom that gets used a lot -- by us and by guests.

Why is it used so much? No, we don't all have overactive bladders or an odd obsession with small, closed-in spaces. It's just convenient... at least more convenient than going through the master bedroom and past the master closets to find the little WC tucked away in the corner of the master bath.

At any rate, because this popular little potty room is so undersized, there's just not much room for... well, anything! (For instance, when I was recently pregnant, this was NOT my powder room of choice. It's such close quarters in there, and I didn't want to feel claustrophobic in my own bathroom!)

Anyway, one of the things that needed a little help in this petite rest stop was an issue with the tissue... as in: where to keep the toilet paper?!?! Sure; I could put it in the eensy weensy cabinet under the sink, but you'd have to sit on the toilet to get to it, or you'd risk bumping your head, elbow, or possibly other parts on the door, or on the counter, or on the toilet itself.

So, I purchased THIS (Also from ABC Distributing, by the way! And, no, I did NOT get this for free; I just found some very useful products at ABC!)

What is it, you ask? A giant, metal letter "C," celebrating "the CAN," perhaps? Or maybe it's one of those drink thingies for dispensing canned sodas, a must for any bathroom....

Nope. And NO way!

It's a toilet paper holder... with a little "shelf" on top. And while it may not be the most impressive piece of furniture in the house, for this little space, it's just right!

Now, THAT's neat!

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Day 8: The organized utensil drawer

Kitchen utensils have a way of spreading out, multiplying and generally messy-ing up any drawer.... And it doesn't take long, either, especially if the drawer is big, and if it contains an array of useful and/or random tools for eating, baking, stirring, serving, cutting and otherwise!

Our utensil drawer is no exception, even in the hands of a neat freak! (Do remember: I share my home with three other not-so-tidy humans, two of which have access to the aforementioned drawer!) Although the forks, knives and spoons have a pretty neat home in a nice metal tray, the rest of the bunch, as you can see, is a tangled mess of randomness.

In order to tackle the never-ending utensil chaos, I purchased a simple, expandable drawer organizer set from ABC Distributing.

Disregarding the instructions altogether, I simply pulled out all the pieces, and after a few trial runs to see which configuration worked best, I ended up with several neat, new segments. The result: a much tidier and more organized kitchen drawer with better defined spots for all those various tools and what-nots. (BTW, I discovered that I have 4 ice cream scoops, 7 spatulas and 3 animal-shaped sandwich cutters in there... is that necessary!?!)

Hopefully your drawer organization goes just as well... if not better! So let me know YOUR tips and any good finds! In the meantime, I'm looking for the best spot for this second drawer organizer set I purchased.... Hmmm.... Socks? Underwear? Kids' junk? Ooohhh. The possibilities! :)

Now, THAT's neat!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Day 7: Bed-making shortcut

I bought a new Ralph Lauren floral comforter on sale last summer at Macy's.... and I LOVE it! What I don't love is actually making the bed. Of course, there's nothing nicer to crawl into at night than a newly-made, tucked-in bed with fresh sheets. Plus, a made-up bed just looks good, right?!?! It screams order and tidiness! (Just think back to all the sitcoms in which the moms yell for the kiddies to make their beds!)

This is - more or less -- what my bed looks like when I make it up, superfluous throw pillows and all (yep, there are 9 pointless pillows pictured here, not counting the 4 usable ones that are hiding underneath as support)! If I don't change out the sheets, this takes 2:59.7 minutes to accomplish. (Yes, I used a stopwatch and timed myself.... for accuracy!)

But since I don't always have the time, the energy or the motivation to get all that stuff out and organized properly, I've devised a little "cheat" to achieve neatness in only 49.5 seconds! (Yes.... the stopwatch again. I checked!)

I simply skip all the extra pillows and only fluff the ones we actually use. Then I straighten out the sheet and blanket, pull it up tight and fold them both down once. Since the comforter is only for decoration (not for warmth!), it spends its days folded down once and flung over the foot board. So, all I have to do is fling it back up and smooth it out a bit.... and voila: an almost-made bed... in under a minute! (And believe me, it's MUCH better than the alternative!)

Now, THAT's neat!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Day 6: And the WINNER is....


Thanks to everyone who voted on the "look" of my new blog. It looks like every background but one got a vote or two. Here's how it ended up:

#1 -- 6 votes (bright orange "floral") This bright, cheery look will soon be the new background for my neat-freak blog! Tune in again to see how it turns out! (And, don't worry... it won't be too overwhelming. I have a plan for that!)
#2 -- 3 votes (tiny green dots) This one was one of my top two favorites, just because it's my favorite color, AND it's very tidy.... But I won't be sad that it didn't win.
#3 -- 2 votes (brights stripes) This one was probably too "busy" for a "neat" blog.
#4 -- 0 votes (multi-colored dots) This one, as well, might be kind of "messy" for a blog about organization. That, or no one likes polka-dots! :)
#5 -- 2 votes (green stripes) I also liked this one a lot because I LOVE stripes. AND it's green. very soothing.

Please visit again tomorrow, day 7! I plan to share a quick organization tip from my "Neat Freak Cheat Sheet!"

Now, THAT's neat!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

DAY 1-5: Can I get a vote?

This is day 1 of my new blog: The Neat Get Neater. I am excited to have a place to rant and rave about cleanliness and organization. Sound boring? Well, I HOPE not! I promise to do my very best to be entertaining and informative with a tentatively dull topic. And to start things off right, I am taking a vote on how to design/decorate my blog! What do YOU think?

Here are a few possible colors/patterns I am considering for the background. Post a comment and vote for your favorite (or favorites). Once this is determined, I will be able to design the remaining pieces (i.e. the header, the signature, etc., etc.). So PLEASE cast YOUR vote, and let me know how to get this blog off to a great start!






Now, THAT's neat!

UPDATE: In hopes that I get some votes for this new blog design, I am keeping this post at the top as DAY 1-5 and will not add any new posts until day 6 (to talk about the "winner"). I will launch the new design by day 10!