Thursday, February 20, 2014

How To: Game Closet Organization

Last weekend during nap time, I decided to organize our game closet.  If you follow me on Instagram (which I think you should!), you already knew this, and you're here for the dirty details.  I found the idea for this on Pinterest (you should also follow me on there).  Here is the original link for the instructions I followed.  I modified them for what worked for our storage space.  I found this bin at Walmart.  I was there already shopping when I spotted this.  I had not previously measured the space, so I assumed it would fit.  It did not fit with the wheels, but (WHEW), it did fit without the wheels.  Make sure you take measurements of your storage space, and then keep them in your purse/wallet in case you happen to be out and about and spot a great storage item.

The first thing I did was remove all of the games from the closet and place them on my bed.

BEFORE shot:

The closet is now empty!  A blank slate.

Then I started with one game, made sure I had all pieces and instructions.  If not, and the game was not "play-able" due to missing pieces, the entire thing when into the trash!  I did not have any games that my kids have outgrown yet, but if you find games you don't play, donate them.  Make a trash pile and a donate pile.

If I had all the parts, I folded the board, used my label maker to title the game it belongs to on the back of the board, and placed it in the bottom drawer of my new storage container.

Then I took all of the game pieces and instructions, and put them in a plastic bag.  I labeled the bag with a permanent marker with the name of the game, and placed the bag in the top drawer.

There were some game boards that were too large, and some games that had nice containers.  I decided to keep those separate on the shelf in the closet.

Once I had everything labeled, I threw out recycled the old game boxes.  If you have anything for donations, keep them in a designated space in the garage for donation items.  The Master Calendar will let you know when it is time for a drop off.  Of course, if your pile gets too big, you can donate whenever you need to!

Finally, I placed the new game central back in the closet.  Now I have room for my spare sheets!

This mess is history!



Have you organized your games?  What method did you use?  I would love to see your photos.  Tag me on Instagram (@googlinggoddess) of your organized games!

Happy Organizing!!!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Income Tax Checklist Printable

Here we are, smack dab into the middle of next week already. Last week, I said I would have a tax checklist for you...LAST WEEK! I do apologize for not providing it. I had something come up at my day job that took precedence.

Let's take a detour first and talk about recent Google searches:

"bloglovin" (this is my favorite way to read my favorite blogs)
"geocaching" (sounds intriguing, I'm researching further)
"home decorators collection shoe bench" (possible addition to the master closet)
"what does the star mean in the elevator shaft" (tiny tower question)
"are cocoa pebbles gluten free" (yes)
"best books for 12 year old boys" (for a friend)

What have you researched lately?

Back on track with this tax printable. Since I did not deliver when initially promised, I am going to give this printable to you for FREE. Download it HERE, and then continue reading for tips on how to use the checklist and organize your tax paperwork.

Let's talk about taxes and paper organization for a minute. We can't do much about what you did last year, so for now, separate all of your papers into the categories on first page of the checklist. Paperclip each section together, place a sticky note on the front of the package, title it, and place a dollar value if applicable (i.e., total medical expense amount). This may take awhile if you didn't keep things organized last year, so don't be discouraged if you don't get it all done in one night. AND! Leave yourself plenty of time between now and April 15th to complete this project. No procrastinating!

Since it is still early in the year, you can get your paperwork in order now so that taxes next year will be a breeze. I keep one filing box in my desk for my tax files. When the year is over, the files are removed and replaced with new files for the next year.

I have a desk that has hanging file folders. With regard to taxes, I keep one each of the following files in this drawer:

Taxes. I keep the previous year's tax prep file here. I move the year before to storage in the garage.

Income. Any 1099s or W-2s, job search expenses (clothing, mileage, food purchases, etc.), job related moving expenses, etc. all go in this file.

Dependent #1. I name a file for each of my children. I keep anything not medically related in this file. Extra curricular expenses, educational expenses, childcare expenses, etc.

Dependent #2 and Dependent #3. ^^^SAME

Medical. I file all medical expenses here. Receipts for prescriptions, mileage reports, bills for doctor visits, etc.

Vehicles. Anything related to the cars go here. DMV receipt for registration, receipts for repairs, gas receipts, etc.

Household. File household improvement items here. Receipts, invoices, etc.

Home Documents. Property tax bills, mortgage statements, insurance policy, etc.

Pets. Vet bills, mileage reports, etc.

Donations. Keep receipts for donations, that slip Goodwill gives you when you do a drop off (ask for one if they do not offer), etc.

When I receive a bill, I pay it, then write on the portion of the bill I keep for my records:

"Paid 01.01.14
Check #123
Mailed 01.02.14"

Staple anything that goes together so you don't accidentally add the same expense twice. Now I can easily reference the amounts when I am adding my like categories together.

Speak with a tax professional to find out what income, adjustments, and deductions are appropriate for you.

Now, when tax time comes around, I pull out each folder, paperclip everything together, put a sticky note on the front that says the category and the total:


Stack everything together, answer the (lengthy, but trust me, useful for your accountant) questionnaire, and slap the checklist and the questionnaire on top of your paperwork, rubberband together, and you are ALL SET! Easy peasy.

Happy Tax Return Organizing!

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

February Master Calendar Prep

Right off the bat, I'm sharing my recent Google searches:

"gluten is my bitch"
"gluten free detox" (My son had gluten on Sunday, and he's feeling it this week. I'm trying to find a detox for him - one that he finds acceptable to consume - to rid his system of this.)
"build with chrome" (from The Lego Movie!)
"up light or down light for the bathroom" (the answer was neither)
"berg cloud printer" (cutest printer EVER)

What did you research today?

In reviewing the Master Calendar for February, you should get started on collecting all of your recipes and cookbooks in one place. Print out all of those recipes you Pin or Bookmark on your computer. Just keep them in a pile for now.

You can get a separate binder for your recipes, or place them in the "Food" section of your Family Binder. Or, create a "Recipe" section in the Family Binder.

Also take this time to collect old coupons and menus. Sort and declutter. Throw away expired coupons. Put coupons that you will use and that are still good in your wallet or purse. Add the item to your next grocery list so you don't forget to use them. Menus should be kept in one place, perhaps in a pocket folder in the "Food" section of your Family Binder.

Next, set up dividers. You may want to categorize your recipes by ingredient (i.e., pork, poultry, pasta, etc.), or by food type (i.e., gluten free, dairy free, egg free, etc.), or by course (i.e., appetizers, salads, main, dessert, etc.). Whatever works best for you is how you should do it. Maybe you will try one way and decide you don't like it! You can always change your method! One thing I would suggest. Use this time to write your favorite meals/recipes (just the title) in one list. You can reference this during your weekly meal planning. You could also create a divider for the front of your binder called "Favorites", and keep all of your most used recipes right there for easy access!

Next, declutter your cookbooks. Did you receive a cookbook as a gift that you really don't use? Is there a cookbook that seems to have obscure ingredients, or is beyond your skill level? Maybe you want to keep it for the beautiful pictures. As a rule of thumb, if you haven't used the cookbook in the last year, get rid of it. Donate it. Gift it. Or, if you really want to keep it, put it in the back of your cookbook storage so that it is not taking up visual space. Put it in your family bookcase. Put it in a box in the attic.

Next, declutter your paper recipes. Printed, on cards, ripped from magazines, etc. If you haven't made the dish within the last year, toss it. OR, keep it out AND MAKE IT. If you like it, incorporate it in your binder. If not, throw it in the trash. You can put the printed recipes or magazine papers in plastic sleeves. If you want to keep the recipe cards, find a divided plastic sleeve to insert them into.

Finally, insert your dividers into the binder, sort your recipes, and insert them into the appropriate section. You're all done!

Later this week I will be outlining my checklist for taxes, and the filing procedure I use to keep my taxes organized.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Master Bath DIY Reno and Storage/Organization Tips: Part One

Happy Monday, blog world! How was your weekend? Here in California, we were having unseasonably sunshiny, and warm weather. The rain finally came at the end of last week. I absolutely love the rain, so I enjoyed my rainy weekend.

I was so excited to see the participation in my giveaway on Instagram! Check in and "Like" my Facebook page for another giveaway, which will be happening soon!

Recent Google searches...

"tea party activities" (my girlfriend is throwing an ADORABLE tea party for her daughter's birthday)
"The Container Store Orla Kiely" (OH. EM. GEE. You must check this out right now!)
"Jonathon Adler Decorative Tape" (<--- and ^^^ are definitely going on my 30 Day Wait List)
"How to change my Windows 8 Lock Screen"
"famous photo Sophia Loren"
"how to remove soap build up from shower doors"

What have you been researching?

Let's jump right in. As I mentioned in my first ever blog post, we recently bought a house. It was actually one year on January 31st! We have been doing home improvements little by little. I am sharing with you today some of the work we did in our master bath. It is still a work in progress (hence, the "Part One" in the title), but it is almost complete, and I am confident that "Part Two" will be ready shortly.

Here is the "before" shot of the master bathroom:

The first thing we did was remove the carpet, and stain the concrete that was beneath the carpet. I outlined this treatment when we did the same thing to our laundry room. You can read about that here.

Next, we painted one wall red, and did a gel stain on the cabinets with a dark espresso color. We followed these instructions when we did our kitchen (we did the kitchen first, but that will be a future post). We followed those instructions to the letter for the kitchen. Here are the changes we made when we did the work for the master bath, the kid's bath, and the laundry room (as you can tell, we like this treatment):

The second time around, we didn't use the sanding block. We used something called a "deglosser". Ask about it at your local hardware store. You rub it on the wood with a cloth, and it is supposed to do the same job as sanding. It was much easier, in my opinion, than sanding everything. And it worked.

Gloves. LOTS AND LOTS of gloves.

Gel stain. You actually CAN substitute the gel stain mentioned in that blog. We used another brand, and our results came out great. The product referenced was pretty expensive since we could not purchase it locally. We did our kitchen cabinets, both bathroom cabinets, and laundry room cabinets with less than two gallons.

Use a power drill to remove the screws and hinges if possible. It just saves time, energy, and will help you avoid carpal tunnel.

We tried the sock and weren't impressed. We just used the foam brushes and regular paint brushes.

We did not use painters pyramids. We waited for the one side to dry and then flipped them over. It took a long time. I recommend painters pyramids.

Next, we removed the huge builder grade mirror. We followed this video, except we didn't remove the counter, nor did we have those suction cups. We wore gloves, and we were VERY CAREFUL. There was no damage to the walls behind the mirror, so we just painted it white to match the existing wall, and then hung two matching mirrors we found at Ross.

Then we spray painted everything! We like the oil rubbed bronze treatment, so we purchase oil rubbed bronze spray paint. We sprayed: light switch covers, outlet covers, light fixtures, doorknobs, a basket for storing our towel, and faucets.

Tip: In my experience, things that are "oil rubbed bronze" are more expensive than other finishes, such as "nickel". This WAS a nickel faucet that we purchased for $26. I love the handles. We spray painted it, and now it looks exactly like one I liked that was $88.

Tip: Store your towels near the shower for easy access. We have this small shelf, where this basket fit. We already had the basket, but it was silver, so we just sprayed it!

Tip: Use hooks to hang towels, both for easy access, and to help them dry thoroughly between uses. These are the "sticky" type hooks, and they even came in this oil rubbed bronze finish!

I found this great "thing" at Home Goods. I'm not sure what it was supposed to be, but I'm using it as shelving and a rack for a hand towel. The finish matched, I liked the geometric pattern, and it keeps my counters clear from clutter. Which makes them much easier to clean!

Our toilet is in a separate room connected to the bathroom (for extra privacy, yay!). I found a shelf with a matching finish to hold extra rolls of toilet paper, air freshener, and you could even store feminine products on here.

I also hung this sign over the toilet, which I think is HILARIOUS.  I found it at Hobby Lobby.

That's it for now! I will have more DIY examples, tips, AND the final "After" photo for you when the last of the projects are complete.

Happy DIY and Organizing!!!