7th House on the Left

Hold the Toast

posted by Ashley  /  21 Comments

Well, I was hoping to be posting about our new dining room light fixture today. Actually, I had hoped to post it yesterday, but some stuff came up and we had to postpone our electrician date with my dad until later today. So, fingers crossed, Greg will have that post ready for you guys tomorrow. But here’s a heads up, we unpackaged the fixture last night and… I’m in love with it and can’t stop looking at it.

Use a vintage toast holder to organize small things on your desk. // 7thhouseontheleft.com

Since we can’t chat about the dining room today, I thought it would be fun to share the story behind one of my favorite desk accessories in my office. Well, it’s not much of a “story” but more of an awesome fact, a super sweet gesture by my better half and a handy use for a random item.

Rewind back a few years, to my and Greg’s first Christmas as Mr and Mrs. I was on the hunt for the perfect Christmas gift for my Aunt Dee Dee. Now, something you need to know about my Aunt Dee Dee is that we share a kindred love for I Love Lucy. We know every word to every episode and not-so-secretly wish we lived in the 1950′s, had flaming red hair courtesy of Henna Rinse and lived in a brownstone apartment next-door to our BFFs in New York City. I searched high and low for the perfect Christmas gift and found a “prop dealer” selling this beauty…

Use a vintage toast holder to organize small things on your desk. // 7thhouseontheleft.com

“What is that?”, you ask? It’s a vintage toast holder that was used on the set of I Love Lucy. Yes, I freaked out. I went through all of the protocol to make sure the seller (and the prop) was legit and snatched that thing up faster than you could sing the chorus of Babalu. I was beyond excited to give it to her and couldn’t get over the fact that a piece of classic television history was in my possession. I even saved wrapping her present until last so I could look at it and fawn over it regularly. Lucille Ball touched that very prop. Some of my favorite lines of comedy were spoken in its presence. Yeah, that’s a little dramatic, I know. I’m normally not one to get all worked up or “in awe” over celebrities and things like that, but we’re talking about classic television right here, folks.

Greg quickly caught onto my infatuation for the vintage Lucy-adorned toast holder. Without me knowing, he contacted the seller and asked if he had anymore I Love Lucy prop pieces up his sleeve. Much to his surprise, the toast holder was actually a part of a set of two and the dealer was planning to list the second one that next day. Greg laid on the charm and convinced the man to sell it him prior to listing for the same amount I bought the first toast holder. A few days later, I received a package and was utterly confused as to why my Aunt Dee Dee’s toast holder that was tucked away waiting for Christmas wrapping was being mailed to me all over again. I called Greg at work and he told me what he did. Sweetest. Surprise. Ever. Okay, yeah, I cried.

Use a vintage toast holder to organize small things on your desk. // 7thhouseontheleft.com

It actually wasn’t until a few months ago when I finally found a good use for it. It’s the perfect size to hold and organize the little jotter notebooks I normally have floating around my desk. I use these three jotters for passwords to random sites I won’t remember later, a running list of Christmas gift ideas and lists of websites to remember (I hate using browser bookmarks for some reason). The vintage toast holder is perfect for keeping them from being scattered on my desk and getting lost in the shuffle. Being a fan of all things gold these days (who isn’t, right?), I also love the aged brass finish. A big bonus for me is the fact that every time I reach for a jotter, I instinctively think of Lucy’s skilled toast catching capabilities…

I Love Lucy Toast Catch // 7thhouseontheleft.com

From the set of your favorite TV show or not, I can highly recommend using a vintage toast holder to organize your desk. If jotters aren’t your thing, you can also use it to hold incoming and outgoing mail, pencils/pens or even your gadget chargers. It’s a fun way to bring in a bit of vintage to the workspace while keeping things organized and tidy. If you’re in the market for a vintage toast holder to organize your desk top, there’s a plethora of them available on Etsy starting at around $10.

Now I had an odd craving for toast… anyone else?

Do you ever have those days when you feel completely unorganized? The ones when you wish you could just stop time for a day, get your act together, then resume business as usual? It’s an awful feeling and one I like to nip in the bud as soon as it starts to creep up.

I specifically remember a day like this a few months ago. My to-do’s for the day included two projects to wrap up and send over to clients, a handful of very important emails to return and a bunch of print orders to package/ship. It’s a doable list for any given day, but everything I did felt like walking through quicksand to get it done. That’s when it dawned on me, the root of the problem was that everything felt unorganized and disheveled. I needed to regroup.

7 Things to Do (Right Now) to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

While I didn’t have the time to spend hours organizing/labeling/washi-taping everything in sight, I knew if I tackled just a few minor things, it would make me feel better, and I could accomplish what I needed to more efficiently. Over the past few months, I’ve found a “formula” of small tasks that instantly make me feel more organized. These tasks aren’t ultra-complicated or revolutionary, but when grouped together, it’s an instant solution to feeling more in charge, at peace with your surroundings and ultimately more productive.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

01 // Clean out and organize your purse. This is a simple one, but you’d be surprised at how much this step helps you feel a bit more organized during your day-to-day activities. Go ahead and throw away (or file) old receipts, trash the gum wrappers, be sure to check all of the little zipper pockets and put the random dog toy back in the toy box. I actually did this earlier today and found one of our missing cordless house phones. I also like rearranging my wallet from time to time to make it more convenient (like moving the Starbucks gift card up towards the front so I’ll remember to use it, and throwing away used/expired gift cards, debit cards, coupons, etc). 98% of our readers are gals, but if any of you guys are out there, apply the same principle to your work bag, car glovebox or wallet.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

02 // Tidy up your computer files and desktop. Especially when I have a lot of projects going on at one time, my computer desktop can get rather crazy. If I need to clean everything up in an instant, I make a folder called “Stuff” and throw everything in there and plan on going through and organizing things later. When this is done, it feels so good. Once you’re all finished, change your desktop image. This (along with the organizing action) will make your computer feel new and refreshed. At the moment, I’m sporting this lovely one. Obviously, if you’re a tablet- or phone-only user, you can apply the same idea there.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

03 // Organize the junk drawer. Truth be told, every house probably has more than one junk drawer (we have two at the moment), but take about 10 minutes and tackle the most commonly used junk drawer. Throw away expired coupons, put the birthday candles back where they belong and divide the pens from the notepads. If you don’t have any dividers on hand, use a few small shallow dishes or Rubbermaid containers until you have time to get to the store and buy one. Check out my latest junk drawer makeover here.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

04 // Update your phone contacts. Updating and organizing the contacts in your cell phone can make a day out running errands go so much smoother – especially if you use your phone often as I do. To start off, go through your phone and delete the contacts you don’t need/want anymore. This is basically the phone’s equivalent to throwing away gum wrappers in your purse. Next, organize the contacts. This is something I’ve been doing for a long time and I love the handiness of it. What I do is group numbers for take-out places, medical-related places/people, shops, florists, and such together in their respective categories. So, for our florists, I add “Flowers | ” before the name of the florist. So, when flipping through my phone, the contact would read “Flowers | Strange’s (West Broad)” and all of the florist-related numbers would be grouped together. If there are multiple locations (like our favorite florist), I add the location after the name in parentheses.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

05 // Organize your social media pages. This can pertain to everything from Facebook to Tumblr, but I’m going to specifically mention Pinterest. For the longest time, I had a Pinterest board called “House Candy”, where I just stuck everything house-decorating-related. A few weeks ago, I went to my Pinterest board to find a photo of a specific bathroom I remember pinning a while back. It took forever to go through the entire “House Candy” board just to find that one photo. That’s when I made a note to set aside some time to organize my Pinterest boards. I decided to go through and re-categorize everything until there wasn’t anything left in the “House Candy” board. I think it took about a little under an hour total to organize all of my Pins, but it was totally worth it. Now, my boards are all categorized and it makes inspiration that much more easily accessible.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

06 // Make a meal plan for the rest of the week. The question, “What are we having for dinner?” always seems to pop up around 3:30 or 4:00. Normally, that’s also the time of day where I’m trying to wrap things up, answer the last few emails, etc. Taking a few minutes to map out what you and your family are going to be eating over the next few days can smooth things out nicely. I don’t have a fancy meal planning calendar or anything. I just jot down “D:” on the last line of each day on my weekly planner page in my binder and write what’s for dinner. On the menu tonight, we’re having chicken and spaghetti squash and watching Frozen. When it comes time for the big question, “What’s for dinner?”, it’s right there at my fingertips.

7 Things to Do to Make You Feel More Organized TODAY // 7thhouseontheleft.com

07 // Start a “Thought Notebook”. I have what I call my “Get It Done Binder” that lives on my desk and I use everyday. I love it, like, a lot. I also have a small spiral notebook that I carry with me everywhere I go. I use it to jot down post/print/project ideas, websites to check out, grocery lists, notes I take while I’m on phone meetings, random doodles of dogs… yeah, pretty much everything. Since doing this, the sticky note collection on my desk has been cut down tremendously, so my desk looks and feels much tidier. Having a designated place to write any thought or idea that comes in my head is oh so nice and in a weird way, freeing. Basically, it just keeps me sane. For these “Thought Notebooks”, I love using Staples’ Sustainable Earth notebooks (photographed above and available in store) and Poppin’s medium spiral notebooks.

Hopefully this list helps you regroup and refresh on “those days”. Do you have any helpful tips to add to the list? Anything that makes you instantly feel more “together” and easier to be productive? Be sure to share them with us in the comments.

By the way… Check back tomorrow for my ramblings about our new dining room table!

For months and months, I’ve tried to decide what to store in our vintage card catalog (more on that beauty here). With 60 perfect little drawers, it’s the organizer’s dream, but I really had no idea what we could store in it that would suit our needs. It wasn’t until we recently sold our dining room buffet that it dawned on me: this would be the perfect solution for storing and organizing our serving utensils, napkins and other small dining room paraphernalia.

Organizing the Card Catalog / 7thhouseontheleft.com

After taking a quick inventory of our belongings, I decided to designate the top six drawers to silverware, the next two rows to napkins and the next two rows for things like napkin rings and place card holders. The bottom section is designated for backup office supplies – but I’ll get back to that in a minute.

What to Store in a Vintage Card Catalog / 7thhouseontheleft.com

For the top six drawers that would be holding the serving utensils, I wanted the inside of the drawers to have some sort of lining to protect the utensils and prevent scratches. I bought six thick sheets of black felt from AC Moore for 99¢ a piece. I measured the interior of the drawer, marked my cut line using a piece of chalk, cut the felt to size and simply placed it in the drawer. Since the felt fit in the drawers perfectly, I didn’t have to attach the felt to the drawer at all because it stayed in place really well.

What to Store in a Vintage Card Catalog / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Because of the weight of the utensils (these babies are really heavy – in a good way) along with how smoothly the drawers move in and out, the utensils don’t really slide around much when you open and close the drawers – which is a really nice and unexpected feature. As a side note, I’ve learned that the best way to clean felt is with a lint roller. It works really well and makes removing any annoying tiny pieces of lint so easy.

What to Store in a Vintage Card Catalog / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I was head over heels in love with how well the napkins fit in each drawer, as well. Six napkins fit in each drawer, folded exactly how I would normally fold them anyway. I was able to fit my entire napkin collection in two rows of drawers, with a few drawers left empty for future purchases.

What to Store in a Vintage Card Catalog / 7thhouseontheleft.com

Since we don’t have a bajillion pieces of silverware or fifty napkin designs, we’re using the bottom section of drawers for office supply backups like Sharpies, craft brushes, tape, scissors, etc. The cabinet is literally six inches from my office, so it makes perfect sense for us.

Organizing the Card Catalog / 7thhouseontheleft.com

I wrapped up this organizing project by adding labels to each drawer. I decided to keep it casual and go with a regular handwritten label rather than breaking out the label maker or computer.

The inner organization freak inside of me feels so much more at ease now that the card catalog is filled, organized and orderly. Even while it was empty, it was our favorite piece of furniture in the house and now that it’s organized and useful, I don’t know what to do with myself!