Halloween Treats

We made some Halloween treats and as I was getting out all of the ingredients I thought “there are some tips that can be shared here…”.

I keep my spices in alphabetical order for simplicity but another great idea can be found at Delicious Days — where the spices are put into matching tins and labeled according to everyday use, baking, herbs, or particular blends. And there are many other ideas… One thing I have found in common with many other sites is putting a date on the label (because of the “best when used before…”). I do this when I first bring them home from the store. I also keep track of the most often used spices and put them on the grocery list when they are at the halfway point (it’s no fun to run out when you have the rest of the ingredients for the recipe measured out already). For the less often used spices, I wait until there is ~1/3 of the container left.

Then for the baking utensils… I use an office supply store letter sorter to keep all of my baking sheets and tins (muffin, madeline, etc.) organized on the baking shelf. Putting the biggest and / or least used on the bottom and the baking sheets and cooling rack towards the top. When I want to pull out one baking sheet, I don’t have to pull out everything.

How do you organize your spices? Do you keep them in special containers? Do you have a special spot for all of your baking items?

Holiday Decorations

With some of the major holidays of the year around the corner, it’s time to get out the holiday decorations. What do you do with all of them? How many do you have? Are they all in good shape? As I pull them out each season / each year, I go back to my 15 minute rule. Go through them and make sure everything still looks good, works, is safe, etc. Anything that isn’t and can’t be fixed, get rid of. Anything that you don’t love or aren’t happy to display, get rid of.

To keep them organized during the off season, I have a series of matching tupperware bins — all the same style and size. I started out with one for Winter / Spring, one for Summer / Fall, and one for Christmas. As I allowed myself a few more decorations, I added one more bin for Christmas. I’m sure others have many more decorations but they can still be kept organized by following the suggestions above if you feel like your decorations are taking over your attic / garage / basement / etc.

Several online sites have suggestions for how to store your decorations. Real Simple and Dr. DeClutter give some tips that I’ve done for years. One that my mom taught me: use cardboard separators (like you’d get from a wine store) and use the left over tissue paper from gift giving and wrap delicate decorations and place in between the cardboard separators. This is most useful for Christmas ornaments but it can be used for little Halloween candles or Thanksgiving figurines.

What do you do with all of your holiday decorations? How often do you get rid of old ones? Any new tips?

Organization Gene…

I have had the organization gene for as long as I can remember and while I’ve driven friends and family crazy with my need to have everything in order, I’ve also helped them organize their areas over the years. And now, I hope to pass the tips on to you… starting with my daily 15 minute rule.

Spending 15 minutes organizing one area or several small areas before you go to bed will save tons of time later in the week / month. Before the papers, clothes, dishes, etc. pile up, take 5 minutes to survey your apartment, dorm room, house and see what area needs the most attention. Then spend 10 minutes cleaning up, going through and sorting mail / bills / papers, etc. If you do this each night before you go to bed, before you know it, everything will have a place (where to put things will be a future topic) and then you can switch to maintenance mode — 15 minutes to tidy up all of the major areas and to keep everything organized and clutter free.