8 Ways To Organize Your Spices

For a long while now I have been unhappy with how my spice drawer is functioning for me. I decant all my spices into matching containers, so it looks nice. My spice jars are made of stainless steel and several of them have become corroded, making it challenging to open them. The last thing I want while cooking dinner is to fight with my spice jars! So, I decided to do an overhaul on my spice drawer! If you’re interested in seeing the YouTube video I made sharing that process, I would love for you to check it out!

It can be difficult to figure out how to organize a space to make it function to its full potential. Everyone is different and has different needs and spaces in their kitchen when it comes to organizing and storing their spices. I have used a spice drawer for many, many years. I thought I would share with you 8 ways you can get your spices organized! I love the way uniform containers look, and Amazon has a lot of reasonably priced options for uniform spice jars. However, you don’t need to have uniform spice jars to have an organized space for your spices!

ONE 

I’ll start with the way I just organized my spices, and that is to decant them into small jars and store them in a drawer. You can purchase small jars for a fairly reasonable price. I purchased these from Amazon. There were too many in this package for me, but I can use the extra jars as food storage, add something to them to give away as a party favor, or share them with a friend who wants to organize her spices this way! Another idea is to save and wash out baby food jars to use instead of purchasing some. You could spray paint the lids to make them look sleek.

TWO

You could also use magnetic spice containers. I used these for many years. I put them in a drawer, but this is a great option for small spaces as you can store them on the side of your refrigerator, the microwave, or attach a metal piece to your back splash to store near your stove top.

THREE

Using a tiered drawer spice rack is another great idea. I opted not to use this because you need a lot of drawer space to have enough spices to round out your collection. A typical rack will hold somewhere between 15-18 spice jars. If you’re someone who doesn’t have a lot of spices, or can spare a couple of drawers to organize your spices, then this is a great option! I really love how this looks! 

This is from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Lynk-Professional-430411DS-Organizer-Metallic/dp/B07PGQL462

FOUR

Another great way to store spices is to use a wall rack. I’ve seen a really great cost effective option at IKEA for this. You could get uniform jars to make an extra special display, or just use the jars the spices came in!

These spice racks are from IKEA: https://www.ikea.com/us/en/p/bekvaem-spice-rack-birch-40070185/

FIVE

A recent product I found to store spices in a creative way is spice grippers. They attach to the back of your cabinet door, making this option another great space saving idea.

This item is from Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Spice-spice-gripper-Strips-Cabinet/dp/B075QZL8RS/ref=sr_1_6?keywords=spice+gripper&qid=1580774078&s=home-garden&sr=1-6

SIX

Another idea is to use a lazy Susan inside of a cabinet. I love to use lazy Susans to organize spaces. It’s a great way to efficiently use your space. Having spices on a turntable like this allows you to easily find the spice you are looking for!

SEVEN

Another idea for storing spices in the cabinet, is to get a three tier organizer. You will be able to easily see and assess which spices you have. This is a great option for someone who doesn’t want to invest in uniform jars, because this will be behind closed cabinet doors.

EIGHT

Lastly, the good old fashioned revolving counter top rack. I registered for one of these for my wedding, so the first several years of marriage it is what I used to store my spices. This is a great option, particularly if you are someone who doesn’t mind storing items on your counter top.

I hope this inspired you to organize a space in your home that isn’t functioning the way you would like. Are your spices organized? If not, I hope this gave you some ideas and inspiration to organize your spices!

My Last Decade: What I Did Before I Was a Professional Organizer

It’s hard to believe we have entered a new year, but even more difficult to believe we’ve begun a new decade! So much can happen in one decade. As we rang in the new year, I was reminiscing about the experiences I had enjoyed over the last 10 years. I thought it would be fun to share what I did prior to being a professional organizer (and now YouTuber!)

First day of 7th grade, 3rd grade, and kindergarten

Ten and a half years ago, in July of 2009 we moved from the Northeast side of Austin to the Northwest side. We moved primarily to live in a better school district for our children. Our oldest child, our daughter, was entering 7th grade that fall. Our two boys were about to enter third grade and kindergarten. We moved into a home that was a bit of a fixer upper.

That year was filled with soccer, basketball, band, and piano lessons. My daughter was involved in a non profit Christian club, Wyldlife (middle school version of Young Life) and I became involved in that as a parent helper. In addition to that, I volunteered in both my boys’ classrooms, brought them each lunch once a week, and began the long process of remodeling our home.

When we first moved into this neighborhood, I looked to see if there was a Mom’s In Prayer group. I found one for my kids’ schools, and joined right away. MIP is an international organization for moms of school aged kids to gather together to pray for their kids, schools, teachers, and administrators. I participated in this group for the last 10 years, and for the last 2 years I was the leader for the high school group.

I continued to help with Wyldlife when my daughter was in 8th grade, and ended up taking over as the lead parent role for Wyldlife. Once a week I coordinated dinners for the leaders, snacks for the kids for club, communicated with the parents to keep them informed about club and special events. Our parent team also planned our annual fundraiser every fall. The leaders were college students from the University of Texas in Austin, so I mentored a couple of college age girls each semester. It was fun to get to know them, make them care packages, meet them for lunch or coffee, text them, and pray for them! I was involved with this organization as the parent leader until the spring of 2019. It was bittersweet to leave that role. I developed so many amazing relationships through that role. I will be forever grateful for that experience.

In 2010, I trained for my third half marathon, we went on our first family ski vacation, and I continued to be chauffeur for after school sports for my two boys. That fall, I unfortunately began down a long journey of health issues and trying to figure out why I had some severe digestive issues and anxiety. Thankfully, I eventually landed in a holistic doctor’s office where I learned all about gluten intolerance. Within weeks of changing my diet, I was feeling so much better and eventually was able to go off my acid reflux medication.

In 2011 I undertook the big project of painting our kitchen cabinets. I loved how it turned out, and ended up painting our game room and bathroom cabinets as well. It was a huge project, but well worth the effort!

BEFORE
AFTER
BEFORE
AFTER

My boys had been playing soccer and basketball since they were in kindergarten, but both of them decided to try flag football in 2011.

In 2012, my boys continued to participate in sports – in the spring my older son played flag football and my younger son soccer, then in the fall my older son decided to join the middle school cross country team. My younger son played basketball that winter. Needless to say, I was busy running kids to practices and watching the games. That year, we decided to find a smaller church where we could make more connections. We found a church which we loved and started developing lifelong relationships. The pastor was looking for someone to take over some of the administrative roles that he had been doing, and I stepped into that role and worked there for a year and a half. 2013 and 2014 brought more sports, homework, and friends revolving through our house. I continued my role as admin for our church, and as I mentioned was still the parent leader for Wyldlife. My older son started the orthodontic journey in 2014, and my daughter decided she wanted to take ballet lessons. We decided it would be fun to do together, so at age 40 I picked up ballet! In the midst of all of this, I was still working on updating our home.

2015 was a momentous year for us. All three of our children graduated from their respective schools – our daughter from high school, our older son from middle school, and our youngest from elementary school. It was definitely a year of big changes. In 2016, with my oldest in college and my boys beginning to be more independent, I was searching for something I could do with my time other than the Wyldlife role. I became a BeachBody coach for a very short time – leading online fitness challenge groups. I quickly learned that I was not thriving in this role.

There was a home decor and furniture boutique that I loved to frequent and became friends with the owner. I told her to let me know if she ever needed help. In the fall of 2016, she contacted me to take me up on my offer and I started working for Vintage Fresh, managing the store while the owner was not there. It was there that I learned my love for organizing as I organized the inventory in the stockroom. I left this role in the winter of 2018 to begin research on starting my own business as a professional organizer. I worked with several friends that spring – helping them organize spaces in their homes. I worked on building a website – using Wix, as I knew this would be a good place to learn website building.

I loved organizing the stock at Vintage Fresh.

In the fall of 2018, our youngest son got very sick. He had GI issues that his pediatrician could not diagnose. He ended up missing many days of school, and in and out of the doctor’s office and finally a specialist. By the time he saw the Pediatric GI doctor, he had missed so much school that it was going to be difficult to catch up. We decided it was best for him to do online school instead because of his health. Overnight I became a “homeschool” mom, something I was totally unprepared for. Because of my son’s health and getting him settled into his new schooling routine, I had to put my organizing business on the back burner. I continued to write blog posts here and there. I also managed social media accounts for my business, but it wasn’t until the fall of 2019 that I really pursued marketing this business. I transferred my Wix site to a WordPress site and began more consistently writing blog posts and posting on social media. In November of 2019 I took the big leap of starting a YouTube channel in conjunction with my business.

The last decade has been a wild ride for sure! I feel so privileged to have had the opportunity to stay at home with our children, volunteer at their school and in other organizations, and pursue my hobbies – one of which has turned into a business! I’m excited to see what the next 10 years will hold for me!

12 Days to an Organized Christmas

The holiday season is a busy time. We often have extra responsibilities during this season, which can cause stress and feeling overwhelmed. I wanted to share 12 things you can do, one each day, to prepare for the holidays and make your holiday season run a little more smoothly. As of today (December 13th), we are 12 days away from Christmas!

{{DAY 1}}

Create a holiday to-do list. Writing out everything that needs to be done – whether with a pen and paper, or in a list app on your phone – begins the process of getting everything organized. From decorating, baking, and purchasing gifts; to wrapping gifts, sending holiday cards, and planning for parties, it can all be very overwhelming. Start by listing all the tasks that need to get done.

{{DAY 2}}

Allocate tasks to each day leading up to the holiday. It can be daunting to look at that list you just made. But, as you begin to plug in tasks to different time slots on your calendar, you begin to feel less stressed as you make a concise plan to get tasks done.

{{DAY 3}}

Clean up and organize your family drop zone. Everyone has a “drop zone” in their home – you know, that place where your family members seem to organically DROP all of their things when they return home? It could be a kitchen desk, mudroom, or entryway. Get this area into shape so that it functions well. Add labeled baskets, a file sorter for kids school work, or a bin for mail. This area of our home can cause a lot of stress if it is chaotic, and our stress level is already high during the holidays.

{{DAY 4}}

Keep a list of inventory. It’s important to keep track of everything you have purchased and need to purchase. You can write this down on a notepad, or use an app on your phone. Keep track of the gifts you have and need to purchase and how much you have spent to stay on budget. Also keep track of what you need to purchase for baking, special meals, or items for parties. Be sure to assess what you already have – check what holiday paper and ribbon you have leftover from last year to determine what you need to purchase. See what you already have in your pantry or refrigerator/freezer to determine what items you need to get for baking and holiday parties.

TIME TO DECLUTTER!

{{DAY 5}}

Holiday decor. After you have decorated your house for the holiday season is a great time to assess what you did not use this year. The chances of you using something next year that you did not use this year is very slim. This is an easy declutter process as it happened naturally just from you decorating! Purge what is leftover!

{{DAY 6}}

Pantry and refrigerator/freezer. Right before the holidays is a great time to declutter unused or expired food from your pantry and refrigerator/freezer. At this time, you can assess what needs to be replenished. We always need special items which we don’t tend to buy throughout the year for the holiday season – especially baking items.

{{DAY 7}}

Kids toys! This is a great time to assess what toys are broken and can be thrown away and what toys your children aren’t playing with. Include your children in this process. Remind them of the boundaries in your home with regard to toys and that you need to make room for the new toys that will arrive on Christmas morning. Encourage them to be generous, as it is a season of giving, and have them choose toys that you all could take to a women’s shelter or children’s home to bless those less fortunate. Not only are you teaching them about boundaries and decluttering, you are also teaching them about how this season is about giving.

{{DAY 8}}

Coats and blankets. This is a great time of year (at least for those of us living in the northern hemisphere!) to gather coats and blankets that you are not using. Again, get your family involved to declutter their items as well and take your extra coats and blankets to a homeless shelter.

{{DAY 9}}

Last on the decluttering list is mugs. Mugs seem to be an item that many people accumulate. Many of us are regularly using mugs during this season to enjoy hot drinks. Choose your favorites, and donate the rest!

{{DAY 10}}

Prioritize what is important to your family this holiday season. There are a lot of opportunities to spend time together with family and friends. There are parties, extended family gatherings, traditions, and more. It’s okay to say “no” to things in this season. Do what works best for your family, and the life phase your family is in. Maybe there is a tradition that worked well and was fun when your kids were really young, but now as they are getting older it’s just annoying to them. Find something else that will be meaningful and memorable to do together!

{{DAY 11}} 

Prepare for guests arrival. This won’t pertain to everyone, but many of us have guests in town for the holidays. Inflate the blow up mattress, wash the guest room sheets and towels, prepare a basket full of necessities – like an extra toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, etc. for in case your guests forgot something. You could also include extra things like water bottles and snacks to make your guests comfortable. Another idea is to display a picture frame with the wifi network and password. Or go all out and provide slippers and/or a robe for your guests!

{{DAY 12}}

Leave margin for rest! As I mentioned before, the holiday season can be a very stressful time of year. Plan into your schedule time for rest – to get a manicure or massage, or maybe it’s just leaving room for the things that you do all year long to recharge – reading a book, journaling, or exercising. If you organize your schedule and have a plan, then it’s much easier to include time to relax!

I hope you are inspired to start making a plan for this holiday season! The 12 day countdown to Christmas is on!!

No Spend Year, November Reflections

Wow. It’s December and I only have one more month to go in my no spend year! It’s been such an interesting and informative challenge for me. I know moving forward into 2020 I will need a plan to be intentional with my spending habits. I wanted to share how things went in the month of November. I have mostly continued to glide along this month, as I did in October. I just have a couple things to share.

First, all year long I have noticed that my creativity has skyrocketed! I’m not totally sure if this is due to the no spend year and the extra time that afforded me or due to taking some scary steps, like working on my website and starting a YouTube channel. I have been learning so many new skills over the past several months. However, my creativity in regards to styling my home has caused me to purchase a couple of larger items (small decor like tchotchkes and wall art were included in this no spend year, but larger pieces like furniture were not). I ended up sprucing up one of our rooms – purchasing a coffee table (cheap + second hand at Salvation Army) and an area rug. Have you ever read that children’s book “If You Give A Mouse A Cookie”? The idea is that one thing seems to lead to another. I found that amazing vintage coffee table, but it looked off with our wood floors, hence the rug! In any case, I’m wondering if my spending habits have just shifted away from clothing and home decor to other things.

The next story I wanted to share is about a visit to one of those large last chance Goodwill stores. As a poor college student, my daughter loves shopping at this place. If you’re not familiar with it, you pay by the pound. Everything is stored in huge plastic rolling bins. It can be a sport to wade through all of it, but many times you can find gems. Whenever my daughter is home, we like to go together for fun. I mostly find it an interesting place to people watch, but I have found some unique and cool clothing pieces there in the past. On this occasion, we purchased 9 items, and the total came to $8.88! I wasn’t going to get anything, but I did find an Ann Taylor blouse and a pair of Levis shorts, both in great condition. I plan to sell the blouse in my Poshmark closet. I haven’t decided about the shorts because I do like them! AND they fit me! AND they were only $1! UGH… the justifying! So, if I keep the shorts, once again this month I technically failed. However, I still feel like I’ve learned so much this year and have grown from this experience.

Here are some of the things I am thinking about doing moving into the new year.

Buying things used – thrifting for clothing and home decor. Purchasing vintage home decor when I can.

➤I would like to support small businesses, rarely if ever purchasing clothes and home decor from places like Target. I want my clothing and items in my home to be more curated.

➤Speaking of Target, I would like to stop shopping for entertainment. I will go into Target with a list.

➤I want to be more intentional with my wardrobe. I hope to have some time within the next two weeks to assess my clothes again, and see if there is anything else I can get rid of.

I have actually enjoyed the freedom of not making decisions. I go shopping for other needed items for our family, and I don’t even have to think about making a decision on items I see and like. I’m learning to appreciate the item in the store without having to purchase it and take it home. I’m excited to read back through all my blog posts this year to compile all I’ve taken away from this year in my next No Spend Year Reflections post in January! 

My Definition of Minimalism

Minimalism has become a fairly popular trend over the last several years. The word typically evokes an image of white walls, sparse furniture, and house plants. Many people have written blog posts and articles regarding this topic of minimalism. Their response is based on their experience and preconceived ideas about what minimalism is, or the definition of a minimalist.  It saddens me that “minimalism” has become more of a recent movement that has changed the meaning of true minimalism. It’s not a one size fits all, as a lot of those who claim to be minimalist make it appear.

A friend recently posted on Facebook an interesting article about minimalism. The main idea was that people who are creative and artistic tend to be disorganized and messy, but that was a positive thing because it’s the messy environment which boosts their creativity. I recognize that everyone is different, but for me external “clutter,” “stuff,” “chaos,” whatever you want to call it stresses me out and distracts me. I know I’m not a minimalist by most standards, but I do strive to only live with what I truly need, use, and love. On the other hand, I would not classify myself as messy, but I do think I am a creative – and flourishing in my creative skills! 

The problem that I see, as a professional organizer, is that people don’t have logical, efficient systems in place to keep their things.

Another point that was made in this article was that messiness was an effective organizing tool. While this might be true for a very small amount of people, typically piles are not an efficient way to organize things. Searching through piles, and finding the correct pile where the item you are looking for is located can be time-consuming. The problem that I see, as a professional organizer, is that people don’t have logical, efficient systems in place to keep their things. I think if disorganized, messy people are honest, they would agree that a chaotic organizational system is not effective.

She also made the point that minimalism isn’t sustainable. I would argue the opposite – disorganization and mess isn’t sustainable – it has a toll on your mental health {{{I have another blog post here, detailing this information.}}} Once you are able to declutter enough to only have items you need, use, or love, it is VERY easy to maintain. You become intentional with what comes into your home. The other things that organically come into your home become easier to deal with since as a minimalist you have the space and mental bandwidth to assess all those things – kids artwork, free gifts with purchase, junk mail, and more! It’s also much easier to take care of your things – keeping them clean and organized.

The last point this article made was that messiness is “authentic.” I don’t totally disagree with this point. I have gone over to a good friend’s house on a moment’s notice and find it comforting to see the pile of laundry on her sofa or dirty dishes in the sink. But, guess what?? THIS CAN HAPPEN TO A MINIMALIST TOO! Most minimalists own clothes and dishes, both which need to be washed from time to time {{{GASP!}}} The difference might be that with less stuff, we have less to take care of, therefore there is less likely to be piles in our home. Having friends over at a moment’s notice is easy and not stressful for a minimalist.

So, what is “minimalism” to me? Minimalism to me is about living with only those things you use, need, or you find beautiful/inspirational. Some people find inspiration in books – therefore they may own more than someone who doesn’t. Other people may find inspiration from beautiful home decor, while someone else wants little or no decor. We are all different, living in different phases of life which requires different things, and that is why minimalism isn’t a one size fits all.  It’s also about living intentionally – deciding where you want to spend your time, money, and energy. It’s about being intentional with what you bring into your home. Everything we own has a cost – up front cost as well as time and energy to maintain, which takes away from being able to do other things. Excess stuff can distract us from fully enjoying (and perhaps being inspired by) the stuff that matters!

An Organized Holiday, 5 Tips to Prep for Thanksgiving

The holidays are such a wonderful time of year, where we get to celebrate and enjoy slower, intentional  time with family and/or friends. But, this time of year can also be very stressful and overwhelming. I wanted to share five tips to help you prepare for the holidays. Having an organized schedule and being prepared will help your holiday season go smoothly so you can enjoy the beautiful parts of this season. 

{{ONE}} Make a list of all that needs to get done, then allocate tasks leading up to the holiday. There is always so much extra to do around the holidays. Extra cleaning that needs to get done, extra cooking, and extra shopping. Plan ahead and allocate different extra tasks to different days. Maybe you want to get some deep cleaning done prior to guests coming into town. You could plan to do that a week or even two weeks out. Then, you will just need to do last minute cleaning before their arrival. If there is any shopping – food or gifts – that needs to get done, do it in advance. Having a plan to get things done ahead of time will prevent that feeling of “scrambling” to get things done.

{{TWO}} Prepare food in advance. In conjunction with allocating tasks ahead of time, plan to prepare some of the holiday food ahead of time. Are there any dishes you could make a week or two out and freeze? Is there any prep work you can do in advance to make preparing the dish easier closer to the holiday?

{{THREE}} Plan to make easy meals right before and after the holiday. You could make some meals ahead of time and freeze them to have leading up to the holidays. Alternatively, maybe this is a good time to check out meal plan services. Many of these companies that send you meal kits to your front door offer very simple meal options that might be worth investing in just for the holidays. Crockpot or Instant Pot meals are another great easy option as there are many all-in-one meals you can throw together very easily. 

{{FOUR}} Enlist help.I have ordered the pre-made Thanksgiving meals from our local organic grocery store for the last several years – taking the task of most of the food prep off my to-do list. Perhaps plan a potluck meal for Thanksgiving or other holiday get-togethers, taking some of the food prep off of your to-do list. Have your kids help with the cooking and cleaning. It might not be perfect, but the work gets done and it teaches your kids some of the elements of hospitality. If you don’t have kids, maybe some friends can come over on a Saturday morning to help you get your house clean or food prepped. More hands = work getting done faster, and I have always found it way more fun to cook and clean with friends! 

{{FIVE}} Lower your expectations. I am giving this advice as a “recovering perfectionist.” I know we all like things to be perfect at the holidays, but likely your guests won’t even notice the cobwebs in the corners of your house, or dusty baseboards. And if so, WHO CARES! The holidays are about gathering family. Most family members are much less critical of our housekeeping and cooking skills than we think. I know I would not want family members to be stressed out trying to make things perfect for my arrival!

I hope this gave you some ideas of how you can get your schedule organized prior to the holidays. Doing a little extra work in advance each day will take some of the stress off leading up to the holidays. Remember, even if everything doesn’t get done, the important part of the holidays is celebrating and spending time with family! Wishing you and yours a beautiful holiday season!

Here is the YouTube video I made in conjunction with this blog post if you’d like to check it out!