How to make the most of a small space

Making the most of small spaces can be a challenging task, but it doesn’t have to be daunting. To start, ask yourself a few questions.

  • What is the purpose of the room?
  • What do I need to put inside?
  • How do I make the most use of the space?

Once you’ve decided on the purpose of the room, everything else is easy.

Do small spaces require small things? Not necessarily. I’ve learned a few things about making the most of small spaces since moving to Germany. The house we’re renting has a small laundry room. This would be okay if it were used for that purpose alone. Unfortunately there is no storage room, pantry or garage. So this little laundry room serves more than one function. What’s the key to making a tiny room work as a multi-purpose room? The answer is organization.

There are containers for everything. You can put containers inside containers, and containers inside drawers. It seems like a lot of work and money right? It doesn’t have to be. Don’t worry, organizing can be fun and inexpensive.

This tiny room is approximately 6 ft. X 11 ft. It actually gets narrower towards one end of the room. It serves as a laundry room, pantry, storage and recycling area. Here are a few tips to organizing things in a small space.

When you have to put big things in a room, choose items that can be stacked such as a washer, dryer, and drawers. It’s good to vary the sizes of the items in a room. A bunch of only small items can make it look cluttered.

There’s no need for expensive shelves or large cabinets. A set of plastic drawers, a plastic shelf, a small cabinet, and a few crates and boxes will do the job.

Take a look at the white plastic drawers (pic below) beside the washer and dryer. It’s two sets of three drawers. One placed on top of the other. You can find this in any small grocery or department store. The price is reasonable. It’s easy to clean and carry. It’s easy to view the contents inside, and it lasts a long time.

Different everyday items can be stored in these drawers as you can see below. Keep anything that you want to smell fragrant in a drawer with your favorite dryer sheet. It will give that item (like tissue) a mild pleasing scent when you use it.

Store small items that can make a lot of mess in separate containers. The cans below cost €1 (on sale) and are perfect for storing plasticware like forks, knives, and spoons.

You can store snack bags or sandwich bags in tupperware. Pick one that you don’t use anymore or plan on throwing away. Keep it simple or decorate it. This is a good way to recycle and organize.

If you like to cook, it’s a good idea to have a spice rack. Mine is stored at the corner by the kitchen door. The metal rack with wheels makes it easy to maneuver back and forth, to and from the kitchen. It also saves time. You will have all the spices you need all at once and in one place rather than looking for them everywhere and carrying a few spices at a time.

These brand name spices (pic below) cost anywhere from $2-$5. There’s a better way to save money and a more efficient way to store your spices.

Buy spices in plastic bags like the ones you see below, instead of the spices in glass or plastic bottles. You don’t have to buy brand name spices. Generic ones are just as good. It’s less expensive and you get more for your money. After transferring them into containers of your choice, clip them and they’re ready for storage.

You have to be a little creative if you live in a country where recycling is a must. Storing your spices in little jars like the ones below will help a lot. These jars are sold for €1 each. Buy a few at a time to avoid an expensive bill. Transfer the spices into these jars so you can take the bags or bottles they came in to the recycling center, all at one time.

Label the jars on top or on the side (depending on your spice rack) so you can easily pick what you need when cooking.

Having one type of container makes your spice rack look more uniformed and organized. You can put the spices you use most on the top rack and alphabetize the rest of the spices on the bottom. This makes it much easier to find what you need.

These clear jars make it easy to see the spices without looking at the label. It also makes the spice rack look more interesting because of the different colors.

How do you keep track of the expiration dates once the spices are transferred? It’s easy.

  • Type it in your phone under “Notes” and title it “Expiration Dates.”
  • Do it the old fashioned way by writing it on a piece of paper and insert it in a page protector. Tape, hang or clip it to one of the shelves.
  • Write it on a whiteboard and hang it in the room.

So what do you do with the extra spices in the bags? Put them in a clear container and store them.

For spices that come in bulk or economical sizes, you can use bigger containers that open on one end for easy pouring.

There is an advantage to having a small storage space. You will not have anything expire before you can use it. The small white cabinet below stores perishable goods.

Remember the storage method: First In, First Out (FIFO). This is a method of inventory used by stores to rotate merchandise. They want to sell the goods they purchased first before their latest purchase. In grocery stores, they place the ones expiring sooner in the very front of shelves. Merchandise with later expiration dates are located in the very back of shelves.

You can rotate perishable goods two ways:

  • Store food that will expire later on the very back of shelves. Store the ones expiring sooner in the front. This will allow you to pull and use the ones that will expire first. Move the ones in the back to the front as you buy new ones.
  • Store food that will expire sooner on the left side and those that will expire later on the right. Always pull from the left side first. Rotate the ones on the right to the left side as you buy new ones.

The black plastic shelving below is what you would normally store in the garage. Use this in a small room instead of a closed-door cabinet. This will make the space feel more open.

No need for pricey containers. The trays, pans, boxes and crates you see on the shelves below are all from a second-hand store or came free with purchase. Pick different sizes, color, texture and materials to make your shelves more interesting and colorful.

Containers within containers. Store pasta, rice, and baking ingredients in easy-to-see containers. Then place them on pans or trays to keep them together. Pick containers of different sizes so you can arrange them by height to make it easier to see the labels.

Use the same concept for liquids. Transfer them in glass bottles so you can take the original containers to the recycling center in one trip. These clear containers are also more appealing to look at. Again, no need for fancy bottles. These small bottles cost €1 at the store. You can also find them at flea markets.

Make use of any space available. If there’s a space in any of your items, use it. The bright blue lunch bag and red cooler you see on the very top shelf (pic below) serves a purpose. The first aid kit is stored in the blue lunch bag and all medicines are in the red cooler. Store items like these in a place out of children’s reach.

I don’t recommend blocking any door for safety purposes. This door (pic above) is never used and stays locked all year. In case of emergency, everything in front of it is easy to move. This space is temporarily used for storage and recycling.

The black grocery stroller is great for trips to the store. It saves from buying and using plastic bags. It makes it more convenient to transport goods from the car to the house. It also serves as storage for large pots and pans.

The grey plastic crate with bright green trim (pic below) is used for recycled products (glass bottles, cardboard, plastic). It makes everything look more organized instead of having several bags all over the room.

Keeping things in containers frees up space and makes the room look bigger, cleaner, and neater.

Here’s the bottom line to making the most of a small space:

  • Use easy-to-see or clear containers.
  • Use shelving with wheels for easy movement and maneuverability.
  • Uniformity and labels give a more organized look (such as containers for spices and liquids).
  • Pick different types and unique containers (ex. trays, crates etc.) to give your space more character.
  • Pick a few colorful containers to brighten up the room.
  • Use everyday items as extra storage space (ex. grocery cart for pots and lunch bags or coolers for important items).
  • There’s no need to buy expensive storage shelves or containers. Check second hand stores or thrift shops first.
  • Recycle or upcycle some of the things you have at home.

CORK (Sassy, Sustainable, Cool)

Did you know that there’s a whole line of fashionable products and accessories that are made from this humble but sassy and sustainable material? Who knew cork could be so cool?

I just learned all about the Cork” from a woman named Marla (a.k.a. the Cork lady). She’s the owner of a small business called Portuguese Connection. She sells everything from ceramics to cork products made in Portugal.

A bit of history from the Cork lady

“Cork comes from the bark of the cork oak (Quercus suber). It’s the protective layer around the trunk of the tree. It’s cut from trees no less than 9 years old and that same tree cannot be cut again for another 9 years. Portugal provides over half of the world’s cork production.”

(For more info: http://www.saomarcosdaserra.com/cork.php)

Its uses:

  • Cork boards, floor tiles, gaskets, cork rubber, bottle stoppers, shoes, and even musical instruments.
  • Cork textile fabric – bags, organizers, wallets, bookmarks.

Characteristics of cork:

  • It is extremely resistant to heat and water
  • It shows great elasticity
  • It is buoyant
  • Each product made from this material has its own unique character

Cleaning is easy:

Cork products are easy to clean. All that’s needed is a soft cloth, water, and a mild soap.

Why buy cork products?

  • It’s a great alternative to leather
  • It’s lightweight
  • It’s eco-friendly
  • It’s durable
  • It’s water and heat resistant
  • It’s easy to clean
  • Its recyclable

For more info or if you’d like one of these cool, fashionable and practical cork products, contact cork-lady@hotmail.com or check her FB page Corklady Marla.

(Positive Pic Of the Day) PPOD #36: Life Lessons from A little Girl

Life becomes busy and more complicated as we get older. Today, a little girl reminded me of a few life lessons we often forget.

1. Enjoy the simplicity of life.

Sunshine + Flowers = Pick them and give them to someone you love.

2. Enjoy what you’ve accomplished no matter how small.

Look at what you’ve accomplished at the end of the day and appreciate them. Whether you’ve just finished reading a book or cleaned your house, it’s still an accomplishment.

3. Don’t forget to smile!

It’s free, it doesn’t take much effort, and it makes us and everyone around us feel good.

Extraordinary Ordinaries

Sometimes we forget that ordinary things can be extraordinary if we look a little harder.

Walking around the Schönbuch forest and around town, I stopped to take pictures of what I thought could be beautiful images.

The pictures have been edited to adjust light and color. It’s a more vivid image of the real thing. It just took a little time and effort.

People are like pictures. We can get a clearer image of someone if we just invest a little more time and attention.

You’ve probably met someone and thought to yourself “she’s just a another plain Jane” or “he’s just another ordinary Joe.”

Next time you come across someone plain or ordinary, try to take some time to see if there are qualities that can be extraordinary in that person. Seeing the best in people takes time and practice.

We can find the best aspects of any object or anyone if we choose to see it. The choice is always ours.

7 Signs Of a Good Man

It’s true! A good man is hard to find. How can you tell if you’ve got a good man in your life?

Some people might say that what women call a “good man” is a man who doesn’t have control or doesn’t wear the pants in the relationship. A relationship is about equal control. And a good man knows when to keep his pants on and when to take it off.

I don’t have a degree that makes me an expert on this subject. But I do have life experiences to back it up. I’ve been in more than a few relationships. I’ve also been married three times. Life is the best teacher.

Here are some signs that you’ve got a good man:

1. His has his priorities right

Does your man take longer to get ready than you when you’re about to go somewhere or attend an event? Does he spend more time admiring himself than you? Does he spend more time at the gym than with you?

A wise friend once told me after seeing my date (now my husband). “He will treat you well. Look at the way he dresses. He’s a simple man. He will give you what he doesn’t spend on himself. He may not have a lot of money but he will give you what he has. He will make you shine in your relationship. He will put the spotlight on you and not on himself.” My friend was completely right!

There’s nothing wrong with a man who takes care of himself but it’s a different matter when it’s all about him! I went on a date with a guy who was a model. He never asked about me but was glad to tell me all about him. He also looked at every mirror we passed by. Good looks aren’t everything. It didn’t make up for his vanity or lack of intelligence.

When I was younger, some friends asked if I preferred a man who had six pack abs and bulging biceps or a man who is not so muscular with a little love handle. I said I preferred the latter. This tells me they care about themselves but not to a point where I wouldn’t get to see them because they spend more time in the gym than with me (of course this doesn’t apply to men who earn their living by competing professionally in weightlifting). I went on a date once with a guy who took muscle building too seriously. He wouldn’t drink a beer with me and popped all kinds of pills (for gaining muscle) in his mouth all night while we were at a club. I felt more like a trainer than a date.

2. He builds you up

A good man will say only nice things about you to his family and friends. He will build you up to them as if you were the best thing since sliced bread. It doesn’t matter what argument you had with this man or whatever negative thoughts or feelings he has about you. Rest assured, it will never be mentioned in public. He will be a reflection of you. If you look good, then he looks good.

I have never heard my husband talk about me or brag about me in public. I hear it from his friends who tell me he says good things about me and how he’s proud of me. “Wow! He said that?” That’s all I can say and then I smile with the knowledge that this is what my husbands thinks of me.

3. He supports your hopes and dreams

Even if he doesn’t always agree with your plans, he will be right beside you to catch you when you fall or lend a helping hand. No matter if he thinks your ideas are crazy, he will be there for you. This doesn’t mean that he won’t be vocal about things that are completely wrong (like if you decide to rob a bank or gamble your life savings in one day).

Sometimes I blog about things that make people uncomfortable. My husband quietly reads it after it’s published and doesn’t say anything. When I’ve realized it needed some editing (TMI), that’s when he lets me know his opinions. When I asked why he didn’t mention anything before. He said “you do your thing. You be YOU!” When I started blogging, he didn’t try to stop me. In fact he keeps me in check making sure I get my PPOD completed each day.

4. He shares more good days than bad (😀/🙁) with you

A good man will make you smile more than he’ll make you cry. I’ve always told my daughter, if you’re not sure if your in a good relationship, get a calendar. Put a smiley face if you’ve had a good day and a sad face if it’s been bad. Look at it at the end of the month and see if there are more good days than bad days. This will give you a clear picture of your relationship.

I did this for almost a year. I was trying to make the relationship work. After looking at my calendar and seeing all the sad faces month after month, I knew I had to call it quits.

5. He remembers the little things

Things that don’t cost money or just thoughtful gestures can mean a lot in a relationship. It could be a daily text saying have a nice day. It could be a surprise breakfast on your birthday. The big things are easy to remember but it’s the little things that take more effort.

I’ve been forgetful lately and have been paranoid about missing my daughter’s birthday. My husband called me from work at 9 a.m. (our time in Germany) to remind me to call my daughter (midnight in Cali). He also calls just to remind me to enjoy life in the present, to have a glass of wine or a cup of coffee at the Marktplatz (market square).

6. He never hit you

No matter how mad a man gets, he should never EVER hit you. Physical abuse can only get worse with time. If it were the other way around, would you hit the person you love because he/she made you mad? Is it excusable? There should never be an excuse for it. It should never happen.

7. What matters to you, matters to him

Sometimes you have friends (or family) that your man dislikes. You know you’ve got a good man when he makes the effort to be pleasant around them because they mean a lot to you. Same goes for your favorite restaurant, favorite movies, and favorite places. Yes, he will endure it for a certain amount of time so you can enjoy the things you like. Although it doesn’t mean it will happen every time. Bottom line is he’s willing to compromise.

There you have it!

I’ve been blessed to find a good man. If this made you realize you’ve got a good man too, hold on to him, don’t let him go and make sure to reciprocate.

It’s all about Perspective

When you look at this picture, do you see how far the elevator is from you or how close it is to you?

Since I started blogging 3 days ago, I found I see things more differently.  How can this be at such a short amount of time?  Is this really happening?  Can one small conscious decision to find something good about the day really change how I view the world around me?

This new found interest made me step out of the house early this morning.  A detraction from my regular schedule. Most days, I stay home around this time and start my daily chores or sit on the couch and watch TV.  I decided to walk up to the castle ruins.  A feat I haven’t done since last year.  I started walking to the Marktplatz or market square.  There is a quiet and serene atmosphere at this hour of the day.

As I climbed up the steps of the marktplazt (market square) I see the Stiftskirche (best church in Herrenberg). I’ve been passing by this church for two years and it never ceases to amaze me.  I see the top of this church no matter where I am in in our town.  Definitely no need for a watch since I hear the bell chime every quarter and every hour.

As I stood on the steps near the flagpole on top of the mountain, I noticed the sun rising while a couple exercised below.  I never would’ve taken a second look at them a few days ago.

When the couple left, I walked down to where they were and noticed some benches facing the sunrise.  At this moment, I decided that I will have to come back to this same spot.  I will just sit for a while on one of these benches and soak up the view of whatever is in front of me.

As I started walking back down, I noticed a lot of wild berry bushes growing all over the side of the mountain but there were no flowers to be seen.  As I walked some more I caught a glimpse of color out of the corner of my eye.

They were tiny, delicate-looking purple flowers that can be easily overlooked by passers-by.  Amidst all the brown and green weeds and grass, a few of these flowers grew on the base of a chopped tree.  Resilient little things!  It made me appreciate finding them even more.

As I headed down again, I noticed the playground my daughter goes to on weekends.  Again, I saw it differently.  The brown wooden planks held together by rope never looked this interesting before. Now I appreciate how such a simple creation brought happiness to many kids and even adults.

Unlike the many other times I’ve been up to the castle ruins, I noticed that I took more time to gather the sights surrounding me.  I looked up, down, and around to see what beautiful things could elicit feelings of wonder, awe, or joy. Again I asked myself, did my choice to see one positive thing about my day really change my perspective?  I wonder… and now I’m curious and excited to see how far this change takes me.

Ouch! The story behind the logo

A big OUCH moment just happened today.  Am I embarrassed?  Yes!  I felt foolish, sad, mad, and hurt (mostly my pride).  I thought twice about posting this but I figured it would be helpful to others so I swallowed my pride.  I thought I was pretty unscammable.  My new found passion made me wreckless.

The story behind this logo:

I’m pretty green when it comes to blogs. I’ve heard about it but didn’t really know more about it until yesterday.  I had a great experience when I googled how to create a blog and it gave me WordPress.com.  This is a legit website.  Next I wanted to create a logo so again I googled it and found this:

Onlinelogomaker.com.

I created my logo and paid for premium which costs $29.  When I logged on to the site, there was no way to get access of my logo.  I checked my account and I was charged $29 and $35.80.  Whoa! Wait a minute!  I Went back to the site, found “support.”  I started a chat but nobody replied.  I checked for a contact number and there was none.  When I did find a phone number on the receipt they e-mailed me, it went to voice mail. Red flags all over the place!  Went back to the site to cancel my account and as soon as I hit ‘cancel account’ it kicked me out.  The site said I needed to sign in again.  I signed in multiple times and it kept telling me that I typed an incorrect password.  Locked out and scammed!  I immediately called the bank and cancelled my card.  I’m glad I had transcripts e-mailed so I have some proof and a reminder not to be duped again.

So, what’s the silver lining in this whole tragedy?  I took a pic of the logo before I got locked out.

I now use it as my logo and this one has a story behind it.  I don’t think the people who scammed me would mind.  I did pay for it!

If anyone has seen this logo before, please let me know and I will delete it immediately.  Since I picked the designs and arranged them myself, there shouldn’t be another one like it (hopefully) 😉.  I would appreciate recommendations for legit websites or tips on how to help me create a better blog site.  Lesson learned? Definitely!  Research!  Research! Research!