Minimalizing Kitchen “Stuff”

Every time I work in my kitchen zone I try to reduce the amount of cooking “stuff” I own. Everyone has certain gadgets that they love and use frequently but sometimes we just hold on to things because they were expensive, or we used them more frequently at one time in our lives, or just because we think we might want to use them one day.

Take my food processer – please! That food processer with its gadgets (several of which have never been used), takes up almost a whole shelf in one of my cupboards. I maybe use it once a year. It’s cumbersome to set up. The main container has a small crack. It’s hard to clean. A good knife works as well as anything for chopping. A good mixer or immersion blender will take care of about anything else I would want to do.

Many kitchen gadgets that promise to make food prep easier or more gourmet like just end up in the back of the kitchen drawer or back of the cupboard. I find it better to use basic tools that can do multiple things than to have multiple things that can only do one thing. Some good quality knives are important to me, but do I need a whole fancy set with matching handles? I tend to use 3 or 4 over and over while the others just get neglected.

My cast iron Dutch oven with lid and my cast iron skillets ( two sizes) get used weekly. I have a few other skillets that do get used fairly often. But I have way too many sauce pans. I have a huge mixing bowl that I used to use every year to make big batches of fruitcake. I have not made fruitcake for at least 10 years. I guess I have been holding on to it because I just “might make it again someday.” Who am I kidding?

As I organize my kitchen this year, I am seriously paying attention to how I am really cooking now and getting rid of some of this unneeded “stuff”. I feel that the open spaces will make finding what I do use easier to locate and that kitchen maintenance will be more streamlined.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Clutter and Your Peace of Mind


We really stop seeing things that we gaze at day after day. But they are there and they will impact our thoughts and peace of mind.

I have recently started working with Wendy Watkins, CPCC, PCC’s (http://www.wendywatkins.com/) in a coaching program. Part of this personalized program is centered on my business and part of it is centered on increasing my joy factor. One thing I have been working on is increasing my awareness of my surroundings (not always with great success- according to my husband who washed and vacuumed my car and I did not even notice). But, imagine my despair when I looked into my medicine cabinet this morning and saw the mug that is in the picture. I have been looking at that same mug every day for years. What has it been saying to me over and over again? What does the stack of paperwork that needs attention and is sitting on my desk say to me? What does the stack of unread books say?

Simply removing items that give negative vibes, moving items that we love so that we really “see” them again, pulling out treasures we have hidden away, repairing or disposing of broken items, all make a big difference in the feel of our space. Organizing and cleaning is a very inexpensive way to remove bad feelings and introduce the feeling of calmness and peace.

We can give the old things to others to enjoy and open up space for newness to come into our home. Making our space uncluttered lets our energy flow freely. Develop your vision of how you want your home to look and feel and then make your space reflect that vision.

Now let the calm and joy enter your home and heart.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Drowning in Free Stuff

Free is great! Yes? Well, sometimes – maybe. But what if we didn’t discriminate? What if we got as much free stuff as we could and we held on to all of it because someday it would come in handy and we wouldn’t have to buy it?

What are some of the free things that come into our life and where do they come from?

Dentists – free toothpaste, floss, and a toothbrush at a minimum
Doctors – free samples of drugs for you to try
Make-up Sales – free samples if you buy so much of a product, small samples to try a new color of product
Newspaper – in the wrapper you might find samples of Advil or even cereal
Mail – free samples sent for marketing purposes
Credit cards – free items for opening an account – college students love those T-shirts
Charities – free items if you have ever given anything to them – calendars, pens, notepaper, calculators, and gift wrap
Health Fairs or Conferences – goodies handed out all over the place
Events – free mugs, water bottles, cozies, shirts, and more

I’m sure there are lots of other places but you get the idea.

Now, if you get something free and you try the product right away and make a decision about it – that can be good. If you get a free individual box of cereal and put it in your cupboard with the last 10 free boxes and think, “I’ll save this for when I have a child guest or for an emergency,” – this is not so good.

I have seen bags and bags of free stuff being held because the item is a good size to take when traveling. Some people could travel months at a time for the rest of their life on the stuff they have stashed away. I have opened kitchen cabinets and seen whole shelves devoted to water bottles. I have seen more pens that you could possibly use – and many of them don’t even work well.

So, here is my challenge to you. Go through your cabinets and drawers. Put all like items together and see how much you actually have. Then think, “How much could I use in the next year?” Set those items aside and get rid of the rest. Look at how much space you have now open! Don’t fret about the stuff you got rid of. You will have plenty of opportunities to get more.

Jonda S. Beattie

Professional Organizer

Taming the Laundry Zone


August is a good month to organize the laundry area. Vacation is over and the laundry has stacked up since return. Team practices have begun and caused extra laundry. Your laundry zone may be bursting at the seams!
Laundry zones can be located almost anywhere in a home. I can remember my mother’s was in the basement and even had a laundry chute where clothes could be dropped from either level of the house and land in an open laundry basket. (I believe a cat or two also got a laundry chute ride as well.) My laundry area is in a small room off my living room that was once a porch. If you look at the picture, you can see my dryer is just a drying rack. My handy husband enclosed the area so when it is not in use, it is not seen. Wherever your area, utilize every square inch. Shelves can be added to give extra storage space. Make sure the area is well lit.
You’ll want your laundry soap, dryer sheets, stain removers, sponges, and scrubbing brushes near your washer. If you buy your detergent in large containers, transfer some into smaller containers that are easier to handle and will less likely be spilled. Post a stain-removal chart on the wall.
Counter space is helpful for laying out items to treat or a place to fold clothes. I use a small table that is in the adjacent area. If you have room, you might buy a small table for your area.
A bar or bracket to hang hangers for shirts taken out of the dryer is useful. It does not have to be large but just enough to hold what would come out of one load (because, of course, you are going to immediately put them away ;-} )
Even if you have a dryer, a drying rack hung on the wall is handy for drying items you don’t want to toss in the dryer. Have a container handy for tossing in the items you find in pockets or loose buttons. If possible, have your ironing board, iron, and water or starch spray bottles in this location.
A stack of colored laundry baskets is a handy way to sort clean clothes for each member of the family and for one for the bath/bed linens. When the laundry is taken out of the dryer and folded, immediately put it in the correct basket. Each family member can pick up their baskets, put their clothes away, and return the basket.
Have dirty clothes stay in the various clothes hampers in bedrooms or bathrooms until you are ready to do the laundry. That keeps the laundry area from accumulating heaps and mound of dirty laundry (which cats also love to hide in).

I would love to hear about any laundry zone tips you have tried.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Homeless Items in Your Home

Do you have homeless items lurking in your home? Often when I am working in homes, I’ll come across an item and ask, “Where does this go?” I’ll get responses like: “Oh, it is used all over the home.” or “I don’t know – wherever.” or “I don’t know. Where do you think it should go?”
Even if items float, they should have a final resting place or home. That laptop or notebook can be used in any room, but when not in use, it should have a place to live. Where? Probably on a shelf close to where it is used most often or in a basket near the couch. The phone? When not on your person, it could be near the charger station. I drop mine in my purse ( I don’t want to leave home without it). The keys? They can live in a basket or on a hook near the door. I have also had people place them in a bowl that is above eye level (they don’t want walk-ins to know where the keys are kept). I keep mine on a hook that is always hooked to my purse. The purse or wallet is another item that is often just dropped down in different locations. Nothing really wrong with always dropping your purse on a certain chair, but it should have a place to go when you are cleaning up. A shelf or hook in the closet could work. Wherever you decide to house an item, it should be a logical place for you when looking for it.
Why do these items need homes? Saving time is one big reason. When cleaning a room, it is great to know exactly where to put each item. It really speeds up the cleaning process. Everyone in the home knows where to look for the item and you don’t waste time looking for it either. Another reason is that you are more aware of your space. Having everything put away can show you that items are crowded in the space (maybe that’s why item wasn’t put away to begin with) and that a tossing session is due.
I would love to hear some of your ideas about where you house items that can often be homeless.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Spare Bedrooom Zone

In February, the zone I tackle is the spare bedroom. I like to do this room the month after the office because one of the uses of this room is off-site storage for my office. At this point in time, there are items jammed into this room that were pulled out of my office. The chaos bothers me, so now I am motivated to work in this zone. I want my spare bedroom to look neat and inviting. I want my guests and myself to be comfortable in this room. I want to be able to put my hands on all items stored here.
Many of us use our spare bedrooms for multiple purposes. Mine serves as a place for guests to stay, a place to store wrapping paper and gifts, a place to store off season or rarely used clothes, a place to store pictures and memorability, and a place to keep items for my office that I don’t use on a daily or weekly basis.
When organizing the bedroom, I think of all the different zones in that room (guests, wrapping/gifts, clothes, memorabilia storage, office storage) and then I organize my items in that zone to maximize the space available. As more items come into the area, some items need to be purged.
I have purged more clothes this year and now have room to put in a couple more shelves in the closet pictured. This closet zone will hold my books, mailers, and items I use for presentations. There is still room for some long hanging clothes on the left.
I have not redecorated this room since I moved into this house. I plan to change pictures, the bedspread, and other items with the help of organizer Tami Puckett of Mindful Redesign – http://mindfulredesign.com. I want the room to have a fresh look and reflect my interest in travel.
I want this room done by the end of the month. The first week I will tackle the closet on the wall side shown. Then each week I will attack another wall. By the end of the month I hope to have this zone the way I want it for another year.
What are the purposes of your spare bedroom? How do you make the one room serve multiple purposes and zones?

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer

Open Spaces

I pride myself in keeping an uncluttered home but sometimes we get so used to seeing things where they are that we don’t notice some absurdities that have crept in. It takes an outsider to come in and open your eyes. I am very good at doing this with my clients – for myself, not so much. That is why I called in help in the way of Tami Puckett, http://www.mindfulredesign.com, to help me with design issues. It started with needing help to pick fabric to recover my sofas and ballooned into a reworking of the living room. She had ideas that I would have never thought of (putting a narrow table between the sofa and the window so the cats might be tempted to lay on it looking out the window instead of the cushions of my newly covered sofa), reinforced some things I already knew (that coffee table had to go- not too pretty and taking up waaay to much room), and showed me how to open up more space by getting rid of a rather large piece of not too pretty furniture, whose sole function was holding a fountain. She has other ideas to lighten up the room and open it even further. It will be exciting to see the room unfold.
This week I suggest you take a room and either try to look at it with the eyes of a stranger, with the idea of opening up more space and checking to see what might be changed to make an area more usable; or you call in someone to walk though the area with you.

Jonda S. Beattie
Professional Organizer