Tuesday, December 30, 2008

3:00pm, And I've Got Two Different Socks On

Finally! Such a simple task took a good 3-4 months for me to complete. Not sure why I could not seem to take the time to organize my sock drawer. Perhaps when I realized at 3:00pm one day last week that I had on one blue sock with one black sock, the time had come to take care of business.

Heck, I remember one time going to work at Ford Motor Company with one blue and one black pump. Now that I think about it. It was around 3-4:00, too, when I realized the fashion faux pas.

Here is how you can organized your sock drawer:

Step 1: Whoa! This is a mess. My boys sock drawer looks better than mine ... and I'm the professional organizer?

Step 2: Dump out drawer and check out the pile. Match up your socks. Group them into colors and styles.

Step 3: Return your happy little sorted piles into the drawer. Remember to place your black socks away from your blue socks. If you put your gym socks in the middle of them, may keep them from drifting together a bit longer.

Yeah! My socks are sorted for at least a couple months. Then start checking out my socks to see if I'm all mixed up again.

What fashion faux pas have you made lately?

Monday, December 29, 2008

I'm Not Obsessive, I'm Complusive ... Or Is It The Other Way Around?

OK, I'm going to jump right in an say I have a routine I must do or my day just feels weird.

One of my things:
I must put on my right sock,
then left sock,
then put on my right shoe and tie it,
then put on my left shoe and tie it.

If this sequence is jumbled up,
I will start over to bare feet and begin again
(I'll feel like I'm walking in circles all day if I don't).

Many of us have these little "routines" we do everyday. Perhaps we are aware, maybe we are oblivious though others around you are totally laughing inside at your antics. That's OK, you're happy right? Nothing wrong with having an OCD tendency here and there.

Think about this:
Being TOO organized with everything in its place. Nothing ever so slightly crooked on your walls. Perhaps to the point of shelves and bins labeled. No dust on any of your flat surfaces (Oh, I have excepted dust into my household as my friend). You may be a bit OCD.

On the other hand, you have stacks of clothes, papers, newspapers, egg crates and such everywhere. You love collections. There is a bit of order to the chaos in your home, though its just a lot of stuff. Keeping you from enjoying your home as you wish you could. This may be a bit OCD, too.

See, we all likely, at some level have OCD.
Again I believe whole-heartedly in:

"Everything in moderation is good."

Take a moment and think about what's going on in your life and home. Perhaps there is an area that has gotten a bit out of control. Lasso that bad boy and take charge.

You'll feel better.

What is your daily OCD routine?

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

C'mon ... We'll Get You Organized

With the New Year, comes New Year resolutions.

Getting organized is moving up the #3 on the list of things many people want to accomplish in the coming year. January is National Get Organized Month (GO Month), and professional organizers will be hosting free events around the country.

For southeast Michigan and northwest Ohio, your opportunity to meet with professional organizers will be Saturday, January 17th at IKEA in Canton, Michigan.

If you've thought about chatting with a professional organizer, this will be a great opportunity for you to meet and chat with one of us. You should be pulling out your calendar now and making a note to attend.

Hey, you'll get to meet me (the chick behind this blog) and other great people who want you to love your space.
What do you have to lose?
It will be fun!

What do you want to get organized?

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

A Christmas Card From Us To You

We're kinda breaking tradition this year.

For the past 8 years, my boys and I have always made our Christmas cards. It started as a little activity to keep them entertained. I cut out different shapes, supplied the glue and music, they went to town.

Each of the up to 50 cards sent out were unique for the first 6 years. (yes, looking back I was insane) Then I became wise and had the boys decorate one card cover to use for our Christmas cards.

This year I am doing what most great artist do - "A Best Of ..."
For example:
Eagles, Their Greatest Hits 1971-1975
Eric Clapton, Crossroads
Madonna, The Immaculate Collection
Bel Biv Devoe, Best of Bel Biv Devoe
Poison, Best of Poison: 20 years of Rock
(links provided in case these are a must have for your holiday shopping needs)

Here is our 2008 Christmas card.

I'm not going to be mailing any cards this year. Just not going to happen. I know my limits and it's just not going to work this year. Feel free to print it out and enjoy.

Matthew, Jacob and I wish you all the best this holiday season.
Have fun!

What's on your 'Best of' collection?

Sunday, December 14, 2008

Moving Grandma: Plan B

Grandmothers are wonderful, sweet, tender loving people. When a family turns to me to help them with their grandmother, I always think about my grandmothers.

"Marcella" had downsized from her home to a small apartment a couple years ago, and the time had come for her to move into an assisted living facility. Living alone, lack of socialization and her dementia led the family to this decision. Marcella was quite happy about it. She was getting scared and confused being alone. Her family was worrisome, too.

We spent a few hours choosing the best clothes to move to Marcella's new home, consolidating boxes of pictures and letters, and clearing out the kitchen. Marcella was smiling about donating her clothes and other household items. She was even go through items on her own that needed to be tossed.

The plan was Marcella to have breakfast with a daughter while we moved her things to her new home and have all her things put away with her favorite nick-knacks in place.

On the morning of the move, Marcella was found in her bathtub. She could not get out and had spent about 12 hours alone unable to reach a towel or phone. Cold and disoriented, her granddaughter got her dressed and under the covers of her bed to warm up.

Quickly we came up with Plan B: Marcella seemed OK, though we just were not certain. The family ended up taking her to the ER for evaluation. They had me continue to work in Marcella's new home getting all her items put away.

Turns out she was a bit dehydrated from not eating and drinking properly. Luckily, the night spent in the tub has not caused any serious problems. After a couple days in the hospital, she is now enjoying her new home.

Please take the time at your family gatherings to make sure your older loved ones feel safe and secure in their home. With our children, we speak about scenarios for fire and weather safety drills. Perhaps it is time for your family to discuss the game plan for reacting to a situation with your older family members.

Whom in your family may need a plan B?

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Beware of the Doghouse

Beautifully appropriate video clip for this holiday season.


What 'doghouse' gift have you received?
(Men: What gift did your buddy give?)

Hey, I just realized my previous post was about husbands, too.
Hmmm.....and I don't even have one.

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Errr ... Husbands

Our biggest battle as professional organizers is not stacks of papers, piles of toys, jammed closets with clothing, wall of boxes in the basement or linen closets tumbling with sheets. That's just stuff.

[disclaimer: True, there are many great, wonderful, supportive, loving, dudes out there]

You are embarrassed and frustrated with your home and know that help is out there. And you need and want it. At a moment, you take a giant step to contact a professional organizer.

After chatting with your professional organizer, you have a sense that the Calvary is on its way.

Hope and relief that soon your home will feel special.

[enter your husband] He says, "No, to the project."

- If it is a money issue, completely understandable. You definitely should not overextend yourself when it comes to cash. Use the internet to find free tips.

- If it is a control issue, that is something for you to seek help.
(Been there, done that myself. Be strong)

- Perhaps your husband is embarrassed himself for the appearance of your home. Find a quiet moment to talk together about how you will both feel better with completing your organizing project.

Professional organizers are not judgemental. Our purpose is to help you love your home. We will take the time to discuss each of your goals and expectations. Getting your husband to understand the project may be all that is needed to get the supportive green light.

If all else fails, ask for an organizing project for your next holiday gift, birthday present or other special occasion. Most professional organizers offer gift certificates.

When there is a will, there is a way. And when your husband sees how great your home can be, perhaps he'll want to get his stuff organized, too!

What battle are you winning?

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Set Your Phaser To Stun, You're Getting Organized

"Space, the final frontier ...
To boldly go where no man has gone before."

Whether you live in a 500 square foot home or a 5,000 square foot home, you can feel crowded and cramped if you are not using the space properly. One trick to organizing is creating boundaries for yourself. By placing limits on an area, and staying within the space, you will be setting up cues for yourself to maintaining an organized home.

For instance:
Your mail comes in and you pile all the bills, receipts, cards, flyers, catalogs on a table. Go off and make dinner, tuck the kids into bed, clean up the kitchen, get to bed yourself, and wake up the next day to head off to work. Only to come home and place the new day's mail on top of yesterday's mail ... and the snowball begins to grow.

Have a small vertical holder on the table. As you bring the mail in, take a moment and sort it. Tossing the junk mail into the trash. Use your new holder as a gage. If you can't get through the mail in one day, that's OK. If a couple days pass and there is no room in your holder, then it is time to take a moment and clear out the papers.

Horizontal = Hidden
Vertical = Visible

The vertical sorter can be substituted for a small box, bin, whatever you wish to use. Just be practical about its size. You don't have to wait until it is filled to do something. The purpose of the sorter or box is to place limits on what is going on in your home. Allowing you to correct a organizing set back, before it gets out of control.

This limiting idea is not just for mail. You can use it for books, pens, glue sticks, Matchbox cars, Hanna Montana stuff, receipts or your husband's daily pocket dumping area. Set some boundaries up around your home and use them as cues to get on the organized track.

... and if that doesn't work for the other members in your home, set your phaser to vaporize.

What are you about to get organized?
... or are you just going to vaporize it?

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

4th Grade Wax Museum

Place 30 fourth graders in their school lunchroom. Each one has read a different biography and given the assignment to dress and briefly summarize the person's life they read about.

A few of the statues: Lou Gehrig. Thomas Edison. Betsy Ross. Wilber Wright. Troy Aikman. Abraham Lincoln. Tiger Woods. Louisa May Alcott. Robert E Lee. Sacagawea. Ann Frank. Benjamin Franklin. Davey Crockett.... and Paul Revere

"The British are coming! The British are coming! Hello, I'm Paul Revere," is how Matthew began his biography when his 'silversmithed' button was pressed.

Each student had to make a button that visitors to the museum could push to hear the story of their person.

It was great to see the effort the kids put into this project. All the different buttons crafted, each one was unique. I was quite impressed with each students presentation. Inside they many might have been nervous, but none of them showed it.

I am amazed everyday at the skills kids have developed. I cannot imagine what accomplishments they will achieve in their lifetime.

I'm a pretty darn proud mom. Quite thankful for having my boys in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

What's a recent school project from your kids?

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Little Rewards Cost Nothing

Kids get rewarded all the time. Sometimes its a simple star on their paper, and that star means the world to them. Any parent with a frig full of starred and smiley faced papers will agree. It does not take much to feel special to children because they simply enjoy the act of being honored without value being added to it.

I have found that the last person rewarded in many households is the mom. The one person busting their butt for everyone inside and outside the home. Your mom orchestrates the ballet of soccer, school projects, scouts, meals, laundry, dishes and "Oh mom, I need 12 things that start with the letter 'H' by tomorrow morning." And she does it with a smile (at least it looks like a smile).

Slowly the clutter begins to build up around the house. There are only so many hours in a day and you begin to believe you can't get caught up, so what's the point in trying?
"If you think you can or think you can't, you are right," is the famous saying by Henry Ford.

Challenge yourself to stop the "I can't" thinking and turn yourself around. It took time for the clutter to build. It will take time for it to get under control. Be patient with yourself.

Let me suggest this:
1. With notepad in hand, walk through your home and note the areas you want to work on.
2. Choose an area to get organized, schedule it on your calendar.
3. Break the project down into small tasks. Instead of organize kitchen, think organize upper cabinets, lower cabinets, junk drawer, pantry, or counter top.
4. Take on one small task and complete it.
5. Schedule your next project.
6. REWARD YOURSELF!! Take a couple minutes longer in the shower, let the kids eat cookies for breakfast so you can sleep in a bit, go for a walk after dinner by yourself .... geez, sometimes going to the bathroom by yourself is a treat!

Post your list of projects to complete and put stars next to them as you complete them. It may sound elementary, though remember how great you felt in school when your teacher put a star on you paper.

Don't forget: Your home is going to be feeling better and better with each task you complete.

How do you reward yourself?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Be A Truthful Rock

"The truth is rarely pure and never simple,”
Oscar Wilde

This quote popped up on my Interesting Quotes listed to the lower right of this blog. Funny, because I find myself pondering truth and integrity lately.

When I have discussed truth with my boys, I explain that truth is often an interpretation of facts. You can see an accident from opposite sides of the street and you will have two view points as to what happened. Both are correct.

Look at the facts and interpret your truth.

"In matters of style, swim with the current; in matters of principle, stand like a rock," Thomas Jefferson

Integrity involves being honest and true to your character. You cannot be faulted for standing for your beliefs.

They are your core values.
No one has the right to change them for you.

What are your core values?

Saturday, November 08, 2008

Kon Tai Bai ... Later My Friends

Kon tai bai? means 'hello' or 'how are you?' in Papiamentu, the official language of Bonaire, a Portuguese based Creole.

My boys are with grandma,
I am off on vacation to Bonaire with my man.
We are going on a week long Scuba diving adventure.

Stranded on a small island 40 miles north of Venezuela.
No cell phones, laptops or TV for a week.
Just eagle rays, sea turtles, baby squids, nurse sharks, beautiful coral reefs and many other fun little critters.

Take care of yourselves ... I'll be back next week.

Where do you want to be stranded?

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

It's A Beautiful Day

"What you don't have you don't need it now
What you don't know you can feel it somehow
What you don't have you don't need it now, don't need it now
What a beautiful day"

~U2, "Beautiful Day"

This morning I woke up with this song running through my head.
Gotta admit, this is a good one to be humming all day long. Seems I always have a song stuck in my head. What's up with that? Guess there are worse problems.

Here's a list of of my few recent ones:

"The Lion Sleeps Tonight", The Tokens (this video is HYSTERICAL!)
"My Sharona", The Knack
"All Summer Long", Kid Rock
"Jack and Diane," John Cougar Mellencamp
"Jessie's Girl," Rick Springfield

OK ... That's probably enough to drive you crazy

Get out there and have an amazing day today!!!

What song is stuck in your head now?

Monday, November 03, 2008

Ma'ame, You're No Jack Kennedy

I have been swamped and need to get back in the pace of blogging. To all my visitors, all is well.

Hey, I'm no JFK.
Though if I had to choose one of the modern presidents to be, he's my choice. In honor of our elections, why not have a presidential quiz:

You Are Most Like John F. Kennedy

You live a fairy tale life that most people envy.
And while you may have a few dark secrets, few people know them.

My life has been FAR from a 'fairy tale.'
Though I would not trade my life or make any changes in my choices.
There are more than a few dark secrets in my life and a few chosen know them.
I have nothing to hide, just deep dark secrets haven't come up in conversation.

What president are you most like?

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Oh Basement, Where Are You?

Somewhere hidden behind all these bags, boxes and bins is a basement. "Betty's" basement.

She moved into her beautiful home 5 years ago and the basement is where all the extra stuff landed. Many of it is Christmas decorations, long lost clothing and family heirlooms. Betty felt the time had come to sort out the treasures and purge, purge, purge.

First part of the project was to carve out a spot in the boxes to have some room to work. As Betty began to sort through the boxes, I bagged up the donations and sorted out the trash. As you work on a project like this, it is important to move the donations and trash out of the work area as you go. Not only does it create s-p-a-c-e, it also gives you a sense of accomplishment.

There was no shelving on any of the basement walls. Betty had some shelving left over she wanted installed to get some of the items off the floor. (Yeah, a power tool day!)

Before any of the shelving went up, we had to make a run to the local Salvation Army donation site. Two SUV's loaded with very useful items, just not needed by Betty. Once done, we headed back to start installing the shelving. Betty continued to sort and purge, while I started hammerdrilling holes into the walls for the shelves.

There was a group of boxes with family heirlooms that need to be sorted, but they are consolidated in one area. We broke down all the empty boxes and placed them into Betty's car to haul to recycle. Her garage was filled with bags of trashed items ready to be curbed. Along with another truck load of donated items, perhaps this time calling to have them picked up by another charitable agency.

And in the basement, Betty now has a storage area with tons of space. Plenty of room to walk around and begin to think about the plans of turning it into a rec room someday.

Betty did an amazing job getting her basement under control. This was a HUGE task and she conquered it. There is a bit of loose ends to tidy up, but the motivation is there to continue.

When you look at that dreaded area of your home, look at the potential and break the project into small bites so you don't get frustrated. Soon you will find the floor, and you can begin to plan for the future.

What room have you lost control of?

Friday, October 24, 2008

Donating A Woman's Weight In Clothing

145 lbs

That is how much "Ellen's" load of clothes weighed that I took to Cherry St Mission for donation. All of the clothes were in very good condition. 7 bags of Hefty Ultra Flex bags. All of this came out of her two bedroom closets, and her closets are still filled with clothes.

So how do you get a woman to give up so many clothes?
1. Have her sit in a comfortable chair. You want her to be as relaxed as possible.
2. Stand about 4-5 feet minimum away from her.
3. Begin at one end of the closet and pull out a handful of items (5-7 pieces).
4. Show the person each item. You are looking for a quick response.
5. Ask her if it is a 'Keeper' or 'Donate?'
6. Any delay, motion toward 'Donate' pile.
7. Place the Keepers back into the closet grouping similar items.
8. Bag up the donated clothing and get it out of the home ASAP!

Here's a secret: Keep the woman from touching her clothes as you are sorting. Chances are if she touches an item, she will keep that item because of the emotional connection. Hence, you stand 4-5 feet away from her while sorting.

Ellen's closet organizing project took only 2 hours.
... yes, TWO HOURS.

From the time I walked in her door, until I dragged out the last bag to my car.

When was the last time you purged your closet?

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Phantom Neighborhood Ghosts

As I walked up to a recent client's home there was this piece of paper taped to her front door:

"We've been GHOSTED!!!"

She explained it is a tradition her neighborhood has been doing for years. You create a little goodie bag to leave on the doorstep. Here's the note that accompanies the Phantom Ghost gift:

Well, my boys and I had fun driving around our neighborhood looking for homes we could "Ghost." We decide to kick in this new tradition off with 3 homes: two families we knew and one complete stranger.

Jacob was armed with our Ghost bags. He dashed up to the homes, rang the doorbell and sprinted back to the car. We had so much fun!!

Now we sit back and wait to see if the neighborhood will participate in our new tradition.

What is a recent tradition you have started?

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Let's Talk About Voting

2 weeks to until we (American citizens) take to the polls to vote.
I am proud to say I have voted in every November election since turning 18 years old, many of the primaries too.

My most memorable voting experience was in 2000. Matthew was with me at 2 years old and I was 7.5 months pregnant with Jacob, and I was HUGE! I stood in a long line for about 20 minutes, nearly ready to pass out (I know not very long, but did I mention I was HUGE). Then a man insisted I just step to the front of the line, finally walking me pass all the people waiting for well over an hour. He explained to the registar I should vote now. She allowed me, I thanked the gentleman and I voted.

Here's a fun little quiz:

You Should Be Allowed to Vote

You got 14/15 questions correct.

Generally speaking, you're very well informed.

If you vote this election, you'll know exactly who (and what) you'll be voting for.

You're likely to have strong opinions, and you have the facts to back them up.

Should You Be Allowed to Vote?

Not sure which question I got wrong. I'll have to figure it out.

Please take the time to vote. It is an act that many people do not have the opportunity to take in our world. Every vote counts.

There is plenty of time to get an absentee ballot. Mine came today in the mail. I will sit down with my boys so we can talk about the process and why I'm voting for who or what proposal. I believe it is important to show my boys this great privilege we have in our country.

Well, are you ready to vote?

Monday, October 20, 2008

Ellen, You Are An Inspiration

"Ellen" is having so much fun getting her apartment organized.
"Oh, just toss it."
"Get rid of it. I don't even want to touch it."
"The more you bag up, the better I feel."

She loves her kitchen again, and her livingroom is under control.
We move onto her coat closet and bathroom.

Ellen wanted to leave her fabrics in the containers on the closet shelf. She thought she could sort through those on her own (OK, that's her homework assignment).

I began by pulling out the stuff on the floor. If it was scrap pieces fabric, we bagged it up immediately. If it was larger fabrics, Ellen sorted through them into donate and keep, though this 'keep' was for her daughter's friend not really for Ellen to keep.

Then I pulled out each coat and she made a quick call - Keep or Donate. Carpet was vacuumed and the keepers were placed back into the closet. The trash was placed outside the apartment in the hall (black bags), along with the donated items (white bags).

When you are working on purging an area, get the stuff out of there as you work. Getting your purged items out of the working area allows you to see the progress your are making.

We then moved onto Ellen's bathroom. She hung out in her living room while I brought her stacks of towels and linens.

As we dug into the items to find her shelves, we uncovered a number of blue baskets which we used to store smaller items.

The clothing Ellen had hanging on the back of her doors was moved into her bedroom for the next project. Unless she didn't want the item, then it ended up in a donate bag. We had time to sort out the sink area and medicine cabinet, too. All meds and lotion bottles over 1 year old were tossed, everything wiped clean and keepers put away.

When Ellen walked into her new bathroom, she giggled with delight.
"You are worth your weight in gold!"

Six bags of clothing and fabric along with one box of unopened paper plates and napkins were ready for donation.

Next project for Ellen is her bedroom. I wanted to start with this room, but Ellen felt she was not ready for it. Now, she cannot wait to get in there and get it whipped into shape. Ellen is an amazing woman, quite different than when I first met her.

How has a client inspired you?

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Transforming A Woman By Recycling Fabric

"Ellen" blew me away as I walked into her apartment. Not only did she work to clean up and organize an area in her living room on her own, she just looked amazing. WOW!

"You make me want to live better," Ellen said to me.

I was beside myself. To impact a person's life in such a way is stunning.

Ellen went on to say that she has not felt this wonderful about herself in years. She knows there is a lot of work to be done in her home. Seeing the progress made in the short time we have worked, encourages her to keep going:
"I can visualize what my home will look like soon!"

Ellen loved to sew, making quilts was her favorite craft. She had a HUGE collection of fabric. The majority were scraps. Her daughter's friend is taking the nicer items, the rest we are donating. The boxes in the before pictures are filled with fabric.

Most of the donations will be taken to Goodwill. I met with the local Toledo director and learned that they love scrap clothing. It might not be be placed in their stores, but your the old white shirt with red wine stained all over it will be sold to a bulk fabric shredder who will recycle it.

How cool it that?
These five bags of fabric will be shredded and made into who knows what. Scrap fabric recycled into something useful rather than buried in a landfill, and Goodwill earns a bit of money toward education and training people looking for work.

Ellen is happy her fabric collection is not going to be just tossed without any value:

"I touched every piece of this fabric, each piece means something to me. It's good to know that all of this is not going to be wasted."

What recycling tip have you found recently?