Tag

Kitchen

How To End the Year the Right Way

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Eating an Elephant Monthly Newsletter

One in, One out… Or two

Christmas is 22 days away! And some of you have no idea where you’re going to put all of the new stuff (cuz let’s be honest, a lot of it is “stuff”). If you’re already in panic mode just thinking about finding space for the new loot, take this one simple piece of advice:

One in, One (or two) out

It’s a simple concept – for every new item you get, remove 1 (or if possible 2) of the same item that you already own. I know this can’t apply to everything, but it can be used more than you think – Clothes, toys, kitchen gadgets, hair utensils, tools, linens, shoes, electronics, books, jewelry… And plenty more categories!

This Christmas doesn’t have to be the tipping point for a chaotic and unorganized home. It can be the start of a MORE organize home if you deal with each item as you go. No more cramming and shoving. Take an item, give it a home and if an older version needs to go, let it go
(cue the song that now’s playing in your head

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My First Rule of Decluttering

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Eating an Elephant Monthly Newsletter

Top Shelf’s First Rule of Decluttering

Recently I’ve gotten several clients with larger organizing projects and sometimes they are totally overwhelming, to my clients and even to me.
I typically schedule several hours at a time for jobs like these, but some of my clients have tighter time frames or budgets so longer days aren’t possible.
When that happens the first thing I choose to do once we start the job is
– a general decluttering of the area.

There are almost always items that don’t belong in the space and removing those items will make a big difference during the beginning phases of the organizing process. Keep this in mind the next time you have an overwhelming project and don’t know where to begin

– start by eliminating the items that don’t belong.

This will make what does belong easier to organize and makes the end goal attainable.

You got this!

– Jenna –

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A Fall Check List

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Eating an Elephant Monthly Newsletter

Fall Check List

Hello August and hello transitioning from summer to fall. Whether you’re already feeling the change in the weather or are still battling scorching heat, August means changing your mind set from summer vacation to school, colder weather and bundling up inside on cozy nights! 

Here’s a little “to do” list to get you ready for a great and organized fall!

  • Begin to go through summer clothes/items and create a “donate” pile for those you want to get rid of. This can mean summer clothes you didn’t wear at all, clothes and sandals that won’t fit your children next summer and other summer items that are just collecting dust. Why let them take up time and space?
  • Clean out your oven and microwave. Those 2 areas get used a lot more in the colder months than they do in the warm summer months so make sure they’re ready for whatever you bring at them this year!
  • Did you go on a summer vacation? Go through your pictures now and organize/store them however you want (digitally or in a bin or book).
  • Clean up your outdoor areas – this includes pruning whatever needs to be cleaned up before it gets too cold, all outdoor sitting areas and fire pits.
  • Check your heating system to make sure it’s working properly. In the moment, it seems like there’s nothing worse than waking up in the middle of the night feeling like an icicle because the heat went out!

This isn’t a long list, and I’m sure there’s more you have to do to prep for fall, but completing this list now will make the next couple months a lot easier for you and your family! Get to it!

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Make Picnic Prep a Breeze With This Tip!

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Eating an Elephant Monthly Newsletter

Get ready for a picnic!

It’s July and summer is in full swing! For my family that means being outside a LOT, including meal time. If you’re like my family and you love eating outside, here’s a tip that will cut your prep time significantly – keep everything you need in one big bin or basket. Plates, napkins, cups, silverware, bowls, etc. whatever you need for outdoor dining, keep it together! This is one tip I ALWAYS give my clients when working in kitchens.
This means the next time you want to have an impromptu picnic, everything you need is in one area which means less time looking and more time with family and friends.

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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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