Last week I was scrolling through my Facebook and I came across the Good Housekeeping article – “6 Places We’re NOT Organizing Anymore.” Naturally, it caught my attention and I, of course, quietly gasped. What areas could they be talking about? I asked myself. I immediately clicked on the article to see what over 1,000 people “liked.”
As I read the article it all made sense and I knew where the author, Lauren Piro, was coming from. The areas she confronted are a constant struggle for many of us so I completely understand sending up the white flag. And, to Lauren’s credit, leaving these areas disorganized is not going to prevent you from reaching your ultimate goals in life. However, as the person who comes in when these areas become overrun with clutter and cause daily frustration, I can attest to the fact that some level of organization is necessary. After all, organization is about making your life easier by living lighter and more efficiently.
All of this got me thinking… maybe we need to address some of these areas in a more simplistic way and just get real about the level of organization needed to make life easier and not add more work to the to-do list.
So, here’s what I have for those who would still like to have a little order to their chaos…
- Junk Drawer – It doesn’t have to be perfect, but a junk drawer still needs to be manageable so you can find a 9volt battery when you need it. A junk drawer can easily and quickly be organized by dividing it into sections with drawer dividers and keeping similar items together (e.g. batteries, pens/pencils, office supplies, tools, etc.)
Photo Credit: Jeffrey Phillip
- Photos – I completely agree with Lauren that many of us don’t have time to scrapbook (I know I personally don’t); however, printed photos in a box will never get looked at and they will only take up space. Don’t even bother printing them. Drop them into an online photo album that can easily be shared or printed into a beautiful book with the few clicks of a mouse. The book will take up less space, look great as a decorative accessory and be easier to flip through.
Photo Credit: Moleskin Milkbooks
- Laundry Room – While we don’t entertain in the laundry room, we do want to make it a pleasant place to be. After all, many of us don’t enjoy the task of laundry so it’s important to keep the space looking good so that we can keep ourselves motivated and so that there is enough space to work in the room. Using decorative bins for loose items is a simple way to remove the visual clutter from open shelves. Tidying up the space on a regular basis will keep the piles of clothes at bay, the dust to a minimum (in what can be a very dusty room) and keep you on top of your detergent and pre-treater levels so you always have back-up supplies.
Photo Credit: Four Generations One Roof
- Kids Play Area – Organizational skills can be taught at a very young age. While it is not the end of the world if My Little Pony gets put with the animal figurines, the play space will always become a disaster if the munchkins are tearing about the whole area looking for something that isn’t in its proper home. Keeping items in their home will make life easier and will teach kids the benefits of organization at a young age. Keep them involved in clean-up time so they become responsible for being able to find things. Staying on top of this type of work on a regular basis (even once a week) prevents things from getting out of control later and creating one of the most overwhelming and time consuming sorting and organizing projects you will ever encounter. (Check out my Springpad Notebook “Organize the Play Space” for tips on making over your child’s play space.)
Photo Credit: Obaz.com
Serving & Cooking Utensils – Purging is always helpful, but even after a purge you may still be rifling through things to find what you want. Using drawer dividers, split the drawer into sections to easily organize the items you use on a regular basis (if you have more than one drawer, use one for baking utensils and one for cooking utensils). Then, put the once or twice a year items in a canister that gets stored in the pantry. After all, you don’t want to be without that turkey baster come Thanksgiving.
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ON THE EIGHTH DAY OF NEATNESS…
I love a kitchen crock. I think they’re useful. I think they are a great fix for those most used or too-long-for-the-drawers kitchen utensils. I think they’re also a wonderful solution if drawer space is limited. The challenge has always remained that before you know it, your slotted spoon has a wooden one shoved through it and the whisk is hugging the tongs. Well, CHEFS® Catalog has come to the rescue with their neat product on this year’s list. Finally a bit of organizational genius! Try as I might to create something like this on my own, nothing beats the real deal. The tall, durable quality stoneware Kitchen Tool Crock comes with a built-in, three-way stoneware divider so you can finally put some order back into your kitchen. Whether you separate by utensil type (wooden, silicone, metal) or utensil purpose (spoons, spatulas, miscellaneous), it’s a very neat-making and visually pleasing solution for any kitchen…and those utensils can finally start behaving themselves.
ON THE FOURTH DAY OF NEATNESS…
I gotta say when it comes to style and efficiency the folks at Joseph Joseph® have it mastered. The Nest™ 9 Plus mixing bowl to measuring spoon set is perfection on so many levels, it keeps words from coming out of my mouth in complete sentences. The classic and simple design, and its unique ability to skimp on bulk makes this four-in-one kitchen staple perfect for every kind of cook. This clever set saves precious drawer space, which can be primo real estate in a kitchen with limited storage options. The Nest 9 Plus includes 5 measuring cups which snap together into a small unit. They’re designed to fit perfectly in the small mixing bowl, which then sits inside a stainless steel mesh sieve, which THEN all fits neatly into a medium plastic strainer/colander and FINALLY, all collectively rest compactly and perfectly inside one large mixing bowl. This kind of space-saving brilliance is a neat product that truly speaks my language.
Thanksgiving is only nine days away. Let’s just repeat that for effect: Thanksgiving is only nine days away. And if you’re like any other living, breathing, working, person out there, there is still so much to do to make sure you are ready for the big day. Never fear! Breathe, relax, get those shoulders down from your ears, because I’ve outlined 3 simple to-do’s to make sure your kitchen is ready for one incredible feast!
- Plan + Confirm – Take a moment to review your menu (or put it together if you haven’t yet). Make sure you have enough food for the number of guests expected and don’t forget to take into consideration any food allergies your guests may have. Be sure you are working with recipes that allow for some advanced preparation. The last thing you want is to spend the holiday festivities stuck in the kitchen, or stressed out about not having enough time to get everything done. While offering great food is of the utmost importance, you want to be sure that you get to enjoy time with your guests and share in the fun. And, if you don’t know your way around the kitchen very well, keep it simple. It will make the entire process much less stressful, and I promise your guests will be just as delighted with what you serve.
- Take inventory + Stock Up – Once you’ve confirmed your menu and determined all your needed ingredients, take inventory of your pantry to make sure you don’t run out of any staples. Make a trip to the supermarket to stock up on all these non-perishable essentials ahead of time to avoid elbowing your way through the crazy crowds next week.
- Tools – Don’t forget to check your cooking tools and serving essentials – this is an often overlooked area when prepping for the holiday. Do you need a new meat thermometer? Maybe a turkey baster or twine. Does your carving knife need to be sharpened? Take a moment to make sure everything is in working order and that you have everything you need for Turkey Time. The last thing you want is to go cook your Turkey and discover your roasting pan is missing in action.
Taking a little time to plan in advance will help you feel in control of your party, rather than at the mercy of gravy boats and green bean casserole. Above all, remember that the whole purpose of the day is to come together with family and friends to enjoy a beautiful meal. Stress does not get a seat at the table!
Take a peek at my Springpad notebook to see some of my picks for Turkey Day Essentials!
Orla Reynolds, a recent graduate of the Dublin Institute of Technology, has designed this invaluable solution for those of us who live in small spaces. The ‘As if from nowhere’ bookcase functions as any typical bookcase, but it also ingeniously stores four chairs and a table allowing you to easily transform your space to host a small dinner party, or create a functional work area. I personally love the pop of color that this original design has.
Lil Davinci is a simple way to display and store your child’s treasured pieces of art. Each frame can store up to 50 masterpieces, helping you keep these special memories safe while eliminating clutter from your kitchen refrigerator. These easy to update frames make the idea of framing every piece of your child’s art a breeze and makes it easy to show them just how proud of them you really are! This fantastic idea isn’t only for your child’s artwork either; Dynamic Frames also makes other great solutions such as the Pinster shadow box frame for displaying memorabilia and gallery frames, which can store as many as 288 photos!
With the Oscars this Sunday, many people are gearing up for a festive evening with friends. From parties with themes based on the movie nominees to parties with competitive voting contests, for some it is a night bigger than the Super Bowl.
Unfortunately, at the end of the night whether Best Picture goes to Argo or Lincoln, the task of getting the award for “Best Cleanup” still remains for the gracious host or hostess. To make cleaning up from this “star studded” evening a little easier, pickup a couple Clean Cubes. A recent discovery at the New York International Gift Fair, Clean Cubes take away the mess and frustration of taking out the trash or recycling. This fully biodegradable product is leak resistant and a great solution for when you need an additional receptacle for your disposables or recyclables. Plus, it’s sturdy construction means there’s no worry about bags tearing or breaking on the way out the door.
Great for any type of party, or even every day, Clean Cubes are currently available on Amazon.com, or in the New York City area at select Duane Reade locations.
CLICK TO WATCH “HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR PANTRY”
If you like to cook, or dream of cooking more often, having an organized kitchen is imperative. By keeping your kitchen and pantry organized you will have the proper foods and tools more accessible, which will ultimately lead to a healthier diet and greater ease moving around your space while you’re slicing, dicing and sauteing.
I recently had the opportunity to work with my friend, whole living guru Sara Jane Mercer, to help her organize her pantry. Since Sara spends a large part of her day in the kitchen creating new recipes and discovering ways to help her clients eat more healthfully in an easy and simple way, having the right foods easily accessible is very important to her.
After spending some time sorting, editing and labeling, we were able to create an organizational system that allows Sara to always see what she has on hand; saving her time and money (no more buying unnecessary duplicates). To learn about the great tips and tricks I taught Sara and see the changes we made to improve her pantry, check out our quick and fun video.
CLICK TO WATCH “HOW TO ORGANIZE YOUR PANTRY”
Maybe it’s because I love food and secretly have a burning desire to open a bakery, or maybe it’s because there always seems to be room for improvement in this often overcrowded room, but I frequently find myself talking about kitchen products that help improve the room’s functionality, efficiency and storage. So it should come as no surprise that my latest favorite find is this collapsible whisk from German design studio Ding3000.
This space-saving whisk can easily be put into action by sliding the colorful ring, which doubles as a hook for storage, to expand the whisking tentacles. Made of nylon this cheery kitchen tool is easy to clean, dishwasher safe and sure to put a smile on any chef’s face.
Available from: Gretel
Here is a hot item that I came across at the black + blum booth while visiting the New York International Gift Fair earlier this week.
I’m in love with their approach to taking this basic, household item and turning it into an architecturally designed, functional piece that is not only more efficient in terms of its use (i.e. sturdy construction for delicate glass drying, a flip-up drainage spout, and removable cutlery holder), but also in its ability to be easily stored away. It is the perfect solution for those of us who live in small spaces and have limited counter space in the kitchen.
In March, black + blum was honored with the best product design award for the high&dry dishrack at the prestigious Homes&Gardens design awards in London.
Check out Google Shopping for a list of online retailers in the U.S.A. where you can purchase this everyday, must-have item.