If you are an electric toothbrush user like I am, don’t you hate it when your toothbrush charging base gets covered in gross, grimy, water stains and old toothbrush water (and let’s admit it) saliva drippings?! I brainstormed for years on a simple way to keep the charger clean. Until finally one day I came up with a great hack: using a fabric elastic pony-tail holder! It is perfect. They fit well and are absorbent. And they are also very affordable, so I can switch out the dirty ones for clean ones every few months. I was motivated to find this solution because, quite honestly, I got tired of having to clean the toothbrush charging base every few nights. There are already enough chores on my to-do list every day. I thought to myself, “There has to be an efficient and effective way to solve this annoying life problem” After-all, isn’t that the gold-standard for what makes a winning life hack?!
Several years ago I came upon an organizing idea I found on Pinterest for how to store your wrapping supplies. Because it involved wheels (and I love anything on wheels) I decided to give it I a try. With my own “spin” of course :)
The basics of the organizer that I made are this: I bought a wood step stool from Target for around $20. Then I went to Home Depot and bought six rubber caster wheels. I wanted rubber so they wouldn’t scratch our wood floors. And they have a full turning radius. For all the side pockets I just scavenged around my house for various solutions: a plastic IKEA plastic bag holder, a paper towel holder for holding spools of ribbon, I cut up an old mesh shoe bag I wasn’t using for individual pockets, and lastly, hooks to hold a bag of gift bags. Talk about being meta :)
This has been the best organizing solution for my wrapping supplies. I love it because
Call it a cute quark of our relationship, but occasionally Drew and I like to come up with names for stuff. It can be a nickname for an actual object (like when we had a GPS and we named her Rosie) or a phrase like “I’m a slow waker-upper) which translates to mean, I’m not a morning person. We have one other phrase we love and use a lot and it is called “heir and a spare.” We co-opted this somewhat crude British colloquialism (that refers to the Queen giving birth to a second child to secure the royal succession) to mean: buy an extra, when you can.
And that is the relative part, right? When you can. Affordability and practicality definitely impact this idea. This suggestion applies more to groceries and household staples than more expensive things like computers or cars. Also to be considered is the utility of the item. For example, just because a blanket is on sale, doesn’t mean needing to buy two of them because ideally, just the one blanket should last a while.
In our home, “Heir and a spare” comes in the most handy for things like a jar of mayonnaise, a box of ziplock bags, or a tube of toothpaste. We tend to buy our paper products like toilet paper and paper towels in the largest single quantity available so we don’t buy two of those at a time, simply because we don’t have the room to store it all.
A few years ago I started to take a serious look at the things that I was exposing my body to. I started educating myself. I read food labels to try to better understand what I was putting into my body. I also started thinking about what chemicals I was exposing myself to through cleaning products and personal hygiene projects.
I think I have a relatively realistic perspective on the spectrum of environmental exposure to potential toxins. I know that there is no way to control everything I am exposed to in daily life. I don’t walk around with a face mask on, nor have I stopped washing my hair. Even though I don’t live in the extremes, I do think there are steps I can take to reduce my exposure to some chemicals that can cause adverse health affects. This is my truth: I’m not any kind of expert, but I do want to use products in my home that are the most effective with the least amount of chemicals.
Several years ago I became a subscriber to The Honest Company. Favorites of mine of that line included their cleaning wipes, laundry detergent, dryer sheets and body lotion.
For other things like dish soap, dishwasher detergent, and products that do require a stronger germ killing formula, I like Seventh Generation.
Most recently I have started using products from Melaleuca, also a subscription service.. I
I’ve written in another post my love-affair with my Instant Pot. But I wanted to write about it here on my Simply Sort blog to explain how (in addition to making really good food) the Instant Pot is a time-saving solution for any busy schedule.
With it’s pressure-cooking magic, foods that once took hours to make, now take minutes. Some of my favorite dishes I would rarely have the time to make conventionally have been risotto, BBQ ribs and pork roast. Of course if I prioritized the the time I could put a roast in the oven at 2 p.m. Or if I wanted refried beans for dinner I could take the extra step to soak them the night before. But that is one extra thing on my to-do list. When my to-do list is already full with things like doing laundry, going to meetings, writing blog posts and walking Alton.
When I want to make dinner, I just want to make it all at once. And for the first time, for more complex or time-consuming meals, the Instant-Pot has allowed me to do that.
And it’s not just about being busy. Because of my disability,
Can I make a confession? As much as I love having things clean, I don’t love the task of cleaning. My motivation is the end result. That is why I look for methods that are quick, easy and most of all: effective.
Over the years I have tried and tested the following cleaning methods and found they have worked with surprising success.
Boiling hot water for sugar: There is nothing worse than burnt sugar on pots and pans. I made the mistake once of not using protective aluminum foil when cooking something, and I paid the price. Luckily, the internet came to my rescue and provided this tip that really does work. Check out the video I made to demonstrate. Never under estimate the power of really hot water. Just use caution not to burn yourself.
WD-40 for soap scum: I don’t remember where I read this tip, but unbelievably, it does work. Our master bath shower has a challenge with really bad soap scum. Probably because we use a bar soap that doesn’t have a lot of sulfur or other chemicals. It’s really just soap. What a concept!
I love it when I have time in the kitchen to cook a nice meal for Drew and I, or when I can bake something to share with others. Ever since we remodeled our home and built a truly accessible kitchen, preparing food in that space has become a joy.
But what makes it just as fun is being able to use some of my favorite kitchen gadgets and tools while cooking and baking. They made the process more fun, less stressful, and because I have them placed in strategic places throughout the kitchen, always easy to find.
These are my top five must-have kitchen gadgets and tools. Some are more obvious than others, but either way, I recommend them all.
1) IKEA Cheese Box Graters
I’ve had these box graters for years, and I just love them. I use the larger tooth grater way more than the finer tooth. But having either as a lid, makes for quick cheese prep with practically no mess. I put the lids in the dishwasher and hand wash the container. They have held up grate, over the years!
People think that organizing storage solutions have to cost a lot of money. And if you walk through a Container Store, indeed, you might have some sticker shock. But real-life, practical solutions don’t have to come out of a glossy catalogue. Even tidying guru Marie Kondo advocates for using simple and inexpensive materials to help organize your home and all of your belongings. She is a self-confessed box enthusiast.
I think the following are some of the most under-utilized and under-appreciated, easily accessible and affordable organizing solutions. I know, because I use many of them myself. Here are some of top recommendations, in no particular order.
Cardboard: Obviously, you think of cardboard and you think of boxes. Cardboard can also make for a really cheap organizing structure, especially if is a thick cardboard. For example, cut off the top panels and tip the box on it’s side. Or, just flip it over and start stacking. Don’t be afraid to think outside of the box ;)
Ziplock bags: They come in a lot of sizes and can be useful storage for practically anything.
Rubber bands: Can bind together stuff that needs to stay together. I’ve been loving the extra large rubber bands lately to help keep stacks of papers together.
Velcro: Similar concept to rubber bands only can be a little more sturdy. Velcro is also great for binding together electrical and computer cords.
Let’s just get to the point: I love shopping. I need to be in the *mood* to shop, but nonetheless, if shopping were a sport, my training schedule and technique would be on par with the elites.
One of the things that helps me to love shopping is I often have a strategy heading into the mall or store. Whether that is a list of items I need to buy, or a list of places I want to go. I also really try to budget my time. I think about how long I have in total to shop, and then divide up how long I can spend at each store, or searching for a certain item.
Now, you’d think that this kind of pre-planning would really only be necessary at the holiday time, when the lists, and the lines, are the longest. But I say no, that rules for organized shopping can apply to any time of the year. The following suggestions will make shopping more fun, more efficient and hopefully way less stressful.
Tip #1: If possible, try to go to the store or mall at time when it won’t be so busy. I find the hours between 10 and 2 the best during the weekdays for the mall (but steer clear of the food court for the lunch time rush). Grocery stores and big box stores tend to be more quiet in general on weekdays verses weekends. But if weekends are the only option, early mornings, or near closing are the quietest.
Tip #2: Think about the weather. If it is a gorgeous day out, odds are most folks are out enjoying the outdoors doing recreational activities. Also, I tend to head to outdoor malls when it’s raining because I’m a Californian who grew up in the Seattle area and so a few pesky rain drops aren’t going to deter me from a good shopping trip.
I know it might sound odd, but there are times throughout my hectic schedule that working in my home office is really going to my “happy place.” I think it is because it is a space that offers limited distractions and maximum efficiency. Plus, I have made small decorative touches that are personal, motivational and aesthetic. Despite being somewhat of a cramped space, it has a good vibe.
One of the ways that I help keep it an efficient and productive space, is the handy reach and purposeful storage of some of my favorite office supplies. In a wide spectrum of functional to sentimental, pricey to pretty cheap, here are my must-haves in no particular order: