Friday, October 14, 2011

Elfa Carts

Elfa is an exclusive line to The Container Store.  It is shelving, accessories and carts.

The carts look like dressers in that they have drawers.  The carts come in three different heights and widths, wheels or no wheels, tops or no tops.  The drawers also come in different widths and depths.  I recommend getting tops and wheels.  They are more versatile that way.

I have four Elfa carts - three of the largest and one medium size.  The three large ones are used to store Legos, cds, remotes, scrapbooks and supplies, purses and various other items.  The fourth one is the perfect size to put next to the office desk for paper, pens etc.

They can also be used for clothing, in the kitchen to hold soup cans, snacks, garbage bags, ziploc bags, or in a guest bedroom to store linens and towels etc.

I use the tops to put jewelry boxes, scrapbooks and one even has a t.v. on it.

They are easy to put together (no tools necessary, except something to hit the pieces into place).  The strength is also great. Technically there is no weight limit but be smart - don't put three heavy items in the bottom drawer.


Thursday, October 13, 2011


Ribbon makes a present so pretty and adds a nice touch.  How do you contain them nicely?

Some ways were discussed in the Wrapping Paper and such post but there are actual boxes, normally called dispensers, made for ribbons.  They can be cardboard or plastic and have holes in the front for the ribbon to "dispense" from.  Here is an example: ribbon dispenser Some also have sections for scissors and tape.

Gift Bags

Gift bags are handy for weird shaped presents and a quick wrap job.  They are also hard to contain neatly. 

The most efficient and neat way is to get a hanging gift bag organizer This is similar to the hanging gift wrap organizer.  It has different size pockets for various size bags and tissue paper etc.  It is also double-sided.

It's really the only good way I've found for organizing gift bags.  You can always put the bags inside of bigger bags or in a box but you have to dig though them to find the right size and occasion bag.

Wrapping Paper and such

What to do with all of your gift wrap, bags, ribbons and bows? Well, there are many options depending on the amount and type of space you have.  I will dedicate the next few posts to them.

Gift Wrap

If you have floor space, I recommend getting a long under-the-bed container and fill it with 3 small boxes for bows, tape and scissors and one shoe box for ribbons.  The idea comes from The Container Store: Under-the-Bed Storage

The plus side of this type of storage is that it fits neatly under the bed and all the accessories are in one handy spot.  However, the down side is it only fits certain rolls of paper. If you have long rolls they don't fit.  There is also not an organized space for scraps of paper.

If you have hanging space use this organizer Hanging Gift Wrap Organizer This can hold about 2-4 rolls on 2 sides.  It has pockets for ribbon, bows, scissors, tape, gift bags and/or scraps of paper!

The plus side, again, is that it holds everything in one spot and it takes up very little space.  The downside is if it is not full of wrapping paper it doesn't stay straight up.  It will flop around and be annoying.  Overall, though, I love it.

There are also carts such as this: Wrapping Paper Cart This one has drawers, a flat top, a holder for wrap, and a little "arm" for spools of ribbon. They seem super cool but I've never had one.

On the plus side (from what I can tell) is it's on wheels (easy mobility) and it has a flat top to wrap presents on.  The downside is that the top is usually small and, therefore, hard to use rolls of paper to wrap. 

Another option is to use a specifically made wrapping paper bag.  They look bulky and weak to me but I've never tried it.

What's the best you ask?  Depends on what you are looking for, what type of space you have and often you need it.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Greeting Cards

Last year I decided to take up the task of sending birthday cards, get well, sympathy and other cards to family and friends.  Right up until she died, my Grandma Keene sent cards for every occasion to many friends and family.  When she passed, I inherited her unused cards.  I also inherited my Grandma-in-law's cards when she passed.  Then when my Grandma Hall moved, I also got her cards.  As you can imagine I have probably a couple hundred cards.  How to find the right card for the right occasion?

You are expecting me to say: "There are boxes designed for sorting greeting cards that already are divided into categories."  These are great if you have a handful of cards.  However, with the amount I have they are not big enough.

I divided them into categories: birthday, Christmas, sympathy, thank you etc.  Then I placed them in clear shoe boxes, labeled them and stacked them on a shelf three-high.  You don't want to go past three-high otherwise it is hard to get them back down without everything toppling on you.

I also have a small basket full of just my current favorite birthday cards so each month I can sit down and write birthday cards without sorting through all of them. It also include stamps, a pen, my address book and my book that dates everyone's birthday.

I send the cards a few days before their birthday.  I remember when to send them by utilizing my Outlook calendar.  Wall calendars, pocket calendars or any other method that works for you is fine.

Remember, it doesn't have be a long card or have a special saying.  It can be a blank card that simply says, "Dear___ We hope you have a wonderful day.  Happy Birthday!  Sincerely ____"

I was surprised by the reaction I got: phone calls, thank-you notes and even hugs.



I have a lot of shelving in my place.  Unfortunately, I rent an apartment so I can't mount anything to the walls or tear out a wall to insert more shelving.  So, I make the most of what I have.

Shelves are great for getting items out of boxes and off the floor.  Remember if you don't have a lot of floor space, you can use vertical space.  Most shelving you can find at Fred Meyer, Target or a similar store.

I have two (one big and one skinny) sets of standing DVD shelves. Movies are arranged in alphabetical order.

I have three book cases. One full books, one that is half full of books and half full of games and the other is partially filled with books and movies.  That last book case is in my bedroom with my portable DVD player so I can leave the DVDs that I watch in there while the rest are filed away in the proper spot.

I also have a "cube" shelf that contains 9 cubes.  Most of these types of shelves are stackable, I just have one.  The shelves contain, among other things:
-Extra computer paper that doesn't fit in the drawer I use
-Wedding cards that fit neatly into a box.
-Small scrapbooks/photo albums

You can also get fabric totes that fit perfectly into the cubes to contain loose items neatly.


Old Scrapbooks

I decided to get rid of more stuff by going through old scrapbooks and toss anything that doesn't still have meaning.

Scrapbooking is fun and it can be nice going down memory lane. However, keeping everything just takes up more room.  I use regular three-ring binders for some of my scrapbooks.  It can be easier and faster then the larger scrapbooks.  Instead of tossing the tickets or photos or whatever inside the plastic sleeve, remember to use acid free glue, tape, or photo corners to arrange on a piece of regular paper.  Write on the back of the item and on the page what each document/photo is.  Otherwise, you will forget why the item is important or what it is. You can keep some items just not every ticket for anything you've ever done.

For example, I graduated from high school 12 years ago.  I was on the dance team and before most performances, someone would post an encouraging sign on my locker door.  While that was sweet, I did not need to keep all of them.  So, I recycled them.

My scrapbooks contained ticket stubs from almost every movie or sporting event I attended.  I decided I did not need the movie tickets, especially since I didn't remember going to that particular movie and who I went with.  I kept some of the sporting event tickets.  I live in Seattle and while growing up, going to a Mariners game at the Kingdome was exciting.  For those who follow professional baseball know that the Kingdome no longer exists.  I kept them, along with the tickets for the new field, Safeco.  I recycled the rest. 

Next, toss any pages that are not acid-free.  The ones that the plastic cover pulls away from the actual page are not acid free and damage the backside of the item.  Who cares about the backside? Well, if you decide to move the item to a different page, the backside sticks and you could rip the entire document/photo while trying to remove it from the page.  Eventually, they will damage the front side as well.  Trade them in for acid-free plastic sleeves

I saved a lot of room!  For high school I had 2 binders that I consolidated into 1.  For college, I had 3 that I consolidated into 1.   I think I will donate my empty scrapbooks.  Or, keep them for organizing more items that are important (not every item) as I go through more mementos.

Have fun going down memory lane!