TODAY’S SCRIPTURE: Ecclesiastes 3:6

…a time to search and a time to give up, a time to keep and a time to throw away.

TODAY’S MESSAGE:

Like many of you, I’m enjoying Marie Kondo’s Netflix show!

The average home of today is larger than the Proverbs 31 woman’s house, and the average family has much more accumulated “stuff” than her family had.

Not everyone is born organized, and there is nothing wrong with having to work harder at it. It is wrong, though, not to work at it. You owe it to yourself and your family to provide a clean, neat, and orderly environment. Everyone can become more organized.

There is actually a Biblical precedent to being organized: God is not one who likes things to be disorderly or upset. How can we justify keeping cluttered and messy homes?

It’s best to start with just a half-hour; any longer might be overwhelming at first. In true Proverbs spirit, make it thirty-one minutes!

Decide where to start. If you are faced with the task of de-cluttering your entire home, begin with the easiest area to build up momentum and create the feeling of instant gratification. Once that area is cleared of clutter you must strive to keep it that way, while at the same time working on other areas.

Begin by placing five boxes in the center of the room. Label them as follows:

  • Throw away: Anything that is missing parts, broken or no longer usable
  • Give away: Anything that is in good shape but hasn’t been used in at least a year, is a duplicate, or is cluttering up the room. Share it with a friend or donate it to charity
  • Sell: Items for a yard sale
  • Put away: Anything that belongs in another room
  • Store: Seasonal items or those that will be used again within a year

Place as much into these boxes as you can in thirty-one minutes. Plan to return to the job again each day until the entire room is finished.

At the end of each thirty-one minute session, put everything in the “put away” box where it belongs.

Deal with the “throw away” box immediately.

When the “give away” box is full, place it in the trunk of your car until you get a chance to drop it off for donation. Don’t let these items back into your home, or they may take root again.

If you don’t plan to have a yard sale, don’t use the “sell” box. Simply place those things into the “give away” box. Yard sales take effort to set up, and you cannot expect to get for your items the price that they are worth. Yet, many people enjoy the satisfaction of letting go of their unwanted objects and making a little extra cash at the same time.

Find an out-of-the-way spot to place the “store” box until it is needed again.

 

Getting Organized for Christmas

  • Do you find the approaching holidays are causing you stress?
  • Are your Christmas decorations, schedule and clutter a main part of this stress?

Take a deep breath and start with the items on this list… they are designed to give you the illusion of order, which will create the serenity you need to tackle the rest!

BEFORE CHRISTMAS

As soon as you put up the Christmas tree begin to pull gifts from their hiding places, wrap them, and let them be part of the decor.

Take away some of your decorative items and store them in the Christmas decoration boxes. That way, you will have less clutter during the holidays.

Finish your shopping early so you won’t have to deal with the shopping mall parking lots. Buy your turkey and put it in the freezer. The same with your holiday baking. And streamline the gift-giving that gets out of hand — after all, Baby Jesus only got three gifts.

DURING THE HOLIDAYS

Pick a date and decide that as of then you will be “as ready as you’ll ever be.” The most important things will be done by then. You are only one person and no one wants you to be frazzled.

Take a look at the decorations still in the box. There’s a reason you didn’t put them up. If they’re broken, throw them out. If they no longer fit your decorating scheme, or if you have no room for them, pass them along to someone who can use them.

Make room for the new gifts and teach your children a valuable lesson at the same time. Have them go through their toys, clothes, and books with you; let them choose ones that they have outgrown or no longer want. Help them donate items that are still in good condition to less fortunate children.

AFTER NEW YEAR’S

Put away your decorations with next year in mind. It may seem a long way off, but you’ll be glad you took the time to sort, detangle, and arrange things in their boxes.

Be sure your decorations are well protected. Invest in plastic totes that are waterproof. They are available in red and green so you can identify them at a glance next year.

Assign an empty box to hide gifts you purchase throughout the year.

As you think to next year, consider non-clutter and consumable gifts. Gift cards, theatre tickets, wine, tea, chocolate…

Our P31 home: part 1, the kitchen

In this post, you can explore our kitchen cupboards and drawers, see what’s under our kitchen sink, and what we keep on our counters. Our kitchen is not large so it’s important that we keep only what we actually use.

STORAGE ON COUNTERTOPS, FRIDGE, and POT RACK:

I cook exclusively with copper, and the pot rack creates space as well as adding to the kitchen decor. I’ve also added plaster columns and a couple of framed prints. The wine rack on the fridge is convenient and adds to the ambiance of the kitchen.

A set of knives and index cutting boards are conveniently beside the sink and my prized possession — my copper KitchenAid stand mixer. Beside the stove, and on the counter space below the coffee and tea cupboard, we have the Keurig machine.

Fruit is convenient in a crystal bowl, and my grandmother’s crystal pedestal cake plate is perfect for baked treats. Whenever I save a recipe, I print it and enclose it in a plastic sheet protector, ready for the leather binder that has become the “cookbook I wrote.” The brass easel keeps the recipes right at my fingertips.

TOP CUPBOARDS:

The cabinet above the sink is where I organize the attachments to the KitchenAid mixer. The cabinet to the left of the sink holds measuring cups, mixing bowls, and assorted spices, etc on a lazy susan.

In the cabinet above the stove and microwave we keep our food storage containers. We shop and cook in a way that leaves no leftovers, but I like to cook in batches and store portions in the freezer, so we use quite a few of these containers regularly on a rotating basis.

The cabinet above the dishwasher holds our glassware. On the the top shelf are the Waterford crystal wine glasses.

Our dishes are stored to the right of the stove. They are white with a scalloped edge, and can be used for entertaining as well as everyday, which means we don’t have a need for two sets. Since this cabinet is handy to the kitchen sink, not how the paper towel holder is mounted on the cupboard door, eliminating the visual clutter of paper towels in view.

We keep everything to do with tea and coffee in the cupboard above the Keurig. We like to use the refillable pods for two reasons: it saves us money because we buy our coffee in large tins, and because refilling them saves the environment. Top shelf: mugs and the carafe to the Keurig. Middle shelf: Glass teapot with candle warmer, sugar bowl and cream jug. Bottom shelf: More mugs, milk frother for our morning lattes, Keurig pods in basket.

 

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This cabinet above the fridge is hard to reach, and I’ve saved this one for last because I’m sure you’re very curious… since Dave and I don’t have a lot of extra stuff, it’s empty!

BASE CABINETS:

 

Our kitchen has the dreaded L, in which a far corner is difficult to reach. I recommend to clients that they use that area for seldom-used items, such as the turkey roaster. In our case, the corner area is empty, because we are able to store our kitchen equipment in the the area of the cupboard that is visible from the open door. The photo is hard to see, but the turkey roaster is on the bottom shelf, with the salad spinner beside it, and the kettle is also in this area when not in use. The next shelf holds the mandolin and waffle iron, and the sandwich maker is on the top shelf. The kitchen towel is on a ring mounted on the inside of the cupboard door because using the oven door handle as a towel holder is one of my pet peeves!

In the cabinet under the sink we have waste container on one door and liquid soap/pot scrubber on the other. Inside the cupboard we keep the recycling bin and slow cooker.

Beside the freezer are two narrow cupboards. One of them holds our blender perfectly and keeps it at easy reach. It’s hard to see on the shelf behind it, but that is where we keep our hot air corn popper for romantic movie evenings in front of the TV. The toaster is stored in the cabinet beside it, where it can be easily removed for daily use. Behind it are at couple of pieces of white Corningware, which we use only several times a year. On the shelf is our food scale.

DRAWERS:

The use of divided trays helps create drawers in which everything is visible — from cutlery and kitchen gadgets to towels and the handheld blender.

FOOD STORAGE:

I believe that the key to keeping food storage organized begins at the grocery store, by not buying more than you can fit into the fridge. When I cook, I often make enough to freeze for future meals.

 

The pantry just off the kitchen is where the food is kept in bins and glass jars. It even has room for my shopping basket. The top shelf holds extra paper towels and tissue.

This is the first of a series of posts on a theme. It has become common for professional organizers to do virtual tours of their own homes in order to showcase what they do, and I have decided to open our home through these posts. Dave and I invite you to see how we live through photographs of our home. We aren’t minimalists, but we do need to keep things to a minimum, as our condo is just over 1000 square feet. We’ll show you everything — open every closet, cupboard and drawer — so you can see not only how I’ve arranged it to appear organized, but also how it looks behind closed doors!

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Happy New Year!

If you have decluttering and purging on your list of New Year’s resolutions, you’re not alone! They rank up there with losing weight and quitting smoking. But many people are discouraged when the task is daunting, and they don’t finish the job. Here are a few tips to keep you on track:

Break the Task Down

If you set aside an entire day and try to declutter your whole home at once, you’ll get tired and quit.

Instead, set aside an hour for only ONE thing. Perhaps it’s your closet, or a corner of the basement.

Breaking down your organizing into manageable sized chunkswill let you see results, and that will inspire you to keep going.

Don’t Do Half a Job

If you leave a kitchen cupboard half-done to start a closet, at the end of your decluttering session nothing will be finished. Wrap up one before starting another.

That includes removing the items from your home. If you are throwing them away, put them in the garbage. If you are donating them, put them in the trunk of your car, ready to drop off. If you are passing them on to a friend or relative, put them in a box in the garage.

Don’t Assume You’re Finished

You are never done decluttering because new things will always find their way into your home. Set aside time every month (or every six months) to repeat your decluttering.

This is the point that makes most people feel like a failure in decluttering. You only fail if you don’t declutter at all!

Things to Consider Before You Sell Your Unwanted Items

You’ve purged, sorted, discard and reorganized… now you are left with boxes of things you no longer want or use, and you’re ready to get rid of them. They still have a lot of use left in them and perhaps they also represent a large dollar figure.

So now you’re faced with the decision… sell or donate?

Many people do a combination of both, and before you decide if selling your unneeded items is right for you, you should consider the following points:

Selling takes effort

Whether you decide have a yard sale, sell on eBay or Kijiji, take it to a consignment shop, or put an add in your local paper, there is work to be done. You have already worked so hard to declutter that you may decide enough is enough.

Selling takes time

Be prepared to wait for a buyer. In the case of a yard sale, you must also invest the time to prepare for the sale, plus a full day of your time.

Only you can determine what your time is worth. Consider your home and working life to decide whether the time spent will be worth the small amount of money you will make.

Speaking of which…

You will not recover your investment

Regardless of what you spent on your items, in the eyes of others they are in fact “used.” This means that you won’t be able to get top dollar and you must avoid feeling insulted when you get a low offer.

Do your homework. Look on eBay to see what similar items are selling for. as well, consider shipping and packaging costs. And don’t forget that consignment shops charge a commission.

You will not see the results of your purge immediately

Items awaiting sale will be in your home longer, depriving you of the instant gratification the purge would give you. Depending on the size of your home and the location of their storage, boxes of unwanted stuff might hinder your ability to use your rooms to the fullest.

They may not sell

In other words, they might be around for a long time, and you might even change your mind. They might find their way back into your cupboards and closets. Or, you may decide after a while to donate them after all.

Am I prejudiced toward donation?

Does it show? If you have something that is definitely valuable by all means sell it; however, I love the feeling of passing unwanted items to people who can use them. Whether you give them to a friend or relative, or donate them to charity, you get the satisfaction of making another person’s life better, and that’s a feeling money can’t buy. Of course, anything of sentimental value should be offered to family members first.