Category Archives: Kitchen

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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Filed under Decluttering, home organizing, homework, Kitchen, Living Room, Office, organizing, Paper, paper organizing, Perspective, Storage, Work

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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Filed under Decluttering, Guest Experts, home organizing, Kitchen, Storage

Marie Kondo’s Organizing Inspires Lasting Changes

Marie Kondo's book on "The Japanese Art of Tidying Up" offers fresh strategies based on spiritual principles

Marie Kondo’s book on “The Japanese Art of Tidying Up” offers fresh strategies based on spiritual principles

There’s been a lot of press recently about Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Considering the existing volume of self-help organizing books already out there we were curious why this book has captured people’s interest so powerfully.

The media is abuzz over it, our clients are talking about it, and after exploring it more thoroughly, we are inspired by it.

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.

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. 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 points:

  • Sort by category and order matters, start with clothes and end with memorabilia
  • Do it quickly
  • Find if the item sparks joy by holding it and sensing your body’s reaction
  • Give yourself a time limit for the entire purging process- 1 week, 3 months, 1 year…decide first how long you will take for this project
  • Do it now, don’t delay

Are you feeling inspired to try a new approach? Practice by holding an object and sense how it makes you feel. If it doesn’t spark joy, can you let it go? This exercise will get you in tune with the relationships you have with your stuff and move you towards a home you love.

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, General Organizing, Kids, Kitchen, Laundry, Living Room, Memorabilia, Office, Paper, Perspective, Strategies

3 Words That Will Change Your Life

Practicing DO IT NOW builds a special kind of muscle ... one you'll be proud of!
Practicing DO IT NOW builds a special kind of muscle … one you’ll be proud of!

Have you ever had a morning like this?

  • You wake up, go to make coffee but realize you’re out because you didn’t stop by Peet’s yesterday after work.
  • You have to dig out a work shirt (now wrinkled) from the pile of laundry on the couch because you didn’t feel like folding them when they came out of the dryer last night.
  • You go to do your daughter’s hair before school but there are no hair clips in the bathroom – she finally finds one on the coffee table after 5 minutes of searching.
  • At the last minute you realize you need to return a form to school – and spend 10 minutes scrambling through the last 4 piles of papers left around the house that you meant to go through.

Sounds like an easy and relaxing start to the day, right? NOT!

This is going to sound too simple but these 3 words could drastically improve the flow of your life:

DO IT NOW

The little decisions and actions you routinely delay have a cumulative effect of creating clutter…and lots of inconvenience and stress!

Here are some common areas people delay decisions and actions:

Kid memorabilia – It all seems so special. So you keep it all and because of our busy family lives, it just ends up in a heap, getting dusty and dog-eared. Once it comes home make a quick decision – does it go on display? Go straight to the memorabilia box (you have one, right?), or straight into recycling (yes, behind their back if need be)?

Junk mail – Are you in a rush when you retrieve the mail, leaving it in piles around the house, half processed? Instead of setting the fresh pile of mail down to go through later quickly extract the obvious junk mail and throw it straight into recycling. If you truly can’t get to it immediately, having one unprocessed mail-dumping station enables you (or your partner) to deal with it when you have the time to do it right.

Putting things away – If you’re passing through one room on the way to another, keep an eye out for things you can take with you and put back in their proper homes. This keeps general clutter to a minimum and prevents the need for a big chunk of time to get picked up – especially before cleaning day.

Keep the fridge fresh – How many times have you picked up a jar of something in the fridge to find it’s expired and put it right back to deal with “later” because you want to rinse it out and recycle the jar instead of just dumping it in the trash? Instead, clean out the jar right away or set the jar in the sink to be dealt with the next time dishes are done. The next time you open your fridge and find all the food inviting, you’ll thank yourself!

Weed regularly – I’ve seen many a client survey the contents of a closet or drawer saying “oh yeah, I could get rid of that” or “probably half this stuff could go…” As soon as you realize you’re never going to wear that shirt again or you really could let go of that figurine you‘ve always hated, get it into a donation bag right away. Letting potential donations accumulate in closets and drawers clogs up valuable storage space with unused clutter.

This sounds easier than it is – it takes a lot of consciousness and follow-through.

Just because we’re organizers doesn’t mean we have it all down; we have to practice at it also. But following this philosophy even some of the time will definitely make life easier.

Think of your future self – will doing it now save you headache later? Then DO IT!

Do you have a funny story of the domino effect of putting things off? Share it with us!

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Kids, Kitchen, Memorabilia, Office, Paper, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Storage, Strategies, Time Management

The Hidden Costs of Clutter for Women

Decluttering is good for your health!

Decluttering is good for your health!

You’re probably familiar with the notion that clutter is expensive – costing you money in buying things you already have and costing you time from inefficiency. Turns out clutter can cost you your health as well.

A recent study by researchers at UCLA’s Sloan Center on Everyday Lives of Families (CELF) shows a link between women’s stress hormone, cortisol, and the amount of clutter in their home. According to the study:

“Mothers who use key words in their self-narrated home tours indicating that the home is messy or cluttered actually experience a higher rate of depressed mood toward evening, based on cortisol measures over a number of days.” Life At Home In The Twenty-First Century, Arnold, et. al.

The groundbreaking 4-year study looked at the living habits of 32 families with school age children in the Los Angeles area. The objective was to get a real picture of how middle-class families live.

An article and video from KCET highlights a few interesting facts from the study:

  • The United States has 3.1% of the world’s children and purchases 40% of the world’s toys
  • Our society has the most material possessions per household in global history
  • 75 percent of Angelenos are parking their cars in the streets or in the driveways and they’re using their garages as storage units
  • Family photos on display: an average of 85. Home offices: typically, over 2,000 non-paper items. Garages: 50 to 700 objects. Refrigerator doors hold an average of 52 doodads.

So what’s our take away? REDUCE THE VOLUME! Any effort you make to reduce the volume of stuff in your home will boost your mood and lower your stress level.

Meet the challenge! Grab a donation bag, see if you can fill it and drop it off this week.

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Kids, Kitchen, Living Room, Memorabilia, Perspective, Reduce/Recyle/Reuse, Strategies

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

Your pantry can be a place of order and containment

The Container Store has a page with tips for ordering your pantry.

One of the best organizing strategies is the acronym S.P.A.C.E. coined by organizer Julie Morgenstern in her first book, Organizing From The Inside Out.

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?

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!

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Filed under Decluttering, General Organizing, Kitchen, Perspective, Strategies

Using Pinterest for Organizing Ideas

Looking for inspiration? Come join this visual feast!

Looking for inspiration? Come join this visual feast!

Of all the social media tools out there now, Pinterest is one of the best for getting creative and imaginative organizing ideas. Pinterest is a visual discovery tool where people create “interest boards” and then “pin” pictures and videos on any topic.

It’s a great way to harness the power of the collective! Let’s say you’re struggling with how to manage those pesky charging cables …simply type, “cable organizing” into the search field and see hundreds of examples of how other folks have handled the problem.

Ever wonder how to wrangle your cable clutter?

A low-tech way to wrangle your cable clutter

Do you ever wonder how you’re going to manage your rings and necklaces, bracelets and earrings so that you can see what you have and easily put them away when you’re done with them?

There are all sorts of creative ideas for displaying your jewelry on Pinterest

Here’s a solution for displaying your necklaces. There are 1,000’s more on Pinterest!

People post photos of their favorite products and many times they post creative DIY solutions. Browsing the images is a great way to spark your own ideas and creativity, and come up with solutions you may never have even thought of.

You don’t have to create a “board” in order to partake of the images that abound on Pinterest.  You can just “window shop.” But be careful, it can be addicting! …especially since it’s also available as an app for your phone or tablet.

What great ideas have you found on Pinterest?  Share them here!

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Filed under Bedroom, Closets, Decluttering, Garage, General Organizing, Holidays, Kids, Kitchen, Laundry, Living Room, Memorabilia, Office, Paper, Perspective, School, Storage, Strategies