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  #29 (permalink)  
Old 19th April 2006, 16:23
HollyElise HollyElise is offline
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THIS WEEK'S ASSIGNMENT:

THE KITCHEN PANTRY

I hate it when i'm in the middle of cooking and i can't find what i know i bought, so i finally got my cupboards a lot more organized.

To get started it helps to think through how you can group your food according to your own eating habits. For instance, i'm a baker, so i have a lot of baking supplies. I use a whole shelf in my cupboard for the smaller baking supplies and a larger one in the pantry where i have gallon glass containers filled with flours and sugar. That's a lot of space. On the other hand, i don't eat a lot of "boxed meals" that some families eat. I keep a couple of canned soups on hand and that's it... not large enough for a group to fill a shelf. My other categories are coffee & tea supplies, snacks & condiments, supper supplies (like beans, instant broth, tomato paste, etc.), and on the top shelf (which is hard to reach) i only put duplicate items i don't need to access often. Your categories may need to be different, but decide that first. When you think through your space and shelves, if you haven't done this before, you might want to write your categories on masking tape or a Post-It note and tack it to each shelf in your cupboard, temporarily, until you and your household members know where things belong.

Also helpful for this: two shopping bags... one for trash, and the other for any sealed food item for charity. And take a look in your house for any small plastic trays or Rubbermaid style containers you might be able to use in organizing your cupboards. For intance, i have a lid-less bin about 8 x 12 inches big that organizes many of my baking supplies on the shelf. It contains cocoa powder, confectioner's sugar, baking soda and baking powder, brown sugar, molasses, etc. When i go to make cookies i can easily pull the container down to the counter for easy access, and it helps keep the shelf clean, too. I have another one just for the many, MANY, flavorings i have. Those tiny bottles would be such a nuissance if i couldn't pull the basket down to easily look at them. And i have a sealed plastic container in the cupboard for all my dried fruits. I also have a very small plastic tray inside my refridgerator only for nuts, and another one only for cheeses. Lazy-Susans are also very helpful in the cupboard for seeing condiments, and recently at a friend's house I saw she uses one in her refridgerator! They even make Lazy-Susan spice racks (on my wish list). Start with the containers that you have, and as you organize see what you need. The containers also help prevent you from over-buying foods, because they are grouped together and you see more easily how much you have.

Concentrate on just one shelf at a time, working from the top shelf, down. Pull everything off only that shelf. Toss not only the items that look obviously ancient, but check the expiration dates and also if it's a food you honestly aren't going to use, get rid of it now. This is why i suggested a food charity bag; if it's good food, in a sealed container, but you won't use it or you have too much, put it in the charity donation.

As you put things back on a clean shelf, try to place things so that the items you use most often are closest in reach, and so you can most easily see what you have. On my supper shelf where i have all the cans, I group all the tomato products together, all the canned beans together, all the canned vegetables together, and all the canned fruits together, from left to right. This way when i open the cupboard i can see immediately where to look for canned peaches. If i have two cans of peaches, one is behind the other, not stacked on top. Stacked on top might be canned pineapple, with another can of pineapple behind it. If i had the peaches piled on top of each other, the pineapple would have to be behind it where i couldn't see it when i open the cupboard. You probably will still have to have some different items behind others, but it won't happen as much, and if you at least make it similar (fruit behind fruit, etc.) then it won't be so hard to find items.

Can anyone think of any other suggestions for organizing the cupboard?
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  #30 (permalink)  
Old 24th April 2006, 01:48
HollyElise HollyElise is offline
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THIS WEEKíS ASSIGNMENT:

THE CLOTHES CLOSET

Now this is typical of my odd way of looking at things: I think the time to clean your clothes closet is not just after youíve done your laundry and can look at all your clothes, but rather when you really, really need to laundry now because you havenít got anything to wear! Why? Go look in your closet and drawers and you will see what you DONíT wear. You canít argue with this kind of logic, can you? You may think you like it or need it, but youíre not wearing it, so what good does it do? Itís the stuff thatís too small, too dressy, you never really did like it, nothing goes with it, it needs mending, or you loved it but it looks too shabby now even for around the house. This is the stuff you need to get rid of. If youíre still not sure you can part with it, try this: the next day you really have to do laundry because you have nothing to wear, get a great big box or a trash bag and trustingly put everything in your closet into the box or bag, and put it in storage with a tag that reads, ďIf not opened by ________ give to Goodwill/Oxfam. (give this month and next year). Trust me, if there is something in there you really need or want and wear, you will remember it and can go fish it out, but if you didnít... donít look, just toss!

Now what about shoes, belts, purses, undergarments and such? Well, you can still get a box, put the things in, but keep it in your bedroom for now. When you wear something take it out of the box and after youíve worn it, put it back in your closet or drawers. After a month or so, you wonít be going into the box anymore, so this is the stuff you get rid of.

Several years ago I was very inspired by an article I saw in a fashion magazine called Marie Claire, and it changed the way I shop for clothes. It was called, ď10 Items 10 Ways,Ē and the idea is if you thoughtfully select good pieces that you can mix and match with all the other pieces, you can have almost two weeks worth of different outfits (and easily go between laundry days). The thing I noticed is, we donít tend to wear much more than 10 pieces most of the time anyway. We have our favorites in the closet and keep going back to them. Fortunately, Marie Claire kept repeating this article, and other magazines did similar articles, and I started to clip them out and study the pictures. Usually they picked two or three basic colors for the season, or two colors and a pattern. The 10 item wardrobe would often include a good suit where the pieces could be used together or separately. There were usually four tops, three or four bottoms, possibly a dress, and two covers such as sweaters and blazers, or perhaps a light coat. These days this mix and match wardrobe idea has made it to the clothes catalogs, and they will put together wardrobes that work. And any designer will have a look and a color palette for the season, so I learned I could pick any one store in my price range, select most or all of the pieces from the seasonís display, and then fill in as needed from other stores. I like having less. Itís cheaper, I can buy better quality because Iím buying fewer pieces, itís so much nicer not to have the closet over flowing, and I donít have to make difficult decisions in the morning before coffee!
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  #31 (permalink)  
Old 3rd May 2006, 20:29
HollyElise HollyElise is offline
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THIS WEEK'S ASSIGNMENT

ART & CRAFT SUPPLIES, HOBBIES, UNFINISHED PROJECTS

I think this is a good week to look at my art and craft supplies, PARTICULARLY the many unfinished projects, and perhaps some of the smaller house projects where i've gotten the supplies i need but haven't gotten around to doing it.

Many of us accumulate a lot of unfinished projects. For example, I teach knitting, and start a project for each class to demonstrate specific knitting techniques my students have come to me to learn. My students sometimes get too many unfinished projects, too... but for me, it's almost unavoidable! I don't have the luxury of working on one project at a time. I usually have seven different classes a week, demanding seven different projects! And ironically, often i have less time to knit than than my students.

No matter what your creative or hobby focus is, you can get behind and overwhelmed by abundant, disorganized supplies. And i think most people respond to lots of unfinished projects and disorganization with subtle anxiety. So... let's see what we can do about clearing things up a bit, shall we?

I remember one time, i laid out all my unfinished knitting projects on the floor to count... i had 17 of them. Some of them, i never DID like... i just started them, on yarn i had around and wasn't particularly fond of, to demonstrate for my class. Now contrary to popular belief, you DO NOT have to finish all your projects. Things happen. You grow disinterested, you have different priorities, whatever. With 17 projects i made the decision that i was going to get rid of some of them rather than finish them. It was a wonderful feeling... the same kind of feeling when you say no to someone because you really don't want to go to their party, or volunteer for their organization, etc.... when you decide you actually are allowed to do what you want. Don't let your projects make you feel obligated to finish them just because you started them! Decide which ones you WANT to do, and let the others go.

Sometimes, even, you can pass the projects or supplies on to someone else who wants them. I used to get hung up on a "waste not, want not" philosophy, and wouldn't get rid of any yarn, no matter how much i didn't like it. Not being wasteful is a good habit, but you should look at it that you are being wasteful if you never actually use something and it's collecting dust in your house. It's taking up your physical and mental space and not doing any good, so toss it, or pass it on now.

Now, look at the projects you have left... the ones you want to finish. They won't get done without any time given to them, so can you find some time this week? I found it helps me to prioritize my projects, and this is how i do it: 1) I look at what i can use first. Many projects are seasonal or serve a purpose, or are meant to be given to someone at a particular time. Right now we are going into warmer months where i live, and among my knitting projects i have winter sweaters and summer tank tops. Naturally the summer tank tops should have priority now, as i can finish them before summer and wear them. 2) I also look at the time required to finish a project. Some of my projects are close to finishing. If i complete these first, i will feel good about getting these out of the way, and i'll feel less cluttered. Occassionally i consider other factors in prioritizing. I may, for instance, want to get a very bulky project out of the way to save on space.

Once i have my projects prioritized...1, 2, 3, 4.... I put #1 where i will be reminded to work on it, and whenever i am tempted to buy new yarn or start a new project.... i tell myself i have to finish that one first. I also set myself a goal for finishing the project, or if it's a larger project, i will set a goal for part of it. For instance, on a sweater i might think to myself, "i'll finish the sleeve after supper tonight." And always, always... i keep in mind that if i'm not willing to work on it then i have to consider getting rid of it now, not later. This prevents projects from getting stalled and finding a corner to collect the dust... isn't this where we came in?

Okay, so now we figured out the projects, lets take a look at supplies. Good supplies. OOO. Ahhhh. If you're like me, i get tingles looking at tiny tubes of Windsor & Newton watercolors... whether i've used them in years or not! There might be a MASTERPIECE in those tubes, just waiting to happen! It's HARD to get rid of supplies.... they are pure potential! And an investment! So let's try that trick we used on the clothes closet and try to come up with a couple of others....

Okay. Where are your arts, crafts, hobby supplies? Are they all over the house or gathered in one place? Fortunately i have long ago seen the virtue in dedicating furniture to keeping my supplies. I have a desk with a lot of storage for my knitting supplies, and a large, tall, cabinet with eight large drawers for everything else. Considering i work as an artist... this is remarkably compact. I can't underscore enough the benefits of investing in the right sized and compartmentalized storage for your hobbies.

Often when we are disorganized, it's because we don't have furniture or containers that work for our needs. But if you are in need of a piece of furniture or a box for your supplies, hold off until you sort, toss, and organize what you have so that you understand what your specific needs are. You might be able to get away with a smaller container. I have labeled each drawer... "journals and sketchbooks, photography, sewing, painting & drawing, collage, etc." And inside, i have an easle box for all my watercolors, brushes, small watercolor paper tablets, etc. Another box for all the acrylic supplies. I have a box for my calligraphy supplies, fishing tack boxes for my beads, etc. This also allows me to grab my things and take them to a class, or outdoors to paint, or wherever i'm going to go and work without having to search and pack.

My first trick for organizing arts and craft supplies, is to buy a container or case for that activity, and tell myself everything HAS to fit in that. If it's filled up and i want something new, something old has to be cycled out of the container. It's a way of setting a physical limit on amount of supplies and making a commitment to keep everything in one place, and it works! So get rid of what you aren't using, and then make certain you buy or repurpose a container or piece of furniture for your supplies.

Some crafts you can get rid of entirely. The last time i went through my art supplies, i realized that i wasn't working often in printmaking and ceramics, and i made the decision that if i got the urge to do it again, i could borrow my friend's tools or get new supplies. Getting rid of the ceramic and printmaking tools was really the decision that i was going to get much better at knitting and painting, and it's a good thing to be able to get really good at a few things rather than dabble in many. This time when i go through my things, i'm going to consider getting rid of my beading supplies and rubber stamps, which don't get used often. The point is, our interests change and evolve. Don't hang on to supplies for twenty or more years if you aren't using them. The second strategy is to give them to a young artist and you will bring them great happiness and it will make you feel wonderful, too!

Now, back to the method we used with the clothes closet. If you remember, i suggested getting a box (or boxes) for all those things you haven't been using but aren't sure you can part with. What you can do is have a trial period without them. I can take my stamping supplies and put them in a cardboard box, seal the box, write on the outside, "Rubber Stamps. If not opened by _______ (one year from today) donate to school teachers." And then i'll put the box in the storage closet. It's always best to put a note and a deadline date on the box before putting it in storage... otherwise all you have accomplished is to move clutter around!

And here is one last trick... have you ever decided a percentage before hand? I find this helps me with decluttering. You can set a goal to get rid of 20, 30, even 50% of your things before you sit down to sort.

I know we have a lot of artists and crafters on this board.... anyone else have suggestions?
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  #32 (permalink)  
Old 20th May 2006, 14:21
HollyElise HollyElise is offline
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Is anyone finding this thread useful? I feel a bit silly writing with no responses. I guess i just want to know once in a while people aren't laughing at me. ....I'll still be working on organizing stuff in my house, regardless of whether i write about my projects here.... i've been making progress to attack one area a week and it's making me feel sooooooooo much better just to wake up every morning in a simpler, less cluttered environment! I even seem to have more time!

What part of your house do you want to organize next?

hmmmmmm. I think i'm about ready to organize a sale...
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  #33 (permalink)  
Old 22nd May 2006, 07:50
Lithgae Lithgae is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HollyElise
Is anyone finding this thread useful? I feel a bit silly writing with no responses. I guess i just want to know once in a while people aren't laughing at me.
I dont mean any offence... but you did ask.

Today is the first time i have ever looked at this thread, and im finding it hard to believe that you feel people need all this instruction/suggestion/moral support to keep their homes tidy and organised!

I'm not laughing at you, i promise... more like sitting in stunned disbelief.
Come away from here, and let's go talk about food!!
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  #34 (permalink)  
Old 31st May 2006, 16:19
HollyElise HollyElise is offline
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:d
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Old 1st June 2006, 08:24
Lithgae Lithgae is offline
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The cuisine thread is beckoning....
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