Items you throw away every day that you can reuse or recycle

This year I have partnered with IKEA to share fun ideas on how you can live a more sustainable life. All opinions are my own. 

Have you wanted to reduce the amount of waste you create every week, but don’t have a lot of time or space to manage the excess?

As someone who loves a clutter-free home, I’m often tempted to throw away anything that I can to keep my house in order. However, I want to be conscious of the environment and repurpose and recycle whenever possible.

How to reuse everyday items in your home.

The key for me is to find systems to help you stay organized while being resourceful. Over the years I’ve come up with several ways to recycle and reuse without filling my house with empty toilet paper rolls and cereal boxes.

IKEA is my favorite place for finding inexpensive items to help keep my home organized. They are stylish, easy to assemble, and are great space savers in the home. Their flat packaging makes them easy to transport home and usually I have my purchases assembled and in use by the end of the day.

In this post you’ll find some of my helpful tips when it comes to reducing waste. These are five items you are probably throwing away, that you could be reusing in your home.


Have you ever tried making your own compost bin? You can make a basic one out of a large plastic trash can with a lid. Before the items make it to the compost bin outside, this cute miniature KNODD can works perfect under the sink in the kitchen to hold items for composting.

How to compost in small spaces

Line the can with a paper bag (recycled from the grocery store) to make clean up easier and instead of scraping food off the plate into the garbage or disposal you can scrape it right into the can under your sink. Once the can is full dump it into the larger compost bin in the yard. Remember to never compost meat or fats.

Dryer sheets

I love they way dryer sheets make my clothes feel, but it seems very wasteful to use them once and throw away. Dryer sheets have a long life after they’ve made your clothes less static-y so save them to use around the home.

My favorite use is to place the used dryer sheet in a pan that has baked-on food. Fill the pan with water and add a used dryer sheet. Let it soak over night and the next morning the baked on food will come right off.

You can also use dryer sheets to dust blinds, keep drawers smelling fresh, and de-stinkify smelly tennis shoes.

how to reuse and recycle old dryer sheets

Store used dryer sheets in a cute container like the FRYCKEN basket in the laundry room or kitchen.


In our house towels go from pristine “guest bathroom condition” to “clean up the dog’s mess condition” in a less than a year. Instead of throwing away our frayed towels I reuse them as cleaning rags around the house.

how to reuse towels around the house to reduce paper waste

I cut large towels in half or thirds for smaller rags and store in OBSERVATÖR bins in the laundry room or kitchen for easy access. Instead of grabbing a paper towel to clean (or clean up a mess) I use a rag which can be easily washed and reused. I keep a bin next to the washer for dirty rags and throw them into the laundry every few days.

How to reduce and reuse every day items in your home.

Glass jars

Instead of throwing away empty glass jars (think spaghetti sauce or pickles) you can repurpose them all around the house. Glass jars are so trendy right now and there are so many ways you can reuse them. Here are some of my favorite ways to reuse glass jars.

ideas for reusing mason jars

• Vase
• Catch all for the laundry room
• Leftovers
• Dry goods
• Drinking glasses
• Craft projects
• Bathroom storage

Store glass jars in a rustic pine KNAGGLIG box on an open shelf or in a cabinet for easy access.

How to compost in small spaces


Paper is easy to recycle with your community program, but it’s also something you can reuse in your home.

Did you know that you can use shredded paper as bedding for your plants? Place a layer of shredded paper in your flower beds and cover with a thin layer of mulch. You’ll save money on mulch and the paper will decompose and fertilize your garden.

how to recycle shredded paper

I keep paper trash in a separate KNODD bin in my office so it doesn’t get contaminated with other garbage. Once a month I shred it and reuse it.

how to reuse shredded paper

The next time you are tempted to throw something away, think about how it can be reused instead. Many times reusing a household item is not only the most sustainable option, it’s a money saving option too!

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

9 Organizing Ideas for a Happy Home

These organizing ideas from a mom of 7 will help you bring order to various areas of your home as well as keep your sanity and have a happy home.

With seven kids, my home has had its share of stuff that needs to be organized. The well known organization motto is, “A place for everything and everything in its place.” But sometimes we need ideas to help us figure out what or where that place should be or how things should go in their place.

These organizing ideas will help you bring order to various areas of your home as well as keep your sanity and have a happy home.

9 Organizing Ideas - Kitchen Towels

1. Organizing Kitchen Towels – Sometimes it is simple tips like this one that make a big difference in keeping  a drawer neat and orderly.

2. Refrigerator Organization – Everyone’s fridge gets cluttered and messy at times. Here are tips to help you get that fridge organized.

9 Organizing Ideas - Using Binders

3. Organizing with Binders – Many things are digital these days, but there are still paper records that need to be organized. Try this idea for using binders to keep financial, health, insurance, and other records in order.

4. Garage Organization – See how we took our garage from a complete wreck to being organized.

9 Organizing Ideas - Toy Storage

5. Toy Organization – This tip is especially good for your young kids.

6. Game Organization – If you are a family who enjoys playing games together, here are some tips for organizing those games.

9 Organizing Ideas - Kids Clothes

7. Organizing Kids Clothes – Children go through clothing sizes quickly sometimes and then there are the different seasons. Here are my tips for organizing kids clothes.

8. Simple Winter Gear Organization – Hats, gloves, scarves, and other winter accessories can quickly get scattered all over the house. This simple idea corrals that winter gear so it’s easy to find when needed.

9 Organizing Ideas - Kids Bedrooms

9. Helping Kids Keep Their Rooms Clean – Set your children up for success by putting systems in place that help them keep their domains under control.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

5 Simple Ways to Wake Up Earlier

I never thought of myself as a morning person, although I found out that when I did wake up earlier I got more done, had more energy and stuck to a routine. Getting up earlier allowed me to fit in time to exercise, which then gave me more energy and I felt better. It didn't happen overnight- it took me a while to get in a routine of waking up earlier and here is how I did it.

I’m writing this article for everyone who struggles waking up early. I know not everyone wants or needs to be an early riser. There were many years when my husband worked shifts that I stayed up later because he worked late.

But there are many of you who want to wake up early but struggle, I struggle too.

I don’t consider myself a morning person or an evening person. My best hours are from 9 am to 2 pm.  I am also not one who feels energized when I wake up super early.

To be honest, I feel tired.

But, when I wake up early I am able to accomplish much more in the morning hours than I am ever able to accomplish by staying up until midnight or one in the morning. So even though I am tired later in the day, I’ve already had my most productive hours in the morning, so I don’t have to be “on” at 8pm.

Since I have struggled in this area I figured I would share some of things that have helped me make the change to become an earlier riser. And if we are being honest, when I say early I mean 6 am. I will never be a 4 am person, I have teenagers, and they seem to want to do all their talking after 10 pm.

Quit the Caffeine

I don’t drink it after 1pm, no matter what. If I do I can’t fall asleep even when my body is exhausted. My mind can’t relax enough to fall asleep.

Turn Off Technology

I’m guilty of surfing the web before I go to bed, especially now that I have an iPad. For many months I even read my bible on the computer in the evenings. I have found that computer, television, tablets, and video games do not help you fall asleep.

Not only do they keep you awake, it is easy to turn on the television to catch the end of a show and end up watching another hour or two because we get sucked in! If you need to do something before you fall asleep try reading a book.

Go to Bed Earlier

Sounds simple, but for some reason it is so hard. I often find myself looking at the clock and realizing it is almost midnight! Give yourself a bedtime and set a timer to remind yourself it is time for bed. If I want to fall asleep at 10:30 I try to go to bed at 10pm and give myself a little extra time for reading.

Reader tip: Set your alarm on your phone for an hour before you want to go to bed. That will remind you that you need to start getting ready for bed and winding down so your bedtime doesn’t sneak up on you.

It is hard to fall asleep earlier if you are waking up later. There will be a few days in the beginning where you have to force yourself to get up early even though you were up late. Pretty soon you will be tired enough to fall asleep at the earlier hour.

This year since we had a change in our school schedule, I need to get up before 6am. This was a huge adjustment since we were really enjoying our lazy days of summer. I eased into an earlier schedule by setting my alarm clock 15 minutes earlier every few days. Now I wake up before my alarm several days a week because my body is use to the new schedule.

Get Enough Sleep

You know how much sleep you need to be a productive person the next day, so make sure you get it! Some people only need 6 or 7 hours, and others need at least 8. Figure out how much sleep you need and create a sleeping schedule to accommodate your needs!

Get a Routine

This is the most important thing for me. I need about 7 hours of sleep, so I try to go to bed around 11pm and wake up between 6 and 6:30. It is important to go to bed and wake up at around the same time every day.

If you are just starting to change your routine I would recommend going to bed and waking up 15 minutes earlier every day until you reached your desired wake-up time. (see above)

Don’t Get Discouraged!

I recently started adjusting my schedule to wake up a little earlier, after two successful days my family was hit with the crud. I wasn’t going to bed until after midnight most nights and was up with sick kids numerous times throughout the night.

I turned off my alarm and got some extra sleep so I didn’t get the crud too! I was discouraged to be thrown off track so quickly, but I realized that the crud would soon pass and I could get back on schedule.

Don’t let little setbacks discourage you, just pick up where you left off and work on establishing a good routine.

I never thought of myself as a morning person, although I found out that when I did wake up earlier I got more done, had more energy and stuck to a routine. Getting up earlier allowed me to fit in time to exercise, which then gave me more energy and I felt better. It didn't happen overnight- it took me a while to get in a routine of waking up earlier and here is how I did it.

You might also enjoy:

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.

Side Table Makeover with Valspar Chalk Finish Paint

I’ve been slowing redoing the furniture in my house, since much of it shows tons of wear and tear from being moved from house to house. Since I purchase almost all of my furniture used, I don’t mind experimenting with paint and texture since I know I didn’t pay much for it.

I’ve been using Annie Sloan chalk paint which I LOVE, but it is very expensive. A quart at the store closest to me is about $51. When I heard that Valspar had created a chalky finish paint I was excited to try it, since it was only $29.99 at Lowes.


As far as color options for Valspar chalk paint, they are really pretty, although I’ve only tried Sunday Bustle on my furniture.

Valspar chalky finish paint as some gorgeous color options. I tried Sunday Bustle on a few pieces of furniture and they turned out great.

The nice thing about the Valspar paint (other than its price) is that you can buy it at Lowes. The Annie Sloan is sold in smaller shops, which might not always be close to where you live.

I tried the paint on two pieces of furniture. One was this small side table that we got for free several years ago. We purchased a sofa set off Craig’s List and when my husband went to pick it up, they guy asked if we wanted the table so we took it.

Before we painted this side table with Valspar chalk finish paint

Since getting the table I’ve felt it was a little plain but I wasn’t motivated enough to change it. After finishing my hutch in May, I finally got inspired to change this little table.

I chose Sunday Bustle because I loved the color on the back of my hutch and I *thought it was similar.

White cabinet with Annie Sloan pure white chalk paint. Interior is a mixture of Aubussen Blue and Florence.

I got the color in my hutch by mixing Florence and Aubussen Blue. Let’s just say I was WAY off, when I thought Sunday Bustle was similar. I should have gone with Sapphire Bracelet!

It turned out to be more of a caribbean blue, which is pretty, but not what I was going for with the table.

Small side table before I painted it with Valspar Sunday Bustle Chalky Finish paint

I had an idea for how to fix it once I was finished so I kept painting.

Valspar Chalky Finish Paint Sunday Bustle

The Valspar paint went on pretty smoothly and had good coverage. I didn’t sand the table, I just wiped it down and cleaned off the sticky kid residue.

Since I was painting a darker color on a darker piece of furniture it is hard to tell how one of the lighter colors would cover on a dark piece of furniture with no prep. I ended up doing two coats on the base of the table and three coats on the top. There were a few spots where the paint didn’t stick as well, and I’m not sure why.

I didn’t want the knob to the be the same color as the rest of the table so I removed the knob and sprayed it with Rust-Oleum Hammered Bronze.

I’m a huge fan of spray painting knobs and pulls. Replacing knobs is so expensive. One can of spray paint at the hardware store is usually under $6 and you can update the fixtures on several pieces of furniture and get an entirely new look!

hammered bronze spray painted knobs

One thing to consider when using the Valspar Chalky Finish paint is that they recommend 4-6 hours between coats. If you are an impatient painter like me, that is just too long! Another thing I love about Annie Sloan is that you can do a second coat almost immediately which means you can finish a small project like this table in a few hours.

The Valspar Chalky Finish dried much quicker than I expected and I actually gave it a second coat about an hour after I painted the first coat.

Since the color was too bright I was going to use a dark wax to tone it down a bit. When using the dark wax, you can either put it directly on the paint, or do a coat of clear wax first. If you put dark wax directly on the paint it absorbs very quickly and really changes the color. (I have another piece where I did this and will share later this month)

Valspar chalky finish paint from lowes, show in Sunday Bustle with a coat of dark wax

I did a coat of clear wax, then did a coat of dark wax. I ended up buying a buffer brush that attaches to your drill because I have so many painting projects on my list this summer.

I’ve only done this small project with it, but so far I love it.

The dark wax definitely toned down the bright blue and I’m so happy with how this little table turned out. I feel like it went from blah to pop and it only took me an afternoon to redo it.

Valspar chalky finish paint shown in Sunday Bustle with a coat of dark wax.

These chairs were a thrift store find and I snatched them up for $40 each earlier this year. I had planned on getting them recovered, but they look really good with the new table color so I might keep them just the way they are.

valsapr chalky paint review

After using the Valspar Chalky Finish paint on two pieces of furniture I can definitely recommend it, although if you are familiar with Annie Sloan you will find a slight difference. I do think Annie Sloan goes on easier, however Valspar definitely does the job and is much less expensive so it is worth trying out.

This post may contain a link to an affiliate. See my disclosure policy for more information.