Q. I’m in the midst of de-cluttering, having emptied out a house (lived in for 38 years) and moving to an “independent cottage” in a retirement facility. As I go through all this “stuff,” I wonder about those diaries and journals from 30 and 40 years ago. Some are very revealing — too revealing to be left behind. But it feels as though I’d be tearing away a part of my life if I shred those pages. And perhaps I’d want to read through them more closely in another few years… Any suggestions about what to do, and how to feel about it (i.e., either shredding these or keeping them)?
A. Since you sound conflicted about getting rid of these pieces of your past, my vote would be for keeping any diaries & journals you think you might want to read someday. The ones that are “too revealing to be left behind” you can label “Destroy upon my demise” (if you’re serious about this you should leave instructions for your executor or trustee so that your wishes will be followed).
Whether the storage system you choose for your diaries & journals is a classic glass door bookcase or stackable plastic containers, my advice is that you keep them:
1) In a place that’s easily accessible and also safe from damaging elements such as moisture and bugs; and
2) In a way that lets you feel positive about them. (My book, Let Go of Clutter, includes a chapter titled “Shedding Sentimental Clutter” which provides more specific tips on how to do this.) A good rule to follow is: Let go of any items that make you feel stressed or upset, unless you’re legally required to keep them.
Q. I have a small kitchen, with cabinets that do not have the depth for my aluminum foil, wax paper and saran wrap boxes, so right now they are on the counter, and it is very annoying, as the boxes get wet. Is there some type of counter holder for these? Maybe even one where I could use the item without removing it from the holder? I did look online, and the ones I found were either very expensive, or for cabinets. Thank you for your help.
A. There are several economical kitchen wrap organizers that could work for your small kitchen:
- The Food Wrap Dispenser, designed to mount under a kitchen cupboard, is both a space-saver and a time-saver; however, it holds just one roll of wrap.
- The basic Kitchen Wrap Organizer can sit on a counter and efficiently store all your wraps–just don’t keep it near the sink since it won’t keep them from getting wet.
- If you have a bit of wall space, the Silver Mesh Mounted Kitchen Wrap Organizer is compact but roomy enough to hold all your food wraps plus other items.
Every household – no matter how calm or chaotic – requires some type of by-the-door holder for keys, sunglasses, cell phones, mail and other daily in-and-out items that have a tendency to get misplaced. This is also a good spot to keep a pen and a pad of Post-its for jotting down last-minute grocery lists and “don’t forget” notes.
You can create a simple, inexpensive entryway organizer by putting up key hooks and/or a small shelf with a basket. But if you’d prefer a ready-made system, here are three clever, well-designed options with a variety of useful features:
- The sleek, compact Wood Flip-Hook Cubby Organizer features two flip-down hooks and a storage section with a removable divider.
- In addition to a chalkboard for writing reminders, the Chalkboard Wall Organizer has a magnetic strip for posting notes, plus hooks and three roomy storage pockets.
- The Door Entry Mail Organizer offers two shelves and four key hooks hidden inside a hinged door that has three mail slots on the outside, plus an exterior shelf below.
Next week: Organizers for all the bigger stuff that piles up in the entryway.
Q. What is the best & most efficient way to organize a large collection of video tapes and a large collection of cassette tapes?
A. By “large” I’ll assume you mean more than 100 of each, and by “collection” I’ll guess you mean that they’re together. To organize both types of media, start by making a list of broad categories for each (examples: Comedy, Drama, Documentary; Classical, Country, R&B); this should help you to group them by category. Then create category labels for the shelves or dividers (a labeler is helpful for this).
To store your collections efficiently:
Q. I am a homeschooling mother as well as a stamper/scrapbooker. I am lucky enough to have a fairly large desk in my den but it is difficult to have homeschooling books, folders, etc. as well as scrapbooking tools, etc. on the same desk and still have enough room to actually DO the work on the desk. What I’d really like is to have space to work but also things I use frequently close by. Any suggestions you can give me would be really appreciated!
A. An under-desk cart or rollaway storage unit could allow you to efficiently utilize the space underneath and/or next to your desk. Here are a few examples:
Q. I come from the “old school” before the time of storing photos on electronic devices. Unfortunately, I have the bottom of a cabinet stuffed with disorganized photos, frames, albums half finished, and other misc. items that have to do with photos and memories to be saved. I don’t even know where to start. I have five children and 16 grandchildren with lots of photos! Help!
A. It’s understandable to feel overwhelmed when you think of putting all those photographs in order. I recommend starting out with a photo organizing system that allows you to see progress quickly so you don’t get bogged down trying to create perfect photo albums. Here are three different types of photo organizers that are simple to use so you can swiftly organize hundreds or even thousands of photos:
If you decide you need help with your photo organizing project, you can find a professional photo organizer through the Association of Personal Photo Organizers.
Q. Do you have any food containers that will keep dry food from going stale even when new moisture is reintroduce when top has been removed?
A. Buddeez Bag-in Food Storage Containers are designed to hold the original food box or bag and keep the contents fresh. They have an air-tight seal and can also be used without the original food packaging. The containers are available in a variety of sizes.
Q. I need help in having bathroom products handy (hairspray, deodorant, etc.) in a bathroom for a wedding reception. There is almost no space on the counter and none on the floor. There is some space on the side of toilet wall near and over the sinks. I think I will need to hang something there but need it easily visible and accessible. Also do you have any ideas for putting something in the ladies bathroom over the stall doors for personal hygiene products? Any suggestions will be welcome.
A. For the wall space, the Skinny Shelf might be a good fit–it’s a mere 16 1/2 inches wide and 4 inches deep. For the stall doors, you should be able to use an over-door basket, available in various sizes and shapes.
Q. What is the best way to store different kinds of craft pens–I have two 36″ drawers with plastic little baskets full of all kinds of pens, pencils, marker, etc.–so I can see and get to them easily?
A. Instead of little baskets, I’d suggest clear acrylic drawer organizers perhaps combined with adjustable drawer dividers (these come in a wide range of sizes and materials). Of course, pens can also be stored vertically in various types of desktop organizers, such as the Desk Carousel.
Another option to consider is the Crafter’s Companion 72-slot pen & marker storage system.
Q. How to organise the many cell phone/IPad/IPod/computer chargers?
A. Keeping chargers accessible and organized can be a challenge. Fortunately, there are products made to specifically address this challenge–they’re called charging stations. Most are made to charge only one or two devices, but these are designed for more and also provide a place to organize your electronic gadgets while they’re charging:
- The Bamboo Charging Station features four places to charge your devices and a holder in the back for accessories.
- The Ricardo Wooden Charging Station goes beyond charging–in addition to providing three sections where electronics can be plugged in, it offers storage for jewelry, watches, wallets, loose change, etc., making it ideal for keeping your dresser-top organized.