Sick Tray

Creating a Sick Tray -

When I’m sick, the last thing I want to do is get up.  I only do it when it’s absolutely necessary.  This is why I created my Sick Tray.

When I have a sick day at home sick, I make up a tray of the essentials that I will need to make it through the day.

Obviously, I still got out of bed for other things, but the tray drastically reduces the number of those times.  It is a lifesaver.

A few weeks ago, when my kids were sick, I created sick trays for them.  That was more because I wanted everything that I needed for them to take care of their sickness in proximity to where they were.  And it worked like a charm.

Everyone has different items that they need or that bring comfort when they’re sick.

My “usual” Sick Tray items include:

  • Magazine or book
  • Tablet
  • TV remotes
  • Kleenex
  • Tea
  • Water bottle
  • Moisturizer (for when your skin gets dry from the Kleenex)
  • Chapstick
  • Medicine
  • Thermometer

What do you put on your sick tray?

Creating a Sick Tray -

P.S. After everyone’s healthy again start here.





Organizing 101: Create a Free for All Space

Now that we’ve spent the last six weeks going through lots of different ways to tackle some of the piles and messes in our lives, it’s time to take it all back.

Okay, not all.  But I will give you that today’s Tip seems contradictory, but go with me….

Create a Free for All Space.

Think of it like your cheat food when you’re on a diet.  The theory, as I understand it, is that you allow yourself the cheat food so that you’re not completely depriving yourself of all that you want to eat.  And, when you’re craving it, you can eat without feeling guilty, and, most importantly, without negating the progress you’ve made.

It’s the same thing for your Free for All space.  Even I will admit that there are just some things that don’t fit in a category or don’t have natural “homes”.  Remember when I talked about the importance of creating a spot for everything?  Those ‘I-don’t-know-where-to-put-this’ items go in your Free for All space.

You decide what that space is – a bin, a closet, a room – whatever you have space for and you’re okay with being messy and disorganized.  You don’t have to feel bad about it.  Having this “cheat space” gives you the freedom to accomplish what you need everywhere else.


As an over-the-top fan of the TV show Friends, I can’t talk about this without sharing this clip.

Personally, I wouldn’t suggest fill your Free for All space quite that full, but it’s your cheat space.  You decide.

Organizing 101: Utilize Vertical Space

Most organizing challenges are due to not having space to put items.  Therefore, the solution to all of your organizing problems is creating space.  NBD.  And when you figure out how to do that, get working on creating time.  Because I could really use some more of that.  Then put them together and make a continuum.  #lamesciencejoke #friendscopycatjoke

Actually, creating space, in the form of surface area, is one of the biggest difference-makers in organizing a space.  When organizing a space, it’s easy to just default to whatever is already in the space as far as shelving, but creating more surface area to put stuff on can be the difference between ‘I’m going to post a picture of my awesome closet on Instagram’ and ‘Don’t open that closet door!’.

The key is to utilize the vertical space.

This is especially true in small areas where you need to really make the space work harder for you.

Start by looking at the entire space.  Find empty wall space.  Take some measurements to figure out what the entire area is that you have to work with.

Putting this idea into practice does often require purchasing and/or building something.  But if you decide going into it what you want the space to do and you know your space constraints, then this is a time when making an organizing purchase is a great idea.

In our new house, the upstairs bathroom is on the small side.  There is small space between the end of the vanity and the side of the toilet.  When we moved in, I put the toilet paper basket in that spot.  This is a basket that has sat next to the toilet in each of my residences for over a decade to store extra rolls of TP.  After living in the house for a few weeks, I started to feel the constraints of the small bathroom, and wanted to make the space work better, but was limited due to space.

My sister-in-law has this stand in her bathroom, and I thought of it immediately.  It is more narrow than my old basket and it uses the vertical space along the wall between the two fixtures.

*Please disregard the towel as window covering.  As previously mentioned, we are in the middle of a remodel and window coverings have not yet been ordered.  In the meantime, extra towels (thus the ugly burnt orange color) serve that purpose.  

The bottom shelf stores the extra toilet paper (twice as much as my old wicker basket), and then I have four more shelves to store stuff as well.  I was able to put small items that had previously been on the bathroom counter on the top shelf, so that freed up counter space, which is huge, because we don’t have much of that.

In addition to adding a lot of practicality to the space, this also allows me to warm up the space by using a little decor.  I haven’t done that yet, because I’m super lame at decorating.  But, someday, I will either see a picture on Pinterest and copy it or one of my friends will come over and do it for me.  Until then, this shelf’s decorating potential is unmet.  But it’s purpose is completely fulfilled.

Organizing 101: Corral Small Items & Don’t Fill Containers

It’s two-for-one day here on the blog.  Two Tips.

They are both easy, quick-fixes that will make an immediate impact.

Use containers to corral small items.  Here are some examples of how we do this in our house and why they work:

Little girl hair ties are THE WORST.  Tiny.  Translucent.  You can’t grab just one.  This is a shallow Rubbermaid leftover container that fits in the drawer with her other hair stuff.

In our old house, the corn on cob picks were the bane of my existence.  These versatile drawer organizers are perfect for gathering together those little things, and not using a ton of drawer space to do it.  They also contain the toothpicks perfectly.

I’ve had this little drawer organizer since I was in high school.  It’s been used in bathroom & desk drawers in three states and eleven residences.  It creates spots for easily lost and cluttered items like hair ties, bobby pins (notice the paperclip holder that corrals the bobby pins #thankyourealsimple), fingernail clippers, Fitbit charger and contact lenses.  It also creates a spot for hair brushes.

This box was from a perfume gift set.  Those things are pure gold.  They are super sturdy.  In this case, it works perfectly in Wyatt’s sock drawer.  Those little socks get lost so easily, but this box keeps them on their side of the drawer.

These drawer organizers from Ikea are made to fit perfectly in their furniture (we have the Hemnes dresser).  Whenever possible, containers that fill the entire space they’re in are best because there’s no wasted space.

In our pantry, this bin contains all of the little stuff.  Taco seasoning packets, soup packets, and jell-o boxes.  I also have it on the highest shelf that I can barely reach because I can reach the basket handle easily.

When organizing and putting items in containers, make sure that you leave space for growth.  You are always going to add to what you have, so you need to account for that.  If you fill a container at the onset,  you are setting yourself up to not be able to continue with the organizing process you just started.  Oftentimes, this is after purging, so, theoretically, this is the time when you will have the least amount of this item.

Notice how each of the containers that I have pictured above aren’t over flowingly full.  This makes all the difference in keeping things sorted.

If you’re organizing your dresser and after purging and sorting, your shirt drawer is completely full, don’t leave it that way.  Either purge more or spread shirts out to two drawers in order to allow yourself to add more shirts to the drawer.  Because you just know you will.  It’s human nature.

Organizing 101: Use Uniform Storage Systems

Disclaimer: This is not an endorsement for going out and buying all kinds of new stuff.  Hear these words as a “from here on out….”

There’s a reason we all pin these pictures

Photo credit: I Heart Organizing

Photo Credit

Photo Credit: A Bowl Full of Lemons

It just looks so pretty.  In addition to looking good, uniformity in container size allows you to utilize spaces better.  It is also ideal for stacking, as uniform containers are made to fit on top of one another.  It also helps maximize storage space in areas where shelves are adjustable.  When containers are all the same height, you can fill the entire space by making the shelf above the containers just above the lid.

Whenever it is possible, use the same type of storage system. This does not mean that you should get rid of all the containers you have now and go buy all new.  Use what you have already and, as often as possible, use uniform containers in the same space.

There will, however, inevitably come a time when you need to purchase more containers.  Think ahead employ this idea from now on.

Choose 3-4 different sizes (ex. shoebox, small bin & large bin).  My favorite small bins are these.  I use them in in our house.  They are cheap and versatile and timeless.  I’ve been buying them over the course of ten years, so the colors of my lids don’t match, but that’s not something that bothers me.  For storage totes, these are my go-to.  We have them in 10, 14 & 18 gallons.  They stack wonderfully and hold up well.

Buy them in bulk – WAY more than what you need at the time – and keep your extras for the inevitable stuff that you will need to store in the future.    When we moved this summer, instead of buying boxes, we bought a few dozen of the 18 gallon totes and now we have a stack of empty totes in the garage for when we need them.