Spring Clean Your Life in 10 Steps: Step 3 – Clean & Reorganize Your Pantry

Source: Better Homes & Gardens
Source: Better Homes & Gardens

Hello There and Happy Saturday!

It feels like ages since my last post. I hoped to update the blog sooner, but with coordinating three all-day sales meetings and making arrangements for international guests, there wasn’t any extra time to get anything done this week.

Step 3 in the “Spring Clean Your Life” series is the pantry (or the “black hole” as I sometimes refer to it)!

In general, I think it’s a good idea to stay on top of your pantry; but  you should plan to give it a total overhaul at least once a year.

Below are some tips for giving your pantry a thorough spring cleaning.

Spring Clean Your Pantry

Start with a blank slate

The best way to ensure a thorough cleaning is to take stock of everything you have in your pantry. That means you should remove every item from the shelves. I would recommend placing all items in one highly visible area like your dining table so that you can easily assess and organize everything you have.

Inspect your Pantry Inventory & Be RUTHLESS!

If there’s one thing you don’t want to take a risk with it’s what you ingest. If anything is past its expiration date, it clearly needs to be tossed.  What if there’s no expiration date? Check out this fantastic guide on the shelf life of pantry foods from About.com Frugal Living.

Inspect dried goods (rice, pasta, etc) for any pest infestations–gross, I know, but if you store dried bulk goods in glass or plastic containers, it’s a smart precaution to take.

Place Like with Like

Take inventory of your pantry items and place similar items together in a row. Label rows with post-its (e.g. canned goods, baking ingredients, grains, etc).

Clean your pantry

Take advantage of your now-empty pantry shelves and wipe them down with a damp cloth.

Outfit Your Pantry to Suit Your Needs

We all have our own organization methods that best suit our individual needs and habits. Envision your ideal method of organization (A lazy Susan for spices? Baskets for teas? Glass Mason jars for dried goods? Wire baskets for fruits?) and make it happen! I would advise against storing bulk items in plastic containers in favor of glass, but if you’re set on plastic make sure it’s BPA-free.

You’d be surprised at  how cute you can make your pantry look on the cheap. Check out the following for stylish, yet cost-effective, storage items: Ikea, Target, Home Goods, TJ Maxx, your local dollar store.

Label Your Wares

Website aggregating tools like Pinterest make it so easy to find free pantry printables. Take a look at my Pinterest page for some cute pantry labels. They’ll not only help you to visually organize your pantry, but they add a little brightness to an otherwise unexciting space. You can download a few of my favorites here, here, and here.

Use Eye-Level Shelving for “Most Used” Items

Make life as easy on yourself as possible. Place the items that you use most often on the middle to eye-level shelves. Rarely used items should go on the top and bottom shelves.

Use the Oldest to Newest Technique

The newest items should always be stored behind the older items in your pantry in an effort to consume items within their sell-by dates.

Don’t Overburden Shelves

Be cautious not to overcrowd your shelves (it increases the likelihood of accidental spillage) or to overburden them with heavy items. Anything heavy should be placed on the floor.

Make Use of Unused Space

It’s a shame not to take advantage of available space beneath your shelving if you have some. You might use this space to store larger bulk products like paper towels in large wicker baskets. Or, if you have enough height to work with, you could add a few plastic drawers to that space to corral less-used items (paper plates & utensils, etc).

What you should not store in your pantry area, however, is cleaning supplies. Store these in an area where there’s no possibility for contamination, like under your kitchen sink.

Take Stock of What’s Missing

As you reorganize your pantry you will no doubt find that there are items that you need to replenish. Keep a pen and paper handy and scribble down items to purchase on your shopping list.

I hope I’ve inspired you to revamp your pantry space! Got any additional tips?  Leave me some feedback!

Happy Cleaning!

R

Resource Links

MasterPantryList: a helpful guide to a stocked pantry

Short on time? Check out this speed-clean your pantry checklist from Real Simple.

Check out some adorable container storage options from The Container Store here.

DIY: Make Your Own Blog Planner

Happy Monday All,

I’m excited to share a recent project of mine with all you fellow bloggers.

Last week I decided that I needed a better way to organize my thoughts and ideas for blog posts.  Until recently, I had been scribbling my notes haphazardly in a pocket-size notebook. I realized I needed a better planning tool where I could fully flesh out and schedule my posts, compose to do lists, track social media promotion, etc.

The inspiration for this project came Jen’s blog Iheartorganizing.  She created an adorable planner, which she posted on her blog here. In fact, if you like her planner’s layout and design you can purchase the template on her Etsy website.

I ultimately purchased my blog planning templates from another Etsy shop owner because I really liked her variety and color schemes.

Please forgive the mediocre photos below–my camera has quit on me and I can only use my iPhone for the time being. Argh.

DIY Blog Planner
DIY Blog Planner

photo-23 photo-21 photo-18 photo-16 photo-25 photo-14 photo-20

If you like the templates in my planner, you can find them at the Etsy shop Happy Organized Life.  This is a non-editable instant download, but if you want templates that you can edit, there are many options on Etsy.

Happy Organized Life blog templates available on Etsy
Happy Organized Life blog templates available on Etsy

As you can see, my planner is a much more simplified version than Jen’s, but it has already helped me tremendously!

Here’s how simple it is to make your own planner:

  1. Gather your materials.

All you need to make something similar is divider tabs, labels (I love Martha Stewart’s, which you can find at your local Staples), and some cute pens.

divider tabs, labels, pens
divider tabs, labels, pens

2. Decide on a blog template design.

If you’re someone with design skills you can of course create your own templates.  If you’re less artistically inclined, like me, you can find some awesome templates on Etsy (both editable and non-editable depending on your needs).

The one I downloaded from Happy Organized Life includes 12 (yes 12!) different sheets. I liked how comprehensive this downloadable package was.

It includes the following:

  • Post Planner: a detailed sheet to plan your daily posts
  • Series Planner: for planning a series of posts around a specific theme
  • Blog Monthly Calendar: a monthly calendar with space to log weekly posts, advertisers, giveaways, profits and more
  • Weekly Post Planner: for brainstorming your week’s posts
  • Weekly Planner: to help you keep track of your to do’s for your weekly posts
  • Annual Planner: an organized view of your entire year where you can plan monthly themes, etc
  • Monthly Tasks: a place to track your to do’s for each month
  • Social Media Calendar: an easy way to keep track of where you’ve promoted your blog posts
  • Advertising and Sponsors: a tracking sheet for advertisements
  • Contact List: Contact info for followers, sponsors, etc
  • Password Keeper: an easy way to keep track of log-in information for all blog-related websites you use
  • Blog Expenses Sheet: a place to keep track of all your blogging expenses (which comes in handy at tax time)

3. Print desired quantity of template sheets and determine order.

I decided to begin with an annual view, followed by monthly planning sheets, then weekly, etc. I included reference information (i.e. passwords, contacts, etc at the back of the planner).

3. Divide each section using using divider tabs & assemble planner.

I wanted to have my planner spiral bound, but you can use a binder instead if you like. If you decide you would like to bind yours, Staples offers affordable binding services for about $5.00

4. Label & personalize.

And now for the fun part! Label each section of your planner using your own creative flair. I love metallic pens, so I used silver and gold on my sky blue Martha Stewart labels. Let your own personality shine through!

5. Start planning!

Once you have finished accessorizing your planner, you’re ready to switch into planning gear.

Have you come across any awesome blog planners or made one of your own? If so, please feel free to share!

Goodnight and Happy Blogging!

R

5 Must-Have Notebooks to Organize Your Life

I’m a writer and also admit that I am very Type A. I absolutely love to make lists to organize my thoughts, ideas, tasks, and inspirations.

What happens when you put the two together?  You get a girl who obsessively covets and compulsively purchases anything paper-bound. Heck, I even work in the paper industry (yes, I get the Dunder Mifflin question a lot)!

My notebooks and journals are some of my most-prized possessions. Most people keep their lives in their smart phone, their iPad, or their laptop. I keep mine in these. My musings, endless to-do lists, blog ideas, wedding checklists, and everything in between are held in these pages.

I’m a lover of the written word, a sentimentalist who still enjoys sending handwritten letters when most send texts and emails (don’t get me wrong, I do that too). I love nothing more than the tactile feel of paper between my fingers and the joy I feel as I fill each page with my thoughts.

When I’m at a store and I see a neat notebook or journal, it doesn’t matter how many I already own, I’ll snatch it up. It can’t be helped.

So, what do I consider to be my “must-haves” for organizing my thoughts?  Here they are in no particular order. Maybe you’ll find a few you like.

 

1. Gratitude journal

Express your gratitude daily in this compact, hardcover Gratitude journal.
Express your gratitude daily in this compact, hardcover Gratitude journal.

 

For most of my life I’m sad to say I’ve been a glass-half-empty girl. I’ve seen other people’s boundless optimism and wished I was innately that way. I’m getting better, but that’s partially due to consistently reminding myself what I am grateful for each day.

This journal, picked up from an independent bookshop, contains a writing prompt each day for you to respond to.  I love it and I truly believe it’s giving me a brighter outlook on life.  Its bright orange binding doesn’t hurt either…

 

2. Idea Log

Idea Log
Idea Log

 

This. Notebook. Is Awesome.

This one is the newest addition to my arsenal. It’s a small, spiral bound notebook with a durable plastic cover that fits easily into my purse so that I can tote it anywhere and jot down ideas as the mood strikes me.

You’ll notice that the cover has a little slot to insert your pen or pencil for safekeeping. Gone are the days of rifling through your bottomless purse for a writing utensil, which happens to me all too often. The little elastic band attached to the cover is genius!

The book is divided into three sections:

 

Inspiration

A gridlined page allows you to write or sketch your inspiration. There are boxes in the upper righthand corner where you can checkoff the origin of your inspiration (web, magazine, etc)
A gridlined page allows you to write or sketch your inspiration. There are boxes in the upper righthand corner where you can check off the origin of your inspiration (web, magazine, etc).

Brainstorm

The brainstorm section is where you can take your original inspiration and develop it a bit more. There's room to include the project, date, loose ideas, sketches (if you're so inclined), your formulated idea, and whether the project was ultimately executed or abandoned.
The brainstorm section is where you can take your original inspiration and develop it a bit more. There’s room to include the project, date, loose ideas, sketches (if you’re so inclined), your formulated idea, and whether the project was ultimately executed or abandoned.

Project

If you decide the project you've been brainstorming has been developed enough to execute, you can plan the project in even more detail in the project section. Include your next steps, completion dates, and check them off when you're done.
If you decide the project you’ve been brainstorming has been developed enough to execute, you can plan the project in even more detail in the project section. Include your next steps, completion dates, and check them off when you’re done.

 

I’m using this to fully develop ideas for this new blog. It’s an excellent, portable resource, where I can capture creative ideas on the go.

 

3. Doctor Visit Knock Knock pad

This pad has a place for everything. Write the specifics of your appointment on top (date of appointment, time, doctor, location, purpose, etc). Jot down your symptoms before your appointment so that you can efficiently and accurately explain them to the doctor during your appointment. Take note of your stats when your doctor examines you (blood pressure, weight, diagnosis, etc). Finally, include notes about the doctor's orders, prescriptions to fill, etc.
This pad has a place for everything. Write the specifics of your appointment on top (date of appointment, time, doctor, location, purpose, etc). Jot down your symptoms before your appointment so that you can efficiently and accurately explain them to the doctor. Take note of your stats when your doctor examines you (blood pressure, weight, diagnosis, etc). Finally, include notes about the doctor’s orders, prescriptions to fill, etc.

 

I almost feel as though this notepad was created with me in mind. I’m pretty busy these days between my marketing day job, freelancing on the side, planning a wedding, and developing two blogs. My mind feels like it’s being pulled in twenty different directions at any given moment.

I always have the best intentions when I visit my doctors, but after my appointment I will often forget what the doctor said and what actions I may need to take. If you also find it difficult to keep on top of the details of your health, this is a fantastic resource for you.

I no longer need to call my mother in a panic asking her to remind me of the address for the dentist. And my doctors are no longer irritated by my blank stare when they ask me to detail my symptoms and I realize I’ve forgotten half of them (trust me, this happens).

4. Trio of bright, carry-anywhere notebooks

These bright little notebooks are perfect for writing down your ideas in free form fashion. Designate a specific topic for each one. Or use one for your weekly shopping list, one for your goals, and one for your home projects. The options are endless!
These bright little notebooks are perfect for writing down your ideas in free form fashion. Designate a specific topic for each one. Or use one for your weekly shopping list, one for your goals, and one for your home projects. The options are endless!

 

There were two things that drew me to these adorable notebooks, which you can find at Target. Okay, three.

1. The cheerful covers

2. The inspiring quotes on each cover:

         Looking at the stars always makes me dream. – Vincent Van Gogh

         Joy delights in joy. – William Shakespeare

         Happiness is a bright and shining thing. – Unkown

3. The price. These were $3.99. You can’t beat that.

 

5. Q&A a Day

If you want a record of your life and your musings but you are too busy to write full-fledged journal entries, this journal is excellent. It's a five year journal with just a few lines of space to write in for each day. Every day there's a new question to answer: "What do you want to know better?", "What details from today would you like to remember?", Describe your work ethic, and more.
If you want a record of your life and your musings but you are too busy to write full-fledged journal entries, this journal is excellent. It’s a five year journal with just a few lines of space to write in for each day. Every day there’s a new question to answer: “What do you want to know better?”, “What details from today would you like to remember?”, “Describe your work ethic”, and more.

 

When I was in second grade, our teacher asked us to keep a journal every day for a year. I enjoyed writing in it each day–so much so, in fact, that I kept a journal through elementary, middle, and high school, and into college. I must have 20 different filled journals.

When I entered the world of the working, things changed and I stopped writing daily, weekly, and even monthly. For a few years after college I wrote nothing, and though of course I have memories from those years, many of them will be lost forever as the years go by and my memory fades. What a bummer.

I still don’t have the time to write in a journal every day, which is why I really like this one. You can encapsulate your thoughts in just a few lines. I’m busy, but I’ve definitely got five minutes!

 

These five affordable notebooks and journals help me to keep my life organized and compartmentalized. What about you? I’d love to hear your comments.

Happy Writing,

R