Small Kitchen? Maximize Your Space!

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Happy Monday, friends! First off, I apologize for my absence. Had a bit of a family emergency but everything is looking better now. So I’m back to provide you with some fun ways to organize your kitchen!

I’m going to brag for a moment. I have been blessed to live in a lovely, LARGE and affordable apartment in Chicago-land. There really is only one thing I don’t like about it and that is the size of the kitchen. I love to bake and am getting more into cooking as I age so the lack of counter space has been a real challenge for me. There is also fairly limited storage space. Because of this, I am always looking for ways I can make the most out of the least space.

One problem with my storage is that I LOVE coffee cups; the geekier, the better (which explains my absolute and total adoration of the lovely HandPainted Nerd whom I’ve featured on this very blog). But I find I am running out of room in my cabinet for all my pretties. Some of the mugs are larger than standard size too. So when I saw this wall mount, I thought, “What a gorgeous idea!” Not only would this clear up some cabinet space but it also creates some awesome decoration for my blank walls in the dining area and puts all my beautiful mugs on display.

I also don’t have a lot of under the sink space and this is where I keep both my garbage can and recycle bin (so my HeloKitteh can’t get into them). Right now, I have sponges, scrub brushes and extra rubber gloves along with bottles of cleaning solutions just sort of strewn about under there. However, with some adhesive hooks and plastic baskets attached to the insider of the cabinet drawers, all those sponges and gloves can be put in one, easy-to-reach spot and never get lost in the bowels of the under-sink. Using an adjustable curtain rod can give you a place to hang those bottles out of the way. Doing this allows me space to put my dish drainer under the sink when not in use and opens up a bit more counter space.

One other thing I struggle with is where to put my fruits and veggies. Sure, some of them go into the fridge but the majority don’t require refrigeration so they end up on my one already small counter top.

This is where the wonderful ModernMomLife comes to the rescue. This tutorial walks you though an easy and inexpensive way to get your produce up off the counter. And it looks great too!

But what about those fruits and veggies in the fridge? Some of our readers my have gorgeous new appliances with crisper drawers and the like. My fridge is older than God so it’s pretty much just wire racks. Solution? Office supply store! Plastic desk organizers can be re-purposed into your very own fridge separation and organization.

 

 

The other thing that takes up a lot of space in my kitchen are my baking and cooking supplies; namely the baking sheets, muffin tins, and pots & pans. Now, the pots and pans can nest and for the most part, don’t take up a lot of room. But those lids…there’s just no easy way to stack them. So I say, don’t even try! You can hang a magazine rack or even a metal towel rung onto the insides of your cabinet doors or a wall in the kitchen and just slide them onto it. For the cookie sheets and muffin tins, a simple wicker basket from Target will suffice and you can mount a floating shelf on a door (if you have high ceilings like me) to store it out of the way.

              

There are always very simple and easy solutions to maximizing your storage space. I hope today’s blog helped someone out there to really open up their kitchen.

Happy Organizing, people!


Keeping Those Resolutions

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happynewyear

Happy Sunday and a very happy new year to you all! Last year definitely had it’s ups and downs but I do hope that your own ups outnumbered the downs. I, like a good majority of people, tend to make some kind of new year resolution that I totally intend to keep and then end up getting sidetracked/give up on/push until next year for any number of reasons. The biggest roadblock to keeping mine usually stems from one of my greatest aspirations and biggest adversaries: organization. I love the idea of organization but execution always seems to fall short of my expectations. Like I am just going to magically become this domestic organization goddess that knows exactly what I am doing with my life because I finally got all of my yarn out of the plastic bins overtaking the office and into cube baskets on shelves.

Uh huh, sure. I've heard that one before.

Uh huh, sure. I’ve heard that one before.

Let’s be honest here, one of the big reasons I am obsessed with Pinterest is because it gives me all of these innovative ideas for de-cluttering my home by going to the dollar store/covering this cardboard box in washi tape/building new storage out of toilet paper tubes but I can count on one hand the number of these solutions I’ve actually attempted. Organization is also my foe in other parts of my life…I adore planners. Back when I was a wee student and discovered the themed student planners, part of my prep for the year was always picking out just the right one. I very much enjoyed filling out assignments, important dates, and social events. I also love the idea of journals, as my untouched but pretty journal collection can attest to but I never seem to be able to keep up with it. Add into that my accomplishments as a list maker and you have my ultimate organization conundrum. Is there something that exists that can help me keep better track of everything while still letting me following my meandering route and also act as a creative outlet? Turns out there is.

bulletjournalven

Enter, the bullet journal. One of my very good friends (who may be picking up some blogging duties here – yay!) introduced me to this concept at the end of last year and I had yet to investigate it thoroughly. WARNING: a search may suck hours of your life away if you are not prepared for the black hole that is “bullet journal ideas”, not that I know from experience or anything. So what is a bullet journal, exactly? Well, this world being what it is, of course someone actually gave the concept a title and bought the domain name so you can go to the official Bullet Journal Website for a description or this article from Buzzfeed gives a pretty good background but I think I truly got interested because of this article on The Lazy Genius Collective. Not only do they keep it real, they are wonderfully witty as they go about describing what the basic pieces *usually* consist of.

This is cute and all but I have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many books on both of those lists to ever set it up this way.

This is cute and all but I have waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too many books on both of those lists to ever set it up this way.

The important point that I’ve gotten from the articles is that this is not something you should feel pressured to keep precisely organized. All of the pieces are your pieces and they should be done in a way most effective to YOU. It is part planner, part to-do list, part diary, and part whatever else you need. It definitely does not need to be the most beautiful thing you have ever produced and I would caution you to not be intimidated by all of the cute doodles or calligraphy level entries you may find in an initial search. One of the biggest parts of making this useful, however, is the index page. This is your guide to your bullet journal that will tell you where to find all of those different thoughts, lists, and dates. Along with “signifiers” which are like your own secret code of symbols for giving quick look assignments to tasks or notes, this truly seems like something that I would not only keep up with but may also enjoy. If anything I have described above resonates with you at all, I do highly recommend checking out this lovely madness I am about to plunge headlong into. On that note, we have MAGfest coming up this week and I have to make my packing list! Have a fantastic week, all!

Stay crafty!

~Laura

 


Con Survival Part 3: Stuffing the Con Bag

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Hello Sunday readers!

I hope you are ready for the fun part of organizing your con bag – stuffing it! Let’s get realistic here…remember the questions you asked yourself last week? It honestly boils down to one very important question: how much are you willing to carry around for what may be a 12-14 hour day?

For any given convention, I will generally have the following items in my bag:

  1. Zipper pouch containing writing utensils, a small pad of paper, lip balm, individually wrapped bandages, feminine hygiene items, and gum
  2. Secondary wristlet/zipper pouch containing various money/credit cards and business cards
  3. Small umbrella
  4. Dice bag full of dice
  5. Charging cords
  6. Battery pack/power bank
  7. Handheld gaming system
  8. Small bottle of water
  9. Hand sanitizer
  10. Small container of over the counter meds (including vitamin supplements)
  11. Packets of nuts, dried fruits, fruit pouches, and protein bars

So what kind of zipper pouch are we talking here? You could go with old reliable and snag a good pencil pouch at the dollar store. But if you’d like something a little more personalized, how about crafting something really quick? I enjoyed this tutorial from Melly Sews because it is spelled out in writing in addition to the video! These little projects are great to get over a fear of sewing in zippers!

The best part is picking the fabric!

The best part is picking the fabric!

Ok, so let’s say that you don’t have a working sewing machine or maybe you don’t have time to sew something while still getting your awesome cosplay done on time. That’s where some of the lovely vendors we’ve seen before here on Craft Hackers come in. I love the Voulala bags from Top Notch by Design:

Perfect for all of your storage needs, complete with tentacles!

Perfect for all of your storage needs, complete with tentacles!

They have that neat little strap that can either go on your wrist, through a belt loop, through a D-ring on a bigger bag, or anywhere you need, really! She has quite the selection of smaller bags for the same sort of purpose as well. If nothing there suits your style or you’d just like something smaller, dice bags are not just for holding dice, if you know what I mean. Seriously! A good drawstring pouch can double as a wallet or wristlet. It just so happens that our fearless leader, Toni, is a purveyor of fine drawstring bags:

And they come in so many patterns, you can have a different one for every occasion!

And they come in so many patterns, you can have a different one for every occasion!

Ok, so besides more pouch-like organizers in your bag, what else can help keep everything from either ending up on the bottom of your bag or tangling horribly? I would highly recommend using Velcro straps or twist ties to keep all of your cords organized. For little things like your over the counter meds or pins and such for cosplay repair, the one a day pill boxes are also great for keeping things visible but not all mixed up. The packets of food tend to be placed into one big plastic bag, also for easy access and less of a likelihood of spills or crumbs. I have found some pretty cool hand sanitizer accessories that clip onto the outside of my pack for easy access. I will say that the most important part of packing your con bag is making sure you are comfortable with the bag itself. More pockets may mean more stash spots but that may also lead to overstuffing it which also leads to back and shoulder pain. You definitely don’t want to have 3 more days left of a convention and be in massive pain because you overpacked. Next week, appropriately enough, I will be at Wizard World Chicago so I think we will wrap up our Con Survival series with a quick primer on convention etiquette. See you then!

~Laura

 


Yarn Stash Part 2

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So yesterday I went on about keeping track of your stash on your phone since that’s my preferred method, but what if you don’t have a smart phone? Well, if you have an internet connection, then there are still options out there for you. 🙂

While their mobile app may not work for ios devices, their website still offers a great way to keep a digital catalog of all your yarn. It lets you sort by color, weight, fiber, amount, and most importantly to me; shows which yarns you’ve used up and are out of! Ravelry is a great community for yarn workers as well so you can also store the pattern you are using or even mark your yarn as up for sale/trade if it’s something you won’t use but can no longer return. Every time a user enters a new yarn it gets added to their database for everyone to reference so it’s really quite an extensive collection. The only downside to all this being…what if you cannot access it?

 

Whether you just want a physical back up or prefer to keep record in a physical way, Look at what I made has you covered with her great yarn binder DIY. Simply head on over to the posting here where she has created a beautiful template for free use that allows you to attach a bit of your yarn to the page (she laminated hers, but you don’t have to if you use thick paper) so that you can easily see, compare, and feel what yarns you have along with the record of their color/brand/dye lot. There are even open sections for you to add a bit of the label on to the page itself!

Never wonder what those washing instructions were again! XD As long as your goal is to organize and take control of your yarn mess stash then there’s really no wrong way to go about it. Hopefully these tools will help those who have been feeling a bit overwhelmed by the prospect though. 🙂

~Nicole


Yarn Stash Apps

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So unlike fabric apps, I’ve had a very hard time finding a good app for my phone that will let me log and keep track of yarn that I’m working with or how much I have stored. I’ve been giving a few of them a try the last two months so I thought I’d share my findings with my fellow yarn workers. 🙂

Quick note, my cell is an iphone so I’ve only been testing apps on the apple market place. I will make note if that app is not available on android though.

Stash2Go

stash2go

As with most apps available, this one is designed for knitters, with add on options for crocheters….how kind. While this app seemed to have it all for the pictures (stash info, current projects, even linking to a ravelry account) it does not work. Got it to open and it would continue to freeze anytime I tried to use it. I don’t know if they just haven’t bothered updating it or why it does this but it just would not work. For those on android though, the reviews says good things about that version (And it’s free!) so it’s worth the download and test at least.

 

Mind my Stash

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This is quite literally the only other program available on the iphone app store for keeping track of your yarn stash. All the others that may even seem like it…nay. They are just pattern collections, or allow you to access ravelry patterns. Which is all fine and good but….not a yarn stash minder. This one does cost $3 but it does a decent job at what it set out to do. Keep track of your yarn.

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I’m still fiddling with how I want the info displayed as some fields aren’t intuitive (should name be the color name? or should it be the yarn style name when a color field exists farther down?), but overall this does the minimum of what I want. Lets me put in how much yarn I have in storage so I know what I’m working from or have to pull when the current skein runs out. It’s easy to toggle between metric or imperial info and even does the math for what the total yardage/oz you have on hand. I also like that it let me take my own pictures of the yarn as well so I could put them under whatever light I need to make the image look as close as possible to the in life color. Once you’ve added a certain brand name/yarn fiber in that it didn’t have before it will remember it, and you can even go into the settings and delete some of the pre-loaded ones that don’t exist in your area. I also like that I can keep track of the hooks (or needles) I own and that it doesn’t assume you only knit or crochet; it allows info for both.

My complaints are fairly minor. I don’t like that the scroll down menu you see when you select your stash doesn’t have the color name listed. This could be a mistake on part by filling in fields wrong (meaning they want the color listed under color name and yarn name) but to me it just seems like a personal preference thing. I’ll likely make a fix of it on my own in how I fill out my fields. I also wish I had a better way to say I have a yarn of that color in use while having x amount in storage. All minor complaints though.

It is not available on the android store. The closest I could find was Yarn inventory, but the pictures don’t say much and it has mixed reviews. It only cost $1 though so not much risk if it is lack luster. I really wish there were more apps out there so this list was longer but sadly we are not high up on the programming demand chain. Even the android market really only had 2 options for yarn stash organization. 🙁