Monday, November 5, 2018

Are you ready for Thanksgiving?

Hello Friends,
Hard to believe, but the holidays are nearly here!

Now is the time to transform your kitchen from clutter and mess to clearly a success.   

So many women feel ashamed and embarassed at the state of their kitchen, their cupboards and pantries.  Food products, dishes, pots and pans are somewhat organized, but they have trouble finding what the need and have difficulty putting things away.  

When guests offer to help, it can be a cringe-worthy moment.  "No, no, I can do it." they reply thinking to themselves,  there is no way I'm risking them looking inside that cabinet. As a result, loneliness and isolation creep in at a time when we'd like to be celebrating together.

Worse, family members have come to expect the mess and often poke fun and tease at the amount of expired food they come across or asking "When is the last time you used this?" while holding up a prized something of yours that has a layer of dust on it.

Have you ever had to quickly clean the wine glasses or polish the silver at the last moment before setting the table?

Imagine a different experience...

Guests offer to help, and you immediately put them to work - telling them where to find a specific item and waiting for their joy of glee and surprise at the ease!

You are basking in the glow of compliment after compliment at your well-organized ktichen, cupboards, pantry and drawers.  In fact, when they discover that the junk drawer has vanished, you are now an inspiration!  "How did you do it?" they ask.

Dinner is prepared with ease, leftovers are put away and you have a lot more time to enjoy yourself and your loved ones because this Thanksgiving, you turned over the clean up to a crew of family while you are lounging with the kids or watching the game.  You rest in the knowledge that there are no surprises for them to uncover or discover and your kitchen will be easily restored to beauty and organization.

This and more can be yours!  Schedule your  November Special: Combat Kitchen Clutter today and we can get your kitchen organized by Thanksgiving.   

Live farther than my 50 mile radius?  We'll do the consultation by phone/skype for an hour. I teach you the skills and you go to work.  Choose the Initial Consultation.

Any questions?  Reach me at

Don't wait, you deserve to have an organized Thanksgiving.  Schedule it today!

What's your biggest kitchen headache?

Who will be the most surprised when your kitchen is organized?

Monday, October 15, 2018

Apps are Lifechangers

Hello Friends,

Like most of us I use apps every day. In fact, I can't imagine life without them!  Apps make life easier and can be game changers for everyone - freeing up valuable brain space, giving us more time in our day and increasing our efficiency to just get more things done.

Here are 3 of my favorites and truth be told, I get a little commission if you decide to use the linky to sign up for one or all.  I never recommend anything I haven't used myself and these 3 apps are necessities for my business.  

If you own your own business, move away from paper accounting and get Quickbooks Self-Employed. They are offering a special this month to join for $5 a month for 12 months and then it will be $10 a month after that.  Well worth it friends.

#QBAmbassador  #sponsored
Once you log in, connect your business bank account and the transactions will automatically upload each time you log in.  Spend a little time each month categorizing them - it will tell you the exact categories to put expenses in matched up with the Schedule C federal tax form.  Then click on Reports to see your P&L for year to date or any month/year you like.  There is also an option to connect a mileage app to it as well as scan in all your receipts/connect emailed receipts too.  It literally takes the headache out of tax time as you can either give your accountant your log in or simply print out the P&L for the year and share the chart of accounts if you are at all unsure about your categorizations.  And you always know your numbers.  So important as a business owner to always know your numbers!

Click this linky to get the special!  

Next up is Acuity Scheduling.  

If you want to eliminate the challenges of scheduling clients through multiple emails, texts, phone conversations, this app allows me to schedule on the spot.  I simply share my unique linky in person,over the phone, or through an email and text and the client clicks on it and sets up their own appointment!  

It shows the dates/times I am available, asks for their contact info then syncs with their calendar and mine.  I've set it up for reminders too - 24 in advance and 1 hour before the appointment so no more last minute cancellations either.  So far, clients love it and it has quite literally changed my business.  

Click here for a free trial.

Finally, Evernote.

Moving away from many pieces of paper, post its, napkins, has been a goal of mine for a long time.  Evernote captures everything you need in one place.  It is especially helpful when planning a project or event.  Upload photos, measurements, scan in handwritten notes, typed notes, even pin things from the internet to attach in one solid place.  If you're a client of mine and we've worked on paper or sprucing up your home, Evernote is one app I suggest every time. 

What's the app you can't live without?

Need an organizing consult to learn more tips to free up your time and space? 


Monday, September 17, 2018

Infuse your home with joy.

Hello Friends,

What makes organizing for clients so much fun, is the progress that happens so quickly.  It amazes people how much can be accomplished in just 3 hours.  Especially when it's taken 10+ years to accumulate!

You'll know I've been organizing because I enjoy creating something around joy.  I love finding something in the space that makes a client"s eyes light up and their face break into a smile and then creatively incorporating the item into the space so it can be enjoyed.

Often it's something that is crammed into a cabinet, or stored in a box, but when it's displayed in a way that it is given the spotlight, these bits of joy really shine.

Some examples of joy that changed everything!

A child's craft cabinet with containers of markers, paint brushes, crayons and a tray of origami paper.

The cutest folders ever to prioritize paperwork for taking action on.

A sweet memorabilia display in a laundry room to remind one of days gone by.  
A kitchen cabinet with small whimsical decor along with favorite recipes.  

His and her sock bins in a bedroom closet.

None of these joy infusers cost any money - except the sock bins from Dollar General.

What room or space do you wish had more joy in it?

Let's uncover it together!

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

A sermon, a broken heart and a Facebook ad that changed everything

Hello Friends,

What does a sermon, a broken heart and a Facebook ad all have in common?

About 6 months ago I was invited to attend a church service with a friend.  The key scripture shared was Nehemiah 1:4-6.  The pastor invited us to ask ourselves....what breaks my heart?  I had trouble thinking of something concrete in that moment, so I diligently took notes instead. 

"God will break your heart.  Pay attention to that emotion and God will prompt you to pray.  Let your tears be the trigger to pray.  He will move you into action. He will ask, 'What will you do about it?'  Look at your workplace as a place to make a difference.  When burdened, don't act right away.  Pray."

I left that service asking myself, 'what breaks my heart?' and remember praying about this question the next day in a quiet moment with God.

A few months later, I found myself in tears driving home from a couple of consultations.  I'm not one to cry in front of clients, but later in reflection, I'll let their situations filter into my heart and my spirit is moved.

Through my work, I've realized that some people desperately need and are ready for organizing but for various reasons cannot get their homes decluttered on their own and feel they cannot afford to hire an organizer for help.

It breaks my heart.

Ah God, you are so good to answer my prayer I thought to myself, feeling sad, but what do you expect me to do about it?

Days passed.

In looking for something else, I randomly came across the sermon notes and marveled at how something was unfolding.  I prayed.

And then as so often happens, a Facebook ad popped up on my newsfeed. How do they know?

This ad advertised the opportunity to become a Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach.  Huh?  I wondered if this opportunity was for me.  I signed up for a webinar and then was chosen to participate in another to ask more questions.  I found that their approach matched up with my core values  - always a sign of a good thing for me.

You see, many years ago Dave Ramsey helped our family get out of debt when I read one of his books, The Total Money Makeover.

We were so far in debt that I never added it all up!  We owed the IRS, property taxes, an SBA loan from earthquake damage to our home, (living in LA there are earthquakes!), a mortgage, medical debt, student loan debt, credit card debt, and debt to creditors from a business, it went on and on.  We were drowning and to top it off our home was for sale, and the three of us (we had a toddler too) were living with my dad, having relocated to another state so my husband, at the time, could start working his way up from the bottom of a new career field.

Fortunately, my dad came alongside me at this time, because there were no financial coaches, and taught me how to budget.  Then I put the principles of the book in place using the baby steps Dave Ramsey recommends.  In the span of 5 years, we'd sold the house, paid off all the debt and saved up enough to put a down payment on another home as well as had another baby.  We were debt free.

Since that time, I've had an interest in finances but never followed through, leaving it to others to decide my financial fate and continuing to make less than perfect financial decisions myself. 

I decided it was time to learn more on behalf of my clients and for myself.  I took the class and as of last week, I have earned my designation as a...

Ramsey Solutions Master Financial Coach. Cue the music!

As a coach, I seek to understand your situation, provide information and give hope.

I can walk you through budgeting, give you a process to get out of debt, coach you how to deal with collections, avoid bankruptcy, help you work out payment plans, develop understanding of your student loan debt, point you to investing, go through the various types of insurance, put a plan together to save for retirement, and give you information about estate planning.

It dovetails nicely with the coaching work I already do with people for organizing, such as getting their paperwork in order, setting up a filing system, managing bill payment, working with *Quickbooks and so on.

Wouldn't it be something if we all lived within our means, had robust savings accounts and were able to give freely to the causes we are passionate about? 

I'm here to help; one person at a time.

*I am a referral partner with Quickbooks and do receive a small commission if you sign up for Quickbooks Self Employed through the link.

Live locally?  Check out Financial Peace University at Journey Church starting on September 24.

What is your biggest hurdle to becoming debt free?

Have you ever used a coach for anything before?

Friday, August 24, 2018

Latest Organizing Projects + A Special

Hello Friends,

My goodness, it's been 3 months since I last blogged.  Living where I do where the winters are long and the temperature is freezing, I make the most of summer!  Spending every spare moment I'm not working with clients or catching up on office work, I am outside enjoying the sunshine and having fun.  How about you?

I've had the opportunity to be part of some really interesting projects this summer including preparing for and working an estate sale and then packing up the leftovers for donation.  An estate sale is where you decide what you'll keep and sell everything else.  

Working with whole house organization because when life gets messy, your house gets messy.  

Assisting with tax prep with self-employed entrepreneurs. The goal is to file on time with no extension needed.  

Organizing a few home offices, including paperwork and reorganizing a kitchen.  When you live and work in a space, it has to work for you, not against you.  

I also helped set up and stage items for a virtual auction and assisted an elderly couple to pack up their entire home to move in with their children.  

Ah, the life of a professional organizer, always something interesting.  Variety is the spice of life so they say and that's why I love organizing so much.

Now, while the weather is still warmish, end of summer is a great time to tackle the basement where it is still cool.  Plus it is so much easier to stage items for a sale or donations without the snow flying.  So to that end, I'm offering a special!

This latest special includes 8 hours of organizing, including decluttering, sorting and appropriate storage.   8 plastic 18 gallon totes are also included.  These will be filled and labeled with the things that are important to you.  Everyone has precious somethings or items that they may need in the immediate future as well as things that need long-term storage.  Having an organized basement allows you to quickly locate exactly what you need.  Let's get your day on the calendar today!

Join in the fun on my Facebook page!  Hear where I'll be presenting this fall, classes to sign up for, inspiring before and after photos of real homes, informative articles, and every Monday a little tutorial on getting something in your home organized.  Fridays are reserved for my best recommendations be it, professionals, to help you on this journey called life or my favorite organizing-related products.  It's the best way to stay in touch with all things organized.

What fun have you been up to this summer?

What organizing project are you planning this fall?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

What's In A Name?

Hello Friends,

One of the first questions people ask me is "How did you name your business Winnow & Spruce Organizing?" As with all important decisions, it was a process and it took the better part of a month.
My naming criteria was:

1.  It had to be original - no other companies in the US could have its name.
2.  It had to be descriptive.
3.  It had to sound clever.
4.  The had to be available.
5.  The name would lend itself to a symbol/logo.

I started my process with writing all the words down that are synonyms for organizing, decluttering, sorting etc. I love using a handy webpage called Visual Thesaurus and in my search came across the word "winnow".  

My favorite definition of winnowing means separating the wheat from the chaff, an ancient harvesting process which was done using baskets and air.  After the process was completed, the wheat remained as that's what nourishes us; the things we keep and love and the chaff; the excess, the unneeded stuff, blows away in the wind.

I knew right away that "winnow" was going to be in my company name.  It was perfect.

Turns out it is in the bible too.  The word "winnow" is in the bible 8 times and in my favorite book, the book of Isaiah with verse 41:16 being especially meaningful to me.

Basically, get all your stuff in one place, sort it all and toss out what you don't need. Put what you love back so you can find it and you will be happy.  This to me is organizing in a nutshell.

But winnowing is just the first step of organizing, making it beautiful is the second.  Finding just the right storage, placing items where they look the best, can be found easily and make the owner the happiest.  The second part is all about experiencing the joy that our belongings bring.

So I looked up synonyms for beauty and stumbled upon "spruce".  

Besides being a tree, it means neat, elegant, chic.  This is what I hope will be the end result of everything once it's organized; neat at the very least, chic and elegant if that's what the client would like.

I like the play on words that both winnow and spruce bring and because I'm a nature lover and winnow is close to willow and spruce is also a tree, it makes me smile.

I added the word "organizing" to make it clear what I do and my business had a name!

Finding a logo took a bit longer, but when I saw this image of wheat stalk, I knew it was the one.

Have you ever named a business?  How about a child?

What was your process?

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Millennial Kitchen

Greetings Friends,

Last weekend, I took the train to Milwaukee to visit my oldest.  He just graduated from college (insert proud mother!) and needed help moving to his new digs; sharing a house with 2 friends.  

Dropping into his life for a few days was so much fun and brought back my own sweet memories of flying out to L.A. to begin my adult life after college a million years ago.

They begged me to organize their kitchen.  How could I say no?  #dreamjob

There were 3 criteria:

1.  One housemate needed all his Tupperware to stay together as he prepares his food for the week on Sunday and packages it all up in containers for work.  Inspiring!

2.  My son wanted to have his kitchen inventory photographed before it was put away so when he moves out one day, he'll know what is his to take.  Smart!

3.  Every cupboard/shelf had to be labeled.  This crew plans on having lots of parties and they want everyone to be able to find and return what they use in the kitchen.  Dreamy!

This kitchen looked beautiful, but it had its share of challenges:

1.  No silverware drawer.  Just one narrow drawer for utensils.  

2.  Not enough cupboards for food storage and no pantry.  

3.  No way to tell which side of the cabinet door to open as there are no knobs.  This was so frustrating!

 I am happy to report that all challenges were creatively solved later in this blog post.

Moving had to happen first and I was charged with packing up my son's old kitchen.  Of course, I started with tossing all the expired food.

How do you avoid having expired food?  Meal planning!  

The bags of grains were messy and hard to store, so as is usual in most homes, 
I found many empty jars to pour them into and then labeled them accordingly. #kombucha

Why did I label on top of the jars instead of the fronts?  My son is nearly 6'7" and looks down on everything.  Organize for your habits, not for Pinterest.

After pulling an all-nighter, he was ready to move!  Oh, to be young again...

These were 3 of at least 8 appliances that needed to live on the counter; juicer, bullets, food processor, coffee makers, a toaster, Britta water pitcher etc.  I am sure they will be winnowing.

Moving this bookcase into an extra doorway gave my son a much-needed pantry.  He cooks most of his food from scratch!  

I labeled everything with temporary labels to see how they liked the organization of their things.  
We tweaked accordingly.

Found this bad boy at Home Depot.  It was the perfect housewarming gift.

These new labels were a big hit!  Not only does it look more professional, I located each label in the corner of the door that opens, rather than at the hinge.  Problem solved.  Sometimes I amaze myself.

The silverware challenge was resolved with more empty mason jars.  I located them right above the dishwasher and labeled accordingly for everyone's ease.  Sometimes the easiest solution is the simplest.

When it was all done, the guys were thankful and I was pleased.  The true test is that first party!

Meanwhile, I got to organize the gel pens next.  I found the perfect storage!  #coloringbooks

It was a lot of fun to organize their kitchen for them.  Thanks guys!

If you're low on time, I can do this for you too!  We meet for 15 minutes to craft a plan and then you go on about your day to return to a beautifully organized space.

If you struggle in the area of meal planning, contact me for coaching.  I can teach you the skills to manage your food and save money which may lead to healthier eating and even weight loss.

What is the most important thing in your kitchen?

Can you beat 8 appliances on your countertops?

Do you make your own Kombucha?

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Seasonal Switch

Hello Friends,

I have blogged before on the benefits and how to's of clearing out a clothes closet, here, and here.  

Today with Spring weather finally hitting here in Northwest Wisconsin, I thought I'd run through switching out our clothes closets for the seasons.

Living here in this cold climate means we have a lot of clothes. If you live in an older home like I do, there isn't much closet space.  If you've ever wondered why?   Here is the answer!  If you're not like me, it's not what you think.  Fascinating.

So the end result is there isn't enough space to store all our clothing for all the seasons.  Most people, unless they have beautiful walk-in closets, use plastic totes to store off-season clothing.  Some people store these in different areas of their home, depending on how large the off-season clothing storage closet is and if it all fits in there.  Sometimes clothes end up being stored in different closets.  When it comes time to switch seasons, often clothes are misplaced, lost or forgotten about.  

The struggle is real.

Recently I read this article/video where an organizing expert opens up his apartment and uses it as a classroom to teach organizing skills.  I love this idea, but I wonder would people really pay to come see my apartment?  Leave a comment below.

Until that decision is made, here is a peek into my system for switching out my clothes and a glimpse of how I organize my closet.  I hope it inspires you!

I live in a small 450 square foot 2 bedroom apartment so I have 3 closets.  This is my extra closet.

I store my off-season clothes and summer items, such as beach towels in these fabric bins that are no longer available - sorry!  I love them because I can neatly store 4 on the top shelf of the extra closet.  They fit exactly!  Always measure first.

First, pull the in-season clothes in my case fall/winter out of the bedroom closet and decide if you'll wear it again next season?  Does it still fit?  Is it in good repair?  Does it need laundering? Does your partner enjoy seeing you in it?

Sort into piles.

I keep a donation bag handy behind my bedroom door as it's easy to try something on, decide it needs to go and put it directly in the bag.

Roll up the clothes you decide to keep and store in your bins.  Rolling keeps the wrinkles at bay.

I decided to label my totes this year as sometimes I will steal back a sweater in the summertime.

Then it's on to the shoes!  You know the drill and the rules.  Keep what you love!

My special occasion and off-season shoes fit perfectly in a tote!  Joy.

I added a special touch.  If beauty is important to you, consider taking photos of your shoes and affixing to your shoe boxes.  It looks so high-end and makes me smile whenever I peek in my closet.

Now the big reveal!                                                                           After


So drab and boring before...all those neutral, dark colors for autumn and winter.

Now refreshed for spring and summer, bright, happy colors!

Why yes, my dresser is in my closet!

As you can see, I have WAY too many clothes for this space.  Last year I inherited a huge box of clothing that I am deciding if I will wear or not - the items I kept are slightly crammed as shown.  I plan to winnow this down by at least 1/3 in the next couple of months as I create new outfits and see if the new items are a fit for me and my preferences.

Buy these velvet hangers.  Your slippery, strappy clothing will stay hung.  

The felt boxes in this closet - well most of them anyway - are from Ikea and they are my absolute favorites for storing folded clothing aka Marie Kondo style. 

The newly labeled totes are back on their shelf.

And I'm excited to wear the rainbow.

Happy Spring!

Contact me if you need help with your seasonal switch.
Live too far? Schedule a virtual organizing session with me!
Having an unbiased second opinion can make sorting much easier.

What's one clothing item that you have too many of?

What's your best takeaway from this blog post?

Check out the May Special, makes a great gift for Mother's Day!

Saturday, April 14, 2018

How Do You Know If You're Ready to Get Organized?

Hello Friends,

This week I've been exploring the topic of readiness; as in how do we know when we are ready to get organized?

First, assess your situation.

Use this checklist to understand if you are experiencing any of these common problems that can be solved by getting organized.

___  Perpetually losing things and being unable to find them.  

___  Spending money unnecessarily to repurchase items you already own but have forgotten about.

___  The clutter in the home feels overwhelming and there isn't a clear place to start.

___  Things have piled up in the corners and edges of rooms and hallways.  In some cases, they have overtaken the floor and it is a hazard to navigate.  In fact, you've tripped and maybe even fallen  
        on occasion trying to get at what you need.

___  There is at least one room in your home that is filled with items that are no longer used.  You'd like to use this room for another purpose, but the thought of moving all that stuff out is daunting.

___  When you sit down to rest, instead of feeling peace, your surroundings have you feeling anxious.

___  You can't remember the last time you were able to park in the garage as there is no room for your car.

___  Closets and cupboards are stuffed to the brim with no room for anything more so rarely do you put things away.  Instead, they are sitting out on the flat surfaces of your home on countertops, tables, shelves - wherever they fit.

___  You own lots of clothes but find yourself wearing the same outfits week after week.

___  As you survey your home, there are many bookcases, shelving units, plastic storage with drawers, yet there doesn't seem to be enough room for everything.

___ When you clean your home, there is a lot of dust.  Perhaps you can't remember the last time you really cleaned as there are too many items in the way.  This includes underneath your bed and the floor in your closets.

___  You have pets and have either discovered or have suspicions that there have been accidents in rooms and closets but you haven't been diligent about cleaning up after them.  People have commented that your home smells (or you are afraid they will notice.)

___ There is no clear system for dealing with expired food both in the refrigerator and in the pantry.   Maybe you've even experienced illness from food poisoning.

___ Your bedroom isn't how you would like it to be and lately, you've been experiencing sleep issues.  

___ Entertaining used to be your thing, as you enjoy having friends and family over, but you haven't as you're embarrassed by the state of your home.  More likely is that you have people over, but you are fearful they will open a door and see your clutter.

Well, how did you do on the checklist?  

If you checked even just one, your HOME is ready to be organized, even if you're not.  

So how do YOU get ready?

It's no secret that people either operate from a place of fear or desire.

By fear I mean we are motivated by the feeling of being afraid that something bad will happen in the future if we don't take action now to change things. This fear can be paralyzing and keep us from moving forward.  Fear can be overwhelming!

However, change can happen when we listen to the little voice inside that us that knows we can do better and have better for ourselves.  We want something more.  Desire is that little thrill of hope that we feel inside at the thought of making an exciting improvement to our situation.  This hope is the catalyst for us to stop listening to the fear and move forward following our desire.

We are ready to get organized when we recognize and acknowledge the fear but move forward anyway.

We say, "Hello Fear, welcome back my old companion.  I am listening to you, but I'm not sure that what you are telling me is actually true.  Let's find out by experimenting a little.  I'm going to take a step forward in decluttering my house and see what happens next."

That step could be:

 __Clearing off a flat surface be it a countertop, table, or shelf.

__Emptying out one box and sorting through the contents.

__Taking out everything from under the bed and resolving to find a different place to store it (or throwing it/donating it/selling it).

__Throwing out all the expired food in the pantry &/or refrigerator.

__Sorting out the pile of photos into decades.

__Grabbing a garbage bag and throwing out 9 items - Go!

When you're done with this first step, check back in with yourself.  How did it go?  How do you feel?  Do you feel ready to do more or do you need to stop?  Did fear or desire win out?

Remember, your home is ready to be organized and cared for.  Are YOU ready?

What fear is holding you back?

What is one small step you can take today?

Do you need assistance?  

Contact me for a no-obligation phone chat.  
Send a text to:  (715) 410-9532