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Thinking of Moving?  Think Organizing First.

Thinking of Moving? Think Organizing First.

Moving is the ideal time to call a Professional Organizer, but do not wait until the week before the move (seriously, please don’t!). The best time to contact an Organizer is at least six months ahead of the move.

Engaging a Professional Organizer in the process of moving has multiple benefits.

  • Faster sale – An organized home sells faster. Clutter in a home speaks of the lack of storage and makes the home look smaller. Conversely, a well-appointed house conveys the idea of larger spaces and good storage. Potential buyers will always open cabinets, closets, and drawers that come with the home. Hiding the clutter instead of managing is not an alternative!
  • Less expense – Why pay to pack and move things that will end up discarded anyway? Simplify the process and save money by discarding or donating what you no longer need or want, particularly downsizing.
  • Logical packing – It is easier to see what you own and to make decisions about your possessions when things have a single, logical place. Then it is easier to pack room by room.
  • Easy unpacking – Packing room by room makes it easier to unpack on the other side. With straightforward unpacking, the home is set up faster, in an organized, logical way. 

In her book Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, Karen Kingston writes:

“When you move, faced with the daunting task of packing everything to take it to a new location, it becomes easier to see what fits with your new life and what doesn’t, what’s worth taking with you and what isn’t. You look at each item from a very different standpoint. Some people drag everything from one home to the next without sorting through or discarding anything. Even if you’re not planning to move at the moment, you can make a tremendous shift in your relationship to your clutter by imagining that you are. Let go of everything you wouldn’t consider worth paying a company to pack and transport for you. Clutter cause people to have small lives. There’s no space for big ideas, inspired vision, or making a difference. People attached to their clutter become stuck in their own world”.

Moving is the best opportunity to get organized and start fresh. Your new space is a blank canvas. So, declutter your home for a faster sale and an easier move and make space for new possibilities in your life. Call a Professional Organizer to help you!

I Have (Absolutely) Nothing To Wear

I Have (Absolutely) Nothing To Wear

Is this what you proclaim when facing the closet each morning? “I have NOTHING to wear” (sigh!). We have heard it countless times – we wear 20% of our clothes 80% of the time. It is wardrobe fatigue (I totally made that up just now). But, yes, it does get boring.

I bet you did not know that it is entirely possible to look well put together every day without repeating an ensemble for at least a year.

I am not referring to the wardrobe capsule in this instance. The wardrobe capsule makes your closet more manageable and enjoyable by using better quality, fewer clothing pieces. 

But whether you have a few pieces in your closet or a closet packed to the brim, I bet you have never used your clothing collection to its fullest potential.

That is where Stylebook comes in. Stylebook is a game-changer app that helps you maximize the use of your clothes. And by the way, this app is super fun to use (addictive almost).

Stylebook is your closet in virtual format, at your fingertips. It starts with cataloging pictures of your clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories so that you can combine these into infinite outfit possibilities.

You can import pictures of clothing both from the web and your closet. The source does not matter- your clothing pieces will look like they belong in a magazine. The app shows you how to achieve this with minimal effort.

Once the wardrobe is loaded into the app, you can record all kinds of details about each piece for future reference (fabric composition, color, size, brand, how to launder it, and more).

Stylebook helps you prepare packing lists for trips, keeps statistics on the styles and colors most worn, and even lets you fill your app calendar with outfits for each day. This feature eliminates the chance of repeating outfits at the same gatherings. (Yes, I know!!)

Imagine approaching your closet with the certainty of what to wear every day, no matter the season, and knowing that whatever you choose will look amazing.

The Stylebook app removes the bore of wearing the same things over and over or the same way, eliminates the stress from the process of getting dressed, and ensures you always look stylish.

The Stylebook app comes loaded with fashion articles, clothing care tips, images to get you started populating your virtual closet, and even a clipper tool to capture and input items you would love to get from your favorite websites.

Once a wardrobe is cataloged, you can seriously get addicted to playing with the possibilities your closet holds. However, it takes some time to include all your clothes, shoes, and accessories in the app – it is the most time-consuming part. But every person who spends time, effort, and money organizing a closet deserves to get on board with this app. It is the cherry on the sundae!

Did I mention that the stylebook app works equally well for men and children? Check it out! If you need help get this going for you, reach out to me. I will be thrilled to help you with this project.

That Ladder In My Face

That Ladder In My Face

See the ladder in the picture? During the early morning hours, the CO2 alarm started chirping. My husband needed the ladder to fix the issue. It was almost noon, and the ladder was still there – out of the way, yes, but still there.

I was trying to work near that space, but that ladder made itself known, telling me it was out of place and in my face. I could not focus nor ignore that fact. It truly made me uncomfortable. This incident made me think a little about how clutter happens and why it creeps quickly in many homes.

That ladder is precisely the kind of thing that no one would pay attention to because it seems trivial or inconsequential. But ignoring the ladder for a couple of days would result in everyone getting used to it being there. After a few days, we no longer see the ladder. And weeks pass, months pass, and next year, the ladder is still there!

This phenomenon happens with the ladder, with every tool we own, packaging from store-bought items brought into the home, cleaning products, and even kitchen gadgets.

If we do not remain vigilant to these instances and miss the signs, clutter most likely will follow. We stop seeing things when we ignore them.
The question is, how likely are you to take notice, and how tolerant would you be of items out of place? At what point do you start feeling uncomfortable?

Some people might not even have proper space in their kitchens to cook and not be bothered. Feeling uncomfortable with the situation is a very personal threshold. But if we end up confused by the clutter or needing help to deal with the mess around us, that probably means that stuff has overpowered us. We missed the early signals.

The mere idea of putting the ladder against the wall for even a minute after using it bothers me. But, that is how I am sure clutter does not happen in our home – because my tolerance level is zero. My zero-tolerance ensures that I do not miss the early signs of chaos.

It is not necessary to be so drastic to be and remain organized, though. What is needed is to recalibrate the point where we start feeling uneasy, so we get the cue that it is time to act instead of ignoring the clutter. That is how we avoid mess from taking over our lives.

While it might seem normal to use a tool and leave it anywhere “for the moment” to “put it away later,” this puts us at greater risk of creeping clutter. How likely are we to place the item in its place at a later time? Not very.

7 Steps To Ease Your Pill Pain

7 Steps To Ease Your Pill Pain

Whether you are a caregiver to an elderly person, a parent of a child with health issues, an individual that takes multiple vitamins and supplements to stay healthy, or a mother managing a household full of individuals with diverse conditions, you might find that administering pills can become almost a full-time job. You can consider the job successful if half the time the pills are not forgotten.

Here’s what I’ve done to simplify this process and increase consistency in the taking of meds and supplements for everyone in the home.

What You Need

Pillboxes with spacious dividers, each for 7 days, with dividers for Morning, Noon, Afternoon, and Bedtime. Get as many pillboxes as people taking the meds you will manage.
Label maker or sharpie
2 Medium size plastic bins or totes with lids (or larger if there are lots of medicines and supplements to sort)

The Steps

  1. Place all prescribed and OTC meds and supplements that household members regularly take in the plastic bin or tote. The container size will be determined by the amount and size of the bottles of meds on hand. This step is only followed the first time because this bin will be the new forever home of all ingestible medicines in the home. Use a second plastic tote or bin for all OTC medicines that are NOT taken regularly (like cough syrup, pain killers, allergy medicine, etc.)
  2. With the label maker or sharpie, write each person’s name or initial, and med intake frequency on each bottle lid. For example, “M 1-am/2-pm” indicates that person “M” takes one of those pills in the morning and two in the evening. Repeat this process with all bottles so they are easy to identify by looking at them from the top inside the bin.
  3. With the label maker or sharpie, label each side of each pillbox with the name of the person taking the meds/supplements from that box. Assign a pillbox to each person taking any medicine and/or supplement on a regular basis.
  4. Line all pillboxes on your counter or table and open their lids
  5. Select all bottles pertaining to one person and place in their pillbox all medication and supplements that person takes, according to the timing and dosage needed. Alternatively, you might prefer to work with one product at a time. In this case, distribute that medication into the pillboxes of everyone that takes that product.
  6. Repeat the process for each individual (if working by person) or for each med bottle (if working by product).
  7. Close pill box lids when all medication is complete on each box.

Where and Why

Ingestible medicines and supplements are best kept in the kitchen, not in the bathroom. The humidity of the bathroom affects their power. It also makes sense to keep medication and supplements in the kitchen because we ingest these usually with water or another beverage. The optimal place for pillboxes and the bin with all product bottles is a section in the pantry or a cabinet in the kitchen.

On the other hand, things we apply to our skin, hair, teeth, or nails go in the bathroom. Included in this group are things like rubbing alcohol, H2O2, antibiotic creams, muscle pain patches, cotton, gauze, bandages, and the like.

When ingestible medicines and supplements in the home are kept together in a single place, it is easier to find what we need at any given moment (for example, OTC medicines), and it is easy to know what product needs to be re-ordered and when (avoiding lack of medicine needed or avoiding several opened bottles of the same product).

It is simpler to access a person’s pillbox to get all the medicines and supplements needed at once than to open multiple bottles to sort and divide them each time, sometimes having multiple bottles of the same product open at once.

When pills and medicines are already sorted and divided by date, time of day, and person, consistency and accountability in taking necessary meds and supplements increases. It will be easy to assess who forgot their pills and when.

Pro-Tip: Consolidate medicine when it arrives at your home. Usually, medication bottles come half empty. There is no reason to have several half-empty bottles of the same product. This includes medication already in use. Oftentimes we have several open bottles of the same product. This takes a lot of space but also leads to expired medication around the home.

Make It Happen

  • Devote 30 minutes to this task on a weekly basis
  • Place this activity on the calendar as a recurrent, weekly activity
  • Make it a commitment
Got Dog?

Got Dog?

Got dogs?

I’m going to say a couple of things about having dogs. I might ruffle some feathers, but I am not apologizing for that – not this time.

I adore dogs. They deserve all our love, compassion, and more! And humans owe them big. Dogs, as we know them, did not exist in nature. We created them by domesticating their wild ancestors. We created this type of creature that depends on us. It would be absurd to turn our backs on them by neglecting their complex needs.

I have worked with wonderful clients that have all kinds of animals. My clients take good care of them, for the most part. But I want to talk about dogs in particular. Dogs are intelligent, sentient, social beings, and many times “just the basics” won’t do.

Why do you have dogs? If the answer is purely utilitarian, please look for a loving, deserving family for them. Dogs love and need love. They are much better than us at seeing through our intentions and feelings. Dogs know when they are not loved. That can break a dog’s heart and spirit. So, if you have dogs but do not love them – truly love them, do yourself and the dogs a favor and rehome them asap.

Now, continue reading if you have dogs because you truly love and respect them. I have some pointers on behalf of my canine friends that might not be the usual things we think about, but this is not a manual on “how to own a dog.”

First things first

Microchip your dog(s) and keep the national registry updated with moves or any pertinent changes. There is no point in using the technology if you will drop the ball.

Create a name tag with your phone number (not the vet’s) and address for the dog’s collar. In case the dog gets lost, it is easier to reunite him/her with the owners if he/she have a tag on the collar that has the home number because the vet’s office is not open 24/7. It is important to have that tag because not everyone will be willing or able to take the dog to a place where the microchip can be scanned. And, as I learned the hard way once (happy ending, though!), not all places have scanners that can read all kinds of microchips.

Be a responsible owner and spay or neuter the dog. Unless you are in the breeding industry (which by now should be banned altogether, given the overpopulation of wonderful dogs in shelters that can’t find a loving home to no fault of their own), your dogs should be sterilized to avoid problems and heartaches when you have to deal with a litter of puppies. Chances are puppies will end up in houses where they are less than cherished, especially if the owners of these puppies did not have to pay a hefty price for them.

Kenneling

If you decide to leave your dog(s) kenneled when you are not home, please ensure that the kennel has adequate ventilation and that the dog has access to clean fresh water. There are water bottles for kennels that work with gravity and water demand as the dog drinks. They eliminate the mess.

Keep in mind that the dog will do his/her best to avoid soiling the kennel, but do not push their limits or abuse their good nature and respect for you. You don’t want their bladder to explode or the dog to be in pain. Keep in mind that you have a dog at home that has been kenneled all day.

Either go home asap and allow them to go potty or make arrangements with a neighbor or paid service to walk the dog at some time during your absence.

Ensure the kennel has a soft surface for the dog to rest on. Get a kennel cushion or place a couple of plush towels inside the kennel.

Find a good location for the kennel. Avoid direct sunlight or dangerous spaces with access to electrical cables, for example. When the kennel is in a space with a fan and/or windows, leave the fan on and leave windows open for the dog to enjoy natural light. It is best not to cover the kennel with towels or blankets. The dog enjoys seeing the surroundings.

Maybe leave the tv on or the radio at low volume for entertainment?

Consider also leaving a chew toy inside the kennel.

When the dog is very young and/or getting used to living in your home, leave a piece of clothing or bedding with your scent.

By the way, a kennel that is the appropriate size allows the dog to stand upright and move around. Ensure the kennel is the correct size for your dog. Can you imagine spending your days in a cage where you can’t even stretch your legs? That is a form of torture (and even then, the dog still loves you. Dang!)

Walking the dog

Smile, for God’s sake! I can’t tell you the many times I have crossed paths with people walking their dogs that look so miserable and act so anti-socially that they don’t even answer a “hello.” Keep in mind that it is your privilege to be in the company of such a magnificent creature and that he/she loves you! If this thought does not make you smile, read again the fourth paragraph above.

Allow your dog to sniff around. What is the purpose of walking your dog if you will be pulling him/her by the leash, even hurting them, when all they want is to “read the news”? Smells are to a dog like Facebook or Instagram is to you. That is how they know who is around and what is happening. This might be the only socialization the dog will get in his entire day!

Consider using a harness instead of latching the leash to the dog’s collar. When the dog pulls away or if you pull the dog, the collar hurts tender tendons in the neck. This kind of injury can be serious. And speaking of leashes, avoid those retractable ones. So many instances have been documented of those leashes causing severe injuries both to dogs and humans alike!

Food and water

Please thoroughly wash the dog’s bowls (both water and food) daily. It is disgusting that some people serve their dog’s food and water in filthy bowls! Especially the water bowl- it is not just a matter of replenishing the water. Every time a dog drinks water from a bowl, the saliva goes into it, and mixed with the water, it creates a slimy film in the bowl. But this is not their fault, and they deserve clean water. So let’s keep those bowls squeaky clean, yes?

If your dog is a medium or large breed, consider a raised feeder for their bowls. It is hard for taller dogs to eat or drink from a bowl on the floor. These raised feeders also help their digestion, given the better way they eat their food.

Do not give your dog human food. Yes, to human-grade food for dogs, but the food should be prepared for their special needs and calibrated in composition and caloric value. Absolutely no giving dogs your chicken bones and things like that. Although some dogs might behave as if they were garbage disposals, please keep in mind that they are not. Do not give them the stuff everyone leaves on their plates and much less the food that has spoiled in your fridge. You will pay awful consequences.

Zzzzzz

Hopefully, your dog has a comfortable bed of his own or at least a comfy, cozy corner to sleep and feel safe. Wash the bed at least every month. If the bed has a removable cover, even easier! If the corner where the dog sleeps is made of blankets or even towels, wash all that stuff regularly. Dogs need a clean place too!

Invest in training

Better to have a trained dog than to spend the few years he lives with us yelling at the poor creature when he/she does the wrong thing, according to our rules. Dogs are intelligent creatures. It is we, humans that are inconsistent and impatient with them. How are they supposed to learn when they are not properly shown what is expected of them?

Bath time

Some breeds are supposed to skip bathing (or so I’ve heard). Even if your dog does not share your bed, please bathe them from time to time, groom them, clip their nails, express their anal glands (yep, that too!). Don’t want to do this yourself? Hire a grooming service. Don’t have the resources for that and don’t want to do it yourself? Don’t have a dog!

I have heard many times “we don’t want the dog inside because he smells”. And who’s fault is that? I bet you would smell ten times worse than any dog if you stop showering for several weeks.

Vet care

The least you can do for your dog is to ensure that he/she has an annual checkup with the vet to receive their shots and, at minimum, one thorough dental cleaning per year. Bacteria from the gums can easily affect the heart of a dog.

Of course, every time the dog looks or acts strangely, you should take them to the vet to ensure his/her wellbeing.

Do not forget the heartworm medication every single month. It is very sad to see a dog suffering from heartworms when this is easily avoidable.

Kids and dogs

Kids and dogs are a great combination only when the children have learned to respect the dog.

Some people think it is quite funny or speaks highly of the dog when their children do all kinds of things to their dog, and the dog does not bite or snarl. Stupid, stupid!!!! They are pushing their dogs’ limits, potentially creating a dangerous situation for both child and dog. The dog is being harmed, abused, or at least disrespected. Adults model a terrible example for their children.

Children need to learn, early in life, that dogs need to be respected and cherished, and that is why the dog shares the home with the family. What part of this is funny or should make the dog owner proud? I do not have a frigging idea!

New baby?

Before bringing your new baby home, allow the dog to familiarize him/herself with the baby’s scent.

Bring a blanket that has been used by the baby at the hospital and place it in the dog’s kennel or bed. The reception of your baby by your furry friend will be much different.

Please do not neglect your dog or feel you have to keep the dog out now that you have a baby.
That is a sure way to break a dog’s heart and create an ill will on the dog towards your baby.
The dog is (or should be) part of the family. They naturally bond with babies and love caring for them! If you feel you do not have enough love to share now that you have a child, find a loving family that does not feel that way. The dog deserves it!

Consider engaging a trainer before the baby is born (for the dog, that is!). A trainer can help you and the dog work on walks with a stroller and many other foreseeable situations with the baby you might want to be ready for. This will considerably decrease any stress that might arise from bringing home the newest member of the family. Especially, work on barking at the door and greeting visitors. These are two areas where big challenges arise upon bringing a new baby to a home with dogs.

Treat those fleas!

Can you imagine what the dog goes through living with an infestation of fleas 24/7? Well, don’t treat the fleas, and you won’t have to imagine it for long. Enough said!

Things we do that dogs hate

Think it is so cute and funny to dress up your dog for Halloween or whatever other occasion? They do not share your views on this. Do not do this ridiculous thing! They don’t like the feel, and they know how stupid they look.

Do not love your dog by placing your face in front of theirs. They hate it! They might tolerate it because it is you, and they love you and do not want to disappoint you. But they do not like this a bit.

Some dogs are suited for cold climates, but others are not. If it is cold to you and your dog is not a furry snow beast (like mine), consider getting them a size-appropriate jacket for those moments when there is no other option than going outside. Do not presume that being dogs and having fur is automatic protection. This is one of those moments when your dog won’t be bothered being dressed.

If your dog lives/sleeps outside, unless this is clearly their preference (some breeds are like that), allow your dogs inside! They are part of the family. If you do not think a dog’s place is inside the home, again, DO NOT HAVE A DOG! It is a crime in most states to leave a dog outside when it is too hot or too cold. There is a reason for that – it is an aberrant act of cruelty!

The dog’s fur is designed to not only protect him/her against the cold but also to insulate them in the heat. Some people think they are doing their dog a favor by shaving off the hair when it is too hot out there, but this makes the dog lose the protection they naturally have against the heat. Unless the dog is very matted and there is no better solution than to shave off the hair, do not do such a thing!

Two final thoughts

Do not ignore your dog(s). They look for eye contact as a reassurance of your love. Please look at them, smile at them, talk to them. Often. It has been shown through scientific tests (tomography of the dog’s brain) that when a dog sees his/her human, their brain lights up in the same manner the human brain behaves in the presence of their loved one.

Whoever abandons an old dog because he/she has become an inconvenience or no longer as much fun as they used to be, deserves the same treatment by their own children. In neglecting or rejecting an older dog, that is the lesson they are teaching their own children. So, wait for it – Karma is a bitch and is coming for you one of these days.

For the love of dogs!

Some Clutter Truths

Some Clutter Truths

Imagine a store window with so much stuff in it that you can’t focus on anything.

Imagine a model home spectacularly designed, but clutter covers countertops, closets are full to the brim, and boxes are all over.

Imagine a hotel room with a closet full of toilet paper, paper towels, even diapers of various sizes, and a box of plastic bags. There are extra blankets folded on the bed and chairs. The bathroom cabinets are full of toiletries.

Imagine if The Container Store had a showroom with a closet full of mismatched hangers, clothes jammed on top of each other, and store supplies boxes crammed under the clothes.

These are the points I want to convey with the previous scenarios:

    • We can’t organize clutter.
    • A cluttered place will never look elegant, inviting, organized, nor appealing.
    • Clutter will hide any space’s beauty.
    • Less is more when it comes to elegance.
    • Clear space is to a home what a wide, white mat is to a work of art – It highlights the beauty of what it surrounds.

Oftentimes we can’t let go of things we no longer need or want. This difficulty might be rooted in fear of not having something when we need it (if we ever need it). But many times, we don’t even know we have what we own and end up buying duplicates anyway.

Other times we believe we are throwing money away if we discard some of our possessions. But here is the thing, we spend money when acquiring stuff, not when tossing them. Frequently keeping things costs us more money than letting them go.

In the meantime, that fear of letting go holds us hostage to a cluttered environment – a home in disarray and chaos. Whether we notice or not, our life energy gets sucked into this tornado of stuff. That cluttered space prevents us from enjoying the things we keep. When everything seems unique, then nothing is.

I invite you to take the plunge and free yourself or so many useless possessions. Re-evaluate your relationship with things. The less we own, the easier it is to keep up with what we have, and the more we start appreciating everything – material possessions or otherwise.

I can partner with you on this journey! Let’s talk.