Annual Kitchen Organization Challenge, Part 1

Hi, all!

I’m back and ready to get started on kitchen organization and decluttering. Especially the decluttering part. I have reached a point in life where I just want less stuff to take care of. It’s time for a reality check as to what I use and don’t use in my kitchen. I love my kitchen gadgets and when I buy stuff, it’s usually for the kitchen.

As I was looking back over previous blog posts – and getting notifications from Facebook about my memories – I realized that the beginning of the year always seems to start with reorganizing and decluttering the kitchen. So I guess I start out strong and then gather things in over the course of the year and need to declutter and organize again. I’m going to (try!) to implement this rule for myself: If you bring something new in, something old has to go out. (That scared me just typing out those words. For real!)

So…let’s get started on kitchen organization. Today is easy – no physical labor required. 🙂 What I want you to do today (or tonight) is to simply walk into your kitchen and look around. That took me approximately 4.8379 seconds as I have a small kitchen. But this was a very important step. I felt my kitchen wasn’t functioning as well as it could be…that things where’re where I needed them to be. So I stood there sipping a cup of coffee, notebook on the counter, and looked around. I thought about dinner prep and what would make that more efficient. I thought about what was near the stove and what was in the pantry.

I asked myself the following questions:

  • Do I have a designated prep space?
  • Are my pots and pans and cooking utensils near the stove?
  • Are like items in the same location (baking products, coffee stuff, etc.)?
  • Is the organization in my kitchen meeting my needs?
  • Is there ANYTHING that could be moved from the counter top to another location. (Cluttered counters are getting on my nerves!)

So, I just want to take a few minutes to look around your kitchen and determine whether or not it’s working for you. If it is, then you can just sit back and relax this week. 🙂 If not, start thinking about what you can do to make it more functional. Functionality is key in kitchen organization. Key, I tell you. The fewer steps you have to take when prepping dinner (or any other meal) saves you time, right? And saving time is good. Very good.

I spent time over the last week reorganizing my kitchen cabinets and pantry. I got some new stuff for Christmas that I needed to make room for. So I got rid of some stuff instead of overcrowding the cabinets. I’m still not satisfied, so I’ll be doing this challenge along with you this week. So take a good hard look at your kitchen and see where you might want to start making changes. 🙂 Write it down. Make a list. You have to have a plan!

I’m taking my pen, notebook, and coffee and heading to the kitchen now.

Have a blessed Monday!

Lynne

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Organizing the Pantry (again!)

Organizing My Pantry (yes, again)…

EditHello. My name is Lynne and I am a food hoarder. 

Yikes. I was aggravated yesterday looking for something in my pantry and decided that organizing it yet again would be today’s project. I’m not sure why I have so much food, but man…I have a LOT. Maybe subconsciously I am preparing some unforeseen disaster. Seriously, though, I have ten (ten!!) bags and jars of rice! Rice! 

Plus approxi-mately eight boxes of pasta. And a basket of potatoes. And sweet potatoes. It’s a carb lover’s dream. 

I have an entire pantry shelf dedicated to canned veggies. They’re organic and all, but it looks like I’m expecting to never, ever find them at the store again. Ever. 



Please note that the stash of coffee does not qualify as a hoard. That just everyday sanity protection, so move your eyes along from that area. (Avert your eyes.)



Clearly – CLEARLY – someone needs to keep me out of the grocery store for an extended period of time. Someone could go for milk and eggs for me. 

Because in addition to the pantry, my freezer is full. As in, full. Why did I tell my husband that 72 waffles was not too many? I have frozen fruits and veggies to last…well, awhile. I also discovered three roasts, two pork loins, a ham bone, two packs of bacon, a pack of stew beef, and eight packs of chicken breasts. And here I was planning to hit the Fresh Market’s $2.99 Tuesday near sale in the morning. Oh. My. Goodness. 

I really had no idea that I had so much stuff. I’ve been going merrily along spending the money in my grocery fund envelope when I could have probably eaten from what I have and taken myself on a trip to the beach!

All that being said, I’m counting my blessings that I have food to eat. I’m also praying for some self-control. We need to eat from our pantry and freezer until they are depleted. I need to avoid sales flyers and the Publix app on my phone. 

Please…if you see me in a grocery store in the next month, take me by the hand – which may be tightly gripping the grocery cart handle – and escort me to my car. Remind me that I’m saving for a beach trip. If I tell you that I’m only buying milk, them you might just need to keep an eye on me.

I did get it organized, though. Here are some pics. 





Wonder what we are having for dinner. I might need to go…just kidding! We’re having leftovers!

Lynne

Front Porch Makeover…finally!

Happy Saturday!

Well, it’s not nearly as warm today as it was yesterday, but I was motivated so I FINALLY got around to working on my front porch. I painted the area around the front door and the tops of the porch rails. (My physical therapist would frown upon me painting it all. Right, Karen?)

I spent less than $100 on paint and supplies, flowers, artificial flowers, table accessories, and a new flag, The bistro set got moved from the back deck. The “rug” was in the donate box. I reused the metal basket to make the wall hanging, and a Mason jar for the flowers on the table. I also fixed my fountain pump. 🙂

The flower bed in front of this porch is full of perennials. I can’t wait to see them in bloom and to bring out the houseplants that fill in the gaps during the summer. Oh…and hang some ferns. This is where I sit to drink coffee and read when it’s warm. I was very tempted to sit and have coffee there this afternoon but it was just too chilly.

The porch floor still needs to be painted as do the spindles. It was too cold for the porch (it’s cement) and my daughter will do the rails. So she says. 🙂

Anyway, I feel very productive. Baked potato soup is on the menu for tonight so I’ve got to get those potatoes baking.

Stay warm, people. Stay warm.

Lynne

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Kids’ Room Cleaning Challenge

Revisiting one of the first cleaning/decluttering/organizing posts on the blog. 🙂

Kids’ Room Cleaning Challenge

Legos. Barbie’s shoes. Matchbox cars. Hair bows. Blocks. Trucks. Books. Stuffed animals. If you’ve had your child call to you in the night, gone running into his or her room, and stepped on any or all of the above, you know that kids’ rooms can be messy. For whatever reason – and we probably don’t even know ourselves- we give our kids toy after toy after toy. And we let others do the same. We even invite them to our children’s birthday parties so that even more toys come into the house. Inevitably, some or most – or even all of them – end up in the floor. Usually there is a perfectly good toy box just sitting there empty. (My kids used to put themselves in the toy box, but not necessarily their toys.) Or maybe you have the perfect organizing system for those toys, yet they are still in the floor, under the bed, in the living room, under the kitchen sink…kids’ toys wind up in some strange places.

Let’s face it. Our kids are kids. And while you can (and should) train them to clean up after themselves and put their toys away, most of them just have too stinking many things and not enough understanding (because they are too young) of the phrase, “A place for everything, and everything in its place.” The main problem is probably not the kids. It’s us. Sigh. We are the ones who let the “Toys R Us” store come into our homes. And seriously, there are not enough hours in the day for them to play with them all. If yours are like mine, they had their favorites. The ones they actually played with. I worked and organized and cleaned on a regular basis, only to have all the other crap thrown on the floor in search of the toy they actually wanted. Eventually, I realized that some of it (a LOT of it) had to go. Away.I actually had a huge yard sale and let other people take those toys to their houses. Hey, let them step on Barbie shoes and those bazillion stuffed toys. (By the way, a Ziploc bag filled with “Happy Meal” toys is a fast seller. Fast!)

So you need to decide how much is enough. Just enough. Depending on the age of your children, you may or may not want to give them a say in this. If they are very young, clean it out and keep only the things they really play with. Put a strict policy into place regarding the number of toys allowed in from now on. Stick to it. A policy is no good if you don’t follow it. If you find things languishing in the bottom of the toy box that haven’t seen the light of day in months and months, they need to go. (NOTE: Once it’s gone, your child will immediately need that toy. Need. Immediately. Do not give in. They forgot about it for months. They’ll forget about it again. Do NOT go out and buy a replacement. Really. Do not.)

So here is what you need to get your kids’ rooms organized. You probably have them in some form or another on hand. Be creative. Try to use stuff you have before you go out and buy something. Reuse and repurpose when possible.

clothes hangers

baskets of various shapes and sizes

toy box or bins for storing toys

small (not tall) book shelf

clothes hamper

wall shelves and/or hooks (high enough that they can’t be reached)

a hook on the back of the door or closet door for PJ’s to be hung up

boxes or bags labeled “donate,” “toss,” and “keep” (Put them in another room. This will be your “staging” area.)

It is important to note now that cleaning out a child’s room is often a covert operation. The things that are leaving the house often need to be removed quickly, quietly, and under the cover of darkness.

The first and most difficult task will be sorting through the toys and getting rid of things that you KNOW your child or children never, ever play with. It is often best to remove these toys from the room and the house when the kid isn’t present. If little Susie sees a pink stuffed rabbit that is covered with the dust and lint from the bottom of the toy box…it willsuddenly be her most “favoritest” one ever, she loves it beyond words and must sleep with it every night. She will tug at your heartstrings, shed some crocodile tears, and manipulate you right into keeping the pink bunny. She’ll sleep with it for a night or two and then bunny will end up under the bed, behind the couch…somewhere it won’t be missed until the next time you try and throw it out. If your kids are older, you can work with them to eliminate toys they no longer play with or have outgrown. Taking them to a children’s shelter or donating them to charity helps them feel better about it. A little. The goal is to not have more toys than you have storage. Duh. Once they’ve been sorted and you have gathered the ones that need to go, GET THEM OUT OF YOUR HOUSE. Immediately. Quickly. Faster than a speeding bullet. “Out of sight, out of mind.” Do not put them where they can be seen, or someone will LOVE, LOVE, LOVE something in those bags. (Note: While sorting, keep in mind that it doesn’t always matter who gave the toy to your child. If you let that matter, either you or the child will be emotionally attached to every single toy in the room. That being said, both of my kids have a special stuffed animal given by a grandma that we have kept. My son’s sits in his closet; my daughter’s still sits on her bed.)

Obviously, the toy sorting will probably take a while. A long while if your toy stash is huge. So get a laundry basket and fill it with toys. Take the basket into the room where the donate/keep/toss bags or boxes are located. Spend your 15 minutes going through that basket. Repeat daily until all toys have been sorted into those three categories. (Remove or hide the “donate” box every day so the munchkins can’t see it or get into it. Anything in the “trash” category should be, well, tossed into the trash daily. Do not return the “keep” ones to the room until the other tasks have been completed. Set up a temporary play area for the kiddos in the meantime. Otherwise, you may sort the same toys over and over and over. Several people have suggested keeping the “donate” stuff for a specified period of time….6 weeks, 6 months, whatever. If no one has asked for or looked for a toy that’s in there within the specified time, off to Goodwill or Salvation Army or wherever you have decided to donate them. Pronto!

I’ll include books as part of toys. (Y’all know by now that both Teresa and I are book addicts. We should probably attend meetings in a church basement somewhere.) I read to both my kids from the day they came home from the hospital. They always had a lot of books. A basket of well-loved books by the bedside is great. You know you tend to read the same ones over and over and over…sometimes in the same night! If you can get a small bookshelf to hold the children’s books, that is great! Small in that it doesn’t provide a tall climbing opportunity for the little ones. I had a climber. I speak from experience.

NOTE: I kept books that the kids loved, loved, loved. I fully intend to read them to my grandchildren someday. Most are stored away but a few now sit on the bookshelf in my living room. 🙂

Second on the list is the clothes. Again, this is an area where we tend to “overbuy” or let others do it for us. If the child has outgrown clothes and you have a younger one that will wear them at some point, put them in a box and label it: who the clothes will pass to and the size. Store the box away in the attic, an extra closet..somewhere it won’t be in the way until it’s needed. If you don’t have another child that will wear the clothes, try passing them on to someone who needs them…a friend, a church clothes closet, a children’s shelter, etc.

Note: If you have a couple of special outfits that you really, really want to save, put them in a box that will safely store them or display them on by hanging them on a hook (instant decor!). I have a shelf in my bedroom with hooks on it. On it hang my “coming home from the hospital” dress as well as those of both of my kids, and their first church outfit. I kept a couple of dresses that my daughter loved when she was younger that I’ll hopefully pass on to a granddaughter one day.

Then hang up what needs to be hung up. Fold and put away what needs to be put away in a dresser. Little shoes store well in cute baskets on closet floors, as do socks and tights. Hair bows are cute in a basket on the dresser. Don’t keep more clothes than the child will wear or that you want to wash. Remember: you’ll be doing the laundry. A small laundry hamper in the closet, bedroom or kids’ bathroom is also a must in my book. Teach them early that dirty clothes go IN the hamper not NEAR the hamper.

Up next, the art work.

If your child has a lot of art projects, you have a few options.

1. Take pictures of them and let the child have a photo album of his or her work.

2. Frame a few pictures. Makes great artwork – for their room and any other – and costs very little.

3. Designate a certain amount of shelf space (in their room or in your living room or kitchen) for clay or other non-paper projects. Let them sit there for a certain amount of time (be specific about the time) then either take a picture and add it to the album, store it with your “sentimentals,” or dispose of it. Replace with the next “set” of art objects.

4. Use the coasters, trivets, etc. They serve a purpose and it makes your kids happy, so why not use them?

5. Sort through it and keep the “good” stuff. I have a box labeled “sentimentals” that has the Valentine’s and Mother’s Day cards and such in it. I like to look through it sometimes and smile and cry. It’s a mother’s prerogative, right?

Once all the sorting has been done, it’s time to pull the room together.

Here are things I kept in bins or baskets. If you have room under the bed, there are plastic storage bins that fit so nicely under there.

art supplies: crayons, coloring books, paper, etc. (anything that doesn’t require supervision to use) It’s probably best not to store markers or paint in the kids’ room. Just saying.

a few (very, very few) stuffed animals

books

puzzles

Legos

Barbie & her stuff (Limit her stuff or she will take over! If it doesn’t fit in the box, it must go.)

Dress-up clothes (You might want to keep the play makeup somewhere else.)

Storing things like Legos and Barbie & her stuff in bins or baskets keeps all of the like things “corralled” in one place. You definitely don’t want Legos and Barbie stuff in the toy box. It will fall to the bottom requiring all the stuff on top to be thrown hither and yon in search of Barbie’s pink shoe or the red Lego man. Experience talking again here.

Put the books on the shelf where little hands can reach them. Larger dolls can sit on a shelf as well. Baskets with toys and books are attractive and functional, so put them where they can be seen. Put the toys to be kept that are not intended for bins or baskets in the toy box. Make the bed. Allow 1-2 stuffed animals to sit on the bed. Hang the artwork. Put photos in frames and put on the wall or on wall shelves. If there’s room, a child-size table is a great addition to a kids’ room so that they can do art and put puzzles together and not do it in your living room or at your kitchen table.

Once the room is tidy and neat, spend 15 minutes after dinner or before bedtime – with your child if they are old enough – every day putting things back in their place. Lay out the next day’s outfit. When it’s bedtime, let them choose a book from the basket or shelf and snuggle up and read to them. Kiss them goodnight and look around and breathe a sigh of contentment because the clutter is gone.

And don’t forget to put that book back where it belongs before you leave the room!

Lynne

P.S. The rooms of teenagers are a completely different story. Sometimes it’s best to just close the door and back away carefully.

The Struggle is Real :)

Moving Forward…The Struggle is Real!

FYI: Meal planning for healthy, whole foods meals can be intimidating. Wheat free? Whole foods? No sugar? Almond flour? Vegetarian? Vegan? Paleo? And some things that I have no idea what they even are. So many choices! And so much conflicting information about what is BEST for us. The only thing that I KNOW for sure is that real, whole foods beat out processed foods every time. Oh, and organic, gluten-free, whatever…junk food is still junk food. All that so say that I’m still slogging through my cookbooks and working on meal plans.

I do hope to start work on my entry hall today. I was going to start with painting the front porch, but the weather isn’t cooperating. So inside we go. I’m planning to paint the hall a lighter color and finally put to use some of the things I’ve been collecting at yard sales and thrift stores. I might also print and frame some of my own nature photos to hang on the walls.

Here are a few pics of my entry hall right now. I like the wall with the ladder. This vignette may or may not stay in that spot. Those were all yard sale finds. I have a shelf with hooks that I picked up for $2 at a yard sale that I plan to put in place of the mirror over the chest or where the ladder is. I’m planning to put a cushion and feet on the chest and repaint it. It belonged to my in-laws. Choosing the paint color is first, though. This is where the real struggle begins. Do you have any idea how many varying shades of white and/or cream there are?? And the names…that’s a job I’d like to have. Naming paint colors.

Hopefully, this project will only take a couple of days. Maybe one once the paint color is chosen. Someone pick it for me! Please.

I’m off to look at paint colors. My eyes are already blurring!

Lynne

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Monday, Monday

Good Monday morning!

I hope your week is off to a great start! What’s on your agenda today? I have on my list: exercise, Bible study, work, and a Meatless Monday dinner.

I’m still menu planning (tonight is the last one I have planned) and I need to fit that in some time today if we’re going to eat the rest of this week! 😉

I’m also going to work on my first “home beautification” project. I’ll start on it tomorrow. But I’ll share a “before” picture later today.

Y’all have a great day! It’s exercisr time for me.

Lynne

February Happenings

Hello, all!

February is here. I made it through January without accomplishing much on my 2015 “to do” list. But my headaches seem to be under control now so I’m hoping that I can get to my list of projects now.

First things first, I have got to change my diet. Like…trying to live without wheat and sugar. Yikes! It sounds so very intimidating and nearly impossible. If you are around me this month and I’m out of sorts, know that’s why. I apologize in advance if I’m snippy or snappy. My family is a bread-loving, carb-loving bunch, myself included. But I’ve at least got to give it a try. So I’ve got my new cookbooks in hand and am working on making a menu that we can all live with.

Since I’ve pretty much gotten my house organized over the last year, I’m ready to do some projects that I’ve been putting off. Nothing really major except for some painting (yes, again!). These are projects to make spaces more efficient and, in some cases, just prettier and more comfortable. Your home is supposed to be your haven and you should surround yourself with things you love. Now that I’ve been through everything once or twice, I’m going to look at every item in every room and determine whether it makes me happy or serves a purpose.

I’m making my list and plan (weather permitting as I hope to start with the front porch) and should be starting next week. I’m going to do this fixing up on a shoestring budget. Thrifting, yard saling, repurposing…these are the ways I’m hoping to accomplish my goals.

My biggest goal: to just be finished. I want to get everything the way I want it and I want to be done. DONE. As in, just sit and enjoy my home without any major (or even minor) projects looming. I’m excited about that!

I’ll be updating you this week on my progress and my list/plans…photos, too. I hope you’ll join me in this journey of making your home your haven.

Lynne

P.S. In the meantime, here’s a throwback to the beginning of this blog. You need to get that pesky laundry out of the way so you can do some fun stuff. 🙂

https://lifedoesnthavetobethisway.wordpress.com/2013/01/07/defeating-the-laundry-monster/

 

Kitchen Organization, Part 1

10906422_10205344668916854_8138449907744288352_n First lap….

10898018_10205344673596971_5361767354139294017_n…2nd lap

 Hi, everyone!

I hope you had a great Monday! It was such a beautiful day here, and the sunrise was absolutely spectacular this morning. God was really showing His creative, artistic side. 🙂 I, for one, really appreciated it. That’s one of the perks of getting up to get your exercise in early.

So, last week I shared with you how I do my menu planning. Have any of you tried your hand at it this week? If you’re new to meed on sales or what’s in your pantry and freezer, or you can plan a month. The point is to have a plan…it makes evenings so much easier when you don’t have to come home wondering what you’ll be putting on the table. (I’ll continue to address menu planning in the coming weeks and will be sharing my menus and recipes as we go along.)

Now…let’s move on to kitchen organization. Today is easy – no physical labor required. 🙂 What I want you to do today (or tonight, I guess) is to simply walk into your kitchen and look around. Think about the following questions:

  • Do I have a designated prep space?
  • Are my pots and pans and cooking utensils near the stove?
  • Are like items in the same location (baking products, coffee stuff, etc.)?
  • Is the organization in my kitchen meeting my needs?

So, I just want to take a few minutes to look around your kitchen and determine whether or not it’s working for you. If it is, then you can just sit back and relax this week. 🙂 If not, start thinking about what you can do to make it more functional. Functionality is key in kitchen organization. Key, I tell you. The fewersteps you have to take when prepping dinner (or any other meal) saves you time, right? And savingtime is good.

I spent time over the last week reorganizing my kitchen cabinets and pantry. I got some new stuff for Christmas that I needed to make room for. So I got rid of some stuff instead of overcrowding the cabinets. I’ll post some pics tomorrow. Right now, you just need to run to the kitchen and see where you might want to start making changes. 🙂

Have a great evening!

Lynne