Thanks for hanging in there with the clutter challenge. Do you feel like you are making any progress? Things have been really busy around here, but I still feel like I am getting things done to clear the clutter.
Today, we will focus on the linen closet. This task will be simple. All you need to do is get rid of any torn or stained linens. It makes sense that you would do this as they become stained or torn, but, if you are like me, the reality is that you think you will find a miracle stain remover and someday soon you’ll get them back to new condition. Or…you think that a little tear in a towel isn’t a big deal. Then, you let it go for a few washes and suddenly your little tear has turned into a big, frayed mess.
There are probably very few people who enjoy spending their hard-earned cash on new towels or sheets, but having a few really nice quality ones is a better option than having a ton of torn and stained ones that you are embarrassed to have anyone use.
So, go take a look in your linen closet (or under your sink, or in your bedroom floor, or in the laundry basket…wherever you keep your towels and sheets) and give them a quick sort. If you find any really bad ones that you can’t use for cleaning rags, consider donating them to a local animal shelter. They can usually use them and would be happy to have them.
This one won’t even take the full 15 minutes (if you keep all the items in one location). Go get it done. Quickly. While you’re motivated. See you on the next mission!
So, if you’ve been following my blog, you know that I love to cook. I’ve always dreamed of opening a restaurant. Creating plates of food that people enjoy eating makes me happy. Because of this passion I have for preparing food, I have built up quite a collection of kitchen supplies….ingredients (as we discussed in the pantry mission of this challenge), dishes, cookware, appliances, and kitchen utensils. Just as a carpenter needs the right tools when building, I’ve always felt that I need the right tools when cooking.
When I began my big clutter clearing mission last year, I knew that clothes were my biggest problem and that the kitchen was next. It’s pretty simple…every time I catch myself complaining about cleaning, the two things I complain the most about are laundry and the kitchen. It makes sense that those are my two most cluttered areas.
You see, the problem wasn’t just that I wanted to have every tool I might need in the kitchen (even is I only used it once a year), I felt like if having one tool was a good thing, having two or three was even better. As I started to group my items, I was amazed at how many duplicates I had. You might be, too.
Today, you will need to take out all of your kitchen serving utensils and group them into like items. This is great practice for younger kids in matching. Place serving spoons in one group, spatulas in another, whisks in another, as so on until they are all grouped. Once this is done, you should notice that some groups are larger than others. Now, you’re going to have to figure out how many you need. This process will vary from one person to another. For me, it was a matter of thinking through how many food items I would generally prepare at once and what utensils would be needed for prepping and serving those things. So…a typical meal here consists of an entree, two or three sides, and a bread. For prepping that, I could need a whisk, a spatula (the stirring type and the flipping type), a set of tongs, two or three cooking spoons,four serving spoons, a serrated knife for cutting the bread, and a butter knife. I most likely wouldn’t need all of these items in the same meal, but it is a possibility, so I want to be prepared. I want to have all of these items handy so that if a need arises, I don’t have to look around for a needed tool.
Let me stop for just a minute and share a couple of recommendations that might make your life (well, at least the part spent preparing meals at home) a little easier. My favorite utensils to use for cooking are bamboo. This set from Amazon is inexpensive and will last for years. Lipper International 826 Set of 6 Bamboo Kitchen Tools, in Mesh Bag. There are several reasons why I love these. First, they do not scratch nonstick cookware. Second, they come in a variety of shapes that meet most cooking needs. They are made of bamboo, so they do not run the risk of melting and imparting chemicals into your foods as you are cooking, they feel nice in your hands, and most of all…they are beautiful. (You can see a couple of these in the photo at the bottom. I used my wood burning tool to add a few designs to them, but these are the ones I ordered from Amazon.) My second recommendation is that if you do not already have it, you get a nice set of serving utensils. If the ones you have are in poor condition, I suggest these Klassische Kuche (TM) Professional Grade Stainless Steel Flatware 6 Piece Kitchen Tool and Gadget Set. I was able to let a lot of my utensils go because once I had grouped them, I could easily distinguish between the nice serving pieces and the junk.
So, now you’re probably thinking…what if I have a party, or Thanksgiving is at my house this year? I have a solution for you, too. When I did my big utensil purge, I knew that there were several items that I might need occasionally but would not use very often. I didn’t want to face a need and know that I had gotten rid of the exact tool I needed, so I bought a little tub like this one Sterilite 18828012 6-Quart See-Through Latch Box with White Lid and Peacock Latches and placed the items I knew I would use again but not very often inside. I closed the container and placed it on an upper shelf in my pantry. This keeps me from having to shuffle these items around daily while looking for something I need, but also ensures that I have them when the need arises. The thing you want to be careful of here is that you truly only keep the ones you know you will use.
Once you have figured out which items you will actually use, place those back into your drawer, and get rid of the extras. I suggest thinking about your flatware, too. This is not an issue with me, but, I do know people who have three or four complete (?) sets of flatware in their drawers. Why would a regular person in a family of four or five ever need that many sets of flatware? If you don’t have more than six people at your table almost every day of the year, you do not need twenty-four forks and spoons. You need to wash dishes more often. Here is an important thing that I have realized: If you have more utensils and flatware than you need, it is tempting to use more of them before doing the dishes which creates a dirty kitchen. If your silverware basket is always running over in your dishwasher (and you don’t have a houseful of guests), this is probably directed at you. Try an experiment…take away the extras for a week and see if you can survive without them. If you find that it does not create too much extra work to keep them clean and that it does create a cleaner-looking space, pack them up until needed.
My last tip today is to separate your utensils in to more than one drawer if possible. After cutting the number I have in half, I still have quite a few utensils that I use almost daily or at least a few times a week. I hate wasting time digging through the drawer trying to locate the exact item I need, so I put all stainless steel utensils in one drawer and all others in a separate drawer (my flatware is in a third drawer). I realize that you might not all have the luxury of extra drawer space. If that is the case, consider grouping one set in a pretty container on your counter. This one is really nice because it rotates. OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Rotating Utensil Holder You might even have a nice container sitting around that could be put to use for this purpose. My kids can easily separate the utensils into these two sets because either the utensil is all silver or it is not. The end. It is easy to choose the correct drawer. I could fit all the items in one drawer since I don’t have an excessive number of them, but having them in separate drawers is so nice because it allows me to see with a glance what I am looking for and grab it.
I hope these tips will help you and that they will save you a few precious minutes each day. I would love for you to stop back by and let me know how this mission worked out for you. I hope to see you again for the next mission!
Well, how did you do with yesterday’s challenge? How much clutter did you remove from your pantry? I actually didn’t have as much as usual. I got rid of a few boxes of cereal that were open and stale, one jar of rice wine vinegar that was almost empty but expired (vinegar expires?!), some instant oatmeal that my kids chose and thought they would eat but actually don’t like, a half-eaten bag of stale chips…not too bad. I still have A LOT of food in there, but I am making an effort over the next few weeks to use those items and leave some empty space. How did you do?
Okay, now….on to today’s mission: your closet. You can see one end of my closet above. If you’re willing to give up just a little bit of control for the sake of less work, you can enlist your kids’ help here, too. They can work in their closets at the same time (assuming they are old enough). I have broken the closet down into two parts to keep it at 15 minutes per day. I mean, come on…it’s Wednesday for heaven’s sake. We don’t have time for an entire closet overhaul on a Wednesday!
You, too, can have more space. All you have to be willing to do is live with less stuff. That’s it….a simple equation that you don’t have to be a math nerd to appreciate.
LESS STUFF = MORE SPACE
Today, we will only focus on the simple…stained/torn items and those that you have not worn in at least a year. First, the stained and torn. This should be a given, but you might be surprised at how many of these items you hang onto.
We hate to waste money, and it seems to us that if we are getting rid of these items, we are throwing away the money we spent on them. Here’s the thing, though…the money has already been spent. You are not getting any of that money back unless you are able to sell the items (and in this case, I don’t think many people will want to buy your torn or stained items). Keeping these items in your closet is taking up valuable space. You have enough space to fit everything, though, so why clear the space?
Have you ever scrolled through Pinterest and looked at closets that you’d love to have? What do they all have in common? Let me take a guess here…MORE SPACE. You, too, can have more space. All you have to be willing to do is live with less stuff. That’s it….a simple equation that you don’t have to be a math nerd to appreciate.
LESS STUFF = MORE SPACE
The next step is to get rid of things you have not worn in at least a year. If you’re thinking, how will I know if it has been a year? Here’s a simple solution: if you cannot remember the last time you wore the item (not the exact date- I just mean that you cannot picture yourself in the item), let it go. The only exceptions are specific items that you only wear once in a blue moon (a suit for an interview, a formal that you will actually wear again,…). The same rules apply here as above. You cannot reclaim the money you spent by hanging onto items you do not use. And….if you only wear the item occasionally just so that you don’t feel guilty about keeping it – not because you actually like it (be honest with yourself here!), get rid of it.
There are a few of options here for getting rid of the items. If they are expensive brands and are still in style, consider selling them. Facebook is actually a great source for selling items such as this. Just post them on your page, or join a local sales group page and post there. If the items are in great condition and still in style, but you couldn’t get much in return for selling them, donate them.
Otherwise, if they are clothes that no one would want (again, be honest), get rid of them. (If any of you have good ideas about specific things that can be done with these items, please let me know!)
*If you absolutely can’t let these items go right away, box or bag them up, write the date on the outside, and put them in your storage room/garage/basement. Check back in 6 months and get rid of what is still there!
Although you can’t see it in this picture, I have a set of these hanging shelves on the left of my built-in shelves. I use these to organize my folding clothes. The only clothes I do not hang up are underclothes and shorts. Yes, I even hang my t-shirts. I have this thing about folding clothes… I hate it. Anyway, Amazon has these for a great price right now if you are interested in adding them to your closet. They are really handy for organizing clothes for the week. Whitmor 6536-300-GREY Hanging Accessory Shelves, 10.75 x 10 x 35
Don’t forget to keep up with your results and take before and after pics! I’d love for you to share them in the comments with me or on social media using the hashtag #mysimpleclutterchallenge and let us know how much clutter you cleared!
Come back tomorrow for the next mission. Two days already down…28 to go to. We can do this, and we will be so glad we did. Thanks so much for joining me for this challenge!
I don’t know about you, but I have always struggled a little with planning my meals. I know that the less trips you make to the grocery store, the more money you save, but….with my lack of proper planning, it seemed that almost every time I got ready to prepare a meal, I realized that I had forgotten an ingredient I needed. This resulted in my swinging by the grocery store on my way home which led to my buying a few extra things I saw and thought I needed. The end result was that I spent entirely too much each month on groceries and ended up with a pantry/refrigerator/freezer filled with random items that didn’t get used.
It really hit me when a student of mine who worked at the grocery store joked with me one day that I was in the store every day. I had to admit that he was right, and I decided to make a change (or at least try).
In the past, I have attempted meal planning a number of times. Coming up with ideas for a week of meals is no problem for me. Where I have always failed is in getting the list of ingredients together. I always seemed to forget a few things that I needed because I didn’t feel like taking the time to look up the recipe and list ever single thing I needed (and then actually make it into the store with my list).
This all began to change when I discovered eMeals. Let me begin by saying that this is not a sponsored post. I simply love this service and wanted to share it in case it would help you, too.
Here is how it works… You subscribe to the service. If you pay for a year’s subscription to the dinner plan, it costs $58 which is less than $5 per month. I know you’re thinking that it is contradictory that I presented this as a way to save money and now I am telling you to spend money, but I promise that if you go to the grocery store as often as I did, this will save you way more than $5 per month.
You have a variety of meal plan types from which to choose. Some examples are Slow Cooker, Budget Friendly, Kid Friendly, Paleo, Clean Eating… There is truly something for almost everyone, and they continue to add more. Take a look at the current dinner plan types:
Each Wednesday, a new week’s worth of menus are uploaded. If you don’t see what you like, you can even change to a different type to access different recipes. Here is an example:
You choose the recipes you want to add to your plan, and a grocery list is automatically generated. Here is an example of a meal plan I created:
The grocery list is categorized and has little boxes you can click as you get each item. The items are then added to a completed section below so that you can still access them. You can also add other items that you need that are not part of your meal plan by clicking the plus sign in the top right corner.
You can always go back to all previous meal plans, and you can even save your favorites to your Recipe Box so that you can easily access them anytime you’d like to add them to a Meal Plan. EMeals also offers Lunch, Breakfast, Dessert, and Special Occasions plans that you can add for an additional charge.
If you think you might be interested, they offer a 14-day free trial. If you decide to subscribe, I can earn free months through the Refer-a-Friend program. I would love to earn free months, so comment with your email address, and I will send you an invitation.
If you have ever struggled with meal planning and wished for an easier way, this is it. Do any of you subscribe to eMeals? Are you already a successful meal planner without the need for this service? If so, I admire you! I wish I could say that I am that organized. I hope that by sharing this information I will make someone’s life just a bit easier. Happy meal planning!
Okay, it’s no secret that I am not a big fan of television. I would be perfectly fine with disconnecting our satellite for good. I actually talked my husband into it once. It was off for about six months, and guess what? We survived. We ended up turning it back on, though, and it has remained on.
Don’t get me wrong…I do watch a few things. I love college football, and I am now watching the final season of American Idol. If my husband came in this evening and said he was ready to disconnect the satellite again, though, I would call right away. I just feel like there are so many things I would rather spend my time doing. Seriously, how many times do you think back and say, “Wow, that day I spent watching hours of tv was the best day ever!”?
I realize that I am probably in the minority here. Most people feel like they would miss their tv shows so much, and even more seem to think that they wouldn’t have anything to do if they didn’t have tv to watch. If you decide to give it a try sometime, here are some suggestions of things you can do instead of watching tv…
Read a book.
Try a new recipe.
Play Legos with your children (or by yourself – they are actually a great practice in creativity).
Play solitaire (either with an actual deck of cards or on your phone or computer).
Play a card game with your spouse or children.
Play a board game (you know, those boxes that are probably collecting dust in a closet).
Make homemade play dough (it isn’t hard at all, and if you make the gingerbread kind that you can find on Pinterest, it smells great!).
Clean out a closet.
Organize a drawer.
Start a blog.
Collect some wildflowers or other items from your yard and use them as decorations.
Learn to arm knit a scarf. It only takes about 15 minutes to complete one. Bonus: new accessory!
Doodle in a notebook (you know, channel your high school self and pretend you are supposed to be taking notes in class).
Start a list of quotes you love.
Write the stories your kids love to hear over and over. Who knows…you might eventually get a whole collection written.
Try out some simple origami. You can find directions on Pinterest with a search on Google.
Make homemade cookies (or slice and bake ones – I won’t judge you!).
Download a couple of photo apps and pretend to be a photographer in your house. Practice taking great photos.
Paint an abstract picture. You might be surprised at what you can create!
Pair up all the random socks you’ve collected from the laundry.
Rearrange the furniture in your family room.
Find one of the lists of questions online, ask your kids their answers, and record them so you can go back and read them in a few years. The younger your kids the better. This is hilarious.
Play charades. This is seriously funny stuff.
Roast marshmallows in your fireplace (or over a candle if you don’t have a fireplace).
Have a singing competition with your family. Can’t sing? Even better- it will be funny!
Make a list of things you are thankful for.
Look through your coins for rare ones. You can find lists of rare coins online.
Teach your pet a new trick.
Try out a new hairstyle (on yourself or your kids).
Go for a walk (or run).
Go through your t-shirts and throw away any that are stained, have holes, do not fit, or you just no longer like.
Collect all your spare change (see #27), and count it. You might be surprised at how much you have.
Plant a few seeds and watch them grow. Did you know that you can keep the root ends of green onions, place them in a small bit of water, and they will re-grow the green parts? This is so easy that even I have done it several times. Bonus: free green onions!
Make a batch of chocolate bark. All you need is chocolate chips and whatever toppings you love. I really like semisweet chips with almonds and dried cranberries. Just melt the chips, spread them on foil that has been sprayed with nonstick coating, sprinkle your toppings on top, and wait for it to cool. Break into pieces and enjoy.
Make your own list of things to do instead of watch tv (then share them in the comments below)!