• Nourish to Flourish in 2019

    Organizing Kitchens – the Heart of our Homes


    It seems like January 1st happened so long ago and yet we’re merely a few weeks into the new year. Are you someone who sets goals and resolutions? If you did, chances are one of them had to something to do with health, organizing or happiness.

    And now it’s that dreadful time of the year, AGAIN.

    According to statistics, mid-February is typically the time when most people lose interest in keeping up with their New Year resolutions.

    Recently I had the pleasure to interview my wonderful friend Deb Papesh about the essential connection between our common passions: Food, Health, and Organizing.

    Deb and I have known each other for almost a decade. She is the owner of a small but growing business called Food Flip, local to Dublin and the Columbus Metro area.



    Food Flip is a meal-prep service that comes to your home where Deb personally helps you increase your Kitchen Confidence through a series of menu preps. She works her magic with each client to meal prep everything you need for the week in a 3-hour session. In a few sessions, you recreate your mindset on how to go about finding and bringing joy back to your home kitchen.

    Here’s how our recent conversation went down:

    Deb: Hi – thank you so much for having me! I’m so glad that we have the chance to speak about Kitchen Confidence and proper systems and organization. If we begin with the right mindset and an organized space, everything else moves smoothly.

    Lori: I am so excited to talk with you about all this, especially as a happy Food Flip client myself. My first question for you: What do you notice with your Food Flip clients about kitchens in general, any recurring roadblocks?

    D: Typically I see the lack of proper definitions of the various zones of the kitchen spaces and how people tend to manage those. Cooking healthy meals, enjoying your family and being your best self must start with proper systems to support this. Does that make sense to you?

    L: Absolutely. One of the things I see on my end is the overabundance of items. Anything no longer used, broken stuff, mismatched glassware, a zillion mugs, storage without lids, etc. When this happens, it is very hard for the homeowner to see past the clutter. It discourages you from cooking because you cannot find the proper tools or food ingredients. You feel less inspired and even frustrated. Sometimes I hear a client say that they prefer to order take-out because it’s simply easier. Do you see this as a reason why people reach out to you for a Food Flip?

    D: It is certainly one reason – they need someone to help break the cycle of feeling powerless in their own home kitchen. It’s a huge part of why people feel distressed and they don’t know where to begin. For me, an avid cook and lover of food in general, I feel like the kitchen should be the heart of the home and a very sacred place.
    Wouldn’t it be nice if it was a place of comfort, where people could go to gather, belong, share and partake in each other’s lives?

    L: I’m sure that sounds amazing to pretty much anyone you’d ask. What do you ask someone before starting a Food Flip?

    D: Before I go into a person’s home for a consult, I ask them lots of questions about how they organize their refrigerator and pantries. Often, they tell me this is part of their roadblock to getting started. I typically request they go through their food inventory to discard any expired or unused items. Some reasons why we do this :

    • Expired items could be a health hazard
    • You probably don’t need it if If you haven’t used it in a while
    • You can’t use it if you can’t see it

    L: That’s true. There are some items that can go bad and make you very sick. There are other items, especially dry items, like spices or baking mixes, which may not necessarily cause you a hospital visit but have lost their flavor or freshness and will not be much help in making your meal a success. In essence, some of the stuff is simply taking up space and triggering visual clutter. This actually becomes an obstacle for us to reach and utilize the necessary.


    D: Lori, how can someone give their their kitchen a proper “reset” ?

    L: Most often I get called to create a system and assess the whole space. We ask clients lots of questions such as :

    • How much cooking do you typically do?
    • What type of cooking: baking, cooking meals, prep, ethnic?
    • Who cooks in the kitchen?
    • How often do you shop for groceries?
    • Are you right or left handed?
    • Do you prefer things put away or some stuff on counters is ok?

    D: That’s interesting – I’ve never even thought about left and right-handedness. Tell me more about that before we talk about kitchen zones.


    L: It’s quite simple actually. Let me give you a quick example: I have you stand in front of the stove. We look to the right to where we may want to have the most used items related to cooking. You should not have to move very far, to reach the frequently used items. Sounds intuitive – but you would not believe how many of us simply stash items wherever we can because when we move into a home or apartment, we are in a rush to unpack boxes and are totally in survival mode. What about our food and our fridge Deb?

    D: I find that having a clear fridge is necessary for two reasons: we need to be able to see what we have and we will eat what we can see. If we simply stash them in clear containers wherever there is space throughout the fridge, how do we make sense of what we have and what is needed?

    I ask my clients to clarify/declutter first then I help them rearrange. All meal prep components remain within the same 1-2 shelves.

    L: I’d also say figure out what your goals are. For my family for example, with the exception of my husband, the rest of us were doing a pretty pathetic job in eating our fresh fruit. We decided to switch the veggies and fruit drawers. Placed the fruits higher up so we could see them better and even added clear bins on shelves that we fill with anything that we should be eating more of, and make better use of vertical space. It has worked wonders for us!



    D: One of the things we do in Food Flip that you probably think sounds easy but many never do this: simply rearranging shelves. Most people have had their shelves stationary from the get -go. It’s an easy step and a necessary one. People can experiment and do this themselves.

    L: Exactly – the same goes for kitchen cabinets. Give yourself permission to move everything around!

    D: In Food Flip we prep all the veggies and most of the fruit to be taken or eaten in the first half of the week. These items are stored on the top couple of fridge shelves or wherever your line of sight is, placed in clear containers or baggies, ready to be picked up and eaten on the go. This helps reduce waste at the end of the week because we are less likely to forget that we bought those berries and mushrooms, right?  I see in your beautiful fridge pictures that you have items you are trying to use right up front. How about the pantry? Is that a forgotten space?

    L: Pantries have my heart. If I could organize one every day, I would. Not just for the amazing before and after, that’s always so fulfilling, but also for the great effect this process has on the family’s well-being, eating and food wasting habits. Now the funny thing about pantries is that bigger isn’t always better, contrary to popular belief! If we aren’t careful, they become a dumping ground for all items that just seem to float around the main living area and kitchen. Party decor, kid’s art supplies, medicine, unused appliances and dishes, toys etc. Any and everything else that doesn’t have a home.



    D: So share with us your steps for resetting a kitchen space:

    L: I like to keep it simple. I call it “The Four P-s”

    • Pull it All out

    • Purge and Sort

    • Put Like with Like

    • Place everything back in labeled bins and baskets.

    D: Tell me about some of your favorite containers:

    L: There are too many depending on space, budget, and preferences – from metal, wood tones, wicker, plastic etc. Often, we utilize clear containers in many projects. They appeal to all clients for various reasons. You see it, you use it. They are lightweight, easy to clean and not that expensive. My favorite go-to source for organizing products is the Ohio-based company called M Design. Of course, there are lots of other sources such as Target, Amazon, Container Store, Ikea etc.

    My best advice would be to stop doing what the next person is doing. Be inspired by Pinterest, but you do YOU.

    Be realistic. How much time do you want to spend maintaining your pantry? Decanting, for example, takes extra effort each time you come home from the grocery store. You will constantly fill and refill, which is fine if this is your thing to do. If not – no reason to worry.  There are other options that allow you to pool the like items together in baskets with labels. Examples include Cereals, Baking, Snacks, Sweets, Baby Food, etc. We hope you can keep better track of your items this way and reduce waste. What about Food Flip?

    D: We work on a very similar goal: Reducing waste by meal prepping. Did you know that if most people end up throwing out almost half of the produce, they buy within a two – week period? My clients report they are spending the money and tossing the food because they didn’t have a plan. That hard earned money can be better invested in organizing themselves, and or improving kitchen skills. What questions should someone be asking themselves if they’d like to improve all this?


    • What are you currently doing that is NOT working for you? List those things pertaining to organizing your kitchen, food, etc…
    • What would you LIKE it to look like? Brainstorm, collect pics from Pinterest or Magazines. In the past, people used to create Vision Boards. You could simply bullet some of the ideas and goals. Write it all down.
    • Begin with the 4 P’s and see how far you can go.

    If it becomes overwhelming, contact a professional. You can always reach out to me or any Professional Organizer in your area. I’d love to partner with you in creating YOUR best-organized version of yourself. If you are struggling with your food prep and would like to improve your kitchen skills, get in touch with Deb for an awesome Food Flip. You can reach her on Facebook or Instagram.

    We promise this will be the best investment in yourself and your family’s well-being. We are a good team for those who are ready!

    Now let’s go make those 2019 goals a reality!


  • 5 Simple tips for organizing your shoes



    Although it is said a woman can never have “too many shoes”, sometimes she can run out of space. Especially if she spotted a really good sale at her favorite store this past weekend and happened to come home with 3 new pairs just in time for Valentine’s Day.



    shoe organization
    5 simple tips for organizing shoes



    Well, nothing against shoes or any other clothing or accessory category ladies. Organizing is not about simply getting rid of stuff or depriving yourself from the things you enjoy. It’s about identifying the important and creating systems that will help you use and enjoy those items without wasting time and feeling guilty or frustrated.


    But while it is fun to bring stuff home, especially if said stuff is a pair of new shiny red pumps, it is also important to give these things proper homes. Unless you are blessed with a Hollywood size closet, in a short amount of time you will be dealing with a surplus and then an unmanageable inventory of shoes, often mixed in with other items or clothing.



    Here are my simple tips for keeping your shoe collection organized:


    1. Get all the shoes off the floor.


    Quite often when organizing a client’s home we find dozens of shoes scattered on closet floors, under beds, behind doors, some upstairs and some in the basement. Your first instinct might be to put them on the floor but there is only so much horizontal space to go around even in the biggest closets. Designate a few shelves or invest in some stackable shoe organizers such as this unit from Wayfair where you can showcase and organize your shoes better.




    1. Group in categories


    This can be anything that makes sense to you. Some people prefer to group by season, some by function such as athletic, dress etc. Or you can choose to group by color as I do.



    1. Alternate shoe direction

    Consider alternating the direction of each shoe (toe/heel) when placing them on the shelves. This helps you gain a few more inches of precious storage space if you are running tight.


    1. Stackable Boxes

    Use stackable clear storage boxes such as these from the Container Store. It can double the storage space and help you easily find the pair you are looking for. You can even store some of them higher up in the closet when out of season.




    1. Declutter

    While you are at it, let go of anything broken, not fitting well or not used anymore so you can finally enjoy the ones you do.




    Tell me, how many pairs of shoes do you own?



  • Time 4 Organizing

    My Journey of becoming a Professional Organizer

    When I was growing up in ex-communist Albania, I remember I wanted to be many things but I can say for certain that Being a Professional Organizer never crossed my mind. I don’t think it was even a thing back then.


    I wanted to work in different embassies around the world, live somewhere else and experience other cultures. The latter part I achieved although not quite in the way I’d thought. Hello USA 🙂


    I wanted to be a teacher and I did teach English and French for a while. I have a lot more respect for teachers anywhere because my mom was one for her whole life, but mostly from my personal one-year experience at this amazing and humbling profession.


    I also loved numbers and logic.  Math was my jam. I found comfort in solving problems, and knowing there was certainty at the end. I still do, to this day after much gray hair and wisdom have happened. I went and became an accountant because at that time a straight-A student wanting to make a comfortable living could either become a respectable doctor, a lawyer or an accountant. Funny, eh?

    A Professional Organizer was not even in my radar.

    People always ask me why I started my business. There was a light bulb moment to be honest with you (I can tell you the date, exactly where I was and what I was doing, lol) but it wasn’t an overnight decision. I always describe it as the end of the journey of finding myself. It is home, it is me.


    Most of us have sort of a semi-conscious internal idea or checklist of who we are, where we’re going and how we’ll get there. What we do in our daily life may or may not check off all the little boxes on that internal checklist of what makes us happy.


    Running one of our family restaurants in Powell, Ohio for 6 years was very exciting, challenging and certainly stripped me of my shyness and pushed me out of my comfort zone. To put it mildly. In hindsight, perhaps it was a necessary growth step in my journey. Isn’t that how it all works out?

    Everything that has happened to you has led you to now.


    After a while, you know deep down of what is right for you and what makes you ultimately happy. Some of us are lucky to find that job that ticks off all the items on our fulfillment checklist. Others will keep searching, inside and out.


    I had this deep desire to connect with others, to help and be of service. I could not save a life by doing surgery like my amazing grandparents did, I didn’t have the lifelong patience to be a teacher like my mom. I could not work in embassies and get involved in foreign politics. Too late for that. That wasn’t me. That little bit I had figured out.


    What better way to make the world just a bit better than using my talents of making sense of things and emotions that wrap around them?


    After being a mom of 3 with over a decade of experience by that time, I knew all too well what families were struggling with. I knew first-hand what a full-time working mom faces each and every day. I had been that mom.


    I knew how hard it is for a stay at home mom too, keeping it all together and trying their best. I had been that mom.


    I had been the 9-5 job mom, part-time work mom, self-employed mom, restaurant manager mom, accountant mom. You name it. All part of the journey of not only understanding myself but also being able to relate to so many other folks out there today.


    I experienced first-hand that life can get crazy busy. And a disorganized house really was detrimental to my mental and physical health. Stress and anxiety would take over if I did not have proper systems set up at home that enabled me to keep things in check and have time for what mattered to me the most.


    Yes, this is what it was all about. Making time for what matters.

    Investing in some time to get organized, maintain the systems you set up, so those systems keep working for you.


    With that knowledge, I created my business so that other busy, professional families can make time for what’s important. Whatever that means at any moment, I wanted others to break free from the chains of clutter and disorganization and live their best lives possible.


    You should be able to spend time with your loved ones, making connections, pursuing hobbies, taking up new passions, playing with the kids, growing professionally, traveling or just doing a whole lot of nothing, relaxing on the couch sometimes which is perfectly A-OK. It all should be done at YOUR terms though. When life demands it or when you choose to. Not putting out fires day after day and just surviving at parenthood and life.


    I want you to stop being a prisoner of the mess, the lost time wasted looking for things and the guilt and shame that comes with the thought that there should be a better way. Life should not be spent chasing after piles of stuff to find what’s needed and wanted.

    Yes, let’s make Time 4 Organizing so that you can have time for what matters to you.

    That is a not so short story of how I started my business.




  • 4 Steps for Organizing the Garage

    Guest Post by Michael Nokes

    Garages are one of the hardest working areas in our homes and often the most neglected. Personally, for me, it is the first space that I see when I pull up on my driveway so getting it organized is especially important.

    It is a pleasure to collaborate with like-minded professionals such as Michael Nokes with Your Garage Guys .

    Read on for more tips and check out their website for amazing garage storage solutions!


    For many of us, the garage is our personal storage unit. We put away excess items that we don’t always need to keep them out of sight. And sometimes a dismissive attitude toward storing belongings in the garage can create a cluttered nightmare. The car no longer fits, your important tools and equipment become inaccessible and finding any belongings when you need it becomes an hour-long project.

    The garage is an excellent storage space. With the right mindset and systems in place, it can be functional for all your needs. In this post, I will cover a list of things to do and types of systems to consider for getting the garage under control.


    Chances are you have quite a few things in the garage you don’t really need. The standard decluttering process of “Keep, sell/donate, and throw away” is effective for the garage because the opportunities for selling and throwing away tend to be more abundant than in other areas of the home.

    The more effort you put into this first step, the easier the job is to organize everything you keep. Focus on keeping necessities and tools and be strict against belongings the family has outgrown, old documents, and any gear that is past its effective usage.

    Picking Storage Systems

    There are two main features across garage storage you’ll need to weigh: accessibility and capacity. The more you try to fit in one area, the more difficult it can be to reach. Conversely, easy to reach items can use up more room.

    One way to balance this is to layer your storage according to your needs. Any layered shelving system and overhead racks work great for this task.


    Hang everyday tools and items on the wall or a shelf. Store seasonal and lesser-used items up high or on the bottom shelf. This method keeps belongings flush against the wall and utilizes otherwise unused ceiling space.

    For items you don’t use every day, store them together in containers. This saves you space and maximizes the capacity of your storage systems.


    Group and Label Items in Containers

    One of the best benefits of an organized space is that it eliminates the time to search for belongings. Unlabeled boxes can completely waste that opportunity.

    Sort items by category – camping, tools, cleaning, sports, decorations, and so on – place them into containers and label them. Make labels large and easy to read since visibility in the garage can be spotty.

    Safety First

    As a final check, make sure the garage is safe if you have pets or children. Oil, antifreeze, cleaning solutions, sharp and heavy objects, paint, and electrical equipment are typical items to store in the garage. Consider hanging some of them up high or locking them away in cabinets.

    Decluttering and reorganizing the garage is a large project that can take several hours or days depending on the situation. But the return you get is tremendous. You’ll save hours searching for lost items, tools will be easier to access, and you’ll finally be able to park the car inside. Don’t hesitate to do it! Plan a weekend to get it done and you’ll be grateful that you did.


    Michael Nokes works for Your Garage Guys, a garage storage and organization company in Columbus. He enjoys sharing tips on home organization and improvement. When he’s not working, he likes hiking, playing guitar, and spending time with friends and family.



  • Will it stay that way?


    This is an interesting question I get asked on a pretty regular basis. Many people don’t think they can maintain so they don’t even try. Here’s my Professional Organizer’s take on a recent work session:

    I was finally placing labels on the new bins and putting on the finishing touches. The pantry looked perfect.  We had powered through three hours of completely reorganizing the space and it looked like an organizer’s dream.

    Then, my client stepped back to look at it and there it was. THAT question again:

    “Will it stay that way though?”

    I could see the doubt and hesitation in her eyes. No there was nothing that did not make sense from the pantry. Yet, this question has surprisingly surfaced quite often with many of my clients and especially doubtful family members.

    Think about it. It probably has occurred to you too. You see something pretty, an organized shelf, a neat room, an awesome playroom and you think to yourself:

    “That could never be my house”, or “that wouldn’t last the weekend with my kids”.

    The thing is while you might be right in some instances of staged photos and unrealistic house settings, in many other cases you are NOT.

    Unless this is a case of a more extreme disorganization or underlying psychological personal issues, there is no need to be hesitant to get organized just because you think you can’t maintain it.

    Questions and doubts :

    “Oh yes it looks gorgeous because you know what you’re doing but I don’t know”

    “I might have to bring you back here every week to keep this up!”

    “Do you think I can maintain this?”


    I am here to tell you that yes, you can and this is why:


    • You made the best investment and worked with a trained Professional Organizer, who has hours and hours of education classes and experience and knows the best way to set up a proper organizing system. No, it is not just about throwing your stuff away. Do you remember those 2000 questions I asked at our consultation and then during the work session? It was not all chit-chat. I was learning about you and how your family functions. This system is tailored to your unique lifestyle and reflects that.


    • There are labels now where there were none before. I am glad you listened to me and agreed to label things. Unless you live by yourself, labeling will ensure that other family members know where to look for things and where they should go back after they have been used. (honestly, even if you live by yourself the power of labels is just so special, I’d always tell you to anyway.)


    • The randomness is gone and instead, we have structure. You can’t put the pasta on the shelf that is now clearly for breakfast items. Most likely you won’t. Why should you? As humans, we are wired to want “easy”. And randomness is NOT easy. It actually is way more work for our brains to figure out where that last bag of dark brown sugar is (hoping that we still have any stuffed in a corner somewhere) than to look straight into the Baking section bin.


    • Organizing cuts down on your decision making. You don’t realize how tired you are, how many things are on your mind and to do lists. Setting up a new system in your pantry, kitchen or closet etc may feel different and foreign the first few days but it makes your life so much easier in the long run. You will not have to dedicate ANY thinking power to where shoes, papers or kids stuff should go. You just know. With that energy drain out of the equation, you can focus more on other areas of your life that need your energy and attention.


    • I honestly have yet to meet someone that says “ I regret getting organized”. Most of the amazing folks I have had the honor to work with have confirmed that their initial hesitation about maintaining it simply has not come true. No, a pantry will not self-maintain. You will still have to give it a touch up from time to time, readjust and reevaluate placement of foods etc. The family’s needs will change after all, and the system should be adjusted to reflect that. My promise to you is the same answer that I gave my client as she was pondering her family living with the new pantry:

    “It may not stay picture perfect, but it will NEVER go back to what it was”.

    Drop me a line in the comments and let me know what you think.