Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Ten Tips from the Texas Homestead

I just returned to New York City after a long weekend with my family down in the small Texas town where I grew up. I spent time with my mom, my sister and brother-in-law, and their two sweet children. It’s always nice to be back home in Texas, despite the heat (which I actually miss). 

Enjoying some frosty beverages last weekend
One of my favorite things about visiting home, aside from filling up on Tex-Mex and swimming with my niece and nephew at the pool where I used to lifeguard, is that I get to stay with my mom in the house where I was raised. This was my first trip home since Christmas, just before I officially launched Urban Simplicity. On this visit, I noticed some of my mom’s organizational habits and was inspired to write this blog post. 

This week, I’m sharing ten of my mom’s best organizational tips and tricks. Straight from her Texas home to yours. And trust me, she’s a retired teacher, so she knows a thing or two about organization.

1. Invest in the amazing key hook. You’ll never again fish for your keys at the bottom of your purse. Seriously, my mom and I swear by this thing.      

2. Label expiration dates on food in your pantry. My mom uses the old, reliable Sharpie marker. You’ll be able to quickly dispose of items that are past their fresh dates. It’s a good idea to label spices as well.

3. Use one large, clear plastic container to store plastic bowls and lids. So often, take-out containers are spilling out of kitchen cabinets. Put them into a container to keep them organized. When the container is full, it’s time to throw some away.

4. Consider these cleaning tips. Keep cleaning supplies in one area of your home so you know what you have and avoid buying duplicates. Keep your vacuum centrally located so it’s easily accessible in any area of your home. And find a good multi-purpose cleaner to keep it simple.

5. Label makeup so you can quickly identify it. All of my mom’s Laura Mercier eye shadow has the same packaging, so she struggled to quickly find what she needed in the mornings. This is a particularly good tip if your eyesight isn’t what it used to be!

6. Keep a small notebook in your car to track maintenance and repairs. For example, you can keep track of oil changes, mileage, repairs, and save any necessary receipts or warranties all in one place. I remember my mom telling me to do this when I got my first car. It works well and is a very simple system to maintain.

7. Get rid of shoeboxes. They are popular homes for critters (lots of those down in Texas) and silverfish. Use plastic shoeboxes instead. I didn’t only inherit my organizing instincts from my mom. We’re also both very fond of shoes.

8.  Create a binder for manuals and instruction books for household purchases. Label and file them alphabetically in sheet protectors.

9. Create a bill-paying basket. If you haven’t moved to paying your bills online, this is a great option.  In addition to monthly bills as they arrive, include your checkbook, stamps, envelopes, return address labels, and your favorite pen.

10. Use a hanging jewelry organizer. No one has the drawer space to keep jewelry organized in trays (not even in large Texas homes), and these organizers hang easily in closets. 

Thanks, Mom, for these fantastic tips! 

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