Category Archives: Kitchen

Make S.P.A.C.E. in the Pantry – VIDEO

 

Pantry Organizing

CLICK to watch the full 4.5 min video

The pantry is another area that you can tackle while you have time on your hands. It might be both entertaining and educational for young children to help with this. Again we will use the the S.P.A.C.E. process for organizing, developed by best-selling author and organizer, Julie Morgenstern. You can organize anything using this system.

SORT – Pull out everything (ideally) or by shelf or category and sort into category groups. It helps to make temporary labels to make the process go more quickly:

  • grains, pastas, beans
  • packaged mixes/sauces
  • baking related: flour, sugar, baking soda & powder, cocoa, decorations
  • snacks: chips, cookies, crackers
  • dried fruit, nuts
  • canned goods
  • oils and vinegars
  • spices
  • cereals
  • teas
  • coffee
  • paper products

You’ll often find that there are different categories of items (hardware, for example) stored in unorganized places like a pantry.  Separate those out and dedicate a location to sort and store those items later.

PURGE – eliminate expired items and items you had good intentions around but know you’ll never eat. Offer non-expired items to friends or drop-off in a food collection barrel available at many supermarkets.

ASSIGN A HOME – Re-evaluate the available real estate of your pantry. High use items do best in easily accessible places.

CONTAINERIZE – There are a few different products that can help with maximizing space in a pantry. Tiered shelves work well to keep canned goods and spices visible. Lazy susans work well to keep oils accessible, shelf risers are a great way to maximize vertical space in a cabinet, and small open bins are a nice way to group and contain bulk packages or soft packaged items.

EQUALIZE – Remember, life isn’t static and you’ll continue to have new influxes of food supplies regularly. As tastes and eating habits change, so should your pantry system. It’s good to plan a reorganization at least once a year – this is the step to EQUALIZE your systems with your stuff!

Experience the joy of an organized pantry that, especially when shelves and bins are labeled, everyone can contribute to keeping tidy.

Pantry Before and After

 

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Filed under Decluttering, home organizing, Kitchen, organizing, Products, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Storage, Strategies

3 Areas to Tackle While Stuck at Home

stuck at home

In times like these, it can feel good to take control of the things you can.  Using this downtime to face areas of your home that stress you out can make you feel better.  Here are a few areas to consider with tips for making improvements:

Paperwork

  • Gather extraneous mail and papers lying around, extract the to-dos, purge the trash, and file the keepers.
  • Pick 5 folders from your filing system and pull out expired or unneeded documents.
  • Gather your 2019 tax documents.

Kid Stuff

  • Grab a grocery bag or spare box and fill it with outgrown toys and kid books.
  • Go through all the art supplies and toss anything used up or broken.
  • Have kids try on clothes and gather outgrown items for donation.

Dining Room Table/Counters

  • Do a rough sort of all the things that land here that really should belong somewhere else. Use temporary containers (shoeboxes, Tupperware) to sort things by type.
  • Anything that represents an action item (things to repair or return) could go in one container and make a list of the actions instead.
  • Return the sorted items to their rightful homes. Anything leftover need to be addressed – either create a home for them or let them go.

If you can’t get out to do drop-offs, clearly group and label things; e-waste, donation, shredding, sell. You can just tape a piece of paper to each pile/bag. Put them somewhere you’ll follow through when things are opened up again.

The hope is that you come out on the other side with a more organized home. And, in the process, transfer organizing skills to your family.

Do you have an area of the home you’d like some virtual advice on cleaning up? Let us know!

 

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Make some S.P.A.C.E. – a Technique to Get Organized

Pantry_tips

Do you have an area of you home you want to organize but don’t know where to start? The S.P.A.C.E. technique, coined by organizer Julie Morgenstern in her first book, Organizing From The Inside Out, is a tried and true way to go about it.

The acronym breaks down the organizing process into 5 simple steps anyone can follow. We’re going to walk you through the steps using a kitchen pantry as an example but the steps apply to any space you’re trying to organize – a single drawer to a whole house!

Sort

The first step in organizing any space is a sort. Gather like things together in order to see how much you have of similar items.

Empty the pantry onto a large table and sort by types of food:

  • Canned goods
  • Nuts, dried fruits, small bagged snacks
  • Rice, pasta, grains
  • Boxed cereals
  • Baking items
  • Packaged food mixes

Purge

Look through each group of your sorted items and get down to what’s relevant to life now.

  • Expired foods & spices
  • Boxes and bags with just a tiny bit left
  • Extras from overbuying because you forgot you already had it (think food bank!)
  • Items you thought would be delicious but now don’t seem so appealing

Assign a Home

This is the core of the work. Clutter happens when items don’t have an assigned place to live. Using labels makes all the difference here.

  • Make sure high-use items are in the most accessible shelves
  • Decide which sorted groups are “friends” – would you like your jars of tomato sauce to live near your pastas or other jars and canned goods?

Once you have clarity on your groups, their use, and where they should live you can make smart choices about whether containers make sense for them to live in…

Containerize

Shop smart and save yourself time and money by saving the containerizing until the end of the process.

  • Use small boxes on shelves to group loose bagged items together; the box functions as a mini pullout shelf
  • There are numerous organizing products to help maximize shelf space and visibility. Do a quick search on Pinterest to get some ideas
  • If you don’t have the perfect container you can always use a cardboard box, Ziploc bag or other temporary container until you find the perfect permanent solution

Equalize

Life isn’t static. Getting organized isn’t a one-time process. As life changes – sizes, interests, jobs, etc. your organizing systems may need to shift and change to keep up. Make time each season (or at least each year) to inventory your possessions and update your systems.

Try it out yourself.  Start small as a test. Pick a single drawer or cabinet shelf to create S.P.A.C.E.   See how it goes and report back!

Need more help? The Container Store has a page with tips for organizing your pantry.

 

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3 Strategies for Sharing or Renting Your Home

organize your home for sharing - 1 (1).jpg

A great reason to declutter and organize your home is the possibility of leveraging it to rent or share or swap. Seeing your home through the eyes of guests can motivate you to pare down essential areas, streamline your own living style and in the process and create a more attractive place to live!

House swapping (HomeExchange) is a great way to eliminate lodging cost from a vacation. Short term rentals (AirBnB, VRBO) are a great way for empty nesters to earn some extra income. It can take a lot to get your space prepared to share – even partially – but comes with the added bonus of giving your home a refreshing makeover to make it more livable for you…and your family and friends.

Imagine someone walking into your home and saying, “What a nice place to stay!” You can achieve this effect without turning your house into a hotel. A few improvements can make a huge difference…and inspire you to do more. Here are 3 strategies to make this happen:

1 – Simplify, Simplify, Simplify

On visible surfaces — in the kitchen, the bathroom and the bedroom — clear out everything but the basics

  • Excess products put away or discarded
  • Clear the nightstand of dusty books and paraphernalia
  • Simplify the décor
  • Develop systems for managing laundry
  • Take care of any outstanding repairs that create safety issues

There’s quite a range from being very clean, neat, usable, but looking very lived in to making it look more like a hotel…very sparse. It doesn’t have to be perfect, but usable. If you are renting you can charge more for a more hotel-like environment.

2 – Create Space for Overflow and Personal Items

  • Make the house easily transformable to reduce the hassle of preparing to share. When you want to make it “guest ready” for yourself, for a relative coming to stay, for a party, or for a short term rental or house swap.
  • Make space in a closet or part of a room where you can secure your personal or valuable items for things you would put away when someone is using your space. You can even dedicate an extra room for this purpose and have a locking door.
  • Make space in cabinets or closets to store overflow items neatly but out of the way.

3 – Making Key Supplies and Info Accessible

  • Prepare an “Welcome to Our Home” cheat sheet with key emergency contacts, and basic instructions for things like TV use, internet access, and trash/recycling.
  • Make sure you have clean towels and sheets available and visible
  • Consider stocking the kitchen with a few basics such as coffee/tea to make guests comfortable

If you’re considering doing short term rentals, there are other considerations re supplies that renters might expect.  Places like AirBNB provide convenient list of things you should have stocked in your home

Not sure where to start? An organizing assessment with a Professional Organizer can provide you a punch list of things you could do, give you advice on the viability of sharing and also give you tips on what to tackle first.

 

 

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Purge That Pantry

Canned Food - 1

It’s not always this obvious when canned food has reached its expiration date

Does the thought of having to deal with expired food in your pantry keep you from organizing your kitchen storage? Do you dread putting groceries away because there is no room in the cabinets?  This might be a sign that you need a pantry purge.

Food waste is a big issue in the US. We have a tendency to over-buy food then let it go to waste. Screw up your courage and take a swing through your pantry and fridge to re-familiarize yourself with your own inventory and make a plan to use things up before they go bad.

But when do things really go bad? The product expiration dates on food can be a bit confusing. Here’s how they break down:

Sell-by:  A manufacturer set date when to take products off the shelf; but they may still be just fine for you. Properly refrigerated milk, for example, will last 5-7 days past it’s sell-by date before souring.

Best if used by/before:  This is all about when maximum quality and flavor will expire, not safety – except baby formula.

Use-by:  This is basically the exact same as “Best if Used by/before”. It indicates the expiration of peak quality of the product, not safety (except baby formula)

How to tell if it’s really gone bad? 

According to food safety experts it’s ok to trust your nose and taste buds to tell if something has gone bad. Another handy tool is the Food Safety App from the USDA – a quick search by product will tell you how long it should be good for unopened AND once opened. Once you determine that a food item is no longer edible, remove it from its packaging and put it in the compost bin.

What if it’s is still good?

Drop it by your local food bank, or into a collection barrel at one of the major supermarkets, or don’t be shy to post it online to NextDoor or Freecycle and offer it to neighbors.

Did you know that it is far better to use up food from your panty than donate it to a food bank? Why? It saves the food bank precious resources: schedulers, drivers, food sorters, and fuel.
When you donate cash instead of food the food bank can purchase their most-needed items…and usually get $7 worth of food for every $1 of donation.

And, don’t forget to check for expired foods in your earthquake kit! Have your earthquake food be part of your household food rotation; re-purchase earthquake food every six months and donate the older food to a food drive orthrow a disaster preparedness party and invite people to share their earthquake food, tasting different food bars and ordering fresh supplies. Look for long-shelf-life foods…some bars last 5 years.

Are you ready to take the plunge and refresh your food storage? Take a bite out of your resistance and commit to tackling one shelf at a time.

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What Flavor Of Organizing Do You Need?

 

Did you know organizers don’t just organize?  Professional organizing comes in all sorts of flavors. Some organizers are more generalists and cover lots of areas; others pick one specialty and stick to that.  Have a look at the variety of challenges where professional organizers can help:

  1. ADD/ADHD
  2. Bookkeeping
  3. Business development
  4. Children and teen organizing
  5. Chronic disorganization
  6. Closet design and organizing
  7. Coaching
  8. Consulting
  9. Corporate operations
  10. Digital organizing
  11. Downsizing
  12. Eco-organizing
  13. Estate management
  14. Estate sales
  15. Event planning
  16. Feng Shui
  17. Financial management/Bookkeeping/Bill-paying
  18. Garage sales
  19. Garages/Attics/Basements
  20. Hands-on organizing
  21. Hoarding behavior
  22. Home inventories
  23. Home offices
  24. Home staging
  25. Household management
  26. KonMari organizing
  27. Notary Public
  28. Online sales
  29. Paper management
  30. Personal assistance
  31. People with disabilities
  32. Photography/Memorabilia/Collections
  33. Project management
  34. Psychology involved in organizing/productivity
  35. Records management
  36. Relocation and move management
  37. Social media
  38. Space planning and design
  39. Speaking and training
  40. Storage units
  41. Task and time management
  42. Team productivity
  43. Technology
  44. Travel prep
  45. Virtual organizing

No matter the size or scope of your project, we can help you find an organizer with the specialty you need! Ask us for recommendations or go directly to the National Association of Productivity and Organizing Professionals — NAPO.net.

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Marie Kondo’s Organizing Inspires Lasting Changes

marie kondo tidying

Marie Kondo is at it again with her new Netflix series, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo. You may already be familiar with the KonMari method through her hugely popular book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.

We live in a culture of consumption that really values volume. Coming from a totally different culture, Marie Kondo awakens us to a Japanese way of looking at our things. At the heart of her de-cluttering approach is the Shinto belief of animism– that objects have energy and a life force that should be acknowledged and honored. Usually the object of any de-cluttering method is getting rid of stuff. Kondo’s approach changes the focus of purging. Instead of analyzing objects for their functionality in our lives, she trains us to sense the energy within our possessions …and only keep those that inspire or create joy.

Explaining her process to someone getting overwhelmed Kondo says: “The point of this process isn’t to force yourself to eliminate things, it’s really to confirm how you feel about each and every item you possess.”

Kondo’s technique is very spiritual and holistic – gets you out of your head and logic and into your heart and emotion. She’s asking what you want to carry forward with you in your lives.The end result of the process is an uncluttered home and a clearer relationship with the things you own.

Key takeaways from the show and book:

  • Going through this process takes time and commitment! In the show, take note of how many weeks it takes to get through each scenario
  • Fine tune your ability to recognize how objects make you feel by holding things you know you love – pay attention to how you feel; it “sparks joy” for you
  • Tackle memorabilia last
  • You don’t need fancy organizing products to declutter
  • The KonMari method can work across all types of family structures and life scenarios.

Are you feeling inspired to try a new approach but daunted by doing it on your own? We can help…some professional organizers are trained in the KonMari method, including our own Katherine Korlacki! You also don’t have to implement the KonMari method exactly in order to make progress – use the parts that inspire you and get support to get through the decision-making process. Your de-cluttered life awaits!

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5 Tips To Create An Organized Kitchen

Who doesn’t need a banana saver?

Kitchens are one of the hardest-working rooms in a home. They get used multiple times a day, often by multiple people. They have to house super high-use items such as cookware, dishes and silverware, and often very low-use items such as the ice cream maker or pizza stone.

If you’re lucky, when you moved into your home your kitchen was filled perfectly, where items you use the most were put in the ideal location, your bins and drawers were divided and labeled so everyone could find (and put away) what they needed.   Over time, even the best order in cabinets gets challenged by changes in the family needs and new additions to the stuff we own. Kids grow up, Tupperware lids get lost, cooking styles change, new equipment is brought in.

When it’s time to hit the reset button, follow these tips!

Tip 1:

Clear the counters or kitchen table so you have space to go through items. It can be helpful to have a few medium sized cardboard boxes on hand to group like items together until you find them all and have decided where they’re going to live.

Tip 2:

Work on one area at a time. Completely empty the shelves or drawers and give them a good wipe down. Refresh shelf liner if needed.

Tip 3:

PURGE! Toss out broken or chipped dishes.  Remove out of date food.  Take the time to match up all the food storage containers with their lids and toss the orphans. This is your time to re-acquaint yourself with your stuff – be realistic about what you use and create space to keep it by releasing things you don’t.

Tip 4:

Put things back in locations that makes sense and match the need to access them. The most accessible areas should house frequently used items. It makes sense to store dishes within reach of the dishwasher and large bowls near the prep area, for example.

Tip 5:

Use Organizing products to create more usable space.

Tiered Riser

Shelf risers maximize the prime real estate. And don’t forget that most shelves are adjustable; place the shelves where they make sense for YOUR stuff instead of just using their default position.

drawer dividers - 1

Drawer dividers help keep items sorted by size and use. In deep cabinets use drawers and pull-outs as much as possible. Bed Bath and Beyond and Container Store both sell pull-out shelves you can add to existing shelves. Custom pull-outs fully maximize the space.

Pull outs and drawers

Pantry storage containers and deep storage bins can be very useful to group types of foods.

If you’re going to tackle the entire kitchen in one session, plan for a full day. Otherwise set aside an hour per cabinet (2 to 3 hours for a pantry). Investing the time and energy into one of the most important rooms in the house will pay off every time you cook, put away groceries or go to set the table!

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Dedicating Space for Household Management

homeoffice

Do you find your household paperwork doesn’t have a home? Is your bedroom getting used for stashing unmanaged mail? Do you have papers and mail all over the house? Are you frustrated that your home never looks tidy? Many people use a large portion of their kitchen counter to manage notes and mail…and it spills over from there. But the kitchen counter space often doesn’t provide enough room for a tidy work space.

All these scenarios point to the importance of dedicating a space for a household management center.

Location

The ideal location for a household management center is close to where this work usually gets done. Kitchen, dining room, living room are very common areas. Look where your paper is accumulating and see if you can dedicate a bit of space to make it an “official” work area. Active projects need to be out and accessible where you will really work on them. Where does the work actually get done?

If you have a more remote home office but don’t find yourself staging the mail and active projects there, you might find paper clutter creeping into the living space. It would be appropriate to create an active work station more centrally and store overflow and permanent files in the office. For example, if you find yourself most often sitting on your couch paying bills online, can you create a space there to catch incoming bills?

The Critical Bits:

  • Active projects: to-do’s and bills to pay
  • Active reference: family schedules and phone lists
  • Basic office supplies (stamps, envelopes, paperclips, post its)
  • Dedicated containers to get the recycling and shredding out of the way and off the countertop

Nice to Have Nearby:

  • Printer – can be hidden or made wireless so it can be stored in a back room or closet
  • Main household filing system – including past years taxes and permanent records
  • Overstock office supplies
  • Kids’ art portfolios

Instead of berating yourself for being messy, embrace the idea that household management needs dedicated space. And give yourself the gift of organization.

 

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The Ultimate Way to Organize Your Fridge

Fridge organized

This post was excerpted from an article written by Maria Janowiak and repurposed with permission from Greatist.

Tip: Your fridge isn’t just a closet for food—it’s a high-tech device that helps you store all of your favorite snacks, condiments, and meal-fixins in optimal conditions. Not only do refrigerators have different compartments that serve different purposes, they also have different temperature zones.

Freezer

You can store a surprising number of other foods in the freezer for later use, such as tortillas, pasta sauce, and even eggs. (Note: You can freeze bread for up to three months, but don’t store it in the fridge or it’ll dry out.) The trick with freezers is to pack foods tightly in their containers and keep things well organized, since this optimizes storage and also saves energy. Freeze foods in stackable plastic containers or in plastic freezer bags laid flat.

Doors

Doors are the warmest part of the fridge and should be reserved for foods that are most resistant to spoiling. Keep condiments, juices, and other foods that can stand up to temperature fluctuations here.

Upper Shelves

One pro strategy from restaurant kitchens is to place foods that don’t need to be cooked near the top of the fridge. This includes leftovers, drinks, and ready-to-eat foods like tortillas, hummus, and deli meats.

Lower Shelves

Because cold air is heavier the lower shelves are your best bet for raw meat, eggs, seafood, and other dairy to be stored at the coldest temperatures. To prevent raw meat’s bacteria from spreading to other areas, assign a particular section of the fridge as your meat locker.

Overall: Don’t crowd your shelves too much. Unlike the freezer, the fridge shouldn’t be totally packed. Cold air needs to flow here, and if it can’t, you’ll get inconsistent temps with pockets of heat and warmth.

Crisper Drawers

The purpose of crisper drawers is to maintain moist conditions that help preserve fruits and vegetables. But don’t make the mistake of jumbling all your produce together in a fruit and veg free-for-all. Many fruits, including apples, peaches, plums, pears, and cantaloupes, produce ethylene, a chemical that helps them to ripen. Unfortunately the ethylene produced can also promote ripening in other plants, causing vegetables to go yellow, limp, or even sprout. For this reason, keep veggies in one drawer and fruits in another.

On Top of the Fridge

If you’ve been using the top of your fridge like a food attic, stacking bottles of Merlot or loaves of bread up there, stop. (Heat rises from the fridge’s condenser.) Result: It gets pretty warm up top. Heat is Kryptonite to wine. And it’ll make bread mold faster. The best use of this space? Store appliances or supplies like paper towels or a stack of cookbooks.

To Fridge or Not to Fridge?

One of the tougher questions is figuring out if something goes in the fridge in the first place. Certain foods don’t belong in the fridge. Tomatoes will turn mealy and odorless in the fridge—keep them comfy at room temperature. Onions, squash, and potatoes do best in a cooler environment with low moisture, so store them in a dark cupboard or other place outside of the fridge. Avocados and many fruits are just fine being left on the counter to ripen, but also can go in the fridge to slow the process down if needed. Herbs can be kept in the fridge or in a vase on the countertop if they’ll be used with a few days.

With a fridge organized for maximal accessibility and food freshness, you’ll be inspired to reach in for ingredients to make healthy meals.

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