Desktop Storage: Odds & Ends

A few ways I am corralling those everyday desktop items that often wind up without a home:

1. A small silver tray w/ cut-out detailing (thrifted, $0.50)

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now holds my post-it notes in a pretty and easy-to-access manner:

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2. Small glasses (thrifted, $0.50/each) fit perfectly on an otherwise useless ledge and hold binder clips, paperclips, and push pins:

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Re-purpose This: Nail Polish Storage

I don’t have a true “before” picture because I came up with this idea before I began a blog, but would you believe that I found the perfect way to store/organize my nail polish from a chocolate container?!

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This is the closest image from a google search to show what I started with. The detailing of the lid inspired me to hang onto the packaging:

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Unfortunately, I soon discovered that it was impossible (tell me otherwise!) to get the label off. I then started thinking about ways I could use the bottom of the case. The case itself is acrylic, but the bottom is lined with paper, and on top of the paper is that thin/cheap kind of plastic, and that is what divided and held the chocolates in place. I removed the paper and left the plastic sheet on top of the case bottom, and eventually realized it was the perfect size for nail polish (depending on the brand; some fit better than others).

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My desk is usually the place I paint my nails because browsing the internet is one of the few things I can do while my nails dry damage-free. This tray actually fits perfectly into one of the cubbies on my desk:

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It’s super easy to slide out if I need to, and I can rearrange my nail polishes as needed and put my most frequently used polishes in the front row.

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I’m in love with this quick fix because it fits my needs perfectly (previously I had my nail polishes lined up on the shelf, and I had to take them out or move them around to get to the ones I wanted), it’s “on trend” as acrylic storage is all the rage right now, and it was 100% free. My parents were gifted the chocolates from a co-worker and I claimed the packaging once it was empty.

What creative re-purposes of “trash” have you discovered lately? 🙂

Organize This: Online Accounts & Bill Paying

I’m sure that just about anyone nowadays is paying most, if not all, of their bills online. I have been for a while and find that it’s been real easy for me to stay on top of my payments. I keep a list on my corkboard (above my desk, and beside my calendar) that keeps track of what day each month recurring bills are due, and approximate/exact amounts. I keep this list both for bills that are automatically debited (so there’s never any issue of not having money in my account for said bill) and for bills that vary and I manually schedule each month (i.e. cell phone). Occasionally I will also have a bill due for a retail store, such as The Limited or Ann Taylor (remember that this blog is called “Thrift Seeking” … I love those stores and shop there a handful of times throughout the year, but it’s always on the clearance rack!). I get email reminders so paying the card(s) off on time is never an issue, but since I don’t pay these bills frequently it’s always a pain to remember my user id and password.  A while ago I started using a spare notebook to jot down my user id and password for various sites:

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Obviously I am showing you a blank page so as to keep my accounts private, but you can see that there is a line down the center of the page creating two columns, which was perfect for writing my user id on one side and the password on the other. (FYI, I have no problem remember passwords, just which one is for which site. Instead of writing my passwords in entirety I wrote the first few digits or the ending digits – i.e. “ca……” or “……45”; just enough to jog my memory.) This system worked wonderfully until my notebook started filling up so much that it took several minutes to find the right account/password. After a year or so, I decided to tweak this system and make it even more efficient.

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Using Martha Stewart stick-on tabs (available at Staples), leftover from my coupon organizing project (tutorial to come), I created sections for the categories I needed most: “loans/education”, “retailers”, “professional/employment”, and “other”. Now when I need to do less frequent tasks, such as pay off my Target card or log into my account for various school districts, I can flip to that section of my notebook and find that information in almost no time. The best thing is that this system is so easily updated. I left a few blank pages in each section so there is room to expand, and I can easily create new categories down the line if needed. Using some scrapbook paper and artwork from an old calendar I also prettied up the cover in a few minutes’ time.

Organize This: Tax Documents

This is an idea that I came up with a few years ago. It started out of convenience. I had an empty accordion file sitting unused since my college days; why not put it to use storing tax documents? The more I thought about it, the more I realized how perfect it was. Not only is all my tax information in one place and easy to transport (especially helpful since my first year filing I used my dad as a resource, and also if I would ever need to pay an accountant or firm to help me file in the future if my return gets more complicated), but there are typically 7 slots in an accordion file, or in other words, space to store 7 years of tax documents. Since you are only required to keep tax documents for 7 years, that couldn’t be more perfect. Once I run out of space, it’s a very easy and visual reminder that it’s time to shred.

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I recently “upgraded” to a pretty accordion file (the Martha Stewart line at Staples) and even attached one of her adhesive bookplates so I could label the front of it. Inside are 7 slots, and I stick a manila folder in each slot and label the year. As I get tax-related documents I can easily file them in the folder and then everything’s all together when I’m ready to sit down and complete my tax return.

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The inside is not quite pretty yet, but switching out the basic manila folders for some patterned ones and/or making the labels consistent (i.e. not a mix of label tape and handwriting) would easily solve that.

Hope that helps you get a bit more organized for tax season this year!

Thrifty Find: $0.80 Tea Storage

On one of my many pinterest sprees (find me at pinterest.com/leadingtone), I stumbled across this photo:

It was just my luck that only a few weeks later I found an almost identical acrylic case at Goodwill ($1 but I got it for $.80 because I used my -expired, shh- student discount).

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The one from chefscatalog.com definitely has mine beat, but for less than a dollar compared to $16 + shipping, I’m not complaining much. There actually is a lid for mine, but since the tea bags are taller than the dimensions of the box I can’t use it with the tea inside. I love how pretty our tea looks now, and it’s so convenient to see what we have/need (for the most part; it doesn’t hold our entire supply) and grab it quickly as the mood strikes.

On a related note, this is what our makeshift coffee station currently looks like:

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It’s still a bit of a work in progress because I only really use the Keurig, but my husband also uses the Mr. Coffee, and semi-regularly the french press and coffee bean grinder. I tried to corral all of his supplies into the woven basket and it definitely helped, but I still feel like the counter is too cluttered for my liking. Our coffee stirrers were temporarily stuck into another cheap Goodwill find, but they’ve been working so well in there that I’ll probably just leave them. The Keurig stand is a fairly recent purchase that was well worth the $20-25 (available at both BB&B and JCPenney, as well as other places I’m sure).

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It can hold up to 36 k-cups so not only does it hold more than my previous system (dumping them into a small, shallow basket), but it’s much more organized and takes up no extra space. BB&B also has a bamboo version, but it’s an extra $10-15 from what I remember, and it wasn’t worth the price jump to me because at the end of the day it wasn’t going to make my rental kitchen look any more modern or aesthetically pleasing.

One other storage method I’ve employed:

Hanging oven mitts and pot holders from shower curtain hooks on a rod.

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Anyone know if that’s what this rod is actually intended for? It was driving me crazy until I came up with this idea. I briefly got excited and thought I could detach the rod and use it to hold a paper towel roll, but not the case.

Other than that, I’ve discovered the beauty of shelf stands:

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It would have been even better had the length been longer, but these things have definitely been useful in maximizing space in my kitchen.

Still trying to figure out a good, rental-free way to organize our many pots and pans!