Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Story Behind the Story - My love of architecture

Why do I sometimes become dissatisfied with our Gingerbread House in the Suburbs? It isn't for the typical reasons. You know the ones you hear - I wish I had a larger house. I wish I had more space. I wish I had a bigger back yard. I wish, I wish...

Although a little more space would be great (for now there are five of us: two adults, one rapidly growing little boy and two four-legged family members), I really just have the dream of living in a historical home. Not historical in the sense of falling down and taking years of our marriage (possibly leading to some serious arguing and thumb smashing) to restore or historical in the sense we would have to sell everything we own to afford it, but historical in the way of having a definite character. A home designed with living in mind and one that shows the love of wood and pride in the skill it took to build.

You may ask why this dream. Well, you will have to know a little about where I grew up to answer this question.

I grew up in a small town on the Mississippi River. It is called Natchez. Many people have heard of it, but only because it has a lot of history and is listed in all of the travel magazines and lists of best places to visit. My husband (from Hong Kong) had even heard of it although he had never heard of Mississippi!! Go figure.

Mississippi River Bridge (My hubby proposed near here!)
I won't go into too much detail about the town itself. You can read up on it here {Natchez}. But, I will tell you how living there fostered my love of architecture, design and homes with character.

Natchez is one of the oldest cities on the Mississippi River and actually served as the first capital in 1817 when Mississippi first became a state. It has some of the oldest structures in the South still standing including large, well preserved Antebellum homes (Pre-Civil War). {Longwood}

When I was a child in school, we didn't have the museums and zoos to tour, but we did tour these homes. I fell in love with the history at a young age. I remembered walking through those halls listening to the tour guide thinking what it must have been like during the time these homes were in use. It was like going back in time. Almost as great as reading a book and putting yourself in the pages. Most kids probably groaned about these field trips, but this future designer did not.

Living in this small town, I saw the homes on a daily basis. Not only were there the Antebellum homes, but there were also the homes on the side streets built in different architectural styles {Architectural Styles of Natchez}. Many of these homes have large porches. There is something nostalgic in me when I see a home with a porch such as these have. I imagine sitting on the porch drinking my coffee in the morning or sitting on the porch in the afternoon watching the sunset (a tall cup of iced tea is a must). It just brings me to another place. A place of relaxation and calm. Things do tend to move a little more slowly and there isn't the rush of traffic and the long commutes and believe it or not - the air is a little fresher. Don't get me wrong, living north of Atlanta has its perks. But, there is something that draws me to the thought of a simpler life.

And, if my childhood surroundings didn't do enough to foster this love of architecture, my classes in History of Architecture pushed me to a whole new level. This is when I discovered the history behind the architecture and learned the historical backgrounds of the styles. This is also when I discovered my favorite type of architecture - Arts & Crafts. I fell in love with the Greene Brothers and their California bungalows {Greene and Greene}.

Arts and Crafts Home in Atlanta 
In our future, there may be a dream home with a large porch and all of the charm that is Arts and Crafts, but for now I will be happy in my suburban home. We will work to add as much character as we can and love life one room at a time. 

Will I still dream of that house that already has a place in my head? The answer is YES. I will still dream of a home where I can sit on the porch and drink my coffee. A home with a large yard where our dogs and son can play. A home in an area that fosters our son to be a boy - a real boy -with mud, frogs and fish. And, a home that my city raised, technology loving hubby can be comfortable and still have the conveniences of the city (I will admit here that I would certainly miss my occasional Starbucks coffee and trips to the museums and malls). By the way, Natchez is not a place you will find a Starbucks. Just an FYI to all of the coffeeaholics out there reading this post.

But, until the time is right and the Lord leads, we will stay here.  We will love our home by adding character to its interior and we will continue to work to make it functional and comfortable for us. After all, the goal of any good designer is to provide a refuge at the end of the day as an escape from the busy and hectic world in which we live. I will continue to dream and perhaps that dream will come true, but until then you can read about the character we add.


Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Fall Fun: BJ Reece Apple Orchard

When Gary and I first were married, it was wonderful to spend our free time together. We traveled and did a lot of fun things with each other. Our marriage was cultivated and our friendship grew. We took martial arts together, we learned how to enjoy a motorcycle together, we painted in our new home together, we took tennis lessons together and the list could go on. But, in a nutshell, we spent quality time together.

We did have a dream of one day sharing all that we did with a child. There were many people who said we should just enjoy our time without children. But, after 5 years of marriage and no children, we didn't like to hear that from people.

We were the couple who passed by the park where other parents were playing with their children on Saturday and Sunday wishing that was us. We looked at families at the fairs and festivals with their kids wishing that was us. We awoke late on Saturday morning to make pancakes wishing we had a little one there to stir the batter.

Did we enjoy our time together? Of course we did. But, there was something missing. We wanted to share with a child what we were experiencing and we wanted to see these experiences through their eyes.

After a total of 8 years of marriage, we were blessed with Declan through adoption. He has brought more joy into our lives than we ever could have imagined. Seeing the world through his eyes is so wonderful. We find ourselves getting excited over things that really would normally seem so hum drum.

One of these such events took place this last Sunday. Gary and I had visited the apple orchard a couple of times. One time with my mom which was great!!! I loved sharing the time with my mom. and the apple pie wasn't too shabby either. But, this year we were able to share it with Declan.

It was a gorgeous day. One of those days that I could be a cat or a lizard and just lay in the sun basking in its warmness. One of those clear, blue sky days with just enough of a breeze to keep you from sweating puddles into your shoes.

It was a perfect day. To make it even more perfect, we reached the orchard before the crowds.

At first, Declan didn't understand what we were doing. He was still strapped in his stroller just along for the ride. But, as we began to make our way through the shaded slopes of the orchard, we began to see a little excitement start to bubble right under the surface.

At that moment, it didn't matter to me anymore that the rotten apples on the ground were really stinky (a side effect of a really strong sense of smell) or that the stroller wheels kept sliding on the uneven ground. Or, that I was struggling just to push him through the wet spots and the little bits of mud.

Nothing else mattered at all. What mattered was that he was enjoying himself and he was getting to experience something he had never before experienced!! We tend to take for granted at times what it must be like to see something for the very first time - rain for example or a frog on the back window (Who would've thought a frog on the window would ever get me excited?)

The longer we stayed in the orchard, the more excitement we saw through his eyes. Of course, the best apples were at daddy level. So, halfway through the orchard, daddy was carrying Declan and showing him how to reach for the apples on the branches. The first time he grabbed for an apple was so exciting for us. Who knew seeing your almost 1 year old grab at an apple in a tree would be so great?

I am sure other people were wondering, "What is wrong with those people - it is just an apple in a tree?" "Why are they so excited?" Those people didn't know what they were missing.

Below you will see some of the photos from that day. Even though Declan could not express himself with words, we know he thoroughly enjoyed himself. And, we can't wait for many more "new" experiences lived through his eyes.

Smile, Please
Georgia Mountains and the 3 Musketeers
Thanks, Dad!
One proud Daddy!
Reaching For The Apple
You mean I get to take it off of the tree?



Now What?
Big Bite!

Monday, September 23, 2013

The Infamous Pallet Wall

There was a time living in our house that I really just wanted to put the icing on the cake so to speak and only change our soft furnishings. I knew this house was great, but I was thinking of my dream home and possibly a move in our future. I didn't want to do anything "permanent" that a new buyer might not like. Comparing to the Joneses much??

Well, I decided that living that way did not make me happy at all. Yes, there may be a dream home in our future and there may not be. At any rate, I felt the need to make this house our home and learn to love it. So, the major projects began.

My first space to really tackle has been our entryway. There is a saying that the Kitchen is the Heart of the Home, but the entryway is really the most important space -after the outside curb appeal of course.

When people enter your home, you want them to feel welcome. To me, feeling welcome means cozy and comfortable. Take your shoes off and stay a while kind of comfortable. The entryway needs to appeal to the senses - sight and smell for example.

So- the project began. It did take a while. But, my husband and I had both found our inspiration and we were ready to tackle this. He with his safety glasses, saw and nail gun and me with my foam brushes and eye for perfect balance. His inspiration can be found here {Hubby's Inspiration}. Incidentally, I had fallen in love with the same space and idea when I was pinning inspiration for our little man's nursery on Pinterest. We didn't realize we were using the same blog post as a guide until later when the wall was almost complete!! Great minds think alike I say!!

The Beginning- Pallets

They can be our friends or our enemies. Because they are FREE, they are our friends. Because they were HEAT treated instead of treated with pesticides, they are our friends. Because they show natural age, they are our friends.

Why are they our enemies you ask? Well, let me tell you. They are heat treated which causes warping in some cases. They are all different widths which means putting them on the wall is like laying a wood floor - it takes time and thought. They also don't always line up the way you think they should.

But, the friendly aspects of the pallets wins big time. This was our first major project inside the house and it was nearly FREE. The pallets were free and my husband already had the sander and saw. We borrowed a nail gun and air compressor from a nice friend. Thanks Gerry!!
Those two items are on our to buy list now. We did need to purchase stain and screws. We stained our pallet boards because they were newer boards and still had the new wood tone. The stain we used was from Home Depot when they were having a money back reward sale. I bought a gallon so we now have stain for our next project. The color is Coffee and even though this stain was an used indoors, I purchased one that could be used outdoors. It is also an All In One with a sealer built in. Why buy another stain later? Save money where ever and whenever you can.

So, drum roll please. Here is part of our new entryway. I am so pleased. The hard work and late nights paid off.

I was so happy to see our photos back up on the wall and the dark Coffee stain made them pop! The silver framed photos are photos of "letters" in nature taken by our friend Tobi. They spell out our last name. The canvases are all of our little guy at different ages. The colored frames were a splurge for me from Hobby Lobby (of course, they were still 50% off). You can still find them here {Frames}
BEFORE
OSB Board for Stability 
Almost done
Finally!!!

I am in LOVE with this wall and every time I enter the house, I smile. This wall is just the beginning!! I plan to add a space for hooks underneath the photos as well as a bench for sitting and taking off shoes. There may even be more in the future to spruce up this entryway and make it what I envision. Stay tuned!!






Friday, September 20, 2013

Fall Mantel Decor

Fall is my absolute FAVORITE time of the year. What's not to love? Growing up in Mississippi, we barely had a fall. We had two seasons - HOT and a little less hot. Ha! It never cooled off - even at night. My husband and I didn't even own scarves and boots before we moved to Georgia. We never really needed a lot of heavy winter clothing either.

Well...now I am loving having Fall as an actual season. Trips to the Apple Orchards and making apple cider and apple sauce. Trips to the pumpkin farms and mazes and hay rides - Achoo! Excuse me! Alas, I am allergic to hay.

Back to the important things. The smell of cinnamon and apple cider and pretty much anything pumpkin. Pumpkin muffins, pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin custard, pumpkin pie, pumpkin spiced latte. Okay- I know, I  know - enough of the Forest Gump reference.

The mere tease of a cool day in September gets me excited.

This year, since I have started this blog, I decided to actually decorate for fall. I usually don't like to spend additional money on holiday decor for each holiday (although I really do love to decorate the whole house for Christmas). So, this year I decided to see what I could do with what I already had. We are on the Dave Ramsey track at our house (more on that a little later).

So, here's the scoop. I drug out my limited decor options today. I didn't just go to the entryway dresser {My Dresser Redo}, but I went "Shopping" around the house. I went into every room looking for items to use in my Fall Decor. This really works. You don't need to buy new items specific to a season if you are a little creative with what you already have. Also, think outside the box with colors. Come up with your own color scheme for the season.

The first part of our home that I decorated was the fireplace mantel. I love having a mantel. If we didn't have a fireplace, I would create a mantel I am sure.

On the mantel, there lives a crazy cute mirror I bought for $10 at a garage sale. It came from an antique makeup vanity, but someone had removed it and painted it a pretty turquoise color. The shape is great and the color is even better - I had to have it. It was at a neighbor's house and I spied that mirror all day until I couldn't stand it anymore and walked down to get it. You can see the mirror here on the mantel.


I decided for this fall decor that I would leave the mirror in place and add other items to it. 

Here is the list of items used:
  • Bag of Fall Potpourri from Micheal's last year (including 5 pine cones, acorns and other items)
  • Pumpkins (bought last year on Clearance at Micheal's)
  • A roll of Burlap Garland (reused from an old wreath) 
  • The letter C decoupaged with craft paper (from an old wreath)
  • Candle holder with yellow candle (have had for years)
  • Plastic (not glass since it was cheaper) Hurricane (bought at Micheal's with coupon a few years ago) 
  • Turquoise vase (from Home Goods clearance)
  • Flowers I have had through the years
  • 2 Willow Tree carvings that were gifts ("Together" and "Our Gift") {Willow Tree Source} You can also find these at Hallmark and Cracker Barrel. The Willow Tree entitled "Our Gift" has VERY SPECIAL MEANING to us (Thanks Mom!!) See our Adoption Blog {Here}
  • A pumpkin and ribbon I saved from a gift I received 

Fireplace View

Hurricane with Fall Potpourri and "Together"
 


Candle with Ribbon from Gift
Candle with "Our Gift"
Home Goods Vase with Florals
Up Close View


Hanging "C" with Pinecones (the Golden Rule of odd numbered objects - 5)
So, there you have it! My FREE (this year anyway : ) Fireplace Mantel Fall Decor. Stay tuned for more on Fall Decor when my 10 month old allows the free time. I love him!!!


We are moving (Our Blog that is)

http://garyandannac.blogspot.com/

The above link will take you to our Adoption Blog. This will soon be moving to Anna Cheung Interiors so they will all be in the same place.

Under Construction

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Our Home: Organizing Systems in Place

After my previous post on the importance of having organizing systems in place, I thought I would share a few of the systems I have in place in our home that help make our lives run more smoothly. I will add to this as our home evolves and our systems change.

Overall Home Running Systems (these will be addressed in separate posts in detail)

1. Cleaning schedule
2. Home Binder
3. Homeade Baby Food
4. Clean as You Go 
Entryway

1. Dog leashes: A cute hook in the image of a duck hangs behind the front door
                       Source: Hobby Lobby

2. Dresser: A refinished dresser holds seasonal items and everything we need before leaving the house (bug spray, flashlights, sunglasses, extra gum, headphones and chargers, hand sanitizer, individual tissue packs, etc.)
                  Source: $25 from a neighbor along with paint and stain, new knobs from Hobby Lobby                   and decoupaged craft paper from Hobby Lobby {See previous post on my dresser                         redo in DIY}

3. Keys: A cute ceramic bowl with a top holds our keys in one pretty place
             Source: Home Goods - the bathroom section

4. Shoes: Shelving was added to one side of our under the stairs closet for shoes- we take them off when we come inside- this helps with household cleanliness for our little ones sake and mine
               Source: Shelving system from Rubbermaid

5. Mail: On the dresser, a filing system for our mail sits. It has two sections- one for incoming and one for outgoing. On the way from the mailbox, I flip through the mail. I immediately try to toss the junk mail and separate out the coupons and magazines. I then place the bills and items we need to respond to in the incoming slot for Gary to check and respond to later. If I need to write a thank you card, I try to do it right away. If I need to buy a card for someone, I try to make a note of that as well. I keep blank cards in a drawer of the dresser so I can do Thank You cards quickly.
                Source: Mail Holder from Home Goods
                Source: Cards from Target {these are not the same ones, mine are all rectangular note card sizes, but this is similar to what I purchased}
Die-Cut Notecard Set 50-pk.

Future Changes to the entryway: 

The entryway has become a bit crowded now that we turned our dining room into a playroom for our new addition. I am not sure if I will keep the dresser there or not. We are in the process of building a pallet wall where hooks will be hung for purses, bookbags, etc. I also envision a skinny bench with storage underneath. By removing the dresser and adding a small storage bench, the entryway will become more open. We also want to add sliding barn doors to the opening of the now playroom (Dream, dream, dream -- dream, dream, dream).

STAY TUNED: Pallet wall reveal coming soon!!! Yay!!! Thanks so much to my hubby and carpenter who takes my visions and makes them a reality. Without him - I wouldn't be doing a lot of these projects.

Kitchen 

1. What's for dinner? I take one day a week (usually Sunday afternoon) and plan meals for the week. I try to also clip coupons and create my shopping list.

2. Oops we are out list: We write down items when we use the last bit. This list stays on the refrigerator.

3. Must have coffee!! Our coffee maker is a Keurig so we have KCups, creamer and sugar packets. We also drink a lot of tea. The Keurig sits on the counter along with the K-Cup holder. The sugar packets and tea packets are in the above cabinet with our coffee mugs. I used Clever Container products here (Bin Coffee and Under Shelf Cup Wrack - Chrome) http://www.clevercontainer.com/annacheunginteriors

Bin CoffeeUnder Shelf Cup Rack-Chrome

4. Declan's drawer: One large drawer in our kitchen holds snack packets, apple sauce and utensils for our little one. We don't have a lot of additional items for him since we are ridding our home of plastic. I heat his food on our plates and place it on his high chair for him to eat. 

5. Where is that lid? I stack bowls by size and store lids in the Overhang 
                  Source: Clever Container 

6. Recycling: under the sink lives an old plastic trash bin where recycling gets tossed until trash day

7. Is the dishwasher clean or dirty? Before beginning a meal, I always empty the dishwasher. That way, dishes and utensils I use to cook are in the dishwasher before dinner is served. When dinner is finished, the food is stored in lunch portions for the next day (if there is any left- feeding a growing boy and his daddy can be a challenge at times) and the rest of the dinner dishes are put in the dishwasher. It is turned on before we go to bed. In the morning, after breakfast, it can be unloaded. 

8. Where's a pen? I keep a container for pens, small post it note pads, dry erase markers, scissors and loose change in the kitchen. We always know where these items are when needed. 
     Source: Stuff It from Clever Container {http://www.clevercontainer.com/annacheunginteriors}

The one shown here is green and white polka dot, but it now comes in pink and black.

9. Are we out of dishrags again? I recently switched to all white dishcloths. We go through them quickly as one has to be sanitary to wipe Declan after meals, one for washing and one for the counter or wiping our hands when cooking. This helps with laundry. I can also bleach them if needed. I toss them in a container at the end of the day. When the container is full, I carry it upstairs and toss them in the wash. 
                     Source: Small Tuff Tote in Fushcia (color isn't my favorite for the kitchen, but it                            serves it's purpose) http://www.clevercontainer.com/annacheunginteriors 

10. High Chair: We don't need to ever worry where the bib is. I attached a 3M Command Hook to the back of the chair for his bib. The most wonderful bib was given to us as a gift - Baby Bjorn Bib. It catches all of the (well most of anyway) crumbs. 
                      Source: Target
 BABYBJÖRN Soft Bib - Red

Kitchen Wishlist: 
Command Center with cork for hanging needed papers
Deep drawers so I don't have to kneel down with a flashlight to locate pans to cook with. I mean, I love a good mystery novel, but I don't want to be a detective in order to find something to cook with. 

Living Room 

1. DVDs and Game Accessories: A while back, I knew having these items out in the open would be an issue with a crawling baby. I used two trunks in different sizes to store these items. 
                      Source: Home Goods -- My FAVORITE shopping spot other than flea markets of                                     course. 

2. Magazines: I store these all in a pile in a large wooden bowl. I go through them routinely and recycle the older ones.
                       Source: the large wooden bowl is an heirloom from my grandmother - I have a                              whole set of them in graduated sizes 

Diaper Changing Stations (upstairs and downstairs) 

1. Downstairs: On the lower floor, there is a covered basket that holds wipes, diapers and diaper cream. This makes it easy to change little man without having to run around hunting for supplies

2. Upstairs: There is a large, rectangular basket underneath the changing table. When we buy new diapers, I unpack them and split them between the downstairs and upstairs and store the rest. This basket also holds additional supplies and wipes. 

Master Bathroom 

1. Rubber Ducky: All of the bath toys are kept in the tub, but I want to add this system soon. 

2.  Do I really need a diaper, mommy? We now bathe our little man in our large tub for convenience. So, I keep a container on the side of the tub. It contains wash clothes, soap and shampoo, and diapers. When I fold laundry and put away new diapers, I add these here. This system keeps up from having to run get something when we have already undressed him and run the water. 
                     Source: The basket used here was free from a doctor's office visit when we were    
                      looking for a pediatrician

3. Why is the floor so wet? When we moved into our home, we noticed the towel bar was by the tub. When we took a shower, we had to walk, dripping, to the tub to get our towels. I purchased two hooks to hank right across from the shower. This is where our towels and robes now hang. It makes a difference in how wet the floor gets now. 

Closets

1. Why can't I find a coathanger? As soon as we take clothes off of the hanger to dress, we place the empty hanger on a short bar in our closet. When I go to do laundry and hang clothes, I save time hunting (uhum...playing detective again)

2. Do I really have a tank top in every color? Yes, pretty much. They are great to exercise in, wear under button downs and under itchy sweaters in the winter. I used to fold them, but that took time. Now I just hang them up in the closet. 
               Source: Clever Container Belt Hanger                                   http://www.clevercontainer.com/annacheunginteriors (photo from a fellow consultant) 


3. Laundry: Having a divided laundry basket in our closet is great. We put our clothes there and they are divided into 3 sections- colors, whites and undies. I need another one of these to hold towels, delicates, and exercise clothes. Declan's clothes are kept in his room in a container next to his changing table. 

                                                           Declan's Nursery
See blog on this topic {Here

Garage

Under Construction

Office 

Under Construction

Laundry and Laundry Room 

Under Construction 
                      






Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Importance of Organizing Systems

The Importance of Organizing Systems (latest Article for neighborhood Newsletter) 

            The busier and more hectic our lives become, the more disorganized we seem to be.  We all strive to be organized, but getting organized is not something that happens overnight.

            Getting organized is not a perfect science, but it does take a little thought and time to set up “organizing systems” that work for your family. If you spend the time to become organized, you want to have these systems in place to keep things organized or you have wasted your time. Take the time to think about your daily lives and where the problem areas arise. Then, create systems to help these areas or times of your day run more smoothly. The systems that are put in place must make sense to you and your family. Once you have systems in place, explain them to the other members of your family. If a system doesn't work at first, change it until it does. Remember when creating these systems that everyone will not view being organized the same way.

            One of the most important systems to have in place is a calendar or schedule. Time management and being organized go hand in hand. Some people prefer to keep a paper or dry erase calendar in a central location while others use their phone as their primary calendar.   Whatever your style, it is very important that everyone in the home has the same information and that all information is added to the calendar. If you have older children and you keep the calendar on your phone, sync everyone’s calendars so everyone has the same information and dates are not overscheduled or double booked. After all, we can’t be in two places at once. 

By having a calendar already in place, you can also save yourself time as the month goes by.  For example, if you see that you are going to attend two birthday parties and a wedding in the same month as well as provide snacks on the first Monday for your child’s ball team you can go ahead and purchase cards, gifts and other items in advance. This will prevent the running around at the last minute and overspending as well as the added stress.

Schedules can also be a tool to help keep you on track on a daily and monthly basis.  Make a list of your household chores and create a weekly schedule for getting these accomplished. Wash laundry on Monday and Wednesday for example or clean the living room on Tuesday. By keeping a weekly and monthly cleaning schedule, you free your time up later with deep cleaning. You also feel you have accomplished something at the end of the day when you can mark off what you have done. Monthly schedules can include the deep cleaning tasks along with tasks such as changing the air conditioner filter or changing batteries in the smoke detectors. You can also include other household maintenance on this schedule such as sharpening the lawn mower blade and having the air conditioner inspected. This will not only save time, but could save on costly repair bills later on down the road.

Meal plans are also a type of schedule. Plan meals by the week, make grocery lists to match and clip coupons. Not only will this save you time and money, it may also help you stay healthy. Include several crock pot meals, casseroles or have breakfast for dinner. If planning meals by the week stresses you out, go online and search for meal plans that are already created for you. There are sites such as E-Meals that will email you menus and grocery lists for the week. With these prepared meal plans, you can also focus on your style of eating such as Low Carb or Natural and Organic. When you plan a meal that is a hit with everyone in the family, double the recipe and freeze part for a meal later on when time is a factor. By planning meals and eating as a family, the family can spend more time together as well.

Having schedules and calendars is a great way to begin your overall home organization, but what about the items we already have that cause clutter? One of the biggest creators of clutter in the home is bringing items into the home that we do not need to keep. We often bring goody bags in from parties and events, we bring swag from business meetings, and our kids bring flyers and art in from school. Our mailboxes are often filled with junk mail.  Having a system in place for these types of clutter is a must and having a specific time of week to siphon through it is also a must.
Mail:  If it is junk mail, separate it and toss it as soon as you walk into the house.  The other important mail such as bills and items you need to respond to should go in a place where they will not get lost in the shuffle – especially if they need to be taken care of later. The entryway or command center for the home is a perfect place to have a divided holder for the mail with labels such as Bills, Respond, File, and/or Shred.  You could also have a section for school mail and coupons.  Coupons for eating out or shopping (Grocery coupons are separate) could then be placed in a large Ziploc bag in the car where they will be available when needed. That way, you can check this bag depending on where you go and it will keep you from letting coupons expire.  
Goody Bags and Party Favors:  Save these items and box them up for your child’s teacher to use in their classroom treasure chest.  When attending events, don’t feel obligated to accept or take every flyer that is offered. If you do attend an event where you are handed a goody bag of papers and items, go through it as soon as you bring it into the house. Toss what you will not use and place the other items where they are needed. We all could use the extra pens and drink Koozies, but other items are not something we should clutter our home with.

Magazines: Read the magazines you know have articles of interest and recycle the others. You could also donate them to a doctor’s office waiting room. By cancelling magazine subscriptions of magazines you never read or no longer have an interest in, you can also save money.

The above are just a few suggestions of systems to set up that will benefit most people. Whatever systems you decide to put in place in your home, remember to work with the other members of your family. Discuss what works and change systems as the need arises. Everyone in the home should have a part in keeping the house running smoothly. By maintaining these systems and by cleaning clutter a little each day, you will soon have a more organized home that is running more smoothly.