Category Archives: organization

Stress Free Weekly Dinner Planning

I previously wrote a post on how I plan dinners for the week.   Since writing that post, I’ve added an extra element to my little system, that has made dinner planning even easier. I was finding that on busy weeks when my husband and I had limited time to actually sit down to think through what we wanted to eat that week, browse through cookbooks, online recipes, etc., we would end up just rushing to come up with ideas last minute on Monday mornings right before heading off to the grocery store. This would often result in us just deciding on the same few go-to meals over and over since those were what we could think of off the top of our heads.

dinner-planning-howto-arianna-belle-blogTo add variety and help make things as stress free and easy as possible, I decided to take the time one day to list out as many dinners as I could think of that we know how to make and love, as well as a few new ones we’ve been wanting to try out.  I then typed them all into a business card template (one dinner per box) and printed them on business card paper (I used this because it had a nice decorative border).  Once I had everything printed out, I grouped the dinner cards by category (photo above left) and used little post-it tabs to create category dividers.  I put all the cards in a business card holder (photo above middle), which I adhered strong magnets to the back of (photo above right), so I could stick it up on our fridge – a convenient accessible spot that’s right next to the pantry where we keep our dinner planner sheets.

dinner-planning-arianna-belle-blogSo now, when it comes to deciding what we want to make for dinner on any given week, we can grab the cards, quickly look through them and choose one (or two) card(s) for each day. Once we’ve picked our cards, I fill in a dinner planner sheet with all the ingredients I need to shop for, and then stick up the cards up on our magnetic weekly board. If we change our minds in regards to which dinner we’ll make on what day (which often happens), we can easily move the cards around without having to erase and re-write things on the board like we used to.

There are several things I like about this routine. It makes deciding what to make quick and easy so it doesn’t feel like a chore.  It eliminates the dreaded “what should we do for dinner?” question. It helps us eat more healthfully since when we have our dinners planned out and all the ingredients on hand, we’re less likely to order take out.  It prevents multiple last minute trips to the market, so it saves us time. It helps us avoid getting into a dinner rut by putting into rotation all the dinners we know how to make and love – not just the ones that seem to come to mind most easily.

It does take some effort to set things up, but once you have a system in place, and you use it a couple of times, it’ll become habit and you’ll find that it makes life a bit easier. For anyone thinking of setting up something similar, here’s a list of what you’ll need:

  • Magnetic board with the days of the week – the one I have in my home is this one by Three By Three Seattle
  • Magnets
  • Several copies of the Dinner Planner (free printable!)
  • Something to hold and store the planning sheets in a convenient spot – I have a transparent pocket adhered to the inside of my pantry door.
  • Business card paper to make the dinner cards – index cards folded and cut in half would also work well
  • Filing tabs to label and separate your categories
  • A business card holder to hold your dinner cards – if you’ll be adding magnets to it like I did to stick it up on the fridge, be sure to get one that has a flat (non-slanted) back

Tips:

  • For recipes you don’t know off the top of your head how to make, include a note of where you found the recipe on the card (for example, the name of the cookbook and the page). That way, you can easily find it the day-of.  You can also write on the back of the card the key ingredients for that recipe that you don’t usually keep on hand so that you can easily and quickly fill in your dinner planner/shopping list.
  • Keep a few blank cards on hand for adding new recipes
  • If you usually go to more than one grocery store each week like I do, when writing out your shopping list, use different colored pens for each store.  In the dinner planner shown in the photo above for example, I used an orange pen to write ingredients I wanted to get at Trader Joes and a purple pen to write the ingredients I wanted to get at Ralphs.  So when I was at Trader Joes, I just had to focus on the items in orange, and when I was at Ralphs, I just had to focus on the items in purple. I was able to go in and out of each store quickly.
  • Choose a convenient day of the week that you can integrate dinner planning into your routine.  For me it’s Sunday so I have my list ready for when I go grocery shopping Monday morning.

@Arianna_Belle(instagram)To follow the system:

1.  Browse through your dinner cards and pick out a card (or two) for each day of the week that you plan to cook at home

2.  Fill in the dinner planner sheet.  Dinners go in the furthest left hand column then ingredients you need to shop for go in the appropriate columns to the right (Produce, Dairy & Refrigerated, etc).

3.  Stick your dinner cards for the week up on your magnetic board.  Assign a card to each day keeping in mind you can always easily move them around later if you want.

4. Grab your dinner planner sheet and go shopping.  Note that the columns on the sheet correspond to the aisles of most grocery stores, making it easy to shop down each column.

5.  Feel good knowing you’re prepared for the week!

Let me know if you give this a try. Hopefully I explained things well enough. If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments section below.

This post was brought to you by Office Depot.  All thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting Arianna Belle sponsors!

Posted in organization, planning tools | 2 Comments

My Stylishly Organized Drawer

I recently gave one of my drawers a little makeover with a clear organizer and a roll of duct tape. I used the organizer, which I picked up from Ikea, to separate all my items. It has lots of little compartments that make it easy to designate a spot for each thing. When everything is in it’s place, I can quickly find what I need.

As for the duct tape, I used it to create a stylish drawer liner.  3M has a great snake print tape from their new Expressions line that can be used in a lot of creative ways.  Kelly of Fabulous K recently used it to cover a photo frame and Megan of Honey We’re Home used it to cover a mousepad and a tray.  To make my drawer liner, I simply measured the bottom of my drawer, cut a piece of poster board to size, covered it with strips of the duct tape and then fit it inside the drawer. Super easy. Looks great and as a bonus, it helps protect my drawer.  If anything spills, I can easily wipe it off. This is what I see when I open my drawer now:

Organized Makeup Drawer - Arianna Belle Blog

What do you think? Not too shabby huh?

If you’re thinking of using snake print tape for a little project of your own, use this coupon for $1 off.

This post was brought to you by Office Depot.  All thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed here are my own. Thank you for supporting Arianna Belle sponsors!  

Posted in bathroom organization, makeup organization, organization, organizing products, vanity organization | 3 Comments

How I Organize My Magazine Clippings

Even though there’s undoubtedly an abundance of inspiration and information available via digital magazines, blogs, and Pinterest, which I all love, I still very much enjoy receiving printed magazines in the mail that I can physically flip through and rip pages out of, while settled in a comfy seat with a big cup of coffee in hand.  It’s a relaxing treat at the end of the day.

As much as I love printed magazines though, I don’t like the physical clutter they can create. If you’re like me and have several subscriptions, you know how easily and quickly magazine piles can grow and get out of hand if you don’t periodically toss them or do something to tame and organize them.

Today I thought I’d share with you my system for keeping my magazine collection in check. While I do keep some magazines in their entirety and treat them as books because they’re filled with a lot of visually rich and inspiring content all throughout, what I try to do with most magazines is selectively rip out the pages I want to keep, and organize those pages into binders.

How_to_Organize_Magazine_Clippings_via_Arianna_Belle_Blog

A few of my magazine clippings binders made pretty with simple matching covers 

As I’m reading through a new issue, as soon as I identify content I’d like to save, I rip out the page.  It may be an article that I found informational and want to reference in the future, or a city guide for a place that I’d like to visit, or an image with a beautiful color story that I find inspiring. I set aside the pages I’ve ripped out and (temporarily) put them in what I’ve designated as a magazine clippings box, because lets be honest, most of the time after reading a magazine, I’m in relax mode, not in organizing mode.

When I’m in the mood, usually on a different day, maybe while watching TV or something, I’ll take my magazine clippings and separate them out into the following categories:

Action – things to buy, recipes to try this week, sites to bookmark, etc.

Business – advice, resources and inspiration for my biz 

Cleaning & Home Improvement – how to’s, tips, guides, reviews for appliances and other home products I don’t need or can’t afford right now but possibly will later, etc.

Decor – inspiration, products, guides

Dream Home Inspiration – home ideas that I absolutely positively love and dream of  incorporating into my future home

Entertaining – tablescapes, ideas for the holidays, etc.

Fashion – outfit ideas, guides

Food – recipes, cooking tips

Hair & Beauty – ideas and guides

Health & Fitness – informational articles, guides, how to’s

Organization – inspiration, ideas, products

Travel – interesting places I’d like to check out, city guides, travel tips

Someday Maybe – projects I might want to try sometime, book lists, movies I’d like to watch, etc.

Wisdom – articles regarding balance, happiness, spirituality, perspective etc. (helpful for getting out of a funk or getting through a depressing time)

With the exception of the Action category, which I have a tray for near my desk (more on my office trays later), I created a binder for all my categories. Each binder is filled with clear sheet protectors and tabbed dividers (for sub-categorizing).  To organize the magazine clippings, I simply put each into a sheet protector in the appropriate binder and under the corresponding sub-category.

Organized_Magazine_Clippings_in_Binder_via_Arianna_Belle_Blog

My Travel binder with clear tab dividers labeled with sub-categories: Local, Weekend Getaways, National, International, Travel Tips

Here are my tips for anyone who may be interested in doing something similar:

-Go through one or two issues of each magazine you subscribe to, and take a look at the pages you’ve torn out to help you come up with your binder categories

-Assess your needs before going out to buy supplies.  I personally go through a lot of magazines and tend to tear out a fair amount of pages, so I determined that I needed a separate binder for each category to neatly fit everything in and leave space to add more.  If you’re someone who doesn’t subscribe to a lot of magazines and/or doesn’t tend to tear out that many pages, you may decide you can organize everything into one large binder or maybe combine two or three categories into each binder.  If you need to, you can always expand later.

-Keep in mind also that not all your binders need to be the same size.  Most of mine are 1″ but for some categories, like Fashion and Decor, I have 3″ binders.

-Make sure you use either extra-wide dividers, or dividers that are specially made for use with sheet protectors (like these). If you get regular dividers, since sheet protectors are wider than regular letter sized paper, you won’t be able to see the tabs.

-Label the divider tabs with a label maker for a neater look (if you don’t have one yet, I highly recommend getting one, it’s so handy!)

-If you want to downsize and organize a collection of back issues you’ve accumulated over time, do it in batches.  Trying to organize them all at once can be overwhelming.  Plus the process is more fun if you let yourself do it as a leisurely project :-)

*This post was brought to you by the folks at Office Depot.  All thoughts, ideas, and opinions expressed here are my own.  Thank you for supporting Arianna Belle sponsors! 

Posted in magazine organization, organization | 12 Comments

How to Write a Better To-Do List

How to Write a Better To Do List - Arianna Belle Blog - Photo by Yvonne  Bauer

I’ve been reading the book Getting Things Done by David Allen and have enjoyed learning about his approach to productivity.  One of the things from the book that I have started putting into practice and have found useful is to ask myself, ”what’s the next action?” when adding things to my to-do list.   Here’s a look at what a few items on my to-do list would have typically looked like prior to me considering the next action question:

  • replace broken steamer piece
  • recover sofa chair
  • buy file boxes
  • get boots fixed

At first glance the to-do’s seem fairly straightforward but, when I would look at items like this on my list, for some reason I would find myself resisting them.  They’d often get pushed back and continue to remain incomplete. Why? Mr. Allen explains that most actionable items require some quick thought and planning steps before we can precisely define what has to happen to complete them. Do you need to research something? Gather certain information? Contact someone? He says that the thinking exercise for each item is something that has to happen at some point or another and it’s better to complete it early on because “if you haven’t identified the next physical action required to kick-start [an item], there will be a psychological gap every time you think about it even vaguely.” (pg. 130)

Here’s the same list re-written after taking the time to think about the next physical action required for each of my items:

  • get model number of steamer for replacement piece
  • research fabric options for sofa chair
  • measure optimal size for file boxes to go in closet
  • research shoe repair places on yelp

In order to replace the broken steamer piece, I have to first get the model number so that I can contact customer service with that information.  Before I can recover my sofa chair, I first have to find the right fabric.  Before I actually go out and buy the file boxes, I need to first measure the space I’m putting them in so I know they’ll fit and I’ll know what to look for when I’m at the store.  To get my boots fixed, I need to first find a repair place to take them to. The idea is to have all my thinking completed about the steps of an actionable item so that when I have a window of time to get something done, I can use the tools I have (computer, phone, etc.) and the location I’m in (at office, at home, out running errands, etc.) to cross more things off my list, having already defined what exactly there is to do.

To be honest, I don’t always write my to-do’s this way.  It’s a habit I’m trying to develop. Sometimes I’m in a rush and write down something non-specific because I just need to quickly dump things out of my head.  If this happens, I try to look back over my list when I’m not so rushed, and re-write the vague things on my list to make them specific next-action items.

Have any of you read Getting Things Done? I’m working on putting other recommendations from the book into practice and will report back here letting you all know how it goes.

photograph above by Yvonne Bauer of the blog Fraeulein Klein

Posted in lists, organization, productivity, time management | 12 Comments

Stylish Workspace: Sugar Paper

Sugar Paper is a high quality paper goods company started by Chelsea Shukov and Jamie Grobecker 10 years ago.  Late last year they outgrew their original small space and moved their studio to a large warehouse in West LA. These photos give us a peek inside:

Sugar Paper Office Door via Arianna Belle Blog

Sugar Paper Office

Sugar Paper Inspiration Board

Sugar Paper Organized Shelves via Arianna Belle Blog

Sugar Paper Studio

Sugar Paper LA Studio

Sugar Paper WordPress Sugar Paper Studio & Offices

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Gorgeous right? As a young entrepreneur I find this so inspring.  Perhaps one day I’ll get to move my company into a similarly large and beautiful studio :-) Gotta dream big right??

 Photos via 100 Layer Cakelet and Sugar Paper’s Instagram Feed 

–Another inspiring workspace here.

Posted in office space, office spaces, organized workspaces | 13 Comments

Glass Front Cabinets in the Bathroom

In our future “forever home” would love to have glass front storage cabinetry in the bathroom, whether as built-ins or a freestanding piece, where we could house and display neatly folded stacks of towels, glass jars filled with bath salts, beautiful soaps, and other bath essentials.  Something kinda like this:

glass-front-bathroom-cabinets-Arianna-Belle-BlogImage sources: 1 – this is glamorous via design sponge, 2 & 3 – white + gold design via la dolce vita, 4 – found via vignette design, original source unknown, 5 - bhg, 6 - instyle magazine
Posted in bathroom organization, beautifully organized spaces, organization | 6 Comments

Living Room Update: Media Storage

Remember the media unit I shared a photo of in this post? Well when we first purchased it, our initial idea was to add two lower drawers for closed storage.  After trying out the drawers though, we didn’t like how they looked and opted instead to keep the unit open. That meant though that we had to find alternative options for out of sight storage.

I kept an eye out for stylish boxes and bins and found some at Office Depot that were the perfect size and a lovely creamy neutral color. I went with three box bins for the upper right shelf and two document boxes for the lower left shelf. The bins now hold my husband’s Xbox games, controllers, etc. out of sight while keeping them easily accessible.  The boxes hold various card and board games.   Here’s how it looks:

organized-media-unit-arianna-belle-blogorganized-media-storage-arianna-belle-blogWhere do you like to store the entertainment stuff you prefer keep out of sight? Is someone in your household a gamer? Where do you store all the games and gadgets?

More home updates to come!

p.s. In case you’re wondering, we don’t really keep any DVDs in the media unit because most of the movies we watch nowadays are via Netflix, Zune or Blockbuster.

The folks at Office Depot sponsored this post.  All ideas/opinions/thoughts are my own.

Posted in living room organization, storage solutions, stylish storage | 4 Comments

Stylish Workspace: Tara Guerard Soiree

It’s no surprise that a stylish event planning company like Tara Guerard Soiree, who regularly puts together magazine worthy weddings, has equally magazine worthy offices. Check out the photos below of their clean, tailored and bright workspace:

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Sets of matching boxes and binders on custom floor to ceiling shelving provide plenty of storage and help maintain a clean uncluttered look.

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An bulletin board above Tara’s desk serves as a catchall for photos that inspire ideas.

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Large windows flood the conference space with natural sunlight

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The tall spacious white table in the central workspace provides a perfect morning meeting spot for the team.

Definitely saving this as inspiration for when my I (hopefully!) have a larger company office space!

photography by Julia Lynn for Lonny
Posted in beautifully organized spaces, home office organization, office spaces, organized workspaces, stylish storage | 3 Comments

Home Office Decor Update: Greek Key Tray

The newest decor update in my office is a big beautiful tray that Paloma of La Dolce Vita recently sent over from her Joy & Revelry shop for a White Box Challenge. I decided to put the tray on the surface of my Expedit shelving, which I have right behind my desk, along the back wall.  It has been great for containing things that I like to have within arms reach but off my desk.  Here’s a look:

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Things tend to look neater and more stylish when corralled within a tray, wouldn’t you agree?

tray-closeup-office-ariannabelle-blogIf you haven’t already, be sure to check out Paloma’s shop, and to get 10% off, use code LDV_WHITEBOX_10.

Posted in home office organization, little details, my home, office space, office spaces, our apartment, stylish storage | 4 Comments

How I Organize My Handbag

I oftentimes carry a lot of things in my handbag – keys, cell phone, driver’s license, credit cards, debit cards, rewards cards, cash, coupons, lists, hair ties, lip balm, lotion, tissues, pens, sunglasses, the list goes on….can you relate?

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Because most of these items are relatively small, they can easily get lost in a large bag and it’s so annoying to have to rummage through to try to find what you’re looking for.  What I like to do is group and separate everything into smaller bags, cases and pouches.

For the essentials like money, driver’s license, keys, tinted lip balm, and my cell phone, I use a wristlet that easily fits in my bag and I can pull out when I’m making a quick trip and don’t really need much else (the one I have is an old style but you can find a similar one here). I use a magic wallet, which is compact enough to fit inside the wristlet, to keep my credit cards, debit cards, and my license, organized. I keep cash and coins in the little interior pockets of the wristlet. I try not to put anything else in there so that there’s enough room to also fit my keys if needed.

wristlet-ariannabelle-blog

For all the non-essential cards that I use less frequently but still like to have on hand, like loyalty cards, rewards cards, gift cards, etc., I use a card cubby and sort them all into the little alphabetized dividers.

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My business cards go into a nice business card case so they don’t get dirty or bent.

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Coupons go into a small expanding file case. There was a time not too long ago when my husband and I were really penny pinching and to make the most of the money we had, I got into the habit of putting coupons for items we frequently bought or stores we normally shopped at, into an coupon file that I took with me whenever I went shopping. This worked really well and I’ve continued with this habit.  I no longer find myself at the store saying, “aww I had a coupon for that!” and feeling regretful that I could have saved some money.  I labeled this expanding file with general categories like beauty, craft, grocery, office, etc., which makes it easy to find the relevant coupons when I’m at the checkout counter. I use the space in the front for my shopping list and a pen.

couponfile-ariannabelleblog

In an accessory pouch that has interior pockets, I keep beauty and personal care items that are nice to have handy like hand cream, hand sanitizer, hair ties & clips, lip color, a mirror, oil blotting sheets, floss, a mini lint roller, tissues, bandages and a multi-use ointment.

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My miscellaneous items, like a measuring tape, notebook for jotting down notes and ideas on the go, an extra pen, and a backup battery for my phone, all go into a zippered pouch:

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Organizing everything this way makes the contents of my bag much less chaotic and allows me to easily find what I’m looking for when I need it. It also makes it much easier to switch handbags. 

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So there you have it, that’s how I organize my bag.   The general idea is to group like items together and put them into smaller bags, pouches or cases that will keep the contents organized.  I know everyone has different needs and carries around different things, but I hope this inspired some ideas on how to organize your own bag, if it’s not organized already.

*The folks at Office Depot sponsored this post.  All ideas/opinions/thoughts are my own.

Posted in handbag organization, on the go, organization | 26 Comments