Day 1 of Holiday Organizing: invasion of the guests! Now is time to organize your guest room/space. Do you need new sheets or pillows? Have a closet you need to get cleared out? Need to make room for more people at the table? Making sure your guests are comfortable will not only make them feel at home but will give you one less things to stress about!
Day 2 of Holiday Organizing: No, get comfortable with saying it! As opposed to running around like a crazy person, only say yes to events you actually WANT to go to. This way you'll actually enjoy the ones you go to and not be exhausted on January 2nd.
Day 3 of Holiday Organizing: I'm always an advocate for family calendars but this time of year they are even more important. Keep it updated, go over it regularly and don't forget to make time for relaxing!
Day 4 of Holiday Organizing: if people offer to help, don't be a hero. Say yes! If you have guests over to your house always start with a clean dishwasher. When you say yes to help (like doing the dishes), their generosity will be made easier too!
Day 5 of Holiday Organizing: Set yourself up for wrapping success! Whether it's in a fancy wrapping station or just a plain ole' tote, make sure you have all the accessories you need to get the job done. When everything is all together it makes life much easier!
Day 6 of Holiday Organizing: Whether it's a meal for 2 or 20, this time of year your oven earns it keep. When your doing a lot of cooking, make yourself a list of dishes, temps, start times and cook times. You'll know what needs to go in when and what dishes can share space!
Day 7 of Holiday Organizing: Want to get your house guest ready? Do a little decluttering every day...even 5 minutes can make a huge difference! Small bits of work can add up to a huge difference.
Day 8 of Holiday Organizing: Make a list...and only ONE list! That's right, create one spreadsheet for card addresses and gift giving to be used year after year. No need to recreate the wheel every year!
Day 9 of Holiday Organizing: If your a baker, take stock of that pantry! Check your basics (flour, sugar, vanilla), make sure your spices haven't expired and that your baking equipment is in good working order!
Day 10 of Holiday Organizing: As opposed to giving a non-specific/impersonal gift this year, here's a simple tip: ask! Don't add to the clutter in someone's house. If you don't feel comfortable asking what they'd like, consider a perishable gift (food or flowers) or an offer of help (watch the kids, cooking dinner, help decorating) or the gift of an activity (girls night out, movies, etc.)
Day 11 of Holiday Organizing: Make sure your clothes are ready to go! Does something need to be mended? Or do you need a new outfit for your choir performance? Did the kids out grow their church clothes last year? Make a list of all repairs and purchases and start attacking it now!
Day 12 of Holiday Organizing: It's the last day and I feel like this is the important tip! If you start to feel overwhelmed or annoyed or feeling lost, remember why you celebrate this time of year. Maybe it's for religious reasons or to see your kids smile or to give to someone less fortunate. When you feel yourself going off the rails, step back and remember the reason so you can get back to enjoying!
Are you constantly (frantically) searching through your purse or bag to find things? Can you never find the stamp card for your favorite store? Do you have to get out a flashlight to see the deep, dark, inner depths of your bag?
If answered yes to any of the above, take a look at these quick and simple tips for keeping your purse, bag, murse, diaper bag, laptop bag, etc. organized and stress free.
MAKEUP: Let’s get real ladies, how much do we really need to carry around? Do you really need the entire contents of a department store makeup counter? Life will go on if you can’t fix your eyeshadow. Or your cheeks. Or your whatever
RECEIPTS: If one is really important (a big purchase, tax purposes, potential for return) immediately fold it up and put it in your wallet. If it’s for anything else, either tell the cashier you don’t need it OR toss it on your way out the door.
CHANGE: Those coins can really weigh you down. If you use cash frequently, empty out your coin pouch once a week.
ID AND CARDS: Make copies of everything in your wallet and keep it in a secure location. This so important in case anything is ever lost or stolen. Don’t depend on your memory to remember everything in your wallet in a time of high stress.
SIZE MATTERS: I love me a big handbag. It’s true, I’ll admit it. But the bigger bag, the more space to toss random things. If you feel like you can’t control yourself or be super disciplined about keeping unnecessary things out of your bag, use a smaller one!
WEEKLY CLEAN-OUTS: Yep, you heard me. Once a week pull everything out, toss what you don’t need and put back. If follow these rules, this process will take you mere moments. And it will also ensure a rogue apple doesn’t die a smelly death at the bottom of your Kate Spade.
How many is too many? Well, that’s up to you. But if you don’t use a cookbook frequently, it’s probably time to do some work. Sit down with your cooks and pick out your favorite recipes. See if you can find them online and save them to Pinterest or bookmark the link or scan them and keep a file on your desktop. Include the picture too, especially if you are a visual person!
Let’s be realistic. How often do you get flowers? And when you do get them, do they arrive in a vase? Unless you do a significant amount of entertaining and/or have numerous bouquets throughout the house, you don’t need more than 3 vases in varying sizes. If one arrives with a bouquet, don’t forget the one in, one out rule.
Now is the time! Get ready for the cold by attacking that closet. Ripped sleeve? Outgrown coat? Missing mitten mate? Unraveling scarf? For anything that needs to be replaced, make sure to keep a list. And most importantly, don’t forget to check the pockets! I always find cash in mine.
Constantly feel like cooking meals has become a major chore? Fear not, here are 10 way to make cooking an organized and joyful event!
1. Let’s start with the basics…if you want organized meals you are going to need to do some planning. That’s right friends, it’s time to bust out the cookbooks, recipe box or Pinterest board and write out a list. I personally like to pin my meals of the week to a specific board on Pinterest so they are easy to pull up on my iPad when I’m ready to head to the kitchen. Consider your schedule for the week. Would it better to cook everything on Sunday? Or do you like to come home every night and whip up a fresh meal? Make a plan (and stick to it)!
2. Double check that list and don’t make it when you are in a hurry. There is nothing worse than forgetting that one essential item to a glorious meal that you have planned.
3. Speaking of which, before cooking commences make sure you have everything you need on hand. Maybe you assumed you had baking powder only to realize halfway through mixing that you do not, in fact, have baking powder. My tip to combat those forgotten “every day” ingredients? Make a list of staples that you will need for this week’s meals separate from your grocery list. Make sure to do a double check around the pantry and cupboards that you have what you need on hand. If you don’t, add it to the grocery list.
4. Ponder food storage. Are you going to be taking these meals to go? If so, make sure you have enough food containers to make it happen.
5. Give some thought to timing. Are you going to make multiple items? Does one require more cooking time then another? Does anything need to be defrosted? Is there something to do (cutting vegetables, making sauces) while meat is cooking? The message here is don’t stand idle. Idle time makes cooking time even longer.
6. Ok, cooking time has arrived (finally).READ THROUGH THE RECIPE FIRST. You have all the ingredients on hand, you are energized and ready to make this meal happen! I like to fill the sink up with soapy water for a ready bath for those dirty dishes. I also like to pull out the trash can from under the sink (or wherever you have it hidden) for easy throw away. Make sure the dishwasher has been unloaded if it’s clean and everything on the counter that you don’t need has been put away.
7. Keep out ONE tasting fork or spoon. Assuming that the utensil hasn’t been contaminated by raw food (and really, please don’t be taste testing raw food) all you really need is one. Either that or you will end up with 20 dirty tasting forks and not one to actually enjoy your meal with.
8. While you’re at it, you might as well do any snack prep for the week. I slice up some cucumbers, whip up some hummus and mix together some homemade ranch.
9. While the last meal is in the oven get started on those dishes. I know, nothing is more tedious then doing those dishes after you’ve done ALL that cooking but trust me, it will just get harder the longer you wait.
10. Take a moment and embrace the magic that is completed cooking. WELL DONE!
“You moved here from Los Angeles? WHY?!?!?”
I’ve gotten this question dozens of times over the last year. It’s usually delivered with a head tilt, a perplexed look and wide eyes. Of course, I’m usually looking back at them with a confusion because I’m trying to understand why in the world this would be a shocking revelation.
My family moved to LA a week before my 4th birthday and so I’ve always considered myself a California girl. But I can’t quite tell when it stopped feeling like home. Maybe it was when my brother passed away. Maybe it was when I started to grow tired of condo living. Maybe it was when it took me 30 minutes to drive 5 miles. So to be honest, when the invitation to move to Charlotte arrived, it wasn’t really that hard to reply “of course”.
Today marks one year since my sister and I finished our 5 day cross country drive and met our Mom in our brand new city. Our first night here, I couldn’t sleep. It was partially because around 2am my air mattress had sunk into the floor but mostly because it was so.damn.quiet. I couldn’t hear our neighbors. Or cars. Or sirens. Or people walking on the sidewalk. The only thing I heard was my own voice asking where all the noise was. And if we had made the right decision.
It’s scary moving to a new place where the only person you know is your real estate agent (fortunately she is one of the family now). It had been a long time since I had to use Google Maps to get to a grocery store. Or figure out where the gas station was. Or wonder what I was supposed to do when a gaggle of geese decided walking out in front of my moving car was a stupendous idea. We had to find new doctors, a new vet, a new hair stylist, our new favorite pizza place, just about a new everything. What I didn’t realize was how fun it was to go exploring.
What I’ve also discovered is how easy it was to fall in love with Charlotte. Maybe it was the excellent food scene (let’s be honest, the easiest way to my heart is through my stomach) or the friendly people or how everywhere you look, there is something green. It’s easier to breath, easier to feel more relaxed, easier to feel like myself. It’s been an adjustment. I’ve had to get used to total strangers telling you their life stories. And it taking 50 minutes to drive 25 miles because there is no direct route. And remembering to wave and smile at people.
I’ll always have a place in my heart for LA. It was where I was raised. Where my love for Mexican food began. Where my brother taught me to body surf. It isn’t that LA is a terrible place. Or that Charlotte is far superior. It’s simply that life here is a better fit.
Charlotte is now home.
How often have you been asked how things are going and you respond by sighing and saying “Busy. SO crazy.” Raise your hand if you ever feel like you are carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders or like you are just barely able to get your head above water or that you are moving back and forth so frantically that you aren’t really getting anything done. (Just imagine the sea of hands raised with yours. Trust me, you are NOT alone. Mine is up too.)
A few weeks ago, as I was staring at my multiple page to-do list, I got this overwhelming feeling of being like a hamster on a wheel. I kept spinning and spinning and just never getting anywhere. I was able to get all my work for clients done but the things for me just kept moving further and further down the list. This included everything from promotion for my business to planning activities for a friends visit to sending in my 1 year punch list to our home builder. I wasn’t making myself a priority in the least bit and was lying awake at night wondering when in the world I was going to get anything, let alone everything, done. My personal wellness was suffering which does not set you up for success in any part of your life.
Ever since this realization I’ve been working really hard to take tiny steps towards making myself a priority so I’m at my best. Do any of these resonate with you?
GET UP EARLIER. I can hear the groans. I know. I’m NOT a morning person. If I had it my way I would happily sleep 10 hours a day. But I needed more hours in the day to get things done. Ease yourself into it by getting up 15 minutes earlier each week.
GET UP AND MOVE. Whether you work from home or an office, it’s easy to find yourself get lost and spend hours working away. Once an hour, get up. Go use the restroom, get some water, do a lap, just be you for a moment. I will sometimes go do a small chore (washing dishes, folding laundry, dusting one room) in the house. Give yourself a mental break. Trust me, it’ll be there when you get back.
DO ONE THING FOR YOURSELF EVERY.SINGLE.DAY. Maybe it’s working out or reading a book or calling your mom. Whatever makes you feel good needs to be made a priority.
BE REALISTIC. Look at your to-do list. Are there things that don’t really need to be on there? I’m not talking about important things you just don’t want to do. I’m talking about the things that you put on there because you feel like you “should”. Be harsh. Use a sharpie. Get rid of ‘em.
SAY NO. If you don’t have time to bake cupcakes, say no. If you don’t want to join that networking group because you don’t think it will benefit your business, say no. If you aren’t really that interested in the wine weekend trip, say no. Life will gone on. People will understand.
Despite the rather hot temperatures in Charlotte, I keep hearing fall is upon us. With the invasion of everything Pumpkin Spice (and I mean everything), it’s time to give some thought to transitioning your wardrobe from summer to fall. Time for sweaters and scarves and everything cozy!
Here are a couple of tips for keeping your fall clothes organized and working for you:
That is until I took this picture of her. Can you see that joy in her face? She is just so happy to enjoy some time outside, warming up her body and getting some fresh air. When she wags her tail as I let her out, she is showing me simple, sweet gratitude.
It made me start thinking about how little time I spend being grateful for the life I have. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in the daily grind of the everyday. We get in a routine and start going through the motions, without giving it much thought. I didn’t think about how grateful I am to have a job where I can sometimes be home with my dog or how grateful I am to have moved to a place where my dog is so relaxed or how grateful I am to have a few minutes to set my intentions for the rest of the day and JUST BE.
This isn’t like having a reaction to seeing a tragic event on the news and thinking “how lucky am I to be where I am”. I’m talking about taking a moment every day to think about your life and show gratitude for what you have, big and small.
A few things I’m grateful for:
What are you grateful for?
(This blog entry was originally posted in August of 2013)
I learn more and more with every client about how emotional of an experience organizing can be. The emotions can range from sadness to anger to discontent. Some clients experience defeat that they have allowed their space to become cluttered. Some are so emotionally attached to items that it literally causes them pain to see them leave. And others are so overwhelmed by the thought of organizing that they simply cannot bring themselves to begin. And adding even a small dash of grief to any of that already built up emotion? Suddenly the idea of organizing being uncomplicated is turned on its head.
As a Professional Organizer, I strive to be compassionate with my clients. I won’t come into a space, cracking my organizer whip, demanding they TOSS, TOSS, TOSS. I want to strike that happy balance between making your life easier with some organization (which yes, will likely mean some degree of letting go) and making sure the client feels content and at peace with their decisions. This balance becomes even more important (and even more perilous) when the project comes after the passing of a loved one. As it would turn out, I quickly had to learn this balancing act when I found myself playing both organizer and client.
My brother, Erik, passed away 19 months ago. Although his passing wasn’t exactly sudden (he had been ill for 10 months) it still was shocking. He was here one day and then simply gone the next. My mom, sister and I retreated to our gang of 3 to mourn, to grieve and to remember that smiling face. When the fog lifted slightly, we all knew there were practical things that needed attention. His car, his items at my sister’s house, his other things in a storage unit needed to be taken care of. I had expected myself to lead this charge. This was, after all, my career path, something I did every day. And yet, I couldn’t do it. I wanted to keep his car (even though it was completely impractical), wanted to keep his closet just the way it was and the thought of going through his things in the storage unit? I wanted to crawl back into bed and pull the covers over my head. But sooner or later I knew we (and especially I) would need to start this project because it was another part of the grieving process. He wasn’t “this stuff” nor did letting go of it meant I was letting him go.
I wanted to share this rather personal journey because it is one most of us will have to take at least once in our lives. We started with his clothes. Most were donated but we each kept one or two things. I have one of his favorite shirts hanging up in my closet and it makes me smile every day when I open my closet. I was nervous about giving his things away to friends and family. I certainly didn’t want to burden anyone with items they may not want but it was such a relief to know some of his most special items went into happy homes. We choose carefully, taking a long time to find items that would fit (literally and personally) into each person’s life, carefully finding that balance (yet again). A favorite statue went to my best friend along with a backpack I knew her husband could use. His Steelers jersey went to my dad, who places it in the game room on Sundays. His sunglasses went to an online auction that raised money for a cancer patient. I had no idea how much easier it would be to let go when I knew how highly the items would be valued. I took pleasure in seeing how perfectly these items went into everyone’s homes, almost as if they were meant to be there. With the release of Erik’s most beloved items, letting go of “the other stuff” was a much easier experience. His furniture and kitchen items were donated to charity that runs a retail store. His older computer was taken to be recycled. It was still hard to see these things leave our lives but I knew holding on to “the stuff” (there’s that phrase again) wasn’t going to dull his memory.
To anyone who has begun this grief journey, I advise you to go slowly but realize that you won’t be able to hold on to everything for emotional and practical reasons. You can and should keep things that will help carry on your loved one’s memory: things that you will look at it and immediately be flooded by a happy memory. Find specific homes for specific items but not for everything. Don’t put other family members and friends into the awkward position of having to take trunks full of items because they don’t want to add to your pain. Do find a meaningful charity that will make you feel good about donating items. Maybe it’s a battered women’s shelter or a veteran’s society. Having that emotional tie to the organization, knowing the items will go on to benefit something your loved one believed in, will help tremendously. If it gets to be too much, take a step back but don’t abandon the process.
At the end of the several month process, there were still a lot of emotions but the job was done. The tremendous weight had not only been lifted but in fact freed us to continue with the grieving process. It makes me smile to think that Erik’s things are on display everywhere from Los Angeles to Nashville to Washington. I hope that the sale of his couch went on to help supply dinner for someone or that the sale of one of his books helped the library buy another new novel for someone to enjoy. 19 months later, this emotional and sentimental girl can truly say that she doesn’t miss the stuff she gave away. She only misses seeing her brother every day.
I’ve been an organizer my whole life. I organized Barbie’s closet, loved the start of the school year because there were all those school supplies to put together and was full of joy when my boss asked me to organize a project at work. It was always something that just came to me naturally and allowed me to be calmed and focused.
Before I started my own business, I spent about 5 years working in advertising creating and implementing media plans for political candidates and eventually for a major movie studio. I liked it but I knew it was never my passion. When the recession started and I was laid off, I halfheartedly looked for a new job in the market. Fortunately, I had very little luck. A few months later I was introduced to a family friend who had been working as a Professional Organizer for many years. When she explained to me what she did, I remember thinking “seriously, that’s a job?? I’ve been doing that my whole life for free!”.
And so, Organized To a T was born. I am very grateful to have found a job that I TRULY love and am passionate about. There is no prouder moment then when I can help a client find peace and serenity. Or seeing the relief on a client’s face when we have their guest room ready to hosts guests and not host boxes. Or teaching a client organizational skills that they then pass on to their little ones.
When you are passionate about something, it’s easy to get up every day and work. It’s exciting to learn about new methods and new projects. It’s wonderful to be able to transfer your skills to someone else.
A great big THANK YOU to all my clients who have made this possible!