Tidy Drawers?

June 14, 2017

Tidy Snap

Are your drawers tidy? Don’t you wish that there was an easy way to fold your t-shirts and keep them folded – even after you’ve rummaged through the drawer looking for the shirt you want to wear? Alison Tringale has created a product that is so simple to use even her little girls use it.

Want to know what it is? It’s called Tidy Snap.

I’ve included the link to the product here. www.tidysnap.com

In the interest of full disclosure, I’m not being paid to write this review. Alison read some of my recent blogs about children and chores and thought I’d like to see her product, Tidy Snap, since it has helped her children fold their shirts. She very nicely sent me her product and I took it to a client’s house to see if her young daughter could fold a t-shirt the tidy snap way. She could!  And she thought it was really cool (which means to me that she will want to use it to fold her t-shirts). Her mom was as impressed with the Tidy Snap as I was.

In addition to keeping the shirts tidy in the drawer it will also save time. Imagine how wonderful it would be if your child could quickly and easily find the shirt they want to wear without making a huge mess in the drawer or dumping all the shirts on the floor!

There is a video on the tidy snap website which demonstrates how to use the product. Since it is so simple to use it’s easy to see that with the tidy snap you can involve your children in not only putting their laundry away but also in the rolling of their shirts the tidy snap way!

I think there are multiple uses for the Tidy Snap system. I can see using it to keep my collection of scarves tidy in a basket or drawer. I hang my camisoles so that I can easily see which one to wear. The Tidy Snap would help me out there too. I could use it to keep my camisoles tidy in a drawer or in a basket on a shelf saving hanging space for clothes which really need to hang.

I bet you can come up with even more creative uses for the Tidy Snap. Check out Tidy Snap’s website and then write me back and let me know what you think.

Summer’s Here – Let’s Play!

June 6, 2017

Do not despair if you haven’t enrolled your child in activities so that he’ll be busy every moment during the summer. Let your child find things to do. It’s really good to have nothing to do  –  except play.

Try not to use the television, cell phone, i-pad, computers as babysitters. Limit the amount of time your child spends engaged in technology/ screen time. While it may seem like a good idea to have your children engaged in this way, after all they are busy and not getting into trouble, the truth is that instant entertainment robs your child of the opportunity to use his imagination.

Using his imagination is also a wonderful skill to encourage. When children are bored or have ‘nothing to do’ they come up with creative ways to occupy themselves. Provide building blocks or legos and you have the framework on which to build any number of fictional situations. Even crayons, markers and paper are great entertainers. And what about having a family jigsaw puzzle to put together?

Some technology time is good. It can be used to review or practice math facts, to do some problem solving, and other school related skills.

You can also involve your child in activities around the house. Sorting and categorizing are critical skills. Let your child engage in sorting the cutlery from the dishwasher. Then teach him where to put the forks, knives and spoons away. He can also help sort the laundry. Teach him how to sort the colored clothes from the whites. He can even measure out the detergent and start the washing machine. When the laundry is dry he can match socks, fold some things and help put the laundry away.

If you like to bake,  ask your child to help you measure the ingredients. He can practice his reading and read the recipe to you and follow the directions along with you.  If he is old enough, perhaps he’d like to take over some of the cooking!

Am I suggesting that your child help with chores around the house? Yes! I am. It’s important to instill in our children a sense of responsibility for the care of their home. When better to do this than when they do not have schoolwork to attend to? There have been an increasing number of stories in the news about millennials who do not have the skills necessary to live independently. You can give your child these necessary skills by teaching them basic skills when they are young and then gradually increasing the amount they are involved in the household chores as they get older.

If your child is doing a great job helping you around the house and you give him an allowance for doing these chores why not help him open a savings account? You can teach him about money. Teach him to save some money aside from each allowance and let him watch his money grow. He can learn about interest payments and experience pride when he has saved up enough money to purchase something for himself.

The opportunity for learning is all around us. Take advantage of the summer months to engage your child in conversation, imagination, and exploration. Have fun engaging in all these wonderful activities with your child. After all, it’s summer time – let’s play!

Happy Memorial Day

May 29, 2017

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On the local news this morning there was a segment on how local communities here in Atlanta are celebrating and remembering those who’ve served in our armed forces. There was a picture of a boy scout placing flags in front of gravestones at a cemetery and there was information about several parades.

On the Today Show there was a segment about two sisters who’ve started a company called Sword and Plough. Their company makes things like handbags and tote made from surplus military material. They use things like old parachutes and fabric from old uniforms. Another interesting thing about this company is that they employ veterans and one of the sisters is a veteran herself! I remember seeing them on an episode of Shark Tank and thinking what a great idea. The tote bags, in particular, look great and would be really durable. Interestingly, the sharks did not bite – no one made them an offer.

Another segment on the Today Show featured an interview with Donald Rumsfeld and Ryan Manion. She was talking about the Travis Manion Foundation. Named after her brother, Travis, who lost his life while serving in the military in 2007. This foundation goes around the country talking to groups about the military. Donald Rumsfeld made the point that since our military is not required service it’s important to have those serving in the military connect with people who may consider such service.

My son is one such person. He decided to join the Navy. He proudly served in the Navy. The picture above is from his graduation from boot camp.

I met a young man at a local plant nursery the other day. He helped me load my car with plants. I think many of you know that gardening is a passion of mine. I was talking with this young man about his plans for the summer. He told me that in addition to working at the plant nursery he was training at a swimming pool. I asked if he was joining a college swim team. His answer was ‘no’. He was enlisting in the Navy and wanted to train to be a SEAL. Wow. I wished him good luck and thanked him for his service.

Today, I am thinking about how thankful I am to know dedicated young men. I am remembering and saying prayers for those who have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. And, I am saying prayers of thanks for those who have served our country and returned home to their loved ones.

I’ll also be celebrating the unofficial start to summer with a barbecue. It’s a beautiful day here in Atlanta and I’m looking forward to starting up the grill and serving up potato salad, hamburgers, and hot dogs with the accompanying chips, dip and beer! I think we’ll offer up a toast to our military at the beginning of this fun time this afternoon.

What are you doing today? Do you celebrate Memorial Day? Write me back and let me know.

The Rhythm of Life

May 21, 2017

 

Some of you may already know that I love Ballroom dancing. It is a passion of mine and a hobby that I practice between 8 and 10 hours a week. I have a professional partner. He and I participate in Ballroom  Dance Competitions several times a year. My partner tells me to listen to the music and to help him match the pace of our movement to the rhythm of the music. Some music is fast, some slow, some moderately paced.

102, Julio Aguirre_M2016_30322

I was thinking about this the other day as I was getting ready to write this blog.

 

Have you ever noticed that at times the rhythm of our lives can be slow, almost annoyingly slow, and at other times the pace is so fast you can’t believe it – maybe even have a hard time keeping up?

This happened to me over the past two, or is it three, weeks.

It all started the 24th of April. Two friends of mine and I went to hear Elizabeth Gilbert speak. I am a long time Elizabeth Gilbert fan and was thrilled she was coming to Atlanta. The three of us met at my house – early because we didn’t want to get stuck in traffic and because it was free seating at the church. We wanted to be up as close to the front as we could get. Good thing we left early! Traffic was predicted to be bad so we used wayz which directed us around the stuck traffic and got to the church in plenty of time. Even so, there was a line out the door of the church.

We waited in line and at the appointed time were allowed into the church. We got our seats near enough to the front so I was able to get this great picture!

Elizabeth Gilbert

 I have a lot to say about Elizabeth’s presentation and will say more in another blog. This blog is about the rhythm of life. One huge nugget I took home with me was about connecting with people you meet casually. I try not to use the ‘hey, how are you’ phrase as I pass people. My usual greeting is a smile accompanied by ‘hello’. Elizabeth told us a story about a phrase she used while on her most recent book tour. She asked people she met ‘What are you most excited about in your life right now?’ and started conversations based on the person’s response.

 

A few days after this lecture. I went to the NAPO2017 conference in Pittsburgh. I decided before I left Atlanta that I would do something similar and ask the people I met at conference ‘what is one thing you learned from the lecture you just attended?’ This question started all sorts of  wonderful conversations.

Going back to the rhythm of life…

The NAPO2017 conference ended on a Saturday afternoon. I was home by the evening. My dogs were thrilled to have me home. They were not so thrilled to see that my suitcase did not get put away.

Thursday I went to New York City for a long weekend filled with sightseeing. I grew up in the city and had seen some of these places before but it was fun to go with someone who had not. We went to the Top of the Rock at Rockefeller City, to the 911 Memorial Museum, on a boat to see the Statue of Liberty, we walked from the boat all the way through Manhattan to the Empire State Building and even took a pedicab. On Sunday, we met my brother and his wife for brunch. Following brunch, we went to see Beautiful (a Broadway show about Carole King). From there we went to the airport and back to Atlanta.

Top of the Rock

 

It was an action packed few days. My dogs were once again delighted to have me home and even happier to see the suitcase put away.

I’m staying put for a while and am looking forward to taking time to think about the things I learned at the NAPO2017 conference and at Elizabeth Gilbert’s lecture.

I’m so happy to have done the things I did over the past few weeks. The rhythm was fast. I moved from activity to activity and was fully engaged – mindfully present. I want to take time now to reflect on the things I learned and put some of them into practice in my organizing business.

Does this ever happen to you? Do you have times when it feels like you’re moving from one thing to the next without having time to reflect or pause? How do you deal with it?  Do you just roll with it or does it upset your balance?

I admit I really like the change of pace. I get bored when the pace remains the same for too long. Just as I really like the way the rhythm of the music dictates which dance we do I love having some days which are action packed and others that are less full. 

It would be boring if the music at a dance competition was always the same. We’d be doing the same dance over and over. Part of the beauty of dancing is the variety of the dances.

Part of the beauty of life is the variety of activities we can do. Yes, it’s great to have routines to return to but it’s also wonderful to have other things to engage our interest.

How about you? Do you like a change in the rhythm of your life from time to time?

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Kind of Parent Are You?

April 19, 2017

 

I believe all of us with children want the very best for them. We nurture them. We want them to grow big and strong. We want to give them things that maybe we didn’t have as children. Perhaps we grew up with lots of advantages and want our children to have as much or more than we had growing up. We also want our children to have terrific experiences – to travel, play sports, have friends and plenty of toys.

Is all this providing for our children backfiring on us?

Are we giving our children so much that we are not enabling them to do for themselves?

When our children move out on their own we DO want them to be able to take care of themselves. Are we giving them, teaching them tools to be able to accomplish that?

Sometimes, I believe, all this helping our children makes them rely on us rather than on themselves. When they are very young, it’s true, they need all the help and guidance they can get.

However, will they learn to pack their backpack with all they need for school the next day if we parents are always doing it for them?

I submit that it’s better beginning when they are 7 or 8 years old to ask them if they have everything they need for school the next day. You can even ask them to double check their room for anything they may have forgotten. In the beginning, make a checklist with your child of the things you know they will need for school every day. Ask them to review their checklist to see if they have everything. This way you, the parent, are not remembering for them. If, when they get to school and find they have left something at home please do NOT get in your car and deliver it to them. Let your child learn to bring everything with them. If you jump to their rescue and deliver the forgotten item to school you are letting them know that it’s not important for them to remember and be responsible for their own things.

Also, isn’t it better that your child learns these small lessons at a young age when the lesson doesn’t have far reaching consequences?

Hovering over your child and doing things, remembering things for them is called helicopter parenting.

Helicopter parents do not let their child do as many things on their own as is possible; even when the children are teenagers and young adults. These parents still make phone calls on behalf of their children.

Some of these children grow up to be young adults without coping skills.

Some of these young adults are not good at doing chores. Why should they be? They’ve rarely had to do any around the home they grew up in. They don’t know where to start when it comes to basic household skills like doing dishes, picking up after one’s self, laundry, dusting, and more.

For all you parents of young children start involving your children in basic chores. Let them help you do dishes, fold laundry, run the vacuum. Ask them to pick up their room!

I co-authored two books for young children (ages 3-5) on this very topic. The books are titled: Suzie’s Messy Room and Benji’s Messy Room. These books are terrific to engage small children in the chore of picking up their room. We (the authors) turned that chore into a game!

I was guilty of being a helicopter parent at times.  I remember helping my children pack their backpacks, packing lunches for them – to save time – because it took them FOREVER to get around to doing these things on their own. My children are grown now. One of my sons is really self-sufficient. The other relies heavily on parental help.

What kind of parent are you?  Try to avoid being helicopter parents, hovering over your children. Instead be kind, caring, considerate good providers teaching your children basic life skills so as they grow up and out of your homes they can rely on themselves.Mom and dauther holding hands

Do I Already Have It?

April 5, 2017

I read a blog post this morning from Joshua Becker, becoming minimalist, about shopping. He suggested that most of us have more than enough in our homes already. Joshua asks the reader to ask themselves ‘what if I don’t?’.

What will happen if you don’t buy another pair of jeans? Think about how many you already have. How many pairs of jeans are enough? That is another question for another day.

Today my question is: Do I already have it?  Sometimes we overlook things that we already have that can be repurposed to fill a different need.

I was watching the Today Show yesterday morning and a guest gardening expert on the show was talking about spring gardening. As many of you probably know, I’m a gardener. I just love digging in the dirt and creating beautiful gardens so this segment captured my undivided attention. This gardening expert was talking about starting new plants by seed – to save money. Great idea! An even better idea was to take a clear plastic egg container to use as a mini-planter. The small spaces to contain eggs are a perfect size to start each new seed. The lid captures the moisture to keep the little plants watered – it acts as a terrarium. And since it’s clear plastic it will be easy to see the little plants sprout. A new use for something you probably already have. No need to buy small pots in which to start your seeds.

When I had a tree cut down earlier this year I asked the men to save 3 sections of the tree for me. These sections of the tree are now placed strategically on my patio. I’m using one as a table and the other two can be places to sit or as plant stands. A new use for something that I had.

Many times before I go to work with a client they will ask me what should I buy? My response is always, please wait until we work together. I’m not sure yet what you’ll need and we may be able to use something you already have!

If you’re doing some spring cleaning please take a moment to think about these points before you go out to buy organizing supplies.

  1. Take everything out of the cupboard, drawer, closet – whatever space you’re organizing
  2. Sort the items
  3. Remove anything to recycle, donate, or toss
  4. Remove anything that you’re keeping but that doesn’t belong in that space
  5. Now, evaluate the remaining items
  6. Do you need some organizing supplies?
  7. Look around your house
  8. See if you have anything that would work
  9. If you do, great!
  10. If you do not, then make a note of the size container(s) you’ll need and the number before you go shopping.

Feel free to email me any questions you may have regarding an area that you want to organize. I’m happy to offer a few suggestions.

Ask yourself these two questions you begin your projects and you’re thinking of shopping:

  1. What if I don’t? (from Joshua Becker)
  2. Do I already have it? (from Diane Quintana)Thinking woman in glasses looking up at many question marks

     

Happy Spring

March 29, 2017

I’m so happy that Spring is here. I think it’s my favorite season followed closely by summer. I love watching the plants as they start this new season. The trees begin to have this haze around them, letting you know that something (leaves, flowers) is waking up inside their branches.

On my morning walks, I’m noticing all the small new things. Grass is greener, tiny leaves are starting to appear on the bushes and azaleas are painting the landscapes with the beautiful pink, white, and rose colored blossoms. I even saw a baby fox the other morning!

You may have read in one of my blogs from 2016 that I moved in August. Well, I left behind a gorgeous garden. I hope the new family is enjoying all the fabulous plants that are probably starting to emerge about now.

My current house had very little in the backyard in the way of plants. There were so many very large trees crowding out the foundation shrubs that had been planted.  And there was ivy everywhere. I do mean everywhere.

Little by little I have been working to transform this yard into a beautiful garden.  I had some trees removed. (Only the ones that were a danger to my house or that were diseased) This let light in. Some of those foundation shrubs are going to bloom! This is very exciting!!

I also hired a company to fix and enlarge the patio.

 The last step was to plant. This happened last week. I love that there are beautiful plants where there was just dirt during most the fall and the winter. I chose plants with different colored foliage which keep their leaves are year: some are light greens, some have a tinge of red on their leaves, some have green and white striped leaves. This provides a wide variety. Most of these plants have blooms but at different times of the year: some are spring bloomers, some are fall bloomers, and some are winter bloomers. This gives me something to look forward to year-round in the garden.

Yesterday, I sat outside in a lounge chair and just enjoyed the view. My dogs were happy laying on the patio in the sun and I was thrilled with my new backyard. I know I’ll be adding some more plants here and there. I’m already thinking about where to add hybrid tea roses! I  just love to dig in the dirt. I also know I’ll be pruning and weeding. Gardens need lots of maintenance and care. But, since I love gardening it will be an easy task for me to schedule the maintenance.

This was a huge project. If I could have snapped my fingers and magically made all the changes overnight I would have. This required planning, breaking the project down into several distinct parts, and scheduling. It also required patience.

 

backyard 03-2017 (1)

Are you working on a HUGE project? Does it have you operating in overwhelm? Talk to me about it. I’d love to help you break it down into manageable parts.

Home Inventory

March 1, 2017

infographics about home inspection checklist and tips

One of the best ways to prepare for a disaster at home is to have a complete home inventory. Do you have an inventory of the contents of your home? Have you ever thought about taking or making such an inventory and then immediately stopped because the thought of all the work involved paralyzed you? You know that an inventory is the absolute best way to prove what your house contains in case of theft, fire, flood, tornado or any other disaster. I do understand that the creation of an inventory is a ton of work! I had to handwrite my first inventory back in 1979 since my husband’s job required us to submit a complete inventory when we were moving to Thailand. Imagine handwriting something such as that! Wow!! Even now I shudder at the thought. As the years went on and we moved from place to place technology allowed me to put our inventory in a spread sheet and then there was a program created for just such a purpose.

The program I use now is very flexible. It is called HomeZada. It does so much more than just keep track of your household furnishings. When you are ready to do the inventory, it allows you to take a picture of the item, identify what room it is in, put the date purchased and from where – if you know that information and if it is a valuable item (sentimental or expensive) you can even say who should receive it upon your death. Additionally, you can scan the receipt for the item so you have an accurate record of the date of purchase and how much it cost. You can also take a picture of a room and identify the built-in pieces of cabinetry.

I also love the fact that this program allows you to record the maintenance of appliances and keep track of home improvements. No more searching for that information. You don’t need to wonder when the HVAC was last serviced or your home last painted. The information is right there at your fingertips. If you’re planning to sell your home, you can easily retrieve the documents which identify the improvements you’ve made to your home.

Since this program is cloud based you will be able to retrieve all the information from any computer anywhere in the world. So, if disaster should strike and your home was destroyed you would be able to show an insurance adjuster photos of all that your home contained. No guessing involved.

This is real peace of mind. What a relief. Even better the program is easy to use. I recommend tackling a home inventory project the way you would any other large project – a little at a time. You could enter the information one room at a time. Or, if you decided this was simply too much for you to contemplate you can hire a professional organizer to do the original data entry for you. This is a service I offer as do other professional organizers.

 I recommend updating the information once a year, or as you trade out furniture or complete a home improvement project. It is very important to keep your home inventory information current as stale information defeats the purpose.

Please feel free to contact me if you’d like more information about the HomeZada home inventory program and how I may be able to with a home inventory project. Check out their website: www.homezada.com

 

Home?

February 23, 2017

House on wooden floor , home concept

What does this word mean to you? For me, it is more than a place. It is a feeling of belonging. A feeling that I am safe and at peace inside this place. I have moved many times to three completely different countries and to two very different regions within the United States of America and yet I’ve been able to create a home for me and my family in each spot.

So, I ask again, what does home mean to you? Is it the home in which you grew up? Will that place always represent home to you? If it does, do you also have a home in which you live most of the time?

Here’s another question for you to ponder: what does your childhood home contain that makes it feel so much like home? My childhood home is now someone else’s home. Whenever I went back to visit my mother it was the scent of her perfume that brought memories flooding back for me. Also, my mother was there. We would spend time together reminiscing. The other thing that made my childhood home so special to me was the familiar furnishings: photos, paintings, and furniture.

When we sold my mother’s house (my childhood home) I was able to keep a few of the items that meant something to me. I do mean only a few. I incorporated them into my décor so that I have a little bit of my childhood home mixed in with my adult home.

Do you want your home to contain a few memories? Would you prefer to create your own memories and leave your childhood home behind?

If you choose to bring some of the furnishings from your childhood home into your current home be selective. Be sure to ask your partner, if you have one, if they agree with your choices. One thing is for sure, you do not want to create additional clutter in your home simply because you want to bring part of the past into your present.

Ask yourself these questions:

1.       Does this bring back a special memory?

2.       Do I love it?

3.       Will this add to the overall atmosphere of my home?

4.       Will this fit in?

5.       Does it have a purpose?

If you can answer more than one of these questions positively then by all means bring some of your childhood home into your current home.

If you need to create the feelings of safety and peace inside your home take a look around and ask yourself what is bothering you about your home.

1.       Are things out of place?

2.       Do you know how to put your belongings away?

3.       Can you find what you are looking for?

4.       Do you have to do a major clean up before inviting someone over?

If you need to create order in your home so that it will be your place of refuge take the time to figure out where you want to start.

Please write back and let me know what home means to you. Let me know if I can help you in your quest to make your house feel like your home.

 

Face It! Life is Messy!

February 8, 2017

Recently I read the book titled: MESSY: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives by Tim Harford. This book has really opened my eyes to all the ways in which the best intentions for tidiness and order can sometimes have a negative impact. My plan is to look at several sections of the book that directly relate to what I do as a professional organizer over the next few weeks.

I know, first hand, that life is messy. Things do not always happen as planned. I’m a huge fan of planning but quite often the best laid plans simply need to be put aside to let whatever happen. I started my work life as a preschool/primary school teacher. Teachers create lesson plans but many times the lesson can morph away from the planned lesson into something very different but equally beneficial – a unique learning experience. Something you could never have planned for but which just sort of organically happened. Sometimes it’s a wonderful thing and sometimes it’s a hard lesson to learn – not so wonderful. The trick is to let the lesson happen and not to insist that the planned lesson take place. That has been the hardest lesson for me to learn. I usually wanted to bring the discussion back to its original intention. As the years went on and as I gained experience in the classroom I learned to be more flexible, to go with the flow, and to let the alternative lesson happen.

The book, MESSY, addresses this topic in the opening chapter. The author teaches the reader that some of the best performances have happened when the planned circumstances did not come together as the planner had intended. No, I’m not going to give you any specifics – you’ll have to read the book.

What do you do when life gets in the way, when it’s messy and your plan is foiled?

My son and daughter-in-law had planned for their wedding ceremony to be on a lawn over- looking the water. It was a picture – perfect location. The white chairs were set out on the lawn. There was a tent which was beautifully decorated for the dinner and dancing to follow the ceremony. The morning dawned with some wispy clouds. We thought nothing of it. The hairdresser came to give all us women in the bridal party gorgeous hairdos. I noticed it got a little overcast but didn’t pay too much attention. We were having too much fun getting ready for this wedding to happen.

Wouldn’t you know, it started pouring cats and dogs (as the expression goes) about an hour before the ceremony. Our guests were arriving and went straight into the tent. They couldn’t hang out on the lawn as planned.

We didn’t know quite what to do as there really wasn’t room on the dance floor under the tent to set out rows of chairs.

The Rabbi and the Priest suggested that the wedding ceremony take place on the dance floor with the wedding party in a semi-circle. Our guests could gather around. Those who needed to sit could sit at a table.

The rain stopped just as it was time to begin the ceremony. We stuck with our new plan because we thought the rain might start up again.

It was a beautiful ceremony. Made even more intimate because the guests gathered around, forming this almost magical circle around the wedding party.

We never would have felt that closeness out on the lawn with the guests seated in rows of chairs. It would have been lovely but what actually happened was even better.

Yes, it was a little messy and we, the two moms, were a little frantic at first but we let it be and it was better than anything we had planned.

Are you a planner? Do you have trouble going with the flow? Connect with me for support.