Sunday, May 01, 2011

Life Hacks

I suppose I should write something political and brilliant tonight, but I don't process politics well anymore. I have generally avoided the news since I got pregnant with Nico. The world just gets too scary too often, there are too many horrible stories involving bad things happening to children, so I disconnected. I haven't regretted it yet, to be honest. I usually hear about anything worth knowing via email, Twitter, or facebook and can choose to read more or not. Usually I choose not.

Anyway, nothing serious tonight. Nothing funny, either. So how about something practical? A few months ago on my message board, we got on the surprisingly-interesting topic of using baskets to organize the sundry crap that tends to always be floating around the house. My friend Rachel said that since buying a bunch of baskets for her household's sundry crap, she felt like her life had improved at least 10 percent. Our friend Dawn said she felt like a 10 percent improvement was pretty significant, and I realized she was right. Then I started thinking about the little things we've done around our house over the last year or so to organize and how those little percentages here and there really do add up and increase my general contentment. And then I thought well, hey...if someone had told me about these years ago, I would've done this stuff before. Maybe somebody else might be interested? Now, months later, I am finally getting around to writing the post. I am certain I'm not the only person to think of these, but perhaps they'll be new to somebody.

1. Baskets
Yep, baskets. Love them. Any size, any material, I love them. It's a good thing that we don't have a Container Store here. Things that we keep in baskets:   remotes, cords, and chargers for electronics; boxes and bags of tea and hot chocolate; bags of chocolate chips and other baking supplies that tend to slide around on the pantry shelf; various Nico toys and board books; washcloths in our linen closet; the zillion bottles of lotion I have somehow amassed.

2. Key hooks
I can't believe we lived in this house for more than three years before it finally occurred to me to buy and install a little rack upon which to hang our keys. It really should've occurred to me earlier, especially since we've had a small bathroom peg rack in the breakfast nook / mudroom for ages that we use to hang up Indy's leash, car harness, and extra collar.

3. Plastic storage tubs
I could max out a credit card buying these. I love them...looooooove them! I've been sorting all of Nico's outgrown clothes by size, and I use them at work to keep all of my program supplies organized. Boxes would work, too, but there's something much more satisfying about a nice, neat stack of identical Sterilite tubs.

4. Bowl caps
We live in an old house and our kitchen cabinets are long overdue for replacement. We won't be paying to redo the kitchen anytime soon, however, so something had to be done about the fine dust that constantly sifts down into the mixing bowls when the silverware drawer opens and closes. My parents have the same problem in their house, so I feel pretty certain that at least one or two other people do as well. One day I had an epiphany. I went to the store and bought a plastic shower cap with elastic edging. Once the bowls are nested, fit a shower cap over the more dust!

5. Vinyl zip-up bags
You know those zip-up vinyl bags that you get when you buy bedding? Save them! My mom has used hers for years to store knitting yarn. I don't knit, but I always saved my bedding bags anyway. And lo, they have shown their worth. Nico's crib has a built-in drawer underneath which is the perfect size for storing his extra sheets and mattress pads (and when he was younger, his swaddlers and sleep sacks). The problem is, no matter how often I clean his room, dust and dog hair end up kicking up into the drawer. Hence, the vinyl zip-up bags. I also have used some to store the oodles of tiny baby toys we ended up with, all the rattles and crinkle toys and chewable items that Nico has outgrown. I suppose you could use them for just about anything.

6. The crib sheet trick
Another message board friend gets all the credit for this one. When making the baby's bed, cover the mattress with a waterproof fitted pad and a fitted crib sheet, per usual. Then lay the largest flat waterproof baby pad you can find (we have the store-brand version of these) on top and cover that with a second fitted crib sheet. When the baby spits up or pees out of a diaper in the middle of the night, you can rip off the top sheet and pad and put him or her back to bed on the backup sheet. It's a pretty tight squeeze to get the second fitted sheet on, but this trick is worth it. I haven't tried it on a twin bed, but I suppose it might be possible.

There are probably more, but I can't think of them. Do you have any tricks for keeping your stuff from driving you crazy (or just generally simplifying your life)?

Reading:  The Book of the Dun Cow by Walter Wangerin

Playing:  Sigh No More by Mumford & Sons

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