WHATamelonMore specifically, buying a watermelon at the farmer’s market for the third consecutive week.  This week I bought a yellow watermelon (as is clearly labeled in my awesome photo).  I chose yellow just because it was the biggest one available…but I’m glad I tried it out.  It’s somewhat more delicate than the red fruit.  I typically cube up the whole melon and fill the biggest bowl I owe.  Then throughout the week I have a delicious snack that I cannot eat too much of.  (Unlike potato chips, which we won’t mention again.)

Oh, I think it’s just a coincidence that all of my best decisions are food based.  We will see what happens in the world of the bopinion log!

Also on a general blog note, I’ve been trying to promote my posts via my personal facebook account primarily.  Facebook however, seems to be making it a little difficult for my friends to actually see these posts.  They are tending to get buried toward the bottom of my news feed, as well other people’s feeds as well.   If you’d like to get notification of when I post something new, I have two easy suggestions for you:

  1. Subscribe via your favorite RSS reader.  Here’s the link to my feed.  I’ve been using Feedly since the demise of Google Reader and like it.  The interface is a bit more modern, without any additional clutter on the screen.
  2. Go old school and subscribe via email.  The form to subscribe is on the right hand side of any page on my site.  When I post something new, you’ll receive an email letting you know.

I’ve also added handy dandy social media share buttons after each post.  If you like what I’m doing, share your feeling with the world of the internet!  If you’d like to see more or less of a particular topic, please share this with me in the comments! I’d love love love to hear what you think!

Thank you so much for taking time out of your day to read my blog!  You are making my dreams come true! :)

 

Two weeks ago I challenged you all to pick an organizing project to complete in the near future.  I chose my spice shelf, which has been a total disaster since we moved to our new place in March.  My due date for this project was EOD Sunday August 4th and I succeeded!  Here’s a rundown of the organizing project.

The Before

spicesbefore1I chose our large corner cabinet near the sink to hold our spices. As with all corner cabinets, this shelf is DEEP!  On the one hand, this is great.  You can store lots o’ stuff in there.  On the other hand, since you can store lots and lots o’ stuff, it’s easy to lose track of everything that you’re storing in the cabinet and it can be hard to reach everything.  This was exactly my problem with the spice shelf.

The top shelf of this cabinet (which is too high for me to reach without a step stool) holds large bowls and serving platters.  Ones I use occasionally are toward the front and are easy enough to pull out (once I climb up there).  The second shelf stores our oils, vinegars, and baking liquids (vanilla, molasses, honey).  I bought a large OXO lazy suzan for these items and it works greats!  Everything has its place and is easy to reach.  I tried using the same lazy suzan for our spices, but it didn’t quite work.  There were still multiple rows of jars, most of which were the same height.  This meant I still couldn’t see what was what past the first row.  So I ignored the problem until this week.

The Process

Step One: Assess the situation.

I followed the same process I use when starting pretty much any organizing project, which I wrote about last week.  I first removed everything from the shelf and took stock of what was buried in the back, taking a few notes as I went.  As I took a look at each spice jar, I kept in mind a few questions to keep me on track.

  1. What spices don’t use?  Toss them. Toss them right now before you start feeling guilty about wasting. Again. Just like you did when you packed this spice in Wisconsin.
  2. What spices do I want to keep?  Name a recipe (or two) that uses this spice that you actually cook.  Quick!  If you can’t think of anything, put it in the toss pile.
  3. What spices am I low on and want to replace?  Start making a list right now.
  4. What additional spices do I need?  First and foremost, you need a specific purpose for each spice on this list.  Some spices I ran out of recently and some I needed to start cooking out of our new Indian cookbook. (Side note – so excited for this!  I’ll let you know how this works out for us!)

Step Two: Sorting and Categorizing

I cook a lot, so after going through all of the spices, I still had a fair number that were going to remain in my kitchen.  If I wanted to be able to find the spices quickly when they were back in my cabinet, I needed to establish an order before they were put away.  Only you (and whoever else cooks in your house) needs to understand the order.  What makes sense to me, might not work well for you or anyone else.  Here’s some ideas for categorizing your spices.

  1. Alphabetical
  2. Type – peppers, baking spices, seeds, savory spices, etc.
  3. Popularity – most used in the front, least used toward the back.
  4. Container size – small guys in front, larger ones in back, so everyone can be seen.

I used a combo of #2 and #3 (and #4 actually).  There are some spices I use every week and others only occasionally.  I wanted those more popular spices in the front of the shelf, so I could grab them quickly.  For me keeping similar spices close together made the most sense.  All the red peppers will be close together, so I can decide which one I want in a particular dish, on the fly.  Keep the oregano and basil next to each other, and so on.  Finally, most of my containers are the small, squat Libbey vibe jars.  I have some Penzeys containers, which are much taller, so it made sense to put those toward the back, so they didn’t block any of the Libbey jars.  Keeping the Libbeys close together makes me feel instantly more organized, so I wanted to keep that feeling going.

Step Three: Actually Organizing the Shelf.

I still needed to answer the question, “How to create organization in a large, deep shelf?”TieredSpices

A 3-tiered shelf organizer was my solution, which I picked up for less than $20 at The Container store.  They had several options, but I was a bit limited since my Libbey glass jars are a bit wide at the base.  What fit best was an expandable shelf, made mostly of white plastic, with grey grippy stuff on the shelf.  I’m not a big fan of using plastic, but that was what was going to work best in this situation, so I went with it.

Tip: Sometimes, no matter how much pondering you do about a project, you won’t know how a new product will work for you until you’ve lived with it for a couple of weeks.  So, whenever I buy something to help me organize, I keep the stickers and tags on it until I’m sure it works for me.  That way, I have no trouble returning it!  The Container Store is especially good about returns becuase they understand that you need to get a product into your space to really decide about it.  The downside is that if you end up keeping the product, you will have to eventually get those stickers off!

The After

FinishedSpices

Our most popular spices are on the ground level.  Its a coincidence that these are all red and yellow, but they sure do look nice color coordinated as well!  Next, I grouped our baking and chai spices on the left hand side of the shelf, with the larger Penzeys jars on the top shelf.  For the remaining spices, I kept similar spices together (including containers that still need to be filled – that trip will have to wait until next weekend!).  Seeds stayed together and powders in another group, again keeping the spices I use more toward the front.

I’m really happy how this shelf turned out!  Active organizing time was probably about an hour; total project time around 2, including my trip to the store.  This was time very well spent!  Now not only can I find my spices I need, I won’t groan at the sight of my spice jars.  Plus, you can really see how cute all of the jars are!

A Final Note on Labels

This project actually has one final step for me – labeling each glass jar.  Some of the spices are actually labeled.  I started the project back in Madison.  In the middle of it, my printer ran out of ink, so a lot of the labels aren’t dark enough to see and a lot of the jars didn’t even get labels to begin with!  We are currently living without a printer, so until I get access to one that will print my labels, I’m going to use a homemade grid I typed up quickly in Excel on the inside door.  The grid lets me know what I have and where it lives on the shelf.  Although, if all works out as planned, I’ll barely need to look at the list!

SpiceGrid2Here’s the file if you’d like to make your own chart.  It’s nothing fancy, but it gets the job done. SpiceChart

ChipsLast week I made one of those really good decisions that quickly turned to a bad decision.  (In all honesty, I made a lot of those)

This time it was a big bag of Lay’s potato chips.  Original flavor, super thin and crisp.  I love these chips.  I love a lot of potato chips, but these are my favorite.  So that’s why it was a really good decision to pick up a bag at the store.

It quickly turned to a bad decision when I.Couldn’t.Stop.Eating the chips.  My self-control leaves something to be desired.

Monday morning what was left of the bag went with my husband to work, not to return home.

 

As we start on our first collective organizing challenge, I thought it was important to share how I start my projects – with the goal of decluttering.  Or uncluttering, if you like.

Declutter is not a word, let’s be clear on that.  Unclutter is a word.  No matter which one you use, they have the same goal in mind:

Get all that extra stuff you don’t need out of your house.

When I moved from Madison to DC in March, I had to do this on a pretty big scale.  I went through each room, each closet, each nook in the house and evaluate whether or not we should move it.  This was a bit of a daunting task for me.  I get pretty attached to my “stuff” and I really dislike throwing perfectly usable products,  so I really needed to exercise a lot of rational thinking while going through each room.  This was both physically and mentally tiring, but in the end the whole process was worth it.

We were able to donate, give away or toss a lot of things I had been holding onto since college (for no good reason in a lot of cases), which not only made our move a little bit easier, but also gave us a feeling of starting over with a clean slate once we arrived on the East Coast.

As you start your next organizing project, here’s a few tips for how to get started:

  1. Set a goal and keep this goal in mind while working
    • What should the purpose of this space be? What do you want this space to look like when you’re done?  How do you want this space to make you feel?
    • Maybe you need to set smaller goals – so for this first day you’re really just trying to get all that extra stuff that you don’t need out of your house.  And that’s it.  While moving, that was a really powerful idea to keep in my head as I worked.
  2. Put on some music! Make this a fun time for you.
  3. Clear everything out of the space
    • Take all the spices off the shelf; take all your clothes out of the closet; remove everything from the bookcase.
    • This allows you to:
      • actually see how MUCH stuff you’ve accumulated (and how this is unnecessary in most cases).
      • resets how you view your belongings, since you’re seeing them in a new environment.
  4. Sort First – Like with the Like
    • Put all your black cardigans in one pile (OMG that was scary for me); put all your sock yarns together; group all the kitchen utensils together.
    • By putting all similar items in one group, it’s easy to identify duplicates as well as areas you might be lacking.
  5. Sort again – Donate, Toss, Keep
    • Set up three distinct piles or boxes: one for donations, one for the trash, and one for things to keep.
    • Go through each and every item and decide if this will be donated, tossed, or kept.
    • Donated clothes and goods must be in decent shape in order to be accepted.  Any clothes that are too worn out should be tossed or turned into rags (but only if you actually use rags and don’t have a huge pile already.  even your rag pile should be decluttered).
    • Everything you want to keep should be things you actually use/wear and are happy to keep in your home.  You could go as far to say that you need to love everything that you own or everything you keep brings your some amount of joy.  Just keep this goal in mind as you sort!

Hopefully this gives you the push to go and get started! I’m starting on my spice shelf today and will share the full results next week.

Happy organizing!

As I mentioned in my first post, organizing is something I’ve always loved to do.  I love figuring out how to maximize a space’s potential.  The space is transformed physically, but my feeling about the space is also changed – I’m actually happier being in the space itself.

You may be thinking, that’s great for you Elizabeth, but what about me, your faithful reader (who may not love love love organizing like you do)?

Although I’m on team organizing, I don’t organize just for organizing’s sake.  I have TONS of other things I’d like to be doing with my life.  I’m not alone on this.  These days, everyone seems so busy.  Not only do people have work, family and other responsibilities like keeping the house clean, people also want to live a rich life — being social, learning new hobbies, traveling, reading…

By keeping my space organized, I help to minimize the time I spend on those “boring responsibilities,” which in turn, helps to maximize the time I have to do the other things I love.  I’ve been working on a mantra when it comes to organizing; its current form is:

Make room to live your life.

When a space is organized, your things are where they need to be and can be easily found.  This way, you are more efficient at finding whatever tools you need to get those boring tasks done.  Also, I feel a sense of accomplishment and calmness from being in an organized space.  I feel better and happier with myself and my life!

Talking about organizing is all well and good, but I think it’s time to do something! It’s time to get bo-rganized!

Let’s start with a small, manageable project.  Has something been staring you in the face for weeks (months) maybe?  That pile of “important” papers you “need” to look at or that ridiculously cluttered shelf in your kitchen (not that I’m speaking from personal experience or anything). Make the commitment to cleaning up that space.

Now, choose a timeline for your project.  Can you do it this weekend? Or next? Or maybe tomorrow night?  Pick a date to start and finish the project and stick to it.

If you need help picking a project I read a great post about this problem this week.  Check it out here.

spicesbefore1I’m committing to fixing my mess of a spice shelf. When we moved into our new apartment, I just put all of the spice I moved into a corner cabinet.  And left them there for me to shuffle through every time I cook.  They are a mess.  I will have this project complete by EOD August 4th.  Thanks to Annie for the inspiration to push me to finally tackle this project!

Add your project and your timeline in the comments!  It’s like the buddy system. It’ll help, I promise.

Happy bo-rganizing!!