Plastic food containers overwhelm many of my clients' cupboards. Can you relate to the photo on the top?
It might be time to replace the mess with a nice, neat, stacking set. When you get the new set home, you may be tempted to keep the old set, "just in case." We all tend to overestimate how many containers we need. Remember, you will only be using a handful of them at any given time. If you find yourself low on containers, check the fridge for old leftovers, dump the junk, wash, and....voila!
Fall is quickly approaching and if you have a garden, it's almost time to pull out those mason jars!
Here are a few ideas for using mason jars for organizing small unruly items:
-In the bathroom for cotton balls, q-tips, make up sponges, and make up brushes
-For art supplies such as crayons, pom poms, and buttons
-In the kitchen for cooking utensils on the counter
-In the pantry for pasta, rice, oatmeal, and quinoa
-In the office as a pencil holder
-For cupcake wrappers
-In the bathroom as a toothbrush holder
-In the kitchen for spices
-In the workshop for screws, nails, and nuts/bolts
-For sewing supplies like spools of thread, needles, and ribbons
-As a match holder with a piece of sand paper secured above the lid for striking
-As a keepsake holder
-In the basement for leftover paint
I have two young children (ages 3 and 5). When I am cooking dinner I like to have them in the kitchen with me.
To keep them busy and out of each other's hair, I designated a cupboard as their "activity center." I asked for their help in designing the space. They told me the types of things they would like to have there and I determined how much of each category and what containers were appropriate. Getting them involved in the design gave them ownership of the space and I have found that they are more likely to return items back to their proper places when I do involve them.
On the top shelf, I used a magazine holder on its size to contain stickers (in a plastic pouch) and a folder for completed artwork they decide to keep. On the horizontal trays we have loose colored paper/construction paper and coloring books. My oldest daughter's journal is next to the horizontal trays on the right.
We have crayons, markers, and colored pencils in containers on the lower shelf. (My oldest wanted them separated by type.....like mother, like daughter.) I used another magazine holder for educational workbooks on the right. These are strategically placed somewhat out of view so the kids aren't using them as coloring books. (These types of workbooks are more for one-on-one time with me.)
This system has been working quite well. As the kids get older and their interests change, so will this space. For now we are enjoying cooking time bliss.
Here is a mini-project for you: the black hole (aka under your kitchen sink). My first suggestion is to consider the location of your trash/recycling receptacles. Are they conveniently located or do you have to leave the room to recycle a can? If you clear enough space under your sink you might want to consider keeping small trash cans for recycling there (see photo). Next, pull everything out and begin to sort and purge. Get rid of products you don't or have never used. Group remaining products into categories (e.g., carpet cleaners, dish soaps, window sprays, etc) and purge duplicates. Next, put what is left back under the sink or move it to other locations in the house as appropriate. Put products you use most often in the front and those less frequently used in the back. Good luck!
When you are a professional organizer, your friends tend to share really great organizing ideas that they have come up with (knowing that you are the only one in their lives who would be genuinely interested). One of my friends devised a great way to keep track of what is in her freezer. She purchased a magnetic clear frame and attached a wipe board marker-on-a-string to the back (using velcro). Then she wrote down each item that was in her freezer on a sheet of paper and inserted the paper into the frame. Using the wipe board marker, she wrote the quantity of each item on the outside of the frame. Whenever she removes or adds something she can easily adjust the numbers. This way she will never be caught buying something she already has. Another benefit is that it makes for easy grocery list making. Brilliant my friend!
My family is trying something different this week as an attempt to streamline dinner-making. Saturday morning I took inventory of staple food items that were needed and I added them to the grocery list. (We use the app called "GroceryIQ" as our list. My husband and I have the list synced so we each have it accessible at all times.) In addition, I chose 3 meals that I will make this week and added the ingredients to the grocery list.
As you can see in this photo I wrote the selected meals on a wipe board that I stuck to my fridge. One requires a recipe so I clipped it from a magazine and used a magnet to attach it to the list. I am excited to try this new approach to meal planning. It is simple and takes the pressure off when the kids ask "Mom, what's for dinner?"
Consider having 2 folders for your manuals, one for household equipment that stays with the house and one for equipment that goes with you. When the time comes to sell your house, you will be able to leave all the appropriate manuals for the new owners.
Hang a magnetized pad on your fridge and attach a pen on a string. Every time you run out of something, write it on your list. On grocery day, just grab your list and go! For extra credit, write down items in the order in which they are arranged in the store (e.g., produce on top of the list, frozen on the bottom of the list) to make your shopping trip a breeze.
Stash extra plastic bags at the bottom of the bin so when you remove the full bag, a fresh one is right there at your fingertips.
Elizabeth Bremer, CPO®