Feeling restless, bored or fidgety at home while social distancing yourself from others? Whether you have kids, are looking after family members or are flying solo, you can use some of this new found time at home to get a little more organized (and maybe a little less focused on the world outside your door).
Now, I realize not everyone has the time or energy for this if they are working remotely, still reporting in to work or caring for and entertaining their loved ones, but if you are interested here are 5 ways to stay productive:
Start or finish your taxes- If you have been procrastinating, wouldn't it be nice to get that off your plate? If you file on time, the Federal government is allowing people an extra 90 days to pay any amounts due and states may follow suit.
Clean out the fridge – This is something everyone always puts off, but now is just as good a time as any to throw out the half used mint jelly from two years ago, switch out the baking soda container, and wipe down those sticky drawers.
Spring clean your closets a little early– Going through my seasonal clothes and “purging” the things I didn’t wear always gives me satisfaction, plus I like to put all of the nicer things together to donate to a local mission or homeless shelter. Kids can go through their playrooms or toy chests.
Organize the pantry – Just like your fridge, this is an often neglected area. So why not get a jump start? You can tackle just one shelf a day or empty out the whole thing and start fresh.
Sort through those papers - For many with a home office, there are probably stacks of papers around, or even unopened mail. Some to throw out, some to shred, some to file. Well, there's no time like the present!
The best way to reach successful results without getting overwhelmed is to set measurable goals and guidelines, especially if you have kids in the house. Don’t forget to:
Designate a time-frame so you don’t burn out: 30 minutes to an hour for small children, 1 to 2 hour for older children and adults.
Identify a specific task: e.g. pick out all of the canned items that are expired. You can even make it a contest for kids such as who can find the most, who can finish before the song ends, or whoever finishes their task first gets a prize.
Set a benchmark: everyone must pick out at least 3 pieces of clothing or toys to donate.
Make it fun: Especially if working with kids! Use colored sharpies, post-its, stickers, even glitter pens to mark items.
And remember, whatever you do is an accomplishment to be proud of!
Sometimes the universe is funny, I believe. I thought about writing this blog on the topics feeling overwhelmed with an ever-growing to-do list a few weeks ago after a conversation with a friend. Then I read a Thrive article with a great quote last week, while personally struggling with and recovering from three weeks of sickness that turned into walking pneumonia. And finally, a colleague reached out to me recently to ask if I could assist her in time and priority management, just as I had finished writing my thoughts down. So here are my Tuesday tips for tackling these feelings and your to-do list effectively to regain your balance.
We as humans all get overwhelmed in lives. Whether it’s due to returning from a vacation or time off, entering a particularly busy quarter at work, or personal and family issues, everyone gets to their threshold at some point. However, you can’t just curl into a ball and hide in your pillow fort, you still need to get your work done, care for your family and attend to your own mental and physical health. I have found that the key to getting through that feeling of being overwhelmed is not to focus on the list or tasks as a whole, but to address each one on its own.
Each day, chose one thing to focus on. Do that to the best of your ability. When that is completed, feel proud and productive in your success on that task. Then, chose another task and continue as you check off the items on your list. At some point, you will begin tackling two or even three tasks in a day and get back your mojo back again. Whether that is two days, a week, a few months, or a year depends on your situation. But you can do it, if you set yourself up for success, not failure. There is nothing that will stress you out and overwhelm you more than putting things off and continuing to have that growing list staring at you.
“If you seek tranquility, do less. Or (more accurately) do what’s essential. Do less, better. Because most of what we do or say is not essential.” - Marcus Aurelius.
So start today, do the essential items -well - not half assed and quickly to check them off, and continue from there. Let me know how it goes and how your path back to equilibrium goes.
Continuing on my theme of helping you sell your home this month, here are some relatively simple upgrades you can do now to sell your home faster and get a better return on investment. Home buyers want a model home, ready to move in look, without having to pay for it. Therefore the best way to sell your home is to create that as best you can.
Paint - This is the first and foremost upgrade that home sell usually complete. But I am not just talking about the walls in your home. Sure, if you have a blue living room and a red kitchen, and a brown study, you should tone those colors down with neutrals that are more appealing a wide variety of prospective buyers; tan, pale yellow, off white, grey. However paint can do so much more! Consider a dated kitchen with dark wood cabinetry. A kitchen renovation may be due, however that makes no sense for your ROI, instead paint all of the cabinets white to attain a modern and bright look. Sherman Williams has a wonderful app (Color Snap Visualizer) in which you can upload a picture and test how their colors will look. I highly recommend that. tiles can be painted if you have outdated patterns or colors in the kitchen or bathroom. And you can really make your interior and exterior pop by painting the shoe molding, crown molding, chair railing and trim. Consider whether you want to have the trim blend into the walls/siding with a monochromatic look, or stand out with a complimentary color. Don't forget that your choice of paint should match the style of the home as well - American Colonial, Traditional, Victorian, Tudor, Craftsmen, Modern, etc.
Monochomatic - Craftsman home
Complimentary - Colonial home
Contact Paper - This is not really one of my favorite recommendations because contact paper is not very easy to work with. It is extremely sicky and difficult to get perfect without bubbles or creases. However, it can make a big difference if you have plywood shelving in your cabinets that is not easy to paint. It is also a practical solution to cabinets that already have aged contact paper that does not peel over easily. If that is your situation and you have that crazy 1970s Austin Powers/ That 70s Show pattern in your cabinets, I would suggest slapping a coat of primer down first so that the old paper does not show through. The positive thing about shelving paper is that is extremely multifunctional. It can be used on cabinet doors, shelving, counter tops, backsplashes, tiles, basically anywhere. Although I would not recommend it on a main thorough fare.
Carpeting - Here is the age old question: carpet or wood floors? Well if you have wood floors, in decent shape, under the carpet I always suggest removing the carpet and refinishing the floors. If that is not an option, you should always have new carpeting laid. It doesn't have to be special, stain resistant, or anything since you won't be living there and the new owner will more than likely replace it themselves. However again, we are trying to attain the model home, cared for visualization and a plush, clean, unused carpet will do that.
Fixtures - A home fixture is anything attached to the house, expected to be sold with the house. Replacement of some of the simplest to more complex items will give your home an updated and 'cared for' feel, especially if your fixtures of outdated or if you are drawn to a particular style that isn't common or doesn't go with the original character of the home. Below an outdated overhead light was changed with a more modern dome light, changing the feel of the breakfast nook immediately. Replacing overhead and scone lights, kitchen and bathroom faucets, and cabinet knobs and pulls are your go-to choices. These can be done in a matter of hours. Then for maximum impact consider toilets, appliances, and bathroom vanities as well if you have more time and flexibility.
Bathrooms - A good bathroom is one of the most sought after places in a home, so while you don't want to spend too much of your time and money on this if you are moving out, you do want to give a prospective seller a good reason to buy your home. Consider re-glazing the bathtub if it is cast iron and looks dated, chipped or worn. You can also purchase Rust-Oleum Tub & Tile finishing kit to update a discolored or worn ceramic, porcelain or fiberglass bath or shower yourself. Lastly, bath fitters for bath and shower combos are also highly popular. While I don't like that concept as much as updating the current tile, placing a whole new fit fiberglass section over your tub, shower, or combo is a quick and seamless way to get a new modern look.
Power washing - As I will discuss a little more in the home staging piece next, curb appeal is a HUGE part of selling your home! So power washing is a really quick, cheap and easy way to upgrade and stage your home for sale. Many people don't notice that their sidewalk, driveway, home siding, and roof have become discolored and stained over the years. It's not until you actually power wash that you realize how bad it was before. This one little clean up can make a huge difference in giving your home a manicured look, as seen below.
I hope these ideas and tips have given you some things to think about and plan for in order to sell your home for the highest value in the quickest time! If you would like me to come out there and give you personlized recommendations, please feel free to reach out. And if you have some of your own proven ideas or suggestions, I would love to hear about them! Happy selling!
Resources: Exterior house colors - Better Home & Garden https://www.bhg.com/home-improvement/exteriors/curb-appeal/best-exterior-house-color-schemes/
According to a recent NAR report, 95% of REALTORS recommend that sellers declutter their home before putting it on the market. So if you are trying to take advantage of the best time of year to sell or rent your home, preparing for visitors or just trying to achieved a lighter, stress free household, listen up!
In order to help clients, family, friends, and even myself organize and declutter, I follow a practical and methodical 4 step process that I want to share with you.
1. Declutter and organize by category, not by room.
More than likely you have similar things in different rooms. If you have small closets, you may have clothes or shoes in multiple places. The same goes for pots and pans, tupperware, bedding etc. So when you start with each group, search the entire house for those items in order to evaluate and make decisions based.
2. Ask yourself the following 3 questions when evaluating your belongings:
Does it serve a function?
Does it make me happy to own; give me enjoyment? Or does it make me stressed, annoyed, sad, angry?
Do I have a similar item and do I need both/multiple? (Think less is more!)
The easiest items to evaluate with these questions are clothes and furniture. I recently, finally, donated a shirt that I have had in my closet for 2 years and only wore once. I loved the way it looked on the rack. I loved the colors and pattern. The material was soft and light. But each time I took it out and put it on, it didn't seem to quite fit my body correctly and the colors washed me out, so I would put it back in my closet. Finally one day I said, "why do I even have this?!" Yes, I had spent money on this shirt, however that money is gone, I don't receive it back each time I wear the shirt. Now the shirt is no longer in my closet and I no longer give any thought to the fact that I wasted money or that it doesn't look right.
Sometimes the situation calls for multiple questions to be asked. Take a broken table for example: it no longer serves it's original function. If you are handy and fix things often, then physically schedule a day on the calendar to fix it. If you plan on getting to it some day, but for now it is one of many on a list of planned projects that you look at every weekend and think "jeez I'm just so busy, I never have time for my projects", get rid of it. It brings you more stress now than it does joy. So what is the point of keeping it?
I realize you might say, "what about mementos and keepsakes?" Keepsakes do serve a function, they do make you happy, but you can't let yourself get bogged down by them. Don't keep every greeting card you receive or every picture from the age of film camera rolls. Sort, make scrap books, decide on one category of item to save from trips or special events (ticket stubs for example), but be particular and mindful about your choices. In 10 years, will it still be important to you?
3. Have patience.
It can take months to fully declutter your life and change your way of thinking about your belongings, it will NOT happen over night. Yes you can clean out multiple rooms in a day, but in order to be successful in keeping yourself organized and decluttered, you have to be open and willing to practice these new tactics and change your way of thinking.
4. Ask for help!
If you are not sure that you can truly go through your belongings and evaluate them subjectively, you are not alone. If you don't know where to start, you are not alone. Don't be afraid to ask for help from friends, family and especially professionals. I would be happy to help your start, get back on track, or complete your decluttering process. I am just an email or phone call away!
Bonus tip: Storage solutions can be your friend or your foe! They can truly help you organize yourself, or they can just be a device to hide the clutter (think junk drawer.) Be mindful of how you are utilizing them.
So after talking about mental health in our lives and the importance of having your own personal space, I thought it was also important to talk about our pets and how we can help them have a positive mental life. I know it sounds kind of super hippy and new age of me but give me a chance to explain.
Your pets' mental health is often a reflection of your own, and vice versa. It is well known that cats purring has healing powers (the frequency of their vocalization can improve bone density and promote overall healing1). Dogs on the other hand are incredibly smart and capable of being trained to give all sorts of assistance to the disabled, as well as give comfort in time of sorrow or sickness, reduce anxiety, depression, and blood pressure2. Multiple recent studies show that horses are able to sense a person's emotions, moods, and trust3 . So it's not a far leap to say that making sure your fur baby is comfortable and at peace in your home is important for the overall well-being of the family.
In the Home
Just like a humans, having a little special place for our animals is good for their mental health. We have a rescue scaredy cat so it is imperative that we have a safe space for her to hide when friends with dogs come over or we have a get together. I have always created this out of that first room I put them in when we move because it is the first sight and smell they connect with during the moving process in the new home and therefore stays ingrained as "their" room. The space has their water, food, cat tree, and their carry bags. Most days I often find them lounging in there, as seen below, left, my little Maggie sitting on her perch in the sun. For my mom, this space the mudroom where the dog beds and crates are. Also below is her pup Benji, happily sitting in his crate playing with toys and newspaper. Often, we find him napping there and taking a rest from playing.
The other thing that makes animals feel safe and secure is a routine. Just the same as it is important for small children. It is widely believed that animals can't tell time and don’t know how long you have been gone. But my cats, and friend's and family's pets, know patterns. They know when it feel like time for dinner, bed, treats, a walk, etc. For example my cats know that on the weekends or a holiday, basically anytime my boyfriend and I are both home sleeping late, that they will get a little bit of milk when we get up and make coffee. So on the weekends they anxiously wait for us to get up sometimes if we sleeping very late they start jumping on us and running to the kitchen. On normal weekdays, they abide by our routine of getting up and out to work and don't really beg for any milk. Similarly when we clip their nails or give them medicine, it is always followed by a treat. So while they don’t enjoy the activity, they often sit still knowing they will get a reward afterwards. And should we hesitate on the reward, oooh they let us know! My sister told me the other day that her older cat comes downstairs and starts meowing at them if they don't come up to bed by a certain time. So it's obvious that while they may not know the time, they definitely know something! Patterns and routine things train or condition them to understand cause and effect, action and reward, but it also gives them a sense of security of the known - Knowing they'll always get dinner around the time the sun goes down, or time you come home from work, etc.. Whatever the pattern, a routine increases their feeling of security and stability.
During transition Our pets are always intrigued with what we are doing. When you start piling your clothes on the bed to spring clean do your animals come to see what you're doing? When you are packing dont them come in and check out what's going on? Often sitting in or on your belongings and luggage? I would say this is 1) they just want to be in the same room as you, 2) they don't want you to leave, 2) as we discussed above, they can tell if something is going on with you mentally. So when you are moving or transitioning, seeing familiar items put into boxes and leave the house doubles intrigue with concern. And if you have a rescue pet that is prone to abandonment or separation anxiety, this can be very scary for him or her..
What I have learned from moving 5 times with my cats and helping friends with animals move is that you have to make the process as easy and carefree for them as possible. You have to conisder ift from their point of view - they can't ask where the boxes are going, why and more importantly if they are invited too. When you leave on vacation, they often don't get to come, so how should they know this is any different? They can only watch and hope.
The last time we moved was our most successfully planned and executed, because we had a new rescue kitten who does have some anxiety. Here are the things we leared and the tips we received from friends and family. (Note, these tips work if you are moving close by and completing the move in a day or two.)
Pack the small things you don’t use often first just as you would any move. These items are not important to you or the animals and may seem like a spring cleaning activity to them.
Find a room in the house that the animals are most comfortable with and that can be moved last. If it's not "their space" move some of their favorite items in and set it up for the animals a few days prior to your move so they get used to it - Ours had a litter box, cat tree, toys, a futon and a blanket they both like to cuddle on. We even gave them food in there the day before our move to get them adjusted.
Be sure to keep a few of their things out of this room. Ideally if you have a two day move, you can spend the night in the old house and a new room with toys and food set up at the new place for arrival.
On moving day, try to stay as close to your animals' normal routine - food, walks etc. Some friends give their animals help relaxing in the form or homeopathic "Rescue Remedy" or vet prescribed assistance.
Close them into "their" room.
Get everything loaded for the move.
If possible, go to the new home and unload items. Then go back to retrieve the furbabies and the last few things.
If that is not possible, load them last. Make sure they have a comfortable hiding spot in the smoothest riding vehicle. Provide them with their toys, water, favorite blanket/bed/crate, etc. I will never forget my cat hiding inside his litter box for the entire 7 hour drive to move from Connecticut to Maryland. To him, that was safe. My rescue cat hid inside the hole of the cat tree on our short move across two towns (see below).
Take them to the new place and set up their new room for them with the few things you brought. Maybe put a couch or blankets that they like in the new room with their food, water, and toys. Close them into this new room to learn the new smells while you set up the rest of the house. If possible have someone hang out with them – a child, friend, spouse – whom they know to reassure them and give them comfort during this confusing time.
When things are calmer and the majority of unpacking is done, the house has all the things they recognize unloaded, let them out to explore the new spaces.
If you have the ability to spread the move out, and/or are buying new furnishings this process is a little bit easier. As you can leave more at the old home for familiarity and can introduce the animals to the new home once everything is on its place. Instead of having them locked in one room. But the essential steps are the same.
Do you have any tips or tricks you have used when moving your pets? Do you follow a daily or weekly pattern for your animals? What kind of things do you do? Do you have a special place your animals are drawn to? A place they like best, where they can hide when the thunder rolls or many people come over? I would love to know your comments, thoughts, and ideas! And pictures are welcome on social media! I'll leave you with one of my favorite pictures, four of my mom's dogs, all lounging on the bed like it's theirs... well, it is.
As I said in my previous post, I grew up on a small farm in Connecticut. There was always things to do outside, riding the horses, cleaning the stalls, playing in the makeshift tree house, swimming, jumping on the trampoline, playing (and shoveling) snow, ice skating, sledding, raking leaves, and playing basketball on the concrete slab where we simultaneously hung my hoop and a clothesline. I think my favorite outdoor activity was probably mowing the lawn. I would pretend I was an open road race car driver winding around the intricate garden plots Mom had planted in a sort of open square with each side on its own and a bird bath in the middle. And just like a driver, I had to watch my course because mowing over the tiger lilies, tulips, hydrangeas, bleeding hearts, or echinacea flowers was just as dangerous as a crash.
That all being said, it is no surprise that an outdoor space in my home is a must. And the cute little screened in patio attached to my ranch house, has given my a small little retreat space I also wanted when we lived in a town house. Now my perfect outdoor space is the Hanging Garden of Babylon! Ideally there would be a Weeping Willow and a lake (like the Constitutional Gardens in Washington D.C. below) or a Weeping Cherry Tree, but that is a little extravagant for my budget and ability.
I would even settle for this pagoda with hanging wisteria I saw in the National Arbortetum last year. Purple is my favorite color…
But as a renter, it is hard to achieve that look without spending a ton of money that is really an investment in someone else’s home. So taking the key concepts for making a personal space indoors, I created a cool little boho vibe in my patio for under $500 and never really set out to.
So to continue on my theme of using home spaces to boost your mental health I wanted to share some ideas on outdoor spaces. Here are my must haves to transform your outdoor space into your very own retreat.
Not just patio furniture, but furnishings – Furnish your outdoor just as you would your home. Pick pieces that capture you and speak to your room’s purpose. Do you want to entertain or relax? I like a bit of both. So I have a table and chairs for outdoor meals and friends to gather around as well as a chaise lounge for myself to sit in the sun, read, listen to music or lounge (that is what is it for, right?). You don’t have to pay an arm and a leg for decent pieces. At Home, Target, Wayfarer, or even Big Lots all have good looking items for packaged deal prices. If you want to splurge and get some really sleek looking pieces then go for Pier 1 or Pottery Barn.
Comfort every time – My mission in life is to bring you functionality and peace of mind, therefore if you need to decide between style and comfort, choose comfort. (Ideally you can have both). My chaise lounge is green wicker. Its not fancy, its functional. My mom gifted it to me and it blends into the background of trees and plants. But it was the item that first set the tone and direction for my patio.
Just add pillows – If you love the Moroccan vibe, then you know what I am saying! Just like indoor throw pillows, by adding beautiful statement pillows, you change the enter feeling of a space. And don’t be afraid to experiment and mix prints and patterns. A combination of patterns work well together when they are paired with a neutral background. Just make sure there is a single color that is creating continuity in the space. When I added my medallion pillow (above) and red lounge pillows from Lowes garden center to my chaise lounge, it right away gave my boring patio a softer feel and me a direction for decorating the rest. Red is my central color and green is my secondary (most because of the greenery throughout and outside the patio emphasizing the few green items within).
Make a statement–Among the cement floor and solid sling back chairs, that pillow became my statement piece. I followed the colors patterns to choose a bright green metal drum style table, and decided I wanted hanging plants instead of flowers. I saw a cute solar latern that I thought had a similar mosaic feeling at Plow & Hearth to put on the table. Then all of a sudden the personality of my patio started to come together. So what is your statement piece, do you have one? Next time you go to a store, why not buy that little thing you thought would be so perfect for the space.
Bring your personality – Just because it is outdoors doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a little piece of your in your patio, garden, porch area. What do you enjoy? What brings you joy? Similar to the indoor personal space, you want to feel at home, whether relaxed, energized, confident, or reminiscent. If you like hosting, have a little bar area. I crave that relaxation sanctuary feel, maybe something to do with reaching back to my childhood and feeling peaceful in the outdoors. I wanted to incorporate my travels and the sounds that bring me relaxation and peace of mind. So I put up Tibetan prayers flags on one side, which reminds me of being on the cement rooftop patios in India, and windchimes. It has now honestly become an obsession. I started with one. Then I bought a beautiful handmade beach glass one in Jekyll Island, Georgia. And so it began... and now I have 5 windchimes in my patio, each one gives off a different sound. Once is glass, two are seashells (but different types), one aluminum, and one steel. I have yet to find the perfect bamboo one. So whatever brings in that vibe you are looking for, go for it!
Lighten up – Light and ambiance can change everything. Think of a dim light bedroom, a bright and airy sitting room, a fluorescent office. They all have their own light and feel. So jazz up your outdoor space with lighting. A friend of mine has Edison bulbs all along his fence in his pool area, it has a rustic without being too fancy. Since I was going for the hanging gardens feel, I bought solar light strings on Amazon, put them in mason jars I had and bought at the thrift store, and then hung them along the columns of the patio. There are 8 total solar lights, so now as the sun sets, each jar starts to sparkle and the mosaic glass on the table shines brightly. Its not enough to light up the entire patio, but it definitely adds a great ambiance that I have received many compliments on.
Tie it all together – Area rugs are used to tie a room and it's furnishings together, adding physical and emotional warmth. So the same can be said of utilizing an outdoor rug. I'll admit that I thought the idea of an outdoor rug was silly when my boyfriend first suggested it. However after researching the options, ranging from cotton to wicker, I settled on a light weight plastic material that could easily be shaken out and hosed off and complimented my medallion pillow and bohemian style. When I put it down the room transformed into a… room. It no longer felt like an outdoor space, but like an extension of the house. And my cats loved the ability to have a soft place to crouch and experience the sights and sounds of nature. Therefore I highly recommend adding this last item to your space.
Putting it all together, above is my beloved patio retreat.
Martyn Lawrence, interior designer to the stars says, “don’t be afraid to be eclectic.” So have fun with your space, make it your own, be bold, and make a statement. Most of all get outside and enjoy the outdoors! I'll leave you with a picture of my cat, Mau, enjoying the full glory of our patio in hopes that you too may create such a haven for yourself in your patio, porch or backyard.
If you are looking for high quality items, there are a number of stores where you can purchase beautiful furniture, fixtures and accessories local to your area and nationally. However I am not going to talk about those, because that isn't my thing. If you are a little more cost conscious, like myself, then you are familiar with Overstock and Wayfair (some of the most popular online stores) as well as the popular physical store Pier 1. Then for organizers, The Container Store and Amazon can be our holy grail. But if you are on a budget and just looking to spruce up your space with a few decor or organizing items, those places can really add up. So I have put together a few of my favorite bargain recommendations for you, that go beyond your local Target!
Home Goods – part of the same conglomerate as TJ Maxx and Marshalls, but as the name implies Home Goods is household oriented. This is probably a well know one, but I thought I would start us off simple. They are great for cheap kitchen and bathroom items, canvas artwork to fill odd spaces or blank walls, and ohh the selection of canvas totes and boxes for organizing! But beware, finding things there is hit and miss; they never have the same things twice and items are spread out across the store. So, if you see something you like, you better snag it because you will probably never see one again.
At Home – This store is new in my area. Maybe you know of it, but I absolutely love it! The first time I walked in, I just strolled up and down the aisles in awe. The throw pillows were organized by size and color. It was like a dream. Here is the awe struck picture I snapped, its ridiculous I know, but everything is arranged very easily to understand with tons of options. So as opposed to seeing only one kitchen pot rack, there are 6 kinds. Bathroom accessories, two aisles. Storage totes and boxes, 4 aisles. Not just one centerpiece vase, but you have your choice of silver, yellow gold, nickel, rose gold, brushed metals, ceramics and glasses of different colors… I think you get where I am going.
Big Lots - This is an interesting store. To be honest the quality is not very good. It's a step up from the Family Dollar or similar, but if you are looking for something really simple like a cheap shower curtain, those plastic stackable storage drawers for the kids bathroom, basic outdoor furniture, or even a cute little gnome to put in your garden, they have all of that. Just don't expect it to last more than a few years or make it through a few moves.
Charming Charlies - This is a jewelry and accessory chain store. So you are probably wondering why I suggest it. Well, they have darling little jewelry bowls, stands, and plates. If you are shopping for a statement piece to stage a home for sale, you may be able to grab something cute for cheap. Also perfect for pre-teen and teen gifts. I bought this little ceramic white and gold decorate plate that is perfect for a bathroom or a master bedroom, for $8.00.
Thrift stores! - This is really more for decorating than organizing. I am addicted to this one by my house, Wagging Tails. It’s similar to an antique mall in that it is HUGE and there are tons of things spread across the warehouse. But, it is all donations AND the proceeds go to MCHS, our local county humane society. Bargains and helping animals, what more do you need?! I have found great gems there including these amazing red glass votives, a mercury glass bottle, unused candles (flame and flameless), and surround sound speakers (ok that last one is irrelevant to home decor, but I wanted to make a point that the options are endless). I think it helps that I live in an affluent and diverse area as well. If you have a wealthier neighborhood/county near you, I would definitely suggest scoping out the thrift stores in that area as you will find better quality items. If you don’t have anything like that, Goodwill and Salvation Army are worth a peak as well. I personally haven't had good luck at yard sales or estate sales because often those items are out of fashion or very used, but if you have had some good finds or again a wealthier neighborhood, go for it!
Your own closet! Ok you came here looking for suggestions of places to buy new to you things, but I just started really thinking about repurposing and re-using items in a different way lately, so wander around your house and take a look. Is there something that you aren't using that may be better somewhere else. Because not buying anything is the best bargain of all!
I hope this has been a little helpful, that I at least gave you an idea or two you didn't already have. Let me know in the comments if you have other suggestions for your area, local to me or on a national level that myself or others should check out. Happy bargain hunting!
April is a glorious month. A month of rain showers, slowing rising temperatures, blooming flowers, earlier sunrises, runs and walks outside, and overall just happier days. So on that note, I have decided that April will be my month of favorite things! But don’t worry, I won’t just share videos of ninja cats or babies giggling (because who doesn’t love a good baby giggle?)
Since I was just talking about all the great ways you can start organizing your life, I have come up with a list of my favorite organizing accessories to help you get started; all of which drumroll… are all in my house! I have split up the items by use.
Under cabinet organizer - These are crucial if you have small cabinets or spaces in order to use all of the vertical space efficiently. The ones below I bought on Amazon and have moveable drawers so that I can pull one out without taking the whole thing. I have one in my kitchen for cleaning supplies and one in my bathroom for hair, nails, and makeup.
Wicker or canvas totes – I have two cats, they LOVE wicker, therefore wicker baskets and bags are not allowed in my household. So instead we have canvas and faux leather totes and boxes. I have one for extra blankets and pillows in the living room and bedroom. One for office supplies on a shelf under my desk. They are so versatile and almost every home, office or department store carries them these days.
Under the bed boot organizer - I knew shoe organizers existed, but not for boots. When I found this, it was a game changer because I only have 4 pairs, but they take up way too much space in my small closet. To protect the integrity of the boot, I still put the plastic inserts in there, don’t worry.
Storage cubes - These are great for so many things and if you like the minimalist, modern style, then they are perfect for you! Most people I know use them for their kids, its the same cubbyhole system we are used to from childhood. I have a client that uses them for all her son's toys, my best friend created an entire entertainment system for their playroom, some people use them for shoes. I personally use it to organize all my workout clothes. I appreciate that I have a little canva box for my sports bras, socks, gloves and hats, and then open spaces for tshirts, tanks, leggings, hoodies, etc. When everything is at a glance, as Marie Kondo likes, I can find exactly what I am looking for, whether I am going to the gym, going for a run in the park or just lounging around.
Spinning spice rack - There are so many different kinds and they are sold everywhere. This is great because you don't have to rummage around looking for spices. You can see all of your favorite ones and it uses more vertical space on your shelf! Mine is actually on the kitchen counter along with our other essentials for daily use.
Knife magnet strip - Never again will you put your hand in a drawer and cut it on a sharp knife (which by the way I hope you sharpen your knives, but I digress). When we first moved into our current home, we had just been given a really good commercial grade chef's knife and sharpener from a dearly departed chef friend. Low and behold, they didn't fit in the drawer of the late 1950s kitchen. So we bought this strip above and it has saved our butts in many ways! And it also looks pretty professional, so even if you don't cook much, you can look like you do!
Wire Rack - As I have mentioned a million times, small old house = little to no closets and cabinets. So we of course don't have a pantry and being the home of a runner and a carb-a-holic, who both also like to cook and bake a lot we found that the space didn't offer enough options. So, we found the ClosetMaid Ventilated Storage Rack at Home Depot. I think its for the garage, or utility closet, but we don't care! It perfectly fits all our different food items from canned to oatmeal to my protein powder and bars and even my cookie butter (a girl has her weaknesses).
Flour container - If you are a baker or home chef, this is essential. I don't know how I was baking for this many years without it! Its ingenious, 1) You can see how much flour you have, 2) It has a secure top (although it may not last if you drop it from the top cabinet), 3) It doesn't hold static like my previous metal jar, 4) IT HAS A LEVEL FOR YOU SCOOP OR SPOON. I am not sure if that is as exciting for you as it was for me upon picking it up in the aisle of At Home. Wow.
Clear glass jar - This is a Martha Stewart brand one my friend gave me because she didn't want it. Its large and it weighs A TON. So now I get why she didn't want it. They can be used for anything, I used to have flour in it however it was really hard for me to take in and out of the cabinet because of the weight, so I got the amazing one above. I honestly didn't have this on my list originally, but it just popped into my head as I was writing because of something my boyfriend said last night. I asked if he wanted to use a different container to hold the Nespresso coffee pods, a bronze metal one that is light weight and smaller and kind of reminds me of coffee. And he said that he liked this one because he can see which pods are in there and Nespresso makes their pods so decorative and colorful, it looks pretty. So there ya go. I just thought, maybe you want to get a big heavy glass jar but you aren't sure what it could be use for. The answer is, whatever you want!
I am pretty sure I can go on about my faux leather pen holder that I originally bought to hold the tv controllers or any other little storage essentials I have around, but I will leave you with this list. I hope you found a few new things that can help you stay organized and clutter free! Let me know what you think and if you have any of your own recommendations!
Happy Spring! Along with March’s warm up, April’s showers, and May’s blooming flowers, comes “spring cleaning”. A favorite American past time, well for me at least! For those who have put off de-cluttering and organizing all year, this is usually the time they start. Soon we will see yard and garage sale signs popping up everywhere. So, in anticipation of that, I have put together a list of 9 simple organizing and tidying tips. These are not just once in a moment tips, these are small changes you can make now that can help you to reduce the clutter, stay organized and minimize your housework on an ongoing basis!
1) Make your bed every morning. And teach your kids to as well. Ever since I can remember, my mom had us make our bed as soon as we got up in the morning, (she even taught us to do “hospital corners”, but I have to admit, mine are not that great). Now as an adult I can't leave the room with out it being done. This small act sets the tone for your day as organized and efficient and will be ingrained in your children’s routine as well. Then when you retire to your bedroom at the end of the day, you will be welcomed by the sight; helping you to feel relaxed and calm.
2) Take a few minutes each day to straighten up. This can be extended to your nightstand, couch pillows, coffee table and kitchen table after using them. This may sound seems silly, but think about how much of your cleaning housework is actually tidying up first. And if you teach your kids to mind a few of their personal spaces in the same way they must clean up their toys, they and you will feel less overwhelmed at the number “chores” to do.
3) Have a clear, defined, uncluttered entry space. If you have a mudroom or foyer and kids, set up a backpack and shoe station. At the very least you want a small entry table with a bowl/plate/basket for keys, purses and wallets. Maybe even a separate container or drawer for mail. If you don’t have a coat closet, you may want to put hooks on the wall, but try not to overwhelm the space. Just as your bed sets the tone for your day, this sets the tone for your return home and guests’ arrival. A space cluttered with everything and anything dropped at the door will invoke disarray and stress (and probably raise your blood pressure as your walk in the door), while a clean space will give you a sense of welcoming calm. Think of the welcome desk as your favorite hotel - a nice flower, bowl of candy maybe, not much else.
4) Break down cleaning into manageable tasks. Similarly to straightening up, the goal here is to reduce your stress. Maybe you clean the bathroom one day, then the kitchen another. Or even smaller; tackle the toilets one day, the shower/bathtub another. If you have a one story, cleaning like items is very efficient too. I often vacuum one day because I don’t want to have to start and stop in each room while I am doing other things. What ever way you decide is best for you, by breaking up your cleaning tasks, cleaning will seem less overwhelming. Therefore you will be more likely to complete them instead of waiting to schedule a whole house deep clean day.
5) Plan out your meals. Many of my friends with children plan out their weekly meals so that they can buy the ingredients on the weekend or when the kids are at school in order to avoid the terrible after school question, "Mom/ Dad what's for dinner?!" My friends that follow paleo/keto/whole30 or other eating routines plan out their meals to make sure they always have the right ingredients and are not tempted by ordering out or grabbing pre made meals. But what about the rest of us that don’t have to plan? Well I plan too. Because even if I'm only making dinner for one or two, life is so much easier when the ingredients for pot roast are all in your fridge and that's on the schedule for Monday night. I don't have to think. I just chop and throw it all in the pot. Sure if Tuesday comes and we want to go out for Thai instead of having what’s on the schedule, we can. But it’s our choice. And when we are tired from work, the last thing we want to do is open the fridge and be creative. Bottom line, meal planning is for everyone!
6) Organize your pantry, cabinets and refrigeratorby like item in easy to distinguish containers and on different sehlves or drawers. Marie Kondo says that “You should be able to tell at a glance where everything is” This avoids over or under buying of items. My freezer has protein (meat and fish) on one shelf, veggies and fruit on another, and misc (frozen bagels and ice cream on another). My pantry has different shelves for rice and pasta, canned food, oatmeal and pancake flour, and protein powder and bars for my workouts. That way at any given time I know what I do or don’t have and I am not over stocking on chicken or marinara sauce. The same goes for your cleaning supplies, hair supplies, makeup, etc. When it's time to clean you don’t want to find out you have 4 bottles of Tilex but not windex.
7) Keep a notepad in your most frequented /convenient space. For me, there’s a magnet notepad on my refrigerator. Every time I think of a grocery item, cleaning supply or other reminder, I write it down on that paper. If there’s a recipe I want to try, i check the ingredients and my pantry and write down what I don’t have. Then when it comes time to do our errands I have my whole list ready to go and with my organized shelves, I can take a quick look to see if there’s anything else I am low on. This avoid scrambling to remember what I want while standing in the middle of the produce section, or worse getting home having forgot the potatoes for shepherds pie.
8) Get e-statements for as many documents as you can. These days 80% of filed papers are never looked at again, so why bother getting them and filing them? If you don’t file them, then there really is no point to wasting the paper and mailing. By receiving statements online, they are in your inbox waiting and available to review, print out, etc. and you can always request pdf. or hard copy if you need to.
Last but not least – 9) Address things as they come – This is my summary statement. In order to prevent stress and the sense of overwhelming tasks, don’t let them pile up. Whether it’s the laundry, cleaning, groceries, shredding mail, home repairs, sewing the button back onto that shirt, for one client it was just breaking down delivery boxes , if you take half an hour to do it now, you will feel better than the constant feeling that its hanging over your head until its 5 hours worth of work.
I hope these tips are helpful and that you can apply them to your life. Next blog will review some of my favorite items that can help you get and stay organized! But if you feel like you don’t know where to start and it is all too overwhelming, that's OK. Give me a call or email and I would be happy to help you start or finish down the road to a more organized, relaxed, and healthy home.
“Getting Organized” is consistently ranked one of the top five New Year's resolutions made every year. And with the craze for Marie Kondo's Tidying Up tearing across the nation, everyone wants to take part! People usually start off strong, emptying their closets of unworn items and pantries of expired goods, but then, as with other resolutions, by this time of year they lose steam.
Then when the weather starts getting nice "Spring Cleaning". In another few weeks, you won't be able to drive around a neighborhood without seeing a yard sale, tag sale, garage sale, sign every weekend.
But why wait? Why make resolutions at all? Why not make getting and STAYING organized part of your life? I can help you start on that road today! If you're not sure you really want or need to embark on that journey, here is my countdown of the Top 6 Reasons to Get and Stay Organized. I would love to know what you think!
6. If one in four Americans have a clutter problem, then that would suggest that atleast every one family does. According to Statista.com the average American household in 2018 was 2.53 people. So is it you or your sister or brother or parents or neighbor who needs some decluttering and organizing? It's nothing to be ashamed of, some people just need to learn a few quick tricks, others just don't have the gene.
5. Wow, 80% of papers we print out, receive in the mail or by fax are never even looked at again. So why bother getting them at all? Why not receive via e-statement? Or at the very least, cut down on your files by reviewing then recycling or shred to keep your private info safe.
4. Almost 10% of Americans own a storage unit. Ok that doesn't sound like too many, but there are upwards of 40K units in the US! But when you think about it, storage units are usually barely frequented, not exactly used like a basement freezer. When I had a unit, it sat for an entire year before I visited it once. If you have a unit, how often do you visit it and sort through your items? Does the volume grow or diminish? Does it look like something out of storage wars? Are there papers you filed away in there?
3. This one ails almost everyone I know. Garage are a coveted item on most home buyers' list of wants, however are they really just storage units these days? Do you have a garage that is used for everything except your automobile? Thing about all the money you would save if you are didn't have the rain, snow or sun beating down on it year round. More than the savings on that bulk Costco paper towel pack I bet.
2. Having worked in many small businesses on the administration side, I can attest to the fact that this is true. Small business owners, CEOs, even administrative staff, often have an overwhelming about of information that they are taking it and turning over to put our their products. Decluttering and organizing is a must for productivity and efficiency in the workplace. And it is not different at home. Are you one of those people that can never find their keys? Or spend 30 minutes looking for a shoe or purse you could swear was in its "normal place" but was really under the bed?
1. Even if you don't have a clutter problem, the Huffington Post research found that 84% of Americans think that their houses should be more organized and/or clean. Busy families have enough to do with grocery shopping, laundry, cleaning, school pickups, etc., why add organizing to your long list of daily activities?
So, if you are motivated to start working towards a more organized, less stressed, you today, please contact me! Together we can start gaining back that year, and start reducing the time you spend on housework. And don't forget to follow me here and on social media for more ideas, tips, and insights. Next week I will share some of my best organizing tips.