Your Guide to Decluttering the Kitchen Ahead of the Holidays

The kitchen is the centerpiece for all family gatherings, especially at this time of year. It’s where all the holiday magic happens! It’s where you make all those tasty, holiday classics and family favorites.

 

It’s important that your kitchen remain functional during this high-use time.


Here are a few tips to help you—and your family—organize and declutter your kitchen ahead of the holidays:

First Pass Trash

Take ten to fifteen minutes to collect all trash. This can include expired foods in the pantry and fridge. Eat or compost the leftovers to make space. 

 

Declutter

Grab some donatable boxes or bins and ask yourself these questions:

 

• Is this a duplicate or does something else do the same job?

• Have I used this in the last year?

• Would I buy this again?

• Does this item work?

 

Find items that are potentially too old, broken, or no longer used. Get rid of things that make you feel guilty for not using them yet, like that perfectly fine break maker that you have never made bread in. They money is spent and someone else could use it. Get the space on your countertop or cupboard back and let it go.


Chipped plates and mugs, solo mismatched items, food storage containers with no lids, let them go. Take note of any items you feel you need to replace.


At the end of your decluttering, make the time to process the trash, donation items and things that go elsewhere in the home. For donation items, if you can make a run right away, that is great. Putting them in the car and putting the errand on your calendar is second best.

 

Organize with Convenience in Mind

Organizing your kitchen should be about convenience. Place the items that you know you will use more often in a convenient location. Put like with like. Do your spices live in more than one place? Can they be consolidated in one area?

 

One of the best things to do in your kitchen is to make your tomorrow easier by taking ten to fifteen minutes each night to put away dishes, clean countertops and tidy up a bit. Imagine waking up to a clean, tidy countertop and not having to clean before you start prepping for that day’s meals. After all, you want to look forward to making the holiday meals, cookies, and more!


Consider a Virtual Organizing Session to Prepare Your Kitchen

When it comes to decluttering your kitchen, it can be difficult to do it alone. Virtual organizing is a great resource when you need a little more. Schedule a free consult here.  

 

 You are enough and you have enough, I’m glad we’ve had this post!
Amy-Elllen

Give thanks before giving it away.

You may be familiar with Marie Kondo’s questions, “does it Spark Joy?”
but there is another part of her process that I find more helpful for those items you are struggling to declutter. .

Thank the item for serving its purpose.

Thank clothing for keeping you warm, kitchen gadgets for helping you prepare healthy meals, toys and games, etc. for providing you with momentary entertainment. Then let the item go.

Thanking the item helps us process the change from owning the item to not owning the item.

Are there items in your home that you can thank and let go of? Now is a good time to clear out any clutter.

Make room for new!

Donate items in good condition. Then people that may be shopping for gifts in thrift stores can snag ’em.

Attached is the Pie Chart for Letting Go as a visual guide to the questions and suggested weight they may hold. Use that as a guide when decluttering your home, thank the items for their service to you and get them out of your home.


You are enough and you have enough,
happy THANKS+giving
Amy-Ellen

Things will scare you this month, decluttering doesn’t have to be one of them.

Decluttering doesn’t have to be a scary, overwhelming experience. Here are some tips for scare-free decluttering: 

First Pass Trash: Take a garbage bag and walk around collecting trash only. Obvious trash, no decision making here. 

Decluttering is a muscle that builds up over time. Starting with trash, (no decision making!), is the best way to start. You will be successful right away and have nothing to lose – other than the literal trash in your home. 

Gradual Decluttering: Tracy Lynn has coined this term and the basics of it is to keep a cardboard box in a room and put something in it every time you see the box. This can happen over a span of days or a few weeks. When the box is full, donate it. Her plan also starts with removing trash and recyclables first. 

The things is, small wins add up and decluttering doesn’t have to be scary or require a whole afternoon. You can get things accomplished at a slower pace, and avoid overwhelm. 

30 Day Game You can get rid of one-item-a-day for 30 days or do the Minimalists’ 30 Day Minimalism Game and get rid of one item on day one, two items on day two, three items on day three and so on. Complete 30 days that way and 465 items will have left your home at the end of the month! That’s a lot of stuff! 

If you need any additional assistance, start with a free consultation by clicking the button below. I’m available for in-home assistance in the Seattle area and virtual organizing worldwide! 

You are enough and you have enough, I’m glad we’ve had this talk! 

Happy October!
Amy-Ellen

I used to think FRUGAL was a 4-letter word.

I used to think frugal was a 4-letter word… but I no longer believe that. 

Previous to home organizing, I’ve been an artist and a social worker, so I have excelled in the area of thrifting and frugality. 

Frugal means that you are careful with the resources you have. That can be money, stuff and even your energy. 

Frugal is not cheap! We can get burned by cheap. Cheap falls apart after one use or doesn’t actually fulfill the need. When you purchase the best tool to fit the job (even at a higher price tag initially), that tool lasts longer and therefore saves you money in the long run. In that way, being frugal is a form of self care, investing in yourself and your future. 

Using a car analogy: cheap is skipping on regular maintenance then being caught with a more expensive problem down the line. Frugal knows regular maintenance is required to keep the car in good working order and will therefore save money in the long run. 

Be frugal with your energy. Now that’s a resource you need to be careful with! That may mean that you do a ten minute clean up at night so you can wake up to a clean room or it can mean letting go of items that give you any negative emotions. Don’t keep items out of guilt or anything that makes you feel bad!  

Are you willing to be more frugal for the rest of this month or the rest of the year? Be mindful of your resources and take care of them because frugality pays off in the end. 

You are enough and you have enough and I’m glad we’ve had this talk!

Amy-Ellen

Need a new outfit? Shop at a thrift store first.



The month of August has both Thrift Store Day (17th) and Secondhand Wardrobe Day (25th) in it. 

Whether you make a donation or go shopping yourself, August 25th is secondhand wardrobe day. I recently took a gander in my own closet and found that approximately 68% of my wardrobe is from thrift stores. I love each piece!

Are there items in your closet that you haven’t worn in a loooooonnng time, items you wouldn’t want to run into your ex while wearing*, or things that simply don’t fit or items that you wouldn’t buy again? Donate them! 

Here’s my Pie Chart for Letting Go to remind you of the top questions you can ask yourself about the items in your closet and if they deserve to stay.

If you haven’t used the item in one year, don’t love it and wouldn’t buy it again, you can let it go. The fourth, tiny sliver, is a question that does NOT need to be asked to every item but when asked to the right item, the answer may surprise you. That is, does the item need you? Judith Kolberg found this by fluke, but it was one more effective way to discern between items you want to keep in your home or get rid of.

Donating clothing, hosting or attending a clothing swap and selling any old clothes is better for the earth and our wallets. Keeping the items out of the landfill as long as possible and giving the items a second life.

Challenge yourself to find something to donate this Secondhand Wardrobe Day. Then you can use the one in, one out rule and find something to take home.

Gentle reminder: be selective on what you take home with you. Try items on in store if possible and refrain from anything that will add to that silent to-do list like something that needs alterations, etc. 

You are enough and you have enough and I’m glad we’ve had this talk!

Amy-Ellen

Organizing Methods and Concepts*

Here is a list of my favorite organizing methods and concepts. *Not a comprehensive list.

Which one is your favorite? From KonMarie to Minimalist and Swedish Death Cleaning, whatever method you choose, what have you got to lose other than things you no longer need, love or use.

I hope one of these helps. Happy decluttering!

You are enough and you have enough, I’m glad we’ve had this post.

Amy-Ellen

Your stuff is talking to you.

Dishes in the sink are asking you to wash them. Stuff by the door is constantly reminding you to take them here or there. Items for that old or new hobby are asking when you’re going to get around to them. Our things want our attention!

Fumio Sasaki introduces the concept of, “the silent to-do list” in his book Goodbye, Things: The Japanese Art of De-Cluttering and Organizing.

He says that our things speak to us, asking us to take care of them and providing us with a silent to-do list. There’s a lot of stuff in your life, and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. The less stuff you have, the less items to care for and the less time your items take up. That leaves you with more time for what really matters.

So, what’s been talking to you? Can you let go of a few items on your silent to-do list? Forgive yourself for not getting to it yet. Set a deadline for it or let it go. You may never mend that shirt, and letting go of it is okay! 

You are enough and you have enough and I’m glad we’ve had this talk! 

AmyEllen 

If you need help with a decluttering/organizing project, I am available for virtual session (anywhere in the world) and in-home session in the Seattle area. Sign up for a free consultation to get started. 

Tips for a stress free Summer

It’s time to celebrate the warmer weather and longer days that we know as Summer! My absofruit favorite time of year.

With all the changes in schedules and events, the summer can become a bit much to navigate. Try these tips to stay organized and stress free this Summer:

1. Say Ahoy to Summer, and bon voyage to Winter

This may seem obvious, but it is incredibly motivating to get all the winter stuffs put away (if space is limited, move these items to the lesser used side of the closet, etc). Perhaps more importantly, putting away winter items ensures that you have a home for all the summer items to live and stay organized.

2. Get What You Need Now

As you prepare for Summer, take inventory of items you need to replenish or replace. It’s easier to keep track of what you need and where it should go when you have it all in front of you. Some common items to take note of are sunscreens, coolers, bug spray, beach towels, sunglasses, sunhats, and sandals. Of course, there could be a lot more in that list, so make sure you’re planning properly for you and your family’s needs.

3. Summer Routines

It’s easy to let your to-do lists and agendas slip away with summer – for many our routines and schedules feel like a thing of the past. Now is a good time to work with your family to plan routines that can help encourage their involvement and keep your home organized. Plan small tasks that can easily be done in just a few minutes and split the tasks up throughout the day – morning, afternoon, and evening.

4. Organize for the Kids Being Home

Creating spaces for kids to spend time can be a huge help in keeping organized. Reading corners can help keep books together and activity corners can help keep the explosions of crafting supplies from spreading to the rest of the home. Keeping kids activities and accessories easily accessible will also be a win to encourage a little bit of autonomy and parental peace.

5. Prep for Quick Getaways

Some days we just feel like packing up and heading out for a quick day trip. Whether it’s planned or not, having some getaway bags at the ready can be a huge stress reliever. Think through some of the common getaways your family might take and prep a couple of tote bags so you can get out the door without much stress. Keep some clean snack containers in a bag so you won’t have to worry about finding or cleaning any; keep extra sunglasses, sunscreen, bug spray, towels, and light clothing in another tote bag. Knowing that you have a couple bags at the ready means you and the family can quickly (and easily!) head to the beach, lake, pool, or even the art museum with little planning or fuss.

Enjoy it. It goes fast. Deon Cole says, “you only have 30 Summers left.” Use any of these tips to prepare then go with the flow as much as possible and remember that you are enough and you have enough.

AmyEllen

Sorting it Out

Feeling overwhelmed by too much stuff? Start small with categories.

Starting with categories can help you boil the project down into smaller parts and give you a better idea of where to start. Sort your items into categories such as clothes, toys or books. This is how Marie Kondo does it, she prescribes that you organize by category and in this specific order: clothing, books, papers, kimono (misc items) then, finally, sentimental items. Once they are sorted by category, you can go back through each category and organize into subcategories.

For example: if you have a lot of clothes and find yourself overwhelmed by all the options every time you get dressed in the morning, try sorting your clothes by type (t-shirts, sweaters and jackets). Then tackle one category at a time.

Choose mugs instead of the whole kitchen. Small wins add up.

Done is better than perfect.

When you sort by category, remember that done is better than perfect. It’s the effort that counts and checking it off that literal or silent to-do list* is very rewarding.

If you’re doing this with a child or someone with limited mobility and dexterity, take breaks as needed. Focus on the big picture and don’t get bogged down in details. Quick decisions are okay, trust your gut and ask yourself (borrowing from The Minimalists), what is the worst that would happen if I let this items go?

You are enough & you have enough. I’m glad we’ve had this post.

Amy-Ellen

*silent to-do list is a concept mentioned in the book Goodbye Things written by Fumio Sasaki. The concept is that our things constantly send us silent messages so when we have too many things – the less we can concentrate on what matters.

13 Unlucky items you can declutter on Friday the 13th

Happy Friday the 13th! I’m not superstitious, in fact, I love this day but i know it is fraught with a fair amount if bad juju for some.

You’ve probably got some stuff lying around that’s just been haunting you all year long. If you don’t have time to get rid of it this Friday the 13th—or if you just want to make sure it’s gone for good—we’ve got your back. Here are 13 unlucky items you can declutter this Friday the 13th:

1) Plastic Tupperware containers. Plastic has been linked to cancer and other diseases because it contains BPA (bisphenol A), which can leach into food or drinks stored inside them over time.

2) Your old smartphone! Recycle it.

3) That box of electronics that’s collecting dust in your closet! (Seriously: recycle it.)

4) Your ex’s stuff! 

5) Any clothes that were sent to you by your exes after they broke up with you (or if they’re not your exes yet but might be someday)

6) Any items related to a past relationship like things you bought together.

Yes, one more for the exes…

7) Anything associated with an ex’s family.

Okay now back to things unrelated to your exes….

8) Any item with an expiration date older than 6 months!

9) Old furniture that doesn’t match anymore. If it’s an eyesore, consider letting go. 

10) Dried flower arrangements that don’t fit your decor scheme or has faded too much.

11) Things that don’t actually belong to you. Make a plan to get them to their rightful owner.

12) Old artwork that’s not worth keeping around; old art supplies like broken brushes and dried paints

13) Broken mirrors, a given for this day. 

Hope that helps & happy declutterZing. 

Amy-Ellen