Organizing Tips

Extreme Organizing For Travel – one carry-on bag and a satchel

Carry On Luggage

The key to packing lightly is to choose one main color palette, black, brown or navy and you are already halfway there! Include classic wardrobe elements and you will be able to mix and match most of the items that you pack.

Choose a dark hue for your basic slacks, jeans, jacket, and skirt. They will look fresher longer during your tour with less frequent washing. Use shirts and accessories to splash color into your wardrobe.

Leave your expensive jewelry home; you don’t need the ongoing liability and concern as you travel. Consider leaving all of your earrings at home and wearing only your favorite pair of stud earrings the entire trip. Pack a few bangles, necklaces and scarves to add variety to your clothing combinations.

Pack 2 pairs of basic slacks, 1 pair of jeans, 1 lightweight jacket, 2 lightweight sweaters that can be layered together, 1 skirt, 1-2 Pashima wraps, three casual shirts (2 short sleeve, one long sleeve or vice versa if you tend to run cold), 11 pairs of underwear, 1 bra, 1 sleeveless shell, a dressy blouse and a sheath dress that doesn’t hold wrinkles. Also include a swimsuit and wrap if you will have pool/spa facilities. Plan on doing a load of laundry half way through your tour.

Pack a pair of sandals and pumps with kitten heels. The secret to sexy kitten-heel pumps is that you can wear them comfortably all day and they dress up elegantly for formal dinners with your sheath dress and wrap.
Wear jeans, walking shoes and your heavy sweater during the flight. Carry or wear your coat on board to save space within your suitcase.

If you decide to check your suitcase, make sure to pack enough clothes and toiletries for an entire day and night in your carry-on. Avoid feeling miserable if your luggage takes longer to arrive than you do. An extra blouse, underwear, pajamas, makeup and toiletries are essential elements for your carry-on bag. This habit also helps you pack a few more clothes without breaking the ‘one suitcase rule’. Pack a lightweight collapsible shopping bag to use on side expeditions throughout your trip.

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Organizing bedrooms

Bedroom#1 Before and After

organizing kids bedrooms
Kids Bedroom Before and After

Your bedroom is your refuge away from the busy life you lead throughout your waking hours. This area should be a haven of peace and tranquility. Everyone needs a space to decompress and forget about the affairs of the world and their busy daily schedule.

The bedroom is the most natural space to unwind, have privacy and spend moments “doing a bunch of nothing” as I like to say. This is the room to sleep and rejuvenate for the next day of your busy life.

There is no room for clutter in the bedroom. Your bedroom should only contain items that help you prepare for the day, clothes etc and items to help you unwind at the end of the day. This sacred space is crucial to your well-being and attitude.

Get started and take a look around your bedroom. Discard or relocate the items that don’t belong in this room. Bring in items that you love to look at to help you to unwind and become restful. When you are finished clearing your clutter and reorganizing, paint the walls a new color and enjoy in your new-found refuge!

What Our Clients Say:

” I love my new space! It is the best present I have received in 20 years. Thank you- you are incredible.”

Peri Ness, Encinitas

“Kathi was indispensable. She changed the whole feel of my home and I’m not afraid to come home anymore. I knew I wanted to change but didn’t know how to start. She gave us the jump-start and the direction we needed. She rocks!”

Tiffany Taylor, yoga instructor”

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Finding the perfect suit


The era of the three piece suit is over for the time being, except perhaps in the fields of banking and high finance. Tuxedos are also in less demand, and are readily available to rent for occasions that demand black tie attire.

That being said, at least one nice suit should still be an essential part of your wardrobe, and this is definitely an item worth spending a little extra on. There are several things to consider when buying, so don’t wait until you absolutely have to wear one tomorrow to select a suit.

Pick your basic color. Men with black hair and a pale complexion look striking in black. Blue eyed blonds or redheads look great in navy; dark-eyed men with red or brown hair generally favor brown. Try on several shades and styles to find the color that suits you best.

Look for quality both in the material used and the workmanship involved. The seams should be smooth, and securely sewn. The pants should fit comfortably and fall straight – they should be no shorter than the top of the heel of your shoe in back. The jacket should hang naturally; it shouldn’t bunch or pull when buttoned. An unlined jacket is a good choice for warmer climates, and may often show superior quality; there is no lining to cover up substandard work.

While having a tailor alter an off the rack suit for a perfect fit may add to your initial outlay, the resulting impression is well worth the additional cost. Ask the salesman to recommend a master tailor if possible. Once your suit is perfectly tailored, you can select the rest of your wardrobe.

Try on a selection of shirts in different shades and patterns. You will probably want at least one white dress shirt for more formal occasions, but don’t be afraid to experiment. Casual business attire trends have made it acceptable to wear a high quality t-shirt under a suit in many cases.

This is a good time to pick out a tie, too. Make sure the length of your tie fits you; your height and weight can affect how a tie looks. It shouldn’t be too garish; leave the cartoon characters to those with less discerning taste. The safe tie width these days measures about three inches across at the widest point.

The right shoes and matching belt help finish your look. These are investment items; buy the best you can afford for maximum quality! You might need a pair of black dress shoes if your suit is black or navy, but every man should have a pair of stylish brown shoes as well. Dark brown is preferable to light. Make sure your socks match; they should be the same color as the suit, but a shade or two darker.

Buy a nice watch and a money clip. These will go well with anything, and it is safer to keep your money in your jacket or front pants pocket anyway. Get rid of your bulky wallet and use a flat credit card holder instead. This will cut down on nonessential junk in your pockets that could ruin the line of your suit.

Once you have acquired the perfectly tailored suit and matching accoutrements, you will be ready for any occasion!
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.
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Bathroom Organizing Before & After

Bathroom Organization

( Move mouse over picture for after )

Situation: Papers and other non-bathroom related items clogging up the bathroom counter space. Duplicate items were purchased frequently because the back-up stock of items could not be located.

Solution: Clear off all non-related items. Make room in cabinets below for bathroom toiletries. Separate all his and her items and create a storage solution behind closed doors. We reused the towel holder to hold and display necklaces for easy access in the morning. The porcelain tray on the counter catches earrings and items emptied from pockets in the evening. The hair dryer and curling iron is tucked into a drawer while not in use but kept plugged in for quick access.

What Our Clients Say:

“My husband says now he feels that he has to keep his side of the bedroom/bathroom clean. He was really glad to see the change and loves it! I love my bathroom counter. I am motivated to put things away to keep it looking nice all of the time. The necklace holder works really well.

I have more drive and energy and we actually worked on the garage last weekend. I decided to get each family member to do only 4-5 things each. This made it really easy to get a lot accomplished.”

Debbie, San Diego”

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The addSpace Guide to Ridding Your House of ‘Kid Clutter’

Kids organizing

The kids hit school age, and suddenly everything they own is underfoot. Between extracurricular activities and weekend events, finding the time to keep up with school supplies, sports equipment, shoes and basic clothing items can be difficult. Cut down on wasted time and frustration searching for missing articles by implementing a few simple ideas.

Create a ‘drop zone’ near the entrance of your home. This can be as simple as a row of pegs to hold backpacks and jackets, with a rack below it for muddy footwear. A large basket can catch sport gear or outdoor toys, and a bench with storage under the seat can make all the difference. Don’t forget a hook for keys.

Sort your children’s clothing at the end of each season and donate or discard items that you won’t use the next year. Rotate their off season clothes to the back of the closet, or install a two tiered rod to increase your closet space. A low shelf or rack can hold footwear and a higher one be used for hair ribbons or baseball caps. Use drawer dividers to sort socks, underwear and pajamas, or set up small plastic drawer units for smaller tots.

Utilize labeled boxes and bins with easy to open lids for games, hobby items and toys. Rotate toys regularly to keep a fresh assortment available and cut down on boredom. Consider separate shelves for each child to ensure each one will be responsible for his or her own possessions. For preschoolers, labels with pictures of the appropriate toy or game can be used to mark the spot where it belongs.

Get the whole family involved in charity; designate a box for ‘give away’ items and place it in an accessible place. Ask your children to put an old toy in the box every time they get a new one. You can take them with you to drop the items off at a donation center when it becomes full so that they can see where their items go. Explain how the donation process works, and how others can benefit from their cast-off items.

Use a trunk or hope chest at the foot of each bed to save keepsakes for your children as they grow. If your space and finances are limited, an under-the-bed box will serve the same purpose. Again, let your children take an active role in deciding what to keep throughout the year. Each summer, help them go through the contents and discard those items which have lost their importance. The goal is to have only one box of memories by the end of twelfth grade. When the kids leave the nest, they will love having their childhood treasures intact.

A box or caddy for spare school supplies can make finding any replacement items easy on rushed mornings. Another box can be set up to file school papers throughout the year; review them each summer to identify ‘keepers’ for scrap booking. A shoebox with cardboard dividers can store photos until you can put them in your album.

Prize ribbons can be easily kept in your photo album as well, and photographs taken of victors holding their trophies to keep as a remembrance of past accomplishments. Peel off the placard with their name or achievement to use in your photo album alongside the picture, and donate the trophy itself to a school fundraiser. These are popular items at thrift sales, as children love to dream of their future triumphs and act out winning and receiving their prize.

Once you have your children’s belongings well organized, have them take the responsibility for keeping their rooms clean. Set aside a few hours each weekend to have a ‘family cleanup’; many hands make light work. Once you get in the habit of putting things in their designated places, keeping your house clutter free will be a matter of course.

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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How to organize your home office

Home office

Once you decide to work from home, designating an office space is mandatory. Even if it is just a large table in a corner, the key is to make it an exclusive work area – nothing unrelated to your business should be allowed. This will allow you to stay more fully focused on your business at hand, and keeping your other paperwork such as private financial records separate may even qualify you for a home office tax write-off.

Organize your desk properly from the very beginning and make sure to spend at least ten minutes a day keeping it that way. Just a small investment of time will save you countless hours of frustration looking for misplaced or lost papers or trying to do paperwork on a hopelessly cluttered desktop. Make use of desk and drawer organizers to keep pens, paper-clips and sticky notes handy.

Be certain you have a trash basket by your desk to dispose of unneeded paper and discarded envelopes or mail. This will reduce mess and help keep your workspace clear. Have a vertical inbox on top of your desk to hold papers or files that require immediate attention, and an outbox somewhere by the exit of your office for mail and packages that are awaiting pickup or a trip to the post office.

Make sure your file cabinet is industrial strength. If a brand new one is outside of your price range, check thrift and second hand stores for a gently used, well made cabinet. Likewise, try to find a desk large enough to hold your computer and leave plenty of surface space free for work. These items are worth investing in; good quality cabinets will last you for years. Likewise, an ergonomic chair is almost a necessity if you want to avoid fatigue and back strain.

Form a habit of filing papers as you handle them instead of letting them stack up on your desk. Decide on a categorizing system and label all files accordingly. Use the same approach for your daily mail; open it all immediately and discard the junk, then file remaining mail (invoices, bills, etc) in the appropriate place. Have a special folder for business expenses and keep every receipt for business related items – these will be useful when tax time rolls around.

Take an hour or two each week to enter any new contact information into your database. Handheld computer scanners are available to make entering business card data quick and efficient, or you can use a regular rolodex file and simply staple the business cards to the blanks provided. Many businesses depend on accurate, up to date contacts, and you will benefit from having this information at your fingertips.

If you are working more than 40 to 60 hours a week, or are having difficulty finding time for family, consider hiring help for lawn care and housework. This will cut down on stress, and may even increase your productivity to the point that such a proposal can pay for itself.

Working from home is an incredible experience, but requires a high degree of organization to be fully effective. By designating a section of your home as a special work zone, you will enable yourself to work without distraction and reach your greatest potential.

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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Organize backyard garden shed

Garden Shed

As summer arrives and the yard and garden beckon, the problem of the jumbled storage shed becomes apparent. Fortunately, a few easy tips can help you make your shed an asset instead of a hindrance.

The key is organization. Four walls and a roof will protect your tools from the elements, but finding what you want when you want it may be a chore. Often sheds are used as extra storage space for items which, upon reflection, are not really needed at all. Cleaning out your shed and adding some built in organizers can make all the difference.

The first step to a better organized shed is to clear out the rubbish. Items that you really need to keep may be better stored in your house. Anything you haven’t used in over a year may be unnecessary to your life! Consider carefully each item and its use to you. Does it pull its weight in exchange for the space it occupies?

Sentiment often makes us hold on to belongings that would be better off finding new homes. Consider donating items you simply cannot bring yourself to throw away; some-one else may be grateful to have them and you can enjoy the thought that they still have value. Check with your local charities, or see if your community has a trade off recycling program.

Any items that remain to be stored can be put in identically sized bins with lids, and filed away for future reference. Any shelving you install can be easily customized so that the bins will fit neatly. This makes retrieval a snap! Label the visible sides, and post a list inside the door that will help you remember which bin holds what.

Once you have narrowed down the items you need to store, you can begin to plan your new shelving system. Wall to wall and ceiling to floor shelves yield the maximum storage space. Depending on the size and shape of your shed, your best bet may be to install this type of shelving on the back wall as well as along one side.

Long-handled tools such as rakes, spades and shovels should hang on the remaining wall. A pegboard can be installed for smaller tools. A garden caddy can hold miscellaneous items: gloves, seed packets, and even a tube of sunscreen or a hat.

If you do a lot of gardening, you may wish to customize your shed a little. Adding a small potting bench or table can make a corner into a handy workstation. Add shelves above to store pots, and bins below for soil and fertilizer.

If your shed is too small for such project, consider building one on the exterior against one of the walls. Mount a piece of lattice to hang your tools, or add hooks to the sides of the bench itself. A waterproof bin can be utilized for soil and additives.

Once you have organized your shed, every lawn and garden chore will be that much easier. By utilizing your space to its highest potential, you avoid wasted time and frustration. The hours saved by not having to dig through the shed for an elusive tool can be spent on that special gardening project instead!

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Taking back and organizing your garage

Organized Garage

Would you like to use your garage for its intended purpose? If you open the garage door and see a wall of clutter, don’t despair. A little elbow grease and organization can free your car from its exile on the driveway.

We live in a world where more is – well, more. Our grandparents’ generation taught us to be thrifty and never to throw anything away, but many of us have taken this to an extreme. Our garages are the battlefield, and our vehicles the casualties… and the enemy is TOO MUCH STUFF.

Plan your garage liberation for the day after trash pickup, or the weekend before your local bulk trash day. Your supplies will need to include boxes of all shapes and sizes, a large number of trash bags, and your recycle bins. Place these at the front of the garage for easy access.

A Professional Organizer can be of great help, and is well worth the money when balanced off against the time wasted and favors owing at the end of an exhausting DIY weekend. If you can plan on hiring such a guide, he or she can help you save valuable time and energy by cutting down the time needed to complete the process. If you choose to forgo this option, you will be forced to recruit a small army from the ranks of friends, neighbors and family, and risk defeat at the hands of your self inflicted mess.

A well thought out plan of attack is vital for success. Create a timeline for your helpers and delegate tasks according to ability. Plan to spend at least two consecutive days for this project; you shouldn’t really leave items out on the drive for longer than this, and once you launch your effort you won’t want to let up until the field is won. Losing your momentum in mid-charge can force you into beating an ignominious retreat!

Start by leading a scouting party into the depths of your garage. There are many items that do not necessarily have to be stored in this area, but end up there by default. They may include:

Luggage (can be moved to an indoor closet or the attic)

Paints and lawn and garden equipment (an outdoor shed is actually a safer place for these items than your garage due to fumes and chemicals)

Other items you may find in your initial foray are tools, gardening supplies, bulk groceries and recycling paraphernalia. Bicycles, sports equipment and camping gear may also make the garage their home, along with Christmas decorations and automotive supplies. Decide which things can be relocated and which will need to be organized into a smaller section of your garage space.

Once you have made these determinations, Pull every thing out of your garage and begin a series of groups on your driveway. Use boxes to corral small items and make sorting easier.

Stop and consider carefully any item you plan to put in the keep pile. Question your motives. Are you keeping it because of guilt or a misplaced sense of responsibility? Is it useful to you? Does it hold good memories or bad? What would be the long term effects of discarding it? If you haven’t used the item in the last two years, you probably don’t need it at all. Remember that each item that goes back into the garage will take up space, and require energy to move if another reorganization becomes necessary.

Throw away any broken items. If you have two identical items, get rid of one. Recycle, donate or give away items that do not fit either the keep or trash categories. If you come across random items or spare parts you need to keep, sort them according to category and store them in the smallest possible container. Put loose objects in small boxes and label them; tape a list to the outside of each box to make them easy to locate if needed.

As the garage is cleared and you can actually see the floor again, start planning how to divide it in to useable zones. Zone locations will depend on frequency of use and the space available. Being able to park your vehicle is naturally your primary goal, and you can draw a chalk outline on the floor to denote the space needed to enter and exit your car comfortably. Make a list of what you need to store and you will get a pretty good idea of what specialized zones will be required.

Once your belongings have been culled and sorted, you can more readily determine where each category should live within these zones. If your laundry room is located in the garage you will need to ensure you have space to maneuver, and a spot for detergent and other supplies. A work bench space can prove invaluable for tool organization and small home projects. Stack boxes up off the ground on a pallet or other raised platform to guard against water damage in case of flooding.

Put frequently used things where they can be easily accessed when needed. Recycling bins should go by the inside door, gardening tools by the fertilizer, etc. Bulk goods can go on a large shelf near the home entrance and other commonly used items on eye level shelves around the perimeter.

Once you have defeated the foe of disorganization, you will need to be vigilant to prevent its return. A few hours of maintenance at the start of each season can work wonders, and forming the habit of putting everything back in its assigned spot after use will keep your garage spotless. Follow this strategy and restore your dispossessed car to its rightful kingdom!

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Recycle Your Family Treasures

memory box

Two of my clients provide a great example of why it pays to rethink old storage habits. John and Millie had lived in the same house for twenty years. They started off as two and soon became a family of five. After their kids went off to college, they decided to downsize into a smaller home and nicer neighborhood.

They went from a 5-bedroom home to a three bedroom. The second bedroom became a home office. They now had an extra bedroom that could serve as a guest/crafts/TV room. Although their kids were in college and soon to graduate, they still had all of their childhood memories and extra clothes. Sound familiar?

Instead of moving all of their college kids items into the spare bedroom or garage, they hired me to meet with each student to help them determine what they wanted to keep as they transitioned into young adults living on their own. This process was helpful for both the kids and the parents.

John and Millie agreed to store 4-5 bins for each child until they settled down with their own homes. The remaining items were either taken by the children to be used at school or donated. The reality is this: when young adults are faced with the reality of lugging around memories and extra clothes, they find it fairly easy to downsize. If they don’t have to make that choice, they will always resort to keeping everything form their childhood because, after all, mom and dad have enough space!

Without questioning what they were storing, John and Mille might have been stuck warehousing 20-30 boxes for each child for the next 10-15 years. Or until they died! This is not an exaggeration. I have seen this happen more times than you can imagine.

The most common comments I hear from kids as they sort through their old possessions are “Why did mom keep this for so long? Or even more tragic, “Where did this come from?” Realize that you are not doing your kids any favors by storing their keepsakes and cast-off clothing and toys after they leave the nest.

The same principal applies to your old items. If you do not take the time to purge, your children are left with that task after you are gone. It is much harder for them to decide about what to release because your possessions come loaded emotional charge. There is also a lot of guilt associated with getting rid of the items that you lovingly stored for years. After all, they feel that maybe they should keep these things because you did for years. If they get rid of it, does that mean they are dishonoring you? These are just a few of the thoughts I hear as children sort through their parent’s memory items. Please do not make your children go through this process on a large scale. It is very difficult and emotionally draining.

It is wise to set aside time at least once a year to work with your children and downsize their possessions, be it memories, books, games or clothes. Do not hang onto possessions forever simply because they represent good times and happy memories.

If your children are young, you can start a new routine for their childhood memories. Keep an under-the-bed bin for each child. Throughout the year, place memories into this bin. Every summer, go through the bin with your child and toss what they no longer wish to keep. The goal will be to have only one box of memories by the time they move off to college or out of the house. When they leave and begin their new life as adults, send the bin with them!

*addSpace Quick Tip Trophies do not stand the test of time in storage. Arms and heads are frequently missing years later. Keep this memory intact by peeling off the placquard and paste it into a photo album beside the photo of your child receiving the trophy. After all, it is really about the achievement, not the trophy itself. Discard the trophy. Or better yet, give it to your school rummage sale; kid’s imaginations make trophies a top selling item, believe it or not!

Children have huge hearts. Keep a donation bin in each child’s room by their door. As they outgrow or lose interest in toys, games or books, they can place these items into this bin. Take these items to charity. Make sure your kids realize how their items will be used to help others. Take your kids on a tour of your local Salvation Army training center or other local charitable facility. Children are natural-born philanthropists. Once they know what happens to their castoffs, they love to send their extra possessions on to others in need!

Recycle and repurpose. Your life will become rich as you spread your good fortune. Send your possessions back into the world so that they can circulate and make more great memories for others to enjoy. Adding space always brings more joy and satisfaction to your life!

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.

Please direct a courtesy copy of your publication to: or snail mail it to:
Kathi Burns
AddSpace To Your Life!TM
259 B Hillcrest Drive
Encinitas, CA 92024

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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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