Thursday, October 29, 2009

Seasonal Chaos

Ready or not- here it comes! Halloween is this weekend. Do you get the impression that it's only a week before Christmas? Look at the ads in the paper, the commercials - walk any mall. Read in the paper in early October that visiting Santa Clause in Phipps Plaza is already sold out (at $15 a pop). Thanksgiving is marketed before Halloween. Christmas ads start in August. New Year's Day champagne/party ads collide with Christmas carols. And Kwanzaa and Chanukah become more commercial every year, wedging their ads in between, over, and under the big 3 - Turkey Day, Santa Clause, and the crashing crystal ball over Times Square. The overlapping of marketing for the holidays would drive anyone mad.
The holidays become a time of long "to do" lists, over commitment, overbuying, overeating, and sleep deprivation.
How do we handle all that stress?
I feel the first and most important step to diminish stress is to develop a vision of what we truly WANT for our holiday. What is your vision for the next few months? Imagine how your perfect season would look and feel. Write down your goals for the season.
Now develop a list of what must happen to make that vision come true. Purge any commitments or rituals that do not support that vision. Then make the calendar your best friend. Write down every party, activity, or ritual on your calendar. Write down when you plan to shop, to decorate, to bake, to party, to send cards. Notice how full your calendar is. Is it doable for you? If not purge some more. Allow some time for unexpected events and some time to sit home and enjoy your decorated space.
If you want even more detailed ideas, I have a presentation on Stress and the Holidays that I would love to present to your group.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer
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Thursday, October 22, 2009

pantry organization

October is a great month to organize your pantry. This is the time to get rid of multiples of items you bought and aren't likely to use before they expire. Also toss the expired items to free up space for what you will be buying for holiday cooking.
I live in a small house and don't have a full sized pantry but I use two kitchen cupboards-one above the counter and one below the counter- for my pantry. On the counter between the pantries,I have glass canisters for open sugar, flour, and rice.
A pantry should be arranged similar to a grocery store with like items with like items. In my situation, I have all canned vegetables on the left top shelf. Snack items next to that and soups to the right. Further back on that shelf are plastic food bags. On the lower shelf I have rice, pasta, and pizza mix with my food processor (which I rarely use) in the back. Kitchen trash bags also fit here. In my top cupboard I have oils, vinegars, cereals, crackers, and baking supplies like baking soda, flour, and sugars.
When you return from grocery shopping, if you have just bought another can of green beans, place it behind the existing cans. If you jam the newest items in front, you will end up with expired cans when you sort through your pantry again next October.
Try to resist buying multiples on sale. If you don't have a definite plan for this food it very well will end up getting thrown out when you clean and purge. This purging time, I ended up throwing out a large can of tomato juice (bought last year with the idea of making chili when family was here), a can of baked beans ( bought multiples and rarely eat them) and some oyster crackers.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer
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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Refrigerator Organization

So why would you take the time to organize a refrigerator? Well, to save money, save time, and make the best use of your space.
You save money by not buying multiples. You don't need two large jars of open Mayonnaise. You save money by not letting food languish on the back shelves and go bad instead of using the food in tasty dishes. You save money because it is easy to find food to make breakfast or pack a quick lunch so you don't spend the money at a fast food restaurant. You save electricity because you don't stand in front of the open door for hours trying to figure out what there is to eat.
You save time because you can find items quickly. You can quickly see what you have and don't have so it is faster to put together a shopping list. It is faster to pack a lunch or snack out of that organized refrigerator than it is to make a trip to a restaurant. A system in place makes it faster to put food away after shopping.
Organizing your refrigerator helps you to use the space wisely. No more left over dinner plate half wrapped in plastic wrap teetering on top of a saucepan with 6 left over green beans and a soda can. Adjust shelves so that they fit the type of items you buy.You might notice that I have part of one shelf that has very little height. It is just perfect for my cream cheese, natural peanut butter, and Parmesan cheese from the market. I have a tall shelf for beverages like OJ and jugs of milk as well as the open RC bottle. Things that are going to perish soon are toward the front. That row of yogurt has the oldest containers in the front. The drawers have different functions for me. One drawer is for snack food and cheeses. One drawer is for produce like potatoes, onions, cabbage. Another drawer is for my salad fixings.
It is a good idea to give the refrigerator a quick clean once a week. Toss anything that has gone bad or is iffy (when did you bring home that leftover takeout Chinese?). Give the shelves a quick wipe.
Designate areas in your fridge for certain types of food- like snack food, salad makings, meats. Then educate anyone in your family who opens the fridge where the food belongs. Put leftovers in proper containers. Clear ones are best but if you use others you might want to label what is in it and when it was put in the fridge. Put items you use a lot toward the front- for me that would be jelly and salsa- dried breadcrumbs in the back.
The door, which is warmer, holds items like salad dressing, sauces for cooking, mustard, etc. I also keep some small bottles of water there.
Every six months give that refrigerator the big cleaning. Take everything out of it and freezer. Clean well. Clean under the fridge and behind it so that there is not dust build up which makes the motor work harder. Check for all expiration dates before you put food back away.
Now is a great time to do this task so you have a clean organized refrigerator for the holidays.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer
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Thursday, October 8, 2009

Kitchen Zone

This month I will focus on the kitchen for my organizational zone. I like to do the kitchen zone in October because this is a good time to donate food items that I no longer want but are still not expired. I will divide the kitchen into 4 sections and attack one section each week. As I go through each section, I will take items out of the cabinets, refrigerator, or off the stove and clean each area. I will then evaluate each item before it goes back. Is this something I need, use, or love? It looks neat, but when was the last time I used the omlette fork to make an omlette? Not for years- I just grab a big fork out of my utensil drawer instead- so the fork will go. OK- the copper utensils seen in the picture are never used but I bought them in Greece and love them- so they will stay. As I go through the refrigerator and the areas where I store food, I will check each item to see if I really have a plan for it. I will check expiration dates on items. I will throw items out or put in a box to give away as I go. I will evaluate my cooking pots, my dishes, my gadgets, the stuff hanging off my refrigerator. I will declutter and make the kitchen pleasing for me to work in- all in time for holiday cooking.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer
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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Organizing the Workshop

This past month one of my organizational zones was my workshop. I give it a good sort/purge/clean once a year. I always kind of dread this area because it seems to look so cluttered and disorganized after a year. First you put an item in there after a project-"just for now." Then you toss in some items that you have been carrying in the trunk of your car because you need the space for a project. Then it is difficult to get the ladder back where it belongs so you just lean it against the wall by the door. I swear to you- clutter breeds in the night.
But, once I get into the project and bring most of the items outside and sort them by type (gardening tools, dirt, potting soil, container mix, planting pots on one side along with house hold repair items like paint and painting tools, caulk, extra tiles nearby and on the other side-carpentry tools and my bike, party supplies like extra chairs and a table in the center) with a heavy duty bag for trash and a box for items to recycle, things start to roll. I knock down the cobwebs, sweep out the floor and start to put things back in. I have a zone in my workshop for each type of activity. I have shelves, pegboard, and hooks and containers. I know where things go. It really only takes a few hours and makes me feel so happy that it's done.
Maintenance is the key and once a year does keep it from being really out of control.
Next month- the kitchen.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer
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