The magical wonders of baskets and trays

I am slowly but steadily working this house toward a state of organized splendor. If you dropped by today, you would not be aware of progress – but it’s happening, people! It is happening!

Ignoring the messes that need attention, I have been focused on what I call the magical wonders of baskets and trays. Critical to any home organization effort is the humble basket and its companion, the tray. My beloved Pottery Barn sells a wide selection of gorgeous baskets and trays – although I buy the Target knock-offs. We have them all over this house and they help us in many ways.

First up, the trays:

Trays are a great way to de-clutter surfaces where things collect that get daily use – there’s no point in “putting them away” only to pull them right back out.

bathroom counter

side table in family room

My next example is not pretty – and to point out the obvious, none of these pictures are “styled” because who are we kidding!?! Most of us drop junk on the kitchen counter that sits for days. Rather than having it strewn all over, I like to have a junk tray:

things that need attention

My friend Kristina’s junk tray literally never looks messier than say one receipt and a spare key. It kills me. The woman is Judo Master of Organization.

books and photo cards in the front entry

OK, moving on to baskets! We generally don’t wear shoes in our house, so I keep shoe baskets in the garage and in the laundry room for all of the kids’ shoes and the ones I wear most often – super convenient as we head out the door! Here are some other ways we are using baskets…

a “to do” basket on my desk

our collection of liquers for coffee

magazines on the coffee table

junk that lives on the kitchen desk

leftover wine for cooking and kitchen utensils

a basket to hide our coffee making supplies

sugar for my sweetie

keurig supplies in the cabinet

I’ve been showing you close-ups of baskets which is probably less reinforcing than seeing them in context. This next picture really captures the magical wonders of baskets:

all nice and neat – and hiding this…

who would want to look at this?!?


hidden in plain sight

reading material by the sofa and my comfy chair

a basket under our coffee table serves as a favorite kitty cat napping spot

There is one down side to baskets – and it’s a big one. They hide stuff. No, really. You can easily forget what’s in there. This junk basket sat out in our kitchen for a year before I decided to hide it in the laundry room – and then it got worse!

the dangers of junk baskets

Let this be a cautionary tale! USE YOUR BASKETS WISELY. The key to great organization is really not “storage” but “processes” meaning it’s only organized if you work at keeping it organized. every. single. day. which is not the fun part of being organized. (Yes, there is a fun part of being organized!) More to come…



This month in the yard: January

I’ve abandoned my series “This month in the yard” since late Fall because it’s an ugly time of year here in The Cove. It’s cold and wet and GRAY and all the trees are bare. Bryan teases me because every Winter I talk about moving and every Spring I run around saying, Isn’t it amaaaaaaazing to live here!?! It’s so beauuuuuutiful!!!

The only color in the yard right now is the Nandina that sit in front of the dining room window. They’re small and not really the most beautiful shrubs in terms of shape, but the color compensates.

After the debacle of last year’s Southern Living inspired Kimmy’s Landscaping Plan, I learned valuable lessons, as follows:

  1. It’s way harder than it looks. Estimate the time and expense and then multiply by 3 gazillion.
  2. Those sweeping flowerbeds in Southern Living include more flowers than you could buy if you raided the entire stock of your local garden center. I planted so many flowers and my flowerbeds still looked pawltry – truly pathetic.
  3. It’s alarming how fast Cana Lillies grow and spread. Gardener beware! I have got to move mine this Spring for fear they will eat the front entry!
  4. Simple is good.
  5. The easiest flowers to grow are Lantana.

This Fall, I was driving slowly past a house in the neighborhood with gorgeous landscaping and noticed something: they had very little variety and most of it was evergreen shrubbery. They had layers of Cleyera (common green shrub), Loropetulum (purple shurb) and Nandina (orange/red/green shrub). It looked beautiful. It looks beautiful all year long. No special care required other than occasional pruning. Over-achievers might fertilize. That’s it.

So, if I muster the energy to do anything to our flowerbeds this Spring – and I am sure I will in my exuberance for Spring – I will add Loropetulum and Nandina. I might plant Lantana because the flowers grow quickly and stay colorful all summer. That’s it. We have plenty of regular ol’ green shrubs as background.

‘Purple Diamond®’ Loropetalum - Combining colorful flowers and foliage with controlled growth, Purple Diamond® is a gem. Unlike some other loropetalums that can swallow your house, this one grows 4 to 5 feet tall and wide. Showy pink flowers appear in spring and sometimes summer. Deep, rich purple foliage holds its color all season.  Evergreen.

Firehouse Dwarf Nandina  evergreen, red fall color  This dwarf variety holds that red fire engine color all Winter. It has a compact mounding form with bright green Spring foliage.  prune, selectively cut the stalks and stagger the heights of each cane instead of cutting them all off to the same height.  - resistant to deer, drought, heat & humidity, pollution, rabbits, seashore, slope, and wind

Lantana hot gorgeous orange!


Project 2 – The Refrigerator

It was time to tackle The Refrigerator…

Remember the NFL defensive lineman “Refrigerator Perry“?

OK, I didn’t have to actually, literally (as my children would say) tackle Refrigerator Perry, but I did need to clean out our fridge because I am an organizing machine in 2015! And because someone knocked over a jug of sweet tea and it coated everything in the fridge with sticky goodness. Sometimes organization projects just come right at you!

You may recall that I did a big refrigerator organization a year or so ago – grouped ‘like with like’ in bins and added labels which my family members ignore. (Sigh.) So re-organizing it wasn’t too hard. I emptied the fridge to clean it out, then shuffled the shelves a bit to make the heavy milk jugs easier for Michael to handle.

How do you like the bins and labels???

Drop by later for some mealworms, OK? Just kidding – those are for Michael’s pet lizard and yes, the worms creep me out. #amotherslove

Project 1 – Revamp Closet

You: Kim, why are your clothes piled up in the bath tub?

Me: Hey, that’s a great question! I’m revamping my closet! So so so exciting!

Actually, our air conditioner leaked and caused water damage in Bryan’s closet and mine. (Grrr.) So, we had to replace the carpet and a little drywall. After 7 years in this house, it is like an archaeological dig to empty our closets – but – it’s a great first project for Operation Organization 2015!!! (That’s my New Year’s Resolution – I gave it an inspiring name so it will feel less like work.)

Alfonso, our handyman/contractor/friend, corrected everything before Christmas, so now we are doing the fun part. Alfonso and Jesus are taking out the old shelving, repainting, and installing wood shelving. Also, Alfonso has been saying nice things to Bryan like, Your wife doesn’t have a lot of clothes or shoes compared to most women. (I swear I don’t tip him to say things like that! Bryan is unconvinced.)

Here’s my inspiration… from Pinterest, of course.

I’ll let you know how it all works out!

Getting organized in 2015!!!

Lets talk about New Year’s resolutions…

via Pinterest

One of the many nice things about being unemployed for half of 2014 is that I was able to get us just a teeny bit organized. Before marriage and kids, I was insanely organized. Every hanger in my closet matched and was two finger widths apart. Always. I managed my finances with a color-coded binder and launched initiatives with spiffy names like “Operation Financial Freedom”. My CDs were organized by genre. (See how long ago this was? I played CDs!!!) My idea of a messy room was seeing a pair of shoes thrown carelessly in the floor. I spent hours several hours cleaning my 800 f² (74 m²) apartment every Saturday morning. Why? I had the time – and – the simplicity of organization is freeing. I miss that feeling of freedom – freedom from clutter, freedom from hunting for a roll of tape or a button, or that black top I like more than this black top… So, one of my resolutions for 2015 is to implement more organization into our home and our routines. The timing is right because this is a new year and the kids are old enough to help.

via Pinterest

CUE THE CHORUS OF ANGELS! Look at that photo! This could be MY life! This could be YOUR life!

Organized people say irritating things like this: “A place for everything and everything in its place.” It’s cringe-worthy but true. Organization is not hard. The trick is ensuring everything has an official place to be – someplace logical to group things that are similar. Second, you have to spend a little time each day maintaining it. This is challenging when no one in your house understands the organizational structure or cares about maintaining the organizational structure – even possibly actively undermines your maintenance of the organizational structure.

via Pinterest, of course…

The third trick to organization is actually the most important: you can’t own so much stuff. I am prompting myself on this one knowing that the less you own, the faster you can clean it up, alphabetize it, color code it, etc. The 4th trick is you don’t need much storage if you follow trick #3. Storage is the enemy of organization because it encourages you to keep things you don’t actually use or need.

As part of my “get organized in 2015” New Year’s resolution, I am committed to owning less stuff: If it isn’t getting used, let’s give it away – and not replace it. I gave some stuff away today and it felt great, so here’s to more of that!

I am so ready for some organization! Who’s with me?!?