7 Steps to your Pantry Makeover 💖

Suffice to say, we’ve watched more than our fair share of Netflix and YouTube organization videos – in addition to reading books and listening to podcasts. We find it a nice blend of relaxing and also energizing as we see what is possible. Inspirational sources include: Home Edit, Marie Kondo, The Minimalists, Home Body, Cas the Clutterbug, and more.

As we tell our clients, it’s great to have lots of knowledge, but the transformation happens with implementation. So we first we absorbed and planned and then we took about two good hours and made this happen. If cleanliness is next to godliness, this was a religious experience. Drink the communal wine, play some music, and join us in these 7 steps:

  1. Take measurements of the pantry. Height between shelves, depth of the pantry, length of shelving. This will serve you especially well if you are looking to optimize the space and for ordering containers that fit. Otherwise skip this step and proceed to step 2; while passing Go, do not collect $200 but save yourselves the extra three hours we spent here.

  2. Pull ALL items from the pantry and clean. Yes, it will look overwhelming but will probably only take 10 minutes. We swept the kitchen floor and had the kitchen table cleared off for this moment. Once you’ve removed everything, take another 10 minutes to wipe down the shelves and clean the floor of any sticky gunk or errant crumbs.

  3. Obtain containers. Use what you have already first; we pulled some from our office and basement. If you don’t have enough, and want the space to look more coherent and put-together, consider the containers that will complement, and fit, the space. This is the perfect opportunity to take those measurements and nerd out while shopping for the ‘perfect’ organizational materials. We ended up ordering a set of 3 clear plastic containers for the pantry (and another set of 4 stackers mainly used for the fridge; that’s another post), 1 small clear container with lid and wire bins for the bottom where we had more vertical space. We were able to get the two little tea bag holders from HomeGoods. Disclosure: some of the links are affiliate links or discount codes, meaning, at no additional cost to you, if you click through an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may make a commission.

  4. Clean your bins and remove stickers. One of these Bino ones had such a sticky sticker that it smeared as we tried to clean it with essential oils, vinegar, metal scrubber – everything. If you have a hack for this, let us know. Otherwise, it’s being accepted as part of our perfectionism recovery program.
  5. Pull expired food out to throw away. There will likely be some food waste; show yourself some grace and move on. Remember the FIFO system (first in, first out) for the future so that you rotate items with a sooner expiration date to the front and put your new groceries to the back.
  6. Sort and Categorize. With all the pantry food you’ll have on the floor, start sorting them into categories that make sense to you. We have baking (rolled oats, flours, sweeteners), extra spices/herbs backstock, tea, oils & vinegar, snacks, potato bin, international cuisine items (e.g curry sauce, salsa), tomato sauce and paste, nuts and seeds, pasta and noodles, rice and broth, Mr. Chef specialty foods, our ‘superfoods’, and chips and crackers all in categorized bins or areas of the pantry. Your brain will know where to look and quickly grab the item when it’s all laid out this way.
  7. Labeling – just do it. Create labels for the bins, shelves, and jars if you want to. We were going to make this step optional (and it still is if you live alone and understand your own system) but here’s the thing: your family, even those from your own DNA, aren’t mind-readers. Just because you’ll know where everything is, and think the organization makes sense, doesn’t mean they will. It might seem obvious that the item being searched for is in the ‘baking’ box, or that the tea needs to go in the clear container where all the other teas are hanging out but save yourself and your loved ones the frustration. Just label it. We created labels with brown paper, a scrapbooking punch tool, and some calligraphy (a hobby we enjoy). Do what works for you!

Now, take a break, relax, and snap a photo for Instagram (or comment below) to share. You did it! AND you’re taking getting organized now instead of waiting for 2022 to start. Gold star for you!!

❄️ Are you Frozen too? ❄️

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One of the great joys of having young kids in the family is letting our own inner child come out to play. With the recent release of Frozen II in theaters, we thought this was the perfect time to relate this to being frozen in our own lives. Elsa the Snow Queen’s super-power is turning objects and people to ice. She can build icy bridges, stop an attack, and probably make ice cream whenever she wants (lucky). But her power has to be controlled. And while Elsa freezes things, we often freeze ourselves.

How we ‘Freeze’ ourselves

How do you relate with being frozen? In what area of life are you stuck? It could be around starting an exercise regimen, decluttering the basement or guest room, addressing the issues in your relationships, writing the book, updating the resume or asking for a raise. It could be in the area of health improvement, where we want to lose weight or become more plant-based, but we just can’t seem to begin or sustain our progress.

And because we are frozen, we just find ways to feel better about it. Sometimes we distract ourselves. Have you ever needed to study for a test and then looked at the messy state of your room and thought to yourself, “there’s no ways I can study in this environment”and then spent your study time detail-cleaning the room? We may distract ourselves with lounging in front of the TV, or spending hours on Facebook or Instagram. Numbing out with sugar, caffeine, smoking, or alcohol are also ways we try to make ourselves feel better about being frozen.

What makes this even worse is we put a layer of shame frosting on top. We start belittling ourselves and ‘wishing’ we were better. “Argh,” we think as we get up from the couch after 4 hours of watching Gypsy Sisters or Netflixing World War II documentaries, “I wish I had more motivation to have exercised today” or “I should have cleaned out the downstairs closet, it’s such a mess.”

Perhaps you can relate to unachieved goals, shame storms, and numbing out. Have you ever wondered what lies beneath?

What causes us to be Frozen

In a word: perfectionism. It sounds kind of beautiful, but it’s actually one of the worst words because of the meaning and effect it has in our lives.

It’s hard to say where our perfectionism comes from, but if you’ve ever grown up hearing someone say to you, “If you can’t do it right; don’t do it at all!,” that could be part of the origin. In essence, we are told that our actions, and even who we are, aren’t worthy unless perfect. What a toxic message to carry around with us in our lives.

Perfectionism tends to either paralyze us into inaction or cause us to go overboard and, consequently, burn out.

Why even start to clean the guest bedroom if we can’t do it ‘perfectly’ and we don’t have the five hours we believe it will take? Well, because you CAN make progress, even with 15 minutes of removing trash, clutter, and boxes. 

Perfectionism with our food usually looks like following a certain diet for a few days or weeks, then falling off the wagon and eating everything in sight. There’s an anti-dote to this that allows for sustainable weight loss; chat with us and find out more.

In short, perfectionism usually causes us to procrastinate, get overwhelmed, and shut-down or ‘freeze’.

What’s the cost of perfectionism? The cost is not getting things done at all, whereas we could have made progress. The cost is our inner peace; we don’t feel at peace when we feel stressed and frustrated by not having the time or ability to do something perfectly. Perfectionism can cost our relationships with other people. If you’ve ever yelled at a child or spouse because of a small mess or because they aren’t cleaning the ‘right’ way (your way) you can see the effect your perfectionism and words have on others. Also, and this is two-fold, if you value keeping your home environment museum-perfect over having your ‘messy’ grandchildren visit or if you feel like you can’t have visitors due to a messy, cluttered environment, your relationships with others will suffer.

Check yourself: next time you find yourself frustrated or overwhelmed by a challenge, look underneath that feeling to see if perfectionism is the undercurrent.

How to get Un-frozen

The power of un-freezing ourselves comes from realizing that progress > perfection. Initially, your belief in that statement will recoil. How could progress be better than that which is perfect? Well, considering the high costs and knowing something will never, ever truly be perfect….progress starts looking really good, right? Excellence, according to dictionary definition is, “the quality of being outstanding or extremely good.” If excellence means that we can take action, feel good about ourselves, and not get stuck, why would anyone choose perfectionism instead? 

A small step, taken consistently and continuously reaching toward our goal is better than no action at all. Perhaps you remember My 30-minute Morning Routine about how many people create obstacles for themselves to workout when 6 minutes of strength-training in your own home can still help you feel better and see results. But if you don’t learn to change your way of thinking, perfectionism will keep you hog-tied and frozen.

In Frozen II, Elsa’s sister, Anna, seems to display and embody more of the element – fire – in this movie. Here’s where we have an answer to thawing ourselves out and taking action. Fire motivates, it stirs passion, and, if uncontrolled, it will burn everything in its path. So the key here is to find your motivation and use it as the fire to propel you towards your goals, but without going overboard and burning out.

Motivation isn’t usually enough though, so consider other ‘hacks’ such as scheduling your workout. The 4 Tips to Fit in Fitness blog is a great place to start. When it comes to decluttering, check out our experience with the Konmari Method for inspiration and ideas to make it easier.

Want to write a book? Just start writing, imperfectly. A typo is not the end of the world; besides, there are opportunities to review and make edits (or have others do it!). Allowing perfectionism to rule in this area of your life means your story is never shared, in-print or online.

What’s one area of your life where you’re willing to become ‘unfrozen’ and warm up your ‘fire’ to take action?

Holy Cannoli! 4 Tips for Overcoming Fear of Failure

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photo source: blog.richdadeducation.com

The curiosity of children seems to override their sense of fear as they learn to ride bikes, hang upside-down on the monkey bars and perform acrobatic tricks, as well as trying new foods. As the years pass, it seems fear and anxiety around the potential for failure increase. Through conversations with friends, posts on social media, and health histories, it appears as through many people experience anxieties about failure in their relationships and careers. In efforts to self-medicate, often they turn to food or medication, isolation, and unhealthy behaviors including addiction. Self-sabotage, perfectionism, low self-confidence, reluctance to try new unfamiliar activities are also symptoms of fear of failure.

So when the sick brick of gooey, black feeling of fear settles into the stomach, and anxiety increases the heart rate and causes jittery nerves, what can you do?

4 Tips of Overcoming Fear of Failure

  1. Acknowledge the feelings and explore their origins (i.e. childhood or mistakes made as adults)
  2. Remember the acronym: F.E.A.R. is False Evidence Appearing Real. Children eventually realize that ‘the monster in the closet’ was pure imagination; sometimes adults forget that they can choose between visualizing success as well as failure.
  3. Assess the true risk and take necessary precautions. Check your safety equipment before you mountain bike, zip-line, or ski down a mountain. Learning to explore and evaluate possible outcomes can help build contingency planning.
  4. Set small goals that will help you build your confidence. When skiing down a black diamond slope, sometimes it’s best to focus on the 20-30 feet ahead. Same with starting a new diet or exercise routine; start slowly and self-efficacy will soon increase.

Sometimes it’s best to feel the fear of failure and take action anyway. If you don’t get the desired result, there’s a silver lining of having learned something; if you do, remember the feeling of having overcome fear and turned it into a success – you’ll need it next time.