Monday, September 27, 2010

Be cool…reenergize your refrigerator

Last week I had to pleasure of being a guest blogger at where I submitted the piece below on cleaning out the refrigerator - a timely topic now that we are switching seasons.

Jennifer Palais is an LA based organizer who works virtually as a coach to help clients unclutter their internal well-being as well as physical environments. If this sounds like someone who could help you out in CA, check her out.

School is underway, summer has a few more days and before you know it, we will all be on the holiday fast track. Before figuring out where you’re going to put that pumpkin pie, turkey or leftover Halloween chocolate, why not take this time to clean out the refrigerator and freezer before your next spree at Costco.

Easier to make this when your fridge is setup! (Photo by Zoetrope)

As with any de-cluttering project, the first step is a massive clear-out. Open the refrigerator and remove everything. If it’s easier you can have trash, compost and recycling bins at your side so you can sort and toss as you go along. Remember, Whole Foods recycles cork (old wine bottles?!) and #5 plastics and will give you a location near you to recycle plastic bottle tops. ‘Keepers’ should be set-aside on a counter or kitchen table. This may seem obvious, but check containers for expiration dates and signs of aging.

1950s GE refrigerator ad (Photo by SeeSaw)

Once the refrigerator is empty, take a basin of warm water with a mixture of baking soda and gently sponge the shelves, glass tops, crisper drawers, etc. If the fridge is particularly smelly, add a drop of lemon essential oil to the water – this will help combat odors as well as work on any greasy residue. If it’s easier, take out the removable pieces and clean them in the sink or bathtub. Once the interior is spotless, add a new box of baking soda to prevent future odors (dump the old box down the drain or make a paste to clean greasy pots and pans).

Before putting anything back in the refrigerator, give the keepers a once over and wipe the containers of any spillage. Group like items together: condiments, salad dressings in one spot, beverages in another, fruits and vegetables in the crispers, etc. Not only will your appliance work more effectively but the breathing room will allow you to view your contents and therefore keep you shopping more efficiently.

Next stop is the freezer where you follow the same steps. However, in this case, for a freezer to work efficiently it is recommended that it be kept full. You might want to take a tip from Martha Stewart: keep blocks of ice in your freezer to keep it energy efficient if your freezer is often empty. And don’t forget to replace the baking soda…

Doing this refrigerator re-sort before you go food shopping will help you keep track of what you need so you don’t overbuy or clutter all those clean empty spaces!

The real deal! A 1950s kitchen with the refrigerator loft-style (Photo by acn1495)

So your interior is now spotless and organized, and you’re thinking it’s time to reward yourself with a drink… not so fast. You’re not finished until you face the exterior of the appliance. Using a warm soapy solution, gently wipe from top to bottom to remove stickiness and fingerprints. Make sure you wipe the rubber seal around each door and make sure it’s tight. A good test to tell if energy is escaping from your refrigerator is to stick a dollar bill in the door, close it and see if you can pull the bill out. If you can, your refrigerator is losing energy so the gasket should be replaced. If you can’t, the seal is tight and you are on track.

The last thing to do to keep your appliance in tiptop shape is to dust or vacuum the coils in the back; this should be done monthly.

Here’s to the cool hard cash you are about to save!

Monday, September 20, 2010

From Clutter2Clarity: Say Goodbye to Clutter the Allstate Way

From Clutter2Clarity: Say Goodbye to Clutter the Allstate Way: "Wow, even my insurance company is getting into the de-cluttering business. Today I received a postcard from Allstate prodding customers to '..."

Say Goodbye to Clutter the Allstate Way

Wow, even my insurance company is getting into the de-cluttering business. Today I received a postcard from Allstate prodding customers to 'Say goodbye to clutter' by going paperless. Their Allstate Paperless Solutions program allows people to pay online and offers a variety of ways to do it with your checking account, debit card or savings account. In some cases users can even get a 5% discount for doing so. With everything else in this country going up, it's nice to see a company offering incentives to loyal customers for making a small change and eliminating tons of paper from a landfill.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

From Clutter2Clarity: Recycling At Your Service

From Clutter2Clarity: Recycling At Your Service: "Many people I speak to want to get rid of items to create more space in their lives, but when it comes to disposal, they don't want to take ..."

Recycling At Your Service

Many people I speak to want to get rid of items to create more space in their lives, but when it comes to disposal, they don't want to take the time to recycle or re-use items appropriately. Instead everything goes into the trash and then lives in a landfill for years to come. I always try to discourage this practice but the response I get often is something like this, 'I don't know where to drop off or donate or I'm too busy to find out or don't care.' Pretty harsh huh -- this attitude kills me.

Well for all of you who are swimming in clutter yet have items that can be re-used, this service may solve your problem. I just received in the mail a postcard from The United War Veterans Council in NYC. They are having a pick-up in my NJ town on Wednesday, September 22 for clothing, household items, toys, small appliances, etc. They have a particular need for knickknacks, so this may be the time to get rid of that annoying Hummel collection you inherited that has been taking up valuable real estate in the attic. The great thing about this organization and some other charities, is they provide a plastic shopping bag so you can leave your items at the curb along with your postcard and they will pick up on the scheduled day. You don't have to be home; all you have to do is call ahead and put your address on the pick-up list. What could be easier. Contact them today for a full-listing of needed items and to get on the list.

1-888-821-8982 or

Don't you feel lighter already??

Friday, September 3, 2010

Drill Baby Drill

Even though I have been a homeowner for nine years, today I officially became one - for today I used a power tool! Ever since my uncle gave me his old school Black and Decker electric drill, I have been afraid of it. My sisters and friends have hear me whine how I want to get things done but am afraid that I will make a mistake that I can't fix and thus not complete the task. Today was different... my oldest sister, a homeowner veteran, came over to help me hang some artwork so while she was there I showed her a curtain rod and tiebacks that have been sitting in a cupboard waiting to be hung. I got out the drill and she proceeded to show me how to measure, choose drill bits and then the nuances of using a "chuck." Within an hour, I became a drilling fool and kept trying to find things I could hang up before putting the drill back in the cupboard. Now that I am no longer a drill virgin, maybe I can now master the art of using a roller and tackle the repaint of my bathroom!