Tag Archives: kitchen

5 Smart Spice Storage Tips

Reprinted with permission from hgtv.com


They say variety is the spice of life, and that’s also true in your kitchen. Whether you’re a keep-it-simple sort or a devoted gourmet, an assortment of dried spices is a must for every pantry. A few pinches of the right seasonings make the difference between dull and delicious.

But a jar of thyme can quickly become three in a disorganized stash of spices, while once-fragrant herbs wither in dark corners. Professional organizer Kathi Burns saves her clients from making such missteps. “We’re chef wannabes at my house, so we have every spice possible,” says Burns, CPO of San Diego’s Make Space in Your Life! “I’m always testing new organizing solutions.” We’ve got the dish on the best ways to keep your spices fresh and at the ready.

Stock up on versatile staples. Start with black pepper, salt’s better — or at least healthier— half. Popular all the world over, it adds essential bite to countless culinary styles. Purists will insist on whole peppercorns and a grinder, but ground pepper serves the same purpose. Other home chef favorites include ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, bay leaves, dried bay leaves, chili powder, oregano and cumin.

Figure out the best storage option for your space. If you can spare a cabinet shelf, a single three-tier spice rack should be plenty for the average home cook. Mounted pull-down spice racks make even the back row easily accessible. “It’s old-school and it works,” says Burns. Stylish new storage options continue to surface as well, such as sleek magnetic wall strips that hold sealed spice cans right where you need them. Just keep them clear of direct heat and light.

Organize your spices by cuisine. “Indian spice trays are one of my favorite things for the kitchen,” says Burns. The most common version features a round metal tray, seven small containers, a tiny spoon and a lid for the whole thing. Modern variations can be found everywhere from Etsy to Williams-Sonoma.

“I have several clients who cook specific kinds of food, like Lebanese or Hungarian,” adds Burns. “These containers help them keep everything together.” The spice trays also make fantastic gifts, especially with a corresponding ethnic cookbook.

Do an annual sweep of your pantry. Spices have a limited shelf life. Some experts claim six months is the rule of thumb, but others say that’s way too conservative. Stored properly, ground spices (nutmeg, tumeric) and ground herbs (thyme, sage) might stay fresh for two or three years. Whole spices like cloves and cinnamon sticks can last up to four years, as can some seeds.

By checking yearly, though, you’ll know what needs to be refilled and what probably should be tossed. When in doubt, give it a whiff. If spices smell stale, they’re done. A rancid scent is also a clear sign to throw it away. Marking open dates on new additions will help you determine freshness down the line.

Experiment in small doses. Cooking a new type of cuisine at home often requires purchasing several new spices. You may love Ethiopian food, but will you ever need berbere again after your first — and only — attempt at doro wat? If you’re unsure, try to buy the spices from a specialty shop, where you can pick up small amounts from bulk containers.

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A Messy Pantry Gets Organized

Pantry Before

Before:  A mother asked for our help when she became fed up with her disorganized pantry. Her 3 kids would make a mess every time they went in there, so we needed to develop a system that everyone would understand and follow.


Pantry After

After:  We created zones and made better use of the can stacking device and lazy susan that were underutilized in the space. The can stacking device, which was pushed in the back of the pantry is now front and center. The lazy susan is in the back corner housing sauces and other liquids, and a quick spin keeps anything from getting lost in the corner.

Pantry After

We also moved all of the kids’ favorite foods to 2 shelves that they can easily reach. The kids’ section is in the back of the pantry rather than right by the door so that if they do make a mess, the rest of the pantry is still accessible. We containerized the kids’ snacks, bread, and sandwich ingredients in clear plastic double shoeboxes. We also put cereal into tall, clear plastic containers. This eliminated stale, unsealed cereal bags and empty boxes from going back on the shelf.

Pantry After

The shelves near the entry of the pantry are now used for Dad’s supplements and bars as well as canned and dry goods that the kids don’t use.

We also made a zone for baking items like sprinkles, food coloring, etc and those are now in a lidded container behind the more often used items, to be pulled out when needed.

Pantry After

We containerized medicines, separated by type so they can easily be found when needed. We also made room for sodas which use to live outside the pantry.  We made sure to keep them in a plastic container as they had leaked in the past.

Finally, we labeled all containers so there is no question as to where things belong. This is a very important step when you need everyone in the family to work together to keep an area organized!

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Organizing Your Refrigerator Can Expand Your Wallet and Reduce Your Waistline


Today I’m going to share with you the often overlooked importance of organizing your fridge.

Now, you may want to throw your hands in the air and say, “What?!

I have to organize that too?!”

And the answer is YES! But the good news is that organizing your fridge is easy, and comes with massive additional benefits.

With an organized fridge, meal preparation time can be cut in half or more.

You can also prevent over-eating and excess snacking by having limited quanitites of food in specific places within your fridge.

Additionally, you’ll be able to keep your food for the maximum amount of time without spoilage.

A clear example of this is storing salad dressings, condiments, soda or jelly in your refridgerator drawer — these items are much less likely to spoil at the lower temperatures.

Then, keep your milk and meat towards the top of the fridge, where the temperature is usually coldest.

These very simple tips can save you hundreds of dollars on spoiled food.

See how powerful simple organization is?

To discover how to live at maximum efficiency thanks to simple organization, go here now:


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Eight Quick and Easy Kitchen Storage Solutions

As a Professional Organizer, over the years I have tested and used many pantry organizing products. I have found several that I seem to use over and over again. I decided to post eight of my favorites to help you keep order in your pantry.

Stepper Shelves Stepper Shelves: These steps really take the (more…)

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The Keys to Designing a Functional Kitchen

Functional Kitchen

Today, kitchens are the focal point of many homes and account for a fair percentage of the total square footage in any new home. Planning a kitchen for optimal workflow will enable you to get the most out of your space. What you do most in your kitchen will determine the focus, but there are a (more…)

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Ready to clean but can’t find the scrubber brush?

Cleaning Kit

Solution: Keep a separate bucket of cleaning products in each major cleaning area, i.e. a complete set for kitchen & a separate set for the bathroom. Each bucket should contain sponges, gloves, cleaner sprays & separate specialty items such as toilet bowl cleaner, shower door spray or oven cleaner, When you are ready to tackle the job, simply pull out your bucket & you are ready to go! Once the job is completed, simply put it back in the cabinet under the sink

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Ten quick refrigerator organizing tips, Plus 5 freezer organizing tips

clean refrigerator

1. If your fridge is not equipped with enough drawers for your food habits, create your own drawer. Buy long narrow plastic bins that run the depth of your shelf. Place all of your cheeses into one container with lunchmeats next to the cheese in a similar container.

2. If you have more condiments than space in your doors, keep the most frequently used condiments in the door and store the remaining sauces together towards the back on your shortest shelf.

3. Beverages follow a similar pattern. Keep a few in the door and the rest clustered together on the top and back of the tallest shelf, which is generally the coldest zone. If you mix your own juices, keep this decanter next to the other bottles and jugs.

4. Create spaces for “like with like” for instance, dairy with dairy, meat with meat and so on.

5. Leftovers and prepared foods should have their own zone on a short shelf at eye level. This way, they are more likely to be seen and eaten. The short shelf makes it less likely that other items will be piled on top.

6. Use square or rectangular plastic storage containers for the fridge, Round bowls create wasted space and do not stack or fit well side-by-side.

7. If your family eats more than a dozen eggs per week, consider forgoing the egg container provided by the refrigerator manufacturer. Instead, stack your eggs in their original lidded crates on the short shelf beside the cheese and meat bins. A bonus: Your eggs stay fresh longer in their original container.

8. To create long-lasting order, mimic your favorite grocery store departments. This organizational habit will make it easier for you and your family to remember where to find and return items in your refrigerator.

9. For quick snacks, keep a bowl of peeled carrots, cut celery or other healthy foods on the front of the shelf nearest eye level. This tactic might distract the hungry hands that normally root around and rearrange the fridge.

10. Organize and clean out your fridge every week before you buy groceries. This makes it easier to create a shopping list and makes restocking a snap because containers will be at a minimum and space at maximum.

Bonus Report:

5 Freezer Organizing Tips

1. Stack flat boxes together in the freezer.

2. Save space by storing frozen leftovers in square or rectangular containers.

3. Store cans with cans, Juices with juices, ice cream with ice cream and so on.

4. Store your frozen vegetable bags in the door whenever possible. If you have more bags than door space, consider storing them in a deep plastic bin. They will stack and you will avoid the hazard of bags toppling out of the freezer when you open the door.

5. If you make smoothies regularly, store your frozen fruits in a long narrow plastic bin in the freezer to keep the sticky fruit residue off of the kitchen counter and the freezer shelf. It also makes it easy to grab all ingredients with little effort.

by Kathi Burns – addSpace To Your Life!TM,
a Professional Organizing and Image Consulting Agency
Want to get better organized and look your best?
Get more quick tips by visiting the addSpace To Your Life!TM website.
Request Free addSpace eTips by clicking on the top right button.

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Organizing kitchen


A good kitchen design will have streamlined workflow patterns and also compliment your family’s lifestyle and cooking patterns. This article is written to help those in the process of remodeling and others that simply wish to streamline the working areas within their existing kitchen.

Consider the flow patterns within your kitchen. Examples of flow patterns will be; prep, cook, bake, clean, incoming and store. A well-planned kitchen will flow smoothly. Simply stated, things will be at your fingertips when you need them.

Start by considering the prep area. This space should be located by the sink and should have an ample amount of open countertop area. The best position for this area would also be adjacent to the refrigerator. Knives, cutting boards, colanders, mixing bowls and related tools should be within arms reach.

The cook area positioned around the stove naturally should contain all devices related to cooking. Pots, pans, lids, spoons, spatulas, tongs, and spices should live within this space.

The baking zone is flexible depending on the amount of baking you perform. One client’s baking area is very large and comprehensive because she is the official cake baker for every birthday in the neighborhood. Obviously, she needs a lot of drawer space for cake décor, icing, coloring packets and all of the other goodies bakers use. She also requires extra space for specialty baking molds and platters. This area also contains mixing bowls, blenders, toothpicks, hot pads, cooling racks and trivets. Some people rarely bake and use their oven once a month for the pot roast. If this is the case in your household, simply store your baking dishes and potholders within this zone.

The cleaning zone will include the sink area. If you are lucky enough to design a large kitchen, consider installing a separate sink by the prep zone to keep your areas more sanitary. The clean zone will contain sponges, dishcloths, soaps and towels.

To simplify your grocery shopping, use one area consistently for your incoming groceries. This incoming zone should be positioned next to the fridge and pantry and have a wide-open counter area for unloading grocery bags.

Many kitchens also function as the family hub. If this is the case, make sure to create a zone for family members to congregate and also participate in the cooking process if desired. This is where islands can come in very handy. While side of the island typically faces the stove, the ideal island will include a small sink close to the other side for food prep so that others in the kitchen can be out of the way and still participate in the cooking process.

If kids come to this area directly after school, install hooks for backpacks on the side of the counter and a few shelves close by for school supplies. Accommodating these items will alleviate stress and clutter in the kitchen. It also provides a great space for family members to congregate, do homework and other projects while the meal is being prepared. The pantry can also double as a school supply cupboard.

The pantry location is optimal when it is positioned between the outside door and the refrigerator. Pantry storage and optimization is a whole topic on it’s own. Check back for an article dedicated specifically to organizing pantries.

Kathi is a Professional Organizer, image Consultant based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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What’s in Your Junk Drawer?

It’s time for me to admit that I have not cleaned out my junk drawer for at least 2 years. Truth be told,  it was created when we moved in!

Now I do feel that every home should have one (ONE) junk drawer and I do help my clients create them. This way, there is a designated place to stash the miscellaneous and random tools like matchbooks, keys, screwdrivers, pens and tape. junkdrawerb This particular drawer had big appeal to me as a junk drawer when I set up house for 2 reasons:

1. It was located in my kitchen

2. It was the smallest drawer in the kitchen.

Since my kitchen, like most, is the family hub, it made sense to create a junk drawer there. And my rational is that if I used a very small drawer, I would probably have less junk. And due to it’s size, it would not take long to get out of control and I would be prompted to clean it out sooner, as opposed to later!

So, sure enough I dumped everything out into my large salad bowl and made quick work of sorting and tossing. One bag for trash, one bag for donate (I have no idea where all of the pens and post it pads came from), one bag for outbound to other drawers and all of the rest back into the new drawer organizer.

nojunkdrawer By the way, my new drawer organizer was the beginning of my inspiration to clean out that particular area! Whatever it takes to get going is always a good thing!

I was on a roll so I decided to take a quick trip around my house and get rid of a few more things. Here is what I ended up donating. Yay!

my donations

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Organizing for ADHD


Dear Kathi,

Here’s the scene: I have three kids and a husband who constantly bring stuff into the house and dump it on the kitchen table, counter, and kitchen desk. I like these surfaces to be clear of “stuff,” yet every day I’m the one who spends a good hour or two sorting through these things and sending them off in bags to everyone’s rooms. I’ve tried giving each offender a mail sorter tray, as well as designated baskets and drawers.

My husband and oldest daughter are both ADHD compromised and complain that if I toss their things in a basket or drawer where they can’t see it, then they most likely will forget about it. Can you give me any other ideas to help cut down on the “dumping ground” in my kitchen? What rule of thumb can I give my family to help them to be more responsible for putting things where they belong, and not in piles on the first cleared off surface they come to?


Meg, NC


I commend your efforts so far to try to keep your home space free of clutter. With the challenges at hand, you’ll have to enforce a new habit with your loved ones for at least 6-8 weeks. It normally takes this long to change a habit and could take possibly longer with your family members.

You’ve said that baskets and trays have not worked on the past. If I could tour your house, I would walk through and determine the trafficking patterns of your family. For instance, do they enter through the front door, the garage or back door? Where is your kitchen in this flow?

If they have to walk through the house to get to the kitchen and then dump their items, it could be that they do not feel comfortable in the entranceway foyer and want to beeline it to the kitchen where everyone spends their time. They might feel that if they leave their items in the front foyer they truly will forget them because they never go there throughout the day, only when passing in and out of the house. The same could be said about the garage entryway.

There was a time when everyone had mudrooms to collect the outside weather before it came into the house. Have you noticed that mudrooms are coming back into style? With organizing such a hot topic now, people are appreciating the fact that mud rooms not only collect rain and snow they also provide a natural place to collect family items as they enter and leave the house. They serve beautifully as ‘family central’ for correspondence, shoes, back packs etc.

Even if you don’t have the space to create a mudroom, you can mimic this idea by installing a long bench seat with storage baskets, back pack hooks etc close to the area that your family enters the home. Make it cozy and comfortable; add seat cushions to the bench.

If space prohibits even a bench at the entryway, I would create a dumping ground where they frequently hang out. Your kitchen is probably attached to a great room and serves as the hub of family life. If this is the case, find an area within this space and place long shallow basket for each family member here. You can actually find basket shelves. These might work well for you. Keep these baskets shallow for starters so that they don’t have the “out of sight, out of mind” excuse. Each person should have his or her own basket or tray. They alone will be responsible for loading and unloading it, not mom.

You stand a better chance of creating new habits if you arrange these baskets conveniently and make them attractive, i.e. with an easy chair beside them so they can learn to plop down and unload. Or position these baskets at counter height.

Remember that now they have it easy. You are serving as their clutter concierge and their items are conveniently making their way to their rooms with little effort on their part. So, in order to create change you will need to change your own habits. Bite the bullet when things aren’t as neat as you would prefer. At least you will have your counters back. Insist that they ‘do not pass go’ and drop before they make their way to their new dump space. If items land in your kitchen space, you move them directly to their designated dump zones, not to their rooms.

It might get messy and out of control for a month or so while they learn. You need to hold tight, stick to your guns, do not enable or handle it for them. Insist that each person take responsibility for his/her items. If their baskets overflow, so be it. They will eventually learn that they need to deal with their personal clutter or they will be lost and have to forage in the mornings to find their belongings.

Keep at it and enable them to keep track of their possessions. This is a habit that will serve them for life, especially for those with ADHD. Remember that ADHD is a challenge but should never serve as an excuse. Good luck! Let me know how it works out in a few months.

Thanks for writing and don’t hesitate to write with any other specific questions.

Please submit your questions to: advice@addspacetoyourlife.com

San Diego Professional Organizer

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