Dear Katie & Kelly: My fridge is a disaster area and always seems that way within a few hours of me cleaning it. As a Classic, it annoys me to no end. Any tips on how to keep it organized? Annoyed in Astoria
Dear Annoyed: Messy fridges are Classic Kelly’s pet peeve too. Labels can work and are worth trying. But, the real key is to walk everyone through where things go. You also need fridge bins. Which ones to get varies by fridge and core staples but The Container Store is our go-to place for them. We’ve found that the main problem with maintaining fridge organization is leftovers. Then there’s always new grocery items that don’t fit into the old scheme. To accommodate these items (and keep the organization system you’ve created) it means you often have to keep areas of your fridge empty. Otherwise, yes, someone is going to put a takeout food container on top of your neatly lined up yogurts.
One easy place to keep free is an extra door bin down low. It’s an inconvenient spot to store things but perfect for temporary items that will not be taking up permanent residence. Finally, remember that the image that we’ve included here is staged for a photo shoot. It’s the rare bird who keeps his/hers looking that good. It also takes a lot of work because you often have to take things OUT of packaging to achieve a beautifully styled refrigerator. Often not worth it to many personality types.
Dear Katie & Kelly: Does buying in bulk make sense in a small space? Mulling in Manhattan
Dear Mulling: Some personality types are compelled to buy in bulk. The primary reason many do it is saving money. But the secondary one we’ve found is FORO. Fear of running out. These folks are usually Classics or Funs. Organics and Smarts realize that unless they’re in the equivalent of Siberia, there’s usually a spot open to buy essentials. But, there are others who
First, figure out how much room you have to sensibly store things. Sensibly = you can see what you have and retrieve it easily. Then let your space and needs dictate what you can can and can’t buy. When doing the math on things, always value your time — is this an EXTRA shopping trip, how long are you spending refilling shampoos, ketchups, cleaning up spills from doing such? If a bulk store is farther out than your regular store, remember to factor in gas and your time. Time = money.
Cheers: Katie & Kelly
Dear Katie & Kelly: Money is tight right now but we desperately need a date night with three kids and a lot of stress. Any cheap date night ideas? Sincerely: Broke in Boise
Dear Broke: We’ve all been broke at one point in our lives — or at least we have! At the risk of stating the obvious … have a home date. Since drugging children with Benadryl is probably illegal and a sitter is costly, bribe your eldest to watch the younger kids. If your kids are all super little then wake them up early and put them down early. They can’t read the clock; take advantage of their illiterate years. Then make your favorite cheap dinner, set the table as if you were having guests and after play a board game afterward or cards. As awesome as watching a movie is, it’s not conducive to talking and remembering why on earth you picked this person in the first place. Cheers: Katie & Kelly
Dear K & K: My husband wants to get a cat. I don’t. I’m not a fan of the indoor litter box, detest the idea of scratched upholstery with hair and frankly, am not a huge cat lover. We’re at loggerheads over here, and thought some Pixie Magic might help. Signed: Loggerheads in Louisiana.
Dear Loggerheards: First and foremost, you need to find a compromise you can live with AND stay married. Katie’s husband, Walter, wanted cats and she didn’t. She now has two cats. Similarly, Kelly wanted a dog but her husband, Fred, didn’t. He now has a dog. Loggerheads break on the shoals of the “weaker” link.
We don’t mean to disparage either of you. By weaker, we mean, okay, weaker BUT weaker argument not person. For example, we both have pets now, despite different stances, because we each found a realistic compromise by getting to the root of the real impediment and the other’s real desire for a pet. For Fred, it was daily dog walks, for Katie, it was shredded upholstery whereas for Kelly and Walter, it was a childhood pet for their kids. As Kelly and Walter’s reason was stronger than Katie and Fred’s impediments, and we were all willing to compromise, pets materialized in our lives. The compromises? Fred doesn’t walks the dog unless Kelly has a fever and Katie’s cats live on one floor of their house.
Most importantly, here are some ideas for you to break your loggerheads. First, get a hidden litter box that’s in a room or bathroom you don’t use. There’s a cool undersink one at Wayfair. Second, if it’s shredded furniture, consider an invisible fence. Use them to keep pets out of certain areas of the home or inside a yard. Finally, ask him why he needs a pet. Maybe you could get a different kind of pet or there is another solution entirely. Good Luck! K&K
Photo from: USN’s 4 Steps to Take If You Loan Money to Friends or Family
Dear Katie & Kelly: A friend of mine is going through a hard time financially and asked to borrow some money. It’s a lot of money to my friend but not that much to me. I’m worried she might not be able to pay it back and what impact that might have on our friendship. Signed: Worried in Wyoming
Dear Worried: Lending money when you’re not an actual bank is tough. Frankly, lending money when you ARE a bank is tough. Even if you could run her credit report and look at her past five years of income, there is still no guarantee that she’ll pay you back. If you’re okay with this possibility then it shouldn’t be too much of a burden on your friendship. Give it and forget about it. If you’re not okay with it, then you have your answer.
There are other pitfalls in lending money besides not being paid back. I always advise Classics not to lend money to a friend (or family member) because it might negatively impact your relationship even if they pay it back. Here’s why, Classics, a handful of Funs and probably a couple of Organic Structures can’t help judging how other people spend their money if it seems unwise or isn’t the way they would do it. Yes, this is even when they’re not lending it to those people! If you disagree with this stereotype that’s because it’s a stereotype, not 100%. Also, more introverted types probably don’t share these judgements. Our point is that if you can lend the money to your friend not only as a gift but as a gift without judgement, go for it. If you can’t? Well then, there’s your answer again.
If it’s a go, then tell your friend, “It’s a gift. You pay me back or you don’t. No questions asked. No expectations and no judgement.” If it’s a no go, then tell your friend, “I REALLY want to lend you the money but I don’t want it to get in the way of our friendship and I fear somehow it would. Our friendship means too much for me to risk anything happening to us.”
The photo in this article is from a great US News & World Report article on how to go about lending money to friends & family (or not!) Good luck! Katie & Kelly
Dear Katie & Kelly: Over the Thanksgiving holiday, I realized my spices are a disaster. What’s the best way to organize them? Signed: Spicy in Sarasota
Dear Spicy: Our favorite way to organize them is in a large shallow drawer with an expandable spice rack as pictured here. You open the drawer and instantly almost all of your spices are at your fingertips. The next best thing is to store them on the inside of pantry or cabinet doors on mounted spice racks. Barring these two possibilities, then good ‘ol Lazy Susans are the way to go. We prefer a bunch of smaller ones, 8-10 inches in diameter, versus larger ones because it makes it easier to find the spices in the middle. In this solution, it almost goes without saying but … taller bottles go on the inside, shorter ones along the circumference. Happy Cooking: Katie & Kelly
Dear Katie & Kelly: My husband and I disagree about where to store our mail. I have always kept it on our kitchen room table because our entranceway doesn’t have room for an entryway table. But, my husband often takes this pile and hides it away behind a nearby cabinet. It’s driving me crazy. Any suggestions? Signed: Maelstrom in Massachusetts
Dear Maelstrom: We have two clients who had this exact problem. It’s not uncommon when one of you is a Classic and one of you isn’t. Classics need to have messy piles like mail or bills hidden away or at a minimum tidy and in an appropriate home. A place for everything and everything in its place. Our favorite compromise solution for entryway clutter are acrylic wall bins. Either on the wall in the entryway or on the inside of the nearest closet or cabinet door. The former sounds like it’s a better compromise for you since it sounds like the hiding away aspect is what is annoying you. Acrylic ones are key so that the pile of mail, bills or whatever pressing items you want out in a pile are still visible to you. All our best: Katie & Kelly
Defend your coatrack!
Dear Katie & Kelly: Our coatrack in our mudroom always looks like a jungle. How do I keep it from being a disaster? I’m afraid the coat rack is going to fall off the wall … because it DID once! Signed: Tarzan in Topeka.
Dear Tarzan: You tame the jungle by taming the “beasts” who make it so. Remind people to put their coats in the actual closet and be mean about it. Seriously, the coatrack is one of the most abused pieces of furniture in every home. Defend it! The only way our clients have been able to keep coatracks clean is (1) a One coat/One hook policy or (2) labeled personalized hooks. The former is the best way to go if being “mean” comes easily to you. Had a bad day and come home to a jungle? Unload your furious roar and eventually they’ll adhere to the One coat/One hook policy to prevent future tirades and you’ll get your aggression out for the day. Two birds, one stone. If that’s not your groove, then go the latter route. Labels help you see who is good at adhering to direction, who is not and frankly who is the “beast” to blame for the jungle. This way you can focus all of your efforts on them. All Our Best! Katie & Kelly P.S. Next time your rack falls down — Rome wasn’t built in a day — use glue and nails when rehanging.
Martha Stewart’s easy linen folding solution
Dear Katie & Kelly: Help! My linen closet is a total mess and I can never grab what I need easily. What’s the best way to get back control. I came out as an Organic Structure on the Pixie Quiz. Signed: Organic Linen Mess in Oregon
Dear Organic Linen Mess: Never fear. This is an easy solution. If you’ve got shelves then you want to get a couple of bins for small items like hand towels, washcloths or pillowcases. These things fall down easily and if you’re not willing to repeatedly pile them back up, they’ll stay a mess. Place these bins strategically next to folded towels or sheets to give structure to those piles. If you’ve got a shelf without bins then use shelf dividers to structure your piles. Looking to go a step further? You could also do that Martha Stewart trick we pictured here where you use a pillowcase to house the flat and fitted sheets and other pillowcases in a set. If you’re not a great folder, it’s an easy way to make everything look neater in there. All Our Best: Katie & Kelly
LINUS DRAWER ORGANIZERS ARE DA BOMB!
Dear Katie & Kelly: What’s the best way to store kid silverware that’s bulky and odd shaped? Signed: Out of Ideas in Idaho.
Dear Out of Ideas: You don’t have to use those random rubber and plastic forks for them forever. It’s really just that initial learning stage when they start using utensils and you don’t want them to injure themselves. After that stage, get them mini regular silverware, which you can store in your current utensil drawer organizer OR separately depending on your personality. We pictured acrylic drawer organizers from The Container Store because they fit in drawers and often can sit in a drawer near your existing utensils. Plus when your kids are grown you can reuse these bins in endless ways; you name it, drawers, medicine cabinets, etc. Three 9″ long ones would work but so would one big 6″x9″ depending on the level of detail you want to maintain.
Another easy solution is putting them in a mason jar away in a cabinet at their level if you’re a Classic or Fun or out on the tabletop or countertop if you’re a Smart or Organic. Either way, easy for kids to grab and help set the table. Happy Eating! Katie & Kelly