Kitchen Organizing

❦Kitchen Organizing

Here is a post that I wrote a couple of years ago on how to help you set up your kitchen. After all the kitchen is the heart of the home!

I popped over to a friends house the other day (just for a visit but I couldn’t help myself!). Her and her family have currently undergone several months of renovations in their home. Basically they have renovated the majority of the inside of their home. Now they are in the process of bringing their belongings/household items back in. I was assisting her in her kitchen. This is where her challenge was. She was trying to figure where to put the items. Let’s face it the kitchen is a high traffic room; it has to be functional!

Here are a few tips to help you organize your kitchen:

Determine what you really need! We are so obsessed with having MORE storage space when really we probably only use about a third of what we already have in our drawers and cupboards! Take an inventory as you are unpacking and think about what you do not use or need. Be honest with yourself, when was the last time that you used that melon baller or cookie press? Then separate what you don’t use into: Garbage, Donate/Garage Sale/Give Away, and Keep piles.
Utilize your space well. Find containers that are like sizes and stack them. If you have pots and pans or containers that have a lost/broken lid then find a storage use for it or recycle it!
Use racks and dividers to get the most out of your space. Not only will this save space but it will also save frustration when you are trying to ‘dig’ out the pan that you need that’s on the bottom of the pile!
Things that don’t work well or are missing pieces; get rid of them! You know what I am talking about, the pot that always burns the food and is impossible to clean. Anything that needs replaced put on a wish list, ready to replace when you have saved your pennies.
Keep things that you use often in easy-to-reach locations. Figure out what you use the most and the least and store accordingly. Remember that if you rarely use it then get rid of it!

Store items according to where they will be used the most. I found this list on Wiki of how to separate your kitchen areas.
Storage or pantry. Consider your freezer an extension of this area. Whether you store foods in a true pantry, a cabinet, a closet, or someplace else entirely, don’t forget to go through periodically and clear out items that are hopelessly old or will never be used.
~Preparation. Cutting board, knives, measuring cups and spoons, and mixing bowls all go here.
~Cooking. The stove and oven plus the utensils that go with them. This area should include pots and pans, pot holders, spoons and spatulas (a utensil jar works well for these).
~Baking. If you love to bake, you might find it handy to store your flour, sugar, baking powder, a set of measuring cups and spoons, your favorite mixing bowl, etc. together in one convenient spot.
~Serving. The table, plus tableware, serving dishes, napkins, trivets, and anything else you need to sit down and eat. Soy sauce? Salt and pepper shakers? Sugar bowl? Ask yourself whether it would be more convenient to store your dishes and silverware near the table or the dishwasher.
~Cleaning. The sink, dishwasher and surroundings. Soap, gloves, dish pan, drying rack, cleansers, towels, etc.
~Waste disposal. Keep a trash can handy, plus recycling and compost bins, too. Locate them as centrally as possible without being in the way. They should go near the cleaning and food preparation areas.

Make lists! I love lists. 🙂 Keep an inventory of what you have in your freezer. This keeps you in the know and is easily available for you to see what you have or don’t have. (Ever gone through your freezer and found several of the same items that you didn’t really need to buy?!) As you use things from the freezer you can erase them. Add whatever you need to replace things on the list too.
Make the most of your space by using baskets to store ‘like’ items. Consider using racks for things like cans so that you do not have any wasted space in a cupboard. Also hanging/mounted racks are great for spices. They make them all easily visible and store them together so they are easy to find.

~Most of all enjoy your space and all of the memories that you make in it!

Contact the Simple Life Gals if you need some help getting started in the kitchen.

Seasonal Confusion

We often get asked about how to deal with clothing. You see where we live we have 4 distinct seasons; some of which seem to be much longer than others. Ah-hem WINTER! So… just when we think that our cold, winter season is over we will have a huge snowstorm. We don’t even bother putting away the winter clothes until the end of May! If we try to sneak our sandals out of hibernation it usually bites us in the @$$! The joke in Alberta is, if you don’t like the weather just wait five minutes.

So… we basically have our winter coats/parkas, spring and fall jackets plus hoodies and sweaters for chilly days/evenings. Gloves, toques, scarves, gloves, mittens, boots (winter and rain), shoes (indoor and outdoor) clutter INVADE our entryways and closets! The solution is not as easy as just picking up and moving to some tropical island where all you have to worry about is which bikini to dawn today. I wish! So what do we do?

Think of your closets as prime real estate. There is no reason that when it is 30 degrees Celsius you should be digging through your heavy sweaters to find your favourite capris! First of all I like to take an inventory of what I have about every 6 months. Chances are you will find items that you no longer wear, that are ripped/stained, that you have replaced with something better, or doesn’t fit you any longer. Put these things in either a donate, consign or trash pile. Now there are several ways to organize what you have. If your closet is big enough. Place your out of season clothing to the back of the closet and your clothing appropriate for the season in an easily accessible place.

Another thing you can do is place all out of season items in clear flat bins either under the bed or in a storage area. Clear bins allow for an easy visual of what is inside without any searching. These do not need to be huge bins. Extra large bins are: a) difficult to carry as they are extremely heavy and b) difficult to easily identify what is in them.

I actually have specific areas in my closet and dresser drawers for items. I do not like to pack up and unpack seasonal clothing at all. I have a very small closet as well as two dressers. When the drawers begin to get too full and the closet is packed then I reassess what I have and what I need. Remember you only really use 20% of what you have 80% of the time! A great way to determine what you should keep is to place the items to the front of the closet after you wear it. You will soon identify the clothing that you don’t wear at all as it will all be at the back of the closet! Another thing you can do is turn the hanger the opposite direction as the rest once you have worn it. Reevaluate a few months later to see what hasn’t been touched.

Here’s how I separate my clothing:
a drawers for pajamas
a drawer for nursing scrubs
a drawer for workout clothing and summer shorts (they don’t take up much room)
a drawer for t-shirts and long sleeve cotton shirts
In my tall dresser I have:
sock/nylons drawer
undergarment drawer
heavy sweater drawer
In my closet:
I hang all of my capris on a hanger like this.

Jeans and pants hang in my ‘prime’ location as I use them the most
My nicer shirts hang next to the jeans/pants
Sweaters, jackets, cardigans I don’t use as often so they are further back in the closet
Skirts are last because I wear them the least and they all fit on another hanger like the one above

I also have a teeny tiny closet at my front entry way. Here is where I keep ONLY in season coats and either splash pants or snow pants.

In the Winter time I have, winter coats, snow pants, boots, and an easily accessible bin full of mittens/gloves, toques and scarves at my front entry. This way everyone can grab what they need.
In summer/spring time I have lighter jackets, splash pants, rubber boots and shoes at the front entry way. So what do I do with the out of season stuff? I do not have a big mud room or another closet at my back door so the coats go in my storage room (I have a hanging bar across one whole side for this purpose!) Also I have a basket for each person in the house that houses their winter accessories (toques, gloves/mittens, and scarves). See picture below.

New and amazing storage for baskets, boots, shoes that hubby MADE for me!!!

Another reason why I do not like putting my clothes ‘in storage’ is simply because it is a lot of work. I may not get to keep as many clothes as some, but I have them all easily accessible; not in bulky bins where they get all wrinkly and need re hung and re washed.

What it comes down to is doing what is right for you and your family. I strongly suggest you reevaluate your wardrobe at least twice per year and keep only what you really love and need. Just remember what is really important!

‘Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends…. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.’ ~Henry David Thoreau

If you are needing any assistance organizing your seasonal items or wanting a system in place please contact us!

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Empower Them

I am learning that nagging the kids to clean up really doesn’t work. When I ask them to “clean up your room”, I am ignored or forced to listen to the whining. Let’s face it, if someone gave you a vague task like “Get a new client” or “Write a new program” and we had no experience in doing so, we would not know where to start. A mentor or supervisor or instructor has given us the specific steps we need to take to accomplish this task. At the very least, we’ve had life experiences which help us to figure out a way to get started.

It’s the same way with the kids. We need to empower them with the tools they need to accomplish the task.

For example, this weekend, instead of saying “clean up your room”; I gave them specifics. For my son:

  • clean up the lego on the floor
  • put the magnets away
  • put the toy guns, soldier items away
  • tidy the top of the foot locker

He knew where these things go and what my expectations were. So, he set about doing these specific items. He did it at his own pace; even spent time playing with some of these as he was putting them away. It didn’t matter, there was no “agenda” and I’d rather he do it at his own speed rather than mine. I did not hover and he completed the tasks as I asked.

For my daughter:

  • hang up her clean laundry
  • tidy the top of her dresser
  • put away her magazines & books
  • pick stuff up off the floor

Again, she had a specific list. The lists weren’t long and I believe that they felt like these wouldn’t take all that long so there was no whining. I simply asked them to do these items before they continued with the rest of their day. My daughter is suddenly becoming much more mature and capable as a young woman (she’s 13 in a couple weeks!). She went above and beyond in her room!

When you empower the kids to do things on their own and in their own way, they feel the reward of a job well done. As she tidied the areas in her room, she cleaned and reorganized as well. I did not ask her to do this. She has just seen the value of being able to find things now in our home (most days! 🙂 ), so she wanted the same in her space. Her grandma is a big influence on her and has shown her how to clean as well as I like to explain what we’re doing for organizing jobs as well. This was the incredible result of all her hard work:

There are still going to be days when they whine and I yell. We’re getting there. There are days when it’s really difficult to let them do it their way rather than mine. It keeps getting better and better though. The more I empower them to do things on their own; the more they are up to the challenge.

Do you give your kids specific tasks for their jobs around the house? Do you have tricks to share? Let us know in the comments!

Chores. How to Get the Children to Pitch In?!

You walk into your home with your work bag, a grocery bag, and a pile of your kids’ coats and bags teetering precariously between your arms. You stumble up the stairs as the dog runs excitedly between your feet. You trip over the shoes that your family has kicked off in the door way. You glance to the left to see that their sweaters and jackets have been thrown on the back of the couch…again. When will they ever listen? You tell them every single day that they need to hang up their coats and put their shoes out of the way on the shoe rack. You stop to hang them up because it’s easier than having the same old arguments. You just walked through the door and you don’t want to battle.
You ask them to put their backpacks away and empty them but this falls on deaf ears. You can feel your blood start to boil as you try to get supper ready and on the table before you have to head out the door for them again. You wonder, who is going to set the table without groaning? Why is this so difficult? As you put something in the already full garbage you notice that the dog is out of food AND water. Now you are stopping what you were doing to do this as well. Where was I? You think to yourself, “Now who was the last one to set the table?” And it goes on and on.

Well this was a typical day at our house. I was at my wits end. I wanted this to stop; to get easier for all of us. I decided that I needed to make myself clear. I decided that intentions needed to be set; something definitive that would make sense to the kids for their ages. I wanted something that they could reference that was user friendly for kids.

Here is what I made for my daughter who is in grade four. The top list is compiled of daily chores that she gets allowance for (if she completes all without constant cuing and instruction). The bottom list is what is expected of her when she first arrives home from school.

And seeing as my little guy in grade one hasn’t quite learned to read yet, he gets a picture chart!

Both charts are posted in their bedrooms in clear view so that they can easily refer to them. I no longer have to ask them if they have completed task, a,b,c,d and so on. I just have to ask them if they have completed everything on their list. Although it is not perfect, things are sooo much easier and less stressful for everyone! I would say that this was successful and I am even considering one more chart for my little guy to remember every task that he has to complete while getting ready for school in the mornings!

Do you have ideas on how to get your kids to pitch in? Do you use a chart method or something else? Let us know, we would love to hear from you!

SimpleTips: Recipe Holder

Thanks for checking out my second video. I just love taking everyday objects and changing it’s purpose to make something else completely functional. This time you don’t even need scissors or tape just use the hanger as is. Cool right? I think so!

Computer Tip: Show Desktop

There is no “Quick Launch Bar” in Windows 7. One of the side effects of this is that there is no “Show Desktop” icon. Previously, this icon allowed you to minimize all the windows at once.

This function is still available; it’s just in a different spot:

  • Click the Show Desktop bar (the far right of the taskbar, beside date and time)

This bar also has a feature called “Desktop Preview” that makes all opened windows transparent so that you can see the desktop. Move the mouse over the bar without clicking it for this to work.

This is great for many of you who have a lot of icons on the desktop and don’t want to minimize one window at a time to get to them. From an organizing perspective, I don’t like to have a lot of icons on the desktop – it’s too cluttered for my taste! Instead, I have my my most important programs pinned to the taskbar. Alternatively, I use the powerful Windows 7 searching and just type in what I want to open (I’m a fast keyboarding person).

I would love to hear if you are a “Everything-On-The-Desktop” person or a “Clear-Desktop” person…and why you do that. Let us know in the comments!

We offer computer organizing sessions as well. We can come to your desk personally (if you’re within our trading area) or virtually and help you get control of all those computer files and icons! Contact us to arrange a consult!

As many of you know, I have been an IT (Information Technology) person for more than 20 years. I recently left that life behind. However, I am still a geek and always will be. I plan to share my various tips and tricks for learning how to use technology to be more efficient and productive.

This is a post that I originally wrote a while ago, somewhere else 😉

What’s For Dinner?

It was 6:13 when she opened the door. She struggled to balance the jug of milk, two bags of groceries, her lunch bag, her purse and her laptop as she pushed the door the rest of the way with her foot. Her two young boys raced past her on the stairs…

“Hi Mom! What’s for dinner?” They didn’t even wait for an answer as they took off.

Just as well, she had no idea at the moment. She sighed because she knew they’d be back.

The laptop bag, purse and half the groceries spilled from her hands at the top of the stairs. She sighed again as she gathered up the groceries and shoved her crap out of the way so no one would fall down the stairs (she hoped). She’d picked up a few necessities she kinda knew they needed, none of which helped her in her plan for supper. In the back of her mind, she knew she’d forgotten something else important, but couldn’t remember what.

“Hi Hon! Are you still making chili for supper? You’d mentioned that this morning. Sounds awesome and I’m starving!”

Damn! That was what she’d forgotten! Chili powder! CRAP! Well, I guess we’re not having chili! She grumbled to herself as he shook his head, grabbed a brownish banana and wandered off.

She opened the pantry door and just stared. Stuff spilled from one shelf to another. Piles of unknown items tumbled over on top of each other. How could she have so much stuff in this pantry and have no idea how to make something of it? I see the empty bag of chips in here. You’d think someone would know where the garbage can is. How hungry can they be after eating a whole bag?

At least she’d had the forethought to thaw the hamburger. She knew it was ready to go in the fridge. Oh! And there’s a box of Hamburger Helper. I’ll whip that up. She pulled the box out and glanced at the ingredients; sighing again. I hate feeding the kids this stuff that I can’t even pronounce. I just know it can’t really be good for them. But I don’t know what else to do…

Have you ever felt like this before? Most of us have been in this situation (frequently!) We have definitely been there! (Still are somedays!)

It is not something that you “just KNOW” how to fix. We sure didn’t. We have learned how to plan meals, organize the pantry, and find healthy foods that even the kids will like! It takes time and learning new skills but we’re here to help you! We are offering a live class next week (July 24th; 6:30 to 8:30) at Health Street called “A Simple Healthy Kitchen”.

The class is only $39 and you will learn so much:

  1. How to organize your pantry/cupboards
  2. Get started with meal planning (including a free sample BBQ meal plan)
  3. Understanding food labels
  4. Buying in bulk and saving money
  5. How eating healthy can save money!
  6. …and you’ll get to sample some yummy food (a Health Street class tradition!)

We know how busy life is. We’re working moms too and life can sure be overwhelming sometimes. That’s why we’re here to help you with this class and our services. We know what it’s like.

Call for more information and to register for the class: 403-507-4488 Watch the video here: A Simple Healthy Kitchen to learn more as well.

As always, you can also email or call us directly too: Shawna@simplelifecelebrations 403.586.1525 or 403.586.1978

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My regular google email

Summer Email Smash

Email is overwhelming at times, isn’t it? And yet we all have it and use it regularly. How can we manage it? Well, this is one of my specialties and I’ll share a few little tips in today’s post.

My regular google email

I don’t like to have a lot of emails in my Inbox; I find it overwhelming because it feels like the emails are stuff that I have to do. I keep all my email inboxes as empty as possible. (I currently have 5 email accounts, 1 I don’t really use and ignore most of the time).

Summer is a great time to start “fresh” for smashing and clearing out those inboxes. At this point, looking back doesn’t matter. We’re setting up a system for moving forward. Here’s some tips to get you started:

First of all…you’re going to be ruthless as you go through email – if you “might need it” – file all of those in 1 folder. You don’t need to separate them out at this point. The search capabilities are stellar. It will find the email you need for you. Just put them all into that ONE FOLDER (call it something like: Maybe June 2012). Put the date on so that you can decide to get rid of it if you haven’t touched it for a year! (Like the boxes in your house).

Once you’ve cleared that out of your inbox (yes, all into one folder if you need to)…THEN set up a schedule and a FEW folders to deal with the day to day. Try to handle them in batches. You need to focus on other work, then focus on emails. Only deal with emails a few times a day; and only deal with emails during that time. Answer the email, create a task or two if you need to and then delete or file right away. It’s the best way to get a lot done in a small amount of time: ONE thing at a time. Focus!

My Yahoo email – used for some personal online stuff
Another thing – don’t worry about the “Read Later” pile. Be realistic. You are NOT going to read them later. You are going to search for the stuff you need on the Internet when you DO have time to do the work/research. Don’t save those emails that you think you’re going to read later. Let them go…it’s hard to do, but you can do it, trust me! 🙂

That’s a very brief how to and it’s how I do it. It’s the method I use to help our clients deal with the overwhelm. I have a few rules & filters set up to handle some of them automatically, but not a lot. At this point, that’s not what you need. You need to think of this stuff as pieces of paper….would you keep all those papers? Likely not.

Sit down for 1 hour this summer (that’s it) and do nothing but delete and file into the ONE folder. On your mark, get set, GO! Blast that email and get control again! 🙂

My SLC business email


We offer email cleanup services – we can come to your office (depending on your location) or work with you online to help you get control of your email. Contact us to schedule an appointment.

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Before and After Basement Session

What Happens in an Organizing Session?

Before and After Basement Session

We thought we’d explain what happens in one of our 4 hour organizing sessions:

The first thing we do when we book a session with you is have a consult before hand. This is a half hour where we come and evaluate your space. We ask questions and learn more about you. After we leave, we research and plan some solutions/options for you that we write up in a proposal that we send to you.

After you agree to our awesome proposal… 🙂

We setup a morning or afternoon for your FOUR hour session (anything more than that is exhausting for everyone!). Both of us come to your home and tackle your project. You can be involved in the project as much or as little as you like. Generally, we work through the space from right to left, clearing items out of the space, evaluating the items (as in helping you decide if it needs to be in the space, belongs somewhere else, or can just be let go) We then implement the ideas for organizing the space and put your space back together, organized and clutter-free!

Most importantly, throughout the session, we coach and teach you how to maintain your space. We consult you and support you in your decisions. We gently nudge you to let go of things you do not love, want or need in your home. Krystal and I understand how hard it is sometimes – we’ve been known to even help you breathe and be at peace with your decisions. The last thing we want to do is cause you stress. The whole point of the session is to help you DITCH the clutter AND the GUILT!

It’s amazing what we can accomplish in the 4 hours we have with you. You will be so excited to have the space back! You will be inspired to continue on with the rest of your home! The freedom we help you gain is addicting!

As always, if you have any questions or you would like to book your own session, please Contact Us and we’ll be happy to help you!

Pricing details can be found here: Organizing Packages

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