How High Are Your Eyes? (a.k.a. Where to keep the canned tuna?)

Last week, I unloaded boxes of nonperishable food into my new cabinets and helped some friends settle into their new home.

I was reminded of a rule of thumb for cabinet storage, and I want to share it with you.  Before I  get ahead of myself,  though, I need to tell you that I’m short.

For anyone reading this who knows me, this is not news.  In my above- average-height family, I am definitely the runt.  I blame / attribute this to my 5’1″ grandmothers.  But I digress.

Being short means that I make strategic decisions about how to utilize my cabinet space, maximizing the shelves I CAN reach.  When my kids were younger, I thought I was keeping our most used items low in the cabinets for their sake, but now I’m shortest in the house again, so it’s all about me.  🙂

If you would like to maximize your cabinet space, too:

Consider the lowest shelf of the upper cabinet your highly coveted beach-front property. Dedicate this prime real estate to the items that you use all the time every day.  When we were putting things away last week, my son asked if we could make more room on the bottom shelf for snacks and things (the every day items for him) – brilliant!  To make room on the bottom shelf, I put the canned tuna (used much less often, and only by me) up a shelf or two.

Move up from there.  If you have three shelves, use the “every day (1st shelf) / every week (2nd) / every month (3rd)” guide to help you make decisions.  We now have 4 shelves – yes our cabinets now go all the way to the ceiling and I am giddy about this! – so we may use the use the “every day (1st shelf) / every week (2nd) / every month (3rd) / every year (4th)” to make our decisions about where to store our items.

As my very organized friend put away her dishes in her new kitchen last week, she knew to put the special occasion dishes on the highest shelf, and keep the everyday dishes at eye level.  It is so obvious in that context, and we can use that lesson in every cabinet.  Even if you are not short like me, grouping your cabinet items, whether food or dishes, around how often you use them may help you access and maintain your stuff more readily.

A final tip, when you store items on your upper shelves, contain small items in baskets or bins so they don’t get lost in the back of the cabinet.   For example, think water bottles and lids and straws, or seasonal baking items like small bottles of extract or sprinkles.

Look at your kitchen with new eyes, keeping your most used items at eye level and moving onward and upward from there!

Let’s Talk Expiration Dates.

Let’s talk expiration dates.

A friend and I chatted at a recent rainy soccer game.   She had stayed up until 2 am the night before organizing her pantry.  Most of her time was spent checking expiration dates and tossing expired food.

 

We discussed how frustrating it is when we review our cabinets and pantry, and have to purge expired food.  It feels wasteful and lazy.

 

HOWEVER, getting down on ourselves about how we got to this point is neither useful nor productive.  It’s better to learn from the experience (see the process below), and change our behaviors from here (stick with the article until the end).

 

A few months ago, I wrote about National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day (November, Click HERE).  So let’s declare this week Clean Out Your Food Cabinet Week, what do you say?

Here’s How:
  1. Grab a garbage can, a notebook and a couple of boxes or paper bags.  Take a deep breath and begin.
  2. Clear off a counter for work space, near your food cabinets.
  3.  Choose a cabinet. JUST ONE.  Starting at the top, take everything out and put it on the counter. Then wipe down the shelf.
  4. Now, check every item. Yes, EVERY ITEM.  Even the stuff you bought recently.  It could be the newest, but still out of date. I was surprised to find my recently purchased canned beets were already expired.
  5. If the item is past its’ expiration date, toss it.  I understand, that is the hard part.  Yes, I know, it’s wasteful.  And yes, I know, you spent good money on that.  HOWEVER, the potential for food poisoning is much more important than a $3 can of tuna.
  6. If the item is open, but not past the expiration date, still check it for freshness.  Foods like breakfast cereal or crackers get stale if open too long in the cabinet.
  7. If the item is not expired, but you don’t think you will use it, label one of those boxes or bags as “donate to food pantry”, or “send to preschool”, or “give to friend/family” and start a pile of items to leave your kitchen to go and grace someone else’s.
  8. Review everything, then place the keep items back in the cabinet.
  9. If you have time to tackle another cabinet – JUST ONE – go ahead.  But DO NOT take apart more than on at a time!  Otherwise….
  10. Take out the trash, and drop off the donations / items to share. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  Repeat.
Once you’ve cleaned out the cabinet and pantry, it’s time to consume differently.
  • Use a list.  Post it on the refrigerator, and add items as you run out of them.
  • If you have to shop, buy only what you need for this week.
  • Stock your food like a store.  Pull the oldest items to the front, and add new inventory to the back.
  • Take advantage of sale items and stock up, but make sure to add those surplus items to your menu plan so that you use them up.
  • Plan to do this a couple times a year!
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When Reality Meets the To-Do List: It’s Time To Act!

Last week, I found myself on the phone actually agreeing to a Demolition Date for my kitchen.  

Demo Date.  That’s what it is called.

I arranged for a team of people to come in and disassemble our kitchen as we know it, so it can be reassembled with hardwood floors, new cabinets and appliances, paint and lighting.

I’m very excited about these improvements.  And terrified.  And just a wee bit overwhelmed (especially considering that now the demo date is now just hours away).

In conversation with a friend over the weekend, she mentioned that Saturday was the day “Reality meets the list”.  For a week, she had jotted down ideas, planned, imagined, strategized, categorized, prioritized, etc., but now it was time for action.

As I packed up the kitchen this afternoon, my Reality Met My List, too.  No more planning and lists and thinking.  Now it was time to open the cabinets and finish putting things in boxes and baskets for the next few weeks.

So, if you are working on projects, whether at home or at work, professionally or personally, there comes a moment when we need to implement our plan.  Commit.  Execute.  DO!

Don’t Act Too Early.  
I found myself saying “I leaped before I looked” to my son when I asked him to help me move something while my arms were full of stuff.  So, Act, but don’t Act Too Soon!

On the Other Hand…

Don’t Think Too Long.
Have you heard the term “The Paralysis of Analysis”?  We can overthink something for so long that opportunities pass or situations change before we ever get to act or travel or grow.  My Dad says “Do SOMETHING, even if it’s wrong!”.  I wouldn’t want to be wrong, but the point is to DO something.

See the paint shown to the right?  I want a dark color for the kitchen walls, but I’m a little nervous. So the best way to figure out if we will like it was to buy a sample and paint the wall.  I can wonder all I want, but to make a decision and make progress, we needed ACTION (and I like it!)!

Be Reasonable.
My to-list contains EVERYTHING I need to do, and sometimes I just use it as a dumping place for my ideas and tasks, which means the list for any given day can be ridiculously long and unrealistic.  Putting 28 hours worth of work or tasks on the list for a 24 hour period is dooming myself to failure.

Make the list, but also look at your day and week and month, and determine what you can reasonably get done.

Just Do It. Implementation is Key.
We can plan and discuss and research a topic until we are blue in the face, but without action, it remains just a topic.

And now… I need to go and pack!

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Finally, A Blog Post About Plastic Food Containers

How have I never blogged about plastic food containers before?  These handy and prolific little
items, found in every kitchen EVER.

I taught a Kitchen Organizing class a few weeks ago, and we chatted quite a bit about these storage containers.  We love and hate them at the same time! These containers are handy.  Re-usable.  With a million and one uses.  And  they occasionally drive us crazy.

Can you identify with any of these problems?

  • You have way too many containers and lids, they are stashed in every cabinet and drawer, and they occasionally fall out in a heap. And yet…
  • When you need a container, it’s difficult to find matching containers and lids.
  • When you use your containers in the fridge, its difficult to tell the difference between leftovers in a butter tub and actual butter in a butter tub.
  • You worry because you have heard that re-purposing or reheating food in plastic containers can leach chemicals into your foods.
  • Your soup or leftovers have leaked in your lunch bag.

Here’s how to fix these problems:

  • Pull out all the plastic containers in your kitchen and pair up the bottoms and lids.  Recycle or re-purpose the solo ones.  Do this every couple of months.
  • Dedicate one cabinet or one drawer as a home for your containers, and only store them there.
  • Buy clear (or mostly clear) containers, so you can easily identify their contents.
  • Find a brand you like, and stick with it.
  • Choose a few sizes of containers, and stick with just those.  (We have  GladWares small rounds,  round 2-cup containers with screw-on lids, flat squares and a few large ones for our recent homemade ice cream habit!).
  • Buy containers that stack, both while in use and when not in use. Most brands offer snap-together lids.
  • Keep just a pile or two.   If you find that you never get to the second or third pile of containers, then you probably don’t need the second or third pile of containers.
  • Glass storage containers are an option.  Many folks have made the switch.  They
    keep fewer containers overall, but can safely use the glass containers for storage, cooking and reheating.
  • If you have too many containers right now, spread the love. Re-purpose them as drawer dividers, send home leftovers with friends, donate them to a class room for craft time, recycle them
  • Don’t fall into the “it was free, I guess I’ll keep it” trap.  Deli containers, sherbet bowls, butter tubs or cottage cheese containers (and related items) are not made to last.   Recycle them!

Free up some cabinet space and decrease some stress by paring down your container collection!

Life’s Stormy Weather: Cleaning Up and Getting Ready

I presented to a church group last week, and as part of the meeting, they were reflecting on Proverbs 31:21, “She doesn’t fear for her household when it snows, because they are all dressed in warm clothes”.   As I pondered the verse, I realized that we all have Snow, we all have difficult seasons in our life.

This idea has been rolling around in my head these last few days, as friends and family struggle with life’s stormy weather, and the clean-up afterwards. Even we Klimczaks are cleaning up from especially busy days, and preparing for more busy times in the next few weeks.

We all have to endure “Snow” from the scripture, the stormy weather of life.  We have cold, dark, uncertain or tumultuous times:  big life events or small, personal hardships and tragedies, major work deadlines, illness or the death of a loved one.  If you are enduring ‘stormy weather’ right now, know that I am praying for you.

Here’s the toughest part, I think.  Regardless of our storms, no matter how vulnerable or maxed out we feel, the rest of the world just marches on.  And as hard as it seems, we have to catch up. Today, let’s talk about the after-storm clean up, and preparing for every day life plus the possibility of the next storm.

If you’re coming through your storm, you may feel tired, sad, drained, unmotivated.  Focus on Survival first: Food, clothing, shelter and safety.

  • Take a shower, get dressed, accomplish your usual morning routine.
  • Get something to eat and something to drink.  Take care of You.
  • Make the bed.  It’s amazing how accomplished we feel after such a simple task.
  • Open up the blinds and curtains.  Close your eyes and bask in the daylight for a moment or two. Maybe even crack a window open for some fresh air.  Breathe deeply.   If the day is dark and gloomy, turn on some soft lighting as you get moving.

Now, Maintenance tasks:

  • Grab a notebook.  I guarantee, as you move around your space today with your thoughts set on clearing “storm damage” and restoring order, ideas will occur to you that need to be noted!
  • Start a load of laundry.  Or fold a load.   Ah, laundry.  That never ending pursuit of clean clothes. Ours are clean but heaped in the big cart to be folded.  So this morning, I started a load and folded a couple.   This task took all of 5 minutes once I set out to complete it.
  • Clean the kitchen counter so you can make coffee, of course!, but also so you have some place to put the groceries you’re about to buy!
  • Craft a quick grocery list and head to the store.  This is not a 2-week buying extravaganza, this is the “let’s get through the next few days” trip.    And did you know there are flowers at the grocery?  Bought some tulips today.  Made me smile.  (There is also chocolate, specifically Reese’s Peanut Butter Eggs, on sale right now.  Just sayin’…)
  • Take a coupe more deep breaths.
  • Put the groceries away, grabbing something for your self for lunch and leaving something out for dinner.
  • Feeling better yet?
  • Check the mail that has piled up, toss or recycle as much as possible, add the action items (add them to your list, of course, like “pay bills”, and “make appointment for car service”), and schedule time to complete those action.
  • Check the email, purging all but the essentials.  Add the action items to your to-do list.   Put out fires and flag emails for later, add those to your action list then move on.
  • Accept help.  A friend offers to drive the car pool, drop off a meal or run an errand?  YES! And remember, sometimes the storm is ours, and sometimes it is someone else’s, so be ready to help out when you can, too.

The challenge with life’s stormy weather is that we don’t usually know when the storms will hit.  So it behooves us to quickly recover from life’s ups and downs and get back to normal, so we’re better prepared when the next storm rolls around.

To:

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Get Over Left Overs: 85 Banana Chocolate-chip Mini-muffins

I regularly see this billboard and it always makes me think. Imagine – $1,500 a year is a lot of money to just throw away. (www.adcouncil.org)

A related statistic from the Food and Agriculture of the United Nations website (www.fao.org), 1/3 of all the food produced in the world goes to waste.  One third.

I try to not waste food, yet every week when I clean out the fridge, I toss a few things, too. Overripe cucumbers, mystery meat, dried out or moldy bread – all foods I should have used instead of wasted!

So, let’s bust these statistics.  We can all benefit from a plan to use our food better!  We can:

  • Save money by using our inventory before it expires;
  • Clear kitchen clutter by only keeping on hand what we really need;
  • Eat better and healthier by planning our menus with a little more care; and
  • Be more responsible stewards of our resources!

When I got home from the grocery the other day, I cleaned 3 pounds of grapes (they were on sale) and left them in a bowl.  We made dinner, consisting of baked sweet potatoes, a veggie, and warmed-up pork roast from last week.  While the potatoes baked, I turned a double batch of banana bread batter into 85 banana chocolate-chip mini muffins (I’d take a picture, but 48 hours later, there are only 6 left).

  • We will never eat grapes off the stems, but everyone will grab a handful if they’re clean and ready to eat.
  • We are unlikely to warm up pork roast just because, but pairing it with fan favorites like baked potatoes makes a lovely Sunday dinner.
  • No one in the house (including me) will eat brown bananas, but we’ll eat mini-muffins like crazy.

The secret is (well, it’s not really a secret) to Plan, Plan, Plan.

Looking to use up what you have?
Look first to use your fresh food, then fridge, then freezer then canned.

Clean and prep your fruit as soon as you get home from the grocery store.  

Apples, clementines, lemon and limes – I wash all in the sink immediately, and then store it on the counter to grab and go.

If we buy melons or strawberries or grapes, we clean and prep those, too.  Making good food convenient  ensures we will use it up before it goes bad. And when the strawberries start to get mushy, they go into the freezer, to toss in smoothies another day.

Know yourself and your habits.

I wish I could say that I take lots of time to cook nutritious meals daily for my family.  But I don’t. If I buy fresh veggies, I try to clean that when we get home from the grocery, though this takes a little more time.

Fresh produce is one are of my grocery list where I use convenience food.  Pre-cut carrots and celery are much more likely to be used than produce still in a bag.  And yes, I buy bag salad.  A head of lettuce will go to waste, but we will use bagged salad and spinach.

If you’re going to dice one pepper, dice two.  If you’re going to shred a cup of cheese, shred two.  Prepping twice as much of something, and then using it later takes little additional time and saves scads of time later.

Meat. We freeze everything.  When we buy ground beef or sausage, we brown most of it and then refreeze it in one pound bags, to use, tacos, chili or sauces.  We also purchase Costco rotisserie chickens and eat some for dinner, then save the rest for casseroles and keep the  carcass to make chicken soup another day.

Look in your pantry and fridge with new eyes, and Get Over Your Leftovers.

Who says you can’t have dinner for breakfast, or breakfast for dinner?  Eat dinner for dinner, then expect and plan to use leftovers for breakfast and lunch.  Use what you have before it expires. Use it before you go out and purchase more. Re-purpose what you have.  Make your own breadcrumbs and croutons from bread and buns, dice your fruit for smoothies and baking.

Use what you have!  Save money, save time and clear clutter!

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Out With The Old, In With The New… In The Kitchen!

Are “get fit”, “eat healthier” or “lose weight” goals of yours for 2017?  And those have been really easy to accomplish, right?

Or…not?

We have good intentions, of course, but perhaps we’ve hit some bumps on the road to getting healthier!  We can succeed when our kitchen works with us towards our goals!

Here’s a tip:  A cluttered kitchen leads us to unhealthy habits.  Conversely, cleaning up your kitchen helps you create and keep healthy habits.  And I have data to back these statements up, click here for more info:

So, out with the old and in with the new!

Out With The Old:

  • Clear your counters.  Give yourself space to prepare healthy food.
  • As you clear the kitchen, pull out the rogue holiday items you find, and put them away with your holiday decor in the attic or basement.
  • Clear the Cabinets:
    • Clear the holiday snacks out of the cabinets. It’s been over a month, let them go!
    • Save money and free up space: Don’t shop!  Use what you have on hand this week!
    • Check Expiration dates.  Toss the really old stuff, and add the close-to-expiring items to your menu.
    • Check open items for staleness (is that a word?), and toss the gross stuff.
  • Clear out the fridge – again, checking expiration dates and investigating all those mysterious plastic containers.  Same for the freezer.  Add found items to your menu this week, to use up what you have on hand!
  • Clean out your utensil drawers – take everything out, wipe out the drawer and let it dry, then put the items back in the drawer, after editing of course! Purge old or broken items, and duplicates.

In With The New:

  • Re-populate the cabinets and fridge with healthy food items.
  • If you must buy snacks and things, for the other people in your house who ARE NOT trying to eat healthier, limit the variety and location to a single bin or shelf, and populate the rest of the kitchen with healthier options.
  • Healthy Habits:
    • Meal Prep is one of the best habits you can create for eating healthier.  Pack healthy lunches for the week, leave them in the fridge, and then grab and go when you head out in the morning!
    • Meal prep success relies on storage containers. Which leads us to …Plastic Containers.  Oh boy.  Pull them out.  Match up the bottoms and tops.  Toss the broken, stained or lonely/ unmatched containers.
    • Drink more water! Corral your reusable water bottles, pare them down to your favorite 3 or 4 (I once found 37 in a kitchen.)  Store those water bottles where they are convenient and likely to be used!  And take one with you every day!
    • Save time, money and calories this year, and take your own coffee with you!  Store those go-mugs and coffee where they are convenient, too!
    • If your healthy habits include smoothies, put all your smoothie equipment in a basket next to  or near your blender.  Do the same with any of your smoothie ingredients, like a fruit basket in the fridge, or a bin in the cabinet above the blender.
    • Bring out the healthy foods, store them front and center.  Make healthy eating convenient!

Spend some time in your kitchen this week,

clear the clutter that is holding you back, and

make your kitchen work for you!

 

To:

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Mystery Meats and Burnt-Out Light Bulbs (National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day!)

national-clean-out-your-refrigerator-day-november-15-1-1024x512

I’m getting a jump on the November Holidays. Thanksgiving, of course, my favorite, but before that, National Clean Out Your Refrigerator Day (nationally observed on 11/15, but any day is a good day for this project!).

This is a great project – an hour or so, and some elbow grease will reap big rewards!  Saturday afternoon found me cleaning out my refrigerator and freezer.  I needed to replace the light bulb anyway, and I was working on our weekly meal plan and grocery list.  Plus, I was clearing out to get ready for a new season, healthier eating and the holidays.

So, Lets’s Do This!  Here’s How:

  • Take out the trash, and re-line the can.  Then pull it on over next to the refrigerator.
  • Put on some music, of course, and grab a cold beverage from the fridge (you’re standing right there, after all!).
  • Clean off the closest counter for work space.
  • Run a sink full of hot and soapy water.  Then get to it!
  • Start with the vegetable bins.
    • Empty them out onto that clear counter, and review the contents;
    • Soak the bins in soapy water as you review;
    • Purge what is past its’ prime;
    • Plan your menus for the next week based on food you have on hand;
    • Add items to be replaced to your grocery list; and
    • Put your produce back, stocking like a store – oldest inventory on top, to be used first.
  • Hit the door compartments next.
    • Use the same plan of attack (empty and review; wash down; plan your menu and purge the icky stuff) but this time, review expiration dates and duplicates, too.
    • Make sure you rinse and and recycle the jars and containers you are purging.
    • Put it all back, grouping similar items together within compartments, like salad dressings together, and sandwich toppings together.
  • On to the shelves!
    • Address the shelves with the same process:  empty and review; wash down; plan your menu and purge the icky stuff.
    • Before you put the shelf contents back, consider adjusting the height of your shelves to make your fridge work better.  We have a tall top shelf, for milk jugs, juice bottles, water pitchers and left overs.  The other shelves are adjusted to be shorter, but so are their contents (egg cartons, 12 packs of soda, short bins of small items like yogurts and pudding cups) so this arrangement works well.
    • Group similar items on the shelves, as well.  For example, create a “left-over shelf” for already prepared and cooked meals, and make your grocery dollars stretch further!
  • Next, review your freezer contents.  I let go of anything that I couldn’t readily identify, hence the article title of “Mystery Meats”.  If I can’t identify a food, it is not something we should eat!  On the plus side, we have also been writing contents and dates on the freezer packaging (foil, freezer bags, etc.), so to not run into this challenge again!
  • Finally, take a moment to clean the outside, too!  Take all the magnets, photos and papers off, and wipe down the surfaces.  If the fridge front or side is home to soccer schedules or take out menus from 2 years ago, purge those, too!

Now, stand back and open the fridge door.  Bask in the glow of a clean space, and maybe even grab a snack.  Pat yourself on the back, then move on to something else!

P.S. If you have an old refrigerator to get rid of, here are two resources:
https://www.comed.com/WaysToSave/ForYourHome/Pages/Recycling.aspx
http://www.1800gotjunk.com/us_en/what-we-take/refrigerator_removal

To:

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Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
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Winter Is Coming, As Are Allergies, Colds and the Flu. Sorry.

Get your Medicine Cabinet ready for a chilly winter!soup

I wish I didn’t have to say it, but here’s the deal – Winter is coming. We have yet to find a way around it, though many have tried.  Every Fall at the first hint of cold weather, my husband and a friend swear they are moving to the Equator.  But short of such hemispheric and drastic solutions, winter is inevitable.  Some parts of the country get off easy, I know, but here in Chicago?  Not so much.

teaThe natural progression of “cold weather is coming” is that with cold weather occasionally comes colds, flu and other bugs to make us feel crummy.  And NOW – while it’s not cold out and you’re feeling quite fine! – is the best time to prepare for cold and flu season.

A texted conversation with my friend in Myrtle Beach last week (she’s fine after the hurricane) mentioned that Hurricane Prep and Waiting is like a giant blizzard but no snow and great weather.  All the schools, offices and businesses are closed, so once you have battened down the hatches, you sit around and relax until the rain and wind begin.

Doesn’t that sound like a better way to handle cold and flu season, too?  Plan ahead, batten down the hatches, and then relax a bit for whatever life sends you.

Here’s how!

Gather up everything!
Take a basket and go to all the usual places in your home where you stash medications and supplies.  Medicine cabinet, of course, but also: linen closets; kitchen cabinets; the other bathrooms; bedroom dressers and night stands, etc.  Once you’ve gathered everything up…

 

Sort it all Out!
Sort your medications into categories.  Cold and Flu, Digestive Health, Vitamins, Aches and Pains, First Aid, Prescriptions, etc.    After you’ve sorted it all…

 

Purge the Old or Icky Stuff.
Check your expiration dates, and handle some quality control.   Remember, medicine and medications exist to make us feel better.  Using old or outdated medicines invites the potential for ineffectiveness or even unexpected side effects.

Saturday, October 22nd is National Take Back Day, so if you have outdated medications to purge, check this link to the DEA website, and find an prescription medication Take Back event in your area.

 

Put Your Medicine and Supplies Away in a way that makes sense.
Consider who will use certain items, where you will use them, and what needs to be kept out of reach of children.  Also, prolonged heat and moisture can damage medicines, so DO NOT store medications long term in the bathroom or on the kitchen window sill.

We use a plastic basket in the hall linen closet to store most of our medicines for the Cold and Flu Season.  The basket is easy to access when someone is feeling poorly, and gets tucked back away when we’re done.  The basket keeps things together, and makes any spills easy to clean up, too, so we don’t have a large shelf with dozens of small bottles toppling every which way (which I see in houses often!).

In some homes, the medications are kept in a kitchen cabinet.  This works just fine, too, however still invest in a basket or two, to keep things together and save shelf space.

 

Finally, Stock Up:
Add missing items to your grocery list now, so when you really need cough medicine in the middle of the night, you don’t have to run out to the pharmacy.  Here is a comprehensive list of suggested medications and items from Real Simple (“Medicine Cabinet Essentials Checklist”), plus a few items I added:

  • Aspirin
  • Acetaminophen (such as Tylenol)
  • Ibuprofen (such as Advil and Motrin)
  • Thermometer

For Congestion, Colds, and Coughs

  • Cough medicine
  • Decongestant (such as Sudafed or Dristan)
  • Throat lozengesFor Allergies and Itching
  • Antihistamine (such as Benadryl)
  • Hydrocortisone cream (for persistent itching)
  • Calamine lotion
  • Eyedrops

For Digestive Issues

  • Antacids (in tablet or liquid form)
  • Antidiarrheal treatment
  • Laxatives

For Cuts and Burns

  • Gauze, bandages, and medical tape
  • Antiseptic for wound cleaning (such as hydrogen peroxide)
  • Antibiotic ointment for preventing infections from wounds
  • Aloe vera gel
  • Miscellaneous
  • Sunscreen
  • Antifungal creams (athlete’s foot relief)

Antibacterial Wipes
Tissues, boxes and personal pocket packs
Lip balm

So clean out and stock up this week, while you’re feeling great and the weather is fine! You will thank yourself later!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO

“If You Call It a Junk Drawer, Guess What Ends Up Inside?”

Last week, a friend reached out to me, sharing pictures of her morning’s organizing projects. (I love that!) The conversation went like this:after

Friend:  (Below a picture of school papers) “Making Decisions.”
Me:  “Ooh, those are tough, I know.”
Friend: “Yes, well, once you explained clutter as unmade decisions [Barbara Hemphill], I have been able to get rid of most of it.  This mess was from my China / @##$@ cabinet.”
Me: (laughing) “Decisions are tough, but making them strengthens our decision muscles – it does get easier!”
Friend: “It is laughbable.  I had 6 junk drawers.  Down to 2 now.”
Me: “Woo hoo!  And never call them junk drawers, as, well, that’s what will end up in them! Better to name it, whether its a “school supply drawer”, “household hardware” or “party and baking drawer”!
Friend: “Yes. Good Tip”.
Me:  “Hmm, maybe that should be my next blog topic!”
Friend: “Yes, it should.  I’m buying a label maker today.”

Inspired by this exchange, I asked my FB friends to share photos of their junk drawers for this article (In no particular order, and with no identifying tags!).  And for the friends who asked if junk corners or junk rooms counted, these same suggestions will apply to those spaces, too!!

Just start!  Drawers are great and rewarding little projects!  You can make a lot of progress in little pieces!

Grab a garbage bag and a note-pad to jot down ideas that come to you.  Then set a timer for 20 minutes or so, if you’d like, and get to it!  If the drawer is dirty, dump the contents out on the counter and wipe / wash out the drawer before you put anything back.

The Organizing Process is the same (per Julie Morgenstern), whether a small drawer or a big room:

  1. Sort Your Stuff.  Common categories of junk drawer contents:
  • pens / pencils / markers (working and not)junk-drawer-1
  • paper clips, safety pins, clips of all sizes
  • coupons, expired and not
  • recipes, good and not
  • take-out menus, old and current
  • toothpicks
  • paper clips
  • random photos
  • note paper and post-its, used and unused, and business cards
  • hardware, screws, tacks, small tools
  • snacks, gum, candy (edible and not, who knows which is which?!)
  • glue, tape, string, rubber bands
  • first aid items, band-aids, inhalers, nail files
  • small toys, broken jewelry, hair ties, etc.
  • candles and matches
  • plastic silverware and old napkinsHow am I doing?  Sound familiar?  Sort what is there, and then head to the next step – purging.

0072. Purging.  This is where that garbage bags come in handy.  We can all agree, much of what is in a junk drawer is probably, well, junk, and can therefore be tossed.  So part with the old papers, dried out pens, questionable food items and anything else that you don’t need or love.

 

3.  Assign a Home.   Decide what categories you have present, and what categories of stuff you want to keep and where.  Consider where you use certain items, or how often you need to access those certain items.  NAME YOUR DRAWER, for goodness sake.  And let everyone in your house know what the drawer’s name and purpose is!  I have said this before, a space009 needs a name and a purpose.  If you call your drawer a junk drawer, or your room a junk room, junk will end up there.  So, as you assign a home for your items, group them logically and by purpose.  Perhaps you end up with:

  • A meal-planning drawer, with: menus; gift certificates and coupons; and recipes.
  • An office or school supply drawer, with: tapa and glue; pens, pencils and markers; notepads and post-its; paperclips, etc.
  • A tool and household drawer with: tools, heavy-duty tape, flashlights.
  • An extra utensil drawer, with: the kitchen items you want to keep but don’t use regularly. Or
  • Some other category you choose.  Just name it, and stick with it.

4.  Containerize.   Look around your house, you probably have containers you can use to corral your items in your newly cleaned and NAMED drawers.  (Finally, a use for some of those mismatched storage containers?)  And I snapped a picture of the new containers on a client’s table, she loves the dollar store for inexpensive drawer inserts.  If you can’t track down old check boxes or small cardboard jewelry boxes around the house, trays similar to the photo below (of my desk drawer) can be found at home stores like Target, or office supply stores like Office Depot or Staples.
003 011

0065.  Finally, the 5th step is Equalize, which is Julie Morgenstern’s snazzy word for MAINTENANCE! Once your drawers are organized, keeping them that way takes a lot less time and hassle. You can maintain them every day by putting stuff away in the right drawer and space.  And once in a while, if you pull open a drawer and it has gotten a little messy, setting it back to rights takes just a few minutes, using the same Sort / Purge / Assign a Home / Containerize / Maintain process.

Tackle this small but awesome project this week!

To:

Receive more ideas and suggestions like these;
Book time with me in person or virtually;
Arrange a presentation for your upcoming event; or
Discover the benefits of Organizational Coaching;

Please contact me.

Call / text 708.790.1940
Online at  http://peaceofmindpo.com
www.Facebook.com/MColleenKlimczakCPO
Via Twitter, @ColleenCPO