#64 Clean Out Your Kitchen Cabinets

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Clean Out Your Kitchen Cabinets

As the new year approaches, it’s a great time to consider taking a good look through your kitchen cabinets for all of those things that you may not have used in the last year. Unlike cleaning the pantry, this entails sorting through your plastic storage containers, matching lids and bowls; cleaning out the junk drawers that have accumulated more than the pens, paper clips, and batteries, and tossing anything at all that has rusted over the year.


My kitchen is a mess after the holidays with all the cooking that gets done and a number of different helpers putting away dishes. I’m lucky if I can find the most basic items usually. Everyone has a way that they like their kitchen staffed and the new year is a great time to reorganize your cooking tools so that they are in the places that make sense to you. It’s also a good time to reassess if things work where they are. Do you need the Vitamix on the counter day after day or do you use your mixer more? Do you like the toaster out or would you like a cleaner line for 2019?

Pots & Pans

Cleaning the cupboards means taking stock of your pots and pans. How worn are your cookie sheets? Do your muffin pans have rust spots? Are your cake pans warped?  How scratched is that frying pan that gets used everyday? Even if you aren’t in a position to replace what’s tired, you can make a list so that you’re aware the next time you stop in at TJMAXX or you see a great sale (May is a good time to purchase cookware).

Everyday Dishes

Several years ago (ten maybe?) on Black Friday, I purchased two boxes of white dinnerware that was deeply discounted. In all, it was service for 16 – which, I’ve never needed to use. I put 8 place settings in the cabinet and then each year as I do inventory for chips and cracks, I dip into the box of extras. White was universal and has been a stable in my kitchen, no matter the changing decor. When I clean out the cabinets, I check for cracks and discoloration and then replace damaged or missing items to bring my stocked selection back up to a serving for eight.

The same goes for my silverware. Each year it seems that I still have all the knives and tablespoons but for some reason, the forks and spoons are always down one or two. In my younger days, I had a haphazard collection of whatever pattern my parents were discarding and a few Goodwill additions. When I could, I picked a pattern and waited for it to go on sale – then I bought two. I use the same strategy as I have for my dinnerware.

Drinking containers

One look at the cupboard that contains glasses and cups demonstrates how eclectic I really am. I’ve attempted to fix this over the last couple of years, finding mugs that I like and getting several; updating the glassware so that there is more than one of any one kind, and ditching all the kiddie plastic cups that were collected from restaurants.

The wine glass and to-go cupboard is the same… somehow I adopted all the containers my children made at birthday parties and graduations over the years and there are more than a couple depicting sorority letters. The fact that they are still there indicates my reluctance to purge that particular cabinet but time is running short!

I’ve decided that 2019 is a year to take charge and I’ll be starting in the kitchen. Won’t you join me and …

Clean out your kitchen cabinets!

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#114 Paint the Woodwork

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Paint the Woodwork

As I look around my home, my first thought is that I must add this suggestion to my to-do list ASAP. How does the woodwork in a typical home get so beat up? You’d think a herd of antelope have charged through the doorways and against the chair rail in almost every room.

Stained Woodwork

Some people don’t like painted woodwork and have gone to great lengths for the cherry or walnut stained trim that comprises baseboards, door jams, and crown moulding throughout the house. Others, have cursed those oil based stains as they attempted to paint over them years later with washable latex. While stained trim is definitely beautiful, especially in older homes where the quality of wood used for trim was high end, it can be both dark and comfortable as well as dark and dreary. If dark and comfortable is the feel you want and have… read no further. If it’s dark and drab or if your woodwork is already painted – read on.

Colored Trim

In Colonial style homes, the tradition of painting trim a darker color than the walls is still practiced. Often, because dark colors draw your attention, when there is detailed trim that acts as part of the room decor (dental molding, etc) the contrast of it against a light wall has an artistic feel. In many of the modern homes where trim was mass produced, it’s rather nondescript and acts more as a simple frame for a door or window opening so it is commonly white.

White Trim

White may not be white – or so says Better Home and Garden Magazine. In an online article, they remind us that ‘white’ comes in a variety of tones that vary across a spectrum of cool to warm; each one complimenting the primary wall color differently. They recommend taking a paint chip of the primary wall color to the paint store to see which ‘white’ works the best and then make it consistent throughout the room. Personally, I prefer a white, white – on the cool side throughout the whole house. It seems chaotic to choose a different white color for each room.


Perhaps the most important part of choosing a paint for trim is knowing to get a hardy, washable paint. This is where quality matters. Bob Villa, one of televisions most beloved home improvement specialists, suggests a alkyd-oil based paint in either semi or high gloss for most traditional household trim work. It is by far, the most durable and the most washable – tolerant of harsh cleaners. Personally, cleaning up with oil-based paints is cumbersome and it doesn’t come off easily after drying on areas it wasn’t supposed to be on in the first place (my hands, the floor, the doorknobs, etc) so I use water based paints in semi-gloss but go for high quality, high durability. Behr paints have been rated highly by consumer reports over the years and have been satisfactory in my personal experience. It goes on well and blends well if all I am doing is random touch ups.

Take a walk through your house and glance around at the trim in each room and then grab a paint brush and a fresh can of paint and…

Paint the woodwork.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#138 Clean Out Your Pantry

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Clean out your pantry.

You may or may not have an official ‘pantry’ yet it is likely that you have a cupboard in your kitchen that is a ‘catch all’ – a place to stash those arbitrary ingredients that you rarely use. When was the last time you dug through there and got rid of the old stuff? I’m occasionally embarrassed by how long I’ve kept a can of water chestnuts or a packet of gravy mix that I picked up for a recipe or overbought.

First Things First

It’s a good idea to pull everything out to clearly see what’s what. Experts suggest we attempt this task at least once a year. It makes sense to do it now – before the holidays when we are apt to buy more groceries and may need the extra room.

Check Expiration Dates

Take stock in the items you have that may be on the verge of expiring. Expiration dates on food are conservative as required by the FDA and my family is hard evidence for the fact that people can eat food after it’s expiration date and live to tell about it (some foods are a hard no to this). Anything that has a close expiration date  can be incorporated into your meal planning over the next couple of weeks. Pasta stays good for a couple of years when it’s stored in a cool dry space, for example.

Organize It

This is a good time to see if you’ve run out of anything that you like to keep in stock. I generally have an extra bottle of ketchup or chili makings for a quick and easy way to feed a few if the kids pop in for dinner. Make a grocery list for those items that you need to stock or replace.

Next, group things in a way that makes sense to your lifestyle. I tend to organize my pantry the way my favorite grocery store is lined up; baking items on one shelf, cereal and grains on another.

Put it Back

Before you return things, make sure to wipe down the shelves and vacuum up crumbs and dust. Some people tout the use of shelf liner, making clean up really easy from  year to year.

As you return food back to the pantry, be sure to check that is securely packaged. You don’t want an open bag of rice to suddenly spill and spoil your efforts. For those items that are better in airtight containers, consider Ziplock bags or containers that lock in freshness.

There are thousands of ideas on Pinterest for pantry storage with many of the suggestions using free or low cost items to keep things neat and tidy. It’s easy to get inspired.

This is one of those tasks that often sounds more time consuming than it really is and your feelings of satisfaction will flood your senses each time you open the pantry door once you make the time to…

Clean out your pantry.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below.

#167 Clean Out Your Car

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Clean out your car

If it’s true that a clean house is a predictor of your health and happiness then it must follow that the cleanliness of the inside of our automobile is also somewhat of a predictor… especially for those of us who spend a ton of time driving. Our mental health is more stable when our environment is stable – organization and cleanliness manifest a sense of stability no matter the location.

Top to Bottom

Reader’s Digest suggests there’s much more to cleaning the interior of our car than simply dusting and vacuuming and an order in which to do those things. To start – as in your home – you should vacuum first! But from top to bottom; starting with the dashboard, then the seats, and finally the carpet. Vacuuming creates dust so don’t wipe things down until the vacuuming is finished. When you wipe things down, don’t stop at the obvious… be sure to wipe the inside of the door – the door jam – it’s the part that everyone first sees and ultimately determines how tightly your door closes.

Nooks & Crannies

A true cleaning means getting into the glove compartment (does anyone actually keep gloves in there?), the center console, and the seat pockets. I’m lazy when it comes to those areas and when I do make the effort, I typically find little treasures that make me cringe, not to mention items I’d forgotten I had. Generally I’m a few dollars richer for the loose change that has collected there.

Taboo Items

The next step is to be sure to remove all the items that one should never keep in a car. Valuables is the obvious choice but there are other items that can be negatively affected by significant changes in temperature (heat & cold); plastic, for example. Eliminate any water bottles that have been exposed the the intense hot temperatures possible with a car sitting in the sun. Same advice goes for anything electronic; computers, cell phones, and tablets can overheat when exposed to extreme temperature, rendering them temporarily inoperable. Electronics are also frequent targets of thieves, making your car a tempting target.


Inevitably, getting into a nice clean car that smells fresh ignites that ‘new car’ sensation – always a good feeling. Cleanliness is like a blank slate and allows your mind to focus on tasks at hand; clutter is distracting. Cleanliness helps us avoid the perils of allergens; the inside of your car is a small space so keeping the air there dust free will ultimately be beneficial. Take a look at your schedule and find some time to carve out so that you can …

Clean out your car.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#173 Refresh the Photos in Your Frames

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Refresh the photos in your frames

We frame favorite photographs of people we love or of great memories so that we can keep the moment alive and in front of us. While the snapshots of the kids in preschool are adorable, there’s a good chance that they have had a number of memorable moments since.

Digital Age

I am personally guilty of and have heard consensus that since the onset of the digital age, fewer and fewer photographs actually get printed. This may be one of the reasons that we aren’t updating the photos in our household frames even though many photo printing services make it exceptionally easy.

Get Organized

Grab a piece of paper and make a list of the frame sizes around your home. Many of them are typically 4×6 (the standard print size) or 5×7. Some of us may have special occasion photos that are the larger 8×10. Once you have a list, spend some time going through your phone or your online photo storage app (Google photos, Facebook, Shutterfly, etc…) and pick out a few to print. Most of the time, all you have to do is copy the photo so that they are all on the device you intend to transfer from.


Once you know which photos you want, use a printing service such as Shutterfly or Snapfish. Of course, most box stores (Target, Walmart) and drug store chains also offer printing services. Simply download the photo to their online app, select the size and finish, and then pick them up when you are ready! It’s that easy.


Changing photographs is another activity that can help keep your memory strong. By stimulating our recall abilities, we engage memory in a way that keeps it moving… kinda like greasing a cog. Additionally, your brain has become accustomed to the photos currently in place – after awhile they become almost invisible to your senses. Changing the pictures will stimulate your brain as it notices something new as you move from room to room.

New Look

Replacing the photos in existing frames also protects against excess clutter as the years go by. Obviously, the longer we live, the more moments we capture and want to remember. Yet, continuing to add frames and photos can become overwhelming as time passes. As you go about this project, you may wish to update your frames as well but it’s not necessary to replace them. A fresh coat of paint, some embellishments or simply moving them into a different room may be all you need for the overall look to be updated.

Add this task to your master to-do list to keep it on your mind and the next time you need a ‘rainy day’ activity – consider the novelty and pleasure you’ll experience by taking an afternoon and …

Refreshing the photos in your frames.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#178 Clean Your Underwear Drawer

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Clean your underwear drawer

Who’s laughing? Are you laughing because you think this is a ridiculous suggestion or because you’re sure that in following this suggestion, a comedy would ensue? Perhaps you’ve been exposed to someone recently who really needs to follow this advice!

In all seriousness, this is one of those ‘areas’ that is typically at the bottom of most to-do lists. We rotely get dressed each day without much thought as to the condition of our undies unless we are expecting to be seduced later in the day. And… the less seduction in your life… the worse condition your personables are likely to be in.

I wasn’t aware of this phenomenon until as a young widow, someone suggested going shopping to replace my undies collection. I was not yet in a state where that need could be recognized but after some time I was appalled at the state of my scanties. I had been married a few years and I was a new mom… the condition of my undergarments were definitely not prioritized and there were far too many stretched out, worn out, or faded out undies that qualified as only ‘period or post pregnancy’ panties (you know what I mean ladies?) Some went into ‘that’ pile and many others were simply tossed.

Today, as a marriage counselor, I can attest to a common frustration – mostly attributed to men – that indicts a lackadaisical attitude against female partners when it comes to their unmentionables. I’m not specifically speaking about seduction lingerie but more about the everyday wearables that are frequently worn and washed. The proverbial tee-shirt bra and boyshort undies along with the little lace thongs that after too short a time – stretch and fade – losing their overall attractiveness.

Women aren’t the only culprits! Men may be even more culpable with respect to boxers or briefs that get stretched and stained to the point that they are downright repulsive. I understand there’s a strategy to letting the jewels get some air but when they are flapping in the wind also… what’s the point?

You’ll feel better about yourself when you start with an attractive, clean, and well-fitting skivvies. Even white cotton that meets those criteria is more pleasurable to both wear and look at than the alternative I’m discussing. Long ago a friend taught me the trick of buying a couple of basic colored bras and then I could choose any combination of colors in my panties and it would look like a ‘set’…. One doesn’t have to have hefty finances to underlayer nicely.

As you get dressed today, or ready for bed… open the drawer that contains these items and quickly assess the additional lifespan of each piece. It only takes a few minutes and you’ll have addressed a personal care item with the simple gesture of …

Cleaning your underwear drawer.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#180 Organize Your Manuals

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Organize your Manuals

Do you have a drawer of instruction or operating manuals? Is it overflowing? Outdated? I know in my house I have historically stuffed booklets in there as I obtain items and then only pay attention when the drawer is too full to take any more. I am often amazed at how many coffee pots I’ve purchased since the last time the drawer was cleaned! (I go through them faster than tires on my car!)

Why Bother?

My dad taught me the importance of keeping manuals and while it’s a little less imperative now that everything and anything is on the internet – one of the habits I have is stapling a receipt or at least noting the date of acquisition on the instruction/operation manual. Recording the date of purchase is important for warranty information. Having the original manual is also a nicety for the person who buys the item secondhand from you. It demonstrates that you ‘take care’ of our belongings and that you are responsible (that’s what Dad said).  

Memory Lane

Looking through a collection of appliance/apparatus manuals can be entertaining as well… the last time I made this effort we found information for a Karaoke machine I had bought the children more than ten years ago… it offered an opportunity to walk down memory lane for awhile and giggle at the memories of bellowing teenage voices – the Britney Spear ‘wanna-be’s’.

Quick & Easy

It’s a simple chore that really only takes a few minutes… a much shorter time than we imagine. While you certainly can take it seriously and create a binder with sections and labels – it’s probably just as productive to weed out the drawer. Whether its a tool sitting in the garage, an appliance that you use every day, or a toy that’s been forgotten the manual may be lying dormant in that drawer. Right now while it’s fresh on your mind, either tackle the task or scribble on your to-do list…

Organize your manuals.

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below


#202 Meal Prep

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Meal prep

Hundreds, if not thousands of blogs in recent years have been dedicated to different ways of meal prepping. This is not one of them. I’m writing about it because when we have taken the time to do a little meal prep our lives become a little easier, happier, and ultimately… more productive. Yes, it takes a little time and commitment but if that’s how you spend a rainy day then on a nice evening when all you want to do is sit on the deck and enjoy a summer evening – your meal will be almost effortless.


Perhaps the most important element and the first step in doing a little meal prep is deciding what you’d like to eat this week and get the grocery shopping done. Thinking ahead means that those decisions won’t have to be made day by day – sometimes the most challenging thinking after a long day of work. Grab your family members and make it a joint venture or… kick everyone out of the kitchen to other tasks, turn on some jam music, pour some wine and go to town!


If you know that you’ll be grilling in the evenings then plan your ‘side’ dishes in advance. Boil a big batch of potatoes so that you can throw together a potato salad, smashed potatoes, or potato casserole (make that ahead of time and freeze).  If you’ll be having corn on the cob, cook a few extra on the evening that you want to eat them fresh and then shave the kernels off the cob for a corn side dish later in the week.

Stock the freezer

Don’t forget the endless opportunities to set aside pasta dishes, casseroles, and soups or stews! Most of them freeze really well and if you pull it out in the morning, it’s ready to bake when you get home – no thought or real effort involved! You’ll be able to come home, change, and spend 5 minutes making dinner rather than the 30 or 45 minutes it might  have taken to get dinner on the table.

Time efficiency

What’s clear in the study of happiness is that when we use our time efficiently, we feel more organized. People who are more organized are less stressed. People who are less stressed – are happier. People who have more free time – are happier. So, it stands to reason that you’ll be happier overall if you step away from binge watching HGTV or ESPN on the next rainy day and make an effort to …

Meal Prep

I love hearing your thoughts and ideas. Please share in the comments below

#215 Organize your ‘tupperware’

Sharing 365 life lessons, tips, or hacks; the things that make life easier, happier, and more productive. I hope you’ll follow along and find them helpful too.


Organize your ‘tupperware’

I am using ‘tupperware’ to represent all food storage containers which, I think is a generational thing but you know what I mean. Like yesterday’s post, this suggestion is more about a tiny thing that will make you feel better each time you open the cabinet than some grand design to promote happiness. Ironically however, you may find a sense of ‘feeling good’ overcome you because your level of annoyance will be reduced each time you open the cabinet where you keep food storage containers.


There’s an entire industry aimed at helping us keep these plastic or glass dishes with their accompanying lids under control. It’s interesting because one would think it’s much easier than most of us make it and I’m not sure where it goes so wrong. It’s true though, unless you live alone or you have anal tendencies, it seems to be a major challenge to keep any consistent organization to the food saving containers we accumulate over time.


Maybe it’s because this is the place we grant our hoarding desires a pass. We may tend to keep every container that is REusable – adding it to our already sufficient supply. Eventually they accumulate to the point that they overrun any good intention. And… what happens to the lids? Do they meet up with the socks that disappear? Ideally, we keep the lids and bowls together but then we run out of room quickly and so the nesting of bowls takes place and maybe, the lids get disgruntled because some of them disappear for good.


So, the challenge is to get in there again. First rule – discard any container that does not have a matching (and well fitting) lid. Next, consider how often you will use said container. If it’s a keeper, set it aside – if not, recycle or repurpose it and get it OUT of the cabinet. Once you have all the keepers together, make the choice to nest them and stack the lids or store them with the lids attached; either is perfectly acceptable.

Feel Good

Organization helps us to feel a sense of order – to feel in control of our lives. It’s great that we keep general appearances in good shape but superfluous if each time we open a cabinet or drawer, the chaos screams hello. This is one small step you can easily take to keep disorder – and mayhem – at bay. Next time you put away the dishes, take a few minutes and…

Organize your ‘tupperware’.

I love hearing your thoughts and idas. Please share in the comments below.