Living Room

When Was the Last Time You Washed This?

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Eating an Elephant Monthly Newsletter

Spring has officially sprung! And with it comes spring cleaning! Most of us remember the basics (windows and screens, baseboards and fans, etc) but I bet there’s one small section you don’t even think about. Can you guess what it is?

Throw pillows

When was the last time you washed your throw pillows? I know for me, the answer is “uhhh never?”. But think about it, you lay on throw pillows just like you do your bed pillows and chances are you probably wash those cases regularly. What’s better on a cold winter day than snuggling up on your couch for a rest by the fireplace? Not much. So now that it’s spring, freshen up your living room by freshening up your throw pillows. Because snuggling up on the couch when it’s a rainy day is just as delightful.

Keep in mind the type of material will dictate the method of cleaning, but if possible, remove the covers** and get those things clean!


**Some experts say to only spot clean pillows that don’t have removable covers to ensure the pillow holds its shape.
This also applies if the pillow is vintage or has delicate embroidery. An alternative to this is dry cleaning the entire pillow


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The “Drop Zone”… what is it and how do you get it?

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Guess what… I have a secret to tell you… Even organized people have days when they aren’t able to put things away right away. It’s true. I’ll admit it for myself at the very least. Sometimes clutter just collects. That’s not good news though, and since this blog is meant to be upbeat and helpful here’s the good news to counteract the bad news: you don’t have to feel hopeless during those times. For those moments/days/weeks/seasons there IS a way to corral the clutter so it doesn’t take over your entire house. How, you ask? Simple. Have a “drop zone”. A “drop zone” is a designated space where you can put all the random items that collect until you have time to deal with them. Once items are contained clean up is easier and putting things away isn’t quite as overwhelming as it once seemed.

I can attest to this tip personally. In my life that “drop zone” is a wide, shallow basket at the end of my bed. That is where everything goes until I can deal with it. Sometimes this happens on a daily basis and other times it goes a little longer, but this way I don’t go crazy looking everywhere for that piece of paper I need or that card I received in the mail or the check I need to deposit. I know right where it is, even if at the moment it’s not where it’s going to end up.

One more word of advice: If your crazy day is more like a crazy season, make sure to empty this space semi-consistently. If you don’t it could grow and spread and duplicate and breed like rabbits until your “drop zone” spreads throughout your entire house and then you might as well light a match and start over… or call a professional organizer. Whatever’s easiest.

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Does that make sense?

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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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First tip of the new year!

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To start off 2016 I figured the best tip to give would be this – call Top Shelf! I know I know, that’s a slightly (okay very) selfish tip. But here’s the thing, it really is the number one tip I can give to help you start your new year off right. If you’re in the greater Nashville area and you’re feeling overwhelmed with all the clutter in your life/house but are determined to tackle it, the best way to get the kick in the pants you need is with the help of a professional organizer, aka Top Shelf. Or, if you’re not in Nashville, find a PO in your area. You don’t have to use them for the entire house, or even the entire room. Some PO’s do have a minimum number of hours you have to use them, but once those hours are done voila! There’s your kick in the pants and now you may be able to tackle the rest by yourself.

Or, maybe not. You may be a person who reads this blog and thinks “Hmm that’s a great idea.” but never actually gets around to doing whatever the tip is. Or, you may be a person who thinks “That’s a great idea but I have no idea how to implement it.” Guess what. I can help you with both of those issues! Did the new presents you received this Christmas add to the mess you already had? Did you resolve to lose weight in 2015 and now 2016 is here and you have a bunch of clothes that you can’t wear but aren’t quite ready to get rid of yet? Maybe you’ve resolved to become a better cook and now have a bunch of cooking equipment and no place to store it. Or maybe you simple resolved to de-stress your life and this is one of the ways that can help. Whatever your organizing need, Top Shelf can help.

So, do yourself a favor and contact Top Shelf.  The worst that can happen is you’ll get organized.

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Hide and seek

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Attention parents! I have a fool-proof way to keep toys in the family or living room without letting them become an eye sore or completely taking over the room. Want to know what it is? Keep reading.

Buy a  medium to large basket that’s fairly deep (easily done and doesn’t have to be super expensive), put a few smaller toys in first and then cover the toys with a blanket or two (or three or four – depends on the size of the basket). Boom! You have a storage bin that’s pulling double duty and you won’t see any toys in your “adult” room!  The toys that fit in there are the toys the kids can keep in the room which means there is a built-in control to how many toys can be in stored in the room. Easy access for kiddos yet easy to hide away when company is over.

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And where does that go?

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Happy Monday! Man, I never knew how quickly a week could go until I had a deadline to meet each week. People who do daily blogs have my utmost respect!

So, for this blog I’m pulling from another person experience. Not personal as in ‘I’ve noticed this in myself so learn from my mistake’, but personal as in ‘I’ve noticed this about people around me so learn from their mistake’. Here it is – when you are done with something PUT IT AWAY RIGHT AWAY. I guarantee if you get in to this habit you are going to be amazed at how clean your house stays.

Done eating breakfast? Don’t leave the dish(es) in the sink where they will pile up and then just become overwhelming and not something you want to tackle after a long and exhausting day. Take the bowl and spoon directly to the dishwasher (assuming, of course, you have a dishwasher. If you don’t, keep a soap dispensing sponge brush handy and give that dirty dish a quick clean after using it).

All done making that amazing cup of coffee? As you drink it, take a minute to put away whatever you had to pull out to make it. Just came in from running an errand or picking the kids up from school? Put your keys, sunglasses, purse, wallet, shoes, and whatever else you brought in with you where they go. Get in this habit and your evening won’t entail cleaning up the messes that have accumulated around your house throughout the day.

Obviously we don’t always have time to put things away right away. On those days, put the dirty dishes or scissors or paperwork or tape or check book and calculator or whatever it is away as soon as you can.

*Bonus points if you have kids and start teaching them to do this with their toys, clothes, school items, etc. It will be a good reminder for you to do it as well.
**If you made time to take it out, take time to put it back.

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One of these things…

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Here’s a helpful little tip to go along with last week’s tip (hint word – consolidation): If something doesn’t fit categorically with the other items, remove it. Think of the old Sesame Street song “One of these things is not like the others, one of these things just doesn’t belong.” Let’s say you’re moving (Ugh, if you’re like me that immediately caused you to tense up and you may even have a headache now. Relax! You’re probably not moving… But if you are, call me!).

Anyways, you’re not going to throw your kitchen stuff in with play room items. Not only is that going to create an extra step when you’re unpacking (and let’s be honest, there’s enough steps when moving, extra steps aren’t needed), but it also doesn’t make sense. So why do that when organizing your home? Play kitchen items don’t belong with arts and crafts. Spices don’t belong with Tupperware. Make up doesn’t belong with household cleaners. Are you getting my point? It’s a little dramatic, but if you want to organize a space or an area, this tip will help you get started.

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A small step

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Here’s a tip once you’re in the organizing process – consolidate items. In a play room, put stuffed toys together, dress up clothes together, art supplies together, etc. Create a space for everything. In the pantry, put canned goods together, baking supplies together, snack foods together, etc. Create a space for everything. Store owners, is your stock room unorganized? Start by consolidating your items. Put like with like. if you’re not organizing for the purpose of displaying the items, consolidation is key.

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First steps – Taking the initial step

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Okay so here we go with the first post. It’s not going to be much, but I believe this tip is the basis for every other tip that will be provided on this blog. So don’t forget it! Ok, let’s just get to it – Focus on one room, or even one area of a room, at a time.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed when you look at the entire project (aka the whole elephant), but if you focus on just one room, or even one small area of a room (aka take one small bite), it’s much less intimidating. And as you do this the vision will come and somehow, I promise you, everything will end up in its proper place. So take a deep breath, square your shoulders, and give it a try.

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