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

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!

Medicine Cabinet Update

I am lucky to have a medicine cabinet in my bathroom that’s on MY side.  Poor Mr. Brown does not have one on his side.  Well, I suppose it’s his side because it doesn’t have a cabinet.  And you may have noticed the recurring theme here that I have basically taken over the bathroom.  Oh well, that’s married life I guess.

In any case, back to my not-so-glorious medicine cabinet.  I love having it.  I don’t love the cabinet itself so much.  It’s the cheap builder kind that comes with all new construction houses.  Functional but not fabulous.  But for now, it’ll have to do.  It holds all the lotions and potions I need to get myself ready for the day.  Until recently it looked pretty much like this:

Now it looks like this:

“Wait,” you’re asking, “what’s different?”  This is what’s different my friends – The InterDesign Med+ Organizer:

I found this little number at Target.  It was an organizing tool I hadn’t seen before and for the bargain price of $9.99 (okay, not such a bargain, but not as expensive as putting in a whole new cabinet) I quickly dropped it in my cart.

I realized later that I had no idea if it would actually fit in my medicine cabinet. I was delighted when I got home and found that it was just the right size.  (Are medicine cabinets a standard size?)  I used it to corral all the little things floating around. 
It’s kind of deceptive because it doesn’t look like it changes much.  But having little slots for things actually adds quite a bit of storage ability to the space.  It means that things like tweezers and nail clippers don’t get lost behind bottles of things. 

They had other layouts as well.  I picked up the one I thought would work best for my things.  You might have different needs.  I’m tempted to head back and grab two more – one for the tall bottles on the bottom and one for the wide jars and bottles on the top.

*** Disclaimer.  This product review is not an endorsement of a specific company or product.  Suzanne and Delightfully Organized have not been compenstated in any way, monetarily or otherwise, for this review. Opinions given are entirely the personal opinion of Suzanne Brown.

Jewelry Organization

You may remember my confessions post about my jewelry drawer. 

My necklaces and bracelets were in a variety of boxes and containers.  And I couldn’t easily see what was where (although I basically knew out of routine).
I’ve been tossing around ideas for what to do with this for a few weeks.  I knew I wanted something that would divide the space and make things easily visible.  But none of the regular drawer organizers were really speaking to me.

Imagine my delight last weekend when I came across these adorable little organizers at the Target Dollar Spot!  They were just $1.  I wasn’t totally sure all my jewelry would fit in the small spots but I felt pretty confident and figured that if they didn’t the $6 would be well spent as I could find another location for them.

This is what I came up with:

Don’t you just LOVE the brightly colored interiors?  They make me smile.  Six was the perfect number.  I still have a little space for a few things that need to stay separate. 

The organizers are holding my everyday jewelry.  The little silver heart jewelry box in the back was a gift from my best friend in high school.  It houses a few sentimental pieces that I don’t wear day-to-day.  As do the other boxes.  Do not be fooled by the little blue Tiffany bag.  It is not an item from Tiffany!  The bag is from Tiffany.  It came with the 5-year anniversary clock my husband got from work.  What’s in it now is the tiara I wore for our wedding.  Actual retail price – somewhere around $30.

To my great joy, all my items fit.  The larger bracelets and necklaces are in the big slots.  Everything else is in the smaller ones.  In general, I grouped things by like color.  So the silver pieces are together, those with blue, with brown… you get the idea.  That’s how I think about getting dressed – by color so that made sense for me.  If you think by length or some other criteria you might want to organize them differently.

Isn’t it pretty?  Don’t you just want to look at it one more time.