Saturday, January 4, 2014

Easy Mail Organizer! (Ten Minute Project)

Well, a lot has been happening here since I last blogged several months ago. I'm sure, if I really thought about it, I'd have a lot to say about all the exciting things going on, but instead I'm going to spend the next few post sharing some easy, (mostly) free craft projects that I'm working on.

The motivation for these projects actually comes from two big changes: we are having another baby in May, and we are moving to a new apartment. The new apartment is two bedrooms, which means that Samantha (now almost 19 months) will *finally* have her own room! I have always been a little sad about not being able to decorate a cute nursery for her, so once we picked out our new place, I started searching for awesome decor for her new space (new baby will sleep with me for a while). Between Etsy and Pinterest (which I am not actually on, but kept coming up in my searches), I found some neat ideas. The biggest problem was that I do not have "room decor" listed anywhere in my very tight budget. 

So I've set a goal to decorate her room for pennies. Literally, pennies (or whatever change I can scrounge from around the house). Using random supplies we already have, in addition to stuff I can pick up for free, I have several projects in the works that so far have cost me absolutely nothing. There are still a *few* supplies I have to pick up, but they are extremely minimal in cost (remember: the goal is "pennies"). I'll try to post these up as I complete them (which, since we move in less than two weeks, might take a little bit of time since I should really be packing instead of crafting...)

Anyway, today's project has nothing to do with Samantha's room, but will hopefully help me feel a lot more organized in our new home. I have been trying to figure out a way to organize our mail. I bring it in, I open the stuff that looks important, and then it all gets tossed back onto the table with the junk mail. Eventually, I find it and notice the bill(s) I forgot to pay, or the wedding invitation I never responded to. These also get mixed in with things that need to be filed, like the bills I actually did remember to pay, and whatever surface these things happen to get piled upon becomes completely unusable and cluttered. It has been driving me nuts! The problem is that S's little hands get into everything, so while I've considered going out and buying (with my magic money that doesn't really exist) a stackable paper organizer like I used to have in my office, I know that my sweet, curious toddler will find a way to pull it off the table and reorganize everything. Plus, in our new apartment, we won't have a table right by the door. You can see my dilemma.

The answer came to me while I was napping (I do that a lot these days, with the combination of pregnancy and winter chill wearing me down). I had some leftover scrapbook paper in various prints that someone had given me a while ago (assuming that I was motivated enough to scrapbook). I kept these pieces of large, square, sturdy paper in a box with all of our ultrasound pictures and cards and other mementos from my pregnancy with S, hoping that I would one day get motivated enough to do it. Well, I didn't. But today, I finally found a use for them:

My new mail organizer! Completely free and very easy. Here's how to do it:
  1. Obtain however many large pieces of square scrapbook paper that you like (this will determine how many pouches you have).
  2. Fold paper in half. Secure along sides. I used staples, because I'm lazy (I didn't even measure out so they were symmetrical on each side), but I think this would be really cute with ribbon weaved through. Glue could work, as well. You should now have a nice deep pouch.
  3. Punch holes in the top two corners of each pouch.
  4. Cut a length of ribbon (however much you need to go through all the pouches and still have enough left to hang).
  5. Starting with the bottom pouch, secure the ribbon with a simple knot in one end of the ribbon. (If you're really motivated, you can do it so the knot and the ribbon are along the back of the pouch. Again, I was lazy.) A few inches up the ribbon, tie another knot through the hole in the second pouch. Continue this way until all of the pouches are connected along one side, a few inches apart. I didn't measure, because I didn't care too much about symmetry (it won't always hang evenly when it's stuffed full of mail anyway). Note: if you want to be able to really shove a lot of weight into this thing, you might want to reinforce the holes with pieces of Scotch tape. I didn't do this, because my mail load isn't all that taxing (except when a month's worth is spread across a table.)
  6. Once you've secured one side of the pouches, measure out a long triangle of ribbon from which you will hang the pouches. On the third corner of the triangle (one corner already being knotted, the second corner acting as the hanging point), start knotting again on the opposite side of the pouches, this time starting with the top. Repeat the knotting process until you've reached the bottom pouch.
Ta-da! You now have a mail pouch. The last step is labeling each pocket. I chose only three pouches, because I identified only three types of papers that have been bugging me: those that I want to re-read, such as letters from friends/important notifications/etc., those that I have to do something about/action is required (mostly bills), and those that I've already dealt with and now need to be filed. (The junk mail automatically gets thrown into the recycle bin.) I looked around for stickers to label with, but didn't have enough of one type. I decided to label with just a regular pen, in my regular handwriting, because it's almost my bedtime and I wanted this project to take no more than ten minutes.

"Read It"  "Do It"  "File It"
I put some mail in to test it, and discovered that it balances much better if it is hanging by two nails to spread out the weight. Since we're moving and I didn't feel like putting another nail in the wall just to take a picture, I used Scotch tape to secure it for this final demonstration:

So, there it is: a completely free mail organizer that I was able to start and finish within ten minutes. Seriously, it has taken me about four times longer to write this blog post than it did to make the organizer (D says I'm probably over-explaining, which I'm sure I am, but I thought it best to be as thorough as possible.) I'm pretty proud of this little creation, since it went from visualization to reality in the span of a few hours and I didn't have any guidance (although I'm sure you can find other cute and similar ideas in the world of Pinterest, but I was too lazy to look... are you noticing a theme here?). Of course, if you decide to make one and don't have scrapbook paper or ribbon, it might cost you a little money, but there are often good sales on scrapbook paper at Michaels or AC Moore (plus, if you buy it instead of using what you have around, you can pick out your favorite colors and patterns), and I think you can do this project for between $2-$4 total. Whoo-hoo for organization! Now, if only there was an easy solution to the hurricane that is my kitchen...

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