While I Was In The Kitchen…

I couldn’t keep my hands off the spice cabinet!

The total cost of this mini makeover was $30 for the stainless steel expandable shelf from The Container Store.
I’ve kept my spices and other miscellaneous cooking ingredients in the cabinet next to the stove the entire 5 years we’ve lived in this house. And in the same place in many apartments before this.  My mom kept her spices in the cabinet next to the stove. That’s where they make most sense to me. I can reach them easily while cooking and put them back quickly for cleanup.
I’ve found that for some spices that we use a lot of (Italian Seasoning, Taco Seasoning, Basil, Garlic Powder) it was better for me to buy in larger size from the warehouse clubs.  They get used far more quickly than they lose potency.  But given the way the cabinets were arranged the only place they fit was the bottom shelf.  That meant all my smaller spices went in the middle.  And my poor cooking spray and measuring cups were relegated to the top.  Now, I’m only 5’3″ so seeing what was on the top shelf was next to impossible.
What did I change:
I moved the shelf height!  Yes, you can change your shelves!  I know you probably haven’t moved them since the day you moved into your home but in most cases they are adjustable.  And mine were adjustable with no tools – just need thumbs!
I raised the 1st shelf one notch giving me enough room for my sesame oil on that expanding rack.

I then moved the 2nd shelf up two or three spots (I can’t remember) making plenty of room on that 2nd shelf for my larger spice containers, the cooking spray and my measuring cups!  Hooray. This has made the whole cooking experience more pleasant for me as I no longer have to stand on tip-toes or a stool.

The top shelf is now very short.  But that’s okay.  The things up there are ones I rarely use – Christmas serving platters, pie plates, cupcake liners, candlesticks, etc.  So on the rare occasion I do need them, I don’t mind grabbing a stool (or asking the hubby for help!)

In the end I went from this:

To this:

It may not look like a big change to you but it makes a world of difference for my daily kitchen experience.

Where do you store your spices?

Tour My Pantry

Two weeks ago I spend a day giving my pantry a mini face lift.  I am so happy with the results.

Come take a tour with me!

Paint! The very first thing I did after emptying the pantry was paint it. Previously it was a hideous uninspired shade of builder-grade white flat paint.  I painted the walls a pale, butter yellow that I already had from a project I was going to do awhile back.  The shelves got a fresh coat of high gloss white.

Starting at the top:  Dry goods are stored in restaurant-style food storage bins. I love them because they hold a lot, are clear, sturdy and my labels stick easily. I use them for flour, sugar, brown sugar, powdered sugar, baking mix and cookie/cake decorating supplies.  Other things on the top shelf are my vacuum sealer and the storage containers I use for freezing meals.

The next shelf (at eye level):  Baking supplies (this is where I’ve always kept them). 

And on the other half the larger items for everyday dinners – rice, pasta, taco shells, salad toppings

Shelf #3 (just below eye level): This is where I had some fun at The Container Store.
On the left I used a simple cabinet shelf to stack cans.  On the bottom I have just my true “staples” chicken broth and tomatoes.  On the top, everything else.

In the middle I wanted some pull out drawers like you would put in a cabinet. But since my shelves are only 15″ deep all of the ones made for the kitchen were too big. I told the helpful employee my dilemma and she suggested that there might be a 15″ pull out in the bathroom section. Sure enough, we found these Roll-Out Cabinet Drawers. I bought two – one for bottles and one for small boxes and packages.

Seriously, how awesome is it that I can pull the drawer out and find that bottle of apple cider vinegar tucked way in the back without moving everything in front of it?

The other side of that shelf holds some other miscellaneous cooking supplies (like bread crumbs, extra peanut butter, seasoning packets, and extra ketchup).  You might have noticed that my seasoning packets are in a little box.  That is a kids shoe box from Stride-Rite.  The opening in the lid was just the right size for those packets.
Shelf #4 is kid accessible.  I moved the cereal down there and snacks.  We keep a door knob lock on the pantry door because our kids are young (just 3 & 2) and I don’t want unlimited access to snacks.  But when I open the door at breakfast time they can grab the cereal themselves. The cereal is in containers from The Container Store (that I couldn’t find online.)
I did NOT label the cereal containers because we switch up what we eat from time to time and I wanted these to stay flexible.  Next to the cereal is drinks (lemonade & hot cocoa mix), popcorn kernels for our air popper, nuts, and treats for potty training in some Oggi canisters I got at TJ Maxx but I think you can find them at Target and other places as well. In addition to the canisters I have the nuts and things in a variety of old jelly jars.  These, again are not labeled because they get changed out.
Shelf #5 is also kid accessible. Here I put bigger snacks like crackers & chips along with stuff for the baby – formula, baby food & bibs. It’s great to grab a bib while I’m grabbing a container of applesauce.  I’m not sure I’m in love with the Rubbermaid containers I have here but I already had them on hand so I’m using them for now.

On the floor: This is for bulk storage.  On the far left I have an old diaper box with party supplies (paper plates, napkins, etc that I need like 3x a year).  Then water bottles.  Then this pull-out shelf I had from before that I put extra Ziploc bags and foil and cling wrap.  I keep the current package of these items in other locations.  These are just extras.  Finally, more extra supplies like paper towels, dishwasher detergent and giant jugs of vegetable oil.

Did you think I was done?  Not yet.  I haven’t showed you the walls on the sides and front!
To the left: the previous owner of our home already had these shelves installed.  I put our storage bags on the top here and my “make a turkey” stuff on the bottom self.  What is “make a turkey stuff”, you ask?  Well, it’s brining bags, twine, cheese cloth.  As my dear husband pointed out I only make a turkey a few times a year.  Well, yes, I responded, but I still need to store the tools somewhere!

Under the shelves I put a 3M Command Hook to hold a bag full of my plastic grocery bags to use for lunches for work and small trash cans.

And on the front wall, another Command Hook for my broom & dustpan

To the right, the top shelf has cleaning stuff for my Shark Steam Mop and carpet steam cleaner.  The bottom shelf is what I like to call the “Nana & Papa shelf” – things my parents like when they visit like coffee and tea.

Under the shelves another Command Hook for my Shark.

On the front wall, a magnetic strip from The Container Store for holding extra bag clips.

And finally… on the back of the door I put all of my reusable shopping bags inside of one bag on a hook.  Now I can just grab the bag on my way out the door to the store.

So there you have it!  I hope you enjoyed my tour. 
To see my previous pantry reorganization check here.

This post is shared at:
Organize With Sandy – Organizing Missing Monday #17
Organize and Decorate Everything – We’re Organized Wednesday #26

Clutter-Free Easter

As someone trying to keep my home relatively organized and clutter-free I find holidays and birthdays for the kids to be challenging.  The two big offenders for me are Easter Baskets & Christmas Stockings.  So often we fill these things with stuff that our children don’t need because it’s small and cheap.

Why?  Why do we look at Easter as a time to waste spend our money on things that we (and our kids) don’t really like, that break easily, and become easy clutter in our homes?  Because marketers have told us that’s what we should buy because they fit in small easter eggs.

This year I propose we TAKE BACK THE EASTER BASKET!  The past four years as a mom I’ve tried to keep the things in the Easter basket to a clutter-minimum. I challenge you to do the same this year. 

What can you put in baskets that kids want and won’t add to the disaster in your home?  Well, the point is to avoid the “junk” – the trinkets and bobbles that make clean-up a pain and the kids get bored of after 2 days.  Embrace things that are consumable and that you would buy anyway.

– food (dried fruit, popcorn, a chocolate bunny)
– consumable toys (crayons, markers, bubbles, bubble bath)
– lasting toys (DVDs, books, video game)
– summer fun items (new bathing suit, beach towel, inflatable pool toy)
– accessories (hair clips, belts, sunglasses)
– household goods (cups and plates for little ones, reusable water bottle for big kids, new bathroom accessories like a toothbrush holder & soap dispenser, pillow cases and sheets)
– clothing (shirts, shoes, socks, tights)
– new undies (these are fun for a little, new-to-the-potty kid… not so much for your 10 year old)
– things that add to a collection (a new train or doll to add to an existing collection)
– healthy habits items (toothbrush, toothpaste, lotion)

Look at what you already had on your list of things to buy for your kids and go from that.  Even if the item itself isn’t “fun” (hello, new socks), getting it in an Easter basket is more fun than a random Tuesday.

The goal is to get stuff that’s fun for the kids without adding to the clutter in your home.  I try to avoid at all costs the Dollar Store and the Target Dollar Spot.  I know that goes against conventional wisdom but you and I both know that those cheap trinkets will break after one use (but no one will throw away for 6 weeks). 

Where can you shop?
If you have a baby… shop Babies R Us for some toddler items (cups, spoons, bibs) she’ll need soon
If you have a toddler… find a single-serve pack of his favorite snacks.
If you have a preschooler… browse the clothing racks for things to fit her latest obsession.
If you have a school-age child… remember the last thing she begged you for at the store and try to get things related to that.

The bottom line for me is that the stuff stores try to push on you for Easter is not often the kind of thing you’d buy if you were shopping for your child on a regular day.  So walk right past those to the brands you already know you trust and that will get use in your home.

With less than 2 weeks until the big day it’s probably time to get shopping!

Today’s Blogging Has Been Interrupted By…

Consignment Sale Shopping!

I seriously love consignment sales for my 3 kids.  I’ve spent the past few weeks gathering, washing, tagging and prepping items to sell.  Now that we know we are done growing our family we are slowly getting rid of the baby girl and clothes that we can’t pass down.  This season I’m selling about 150 items – mostly girl clothes.  Hopefully I’ll make a few dollars off that. (The sale I participate in pays 70% of the sale price.)  I’ll use that to offset the few hundred dollars I plan to spend on summer clothes in current sizes.

So tonight I am off to shop!  Woohoo! 

Tips for consignment shopping:

  • Bring cash.  Even if they accept checks, cash is easier.
  • Bring something to carry your loot in while you look.  I usually bring a contoured laundry basket for clothes and a big reusable shopping bag for toys, shoes and other small items.
  • Mark your basket/bags with your name so if you get separated they might return to you.
  • Wear comfortable shoes.
  • Leave the kids at home.  This is not leisurely shopping.  You are on a mission to find great prices on good quality clothes and need to be able to focus.
  • Don’t carry a purse.  Put the essentials in your pockets – phone, cash, id
  • Bring a small snack.  I always seem to have to wait in line a long time so having a granola bar is nice.
  • Know your kids sizes – right them down if you have to.
  • Prioritize your shopping.  Girls clothes are more popular than boys so hit those first.  Big toys are more popular than toys.  I go… big toys & gear, girl clothes, boy clothes, then shoes/dvds/books/small toys in whatever order I feel like
  • Keep your receipt.  You may be able to use part of it as a tax deduction.
  • Wear layers.  You never know if it’ll  be cold or hot so wear a shirt and light-weight sweater.  Leave the bulky coat in the car – even if it’s snowing.  You can walk a few hundred feet without it to the entrance.
  • Park by the EXIT not the entrance.  Better to walk far when you have nothing in your hands then when they are full of goodies.
  • Keep a positive attitude.  Don’t get uptight fighting over things.  Just have fun!  It’s a few hours of shopping alone without the kids.  What’s not to like?
  • Next time… consign your own stuff!  You can offset a bit of the cost and at some sales you get to shop earlier than the rest of the public.

What tips do you have for making consignment sale shopping go smoothly?

50 Things To Do in 5 Minutes

No, I’m not suggesting you complete 50 tasks in 5 minutes.  This isn’t some kind of scavenger hunt.  Rather it’s 50 separate suggestions of things you can accomplish in 5 minutes. 

We all love dramatic before and after photos. It’s amazing to see all we can accomplish with enough time and resources. But the reality is that most of our lives isn’t made up of a day or a half day spent on organizing projects. Our lives are made up of 5 minutes of availability squeezed in between work, changing diapers, getting out the door, folding laundry and watching Grey’s Anatomy. And that’s how we live organized… by taking advantage of those moments.

So the next time you have 5 minutes, step away from Facebook (where you know you’ll spend way more than 5 minutes getting sucked into it) and try to do one of these things to make your life a little simpler, your home a little more organized and your heart a little happier.

  1. Check Voicemail
  2. Schedule an annual doctor visit for yourself (& write it on the calendar)
  3. Delete 25 out-dated emails from your inbox
  4. File a small stack of papers
  5. Shred a few old bills
  6. Repair a loose button
  7. Throw out expired or old condiments from the fridge
  8. Clean out your purse (or at least one section of it!)
  9. Download pictures from your camera to your computer
  10. Purge a stack of magazines
  11. Clear out the ice cubes that have collected in the bottom of the freezer
  12. Toss expired coupons
  13. Go through one file of photos on your computer and delete the duplicates and bad ones
  14. Cleanse your garbage disposal by running it with a cut up lemon, baking soda and ice cubes
  15. Clear one clutter “hot spot”
  16. Refill the soap dispensers in all the bathrooms
  17. Update your voicemail message
  18. Plan your dinner menu for the week
  19. Choose 3 things from the closet that you’ll never wear again and put them in the donate box
  20. Update your Netflix queue
  21. Write a love note to your spouse or significant other
  22. Transfer the $5 you didn’t spend on coffee this morning from your checking account to your savings account
  23. Schedule e-cards for friends with birthdays this month
  24. Update your child’s baby book
  25. Throw out expired medications
  26. Clear out the containers of last week’s leftovers from the fridge
  27. Answer 1 important email that you keep putting off
  28. Uninstall 3 apps from your phone that you never use
  29. Add critical numbers to your cell phone contact list – poison control, local sheriff department, doctor, dentist and other key doctors
  30. Move your donation bag/box to the trunk of your car so you can drop it off on your next trip out
  31. Restock your diaper bag with wipes, diapers, diaper cream, a small snack & a bottle of water
  32. Check your coat closet for out of season items that need to be moved
  33. Research options for your next vacation
  34. Search for a new recipe to try with ingredients you already have on Epicurious or All Recipes
  35. Clean off your doorbell and exterior door knob to make the welcome warmer for visitors
  36. Put away 5 things that are not in their correct home
  37. Dust the television & electronic components
  38. Clean the kid fingerprints off your DVDs with Windex and a soft cloth
  39. Clear out the unmatched socks from your drawer
  40. Sweep out the side of the garage without a car in it
  41. Empty your shredder and the bottom tray on your 3-hole punch
  42. Empty the crumb tray on the toaster and wipe off the finger prints from the outside
  43. Remove 3 outdated documents from the front of the fridge
  44. Delete 3 recurring timers from your DVR of shows that you never watch or that have been canceled
  45. Microwave a bowl of water with lemon juice for 3 minutes to loosen gunk then wipe down the microwave with a damp cloth
  46. Clear out the unnecessary receipts gathered in your George Costanza wallet
  47. Send a quick “thinking of you” email to 3 friends
  48. Unscrew the filters from your faucets and soak in a small bowl of white vinegar to clear the mineral deposits
  49. Update your to-do list.  Eliminate one thing you don’t really need to do and probably won’t do anyway
  50. Read a Delightfully Organized blog post!

What do you do with 5 minutes to spare?

Home Office Reorg in 7 Steps

I recently had the pleasure of working with Mrs. W. on organizing her home office.  This is a true home office where she does a variety of tasks for the family business.

What you see in the before pictures is just a lot of stuff.  Not bad stuff, and really not un-necessary stuff.  Just things that didn’t have a proper home.

Why were so many things out in the open, because, as it turns out, Mrs. W is a visual person.  She is the out-of-sight-out-of-mind sort of person.  Some people like everything neatly tucked away in piles.  But many of us, love to be able to SEE what’s important to us.  That’s why so many people keep their to-dos in their email inbox, because it’s immediately visible upon login.

We talked a good deal about rearranging the room but the layout actually works well for Mrs. W.  From her desk she can see the door and the window.  And since she’s left handed, having her open table top to the left of her computer was the natural option.

Mrs W’s business happens to be significantly paper-based, even in today’s digital age.  That means a lot of files, at least 5-7 in-work at any given time and lots of mailing of legal sized files.

How did we reorganize the space?

1. We added a desktop file sorter for her to store her currently in-work items.

I loved this one by Peter Walsh for Office Max because it allows you to pull out the dividers for larger files like you see in the picture.

2. We created a mailing station where she could bring any documents, weigh them and add postage easily. Above the mail spot we added a metal strip to put up shipping rates and other relevant documents with magnets.

3. We cleared the bookcase of things that belonged in other parts of the house and added a basket from The Container Store to hold the miscellaneous small things that needed to stay.

4. We made sure that printer suppliers were stored directly near the printer (in the filing cabinet underneath).

5. We made sure Mrs. W. had a spot within reach on the desk to hold the tools she uses daily but still keep them corralled. This metal letter tray is designed to hold papers but works great for keeping these everyday tools together and making them easy to move as a group to another spot on the desk.

6. We added clear wall pockets to allow her to keep papers related to upcoming events for her children and herself.

7. We added modular drawer dividers in the desk drawers for all the little extras… power cords, push pins, paper clips, etc.

photo credit {Container Store}

There you have it.  Total cost was around $50 for these changes.

One other addition for Mrs. W. wasn’t a change to the space at all. I suggested that she use the wonderful window seat she has and the floor space in front of it as a “work” space for her children when she needed to spend a few minutes on work but wanted to keep them in site but out of trouble.  Perhaps even adding a basket of small toys or crayons and paper to the bookshelf just for them so they would keep their grubby little mitts adorable little hands off her things.
As it turned out, the week after we worked one of her children had to stay home sick from school.  And she knew right away that she had the perfect spot for him to stay entertained for 30 minutes or so while she answered a few critical emails!

Ever wonder what suggestions a professional organizer might make for your space?  Contact me today to schedule a free consultation!

Quick Tip Thursday – Kids In The Kitchen

If you have young children you’ve probably answered a few hundred thousand requests for plates, bowl, cups or milk or water, etc.  And while you adore those little faces sometimes your hands are busy with other things and stopping to get yet another cup of water makes you want to pull your hair out.

Try keeping some kid-friendly dishes down low so the kids can access themselves.  We keep ours like this:

They can get a plate while I cut the strawberries or a bowl while I grab the cereal from the pantry.  And the cups… I put the water dispenser in our fridge low enough that they can help themselves (while standing on a stool) and I don’t have to be involved. 

It’s such a small thing that helps so much.

We’re lucky to have these pull-out shelves but I found that plates and cups were always falling off to the side.  Adding these inexpensive baskets keeps things corralled a bit more.

Pardon The Dust

I’ve been noticeably absent from this blog for a few days now.  But I haven’t forgotten about you!  I have been busy getting some of my projects in order so I can share them with you soon.

Here’s a sneak peak of some of what’s taking up my time:

I hope you are having a fun and productive week!  For more frequent updates this week, stop by my Facebook page where I’m posting more real-time information.


Last night I had the pleasure of attending my very first Thirty-One party.  What is Thirty-One, you ask?  It’s a great line of bags, baskets, purses, and other assorted carry-alls and accessories.  The fabrics are adorable and the products are functional. 

I’ve been invited to a few catalog parties but I had to see the products in person before I could decide if I liked them or not.  Seriously, I loved them.  I am anxious for the next 3 weeks to pass so I can get my goodies.  I restrained myself from purchasing one of everything in the catalog like I had wanted to and instead settled on 3 things:

Organizing Shoulder Bag – with 3 kids having my hands free is critical when we’re out and about.  This bag fits across your body and is just the right size for the essentials plus a diaper or two.

Organizing Utility Tote – Seriously cute.  And functional. This will be getting a permanent home in our car for all the things we need and sometimes forget to pack in the diaper bag – water bottles, diapers wipes, non-perishable snacks, sanitizer, etc.  I could have probably ordered 5 of these for different purposes.

Thermal Tote – Insulated to keep things cool. I anticipate using this for trips to the zoo and the park and everywhere else we want to take a few snacks that need to be kept cool.

Now, since I haven’t actually used these yet I can’t give you a full review.  But I promise to give more info once I get mine in a few weeks.  In the meantime, browse you can browse the catalog.  And if you want to order something I’m sure my consultant Yvonne would be happy to help or you can find a consultant in your area.
*Disclaimer: Suzanne and Delightfully Organized have not been compensated in any way for this review.  All opinions are entirely my own and expressed based on my experience.

Quick Tip Thursday

This is something I’ve pretty much just always done. But it occured to me last week as my husband asked yet again for me to remove a loose string that not everyone may do this.
Keep a pair of scissors in your bathroom!  I keep mine in the medicine cabinet.  They come in handy more often than you might imagine.  Usually I notice loose threads while I’m standing in front of the mirror. It’s so nice to just be able to clip it off right then rather than waiting until I go into another room (by which time I’ll have probably forgotten about it.)

Other uses for scissors in the bathroom:
* Opening the shink wrap packaging on razors, mouthwash, shampoo, etc
* Cutting off an itchy tag from a shirt

How would/do you use scissors in the bathroom?

By the way, if you write the word scissors enough times it starts to look really, really strange!