Archive for category Organizing

Organized Cake Decorating Supplies

Keeping all my favorite cake decorating supplies in order is no small feat.  They range from tiny piping tips to a rather big turntable that I used to get an even coat of frosting on my layer cakes.  For the more frequently used supplies (spatulas, fondant tools, piping tips & bags, sprinkles etc.) I adapted the Wilton Ultimate Tool Caddy to fit my needs and make it easy to take on the go.

Wilton Cake Decorating Supplies Organizer

Luckily it is well-designed to fit a lot of the typical baker’s equipment, like this handy food coloring compartment:

Wilton Food Coloring Holder

But… I took it one step beyond Wilton’s vision and added some of my own touches to make it more practical.  I like to know where to find things, so labeling and organizing is an addiction second nature for me.  I’m also a little crafty and like to be unique so I did some personalizing while I was at it!

How I keep my Cake Decorating Supplies at Bay:

  1. Using a Silhouette SD that I borrowed from a friend (seriously the coolest crafting tool on the face of the earth!) I cut my logo out of sticker paper and applied it to bottom compartment.
  2. Bake Caker Logo Cut With Silhouette HD

  3. After putting everything in its place I used a label maker with black ink and clear labels (I don’t recommend the one I have to anyone… but it did the job). Now I don’t have to hunt for any of the supplies and I know where to put them back when I’m done making a mess in the kitchen (or better yet… hubby knows where to put them if he’s helping me with dishes)!Cake Supply Labels
  4. The last thing I did was get my piping tips in order…umm…like… by number. (Ok, maybe this was taking it a step too far but I looove it!)  Since the tip compartment is clear, I created a template that fits underneath, showing the spot where each numbered tip lives. If I have more than one of a type it just gets stacked on top!
  5. Cake Tip OrganizerWilton Piping Tips

I keep my fun BakeCakery stickers in one compartment so I don’t forget to include them with each cake. I soOoOO want to do a cake competition just so I can show off my sweet cake box!

How do you stay organized when it comes to kitchen gadgets?

To-Do: 2011

My heart flutters for goals, plans, to-do lists, and perfectly mapped out calendars. That being said, I’m not a big resolution maker.  I tend to make adjustments to goals throughout the year when things don’t feel right.  This year, I’ve decided to make a To-Do list for myself instead.

  1. Bake croissants from scratch. I been dreaming of this 24 hour process occurring in my kitchen, but have yet to muster up the gumption to make it happen.  That buttery flaky goodness is calling my name and its going to happen in 2011.
  2. Trim unnecessary expenses. With all the new technology and gadgets that surface every year (and a husband who makes his living using them) it seems like there is always something new to buy or a service we can’t live without.  3 years ago I never needed text messaging and last month I was over my 200 max by 197 messages… oops.  Luckily with technology also comes lots of options for consolidating services.  I found a free app for texting that solved my problem, it just took a few minutes to get it all set up.  I’m planning to sit down and take a hard look at where our money goes and see where we can trim some excess.
  3. Get Organized. If you know me, you know that I drool over the calendar in the front of Martha Stewart Living every month and secretly wish the calendar in my blog sidebar –> included things like planting tulip bulbs, setting up a compost bin and scheduling routine times for purging unneeded items or changing the air filter on the AC.  When Jason and I first got married, I could tell you what I was doing everyday for the next month with a quick glance at my planner.  In a lot of ways, I feel like grad school zapped my long term and short term planning. 5 years is a long time and the unpredictability of experimentation led to a “take it one day at a time” strategy.  Now that I’m done, I’m ready to get back to my uber organized self.
  4. Continue my Career. Graduating in one of the most difficult economies has not made finding a specialized engineering position easy. My goal for this year is to find a position that truly uses my abilities and where I can devote my energy to solving real-world problems. I am excited to leave the academic world behind and get my hands dirty!
  5. Plan Dates. Jason and I have taken to working all day and then tackling side projects during nights and weekends. Between remodeling our house, Jason writing another edition of his book and us pursuing our hobbies (none of which are particularly leisurely), we leave almost no free time for togetherness.  We finally committed to taking a vacation this year, not on our own initiative, but because our good friends invited us. So despite job hunting and the uncertainty of moving/selling our house,  I’m planning to steal away a little more time with the hubs in 2011.

What are your plans for the upcoming year?

Cures for the Shop-A-Holic

I’m a girl, which I think genetically means that I like to shop (someone back me up with the scientific evidence). But I’m also cheap frugal. Normally, I get my retail therapy by shopping with coupons – its a fun hobby of mine that has also allowed me to divide my grocery and household budget by two.  But I also LOVE shopping for home decor (think vases, lamps and other pretty stuff) and kitchen gadgets (mortar and pestles, colorful knives, cake stands).  Normally when I need this kind of retail therapy I hit up TJ Maxx, Ross or Target clearance, but even at discounted prices you are spending real money (no coupons!) and it adds up.

Jason and I instituted a rule that if we are out shopping and really like something, we have to decide right then and there where it would go in our home. This has helped us to think through whether its really needed “this would go beautifully above the loveseat” and has prevented the impulse “but I really liked it and it was on sale” type of purchases. 

But, shhh, its not that fun!

My mom also taught me that if I really love something at one of those stores, I have to snag it that day because it will be gone tomorrow. (Thanks Mom!)

So this rule has been modified a bit: Buy it if you really love it – all stores have a return policy. If you haven’t found the perfect spot for it or used it within 30 days you probably aren’t going to, so leave the tag on and save your receipt. If the vases on the bookshelf make you smile everyday for a month, then you know it was a good purchase, if not, return it and wait for something you do love to come along.

Another fun way to appease my itch to shop is snapping pics with the iPhone of things I love but don’t really have a place for. Think of it as a digital shopping adventure that helps you figure out your decorating taste so that when you do need something you know what you’re looking for. I file them away in a folder on my desktop for easy perusing. You can also come up with some great inexpensive DIY ideas this way too!

Here are some photos from my last window shopping adventure to TJ Maxx:

Colorful Candle Holders $1.99 ea

Graphic Leaf Print Lamp $29.99

Cupcake Batter Pen $5.99

I already knew this, but now you know that I like a modern aesthetic, bright colors, and have an obsession with large graphic flower and leaf prints. The candle holders would look awesome as a dining table centerpiece (they hold votive or tall candles). The lamp I would rather have two of. I’m a fan of symmetry and would love to have them on bedside night tables or end tables next to a comfy couch. The cupcake batter pen I took a picture of just because it gave me an idea. I have tons of squeeze bottles from my baking and chocolate making (you can get them @ the craft store for $1 with a 40% off coupon). I just cut a larger hole in one tip and use it for mess-free cupcake distributing and even pancake dispensing. The Amazon description for this product says if you don’t use all the batter, put the cap on and leave in the fridge until the next day! Why didn’t I think of that?

What are some ways you reign in your need to shop?

Quick Tip: Paint Can Upgrade

Want a simple way to make painting easier? Poke holes in your paint can!

No seriously,  grab a hammer and a sharp nail and punch a couple holes around the inner most rim of your open paint can. It will allow any excess paint from pouring or brush-wiping to drip back into the can. This conserves paint, prevents spillage and makes it easier to get the can open next time because you don’t have all that extra paint in the rim to unstick!

Paint Can Manufacturers -if you’re listening – go ahead and add this feature in the factory and save us the trouble!

Another option is this cute little blue plastic pour spout that snaps on the rim and also helps keep paint out of the rim.  As you can see, we used both options to keep our paint can rim nice and clean.  We are in the midst of remodeling our master bath (DIY of course).  Look for more posts on that project in the near future!

Bath Salt Sand Art

For a while, bath salts and bath gift sets were all the rage.  I had accumulated a few packs of salts and, although I love soaking in the tub, its not something I get the time for very often.  Inspiration often hits me at random moments and usually with found objects. My family lovingly calls this “Amy Art”. I saw some kids doing sand art at the Grant Seafood Festival (mmm fried scallops) and that was my jumping off point for this project.

Ok, back to bath salts.  The bottle was leftover from lemonade we took on a picnic one day. I made a little funnel with wax paper and then poured each bath salt in carefully, making sure each was level before I poured the next color.  One of the packs came with a little wooden scooper so I tied that on the bottle with raffia just for fun.  I love that it corrals all the salts in one place, makes a nice relaxing visual element in the bathroom and was basically from stuff I had on hand. Super cool that the bottle has a built in rubber stopper to keep everything fresh. Now I get to enjoy the salts, even when I’m too busy for a bath!  Suddenly I have a craving for fried scallops and ice cold lemonade…

Maintaining Coupon Order

Spent $20.35. Saved $92.84.

It’s no secret that I love coupons! I save at least 50% on my food & household needs every week buy buying what’s on sale, combining sales with coupons and stocking up when an item is cheap. And my husband will tell you, when I first started out it took me a lot of time. Clipping, sorting and storing all those guys and then trying to locate them when I needed to was a challenge for a while, especially for someone like me who wants everything to be structured. After a few months and trying a few different methods, I finally chose one that works for me.

Many of my friends and family have asked if I could teach them, so here are the basics!

Here’s what you need to get started:

  1. A small hanging file box or room in a filing cabinet somewhere
  2. 12 Hanging file folders with labels
  3. A shoe box with dividers or some cardstock to make your own
  4. Coupons! – Start buying Sunday papers (or ask neighbors/family for their inserts) and keep an eye out in stores when you are shopping
  5. SouthernSavers – Jenny is a friend of mine and has the best resource out there for matching coupons with sales

What do I do with all this stuff?

  • The three types of inserts you will get in the paper are Redplum (RP), SmartSource (SS) and at the beginning of the month you’ll have a Proctor and Gamble (PG). These abbreviations are used on many coupon sites to reference where to find the one you need.
  • Use the hanging files with labels to sort  coupon inserts by the date they came from the Sunday paper (look for the tiny letters on the spine if you don’t remember). I usually write the date with a Sharpie on the front so its easy to see at a glance.
  • Optional: If you have multiple newspapers with identical coupons, I compile them to have like pages together for easy cutting of several of the same coupons at a time.
  • Only keep 12 file folders because most coupons in the inserts will have expired by that time.  When they are all full, this forces you to flip through the old one, cut out any unexpired coupons and then recycle it to make room for the newest inserts.  Its like organizational auto-pilot!
  • Use a shoe box or photo box to store any loose coupons that you found in the store or that you already clipped.  I sort mine expiration month and use cardstock to divide the month. This does two things, it keeps the loose coupons orderly AND it allows you to pull out a whole month’s worth of coupons once they expire.
  • Finally, use your coupons when an item is on sale.  There are a lot more in-depth tutorials on Southernsavers which you can check out as you have time.  The easiest way to start is to find the stores you shop at (Publix is my favorite) and look at the weekly ad before you leave the house. You can create your list right in SouthernSavers and then print off and clip your coupons according to what you are going to buy that week. (Since you have them all filed, this is a cinch!)
  • The hardest thing  to learn is to change your shopping behavior. I used to run out of shampoo and then add it to my list for the week paying whatever it cost for the brand I wanted.  Now I have 6 extras in my closet that I paid pennies for and I can “shop” from there when I run out.

Toothbrushes That Don’t Suck (or do they?)

You know that annoying white goo that accumulates in the bottom of your toothbrush holder?  ICK!  Jason and I have tried so many solutions–open holders, ones with removable bottoms and we can’t escape it… until now.

Last weekend we were visiting family in Vero for my 10 year High School Reunion and my mom left a two-pack of toothbrushes for us in the guest bath. Little did I know it would forever solve our toothbrush woes – they have built-in suction cups on the bottom!!

This is a great example of someone taking a common annoyance and coming up with an easy solution.  They even have a cute name – Germ Evader (ok.. so its not that cute). What can I say, I’m in love.

Also, I noticed after uploading the picture that we have very consistent toothbrush color choices – Orange and Blue never get old, especially during football season!

Off to find coupons for suction cup toothbrushes…

Update: My cousin Breanna suggests putting a little hydrogen peroxide in the bottom of your toothbrush holder to nix the goo.  This might be more practical until the rest of the toothbrush manufacturer’s catch onto suction cups!