Creating a Life Free From Chaos

Simplify Your Dining Room

Simplify Your Dining RoomThis week’s clean-up project is the dining room. Eating together as a family is a great way to reconnect, and whether you have a formal dining room, eat-in kitchen or both, a streamlined, pretty dining area will make the experience even more special. Here are some guidelines to help you organize and simplify your eating space.

  • Decide what functions take place in your dining room. Is it strictly for eating, or is it also used for office work, kids’ art projects, homework, entertaining, crafts? Remove everything that isn’t directly related to those functions.
  • Now clear off the table. You can’t do any of the functions listed above if you can’t find the table.
  • If you have storage pieces in your dining room, such as built-ins, curio cabinets or bookcases, clean them out so they only contain items related to the functions of your dining room. It’s great to store extra dishes, entertaining pieces, placemats and tablecloths in the dining room. It is not great to store extra toilet paper, bed linens or toys in the dining room.
  • If you use the dining table as an office space, find a place to store your office supplies and files so they aren’t always on the table. A rolling file cabinet, some baskets or a pretty box can hide office paraphernalia so you can enjoy your dinner.
  • Some people like to keep the table set for a meal all the time as decor. I have cats and kids, so I don’t do that. But I do like my table clear, with a simple centerpiece of candles or flowers, so I’m ready to set as soon as we’re ready to eat.
  • If you have kids and upholstered chairs, consider throwing together some simple seat protectors to protect your seating.
  • Dust off your light fixture, and if you can, add a dimmer to your overhead lighting to instantly add ambiance to any meal.
  • After every meal, clean the table. It’s annoying to find crusty sauce and milk splatters on the table hours after your last meal. Check under the table too for spills and crumbs.
  • Don’t forget to decorate. A few pictures on the wall, some simple curtains and a couple of candles can make the dining area feel more cozy and welcoming.

Kill More Energy Vampires: Save Energy Easily with This Tip

You already know to plug your electronics, cell phone chargers, and the like into power strips and turn them off when you’re not home.

You already know to power down computers and unplug your toaster when you’re not using them.

You already know to adjust your thermostat 2 degrees to save on heating/cooling or to use a programmable thermostat to control the temps when you’re not home.

Here’s a tip for conserving even more vampire energy. Do you have rechargeable batteries, electric toothbrushes, Dustbusters or other small appliances that need to recharge between uses? Are you leaving them plugged in all the time between uses? You don’t have to!

I have a Sonicare toothbrush that I used to leave plugged in all time — the brush stayed on its charging base the entire 23 hours 55 minutes a day I wasn’t using it. Then one day, I unplugged it. The brush still worked. The next day, the brush still worked. A week later, the brush was fine. TWO WEEKS LATER, I finally plugged the base back in for a few hours just because I was *sure* the toothbrush was going to die soon.

I started unplugging my Dustbuster too, and only plug the base back in when the vacuum starts to sound a little weak. Try it. You might be surprised how long those items can really hold their charge!

Happy Earth Day!

25 MORE Uses for Baby Wipes Containers

babywipesUpdate: This post is so popular, I came up with even more ideas for reusing these awesome little boxes. Check out 101 Ways to Reuse Baby Wipes Containers!

I wrote this post on 50 Uses for Those Rectangular Baby Wipes Containers over a year ago, and it’s been one of my most popular entries. In response to reader feedback, here are 25 more uses for baby wipes containers (that’s 75 uses I’ve given you — there’s no excuse to throw them away)!

  1. Storing toddler dental supplies (toothbrush, toothpaste, floss, timer)
  2. Storing cassette tapes or mini-DV tapes for your video camera
  3. Organizing garage sale stuff like pricing labels, batteries, small extension cord for testing appliances
  4. A cash box for your garage sale or Girl Scout cookie sale
  5. Holding condiments, utensils, napkins and other small dining supplies in your desk drawer at work
  6. Holding reusable cleaning rags
  7. Storing kids’ puzzles after the box breaks
  8. Storing pieces for board games
  9. Closet emergency kit — fill with a small sewing kit, double-sided tape, safety pins, a lint brush and static spray for wardrobe mishaps
  10. Shoe-polishing kit — fill with shoe polish, rags and brushes, leather wipes and deodorizing spray for keeping your shoes fresh
  11. Storing office supplies such as paper clips, binder clips, extra staples, erasers, you name it
  12. Touch-up paint kit — keep small jars of touch-up wall paint and small paint brushes for easy wall upkeep
  13. Home repair kit — keep a screwdriver, screws and nails, a small hammer, picture hangers, and other small items for doing minor home repairs on the fly
  14. Store your iPhone, iPod, cell phone or other mp3 player supplies — extra cases, charging cords, earphones
  15. Child’s treasure box — kids like to collect little treasures everywhere they go — let them store in something small so the collection doesn’t get out of hand
  16. Organize notepads, Post-its, and pens for your message center
  17. Store extra keys — but label them first!
  18. Store extra votive and tea light candles
  19. Storing baby socks
  20. Organizing scrapbooking supplies — keep pens, glue, stickers, tape wheels, precut lettering and decor, scissors, die-cuts, etc.
  21. Storing baby’s supplies — petroleum jelly, diaper cream, lotion
  22. Holding all those extra business cards
  23. Storing stuff for your gym locker — padlock, deodorant, comb, hair bands, extra socks
  24. Collecting bottle tops until you can finally enter all those Coke codes
  25. You can corral 2 Wii nun-chucks or 2 Wii remotes with sleeves in one box. Other game system components work too, but Wii is what I know.