Lazy Susan

Ah, my Lazy Susan.  I’ve hated this cabinet for so long; its where things go to die.  Items just fall off the shelves, block the twirl and generally irritate me.

I keep the baking goods here.  Since I hardly ever bake, and it is located close to my mixer, it works out well.  I only enter when I am prepared to bake.  If you ask my husband, that’s never.

But I was up for the “Home Organization 101″ challenge at A Bowl Full of Lemons.  This is the before photo:

The first step was taking everything out, including all those “dead to me” items that fell off and blocked the twirl.  You know, the ones you can barely reach even after you’ve crawled half-way into the darn cabinet?!  Once it was free of all goods, I wiped off the shelves and assessed the situation.

I had two containers of popcorn, three bags of powdered sugar, a container of sprinkles, pancake mix, some ladyfinger cookies for those occasions when we make Tiramasu (aka once every two years, so clearly they are expired!) and several other sugary substances in lots and lots of bags.

I then went to IKEA and purchased some JAMKA food storage containers.  I added those to my assortment of large Rubbermaid containers that I use for sugar, all-purpose flour and brown sugar.  For someone who rarely bakes, I own several types of flour:  cake flour, all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour…  Because you never know when the baking mood will strike.  And did you know that you should use cake flour when making pasta?  I learned that while taking a cooking class in Italy, but I’ll save that story for another time.

Back to my lazy Susan cabinet.

I reviewed all the bags of sugar, flour, etc. and consolidated into my new JAMKA containers.  I used the larger containers for popcorn, Splenda, oatmeal and hot chocolate packets.  (Yes, if you didn’t already know, we like to shop in bulk!)  I used the medium-sized containers for powdered sugar and cake flour.  The small containers were perfect for cornmeal, cocoa powder, brown sugar substitute and milk powder.

I kept the large Rubbermaid containers for all-purpose flour, sugar and brown sugar.  To label, I used address labels.  Nothing fancy, but it did the trick, and my lazy Susan is now bag and clutter-free.  Decluttered Mama is happy.  :)

Thanks for reading! — Decluttered Mama


Lower Cabinets

Tonight, I decided to tackle two lower cabinets in our kitchen.  With the exception of one cabinet, I’m trying to work left to right so I can gauge my progress as I maneuver through my Kitchen Organization Makeover.  The cabinets already decluttered include the pantry, fridge, spice cabinet and kids’ cabinet.

The cabinets I decided to declutter tonight are located next to my oven and store  bakeware/casserole dishes (left) and small appliances (right).  Here is the before picture:

You can clearly see they are both a mess!

Starting with the cabinet on the left, the bakeware/casserole dishes, I took everything out.  I immediately threw away two aluminum foil pans.  I probably kept them in there, thinking it was a good place to keep them, and I would certainly use them one day.  But when my system appears to be “just throw it in the cabinet and shut the door,” they eventually got mooshed and smooshed as is clearly shown in the picture.  After giving them the old heave-ho, I took everything else out and wiped down the shelves.  Along with the aluminum pans, Mr. Beer didn’t make the cut.  He’ll be moving to the basement.  So sad.

Then I moved to the cabinet on the right, which holds our small appliances.  Everything here made the cut except the hand mixer (without beaters) that I inherited from my dear grandmother, a steamer that we no longer use and the mandolin.  I love the mandolin, I really do.  But I only remember it using it once in 5 years, so its really not something that should be taking up space in my kitchen.

Remember my three rules of keeping things.  You must use it, love it or need it.  

I wiped down the cabinet and put everything back.  My most absolute favorite small appliance is my food processor.  That got top billing.  Next to the food pro is the blender.  Don’t get me started on that thing.  My husband loves it.  I’d like to throw it in a ditch somewhere.  Apparently its great, and it got great reviews.  And for the price we paid, it should grind up a shoe if I wanted it to.  Which I don’t.

I also kept the salad spinner, box grater, immersion blender and fire extinguisher… a must for each kitchen.

Here is a photo of the kitchen graveyard:

And here are the after photos:

Fridge Organization

Ok, so let me first say that the fridge was not on my original to-do list when it came to my Kitchen Organization Makeover.  However, after a mustard explosion this morning, I came to realize that it was necessary.  I also learned why I organize… so I don’t have to spend 10 minutes (when I’m already running late for work) cleaning up mustard that flew halfway across the kitchen.  I don’t have time for that.

This is how it all went down.  I woke up at 3:15AM this morning.  I heard the dog scratching  the bed frame, and I immediately jumped awake.  Why was the dog scratching?  Did he have to go out?  Was there a home intruder?  Did he just want to get on the bed?  Of course my mind rushed to the worst-case scenario, so I had to get out of bed to check.  Maybe I’d pull an ‘LL Cool J’ on the intruder.

Clearly there was no home intruder, because if there was, I’d probably be at someone else’s house right now, hiding under a big blanket.  I would not be updating this blog… I’m kind of a wus when it comes to things like that.

Anyway, back to the story.  I was awake for over an hour.  I was half-tempted to make a pot of coffee at 4:15AM and just start the day.  I mean, really… just think of all the organizing I could get done!  But alas, I went back to sleep.  When the alarm clock went off at 6:30AM, I slept right through it because I was so tired.  Fast forward to 7:15AM.  Too late to get out the door by 7:45PM, my “end time” for making it to work by 8:30AM.  So I was in a hurry.

After a speed shower, I ran downstairs to get Little Missy some milk.  In the process, I realized that the condiments were all out of sorts.  The mustard was jammed in the door – not in the condiment bin  Yes, that’s right.  We have a condiment bin.  I attempted to organize the fridge two months ago.  Clearly, it wasn’t a sustainable solution.

Since the mustard was out of order, and jammed into a spot it didn’t fit into, I went to grab and move it.  As I was doing so, the mustard made a fast escape!  It leapt out of the fridge door and landed a few feet away.  The cap blew off into three pieces and flew in three different directions, and the mustard… well, it went everywhere.  I took a photo before cleaning it up.  Because if my husband had put the mustard in the condiment bin, then the mustard wouldn’t have needed to execute its escape plan.

I finally got to work at 8:50AM.  Yes, it is true, that even without the mustard cleanup, I would have been late.  But I wouldn’t have been as late if I didn’t have to address the renegade mustard.  Which leads me to this post.  Fridge organization has been added to the game plan.

Here is the before photo of the fridge.  Note how the mustard no longer has a cap.

I took everything out of the fridge, including the doors.  I wiped down all the shelves and threw away everything that was expired.  Remember the amount of expired food I threw away from the pantry?  Well, there was just as much (if not more) lurking in the fridge in the forms of salad dressing, yogurt, celery, etc.  I also consolidated.  We had two cartons of eggs – one had one egg in it, and the other had two eggs in it.  Last time I checked, 12 fit into an egg carton.  And pickles… we had three pickle jars.  One full, one half-full, and one with one, lone pickle.  I consolidated three into two.

I then created bins for snacks (one for me, one for the hubby) and condiments.  I reviewed the contents and figured out how to use the space the best way… and then labeled everything to make sense.  Not sure if the labels will work.  I certainly can’t say that if there had been a “condiment” label on the bin prior to the mustard incident, that it wouldn’t have happened.  I hardly think so… but its worth a shot, right?

So here are the after photos:

I really hope this new label system works.  If nothing else, it was certainly good to clean out the fridge!

Kitchen Pantry

I cleaned out our kitchen pantry four months ago, and I’m happy to report that the organization has remained.  My husband is one of those people that likes to have backups of everything.  And when I say backups, I mean a backup for the backup.  If we don’t have three ketchups on hand, we might as well be out.

Here is the before picture.  As you can see from the big jugs of canola oil, breadcrumbs, peanut butter and ketchup, we clearly like to shop in bulk from our favorite warehouse store.

This is the after photo:

I went to Target and bought a rack for cans, two baskets and a container to store rice.  I also used some other bins I had on hand to store vinegars and sauces.  I threw away everything that was expired, and I tried to store like items with each other.

At the time, I figured this was enough work for one day, so I didn’t tackle the upper cabinet above the pantry.  I dreaded that cabinet… mostly because I didn’t even know what was up there.  Lots of expired things, I knew, but I wasn’t sure of the magnitude until this evening when I dared to go in.  I decided to join A Bowl Full of Lemons “Home Organization 101″ project, and the kitchen pantry was on this week’s docket.

The before picture…

This is what I found:

  • Oatmeal (very big box with not that many individual bags inside)
  • Pop Tarts (I don’t eat Pop Tarts.  They are a guilty pleasure of my husband.)
  • Teddy Grahams (expired)
  • Cereal (empty bag)
  • Goldfish (two new bags plus a nearly empty bag)
  • Nuts (snacks for the husband)
  • Granola Bars (my breakfast of choice)
  • SEVERAL bags of expired chips (so old, I can’t even tell you when they expired)
  • Random box of mashed potatoes
And this is what I threw away:

After all that was gone, there honestly wasn’t much left.  Just snacks for my husband and daughter and breakfast goodies were left on the bottom shelf.  The top shelf holds paper plates, cups, silverware and napkins… some dried fruit, nuts and a random box of mashed potatoes.

Here is the after photo.  I put the oatmeal packets in a big ziploc bag so I could get rid of the box.  Same thing with the fish crackers.  We didn’t need that large box taking up space.

That feels much, much better.  I can’t believe that we had enough expired goods in the upper pantry to fill up an entire garbage bag.  I probably threw away $50+ worth of groceries that went to waste.  That kills me.  And that is part of the reason I’m on this organization mission.  Its so wasteful to not use what you have – whether its food or something else.

This is the complete AFTER photo of the pantry – both upper and lower cabinets.  Four months later, I think the main pantry is still looking pretty good, if I do say so myself.  :)

Thanks for reading! –Decluttered Mama

Kids’ Cabinet

Prior to Little Missy’s arrival, this cabinet was home to the odds-and-ends, the items that didn’t really go anywhere else.  In addition to our junk drawer, this became our junk cabinet.  When Little Missy was born, we didn’t really clean out this cabinet… we just shifted its contents around to make room for her bottles.  Fast forward 22 months.  This cabinet needs a re-org redo!

Sippy cups, bowls, pacifiers, etc. have taken over this cabinet in a very unorganized fashion.  They share space with my water bottles, spare change, extra pens/pencils, wine glasses we don’t use and extra coffee mugs.  You know, for when we suddenly have 12 people over and need to serve coffee.

This is the before picture.  It only shows 2 of the 3 shelves.  I don’t know why.  I can’t remember why I didn’t take a picture of the entire cabinet.  Maybe I was in a clutter-haze… But what was on the bottom shelf (sippy cups, extra pens/pencils, Tupperware glasses from the 1970s, etc.) was in disarray.


I started with the bottom shelf, the one that was full of the non-pictured sippy cups and other misc. items that did not need to be included in this kitchen cabinet… or any cabinet in the kitchen for that matter.  In this cabinet, I found two cans of bug spray, two bottles of sunscreen, baby oil and body lotion.  These items were promptly removed from the kitchen and brought to where they belong.

All that remained on that shelf was the sippy cups, water bottles and 1970s Tupperware.  I coralled the sippy cups into another dollar store bin, labeled it, and wiped off the shelf before putting them back.

Ah, much, much nicer.  I tell you, those sippy cups will quickly take over a cabinet if you let them.  And we did.

Next was the middle shelf.  I decided to keep two small canisters in the cabinet.  We use these for extra change, and once they’re full, we bring them to the bank to cash in.  I like this “free money” system, so I let them stay.  The other things that ended up on this shelf included pedialyte, a mug full of extra pens/pencils, and Little Missy’s bowls and plates.  They got their own basket, as well.

Then came the top shelf.  I left the coffee mugs and wine glasses be.  The wine glasses came from a family vacation we took to Napa Valley a few years back, the summer before I met my husband.  I plan to give the glasses to my parents.  I do not need them, and I know they could use them and would appreciate the gesture.  But until next week when I see them, those glasses remain on the top shelf.

This is the after photo.


Spice Cabinet

Let’s start out by saying that I have a dream cook’s kitchen with loads of cabinet space.  Fortunately for me, you’d never know what was hiding behind those closed cabinet doors.  The entire kitchen needs to be decluttered, so I’m starting with the spice cabinet.  Next to our pantry and the cabinet that holds our dishes, this is the cabinet that is used most often.  My husband and I love to cook, and we have several spices from our favorite local spice shop.  We’ve organized it before, but it needs a good redo.

To begin, I took a “before” picture.

I took out all of the spices and sorted into categories.  I found that we had many duplicates… and just as many empty bottles.  I consolidated where I could, and I threw away many unused or expired spices.

We don’t bake that often, so I put the baking goods in a separate bin that I purchased from the local dollar store.  It holds all extracts, food coloring, baking powder, baking soda,  and sweeteners including honey, agave and molasses.  Since we don’t access these ingredients as much, I figured it would be okay to contain them.  Of course my husband said “I better be able to find everything, and I’m not pulling out any bins!” as I was putting the goods in said bin.

Before I put everything away, I made sure to wipe off all the shelves.  I can’t remember the last time I did that, so its clearly been a while. I used my Norwex Enviro Cloth.  For those of you who don’t know about Norwex… well, you should find out.

I wiped off the three-tiered spice organizer we already hadand put it back on the lowest shelf.  I put the most used spices up front, for easy access.

Next was the middle shelf.  I put our homemade spice mixes (blackening seasoning, taco seasoning, etc.) in 8oz. Rubbermaid containers, labeled and stacked them.  Next to them on the shelf, I put the baking ingredient bin.

The top shelf is where I put all of our extra spices.  We typically buy bagged spices and refill the bottles as needed.  I put all of our extra spices in a wire basket.  On this shelf, I also included the basics – salt and pepper.

Much better. Check out the “after” photo.