Organizing with Limits in the Kitchen

Professional Organizer and clutter-buster, Nonnahs Driskill, gives you three easy ways to keep your stuff from taking over your kitchen cabinets.


Spanx vs the Lapband: what’s your clutter situation?

Did you ever consider losing clutter to be analogous to losing weight? It is! And though everyone is unique, in Get Organized Already’s professional organizing adventures three different situations show up over and over.

Which of the following weight loss scenarios best describes you? Check out my pro tips to help you get organized no matter what the size of your clutter is.
nonni w basket

Tummy tuck anyone?

Sometimes when we walk in the door with our cute aprons and our magic organizing basket, people want to have a complete overhaul. Their house, or just a room, is too packed to be usable anymore. If this sounds familiar, you are probably too overwhelmed to know where to start.

Pro tip: Start with a trash bag, a lined donation bin, and a box for any papers you find. Start in one corner of the room and set a timer. Touch everything only once, put each item in the appropriate container, and work until the timer goes off. That’s less daunting than tackling the whole room, right? In situations like this, our professional team will spend a few hours getting your room, or home, back to a manageable state. The momentum will keep you moving forward on your own or with people who love you.

Staying in shape

My personal organizing style is livable and comfortable. I know where everything is, but the beds may not be made. (Shocking, I know! But this is real life we are living—not a movie.) As long as the people in my home know where stuff lives, we can all navigate around each other and not spend our time searching for our things (and yelling, “HAVE YOU SEEN IT?” across the house). This scenario is for those who need a maintenance plan to keep their home organized.

Pro tip: Let all users of items know where things belong using labels. (It doesn’t have to be fancy. A sticky note or painter’s tape works just fine inside cabinets, drawers, and pantries.)

People generally flip out about this comfortable style of organizing because they have fallen victim to thinking that organized means rigid and perfect. Newsflash: perfection is not possible! A comfortable style of organizing suits most people because it is realistic and less expensive (as in no fancy labels or matching containers to buy). And works a lot better than what about 56 percent of you have going on right now: the dreaded PicMonkey Collagewe-don’t-have-a-system approach.

Ready for the college reunion

At the far end of the organizing continuum lie the Martha Stewart and Howard Hughes personalities of the world. Get Organized Already can help you, too! I have two lovely ladies on my organizing team with extensive backgrounds in interior design. They are amazing at creating the types of rooms you see in magazines. Whenever someone calls and I can tell they want to take their home to the next level (think Better Homes and Gardens or Apartment Therapy), I send out my Label Ladies.

I love to be in these places: fresh flowers and herbs in the entryway, a calendar printed in chalkboard paint and framed in a custom frame. Open the drawers and angels sing. The labels whisper beautiful phrases like, “fresh nutmeg” and “organic basmati rice.”

I’m not kidding. It is very peaceful and if I could, I’d have a Get Organized Already organizer over here every day to keep my shizzle looking like that in a heartbeat!

Pro tip: Getting organized isn’t a one time event. It has to happen regularly.

Everyone has their comfort level. Whatever your state of comfort or chaos, there’s a way to stay organized. And my team can help you accomplish your vision of the just-right organized home for less than you spend on two trips to Whole Foods. True story.

Turkey Day Preppers

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Photo credit to Vicki Nikolaidis via Flickr

Preparing for Thanksgiving is kind of like preparing for the end of the world. Everyone is hoarding food, the store shelves are stripped bare, and everyone is running around like they are never going to see the light of tomorrow.

The biggest stresser is timing. I mean, the turkey takes hours, the gravy takes minutes. There are sides, and salads, desserts, and cocktails. How in the world are you going to make sure everything comes out at the right time?

Plan ahead.

This important step may add a little more time to your prep routine, but it will be worth it. It’s something I have done to keep me from losing it every holiday season. Plus, once you have your routine down to a science, you can it apply it to other times like birthdays or the super bowl party your other half springs on you a week before.

First things first: The guest list. You can’t possibly know how much to make if you have no idea how many people are coming.

Once you have your list, prepare 1.5 servings per person even for children, because while they may not eat their allotted serving, that extra will be there for the person who comes back for their third plate.

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Photo credit to Bruce Turner via Flickr

Next thing: Grocery list. Decide ahead of time what you’re going to make and write a list of food items with each one’s ingredients underneath. You don’t need to include measurements in this list. Go through your pantry and cabinets and cross off what you already have on hand. Eggs, butter, and milk are things to buy even if you have some on hand. Chances are you’re going to need more than what you have.

To make your big day easier, prep some of your food the day before. Assemble the baked macaroni so all you’ll have to do is pop it in the oven while the turkey is resting. Boil your potatoes the day before and mash them on the day of. You can even put pies together, refrigerate, and bake them while everyone is eating.

How much early preparation you do depends on your comfort level and what you’re making. To make it easier (and because I’m a huge list person), write out everything you will be making the day before. List all of the preparatory steps one food item at a time. The list will keep you from feeling frazzled, and going in circles.

What are some Thanksgiving cooking tips and tricks you find helpful?

Or is this your first Thanksgiving? If so, what are some concerns and worries you have?

Organizing dishes: Break out the china!

Do you have some fancy pants china in your kitchen cabinets? Does anyone in your family know it’s there? In other words, do you ever use it?

too precious to use?

too precious to use?

One of the cardinal rules of organizing a kitchen is to use your real estate wisely because most of us don’t have expansive kitchens. So if you are not using that china on a monthly basis, I’ll bet you can find a more practical place to store it to make room in your cabinets for the things you do use every day and each week.

Not-so-prime Real Estate

Move the china to harder to reach cabinets above the fridge, the stove, or even in the dining room.

Garage/Storage space

If you only use china for the winter holidays, why not keep it in the garage with the other seasonal decorations? Even if you use it twice a year, this is a viable option.

Use it!

Now let’s get real about whether or not you even want to use your fancy china. Are you afraid you’ll break it? Don’t let that keep you from using it. In fact, don’t let that keep you from using anything you own. You are worth it and life is short.

Please don’t tell me you aren’t using it because you are saving it for your grandkids because your grandkids can use it now! Save them a trip to IKEA–go ahead and give it to them today.

I have a few pieces from different china patterns that I love and those pieces stand up very well to everyday use. It’s a comfort to me to know they don’t contain lead like most dinnerware being produced now (in China). I put goldfish crackers in the little bowls for my kids. I serve ice cream in them. I put them in the dishwasher and if they ever do break I can get other pieces pretty easily because unfortunately, the world is full of un-used, well-made china and crystal.

My last question is, do you love your china pattern? If you don’t, let’s talk about letting it go.

selling online is the most likely non-auction site to buy pieces of your pattern. However, it isn’t all sunshine and flowers. You still have to package it and mail in it and they pay you just a small percentage.

When I get china from clients I check with my buddies at iSoldit on eBay in Pasadena and they let me know if it’s worth passing the set on to them to sell. The store takes care of the packaging and the eBay hassles. But again, you won’t get a lot of cash for your china this way. In fact, in 80% of cases with my clients, the store has deemed the pattern “not worth it”.

So, is your pattern worth it? Check for your pattern on Craigs List and on eBay to get an idea of how rare it is and how much it’s going for.

look for the stamp

look for the stamp

Find the stamp on the bottom of your pieces to determine the maker and pattern name of your stuff. In general, serving pieces are worth more than plates and bowls.

Another option for selling china or crystal is I only recommend selling items there if you already have a shop going. It’s like eBay–definitely an option, but not worth learning the ropes just to make $40.

donate it

I’m sorry to report that selling your china isn’t going to make you a huge wad of cash. And unless you have some really vintage stuff in mint condition it’s probably time to take it to the thrift shop. Let a hipster take it home and prove to their friends how eclectic they are! You can also donate it to a church or shelter if you want to spend some time finding a specific home for it. But for a one-stop solution, I recommend the Goodwill every time.

How to organize your Tupperware

A video peak into my organized Tupperware cabinet

Did you have one of those lunchboxes?