Weekend Project: Trash can clean up

If you’re anything like me, you rarely, if ever, think about the trash cans. Maybe if one tips over you’ll think about it, but, for the most part, they’re mentally invisible.

Earlier this week, however, I noticed that my outdoor trash can was stinky. I have no idea what foul thing crawled in there and died, but “maliciously odorous” would aptly explain its stench.

I thought that I’m likely not the only one in such smelly circumstances, and came up with the idea to make a weekend project out of cleaning my cans. So, if you’re looking for a weekend project idea, maybe a trash can clean up is for you, too?

Gather up all of your trash cans (indoor and outdoor) and set them in a paved location near a drain (or take them to a self-service car wash if convenient). Squirt a bit of dishwashing detergent into each can, and then fill the bottoms with a few inches of water. Let the cans soak for at least 15 minutes, and then dump out the soaking water. Give the cans a good cleaning, let them dry in the weekend sun, and then put them back in place.

Your nose will most certainly thank you!

Make those giant speakers into storage

Instructables has a wealth of information and step-by-step instructions on how to make just about anything your heart desires (some things silly and some useful). One interesting item I came across is a way to recycle old floor standing speakers into storage units.

If you have a couple of old-school floor standing speakers taking up space in your basement or attic, you may want to consider retrofitting them into media storage cabinets. The easy to follow steps can be found here.

If you don’t have any speakers of your own to use, you can easily pick up some giant speakers at a consignment shop or gargage sale. The end result is rather unique and a fairly cheap alternative to your run-of-the-mill media storage currently available in stores.

Make your own shoe rack

One of the entries to our house has a rather tight space where we currently keep our shoes. It is very hard to find any sort of storage option that will fit into the small space. I have been searching for something that would do the job and I came across this solution on Apartment Therapy (via Not Martha).

I am one of the least handy people when it comes to household projects, but looking over the directions even I may be able to accomplish an easy installation of this J-Me inspired shoerack. This was exactly what we were looking for and it is also a less expensive alternative to the J-Me product which wouldn’t have fit in the space anyhow.

Make your own collapsible fabric box

Over at Associated Content, they have step-by-step directions on how to make your own collapsible fabric boxes. From the AC article:

Home storage is always in short supply. Often, people resort to using cardboard boxes or plastic cartons to store their items in closets, the attic, or cellars. But many items have to be stored out in the open. A great way of creating quick and attractive storage solutions is by crafting collapsible fabric boxes.

Rather than running out and buying some run-of-the-mill plastic storage bins, you can customize the look by picking out some fabric you may already have. If you are happy with the look of your creation, you can keep the storage box in the open rather than hiding it away in a closet.

Five spring organizing activities

Five quick things you can do now that the weather is warmer:

  1. Take your sweaters and winter coats to the dry cleaner for an end of season cleaning. Then, put them in moth proof storage at the back of your closet.
  2. Soak scarves, gloves and mittens and then lay them in the sun to dry. Afterward, put them in moth proof storage at the back of your coat closet.
  3. Check the expiration date on your sunscreen and replace it if it’s past its prime. If you have more than one bottle of sunscreen in your cabinet, line them up by emptiest to fullest and plan on using up the least-full bottles first.
  4. Check bulletin boards and note centers throughout your home and office and get rid of outdated memos, calendars, and fliers.
  5. Now is also the perfect time for a sock purge. Also go through your underwear and t-shirt drawers and get rid of any items that have seen better days. Replace as necessary.

If you’re looking for even more warmer weather activities, be sure to check out our spring cleaning guide.

Weekend Project: Knick knack round up

I will confess that I have a few knick knacks decorating my home. They don’t serve a great deal of purpose except to bring me happiness when I see them — but I think that’s okay. Surrounding yourself with beautiful things is fine, especially when it helps to set the mood of your home as a place of sanctuary and relaxation.

However, some knick knacks have a way of sticking around past their prime. They can stop representing who you are and what you want for your space. Sometimes, they just seem to appear without anyone remembering how they came to be on that table top or in the corner of the bookshelf.

This weekend, I want you to round up all of your knick knacks and evaluate them. Heck, while you’re processing them, you may even want to give them a good dusting. And, as you’re holding them, I want you to ask yourself the following questions about each item:

  1. Why do I own this and choose to display it?
  2. Does it represent who I am right now and the mood I want to create in my home?
  3. Do I care for this object the best way I can care for it, or is it really just clutter?
  4. Will my place be a better sanctuary or place of relaxation without this object in it?

After asking these questions about each of your knick knacks, make the final decision as to if it should stay and live in your home, or if it should find a new home. Also, if you decide to keep the item, make sure that the place it lives in your home is the best place for it. At the end of my knick knack round up, I chose to keep about 15 items, which meant 1 or 2 per room. Things like our cookie monster cookie jar, an olivetti typewriter, and two vases we received as wedding gifts were allowed to stay, but most objects weren’t right for our space any longer and were donated to charity or freecycled. (I didn’t include picture frames, by the way, but you could definitely include them in your evaluation of knick knacks.)

I’m interested in hearing if you were surprised by the number of knick knacks in your home and if you decided to get rid of anything. Have a great weekend!

Weekend Project: Clear clutter from under furniture

I was reading an organization book many years ago that made the suggestion of hiding random possessions like magazines and children’s toys under your couch. It was such a bizarre suggestion to me. How is cramming something under a couch an organized solution? Yes, it may get it out of the pathway and out of sight, but those items shouldn’t be permanently stored in that manner. Magazines belong in magazine racks or on bookshelves, and children’s toys belong in toy chests or bins. I read the suggestion as a way to create clutter, not curb it.

This weekend, I want you to tackle the spaces under furniture in your home. Are you hiding things under dressers? Under table skirts? Under your couch? Pull out the clutter and find it a permanent home that shows that you honor and respect your belongings. Dust mites and other yucky things don’t belong on your possessions.

If the areas under your furniture are clear of clutter, check the spaces behind your furniture. Have books, pens, or other items fallen out of sight? Has a water cup rolled back behind your headboard?

Good luck unearthing the clutter from under your furniture!

Weekend project

I want you to imagine your dining room table right now. Is it covered in paperwork? Piled high with homework? Stacked with mail or dirty dishes?

If you can’t see the top of your dining room table, what do you need to do to be able to see it?

Whatever it is, do it now. Clean the clutter off of your table and make it a place where you can sit down and eat your meal tonight (and tomorrow and the next …).

If your table is clear, are there other horizontal surfaces in your home cluttered to the point that they aren’t serving their functions? If this is the case, clean the clutter off of those surfaces instead for your weekend task.

When clearing the clutter, don’t just move stacks around, actually take the time to do the job right. Do the work, then enjoy the benefits of your effort!

Pictured is my dining room. The table is by sculptor Michael Sirvet.

Make your own earbud caddy

cable tidyWalking around with an earbud cord that is too long can hinder your range of motion and get in the way. People come in different shapes and sizes, but earbud wires are all one size, which is usually super long. Why not take some time and easily make yourself a little earbud caddy to neatly wrap up that extra wire?

Over at wikiHow, you can easily follow the steps and have yourself a cheap do-it-yourself solution made from material you may have around your house already. Or, if you’re not feeling handy, you can just purchase the one pictured with this article for $2.

Reader inspired charging station

Reader Geek Novice sent us the following photographs:

A detailed explanation can be found on his blog here. His blog is written in Slovene, though, so we were happy that he kindly e-mailed us a few translations. In short, he purchased two meters (about six and a half feet) of pipe insulation from his local hardware store for about a dollar. He cut the foam tubing to his desired length, inserted a second slice, piled in the cords, and called it an uncluttered day.

We love this innovative, inexpensive, charging station. Thank you, Geek Novice, for sharing it with us!

DIY designer knife block

Rather than spend $125 on an unbelievably sexy Schaschlik knife block, Chris DiClerico went the DIY route and saved himself a benjamin in the process. After looking at the Flickr photos of his completed project, we can’t tell the difference.

If you’re going to try this, just make sure you buy skewers that are long enough to be suited to the task. They need to be at least the length of the blade of your longest knife.

Chris DiClerico, we salute you.