My shopping cart
Your cart is currently empty.Continue Shopping
The week before Christmas, sitting in my leather swivel chair, I look outside our living room window to see yet another delivery truck go by. I’ve never seen so many UPS, Fedex and Purolator trucks pass my house! It’s crazy!
The Retail Council of Canada has reported that each Canadian spent $792 last year on gifts. While much of that spending is on consumables (ie. experiences, food, alcohol, trips, etc.) a lot more “stuff” will have made its way into our spaces.
We have SO many ways of acquiring things that enter our home. Christmas is only one of them. Then there’s birthday parties, loot bags, the shopping channel, McHappy meal toys, not to mention Grandparents' well-meaning generosity and that’s even before we hit the malls.
It can be overwhelming to find places for all of our latest gadgets and toys so I thought it would be helpful to start with baby steps.
Because who doesn’t want to start the New Year with a plan?
While there are several ways of decluttering your home, let’s start with one category at a time. Some of the categories are for kids, which may not apply to you, so you’ll have a day off!
The good news is that I’ve chosen categories that can be organized easily and quickly (22 minutes or less), so that you can experience 22 “big wins” which will help you gain confidence to tackle more things later, (like paper clutter.)
So let’s dive in!
Pencils, pens and markers
Make a game of gathering every single pen, pencil and marker. Dry markers and pens that don’t work get tossed. Pencils get sharpened. The remaining will go in containers where you use them. We have writing tools in each of our desk drawers and a few in our kitchen drawer. The remaining are in a box which we access when what’s in our drawers runs out.
January’s a great time to go through Christmas decorations, tossing broken lights, and only keeping what you love and will use again next year. I store our Christmas decor in stackable totes, grouping items by rooms. We also have a tradition of putting an elastic around the Christmas cards we received in the totes. The next year, we look at each one again, and thank God for each person who took the time to purchase, sign, seal, stamp and mail their greetings.
Pots and pans
You need WAY less than you think. In my pull-out drawer, I have 2 sizes of frying pans; one Dutch oven; 1 large pot and 2 smaller pots. This is all I use for 99% of my cooking. In other parts of my home, I keep a roasting pan, a stock pot, a large electric frying pan for making pancakes for a crowd, a stock pot for canning and a crock pot. With only these vessels, I’ve fed literally hundreds of guests in our home. I can’t remember the last time I had all 4 burners on at the same time.
One time while I was helping out at our daughter’s, I enlisted the grandkids to collect ALL their odd socks, promising to pay 25 cents for every matched pair.
I gave them each a bag, and we set the timer for 15 minutes. Like Speedy Gonzales, they scurried around the house looking under beds, in between sofa cushions, back of closets, etc. Then they spread them out on a table and paired the “mr.” with the “mrs.” It cost me an arm and a leg…but it was fun! Another tip is to purchase the same brand/ colour of socks so if one goes missing, you can still pair it up. Sara Mueller in her “Decluttering School” recommends each person have between 7 - 13 pairs of socks. 7 if you’re a minimalist and 13 if you’re a fashionista. Less socks= less laundry = less stress!
My husband, Andrew, most days, brings me a mug of coffee wherever I am. “Freshly ground, freshly brewed. Made with love, just for you!” ( I know, it’s cheesy but I love it.)
The mugs in our drawer have been collected from our travels, some from a favourite potter, some from dear friends, and one from our little granddaughter, Molly, who went to the dollar store and purchased this one “because it’s how grandpa looks!”
The secret to keeping the mug collection from consuming all the real estate in your kitchen is to simply designate a cupboard or drawer for them. Toss any that are chipped, badly stained (though diluted bleach will help) and ugly. Toss any that don’t feel good in your hand, or on your lips. Once your space is full and you find another one you HAVE to have- make a decision. One in- one out. And don’t forget- Clutter = Delayed Decision Making
By the way, did you know that the flavour and bitterness of your morning java is affected by the colour of the mug? If your mug is close to the colour of your coffee, you will perceive the brew to be sweeter and more mellow. The same brew served in a white mug will be perceived to be more bitter.
If organizing your fridge becomes a weekly habit, I guarantee you’ll spend a lot less money and will waste far less food. This is a job that is best done just before you have to go grocery shopping as there’ll be less inventory to take out.
Remove everything out of the fridge (not freezer)
Toss out expired items
Wipe down all the surfaces using mild soap and water. Wipe dry.
Put items into groups (ie- fruits in one container/ veggies in another, drinks together, condiments on the door
Anything that is random and looking a little limp, I throw into a pot for soup.
Wipe down handles and outside of the fridge and you’re done!
There’s 2 reasons to take stock of your freezer during the winter. First - you can pull everything out and keep it outside so it won’t melt while you’re working away AND it’s a great opportunity to use your imagination and creative culinary genius to create soups. Always have a sharpie and some masking/painter’s tape handy to mark the contents and date for those leftovers you put in so you’ll know what’s in those zipper bags! Anything over a year, just toss! Don’t second guess yourself. No matter how much you spent on it, it’ll taste gross. I use plastic dishpans to group items into categories so it’s easy to find that random chicken breast or the bag of left-over strawberries.
Collect all your meds and put anything that has expired into a bag to take to your nearest pharmacy. Please don’t dump them down the toilet.
I’ve been in homes where medicine cabinets and drawers are STUFFED with beauty products. We all have a limited capacity for decision making and I don’t want to waste my brain cells on choosing what to use each morning . My dad gave me some good advice when I started experimenting with makeup. He said, “Companies and advertisers prey on women’s insecurities. Don’t be a sucker. You’re already pretty.”
And while some products are definitely superior to others, dermatologists agree that heredity, diet, stress, sunscreen and smoking are the factors that affect our skin the most. So..choose the products you love and use daily and toss the rest.
These can take up a LOT of real estate in your cupboard and I swear the lids have babies when the drawer is closed! I like to keep the lids on which I know takes up more space but they all fit into 1 deep drawer and it works for me. If you don’t have that luxury, nest your containers and put the lids in one space. You can store lids in anything as cheap as a cut-out cereal box to custom made cupboards. Here’s a link showing several ways to organize this space.
When I go grocery shopping, I usually take my green totes but lately, when I shop online, I end up with tons of plastic bags. Some of them are used to line garbage pails and the rest go in a designated drawer. When that drawer fills up, the rest get re-cycled.
Unless you’re the Queen or are paying through the nose. Here’s one idea I learned from my Aunt Ruth who ran a B&B, She installed a towel bar on the back of each bedroom door. I went home and did the same and our laundry decreased dramatically. Every Friday, I change the towels, and each person has 2. I keep 6 hand towels in one clear plastic shoebox and 10 washcloths in another. My motto: File- Don’t - Pile!
Okay- I know. This is probably going to take longer than 15 minutes, but if you set your timer and JUST start, you can give yourself permission to stop after the alarm goes off. But my guess is that you’ll be so into it, that your momentum will keep you motivated to continue. Toss any broken toys, puzzles with missing pieces, or toys that they’ve outgrown. This is also a good opportunity to teach about sharing and donating to other kids who aren’t as lucky. Allocate a specific amount of space for toys and if they don’t all fit, you can box them up, hide them, and every 3-6 months, rotate them.
When our 3 daughters were teens, our mudroom was constantly strewn with shoes. I’d have to pick my way through dozens of them to make it to the washroom. Finally, in desperation, I purchased a large wicker basket with a lid. All they had to do was toss them in. But no matter how I nagged, pleaded and threatened, taking a pee in the night was still like stepping over landmines.
So one cold, winter day, I scooped up all the shoes that didn’t make it into the basket into a garbage bag, threw my parka over my p.j.s and trudged 270 ft. through a foot of snow to the back shed. Then I shoved the door open and threw all the shoes out of the bag. And there they lay, wedged among shovels, rakes, tools and the lawnmower. It was not my proudest parenting moment but after enduring some wails, the problem was solved!
I have a friend whose closet is lined with shoes, beautifully showcased. She loves to buy a pair to go with each new outfit. I tend to purchase the best neutral pairs I can afford. One pair of black heels, running shoes, white KEDS, a couple pairs of sandals and some flats and I’m good to go. When you’re looking through your shoes, think about the last time you wore them. Do you love them? Are they comfortable? If you’re looking to streamline your wardrobe, (or any of your other possessions), these are some questions to ask yourself.
Look at each item of jewelry and check for loose claws on diamonds or gemstones. To get those gems sparkling again, make up a mixture of warm water with a few drops of dish soap. Soak your chains, rings, etc. for ½ hour then with an old toothbrush, gently brush then rinse. You’ll be amazed at how sparkly and new they look!
Okay, I have to come clean (pun intended)...I’m a sucker for any new cleaning product that comes on the market. Even my husband noticed the groaning shelf in our basement. But the truth is, after trying so many products that promised to cut grease quicker, leave a streak-free shine, or leave my furniture gleaming, I inevitably harken back to my “go-to” products that never disappoint. And surprisingly, there’s only 4 of them. A homemade mixture of vinegar, alcohol and water for glass and windows; Vim floor cleaner (works great and smells even better); Pledge for wood; and Vim bathroom cleaner for everything else including the toilet. If you’re overloaded with too many products, consider donating them to your local women/men’s shelter. You can also buy Vim bathroom cleaner in concentrated min-bottles so you can keep your original spray bottle and help save the planet. Once in a while, I’ll dump a bit of bleach into our toilets, but honestly, a squirt of bathroom cleaner and a quick swish are all they need to look spotless. And no…I am not paid by Vim to promote them :)
The nose knows! If you take the lid off your spice bottle and take a whiff, your nose will tell you if it’s still fresh. If you haven’t used it in a year, it won’t be fresh unless it’s cloves. Cloves, for some reason, always smell strong to me. Purchasing spices at your local bulk food store will save you a LOT of money. I keep mine in those little glass jars with white lids and label each with a sharpie. Depending on covid regulations, you can bring your clean, empty jar into the store and only purchase what will fill the jar. If you end up with more than will fit, simply freeze the excess.
A new year is a great time to purge last year’s magazines. It’s time for a fresh start! You can take them to your doctor/ dentist’s office to replace the premillennial mags that often grace their waiting room tables. I’m also curious to know how many of you get a physical newspaper delivered to your door and how long you keep them. If you’re trying to cut back on paper clutter, try Inoreader- a free app that highlights the latest news in small chunks.
Toques and T-shirts
It seems we’re always being offered this free merch and it ends up overflowing our drawers. Pick a few you love and donate the rest. I promise you’ll love the extra space this 15 minute purge will provide!
Last year, I removed a pegboard from my office and needed to touch up the wall paint. Although I used the same paint can, the walls had faded and the touch ups were noticeable. Depending on your room’s sun exposure and other factors, that old paint may be unusable. Also dispose of any old, dried up cans by pouring equal amounts of cat litter into it. Let it set, then throw it in the garbage. Or take your cans to the recycling centre in your town.
Sales of board games and jigsaw puzzles have skyrocketed since the pandemic. For many families, playing games together has proved to be a wonderful time of bonding and fun, especially during our cold Canadian winter months. But if there are games you don’t like playing anymore, or any that the kids have outgrown, it’s time to let them go. Also, pitch any games and puzzles with missing pieces. It is incredibly frustrating to finish a puzzle only to find a gaping hole in it!
I’m not a fan of unitaskers. These are the little gizmos and gadgets that promise to make your time in the kitchen easier by doing one thing only. Like strawberry hullers, egg separators, and garlic presses, these toys take time to be washed and take up precious room in your drawers. Ask yourself, “Do I need 3 slotted spoons and 4 bread knives?” Take 15 minutes and empty the drawer or countertop container, wipe it clean and replace only the utensils you actually use. And by the way, you don’t need more than one good quality cutting board unless you’re cooking with others (though they DO look cute layered in a modern farmhouse kitchen.) A good quality wooden board is anti-bacterial, comes clean with a scrub of soap and water and will last for years with an occasional swipe of mineral oil.So there you have it! 22 categories ..22 minutes…Happy 2022! I’d love to know how many you’ve conquered. And as always, I treasure your tips and tricks for making space for what matters!