Those of you who know Teresa, see an “Energizer Bunny,” full of life and great organizing advice. Yet, what most people don’t know is that she has suffered with severe gastrointestinal disease her entire adult life. In 2012, after a 25 year bout with ulcerative colitis, she opted for a colectomy, a surgery that removes the large intestine, and results in an ostomy bag.
While some people might let a chronic illness slow them down, Teresa manages her illness through careful organization. In order to maintain an ostomy, there are several supplies necessary: a wafer (a piece that attaches to the stomach and holds the bag), a barrier ring that seals the wafer, adhesive removal wipes, skin protection wipes, and plastic bags to dispose of waste. Teresa orders these items every three months, and stores supplies in a bin at the top of her closet and, for easier access, she stores a 5 week supply in a caddy under her sink. Since the ostomy bag can be used for up to four days, this enables her to have supplies accessible without them being a constant reminder of her illness.
On a daily basis, Teresa uses a small pouch in her purse to hold two full sets of supplies in the event the wafer loosens and necessitates an unexpected change. When she goes on vacation, she packs extra supplies in a larger pouch since she enjoys a full range of activities (e.g., swimming, snorkeling, and skiing) that may require more frequent bag adjustments. After each vacation, Teresa repacks her ostomy travel bag and stores it in her luggage.
Over the years, Teresa has changed her diet multiple times to accommodate ever evolving food sensitivities. In order to ensure she has the foods she needs, she buys groceries and prepares food for each week on Sunday evening, storing everything in stackable glass pyrex. When she travels with food, she uses lightweight, non-breakable containers. In her kitchen, temptation is avoided by keeping her snacking food separate from her family’s food. When medication and supplements need to be taken at specific times, prior planning is a must, and medication is kept in a bin inside a kitchen cabinet.
Given that flare ups of her disease are unpredictable, having an organized home and routine, allows Teresa to control as much of her life as possible. If you or a loved one is experiencing a chronic illness, let the Life Organized team put you at ease as they declutter your home and reduce your stress. Also feel free to DM Teresa @richwomanhkny if you need a supportive ear or would like to share your experiences.
With her easy smile, charismatic personality, and colorful content, it’s no wonder that Lisa Schechter’s venture, “Lis on Life” has taken off in just a few months. For years, Lisa has nurtured her passion for finding or creating the best of everything – food, flowers, fashion, vacation venues, wellness plans, and gifts and sharing her finds. With Lis on Life, her recommendations are now being shared beyond her many friends to reach thousands of followers on Instagram.
Lisa is known for her beautiful food displays and delicious meals. Her challah is famous, not only for its soft texture, but for the innovative shapes and toppings she devises. Her fruit boards are art, and her meal planning is impeccable. Since she’s not only preparing food, but also arranging and photographing her projects, her kitchen needs to be functional and fully stocked at all times.
Over the past several months, I’ve worked with Lisa organizing her office, children’s rooms, linen closets, game closets, sentimental items, basement, and her digital space. The only area we never touched was her kitchen…until now.
In between his full time job, volunteering in the community, and taking care of his two young sons, Mike McCleod, Jr. had little time for himself or for organizing his small, but cozy home. As a result, the kitchen, where the family spent the most time, was overrun with food, appliances, and the debris of daily living. His kitchen table was literally on its last leg and in such poor condition that it could no longer be used for meals. When Mike reached out to my friends at Hooplaha, @onlygood.tv for help, I was happy to spearhead his kitchen makeover.
When I first met the McCleod trio, they were excited about the project on hand. Kiing and Hova, Mike’s sons, greeted me at the door, and as they showed me around the apartment, I could see that the kitchen was not functioning at all; instead it was weighed down with clutter. Yet, I was also pleasantly surprised to see several areas where overflow from the kitchen could be stored.
After Adam Keller’s flash mob proposal to Jared Marinelli at Joy Ride Studio (viewed by 14 million people), life changed dramatically for these fitness instructors. In addition to cohosting an online series called “Joy Story” for Hooplaha – Only Good News, they moved to a new home, and basked in an outpouring of affection from the LGBT community. When our mutual friends from Hooplaha told me “the boys” where struggling with a small kitchen, I was happy to pay them a visit in New Jersey to help them manage the space.
While their new home had an extensive yard for them to walk their dogs, the kitchen was a fraction of the size of the one they had left behind. Since this space was limited, they were using the counters to compensate for the lack of a pantry, and the kitchen was overrun by clutter. When organizing the space, I followed my typical approach:
Take everything out of the cabinets
Group like items together
Separate duplicates and purge
Put everything back in an organized fashion
As I cleared everything out of the cabinets, I could see that inside and under the cabinets were not being used properly. To maximize space, I outfitted drawers with inserts to organize utensils, flatware, and utility items (tools and batteries). Items on high shelves were placed in bins, so that they would be accessible, and the surfaces were cleared. Accents in orange were placed throughout, resulting in a charming, cozy kitchen Jared and Adam can enjoy. See a video of the makeover here.
Like most of my projects, this one started with a phone call. There was a townhouse and two dads, two kids, two dogs, and way too much stuff. Could we help? Of course.
At the first appointment, we met Bill and Alvarro, two busy dads at their home in Brooklyn Heights which was beautifully decorated yet warm and child friendly. From the basement to the office on the top floor, we could see the evidence of a well lived life. Gifts, souvenirs from travel, photos, school projects, and books could be found in boxes and piles throughout the house. Bill and Alvarro craved better organization so that they could live with less clutter and less stress. After a walk through of the house, we made a plan: we would meet once a week, and tackle one room at a time, starting in the kitchen.
In 2016, my friend and colleague, Nancy Lascher, became involved with Beautycounter, and I learned a startling fact: the United States is one of the few countries that doesn’t regulate the ingredients in skin care products, and Beautycounter is one of the few companies committed to making skin care products without any harmful ingredients.
As a professional organizer, I never paid much attention to the composition of the products I used to contain and corral my clients’ clutter. Yet, the cancer diagnoses of several friends and clients over the past two years has led me to take a closer look. This week, I cohosted an event with Lara Metz about healthy snacks and food storage containers.
While I don’t profess to being an expert on the chemical composition of organizing products, one of my team members (and cancer surviver), compiled this summary of chemicals to avoid in food storage containers and a list of some recommended products. As we learn more, this list will evolve, and we encourage you to share what you know, so we can provide the most up to date information.
Avoid the following chemicals in food storage containers:
BPA – Bisphenol A Plastic
– Increased risk of cancer
– Sexual and reproductive issues
– ADHD and other developmental disorders
– Endocrine disruption
Over the past few years, I have become interested in wellness, particularly as it applies to organization. Recently, I had the opportunity to speak to Julie Peacock who integrates essential oils into her practice of yoga, nutrition, and wellness. According to Julie, essential oils protect against seasonal and environmental threats. They are nontoxic and don’t pollute your home, water supply or the environment. They are also multi-purpose and inexpensive.
Here are 6 essential oils Julie identified that can be used to clean and refresh your home:
Walking into Holly Merrin’s kitchen is a little like Dorothy seeing Oz for the first time. From the emerald green terrazzo floors to the bold green leather chairs and fabulous views of the Hudson River, this kitchen is long on the wow factor.
The mom of the moment is long on the wow factor too. Petite and pretty, Holly enjoys preparing meals and snacks for her family. A 2015 graduate of The Natural Gourmet Institute, it’s more than a hobby, but not yet a career. Holly contacted Curated Kitchen to tackle both the physical organization of the kitchen and her need to address a wide range of food preferences in the most nutritious manner.
Registered Dietitian Lara Metz and Professional Organizer Barbara Reich are joining forces in their newest venture, Curated Kitchen. Their combined expertise gets to the core of how a curated kitchen will enable you to live a happier, more balanced life. Together, they will edit your kitchen, eliminate unhealthy food, unnecessary kitchen clutter and leave you with a newly stocked, better organized space to gather with family and friends. Not only will you receive recipes, nutrition, and organizing tips, but your whole family will enjoy a kitchen makeover that pleases every palate.
Is your pantry a disaster of stale cereal and junk food? Do you have multiple bags of half eaten chips left over from the super bowl party you hosted in January? Is there food that has been there for weeks, if not years?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’re not alone. And, the prediction of 12-24 inches of snow makes today the perfect day to purge and create a pantry that’s well stocked, organized, and filled with nutritious food.
Over the past several months, I’ve organized several kitchens with my colleague, Lara Metz. One of the issues we’ve been seeing repeatedly is the duplication of items in the refrigerator and pantry. Here’s our advice on how to avoid this in your kitchen:
Start by purging all of the foods that have expired in both your refrigerator and pantry. This should be done on a weekly basis prior to going to the grocery store. Then, in an accessible area, store a pad or a white board to keep a running list of what needs to be replaced. Let your family know that this is everyone’s responsibility, not just yours, so even children are in the habit of adding to the list when they take the last bag of pretzels.
In order to maintain organization, group all similar items together. In both the kitchen and pantry, there should be zones for different food categories. In the refrigerator, take advantage of built in compartments. For example, put all fruit in the fruit drawer and produce in the produce drawer. Then, store your products in straight lines with like items one behind the other.
Use organizing products that will make your refrigerator and pantry functional and look great. Here are some of our favorites:
White taper bins can be used to corral individually wrapped products. For example, if you have multiple types of tea and tea bags, store these in a bin along with a jar of honey. Use another bin to store snacks like chips and pretzels.
Pantry bins are helpful to separate items and keep them them neat.
For storing dry goods like cereal, flour, and sugar, I recommend using canisters like these .
If there’s a hard to reach corner in your pantry, consider a Lazy Susan.
Studies suggest that people reach for what they see first, so to encourage wellness in your home, position fruit and healthy snacks at eye level.