August 2010 Newsletter

Dear friend,

Don’t fool yourself – clutter is more than physical stuff.  Clutter is often the physical representation of what’s going on internally in our lives.  All of our material excess is about so much more than the objects themselves.  Let’s start with one room this month – the kitchen – and create a space that feeds both our bodies and our souls.  Read on...

Simply yours,

Tip of the Month
Keep a basket or paper bag in your front closet or anywhere near your front door.  Whenever you see something you want to donate, put it in this container.  When the container is full, drop it off at your favorite charity. 

Kitchen Makeover: A step-by-step guide to creating an organized kitchen

There is no room in your home that works harder than your kitchen.   Like a snowball rolling down a steep hill, it can quickly become an avalanche of expired cans from who knows when, a refrigerator with a funny smell, and dirty dishes that seem to multiply like rabbits.  Re-claim the room that feeds your body and your soul!  Here’s my step-by-step plan:

1.    Time: Sorry, there is no 8-minute ab version of a kitchen clean-out.  You must set aside one to three hours to clean-out your kitchen.  I suggest putting on some good music, making sure the kids are either helping or not at home, and setting a timer for yourself.

2.    Clear and Categorize Food: The first step is to get everything out in the open.  It’s what I call the tornado approach.  The room will look like a tornado is running through it during the process but the end result is so worth it.   Separate items into four categories:

• Items you use every day
• Items you use less frequently
• Unopened items that can be donated to a food pantry
• Expired or suspicious items to trash

To find a local food bank, check

3.    Clean: The kitchen is a magnet for lost cheerios and unidentified spills.  Wipe down each shelf with a damp cloth and let dry before reloading. If you need to buy extra containers or organizers to corral items like spice jars, now is the time to do it.  Make a specific list of exactly what you need to store so you don’t overbuy.  I like the options at The Container Store.

4.    Be honest with what you use:  I’ve heard clients try to justify the need for five can openers.  Here’s a quick list of what you DON’T need in your kitchen:
• Too many cookbooks – Take your lifestyle into account and pare down accordingly.  And remember, most recipes can be found online.
• Gadgets Galore: Keep it simple – keep what you use and love and get rid of the rest.
• Mismatched dishes and glasses: Ikea sells very inexpensive sets of glasses and dishes.  If you have enough coffee mugs for a small country, consider donating some of them. 
• Food that Brings you Down: I have a major sweet tooth.  I know that about myself.  I know that if I keep a carton of ice cream in the freezer it will be gone within 24 hours.  Know your weaknesses and set up your kitchen for success.  I will only eat sweets if I make them from scratch.  I figure if I invest an hour into cooking something, I’ve earned it!

5.    Put it Away: Create zones in your pantry or cupboard.   Here’s some of mine: breakfast foods, teas/coffees, rice/pasta, snacks, and baking.  I label all shelves so everyone knows exactly where to put things back.  I also urge clients to invest in a great fruit bowl and glass canisters to sit on your counter.  We tend to eat what we see.  If we keep some nuts and fruit on the counter, it will make healthy choices a breeze. 

6.    Take Stock: I mean this in both the literal and figurative sense.  The food we choose to put in our bodies reflects how we respect ourselves.  If you want to eat less sugar, DO NOT keep it in your kitchen.  So many of us want to eat healthier.  Make a conscious effort to stock your kitchen to make smart eating choices easier.  And watch out for culprits.  Get rid of items that are packed with high fructose corn syrup – ketchup, salad dressing, most cereals.  Read labels!  If you can’t pronounce the ingredients, don’t buy it or eat it.

7.    Weekly Shopping: Forming a habit of creating a meal plan for the week will do so much good for your life.  You will spend less money, eat healthier, and not stress about what to eat.  My personal approach is to shop at the farmers market once/week.  I then make two meals over the weekend that I can eat during the week.