Labeling (everything) the easy way

I’ve been on a big organizing and decluttering kick lately. Well, in the last 3 years ūüėČ

This year I’ve focused on getting things pared down, sorted and labeled so I know what I have, need and never need to buy again (looking at you tea lights!). As is popular in Pinterest and on blogs today, a lot of people buy a Cricut machine which makes custom vinyl labels. I admit, it’s tempting but when I look at what’s easy and simple I came to the conclusion that it’s just not needed right now.

If I take the cost of the machine ($199-300 plus the cost of cartridges) it’s easier to think about alternatives. Here’s what I use most often:


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(find it here on Amazon)

While it’s not super cheap, it’s one of the easiest I’ve found to use and has a ton of features. One of the best things is that it’s laid out like a QWERTY keyboard so it’s similar to texting making typing out the labels a lot faster.

The clear cartridge is great and I’ve used it throughout the kitchen:

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I’ll admit that for these glass bottles I considered etching the glass but it’s so much faster and easier to use a clear label + I can replace it if it gets sticky over time.

I’ve also used the label maker for my spice jars:

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Again, easy to replace when I change up the spices or need to add more.

Throughout the house I use these Smarassel boxes to store everything from craft supplies to journals and cards. To make the labels I simply cut out small square from card stock, put on 2 pieces of wishi tape and then overlay it with a clear label.


The best part is that I can do a whole cabinet of these boxes in about 30 minutes with minimal tools or clean up.

Now, the main benefit I can see to a special vinyl machine is the ability to make BIG labels, for things like storage boxes holding holiday decorations or shoeboxes in the bathroom. I have a solution for that: printer + laminator!

This is the laminator I have though I’m pretty certain I paid about $20 during a Black Friday type sale. I’ve picked up full sheet and small laminating sheets but I love that I don’t need to put them inside a sleeve, just load them up and run through the machine.

Using a template in Excel, I make labels in 3 different sizes for small, medium and large boxes, print the sheets out on regular white printer paper, cut them to size and then run through the laminator.

Now they’re labeling boxes of medicine:


My storage boxes in the garage:


Even the bigger holiday storage:


and the buckets where I store shop rags and towels:


The cubes for clothing storage:


And even overflow storage in the kitchen:


How they get secured varies, the boxes in my room have handles so I simply hole punch the label and run some twine through the holes and tie off.¬†For most of the plastic boxes I just cut a strip of velcro and secure it since it’s easy enough to change if the contents of the box get updated.

Comparing costs

While there are some costs to this method it works well for me. This is the printer I use which I bought for about $100 and the toner cartridge is about $10 and lasts a full 12 months of printing so the cost for these labels is negligible. Yes, the clear cartridge for the labeler is expensive (about $30) but for 30′ of label it’s lasted me years and I still have half left!

Either way there will be up front costs in terms of supplies but I still think I’ll come out ahead using the label maker and laminator over a fancy vinyl cutting machine. For the few items I would like nicer labels (like baking storage in the kitchen) I’ve been able to find affordable done for you options on Etsy. More on that in a later post!


By the Dozen

I’m liking this new format of tracking all the little things I’ve done in a week!

1. The sewing spree continues and I am just about done with all of outer bags that were cut for the corn bags. Here they are:



I’m now working on mass producing the inner bags which will hold the corn, I’ve already gone through 2 spools of thread and will need to pick up more soon.

2. When my local feed shop went out of business I worried I would need to go out in the country for feed corn, which fills the corn bags,¬†does not pop in the microwave, and is about $15 for a 50-lb bag. Luckily the Tractor Supply Co had bags in stock for under $10 and now I’m awash in corn!

Of course all that corn was to fill smaller bags and so I got 28 done before we ran out:


3. I’ve been procrastinating on the kitchen cabinet trim but just got sick of looking at it undone so I set up the saws in the backyard so I could make the angled cuts without kneeling on the ground:


4. Once they were cut and dry fitted I took them back outside for staining. The smallest container of golden pecan stain was more than enough and it took 2 coats to get them closer to the right shade of the cabinet:



5. At least one of my outdoor goals is done, I removed the raised flower bed from the backyard under the guest room window and need to break up the wood for recycling. Of course I immediately filled the spot with the big dog crate, wood storage and some gutters I’m working on to prevent the dogs from using the dirt patch as a toilet so it doesn’t actually look much better.



6. In the front yard I cleaned up some of the debris, washed off the bench and put out the outdoor rug making a nice clean slate:


7. I grabbed the pruning shears and attacked the rose bushes that I hated and wanted out. I still need to dig out the roots but it’s a good start!

8. After picking up some muslin, I started to line the curtains in the kitchen. Can you tell which ones having lining?


9. I picked up 2 dozen new bottles for spices (these ones) and decanted all my random spices into the bottles and labeled them.


10. At the same place I picked out 4 glass bottles for oils:


and I moved these to the baking cabinet so they’re easier to get out for cooking (they were above the stove). A few of the original bottles still had some oil so those extras are above the stove for refills.

11. Thursday was my monthly day off so instead of going out somewhere I spent the majority of the day in the backyard cleaning. First I used the string trimmer on the lantana:


and swept up the side yard walkway really well. It’s a mess again after I started raking and pruning the lantana in the raised bed but progress was made.

Then, 12, I tied back the bougainvillea which is beautiful but has the most dangerous spikes! Using some rope from the garage I pulled it up and back into the fence so I could work around it. I don’t have pics of that since it’s hard to see and I’m in the midst of working on a trellis that will allow the bougainvillea to grow UP and not OUT – right now it’s a bit dangerous to walk thru the side yard because those thorns are super spikey and painful.

I can’t wait to get the backyard looking better!

Another Dozen

I’m back with more little to do’s marked as done this week.

1. The kitchen floor was the hardest part of the hardwood project and it just never lined up perfectly with the rest of the living room. So I made a few cuts and installed a flat transition piece to make it look much nicer. Here’s the after:


2. Outside, aka the space I’ve been neglecting for 2 years, I threw out a bunch of dead plants and cleaned up the pots in the front yard.¬†A bunch of them went into the garage on the new shelf I put up last week but the rest were going back on the black storage unit which got moved to the backyard:


3. I finally got fed up with my utensil drawer and dumped it out, lining the bottom with this pretty blue wallpaper protected by contact paper


4. The boards are hobby boards from Home Depot and I dry cut them to fit a new configuration. The glue was a joke so I used my nail gun to (carefully) attach the boards.

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5. I also did the utensil drawer to the right of the stove which was a mess of spoons and spatulas before and is now gorgeous:



6. In the guest bath I installed the transition strip along the tub:


Yes, it’s super boring and trivial but having that seam undone was bugging me!

7. Also in the guest bath I finished painting the trim and beadboard white and touched up the blue wall paint. This allowed me to rehang the mirrors and call the room done!



8. In the office I pulled out ALL of my papers and decided it was time to “file the pile” aka go through everything. There were a lot of misfiled papers but slowly I was able to get things into stacks. My strategy right now is to label everything by type and year and then scan those bundles as PDFs. So far I have 38 “bundles” and some categories span multiple years (for example, it’s not worth it to scan oil change receipts by year for my Toyota).


9. I’ve been thinking about donating this firetruck rocker I got years ago for a photography project since it’s so big and takes up a lot of room. When I tried to sell it at a garage sale people kept lowballing the offer at $10 so I got annoyed. Well I decided to donate it to our fire station to auction off during their 4th of July pancake breakfast – proceeds to benefit a local man waiting for a bone marrow transplant. I got it cleaned up and delivered last weekend! (Update: it sold for $150!)¬†


10.¬†In the guest room I started painting the foot chest, it’s a little rough around the edges and needs a latex base before I put on the top layer of paint but at least it’s started!

11. After getting my sewing machine back from the shop I went on a bit of a sewing spree, finishing up a bunch of corn bags and working my way through all the cut fabric I had in stacks. I started sorting all the fabric so I knew what needed to be templated, cut, sewn and sold. Most of the time I give away what I sew but eventually I’ll pick up another bag of feed corn and sell a bunch of corn bags. Of course the store that sold feed corn, $15 for a 50 lb bag, just went out of business so I’ll need to find a new source!

12. Finally, I got a little bored when I was sewing and took 5 minutes to color code my straight pins¬†because I’m weird and it makes me happy okay?! I can’t possibly keep it up but it was fun to look at while I sewed through piles and piles of fabric over the weekend.