simplify 101
Creative Organizing Blog

November 07, 2011

Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays: 28 Day Challenge – Day 12

Day 12: Clean the Oven and Cook Top

28 days-simplify101


Have you noticed we’ve been spending a lot of time in the kitchen during this challenge? For good reason! For one thing, we definitely have kitchens on the brain because we are so excited over this new video workshop! And for another, our kitchens tend to be taxed to the max during the holidays.  Giving extra attention to this part of the house now means the heart of our homes will be pumping at its best during the upcoming festivities.


So before we boil the potatoes and bake the pumpkin pie, let’s give the oven and burners a thorough cleaning. How you do this will vary by cook top and oven type, so refer to your owners’ manuals for best results! I do prefer to be a bit “greener” in my cleaning, so where my owner’s manual suggests Soft Scrub I opt for Bon Ami instead.



I hope the weather where you are allows for some open windows, because I usually need some extra ventilation while cleaning my oven! Now that things have gotten a good scrubbing, I will commit to wiping up spills promptly to keep my stove and oven in top shape for the holidays.


Happy Cleaning!

Jens signature black

November 04, 2011

Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays: 28 Day Challenge – Day 9

28 days-simplify101
Day 9:  Clean and Organize Your Fridge & Freezer


I think through the planning of my holiday meals, no problem. What I never seem to take into account is where I’m going to store all the necessary food items in advance of that, or the leftovers afterward. This year I have worked with Aby to create a printable we can all use to literally take stock of our stock, as well as our stews and casseroles.  In the workshops, Aby stresses that we have to create space for what’s coming. In order to do that, we’ve got to do a thorough clean-out and inventory of the fridge and freezer. Let’s get started!


First off, clear off a designated work space, such as a tables or countertops, to hold the items from your fridge or freezer. As you pull things out, it may help to use trays and tubs to keep things together, which will make it easier to put them back. Dispose of things past their expiration date or that you know will simply not be eaten, and wipe down any sticky containers or bottles.


Once the shelves are emptied, pull them out for a good washing with dishwater in the sink, and clean the inside. I like to use a vinegar-water spray for this step. Dry the shelves. But before you return the items, make notes about what you have that could be used up. In my own fridge, condiments drive me a little crazy sometimes, so I plan to make notes to help me consume some of these before the holidays. We’ll for sure be having chicken teriyaki and BBQ meatloaf very soon! Before you place items back in the freezer, fill out the freezer inventory, and use containers to keep like items together.


28-days-freezer-inventory-list -

Now we’ve got this inventory, but it won’t do us any good if we don’t keep it updated. For me, I think the easiest thing is going to be hanging it outside my freezer with a magnet. That way I can easily strike through the things I use as I take them out. I can also grab it to refer to when I do my weekly menu planning/grocery shopping list. 


Were you surprised by how much you actually had in the freezer? Is there anything you might be eating a lot of over the next 20 days?


Happy Cleaning & Organizing!

Jens signature black

P.S. This step-by-step assignment, along with the Freezer Inventory Download, is a little taste of what Aby has cooked up in her brand new Organize Your Kitchen workshop. If you liked this process and could use Aby’s help for your whole kitchen, click here for more information and to grab your spot in this workshop!

November 02, 2011

Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays: 28 Day Challenge – Day 7

28 days-simplify101
Day 7:  Wash Light Fixtures and Lampshades


This time of year where we live means shorter days, so I find myself wanting to do whatever I can to bring more light into our home. Washing light fixtures and lampshades is an easy way to brighten things up a bit.

Lightfixture_sink-copyright simplify101


How you clean them depends on the type of fixture or shade you’re cleaning. A sink of hot, soapy dishwater and a gentle cloth will get your glass fixtures gleaming, whereas you might use a vacuum attachment or a microfiber cloth for fabric or paper lampshades.  Some lampshades, such as silk, require professional cleaning. If you have fixtures in need of professional cleaning, this is the time!

Dust_lampshade-copyright simplify101

Now when the holidays arrive, entertaining by candlelight is just an option rather than a necessity to hide your dirty lampshades! 


Happy Cleaning!

Jens signature black

November 01, 2011

Get Your Home Ready for the Holidays: 28 Day Challenge – Day 6

28 days-simplify101

Day 6:  Declutter Your Halloween or Other Holiday Decorations

As I was pulling out our Halloween decorations this year, I realized most of it doesn’t really suit my sense of style anymore. And my kids have kind of outgrown most of it, too. As a result, most of it stayed in the bins. So I thought today, the day after Halloween, it would make sense to declutter this first set of holiday decorations—the Halloween stuff—in the spirit of making space for the upcoming holidays.


If you’re in a part of the world that doesn’t celebrate Halloween, you can still join in the fun today by decluttering other décor items. This could be going through your Fall / Winter (or Spring / Summer for my friends down under) decorations. Or you could simply reevaluate your year-round decorations. Your goal is to create some space, on your flat surfaces and possibly in your storage bins, for the Thanksgiving and / or Christmas decorations you’ll be pulling out this year.


Happy decluttering! And let us know how it goes in the comments.


P.S. Speaking of holidays, my online workshop Get Organized for the Holidays begins today! (I’m so excited!) This workshop shows you how to get your holiday to-do list under control so it is filled with the tasks and activities that make the holiday season meaningful and enjoyable for you and your family. It’s one of my favorite simplify 101 workshops, and I’d love for you to be a part of the fun and holiday preparations! You can learn more and grab your spot here.  

June 16, 2011

Get Organized for Summer: Create a Summer Outings Survival Kit

In my June checklist post, I mentioned the idea of creating a summer outings survival kit. If this is on your to-do list, here are some ideas to jump start this project.

First, think about the places you will be going this summer. Do you spend a lot of time at the pool or the beach? At the park for picnics? Will you be going to festivals or on family outings like Fourth of July Fireworks?

Next, think about the stuff that would make these outings a notch more enjoyable if you brought them along with you, or things that would help you be a notch more prepared if there were a minor emergency. Here are some ideas to get you started:


  • antibiotic ointment
  • Band-Aids®
  • breath mints
  • bug wipes or bug spray
  • cleansing wipes
  • hand sanitizer / wet wipes
  • chewing gum
  • itch relief stick
  • lip balm with SPF
  • Pepto-Bismol® tablets
  • Rolaids®
  • safety pin
  • saline solution
  • sunscreen
  • Tide to Go Stick(TM)
  • tissues
  • Tylenol®
  • Visine®

Next, corral your items together into a small, portable container like a cosmetics bag. I like to use gift card tins for small items like hand wipes, bandages, and pain relievers. (These tins are great to stash in your purse for an everyday kit, too.) 


Purse organizer 

Finally, set up a place to store all your extra kit items and anything else you want to keep at the ready for outings. I keep my extra supplies in buckets on my laundry room shelf.



A nearby bin contains small bags and a backpack for transporting my stuff, as well as can coolers, a camera case, a small roll of toilet paper, and a little First Aid kit.



If you have kiddos, make sure to include a little emergency prevention in your summer survival kit, too. Think along the lines of small, portable entertainment items like bottles of bubbles or this fabulous set of magnetic wooden blocks from Tegu. (If you click on the link, be sure to read the Tegu story, too. Very cool.)

Photo courtesy Tegu


Once you assemble your kit, all that's left to do is get out there and enjoy summer!


Your Turn: I'd love to hear from you. What's on your must-bring list when you head out for summer outings? Thanks for sharing your ideas!

January 15, 2010

Finish It Friday (again!)

Have you ever had one of those weeks that just seemed to evaporate into thin air? I have. Whew. Where did it go?

So here we are face to face with another weekend. Are you ready to finish up some lingering to-dos? I have a lot of things to do this weekend—like clean the house again, and other exciting things like that. But the one and only thing I am going to go on record with this weekend for Finish it Friday is to create a list of unfinished projects that are lingering in my midst. For example, I painted the master bedroom back in October (before the holidays and the big bed painting project of 2009 hit), and well, there are few little lingering to-dos left over from that project. Like paint the cold air return cover, and touch up the window sill. So, I'm going to take a little tour of my home and scrapbook room this weekend and do an inventory of unfinished projects. Then, I will decide which projects are worth finishing and add these to the list. The ones that aren't worth finishing...those will go out the door.

Who is in this weekend? If you are, just post your to-do list in the comments. Then check in on Monday and let us know how you did. Super easy, and surprisingly motivating. :) And if you aren't sure what you want to do this weekend, why not join me in putting together a list of unfinished projects. can join in the Finish it Friday fun every week. (Well, at least until everything is finished, that is.) :)  

January 08, 2010

Anyone Up for Finish It Friday?

I think I am. And I say think because, well, I rather enjoyed the slower pace of the holidays. And this slower pace seems to have carried over into the week. We're on snow day number two here, which has meant canceled evening activities, more time at home, and a slower pace in general. I loved it.

But I can feel my motivation and excitement percolating as I I guess I am ready to pick it up a notch or two, and get some things done this weekend. So here's my list:

  • Finish getting ready for Monday's appointments and speaking engagement.
  • Finish my 2010 list of 101 goals for my online goals workshop.
  • Finish laundry.
  • (Start) and finish cleaning the house.
  • Finish gathering documents for the corporate tax return.

Okay...enthusiasm is diminishing (just as fast as it appeared) with the addition of that last one. But at least once it's done, it's done for a full year. That should be motivation enough.

Alright! Are you in? If you're new to Finish it Friday, you can read about it here. I hope you join will give me even more motivation to finish up that last item on my list. :) 

Happy weekend to you!

December 11, 2009

Finish It Friday!

I have a feeling I’ll be finishing up lots of stuff this weekend, but there’s just one point of focus at the get-go:

  • Finish Kailea’s bed!
This involves carrying the bed into her room, setting it up, and then, organizing the new desk drawers, dresser drawers, and bookshelves. This, my friends, is the icing on what was a very tough-to-swallow cake—all that painting this time of year really got old. But, I think it will be so worth it! She is one excited little birthday girl!


What’s on your to-finish list this weekend? Any holiday to-dos that you’re itching to check off? I’d love to hear. If you’ve been sitting on the Finish It Friday sidelines, feel free to join in this week! It’s really motivating to know that we’re not going it alone—especially this time of year! (You can learn more about Finish It Friday here.) I can't wait to hear your plans. :)

October 23, 2009

Happy Friday!

Oh my gosh, it’s Friday again. Already. Did this week fly by for you, too?

At any rate, it’s Friday so it’s time for some weekend planning. I’m up for finishing some more stuff today and this weekend. Here’s my list:

  • Laundry — finish today so I don’t have to worry about it this weekend. Always better this way.
  • Paint the hallway — this is a maybe as it assumes that I can find a suitable paint color today.
  • List those two items on Craig’s list that are left over from last weekend.
  • Finalize Halloween costumes.
  • Make ghosts.


Okay…there’s my list.  What’s on your list this weekend?


November 21, 2006

this is progress? a.k.a. 12 week challenge update

I'm dying to know how you're doing on your 12 week challenge. It's oh-so hard to believe, yet oh-so true that on this Saturday, we will have just 4 weeks left in our 12 week challenge. Holy cow! Is that hard to believe or is it just me? So do share ... how are you coming along with your 12 week goal? I hope it's going great.

I'm still wondering why on earth I thought *now* would be the time to tackle my magazines. Of all things my magazines! But I did and so ... here's the progress report.

But ... before you see the picture, I must once again ask: this is progress?


Actually those somewhat messy stacks are clippings sorted by category. So ... oddly enough it *is* progress. (I should have taken a photo of the now empty picnic basket! That is tremendous success.)

But here's another photo ... sorted magazines in magazine sorters ... obviously still a work in process by the haphazard post-it note labels ... but it's progress, yes?


I have recycled oodles and oodles of magazines and even recycled a magazine on the same day I got it in the mail. Now that is beyond progress. That is unheard of!

How about you ... how is your project coming along? I can't wait to hear from you.

Oh ... and thanks to everyone for all the great goodie bag ideas! What fun. I'm actually excited to come up with something for my daughter's birthday ... which is just around the corner! Who knew we were all so passionate about the goodie bag? ;)  (And isn't it so nice we're not alone on this one?)

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