Begin The New Year By Looking Back

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Eating an Elephant

January Newsletter

Christmas is over and the new year has begun! January is a great month to look back over the past year to see what items in your home didn’t get used. Whether it’s clothes, shoes, jewelry, tools, perfume/cologne, books, bathroom or kitchen items or other random items around the house, there are probably several things that need to find their way to the “donate”, “recycle” or “trash” pile. It doesn’t have to be a lot, but purging even a few items will help get your new year off to a good, and organized, start.

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A Guest Post to get You Questioning Your Spaces

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Guys, it’s already the end of September!  Can you believe it?!  This year is flying by and once we hit mid-October the holiday season is basically upon us (YAY!) which means POOF!  2017 is almost done!  If reading that sparks some inner turmoil because of the organizing projects you haven’t started yet, take a deep breath and calm down.  This guest post from Laura at orgjunkie.com can help with that dilemma and hopefully will spur you on to get control over some of the clutter in your life.

Now Laura is an organized person with an organizing blog, but even she has areas to work on.  In her post Rearranging Kitchen Cupboards and Making Hard Choices she lets her readers in to one area where she needed to develop a better system – her kitchen.  More specifically, her cookbooks (ooh hitting a nerve with anyone?).  She writes:

“It was time to say goodbye because now that I eat Paleo I never use them anymore. So there they sat, looking pretty but never seeing the light of day. I also now needed that space for other things. It wasn’t easy to let them go, it’s funny what we get attached to because of the significance they represent. I always wanted to be a stay at home mom and these cookbooks were a major part of that huge transition in my life.”

If you can relate completely to her statement, or if you have your own “cookbooks” that may need to be removed from your house, click the title of the blog post in the paragraph above to see Laura’s advice, along with some questions you can ask yourself so you can focus in on what exactly you want for each space in your house.

So what are the “cookbooks” in your home?  What do you need to get rid of to create more space?  Let me know in the comments below!

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One Size Does Not Fit All in Organizing

By | Least Favorite Organizing Tools, Weekly Tip | 2 Comments

I think we can all agree that Pinterest is both a blessing and a curse.  As a whole it provides amazing ideas, recipes, inspiration and laughs (I could spend all day on the humor page), but it also gives an incredble influx of information that not everyone can handle and sometimes (okay a lot of times) makes us ungrateful for what we have, jealous for what we don’t have, envious of someone else, and sometimes we spend more money than we should, just to keep up with what we see on Pinterest.  I’ve searched MANY Pinterest pages and boards looking for ideas and inspiration for my clients and if there’s one thing I’ve learned , it’s that, when it comes to organizing, you have to create your own system.  You can’t copy someone else’s work and expect it to work flawlessly for you.  Yes, you can grab ideas, find bins, labels, organizing tools and more but don’t find a picture on the internet and say, “This works for them therefore it will work for me.” It’s not going to happen.  Each space is as unique as the person/family using it and should be organized that way.

Here’s why – your space won’t have the same items the other space has, your needs and expectations are different from the other person’s needs and expectations, and your space as a whole is probably different, even if it’s just slight.  Or maybe it’s not.  Maybe it’s a cookie cutter build and you have an exact match to a space you love but guess what, you’re not that other person!  You’re you!  With your own life to live and with your own life that will fill that space differently.  No two closets I’ve worked in are ever the same.  My clients have different preferences.  There may be similarities, but never identical in the items they hold.  No two pantries are the same.  Again, there may be similarities but I have never come across an exact match for any pantry I’ve seen or worked in.

And I don’t know about you, but I love that.  I love the challenge of coming up with new ideas that will work for my clients.  I love the process of transforming their space to fit their specific needs.  I love seeing the satisfaction on their faces when it’s done and they realize what we’ve done can be maintained after I leave because it was organized with them in mind!

So yes, do your research, find ideas that will work for you, get inspired!  But when it comes down to it make sure the way you’re organizing fits you and your lifestyle.  You’re unique and your space needs to reflect that.

Have any stories to share about your own way of organizing?  If you do, share it with me! Let me know in the comments below!

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House to House Part 3

By | Recent Work | One Comment

Continuing on with the family from the previous post, once they moved in to their new home the first place the mom wanted set up was the kitchen, and since I had packed up the kitchen in their old home it made sense for me to unpack in their new kitchen. Their new kitchen has amazing space cupboard-wise, but the pantry was less than half of what they were used to so I had to create a completely new system for them. Courtesy of The Container Store I was able to get them set up with baskets, bins, spice racks and more.

Slide the blue line left and right to see the Before and After pictures.

To see the post about their first home and what I did there, click here.

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The first thing I do when starting an organizing job

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In the last several weeks I’ve had a couple of clients ask me how I start each organizing job and I told them the same thing: the first thing to do is empty the entire space they want to focus on. Whether it’s a single drawer or cupboard, an entire kitchen or just the pantry, a bedroom closet or a storage unit, this is always the first thing I do when I start any organizing job. By doing this I can see everything I’m working with and it allows me to be intentional about what goes back into the newly emptied space.

Sometimes clients find things they lost. Sometimes they find things that belong in a different space. Most of the time they find things they can get rid of. Once every item is out and we can see the entire space we’re working with then putting everything back in an organized fashion is much easier.

So remember, no matter the size of the space, you have to pull everything out first.

And if you want a tip on how to put things away, click here for a previous Eating an Elephant tip!


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Leave a comment below letting me know what you think, and if you have any other tips I’d love to hear them!

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Tackling the space under the sink bathroom sink

By | Guest Post, Weekly Tip | No Comments

Today’s organizing tip is another blog post from Kristin at Everyday Organizing.

This one is similar to the previous post I featured of her’s (A Simple DIY for Under the Kitchen Sink) and some of you may have already read it because she referenced it in her post. For those of you who haven’t read it, here it is: Making the Most of Under the Bathroom Sink.

Hopefully many of you out there thought “Oooh that sounds interesting” because anything tucked away behind cupboard doors is often the last place we think about organizing. If this is you then this post is for you! Kristin has a couple of cool ideas in her post, both for under the sink and on the backs of the cupboard doors. Simple solutions that will help relieve stress and frustration during your crazy mornings.

If you like this idea but want to try something else, check out these past links from Eating an Elephant:
– What’s Behind the Door… Bathroom Edition
– An Idea Specifically for Ladies
– One Way to Make Cleaning a Little Easier
– Tension Rods… Who Knew?

Like this idea? Please let me know in the comments below!
Have a different idea? Let me know that too!

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Cupboard doors…. yes again!

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AAAAAAAAND here’s another post about the inside of the cupboard. Man, if you guys utilize all of the “inside of the cupboard” ideas I’ve given you, you are going to clear up so much space in your cupboards! You’re welcome!

Anyways, here’s the tip: Take a magazine holder and adhere it to the inside of the cabinet door (3m Command Strips or hooks are great because you don’t have to use any tools and they won’t damage the door). There! You have now provided a handy space for cutting boards! Go you!

Since I like to be honest in my blogs, I’m going to admit one…. hang up I have with the “inside of the cupboard door” ideas – I often wonder if some of these ideas would cause more of an issue because the items that reside inside the cupboard will have to be pushed back enough so the container hanging on the door can fit when the door is closed… But ideally, now that you are utilizing the inside of the cabinet door, you have space to move the cupboard items back a little bit. So that shouldn’t really be an issue. And if it is an issue, pull everything out, take inventory of what you have and what you actually need, then put the items back in an organized fashion so everything fits with the door closed… Alright! Glad I could figure that issue out. 🙂 Sometimes I just need to talk out the issue and then I can solve the problem along the way. Thanks for being a listening (errr reading) ear!

PS if you want a picture to reference a magazine holder, click here.

PPS For cupboards that have shelves in them this idea won’t work because the shelf most likely comes to the edge of the cupboard. If you have a cupboard without a shelf, or if the shelf is only half as deep as the cupboard, this tip and others like it should work for you with no problem at all.

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What’s behind the door… Bathroom edition

By | Guest Post, Weekly Tip | One Comment

It’s been crazy around here with family in town all this past week, so that means it’s time for another guest post! And once again that means highlighting something from Laura at orgjunkie.com.

Like an earlier post of mine, Laura also has a nifty little idea for the inside of cupboard doors, but this was a tip for bathroom cupboards. Her blog entry is about organizing a bathroom drawer, but near the end of the post she mentions a great idea for using the inside of the cupboard door. And since I wrote a post about a way to utilize that space in the kitchen (What’s Behind the Door?), I figured I’d show how to expand on that concept by moving to the bathroom with Laura’s post.

So, check out Bathroom Drawer Organization and see how you can make the most of wasted space.

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Does that make sense?

By | Weekly Tip | 2 Comments

Waaaay back when I first started “Eating an Elephant” I wrote a post about putting things together (like with like, I know, ‘broken record Jenna!’ but I can’t help it! It’s a great tip!). The post is “One of these things is not like the other” and it was about fitting things together categorically. This post is similar, but more about the point of origin. Think through your cupboards/spaces in your house where you store something. Does each space make sense? Or was it put there when you moved in and you just haven’t taken the time to find the correct space for it?

Example: do you drink coffee? Are the mugs close to the coffee maker or are they across the kitchen in a random cupboard? What about the filters, grounds/beans and (if needed) coffee bean grinder? Does it make sense to walk around the kitchen to get all the required items, or just to keep them all in the same area? Personally, I think it makes sense to keep them in the same area. Maybe not in the same cupboard (although that would definitely be the most convenient), but at least in cupboard’s next to each other and right above (or below) the coffee maker.

How about pot holders? Are they near the oven? Are your make up and hair supplies near the mirror you use? Belts near pants, dvds near the dvd player? Some of these may be “Duh of course they are” but I guarantee that’s not the case for everyone or even everything in your house. Look around your house as a visitor would and see if there’s anything that can be moved so your day can be just a bit easier.

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What else lies behind the door?

By | Weekly Tip | 2 Comments

Kitchen cupboards can hide a lot of horrific scenes behind those little doors. I have a friend who has a rule that only a professional cleaner can go through her cupboards before the rest of us see them should she meet an untimely end.

One way to combat this is to run to the dollar store, buy some plastic bins (make sure they are small enough to fit your kitchen cupboards but large enough to hold the items you want to contain) and put all the random kitchen appliances and utensils in them. That way instead of digging through your cupboards and making an even bigger mess, you can simply pull out a bin and easily see what you have.

Another way to keep those under-the-counter-clutter-collectors contained is to remove all the items that are taking up space (so, everything) and as you look at each piece think to yourself, “Do I really need this? Have I used it since putting it in here? Do I even know what it is?” If you haven’t used it (even if you’re waiting for that one opportunity you’re sure will happen someday soon) or you have multiples of the same item, or you have no clue what it even is, you might as well pitch it… And by pitch I mean donate. Or sell it if it’s never been used. However you may choose to get rid of the excess, do it. Once you pitch those extra items, it will be easier to keep track of what remains and have an organized cupboard that’s not busting out at the seams or an embarrassment to you.

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