I should maybe have titled this post “Grief Made Me Want To Throw Out Everything In My House”…
An interesting byproduct of the grieving process (for me) has been the overwhelming urge to purge and organize. I understand it is a control thing. When you have your life shift so violently and lose someone that important so suddenly you are put in a place where you are grasping to have control of something. “What can I control?”
Well, I can certainly control how my house looks, how we live in it, how we use it and what we are surrounded by. Also what I wear, because let’s face it, that directly affects how you feel (I talked about that here)… but I am going to save the closet organization for another post because that is a whole other story!
Cleaning and moving out my brother’s apartment was the most sobering experience. All these things, these items that are your personal belongings… It is hard to describe the feeling and emotions attached to that process, but it made me want to streamline EVERYTHING. Only have things we NEED and LOVE.
Life is way too short to hang on to plates you received for your wedding but just never use; probably because you don’t like them anymore. Release them to someone who would love them and use them and would, as Marie Kondo says, find joy in them. Items must spark joy!
My house is really still a work in progress- we were just finishing our last renovation project when my brother died and I still feel like I have not settled back in; putting things where they should belong even 8 months later. So not every area has been organized… yet… But a good portion of it has been cleaned out. You must start with the purging before you can organize.
I had read Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing a while back and definitely found value in her philosophy. I also love The Home Edit by Clea Shearer & Joanna Teplin. They make you realize you can be organized AND have it look pretty to boot! o achieve that clean look you just have to have similar/matching containers… they really don’t need to be the most expensive.
So once you have gotten yourself to purging (this process can take A LONG time!) you have to find a place to send/drop all this stuff. Even cleaning out your pantry… yes, there may be expired cans of beans, but I am sure there is food in there you haven’t used or won’t that someone else can benefit from! I recommend looking into local shelters and charity organizations who accept donations. Veterinary offices, animal shelters and boarding houses will also take used towels and blankets for the animals. I really love Habitat For Humanity ReStore for big furniture and house goods. For smaller items, everything from kitchen utensils to stuffed animals I have found that Pick Up Please is the BEST. All donations benefit veterans and what is better than that?
You can also sell items in good used condition… or some with tags still on. We have a quite a few local consignment stores so check that out in your neighborhood, but also Facebook Tag Sales/Marketplace have been very successful for me, especially for kids items! Also, The Real Real for luxury goods and Linda’s Stuff for everything from J.Crew to AG Jeans.
Now, back to the kitchen. I went through every single cabinet and really looked at what we used and needed… pantry to pot holder drawer to the freezer! Once that was all done it was time for the fun stuff: organizing!
Like I said above, you don’t need tons of fancy containers to have a neat kitchen, my favorite is actually a mason jar and wire baskets I got at Walmart.
These pictures are not photo shoot perfect, because life isn’t perfect, they are actually how we live. I just opened my cabinet and fridge and snapped a shot. There is always going to be a random box of instant mashed potatoes from a recipe or too big bottle of wine wedged in the fridge, but I am okay with that.
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What I used to organize:
- Metal Baskets – I bought mine at Walmart and they aren’t available on line but these ones on amazon look identical! They are perfect for corralling the jams in the fridge and the snacks in the pantry. It is so much easier to grab the whole basket and pull it out for what you want that having to move around each individual jar!
- Undershelf Baskets – I have one of these in our tiny hall closet- perfect for aluminum foil and parchment paper! If you have shelves that are tall this give you a little extra storage.
- Pyrex Snapware – I did “invest” in some new storage. I love the glass, which can go directly into the microwave for leftovers, but I also like to prep fruit and vegetables for the week and store in these containers. You can see exactly what you have and makes cooking or grabbing a snack that much easier!
- Mason Jars – I love wide mouth mason jars for just about everything. I have a weekly salad dressing stored in the fridge, we use them for kids art supplies, but I really love them to store pantry ingredients. Arrowroot to cocoa powder in the pantry and nuts and GF flours in the fridge (all tucked in a handy metal basket of course).
- Mason Jar Plastic Lids – These are a MUST. You can write on the top in sharpie marker and they don’t rust out in the dishwasher.
- Washi Tape – I like using washi tape to label all the jars and baskets!
- Sharpie Markers – For those mason jar lids and also easy to write on the washi tape. Good to also mark the expiration dates!
- OXO Good Grips Storage Containers – Pantry essentials. Perfect for cereals, pasta, oats, all your dry goods!
- Sterilite Medium Ultra Basket – I have these in multiple sizes. Sturdy and and a clean look. Great in a pantry for your oils, sauces and vinegars. Just line the bottom with a small piece of tin foil. (The Small and the Large are great too.)
White Elfa Utility Mesh Pantry Door & Wall Rack Solution – I never knew how much I needed this… it gives you so much extra storage space! I transferred two whole shelves in my pantry into this!
- Mesh Drawer Divider – I use these in my drawers to organize but also in my fridge to store cheese sticks, yogurt pouches etc.