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!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

The Woe of Plastic Container Storage

Don't try this at home!

For the past 12 years, I've had these stored in a cabinet underneath my kitchen counter.  Tired of fishing around in there, bent over, unable to see anything but what was in front, I moved them to this cabinet, above the glasses.

This friends, was worse.

Now I could definetly see what I was fishing for, but unfortunately, because these containers are so slippery, they usually slid off the shelf as well as requiring some really creative stacking as shown here on the left.

I tried this shelf out for a week and then decided to move them over here to a larger shelf.

But after another week of fighting with this new shelf I'd chosen with the same problems, I decided to invest in storage and move them all to a bin.  I'm all about exploring my options.

This is an Elfa drawer and it installs inside a cabinet or closet on a runner frame so it can easily be pulled out to access what's inside.

The cabinet I chose is very deep, so this drawer made great use of otherwise unusable space (translation: space that becomes a catch all for whatever gets mashed back in there).

Genius!  I even installed it myself (this girl is learning some skills!)

I realize that this storage solution won't work for everyone.  Some might like all their lids arranged by size in a rack and all their storage containers stacked neatly by type, and that is fine.  We can do that.

But not me!  Throw it all in a bin and call it good!

 Before                                                    During                                                     After

After showing my husband, he suggested we buy new containers.  Bonus!

Want to guess what's in that blue-lidded storage container on the right?

Answer:  This mess from "What a Difference a Drawer Divider Makes"  Of course not all of these items made the cut.  Who says you've got to keep everything in a drawer or on a shelf?

So how do you store your plastic containers?  Stacked or piled?

Seriously friends, does every container have a lid?