Wednesday, December 23, 2015

An Unexpected Holiday Gift

This holiday season, we received a very generous gift of 1/4 of a cow!

We were very excited at the prospect, but alas, we'd recycled our big, old upright freezer when the kids went to college.  So a shopping we did go.  But first we did a little research.

Question:  Exactly how big of a freezer does one need for 1/4 of a cow?

Answer:  7 cubic feet.

And a new freezer appeared.

I got excited!  I'd never organized a freezer before!  So we move it into place in our basement and then...da da da daaaaa.

The Bad News:  The placement of the freezer resulted in an extensive 3 day nearly-all-nighter project, involving removing a defunct, leaky water softener that came with our house, rerouting pipes to the water heater, installing valves and changing out pipes the width of our basement. Thankfully, our handy neighbor came over to help my very handy husband.  We love our neighbors.

The Good News:  We now can run the washing machine, the dishwasher, flush a toilet, and run water in every sink all at the same time while simultaneously someone takes a hot shower.  We actually tried this!  This may seem normal to all of you, but to us, this is EPIC, never before dared, as we had literally NO water pressure due to bad plumbing and woe to the person taking a shower if someone else used water.  Not good.

But it's all good now and this is an organizing blog after let's get back to the task at hand.

Except there were more issues with the space...

All these Christmas decorations had to be moved to create enough space for the freezer. This was a fortunate event and good timing. What with Christmas coming,  I had been meaning to sort and organize these boxes anyway.

Isn't it interesting how one fairly small organization project can quickly spiral into not only a home remodeling project, but also into more organizing?  This is real life folks.  

Okay, now back to the freezer and more importantly, the meat!

The first step is to write a date on all the meat.  Since the paper packages were already marked 12/15, I decided to be consistent and mark all the plastic packages with the same date.

As an alternative, packages can be marked with the date they will expire, so you'll know when to use them by.  Here's a chart showing how long frozen food will last to mark your food accordingly.

The next step was to write an inventory.  I used this one  that I found on the internet.  I slipped it into a clear plastic sleeve after I filled it out and I am storing it right in the freezer!

I love this idea of writing the inventory directly on the freezer with a dry-erase marker, but I'm not brave enough to do it on our brand new freezer.  Are you?

Next I loaded the large packages in the bottom of the freezer

And loaded the steaks on the shelf.

Next the ground beef I set in the basket that came with the freezer.  I tried a couple different ways of stacking and the picture on the right is the one I decided worked best.  Easy to grab and I fit in one package than the picture on the left.

However, it turns out there are 79 packages of ground beef. 

That's right, 79 pounds.  

Can you say "taco night" every night?

I had to come up with another storage solution.  

Reusuable shopping bags!  Genius.

I filled them up and set them on top of the large packages.  

Notice the handles are laying across the top so they can easily (well, maybe easily isn't the right word, they are heavy!) be lifted up out of the way to access the meat underneath.

Once we eat down that 79 lbs of ground beef, I'll be investing in  4 of  these beauties as they stack perfectly according to the reviews and have folding white handles.  Perfect in stacks of 2 next to the shelf/freezer basket. 

Label the bins according to food type and your freezer is forever organized!

Finally,  the freezer inventory is laid right on top inside the freezer. I'll be attaching a pen nearby on the outside of the freezer of course.

If you want a pen you can freeze, try this one.  There is no end to what clever people will research and publish on the internet.  Thank you internet people, thank you.

WAIT!  I know you all want to know what happened to the pile of Christmas stuff?  

Remember this post and this closet?

After I cleaned it out that messy closet, it has sat nearly empty since July and now I know why.  It was just waiting for all the Christmas clutter beloved decorations to be stored there.  I plan to get a few more plastic totes to replace the boxes, but it's looking good so far.

I sorted out just a few things that were no longer needed, including one of those train sets that goes around the tree.  Sold it in a couple of hours on Facebook.  BONUS.

And that's a wrap - pardon the Christmas pun.

What is the most unusual item stored in your freezer?

Who's inspired to create a freezer inventory?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Give the Gift of Organizing

There are so many benefits to getting more organized and did you know that it is one of the top 3 New Year's resolutions set by many people?  Help your friends and family reach their goals in 2016 by giving them the gift of organization.

Working from my experience with clients, here are some of the very best reasons to get organized.

Be able to find whatever you need whenever you need it.  

If you're tired of this endless question "Where is the ______?"  Getting organized can eliminate it entirely or at least give you an answer to say instead of "I have no idea."

Saves money.  

Or in this case, FIND money!   Every client I've worked with so far has found money in their house that they didn't know they had.  

But back to saving money...getting organized means no more buying in excess because you know exactly what you own.  When you run out of something, you truly run out of it because it's only kept in one place and you know how much you have.  No more overbuying and overspending.

May improve your health
Face it, if you're able to walk into a room and not trip over something, you're going to be able to reduce the chances of being injured in your own home.  Dust loves clutter.  If you're not able to clean surfaces regularly, dust will accumulate and can cause or exacerbate allergies.   Piles of paperwork can be a fire hazard.  Stuff piled in corners or closets can mask leaky pipes, crumbling drywall and even mold.  Clearing out the clutter is good for your health.

Adds ease to living

While I can't promise  that getting organized will transport you to a sandy beach, I can say that organizing helps my clients save time and energy.  No more starting the day in a frantic rush trying to find the car keys.  Being organized creates space in one's life.  

Reducing the amount of stuff one owns, can be transformative.

Getting rid of stuff leads to the most exciting aspect of getting organized...what happens next.  My clients say time and time again, that once they got organized, it changed their lives in ways they couldn't imagine.  

What are you hoping for in the new year?  Organizing could be the catalyst that makes your dreams come true.

Are you struggling to find the perfect gift for that special someone?  Give the gift of organizing in the form of a gift certificate.  They may say it's the best gift they've ever received.

Do you have your holiday shopping done yet?

If you could help someone get organized, who would it be?


Thursday, December 10, 2015

A Few of My Favorite Organizing Things

Sorry it's been a couple of weeks...
I've been taking writing classes to improve my writing on this blog, and it's kinda sorta taking over my a good way!  That is keeping me busy along with getting ready for the holidays.  I happen to love Christmas and all the preparations leading up to it.

Speaking of the holidays, here are a few of my favorite organizing things.  Maybe you have an organizer on your gift list or someone who needs to get more organized?  

Happy Shopping!

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo  This book has inspired thousands of people to declutter, just one category at a time.  My secret wish is to be trained by her and I even contacted her to see if it was possible.  Unfortunately, the reply was in Japanese but Google translator said the word "wait" was in there and "patience".  So maybe it can still happen.

A Label Maker  Clients are always asking me which kind to buy.  My own is one that my husband got as a gift and never used, so I inherited it and free is good.  But I love this handy one and it even comes with a tape cartridge.  Buy lots of  tape when you order it.  You are welcome.

Magnetic Notepads  I love these so much!  If you're my client, (and you have a frig that takes magnets), you get one free!  They can be found in the dollar section of Target where they can be found for yes...$1.  These make great stocking stuffers!

Gift Card to the Container Store  Seriously, if you haven't visited this store yet, you haven't lived.  It's an organizers dream come true.  My favorite aisle has little plastic boxes, stacked to the ceiling, all color coordinated in different sizes.  I like to go and stand there, it's my happy place.  Someday I'll have a client that needs small items organized like a rainbow. A girl can dream right?

Light Angel  This motion-sensor LED stick-on light works indoors or out and lasts for 100,000 hours. Use it under sinks, in closets for entryways, anywhere that is dark.  I installed 2 outside at our house.  Now I can actually get the key in the door on the first try!  This makes a great gift for an older adult.  Let there be light.

Drawer Organizers  They come in wood, metal, plastic - you name it.  Because when you need the scissors, you need to be able to find the scissors.  And the tape, and the phone charger, and the staples...
Pegboard Organizers  For the handy wo/man in your life.  If you've got a pegboard, these are amazing!  Many more options to choose from.  You'll want them all.  Trust me.

Jewelry Stackers  I've had my eye on these for awhile now.  They are so luxe and practical at the same time.  Tarnish resistant too and they'll just as easily set into a drawer as they will stacked up on a dresser.  The princess in me wants a set.

Now that you've seen my favorites.  What's on your organizing wish list this year?

Thursday, November 26, 2015

A Heart Full of Gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”                                                                                                                                                      ― Melody Beattie

Just a little note of thanks today for following my blog and my adventures as a professional organizer.  I'm so very grateful to my clients and many friends who have trusted me to help them get more organized this year.  It's hard for me to put into words how much it's meant to me to work with you, and how close to my heart I hold you all.

So far, getting organized has turned out to be life-changing for my clients in ways that they could never have expected and I am so happy that I get to be part of their story.

They tell me that because of organizing, they've found precious time in their days for volunteering, for devoting time to new interests, getting ahold of their finances, more time for spiritual pursuits and even for love.  It's so exciting to hear their stories after we've done the work.

For me, living an organized life, gives me more time to be creative.  I love having large blocks of uninterupted time to make, create and write.  My creativity brings me joy and I'm grateful for that too.  We all need a little joy in our lives.

This centerpiece I made with a $10 bouquet of flowers,
dried plants from my yard and a pumpkin from a friend's garden!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving day?

Where do you find joy?

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

6 Things I Learned in the First 6 Months of Professional Organizing

Well friends, it's been 6 months already since I opened my car doors to start my organizing business.  I say car doors because I work from other people's homes and the car is the door that I open first on the way there, although I have been known to ride my bicycle too from time to time.

Here are 6 important things I've learned so far:

#1.  When taking before & after pictures, be sure to have the wrist strap of the camera securely around one's wrist. Otherwise it could be dropped at just the right angle to damage the focusing lens, rendering it unusable.  Ah yes, I always wondered why the wrist strap was on there.

My new camera and yes, the wrist strap has been attached.
#2.  Take before photos BEFORE starting to organize.  This has happened to me so many times that now I'm requesting the client to take the pictures themselves and text them to me on my phone before I show up!  I'm like a kid on Christmas morning, I can't wait to get started and then I pause to realize mid-way through, I'd forgotten to take the picture...oops.

Pictures are so important because they show the comparison of where we started and the progress being made.  And sometimes when we're in the middle of a project that is taking the time it takes, we may need some bolstering of our spirits as we soldier on towards completion.

#3.  Don't show frustration.  I'm only human and sometimes an organizing situation can become downright frustrating to solve!  I've learned that it's not only clients that need a break, I do too.  It can be as simple and drinking a glass of water, ducking out to use the restroom for a few minutes or even walking up or down a flight of stairs to clear my mind.  Organizing takes time and I've learned that the best solutions are often the ones that present themselves after all the sorting is completed.

#4.  Draw diagrams.  I learned this from a client that dictated dimensions of a closet to me over the phone.  We had a good laugh when I realized she was telling me measurements from the bottom up and I was writing it out from the top down.  Drawing a map of the space and then entering in the dimensions and labeling as I go, has been a lot more helpful than just a picture of it, when shopping for storage solutions. 

#5.  Have a tighter cancellation policy.  I started out with 24 hours, but increased it to 48.  I do quite a bit of research and preperation for my clients before working with them.  It can be disappointing for me when they cancel without enough notice.  This way we are both committed to the work and I have plenty of notice to squeeze in another appointment if a cancellation happens.

#6.  Never throw anything away without permission.  Luckily for me, I had set this as S.O.P. for myself (Standard Operating Procedure).  My clients laugh at me, but I do not throw ANYTHING away without asking first.  And good thing too.  On more than one occasion, I've held up some scrap of paper with scribbled handwriting or some unidentifiable little plastic gizmo and the client shrieked with joy, "I've been looking for that!" and so it goes.  

I wonder what I'll learn in the next 6 months?  Any guesses?

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

One (or Two) of These Things Doesn't Belong

So, if you've been following along the past couple of weeks, I've been on a reorganization terror in my kitchen.  It all started here, with this cupboard.  The one I featured last week in my post "The Woe of Plastic Containers".

This cupboard is directly above the coffee and tea station that sits on the countertop. 

One problem that has frustrated my morning routine is that the mugs for coffee & tea are far, far away in this other cupboard.  

Can you see how close to the ceiling this cupboard is?  My kitchen was built for giants.  Those two shelves with the mugs are quite a reach!

It seems easy enough to just switch the mugs with the plastic was, except that some of the shelves had to be adjusted for height first.  Which means, everything had to come out of the cupboard....nothing is ever simple.

This revised cupboard we know from my previous post, did not stay this way for long, but it was a step in the right direction.  

It is so helpful to have all the summer seasonal glasses in one place, stacked up neatly, along with champagne and wine glasses all together.  (Those prep bowls ended up getting moved, you'll see later.)

I debated hard on keeping those champagne glasses...after all, how often have I really used them? In the end I kept 6 as part of a fantasy, hoping that each of our boys will get engaged one day and we can celebrate the happy couples.  I know right?

After some tweaking a week later, this is what I settled on.  I found a nice little holder for my pot lids and got them out of the stove drawer and spread out all the bowls on the shelf as well.

Now that my dishes have more room, maybe I can finally complete the set!

For the other cabinet, the mugs from two shelves barely fit here.  There is more winnowing that must be done, but I knew my husband would have to make some decisions.  Never organize someone else's stuff.  His mugs are on the left, mine on the right.

The "Yeah I did it!" mug plays applause when you push a button on the bottom.  How could I part with that?  Where does this stuff even come from?

This is working out a lot better!  Coffee, tea and mugs all in one place.  Happy Dance!

But wait...what is that thing hanging under the cupboard?

Friends, I date myself here.  I'll be removing this antique next.

If you could change one thing about your kitchen, what would it be?

Do you have a favorite mug?  Tag me on Instagram so I can see it!