Tips for a Minimalist Kitchen

I moved into a pre-lived-in house (where my partner was already living). So the kitchen was full of kitchen stuff when I got here. Existing stuff + my stuff = a LOT of stuff! I have been decluttering here and there since I moved in but I’ve also been thinking about doing an overhaul of the kitchen and really getting it to the level I would like it to be. I am planning on trying out the following rules of the kitchen.


  1. Do the dishes every night. I used to do this living alone in my apartment, and it was always nice to start a new day with no dirty dishes in the sink. We do the dishes most nights but I am in the habit of leaving them out overnight to dry – what I’d like to do is dry and put away all of the dishes as well as wash them. Doing the dishes usually takes less than half an hour.
  2. Wipe the counters and stove every night while doing dishes. There’s no reason not to take the extra two minutes to do this. It will prevent food from getting burned onto the stove over time and prevents bread crumbs from taking over the countertop.
  3. Sweep the floor daily. This takes two minutes and prevents cat hair dust bunnies from attacking.
  4. The kitchen table is not a repository for stuff. The kitchen table is not a repository for stuff. The kitchen table is not a repository for stuff.


  1. Eliminate plastic. It’s hard to completely eliminate plastic, but I want to at least eliminate plastic things that are for use with hot things. There will be no plastic utensils in my soup or plastic containers with leftovers that might get microwaved. Anything hot shall be metal, wood, silicone, or glass.
  2. Evaluate appliances – mercilessly. Appliances can be time-saving helpers. But they can also be super clutter if you aren’t actually using them. I plan to audit our kitchen appliances and get rid of any we don’t actually use. Also, check for repeat appliances – it’s somehow an inevitability to wind up with several slow cookers. If you haven’t used it in a certain amount of time (varies per person – maybe a year, six months, one month, depending on your preferences), it’s time for it to go.
  3. Eliminate everything stored on “top shelves.” My new motto shall be “If I need a ladder to reach it, pretend it doesn’t exist.” Just because you have a shelf doesn’t mean you have to put something on it. The cabinet over the fridge is completely pointless.
  4. Everything has a home. There should be nothing in the kitchen that does not belong there, and nothing anywhere in the kitchen where it doesn’t belong. This is my ultimate challenge, because I am one of those “put it on the table while I clean the living room, put it in the spare bedroom while I clean the kitchen” kind of people when things don’t have a proper home. It’s my goal to eliminate everything that doesn’t have a home.

What are some of your tips for keeping the kitchen clutter free?


Reverse 100 Things Challenge and a Giveaway

You may recall that I decide to participate in the Reverse 100 Things Challenge, which was to eliminate 100 items by the end of 2012.  I didn’t finish by the end of the year, and I didn’t quite make it to 100, but I’m going to share the list of things that have been either already removed or earmarked for removal in the near future:

  1. DVDs – 10 – Tarzan, Up, Wall-E, and Atlantis have all gone to my sister.  Hot Fuzz, Fat-Burning Kickboxing, Mrs. Doubtfire, Moulin Rouge, Stranger than Fiction, and Too Wong Foo, Thanks For Everything, Julie Newmar are all still available for adoption. 
  2. Personal care items – 15 – Hair flat iron (given to sister), hair dryer, zipper pouch of hair ties, small bag of Burts Bees items (counting individually would get me more points, but I just counted this as one thing), brown eyeliner (which will be thrown away), shampoo, conditioner, Noxema face cleaner, Avon acne wash, moisturizer (all thrown out), pads and tampons (given away), two brand-new Ban brand deodorants, one unopened box of bar soap, compact folding hairbrush with mirror
  3. Pure Romance items – 13 – I haven’t divulged this tidbit previously, but I used to sell Pure Romance products.  I’ll be posting a blog on one of the major reasons I stopped soon, but in any case, I have at least 13 products, many of which are unopened.  Just in case your kids are reading over your shoulder I won’t say what they are.
  4. Clothing – 15 – three tee shirts, one sarong, one sarong coconut-shell tie clasp, four pairs of underwear, three pairs of gently used brown trouser socks, a four-pack of unworn black trouser socks (used to be a six pack but I wore two pairs!), one pair of pink polka dot socks, one pair of huge pink fuzzy socks
  5. Books – 8 – “Into the Wild,” “Privilege, Power, and Difference,” “Media Psychology” (given to sister), “Linking Workforce Development to Economic Development” (unopened text book… sigh), “The Essential Vegetarian Cookbook,” “Weight Watchers Cook It Quick!” “Weight Watchers Complete Cookbook,” set of two romantic/cute fill-in-the-questions books for a couple
  6. Kitchen items – 2 – Plastic container for snacks with a separate compartment for dip, iced tea maker (brewer and pitcher)
  7. Geeky nerdy items – 5- Star Trek UNO card set, Star Trek lunch box, Bat’leth Klingon sword (stop judging me), rubik’s cube keychain, shoebox of pokemon cards
  8. Miscellaneous – 12 – Coupon organizer, wallet, highlighter, bumper sticker (“Enjoy life, this is not a dress rehearsal”), Willow Tree ornament, booklight, small spray bottle (plastic, never used), UNO card game, personalized (and thus pretty much useless) “Class of 2006” photo album (and several pictures of High School Caitlin), throw pillow, roll of tickets, small pink and yellow box

For a total of 79 items decluttered (or to be decluttered in the near future).

Now for the fun part – I want to incorporate some of these items into a giveaway, but I’m not sure how.  I can’t ship anything very heavy or it will be prohibitively expensive.  Should I offer up a select few items and have people comment for a chance to win? Should I just let my readers pick through the list and say “Oh, hey, I need a wallet!” What do you think? 

Welcome to my home!

I recently declared “I want to do a photo tour of my apartment, once I clean it and purge everything I haven’t used in the last six months.”

Guess what?

Yep. Cleaning marathon.

I spent about eight hours cleaning my apartment, assembling all my to-purge items in a big “organized” pile, rearranging my living room, cutting a LOT of clutter stress, and making everything pretty enough to show the world on my blog.

Here is is!

First, some minor background information: My apartment has two doors – one into the living room, and one into the kitchen.  The kitchen door is there so that when people got food deliveries back in the 1920s when the building was first used, the deliveryman could come right into the kitchen and not through the whole house. I call the living room door the “front door” and the kitchen door the “back door.”

When you walk in the front door, you see this:

liv room









The couch is a Salvation Army store find, covered in a white blanket because I didn’t like the floral print it had.  The rug is three kitchen rugs that I stitched together with embroidery thread.  The coffee table is a footlocker/trunk that I spray-painted white.  My desk area is comprised of an end table that my mom and I painted white this summer, and a storage ottoman I am using as a stool until I procure a desk chair I like.  And there are a couple of my record paintings on the wall and a print of Van Gogh’s Starry Night, my favorite painting.  It used to be hanging in the center of the front wall, but I can’t put nails in the wall so it was up with 3M velcro strips and it proved too heavy.  Sad day.  I’ll paint something for the wall eventually.

liv room 2










This is the corner by my door, featuring a bookshelf – those are all the books I own, a far cry from my initial library — and easel.  The pretty box on the floor holds some records for painting projects.  The wall has various photos and another record painting.

I left out the closet.  It’s not that exciting.  Mostly storage, and my fancy purple pea coat.  To the left of the door is my hallway, and our next stop is:













My bedroom, which is finally clean.  I have two end tables (you can sort of see one in the background) which are finally clear of ALL CLUTTER.  My end table only has a book and my phone charger on it.

One way I save space in my bedroom is with my lovely accessory storage system:

bedroom 2










Hats, necklaces, and earrings are displayed on the wall.  I haven’t worn a lot of the jewelry lately, so some of it will likely end up in The Great Purge of 2013.

Next up is the kitchen!













Stove – clean.  Sink – clean. Counters – clean. Satellite bowl full of oranges – awesome. Breakfast nook – lovely, and clean! Sign stating, “It’s official – I’ve become my mother” – hilarious, and true.

Some space saving tips for the kitchen:

kitchen 2









Magnetic knife rack under the cabinet.

kitchen 3









Wall-mounted hooks (love those 3M strips) for cutting board and colander.

kitchen 4











Shoe organizer on the fridge to hold utensils.  One day soon I will get rid of those awful plastic utensils.  Also, that’s Zoe!

Lastly, the bathroom:










All sparkling clean! And ZERO clutter, since everything fits in the vanity or medicine cabinet. Very soon that soap will be all used up and replaced with a natural alternative! Also, note my cat’s fancy top-entry litter box, full of eco-friendly and cat-friendly paper litter.

I hope you’ve enjoyed my tour!


Mid-year checkpoint

I moved into my first apartment All By Myself on June 15, 2012.  It’s been over six months, which means it is time to take a hard look at my belongings and evaluate what I have and have not used in the past half-year.  The way I see it, if I haven’t used it in six months, I’m not very likely to use it in the next six months either… and then I would have been holding onto stuff for a year!

When I began my minimalist journey, I decimated my stores of stuff and things and belongings and clutter.  I got rid of every long-sleeved blouse in my wardrobe because I don’t like long-sleeved blouses.  I got rid of over a hundred books, movies, and CDs. I got rid of pants with the tags on because I knew I wouldn’t wear them.  I got rid of a mountain of dress pants because I wound up getting a full-time job that requires jeans as daily wear.  I have four plates, bowls, cups, mugs, spoons, forks, and butter knives.  I did not own a metal baking pan.  I only bought three pots and pans for my new place.  I don’t have an iron, much to my mother’s dismay.

And still, I think there’s too much.

This six-month checkpoint will allow me to take a look at my closet and see what’s still on a backwards hanger.  It will allow me to take a more intense look at my CD, DVD, and book collections still remaining and really decide if I need them or not.  I have been feeling the need to purge, and I am excited to go through my stuff again.  I am no longer sure if “fit everything into my car” is my ultimate goal, but I do know that I’d like less stuff taking up space.  I might even rearrange my few pieces of furniture, or add a desk.  You never know!

The reverse 100 things challenge

I wrote before about the reverse 100 things challenge, in which I planned to purge 100 items before the end of 2012.  I only got rid of about 20 things, but I think I can reach 100 things by the end of January!  I’ll consider that my January challenge.

Monthly challenges

I think 2013 will be full of challenges — some from life (you can never avoid those) and some from me.  Each month I would like to challenge myself to do something “minimalist.”  January will be the mid-year purging of my belongings since I moved in and the finishing up of the reverse 100 things challenge.

Other ideas include not using a microwave for a month, not buying prepared food at the grocery store for a month, Project 333, repurposing items into something new, not buying anything new for a month, not buying anything for a month, and others I’ll think up along the way.  These monthly challenges will be in addition to my year-long commitment to eliminate disposable cups!


Decluttering the car

It is so easy to make a mess in the car.  You’re driving and eating, driving and talking, driving and dealing with a dog in the car, driving and listening to music… very rarely do we just get into the car and drive somewhere in silence without touching any other object.  Thus, our car gets dirty.  CD cases, pens, change, grain pellets from a drive-through wildlife safari, name tags from old jobs, magnets, newspaper, fast food bags, beverage bottles… these are all things I recently removed from my car.

Get ready for some terrifying before photos.

I solemnly swear to stop using my floorboards as a portable trash can.

The back, where stuff goes to die.

I started by going through everything in my car and sorting it into several categories:

  • Garbage
  • Recyclable
  • Relocate
  • Belongs in the car

Garbage was thrown away, recyclables were put into recycling, and the “relocate” pile was taken inside for its fate to be decided.  But I knew it didn’t belong in the car.  My car is not a docking station for excess stuff.  Things that belonged in the car were organized.  Cords were kept in individual baggies so they didn’t get tangled when I needed them. CDs are in my visor CD-holder (still too many CDs, but at least they are not all over my car).

Now for the good stuff, the after photos:

The front seat, with floorboard garbage magically removed and a bag for trash so I don’t make a giant mess anymore.

Glove compartment! Featuring: Car manuals, GPS and cord (in a bag together), change (in a pill bottle) for parking meters, ziploc baggie with insurance card, AAA card, other cards I won’t need unless I drive somewhere), flashlight, detergent pen in case of spills, and tire pressure gauge. Also napkins (not pictured).

If you think there is still a lot of stuff in my car, wait til you see what I took OUT of my car:

Ridiculous.  Good riddance!

Is your car a clutter magnet?

Love your body, clean your closet

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 was Love Your Body Day (LYBD).  LYBD seeks to encourage women (and men) to, clearly, love their bodies.  Stop fixating on the things you hate about your body.  Stop wishing it was different.  Stop worrying about numbers on a scale.  Stop negative self-talk.  Stop reading magazines that promote airbrushed models as the desired shape and size for beauty.  Stop letting other people’s words get you down. Here’s a secret: They aren’t always happy with their bodies either.

A pants size will not make you happy.

To bring this idea around to a practical minimalist application, I’d like to talk about the clothes in your closet, wardrobe, or dresser that do not fit and do not make you feel fabulous.

Holding on to clothes that are too big, just in case, is not healthy.  You have an excuse to stop being accountable for your health because you think it’s okay since you’ve got a pair of fat pants. First off, stop calling them fat pants.  Someone else out there just calls them pants.  They may like their body just how it is, and you calling their pants “fat pants” just adds another little layer of insecurity that society is throwing at them.  Stick to the clothes that fit you.  “But what if I gain weight?” Then you buy bigger clothes when you gain weight.  Keep yourself accountable — eat a balanced diet of mostly plants, and move for thirty minutes a day, and you should maintain your weight (minus any health issues that cause extreme weight fluctuations).

Holding on to clothes that are too small, as motivation, is not healthy.  Having clothes in your closet that are too small is a body-negative reminder of your “ideal” beauty and body.  Get comfy in your body, and stop making yourself feel bad by surrounding yourself with reminders of what you’re not.  If you want to lose weight and wear smaller clothes, do it.  In a healthy way.  Which will take a while, so go ahead and take that top to Goodwill.  Reward yourself with new clothes when you do lose the weight, instead of having to look at a blaring neon sign that says “YOU CAN’T WEAR ME” every time you get dressed.

Holding on to clothes that are not your style is silly. These are the clothes that technically fit, but that you don’t wear.  Because they have a weird pattern, or you don’t like the cut, or you just don’t wear long sleeved shirts but your aunt bought it for you, or a tee shirt from high school that you have no reason to wear, or any other of the million reasons people hang on to these clothes.  If you are not wearing them, get rid of them.  Try the hanger trick.

Some guidelines:

  • Only clothes that fit you and that make you feel good deserve a space in your closet.  Anything else is not worth your time.
  • If you are pregnant or otherwise gaining weight that is temporary, a range of sizes is acceptable, but it IS possible to avoid having an entire (soon useless) wardrobe of maternity clothes.  See Miss Minimalist for more on that.
  • If you have a lot of clothes in sizes that don’t fit and you can’t bring yourself to get rid of them all, limit yourself to one box of clothes to put in storage for you to have on hand in case of weight fluctuations.
  • Don’t let your mom guilt you into keeping an ugly shirt because she bought it for you. Apply this to whatever guilt-ridden sentimental reason you have for keeping something you don’t really wear. Sorry mom.
  • When purchasing new clothing, look for items made with forgiving fabrics with some stretch, or elastic waists.  This makes the clothing more comfortable to move in and accommodates minor weight fluctuations.

What’s your favorite item of clothing, and how does it make you feel to wear it? Share in the comments!


To unfriend, or not to unfriend?

This post is coming from the suggestion box!

If you have a Facebook profile, you likely have many friends who you have connected with via the social media giant over the years.  However, times change, lives change, people change, and you may no longer wish to be connected to some of those friends.  Many people just let the friends list grow because it is hard to disconnect.

Why is it so difficult?  Here are a few reasons:

  1. Drama.  I’m not saying it’s right, but people tend to feel rejected or snubbed when you unfriend them  I have unfriended people who add me right back, and even send me messages demanding an explanation.  Often it is easier just to let these people remain on your list than to deal with the drama of unfriending.
  2. Office politics.  If you’re friends with one coworker but not others, it can make things awkward in the office.  Many people circumvent this drama by having an all or none policy for work acquaintances and friends.
  3. They’re family.  Many Facebookers feel compelled to accept the friend requests of cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, long lost relatives, etc.  And that’s why Facebook is great, because it allows you to keep in touch with family and friends you don’t see often.  However, I have noticed that many people feel obligated to keep family members on their Friends list, even if they don’t get along or even like the person, and then they feel frustrated every time they interact with the person.


Whether we like it or not, Facebook is a huge part of people’s lives.  And life is too short to surround ourselves with people we don’t like, even digitally.  You do not owe it to anyone to keep them on your Friends list.  And it’s okay to say no to a request.


Take a look at your Friends list and evaluate the following questions:

  1. Why did I accept this request (or send it)?  Maybe you’re related, you work together, you needed more friends for a Facebook game to get more prizes, you had a class project together one time in college, your children are friends, you agree about a cause, or any other reason.  None of these reasons are good or bad, as long as they make sense to you.  Thinking about your motivation for beginning the “Friendship” in the first place can make you think more critically about why they are still around.
  2. Do I like this person? If you genuinely dislike a person and you are not actually friends, what are you doing allowing them to comment on your personal life?
  3. Is there a reason I have not unfriended them?  Maybe it’s office politics, maybe your mom expects you to keep all of your family from her side on your Facebook, maybe they’re just a perpetual boomerang and you’d rather not deal with it.  Once again, you don’t owe anyone anything.  If you don’t want Jane from Accounting seeing the details of your weekend, you can remove her from your list.
  4. Is this connection appropriate?  If you use strong language in posts or are very political or opinionated on Facebook (who isn’t opinionated on the internet?), you may want to re-think adding children, coworkers, conservative family members who may be offended, etc.
  5. Does this person add value to my life?  If you are like most people, you’re on Facebook every day.  Do your Friends add value, or do you have to sort through a lot of updates you don’t care about  to find the ones you do?
  6. Is there a better place for us to connect?  You can keep professional contacts within digital reach via LinkedIn.  You can follow friends or celebrities on Twitter, without getting all of the updates in your Facebook feed as well.  If you like someone’s photography, see if they have a Flickr profile.  You get the idea — if there is a better place to connect, look into it.
  7. Would I invite this person to my home?  If you wouldn’t want a person in your home, think hard about keeping them in your digital world.
  8. Is being Friends with this person online in any way detrimental to my mental health, or the mental health of someone I care about?  This one has a broad range of depth.  Personally, I have considered unfriending my ex-husband’s siblings — even though I am still good friends with them — simply because I am still processing my divorce and seeing my ex on their profiles may be impeding my healing process.  Other situations in this “mental health” category include people who stay Facebook Friends with someone who has assaulted, bullied, or otherwise hurt them or someone close to them, and the connection is continually upsetting.

Go through and unfriend the people that aren’t adding real value to your life,and especially unfriend the people who actively detract value.

Some other valuable Facebook tips:

Facebook has a “Restricted List” feature, with which you can block people from seeing your updates without unfriending them.  It’s a way to keep the connection, should you ever need to get in touch, but  they will not be able to see your status updates, shared links, etc.

Facebook also has privacy settings under which you can set how easy it is for people to find you.  If no one can search for you on Facebook, then no one can send you a random friend request you feel compelled to accept for whatever reason outlined above, or another.

Facebook offers a block feature for the people who you really don’t want to interact with but who won’t  leave you alone.  Get some peace by blocking them, and they won’t be able to see any of your updates or even access your profile.

You can also remove people from your News Feed.  You remain friends with the person, but their updates do not appear on your homepage.

How do you keep your Friends List under control?