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Family First » storage http://familyfirst.com Servings Families Online since 1998 Fri, 02 Oct 2015 20:25:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.5 16 Tips About How To Rethink Your Kitchenhttp://familyfirst.com/16-tips-about-how-to-rethink-your-kitchen.html http://familyfirst.com/16-tips-about-how-to-rethink-your-kitchen.html#comments Sun, 09 Jan 2011 22:38:39 +0000 http://familyfirst.com/?p=6703 post thumbnail

Many of us got the housecleaning bug when we took down our holiday decorations – all this STUFF!

I heard the line at Goodwill last week was out the door from people wanting to start fresh for the new year.

You may have noticed this the most in your kitchen while preparing those big holiday meals – running around, tripping over each other and feeling cluttered.

Curtis Stone, the host of the reality cooking show “Take Home Chef” has a good reason why this is so.

“When I was doing “Take Home Chef” and cooking in all these different houses, I was thinking, ‘Why is it so difficult to cook in people’s homes? It’s so easy in a professional kitchen,’ says Stone.

“Well, one of the main differences between a professional kitchen and a residential kitchen is organization.”

Paul Radoy, manager of design services for Merillat, says the most efficient way to approach kitchen organization and storage is to think about the room in three different sections – a cooking zone, a clean-up zone and the pantry or storage zone.

Where You Cook

Recommendations from The National Association of Professional Organizers say to think about how things flow in your kitchen when you are cooking and go from there. Stone concurs, saying, “I believe the kitchen should be designed for the way you live.”

Optimize the space in a few ways:

  • Store things with a common purpose together such as all the bakeware in the same place – all the pots and pans in the same place. Then you know exactly where to look when you need something.
  • Store the pots and pans next to the stove if at all possible.
  • Store utensils you use during cooking in a place you can easily reach such as a backsplash hanging rack or a pull-down knife rack so you don’t have to dig through drawers when you are in the middle of cooking.
  • Stone says Merillat has a great system for pots and pans storage that won’t cost a fortune: peg dividers in your drawers. “Peg dividers for drawers can be customized to neatly fit all your pots and pans as you like them. It’s not a one-size-fits-all, so it can be nicely organized,” says Stone.
  • Strangely-shaped items are good for the Lazy Susan/swing-out base cabinets since they take advantage of that “blind corner” situation.

Where You Store

How many times have you gone on a hunting expedition in your own pantry? Maybe you bought an ingredient at the store you later found deep in the panty…time to reorganize your storage system.

  • Group similar items together, like at the market. Canned good together, breakfast items on one shelf, all baking ingredients in the same place.
  • Use turntables for organizing spices and small items, either placed inside cabinets or on the counter, if you use them a lot.
  • Use stacking platforms in the pantry for the higher shelves to take advantage of more space.
  • Use pull-out shelves or baskets to maximum use of space in cupboards.

Where You Clean Up

Putting all the clean-up items together makes cleaning a snap after a big meal preparation.

  • A tilt-out tray for your sponges keeps these items out of sight.
  • An under-sink tote and the waste basket keeps the dark, under the sink nightmare tamed.
  • Keep a cutting board close to the sink to move peelings and trimmings into the trash or disposal easily.

A few other organizing tips:

  • Purge what you don’t use. For example, that waffle iron or Panini press that you used once after purchase and never again – do you really need it? Give it way to someone who will use it or to the thrift store.
  • Store seasonal items like holiday dishes or huge soup tureens away from the kitchen but well-labeled for easy location.
  • Divide your freezer using baskets or dividers too to make sure you don’t have to dig for items you need.
  • Any unused or underused space? Above and below appliances, behind doors and even open floor space can be used more efficiently.

For more ideas on how to better organize your kitchen storage systems, check out www.merillat.com

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7 Tips for Packing Up the Christmas Decorationshttp://familyfirst.com/7-tips-for-packing-up-the-christmas-decorations.html http://familyfirst.com/7-tips-for-packing-up-the-christmas-decorations.html#comments Sun, 26 Dec 2010 15:56:53 +0000 http://familyfirst.com/?p=6580 post thumbnail

Maybe it’s a little early to think about packing up the holiday decorations just yet – but soon, you’ll emerge from the holiday glow and realize you need to get your house back to normal.

Intuitive consultant Jessica Derksen, owner of the organizers, give us 7 tips for making that packing experience a little easier.

When you pull everything back out in 11 months, you will be so glad you took the time to organize now.

It’s all in the Packaging

If you have an item that doesn’t fit into a box you already have or is hard to store, such as an odd-shaped dish or tall vase, buy a box that it fits in now.  It’s worth it – it will save you headaches and hassles. Derksen recommends measuring the item before heading out to the store so you buy the correct-sized box.  Her recommendation: The Container Store www.containerstore.com and click on Specialty Boxes.

Categorize and Put Like Items Together

She puts all her lights in one box and all her glass balls in another.  All soft ornaments go together, which she puts in a shoebox.

Protect Fragile Ornaments

“When you receive a fragile ornament keep the original box.  When it’s time to pack up the decorations you’ll be able to put the ornament away safely in its own box.  Some boxes already have a label of the contents already on the box, so it saves you the step of labeling,” writes Derksen.

Boxes Within Boxes

Store the smaller individually-boxed ornaments along with the “category” boxes inside medium-sized boxes that are easy to lift into storage.

Use Common Items You Have On Hand

Items like shoe boxes for flat or small ornaments; egg cartons for glass balls or small fragile ornaments; and Ziplock© bags for stockings, Santa cone hat, or stuffed animals.


Derksen suggests if you don’t want to spend the time putting each light bulb back into its original Styrofoam slot for each strand of lights invest in Extension Cord Storage Wraps from Home Depot for $.97 each.

Label, Label, Label

“The more detailed and specific you are the easier it is to find what you are looking for.  I write ‘C-mas’ in large, block letters on one side of the box.  Then I list specifically what is in the box in smaller letters underneath.  I make sure I store the boxes with the labels out so I can read the content’s list without moving the box.  The interior boxes are labeled too, on the top and side of each box.  Since these boxes are categories they are labeled ‘felt, crystal, crocheted, wooden, horns, garland, or egg head ornaments,’” she writes.

While this may sound like a lot of work, remember, once you’ve done it one time, it’s ready for you next year. You just have to put the things away correctly when you pack up your decorations after next year’s Christmas celebration.

Learn more about Derksen’s organizing business at www.theorganizers.biz.

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12 Back to School Tips from Emmy-Award Winner Terri Ohttp://familyfirst.com/12-back-to-school-tips-from-emmy-award-winner-terri-o.html http://familyfirst.com/12-back-to-school-tips-from-emmy-award-winner-terri-o.html#comments Mon, 26 Jul 2010 06:48:33 +0000 http://familyfirst.com/?p=4378 post thumbnail

This guest post was written by Terri Ouellette, who is known as Terri O.

Whoever paired the song “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” with the beginning of the school year was a little off. It should be the most stressful time of the year. OH MY GOSH! I was in the school supplies aisle the other day and could not believe the meltdowns, the arguing, the whining! From the kids too!

Okay parents, take a deep breath and know this, let’s get you organized from Day One and your life will be a lot easier, less stressful and you can enjoy this special time with your kids. The supplies I am suggesting all cost less than $100 dollars and can be used for many other projects through the school year.

Let’s start with the paper work. There are a lot of papers that come home the first month. Forms to sign, class schedules and stuff that you are expected to remember for the whole year!

Super Simple organizing with plastic drawers

I’m talking about those inexpensive drawers that can sit on top of a desk or table. Buy one for each child. Pick up a permanent marker and label each drawer. You can even make it a craft project by letting your kids decorate their own. They can add stickers and draw pictures. Here is how I labeled mine:

  • After school stuff
  • Work in progress
  • Mom & Dad stuff

Train your child to come home from school, go thru their backpack and put their papers in the right drawer (or at least on the table for you to see). That way you all know where to look and those important papers don’t get lost in the deep black hole of the backpack.

Super Simple tips for labeling

Have you ever been to the Lost & Found at school? Virtually hundreds of dollars of merchandise sits there unclaimed. I know how much stuff costs so let’s make sure your child’s wardrobe and supplies don’t get lost. Permanent makers are a good investment. You can buy the pack that comes in 32 colors (Bic Mark-It) and the kids will have a ball helping you. Label everything with their first and last name and room number if you know it.

I found lunchboxes are the first to disappear because they all look alike. Label them with a tag instead. It’s much easier to spot.

Try one of these ideas to make a tag:

  • Buy a table top laminator. They are not that expensive and have so many uses. There is a heat laminator (Purple Cows) or a manual one (Xyron). If you are really looking to save some money you can buy clear laminate by the roll at the office supply store.
  • Pick up pull chains (like from ceiling fans) from the store and attach the tags. They last longer than yarn or ribbon. I have even seen them come in colors. (Wal-Mart)
  • If you want to get really fancy you can purchase a tag maker (Making Memories). I found mine in the scrapbooking aisle at the craft store.
  • Personalizing notebooks and folders will help get the kids excited about school and get them organized too. With adhesive (Xyron, Scrapbook Adhesive runner) add pictures, stickers and anything they want to add to embellish their supplies.

Simple snacks

The first thing my kids want when they get home is food! Here are some quick snacks to fill the void but not ruin dinner. You can plan ahead for the week and buy, chop and peel on Sunday and have a stress free week.

  • Ritz crackers with a slice of pepperoni and cheese.
  • Apples slices and peanut butter.
  • Celery, baby carrots and sugar snap peas with ranch.
  • Chicken nuggets, lettuce and some ranch rolled in a small flour tortilla.
  • Frozen grapes, string cheese and some Cheese-It’s.


Last but not least set up a special homework station. No TV and no distractions. I have a project called Rockin Pop Art. It’s a fun project for kids to make a placemat. They can use it to eat their snack on and do their homework. Remember they are just like us. When you go to work you have a “place” that you need to be. A desk, a register, a job site. Kids need a “place” too. By giving your kids a “place” to put things, a place to work and ownership, you will have a little less stress in your life and you’ll teach them how to be organized early in life.

About Terri Ouellette:

Terri O is a 2-time Emmy award winning television personality. As a Super Simple home arts expert, Terri O shares her passion for creativity thru her website, book, articles, television appearances and media tours across the country.

For 9 years Terri has been the face of creativity for the Craft & Hobby Associations (CHA) retailers, manufacturers and designers lending her expertise as an expert in upcoming trends as well as consumer needs. Check out her website www.terriocraftprojects.com and coming soon, www.supersimpleliving.com. Terri features projects, products, tools, tips & techniques to simplify your life.

Terri O has been featured on “The Early Show”, Discovery Channel, HGTV, TLC and host of “Crafting with Terri O” on QVC.  As a mom of two boys who love to get dirty, Terri O finds herself riding quads, dirt bikes and camping whenever she can.

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Cell phone reviewshttp://familyfirst.com/cell-phone-reviews.html http://familyfirst.com/cell-phone-reviews.html#comments Mon, 03 Aug 2009 03:43:56 +0000 http://familyfirst.sandbox.infomediainc.com/?p=4071 Confused by all the new cell phone technology and features? What about the latest accessories for cell phones? Just read through this site for comparisons and explanations of those latest and greatest gadgets.
Read this iphone review – The iPhone 3GS finally adds common cell phone features like multimedia messaging, video recording, and voice dialing. It runs faster; its promised battery life is longer; and the multimedia quality continues to shine. The iPhone 3GS’ call quality shows no improvements and the 3G signal reception remains uneven. We still don’t get Flash Lite, USB transfer and storage, or multitasking. The iPhone 3GS doesn’t make the same grand leap that the iPhone 3G made from the first-generation model, but the latest Apple handset is still a compelling upgrade for some users. The iPhone 3GS is faster and we appreciate the new features and extended battery life, but call quality and 3G reception still need improvement.
Fin many other phones with reviews that are equal to iphone. This way you can read in simple language about a phone and understand it before you buy one.

Cell phone reviews

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MediaMaxhttp://familyfirst.com/mediamax.html http://familyfirst.com/mediamax.html#comments Sat, 30 Dec 2006 00:03:33 +0000 http://familyfirst.sandbox.infomediainc.com/?p=3398 Need a place to stash some files for backup?
I’m talking about a LOT of files. Like 25 gigs worth!
Oh, and, of course, it’s FREE.
Check out today’s FamilyFirst site: MediaMax.
Not only do you get all that space to store your backups, you also get user-friendly software to help you keep it all straight.

The web interface loads up a file manager that is intuitively easy to use. It enables you to quickly and easily organize files, download files, play files, share files, and host files. They also feature different interfaces to help you organize your movies, photos, and music.
You may well have a lot of money invested in music. Wouldn’t it give you peace of mind to know that you have genuine off-site backup of it?
The free account gives you 25 gigs of space, with a one gig download limit per month. For just $4.95 a month, that increases to 100 gig of storage and 10 gigs per month downloading. Other plans give you even more space and bandwidth.
So back up precious photos, documents, music, or whatever else you have. And do it for free!

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Kits for Craftshttp://familyfirst.com/kits-for-crafts.html http://familyfirst.com/kits-for-crafts.html#comments Mon, 06 Jun 2005 00:26:41 +0000 http://familyfirst.sandbox.infomediainc.com/?p=2846
One of the most popular songs to come out of the ’60’s was one that urged us to “teach our children well”. You know the song I am singing about. The Internet has especially made it easier to help our young ones about things that they usually don’t think about too often. So when I find a site that helps educate in a unique and fun way, I like to give it special attention. These sites that make learning fun, in a non-threatening way, are usually the most successful, because by the time a student finds out they are being taught something, they have already been educated. Today’s Family First Site is one that I wish was around when my children were younger, as I am sure that it would have helped make them remember to wash behind their ears.

The name of the site is called Kits for Crafts. This is a site that offers a large selection of fun and educational kits designed to teach children the art of making handmade bath, body and home care products. They have online recipes that are easy to make, with full instructions. Most of the ingredients are available in your house, or available from your local stores. You can also order from the site. The recipes are also available in kit form, with all the material you need in on package. The recipe index is quite extensive, with step by step instructions and pictures on what to do for each item. Templates are featured for downloads, to enhance the containers you use to store the items. The Kits for Crafts Info Center is an excellent resource for finding additional information about natural ingredients, important safety precautions, storage suggestions, and measurement conversions.
One feature I want to emphasize is the Skills and Knowledge Index. As adults, our everyday activities come easily to us without requiring much thought or effort. However, the same activities serve as valuable learning tools for children. Full completion of each of these kits teaches many of these necessary developmental skills through a fun and exciting process. There is a breakdown of the skills that are taught, and how they are accomplished. You can also search the kits for specific skills that you are wanting to teach someone, such as hand-eye coordination or planning and project completion.
This site is a wonderful place to help young ones who are wanting to be creative and at the same time helping them to learn about personal hygeine. The kits and ingredients here make it easy to accomplish this, and it can be fun to do with your little ones. These kit can make excellent activities at a party or group gathering, and they can be customized by Kits for Crafts. They have an online planning guide that can assist you. They really make it easy to “teach your children well”.

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