This time, we will explore some ways to control paper clutter from the back door to the kitchen desk. A little organization can prevent paper chaos from expanding and help you find needed items.
Start by creating an organized landing space for items as soon as they come through the door. This could be a laundry room organizer with shelves or a closet or cabinet with a shelf for each family member. This is the holding spot for carry-in items while you deal with any of the urgencies that face most of us when we first arrive home. Ideally, this will have doors to conceal the contents. The photo here shows a cabinet to the left of the oven that stores book bags etc. until needed later in the day.
From the initial landing, paper needs to go where it can be dealt with effectively. That is usually the desk. There, things that can’t be dealt with immediately need to be filed so that they can be retrieved when needed. I keep a small file box with a compartment for each family member so they can find their mail when they arrive home. The box also has a labeled compartment for each week of the month so bills and responses can be addressed in a timely manner. Most important is the “immediate” compartment.
We also have two wicker boxes with hanging files next to our kitchen desk. This had to be added because I couldn’t bear to give up the little Eastlake desk that came out of my grandparent’s shed, pictured here. The desk has only a lap drawer. The first box has hanging files, labeled for appliance and product manuals, gardening and house wares catalogs, and coupons of all kinds. There is a file marked “pending” for issues requiring more information before they can be completed, such as insurance claims. It also has “To Do” lists, gift lists and an events folder for aid in organizing upcoming events.
There is a second hanging file basket that holds things such as health benefits manuals, organization rosters, homeowner’s association bulletins and phone lists. Anything requiring long-term storage, such as insurance policies, investments statements and bank statements, goes to another location.
You may choose to only have a pad of paper, calendar, pencils and CD’s, as in the built-in kitchen desk, pictured. This particular homeowner has a convenient first floor office where all of their daily use items are stored, so adding files at the kitchen would create chaos rather than organization.
In any case, you will need an organized lap drawer. With so many organization tools available, there is no need to go through the frustration of plowing through a jumbled mess every time you need a pencil or a stamp. My little Eastlake lap drawer is fitted with dividers made of basswood sticks from the local hardware store. The organizer took less than an hour to create.
With a little thought to your daily usage, you can organize your storage to quickly find daily-use items and keep paper clutter at bay.
Blueberry Sunshine Muffins
2 C all-purpose flour
1 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1 C fresh blueberries or 3/4 C frozen blueberries, rinsed
1 egg, slightly beaten
3/4 C sugar
1/3 C orange juice concentrate, thawed, undiluted
1 T grated orange rind
3 T white vinegar plus
water to make 2/3 C, total
1/4 C butter, melted
Grease 18 muffin cups or line with paper muffin cup liners. Set aside. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, mix together flour, soda and salt. Gently stir in blueberries. Set aside.
In a separate bowl, beat egg, slightly. Stir in sugar and mix well. Add orange juice concentrate, orange rind, white vinegar plus water mixture and melted butter. Blend liquids well.
All at once, add liquid mixture to flour mixture and stir, just until moistened, about 12 to 15 strokes. There should still be lumps of dry flour in the mix.
Pour batter into 18 muffin cups. Set in the center of the oven and bake for approximately 18-20 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool in the muffin tin 10-12 minutes. Remove muffins from the tin and serve or continue to cool. They should not require butter or jam to serve as they are naturally sweet and moist.
Cool completely before storing in an airtight container. The muffins also freeze well, for up to 4 weeks.