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Get Rid of Kitchen Clutter

February 19, 2015

Close your eyes and think about your kitchen. What’s on the counters? When’s the last time you cleaned out your pantry? Can you find a tupperware top if your life depended on it? Commit to cleaning up kitchen clutter and organize your kitchen for the way you live with these five simple tips.

1. All those large appliances that you rarely use and take up valuable counter and cupboard space — relocate to the garage. We’re talking toasters, crockpots, turkey roasters and bread makers. If you haven’t used an appliance in the last 90 days it shouldn’t be in your way.

2. Pull out all dishes from the cupboard. Toss anything that’s damaged (like chipped glassware) and give away anything you have too much of (or relocate to the garage). For example — do you really need 15 wine glasses in your cupboard?

3. Think outside the box. Break away from what your kitchen should look like. Just because you’ve always stored coffee mugs above the kitchen sink doesn’t mean you have to keep doing it. Can you hang hooks to hold the mugs inside another pantry door? Can you put a lazy susan with spices on top of the fridge?

4. Create stations. The most efficient restaurants have waiter stations — quick stop-bys where a server can grab new silverware or fixings for a hot tea. Create stations in your kitchen. If you drink coffee each morning have a nice tray on the counter that has a jar with sugar, two coffee mugs, stirring spoons and the coffee maker.

5. Arrange your cupboard space by how often you use items. All the everyday use items should be in the easiest to reach cupboards and then you can put the special occasion dishes like serving trays at the very top cupboards — the ones you have to get on your tippy-toes to reach.


Organize Your Spice Rack

February 12, 2015

Admit it. Have you thrown out any spices, ever? Are you called the spice hoarder at home? Do you think spices are good until they’re gone? If you’ve answered yes to any of these questions–this post is for you!

1. The Nose and Eye Test: Mrs. Fields (yes, that Mrs. Fields) gave us these two simple tips to test if your spices should be kept or tossed — first, smell the spice. If you get a rich, nose full then the spice is good to keep. If not, toss it. Check out the spice color. If it has a grayish color or the vibrancy of the color is gone, toss it. She says these spices won’t make you sick but they won’t have the same flavor-enhancing effects that you want.

2. The six-month rule: many chefs actually advise to toss out your spices twice per year. But…the last time we checked a new bottle of curry spice was $9 at the grocery store, so if getting all new spices every six months is out of your price range stick to the guidelines from the folks at McCormick.

Ground spices like nutmeg, cinnamon, turmeric – 2-3 years.

Dried herbs like basil, oregano: 1-3 years.

Mixed seasoning blends: 1-2 years.

Whole spices like cloves, cinnamon sticks: 4 years

*Another plug for McCormick – you can actually plug in the code found on the bottom of each McCormick spice bottle in the Fresh Taster feature on its website. The feature will tell you how old the spice bottle is and you can toss accordingly!

Don’t have McCormick spices? With a pen/marker put the date on each spice bottle as soon as you get it. Then, each year around the same date (perhaps the day after Christmas, or New Year’s Day) go through your spices and toss those that are too old.

Want to start now? Take your best guess of when you bought the bulk of your spices and put that date on each of your jars. If anything is more than 4 years old, has lost its vibrant color or has no smell — toss it!

Also – remember storing spices is important in extending their shelf life – always store away from the oven or any other direct sources of heat like a vent.


Green Cleaning Tips

January 21, 2015

Enjoy this advice from one of the greenest cleaners we know Debra Lynn Dadd dubbed “Queen of Green” by the New York Times, and the author of Home Safe Home. It’s her business to keep us from inhaling a lungful of the neurotoxins and carcinogens found in many household products–tetrachloroethylene, sodium sulfate and haptane, to name a few

Cleaning floors? 
DLD: I have hardwood floors and usually all I need to do is use a damp mop. We take a preventive approach with regular vacuuming, so dirt doesn’t get ground into the floors.

Cleaning polished natural stone?
DLD: Aqua Mix Sealer’s Choice Gold was recommended by one of my readers.

Cleaning a bathtub?
DLD: I use Bon Ami.

Cleaning windows?
DLD: I use vinegar and water, half and half, in a spray bottle.

Cleaning toilets?
DLD: I like to use borax or baking soda or vinegar or Bon Ami.

Drain cleaners?
DLD: It’s been so long since I’ve cleaned a drain. I have these little fine mesh strainers on my drains and they really work. It really has been years since I’ve had a clogged drain.

Have we missed any of your favorite green cleaning products?  Let us know

Brainy, Closet Revamp, Cocktail Chatter, Uncategorized

The Closet Revamp: What to Toss and What to Keep

February 5, 2013
Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 3.34.21 PM

Admit it.Your closet is in need of some serious organization. But before you can even begin to find the perfect place for your shoes and purses, you’ve got to figure out what you should keep and what you should toss.

Do you have a dozen black cotton dresses that you keep because they all look soooo different, five pairs of eerily similar boot cut jeans (just in case you take up horseback riding) and entire drawers filled with “sleep shirts”? You’ve only got a limited amount of space to house your clothing and all those unused items are taking up valuable real estate. It’s time to establish some priorities. Make a detailed list with a tally of everything you have in your closet, organized by type and color. For example something like this:

Screen shot 2013-02-03 at 3.34.21 PM

This way, you’ll get a real sense of categories and colors where you have way too much. You’re now ready for your first sweep. Shut your door–because anyone who is walking by will be scared of what’s going on. Your room will look pretty dysfunctional but in the end you’ll have a well-organized closet.

Remember those categories where you had too much? Pull all the clothes in those categories and start placing in one of four piles: Toss, Giveaway, Sell or Keep.

Toss: there shouldn’t be too many items in this category — as this is stuff you will literally throw away. Clothes that have a ton of holes or are stained and can’t be cleaned.

Giveaway: this is for items that are in good but not great condition. Staple items like t-shirts that you sleep in, pajamas and old shoes that can still be worn. You’ll donate these items to a thrift store.

Sell: everything in this pile is in perfect condition. You’ll send these items to a consignment store. We like TheRealReal (they’ll send you a fedex label and you’ll mail your items!)

Keep: see that wasn’t so hard.