Archive for May 2013

Simplifying your home thus your life - part 2. kitchen & pantry

"I didn't know I had this!" is the proverbial cry I hear from a client each week. As we go on a dig amongst our things, we quickly discover lost and duplicate items and find ourselves richer during the de-cluttering process. Last week, we started the process of simplifying our homes with de-cluttering the guest bath. This week, we address the pantry and kitchen.

the pantry:
Peter Walsh, author of "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?", recommends buying only the ingredients you need for cooking each week. By doing this, you reduce the amount of food in your home, making the choices to snack and sneak treats less possible. Mr. Walsh offers a correlation between pantry clutter and weight gain. I decided to test his strategy. Buying only what I need has made a positive impact on my grocery budget and reduced the amount of clutter in my pantry.

1. Toss expired food products and set up a donation box for a food bank with the items you know you aren't going to use (various canned goods). If you aren't comfortable with donating the food, then try menu planning from what you have left in your pantry to use up items that have been there for a while.

2. Corral your spices and sort through those too. They can go bad within a year so check the expiration dates and smell them. If the aroma isn't strong then they won't be contributing much to your prepared dishes. I like to keep all my spices in a clear box in my pantry. When I'm cooking, I put the box on my island and pull the individual spices that I need.

3. Consider a baking box similar to the one that holds your spices. Store your extracts, baking powder, food coloring, cookie sprinkles and pastry bag in it.

4. I use a larger clear plastic box to contain my oils and vinegars. All the plastic boxes that I use were re-purposed from somewhere else in my house.

5. If you have the room, I recommend putting dry, packaged goods on one shelf and bottled/canned goods on another. This makes it easier to spot what you need. I know exactly where I can find flour and rice in my pantry. Jarred salsa is located on the shelf above next to a can of chicken broth.

the kitchen:
1. Consider how cooking utensils are arranged in your kitchen.

Where is your prep place? This is the area where you do your dicing, cutting, chopping and mixing. Ideally, it is where your cutting boards, mixing bowls, measuring cups and knives are stored. Many of us have limited space in our kitchens and we have to do our best with what we have to work with. But in the process of de-cluttering your appliances and gadgets, you may find more room and then can set things up to benefit you and how you cook.

2. Gadgets - good grief I think I have seen them all! I've even run across an egg slicer. My client said she needed it to make egg salad. I told her that a bowl and a fork will do the trick and these are items she already has and uses every day in her kitchen. Consider your gadgets and see if a cutting board and sharp knife will accomplish the same purpose. A cluttered utensil drawer makes for a less enjoyable and stressful cooking experience when you have to hunt for a wooden spoon to stir the sauce.

3. Keep only the serving dishes and bowls that you actually use and love. I have read many testimonies from minimalists who got rid of their china. As a born and bred southern woman, I would never advocate that. Even if you only use something once a year, I believe that is enough to warrant its placement in a cabinet. That's why minimalism is so great; you choose only the things you need and love (which looks differently for everyone) and let go of the rest. I love my china pattern and I use it about twice a year.

Next week, we are de-cluttering the master bedroom and bath.

How is your de-cluttering process going?

Simplifying your home thus your life - part 1. the guest bath

The process of de-cluttering and simplifying your home makes an impact on your happiness, your weight, your relationships, your stress level and the overall ambiance of your home. When my clients profess to wanting a simpler lifestyle this is where we start. This series is a practical how-to guide in de-cluttering the four major areas of our homes.

One of the ways to ensure that I stay motivated and don't burn out de-cluttering is to do a little bit each day. Pick one drawer or cabinet and work for 15 minutes a day.  I set the timer on my microwave, which I can hear from any room in my home, and when it dings, I quit. If I'm really on a roll and there aren't little ones at my feet, then I keep going. By chipping away at it daily, I  have success by the end of the week.

General de-cluttering tips:
- Start with the smallest room in the house so you can see immediate progress.
- Use a timer and set it for 15 minutes each day.
- Set up 4 trash bags or boxes:  
A. trash
B. put away (items that don't belong in the room/drawer/cupboard and need to find a new home)
C. donate (towels that you don't use or unopened shampoos)
D. sell (not my favorite box because most people don't get around to selling it and it becomes clutter again. Use this box only if necessary.)

the guest bath:
1. Take everything out from under the sink and inside of the linen closet, if you have one. Wipe down the cabinets and drawers inside and out.

2. What can you pare down? Ideally, you only need two sets of towels per person in your house and two sets of sheets per bed. Do you know how to fold a fitted sheet to make for a cleaner look in your closet? In my home, we have one beach towel per person. We hold onto a couple of extra old bath towels for muddy feet or to clean up a spill.

3. We store our medications and travel supplies in clear boxes inside the linen closet of our guest bath. I cull the contents of both regularly looking for expired medications and anything that we don't or probably won't use including those tiny shampoos from hotels. You will always choose your brand of shampoo over the one provided at your hotel so remember that next time you travel and are tempted to bring back the freebies.

Next week, we are de-cluttering the kitchen and pantry.

Do you have any de-cluttering tips to share?

How to become a minimalist

If you are attracted to this idea of living with less, intentionality with purchases and disengaging from "the Joneses", then maybe this whole minimalist thing is for you too. I've bought in hook, line and sinker and now I'm wondering who else wants to travel this journey with me. If that's you, then come aboard. We will be discussing how to do it and how to maintain it.

When I first started researching minimalism, there was one word that resounded with me and was echoed in all the books I read: less. This word is the starting point for any minimalist journey. We have to de-clutter and live with less (only the things you need). We have to purge, purge, and then purge some more. Any of my clients can attest to the fact, that I love to give away their stuff. I love to bless someone and at the same time create peace and order in my home. I call that a win-win.

But in order to maintain the new found freedom in our homes and lives, we have to change perspective. It isn't enough to just empty out and re-organize; there has to be a life change. Shopping habits must change and shopping with a purpose must come into play. We no longer shop as a past time to bring us happiness but we allow experiences, love, laughter, family, and faith to fill that void.

Before I make a purchase, I ask myself these questions:

1. Do I need this? Or, do I have something just like it at home? (Since my house is de-cluttered, I know my inventory)

2. Where will I put this? Where is its home?

Here is a practical tip for maintaining after the purge: use the one in/one out method. For every item purchased, I remove something from my home. For each pair of shoes I buy, I donate an existing pair. This helps in maintaining my capsule wardrobe.

Next week, I'm starting a series on how to de-clutter the four major areas in our homes and will be sharing details of how I implement peace and order in my home.

Are any of you new to minimalism?

My dream closet

This closet is from The Laundress, which has fabulous cleaning and laundry products. I love that it's organized, pretty to look at, and it still maintains a capsule wardrobe. I like how they papered the back wall and the clothing is so colorful yet orderly at the same time. The white shelving and wardrobe make it easy to spot items and the white hangers create uniformity and save space.

I'm not sure that I could ever convince my husband to go for a free-standing wardrobe like this instead of the traditional, American closet, but hey, one can dream right?

What's in your dream closet?

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