Spring Cleaning is Just Around the Corner!

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Eating an Elephant

March Newsletter

Spring is coming. Are you ready?

March = (thoughts of) Spring. Spring = Spring cleaning. If the thought of spring cleaning stresses you out, remember 3 important tips:

1. Top to bottom*
2. Inside to outside**
3. One room at a time***

*Clean effectively (start at the ceiling and work your way down to the floor)
**Clean smartly (begin inside, where you live, and end outside, where dirt lives)
***Clean realistically (tackling one room/space at a time will give you a quicker sense of satisfaction and will help motivate you to go on to the next space)

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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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My Favorite Product for Spices

By | Most Favorite Organizing Tools, Weekly Tip | No Comments

Okay, being perfectly honest I don’t know how recently this organizing product came in to existence.  I never heard about it while I was growing up (and no offense to my mother, that’s not really surprising.  Love you mom!).  I first learned about this awesome organizing helper after I started Top Shelf and researched “spice storage”.  Let me tell you, after looking on the internet and working with lots of clients in their kitchens, an overwhelmingly large number of people have horrible spice storage.  And they know it!  Sometimes they use a spice step (which, if you’ve been a reader for a while you should remember my post about why I don’t like spice steps); sometimes they use an in-cupboard shelf (click here if you don’t know what I’m referring to), but most of the time the spices are just randomly packed into a cupboard, which means finding the one spice that is needed can take a bit of time if it’s not used frequently.  Well, let me give you three little words that can erase your spice storage dilemma:

Spice.  Drawer.  Organizer.

Some of you may be thinking, “I don’t have enough drawers for that” and if that’s you and that’s true then click the link in the above paragraph to find some great solutions for your spice storage problem.  But, if you DO have enough drawer space, or can create drawer space, then this product may be for you.

Spice drawer organizers are exactly what they sound like – an organizer for spices that fits in a drawer.  Just think, no more shuffling through the random spice containers, no more knocking them over, no more wondering where the heck your ground nutmeg is… With this product you can see all of your spices in one sweep!  I’ve had several clients use this method and every single one of them loves it and says it’s wonderful.

Naturally, there are several different options to choose from:

Spice Rack Organizer
Spice Liner
Expandable Spice Tray Rack & Drawer Organizer

Another option would be to forgo the organizer entirely and simply lay your spices in a drawer, label side up, so you can see them all.  I have clients who are just as happy with this method as those with the actual organizer.  The spices do have a greater tendency to move around, since there isn’t anything holding them in place, but if you’re okay with that, then this idea would work just as well.

If you have more spices than can fit in one single drawer but you don’t have extra drawers to do this then I what I tell my clients to do is to put the spices that are used most frequently in the drawer (ideally one next to the stove) and the ones that are rarely used can go in a nearby cupboard.  Again, I have had clients do this and they are totally satisfied with it.

Spice storage is a pain and seems to be a problem for a very large number of people.  If you are one of them, this may be exactly what you need.  Look through your drawers, determine if there’s a way to free one up for your spices, and give this tip a try.  I guarantee it’ll make cooking more enjoyable and you may even use some of those special spices you’ve forgotten about in the back of the cupboard.

So what do you think of the post? Let me know in the comments below!

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This is One of My Least Favorite Organizing Tools

By | Least Favorite Organizing Tools, Weekly Tip | One Comment

This organizing tool is one that can be found in dorm rooms all over America, which is fine.  In my opinion they should stay in dorm rooms.  They are handy, they do provide extra storage when needed, and they are affordable, but please, do NOT bring this item into your home once you’re out of college and in your own place.

Okay, so what is this item?  Plastic stackable drawers.  These guys are magnets for dust and dirt in every tiny little corner, they bend, warp and break very easily because they’re cheaply made and, quite frankly, they just aren’t nice to look at.  If you’re willing to do just a bit of research you’ll see there are so many other great options out there.

One such item is IKEA’s Raskog utility cart.  This consistently is one of IKEA’s top sellers and everyone who has one raves about it in all the reviews and online articles.  If you don’t like the look of that particular cart or the price is higher than you’d like there’s other carts out there such as this one from Wal-Mart or this cart from Amazon.  Or, maybe you want to go in a completely different direction and buy something like this from Bed, Bath and Beyond.  Whatever you choose to use, do yourself a favor – donate those plastic drawers to someone going off to college in the fall and find a new way to store the items it contains.

**Well this post has been up for 3 hours and has already drawn discussions and disagreements so let me add this note – when I say I don’t like theses drawers I mean out in a kitchen, bathroom or bedroom. In some ways they do make sense, such as LEGO storage or for craft supplies. The point of my post was more to draw attention to the fact that if they’re being used as regular storage in ‘public’ rooms, there are other options. Yes, there is a place for those drawers, but it’s hidden away, out of sight. This is my personal opinion.

Do you agree with this post?  Or do you like the plastic drawers? Let me know in the comments below!

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This is Not a Display Case

By | Least Favorite Organizing Tools, Weekly Tip | One Comment

For this month’s “Don’t” post, I’m going to use a personal example from my home growing up (get ready mom and dad).

When I was younger we used the doors on the refrigerator as “catch all” spots for various items.  We left notes on them, showcased “works of art” on them, displayed photographs and other mementos on them, and, my personal favorite, we taped up any comic strip from the daily newspaper that reminded us of someone in the family (mainly from the comic strip Foxtrot but Garfield had a few appearances as well).  I LOVED reading those different comic strips and finding one in the paper that reminded me of one of my sisters (which inevitably highlighted an annoying habit of her’s) made me giddy with excitement to show it off… but was that really the best place for them?  Nope.  Do I even remember which comics were showcased on the fridge?  Nope.  Do I remember how cluttered the two doors looked? Yep.  And do I remember where all of those papers, notes, works of art and beloved comic strips ended up?  Yep.  In the recycling bin and trash can…  Because the fridge is not the ideal space to show things off for a long period of time.

Now hear me out, if a special picture gets colored and your child wants it displayed on the fridge, I have no problem with that, but keep in mind moderation is key.  If you’re not careful pretty soon the fridge doors can look like a cluttered desk top – covered with so many items nothing is actually seen.  I’m not in the camp that says “if something is on the fridge it just gets overlooked” because I know from personal experience that’s not always true.  And I’m not even in the camp that says “a fridge door must be completely clean” (unless, of course, you’re getting your house ready to be put on the market).  But I AM in the camp that says “try to find a better place for it” because a cluttered and busy refrigerator just adds to the cluttered and busy feel of a kitchen, much like making your bed makes your bedroom feel less messy.

Whether you use a complete command center in the kitchen, a diy message board hanging on the wall, or a simple collage picture frame to show off your latest memories, there are plenty of options available to show off what you want without cluttering up your refrigerator doors.

Do you agree with me?  Or do you love showing things off on your fridge?  Let me know in the comments below!



picture used courtesy of: Unsplash.com
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A Great Non-Traditional Organizing Tool

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

This is a tool I really like, but it’s not one I commonly use.  And that’s just because it’s not a common item to have in the house.  So what’s the item?  A small tension rod.

The reason I like it is because it’s so easy to use and can transform spaces.  How?  Well you can use them in your pots and pans drawer for lids, in your tupperware drawer to keep lids and containers separate and organized, under your sink to hold spray bottles, as an under the counter paper towel holder, to keep cutting boards organized, and even as a spice rack!  And that’s just ideas for the kitchen!

There are SO many creative ideas out there for all areas of the home.  Type “organize tension rod” into your search engine and then click “images” to see so many different ways to use tensions rods.  Incorporating this one simple item into your home will make your life a little easier, reduce stress and keep those spaces organized… for not a lot of money!  Win win!

So head over to Google and get inspired to get organized today!

Do you love tension rods too?  Or do you think they’re more of a nuisance?  Let me know in the comments below!


Picture credit: CountryCurtains.com
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Small Items, Lots of Space

By | Purge, Weekly Tip | No Comments

When you look at your spices, do you see some and think, “How long has that been in here?” or “Where did that even come from?”  If you said yes to either of those questions, go get that spice (or those spices) right now and check 3 things:  First, is it still sealed?  Second, what’s the expiration date?  Third, is it a solid?  If it’s still sealed, take the challenge and figure out how to use it.  You may come up with an amazing new dish and a favorite new spice.  Win win!  But, if it’s past the expiration date or if all the individual little grains have become one solid mass then get rid of it.  Too often we buy a random spice because that one recipe we tried years ago called for it and we swore we’d use it again… and guess what, it never happened.  Don’t feel guilty about it, but don’t let it take up precious space either.  Spices are hard enough to keep organized without adding more that you never use.  So go check your spices and see which ones you can throw away.

Do you agree with this post?  Or do you have a tip to get some life back in old spices?  Let me know in the comments below!

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Don’t Go On a Shopping Spree

By | Least Favorite Organizing Tools, Weekly Tip | One Comment

The 3rd week of the month is supposed to be a post about an organizing tool I don’t usually recommend or something that I use differently than how it’s marketed, but I also want to include some general “Don’ts” if you’re serious about getting organized.

My first “Don’t” is: don’t go out and buy a bunch of random containers without knowing what you need.  Generally, before I start a job I do a consult with the new client and we discuss what needs to be done.  We create a general game plan for the upcoming space and then I do research and send different ideas to the client.  Sometimes we need to buy containers and sometimes we don’t.  While it is nice to have an assortment of options when I come in to get a space organized, I would rather have something that I know will work, as opposed to trying different options and settling for one just because it’s already there.

Now don’t get me wrong, when I come into a new job and see a bunch of baskets and bins already there I get really excited but sometimes it creates more of a headache later on because it can also limit what can be done in that space. And, if you over-buy bins then you either have to take some back to the store or you have to find storage for them somewhere and either way you’ve wasted money.

So whether you want to tackle your organizing job yourself or you’re hiring a professional organizer to come in, please make a game plan first and then shop.

Do you have your own organizing “Don’t” to share?  Let me know in the comments below!

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