An Organized Remodel

img_2330.jpgOur family is in the middle of a kitchen remodel. Now more than ever it helps to be organized. Remodeling can be disruptive; there’s noise, dust and people coming and going. In order to preserve our sanity, we thought it would help to maintain a few routines. One of those routines is eating dinner together. I wanted to continue that routine as much as possible. Because I’m a clutter control freak, I did a little advance planning. Read more

An Organizing Tip From an Urban Gardener

ph02772j.jpgI live in the city and have a small vegetable garden. When I first started gardening my Dad warned me that in order to grow carrots, I would need to thin them out if I wanted them to thrive. The first time my husband saw me pulling them, he protested. He didn’t want to waste those good “potential” carrots. So I thinned a few rows and left a few alone. The rows that I didn’t thin, produced underdeveloped and misshapen carrots.

Some of my clients save a lot of stuff because they don’t want it to go to waste. They plan on using it in the future. Unfortunately, they often forget they have it. When they get around to donating it, the item is yellowed, brittle or outdated. Don’t let things outlive their usefulness. “Thin things out” now and get them into the hands of someone who will use them. Then you will reap the added bonus of having less to care for and having better access to the things that are important to you.

Saving Money

j0408819.jpgGas prices are dramatically affecting food prices. I talked to the checker at my local supermarket. I asked, “Is it my imagination or are cereal boxes getting smaller?” She said the store had just closed out a line of larger sized boxes and brought in the smaller sizes to replace them. I asked if the cost of gas was driving this change and she said “Yes!’
She is the store price checker and has been working extra hard marking-up prices. Manufacturers don’t want to absorb the extra shipping costs, so they pass the cost on to consumers. One of their tricks is to use smaller packages and then offer special pricing if you buy 5 or 6 items. Read more

Emergency Pantry Meals

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I always try to keep a few pantry meals handy so that I can make dinner without running to the store. I’ve even gone so far as to write down my “meals in reserve.”

But I hadn’t thought of the clever idea featured in last month’s Better Homes and Gardens. In an article called Zoning Rules they suggested creating bins to hold a few weeknight meals in your pantry. For example one basket might contain everything you need for a spaghetti dinner: a jar of sauce, pasta, a side dish, even a loaf of French bread. Other menu possibilities might be fixings for chili, tuna casserole or a taco dinner.

If you’ve got the shelf space, it’s a great way to keep everything together and you’re guaranteed to have all the ingredients. Once you cook the meal, write down the replacements you’ll need on next week’s grocery list.[LG]Here’s another container shown here![/LG]

Lose Your Excess Clutter Weight

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My Food Diary.com offered a great motivational tip for losing weight. If you want to lose 20 pounds, place a 20 pound weight where you’ll see it. Put it on the dining room table or on the sofa. This will remind you of how much extra weight you are carrying around. The article went on to say, “ We tend to not notice the drag–especially since the weight tends to come on slowly.”

The same could be said of clutter. It creeps up slowly, until one day it’s completely out of control. This reminds me of a clever decluttering book by Don Aslett, Lose 200 lbs. this weekend. People are often surprised by the amount of excess they have tucked away. How many excess pounds of clutter are you storing? Is it weighing you down? Maybe it’s time to lose it.

Contain It!

basketOur family saves labels, can tops and box tops to raise money for our school, church and community. But all of these scraps and bits were making quite a mess until I contained them. The photo shows how. We keep the labels and box tops in envelopes on the side. The can tops and milk caps have their own containers. We also toss in the pizza cutter and lighter. This basket slides into a small space under the microwave, so no one sees the clutter.

Get Motivated!

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I live in Minnesota, where we nest inside our homes all winter long…often eating comfort food. As a result it’s easy to pick up a little winter weight. I knew that it was time to start thinking about getting back into shape, but I was having a hard time getting motivated. I started thinking about how I’m always telling my clients to declutter one step at a time. “Just start with a few minutes a day,” I tell them. “Once you start to see results, it will be much easier to stay motivated.” Read more

What’s for Dinner?

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The other day I looked in the fridge and found a bunch of miscellaneous ingredients and was trying to decide how to morph them into dinner. I went to my computer and typed in my secret weapon: Allrecipes.com. After typing my ingredients into the search box I was given a bunch of possibilities. This site is made up of a community of cooks that submit recipes and photos. It’s also a forum for comments. Sometimes the comments are pivotal in deciding if it’s the right recipe for our family or if someone else’s additions or corrections sound like a good idea. Read more