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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.

What You Really Give When You Give A Gift

What You Really Give When You Give A Gift

The Holiday season is here! The time of the year when we usually give and receive the most gifts. It can become overwhelming, not only the buying process, but also receiving gifts.  

Among the top reasons people find it hard to get organized is the guilt they feel about letting go of items that had been gifted to them, and for which they have no use, purpose, appeal, nor storage space.  

Although those guilty feelings are often explored between Organizers and clients, it would be fair to direct some attention to the other side of this dynamic – the gift giver. Have you ever thought about what you really give when you offer a gift?

When you give someone a gift, you might do it with the best of intentions, out of a perceived obligation, or maybe without a specific reason: you just give someone something you personally like. Regardless of the reason, you are giving that person responsibilities that might be more than what the person wants or can handle. Has this ever crossed your mind?

When you give a gift, you are passing to the recipient the responsibility of another possession; one they did not necessarily choose for themselves. They will have the burden of finding this item a space in their home, storing it, cleaning it, and maintaining it. 

An unwanted gift, even when out of sight, exerts negative energetic pressure at a subconscious level on the gift receiver. The mind recognizes the item’s presence and the reason that such item is put away. When the gift was given by a person who the recipient dislikes, or if that gift brings sad memories, the negative energy that it brings is compounded.

The offering of a gift should be without strings or obligation from the recipient. The outcome of the gift, whether it be displayed, used, stored, regifted, donated, recycled, or trashed, should not be seen as a reflection of the relationship between the giver and the receiver. When you feel slighted if you don’t see the beautiful crystal vase that you gave to your niece displayed in her home, or if you’re hanging on to the pink fuzzy throw blanket from your sister because you don’t want to hurt her feelings, then the gift is no longer a gift, but an emotional responsibility. 

Both parties should recognize that the recipient of the gift appreciates the gesture and the gift giver. But the best gift we can offer one another is the freedom from becoming hostage of an unwanted gift.

It is only human to feel hurt when our gifts are not fully appreciated. But if we truly care for the person receiving our gift, the last thing we should want is to burden that person with an additional problem or guilty feelings that will burden them. Let’s be mindful about the gift giving process and less sensitive about the destiny of the given gift. When this concept is finally understood, letting the gift recipient know how we feel about the whole process would be greatly appreciated. Happy Holidays!

This article was written by Maristella Bertram and Crystal Ryan

What Happens After Grocery Shopping?

What Happens After Grocery Shopping?

What do you do when you come home from the grocery store? Do you place the plastic bags in the fridge just as they are in order to avoid dealing with them? You might find the lightbulbs and toilet paper you bought inside the fridge tomorrow morning….

I confess I detest going to the grocery store. It is not necessarily the process of buying. It is the process that follows when all that stuff comes home. It takes me a lot longer to organize what I bring from the store than the whole trip to go buy it. Yet, I do it every single time because that hour devoted to the process pays off in many ways during the week. It helps me save time while cooking, allows me to plan varied, healthy meals, looks delicious and inviting (so family members get interested in the healthy cooking), and makes it joyful to cook when everything is organized, fresh, clean and accessible. 

Don’t you go insane when you hear the dreaded daily question: What’s for dinner? (Ok, at least admit you roll your eyes at your kids!) What if I told you that the horrendous hour after grocery shopping might be key to spare you the feeling you get when you hear that question?

Here are eight steps to help you stay on top of your game.

1. Plan your menus for each day of the week

Schedule an hour to plan your menus for the entire week. Make this a commitment and calendar this hour on the same day, at the same time every week. Make the list of ingredients for each dish with specific quantities, according to the amount you plan to prepare. Having specific quantities help you save money by not overbuying and not wasting product. 

If you follow the process described in my blog “Functional Storage Space That Looks Great Inside and Out” to organize the kitchen cabinet, planning your weekly menus can be a breeze. Pull out those index cards and mix and match your dishes to get complete meals. All the information you need to prepare your grocery list will be there. Leave those index cards out, group them by meal and date of the week, and you’ll be ready to go when you start cooking. 

2. Calendar your shopping trip 

Plan on going grocery shopping the same day of the week and mark your calendar. If this is incorporated into your routine, it would become a habit and will be less of a dread. Having your grocery shopping also allows you to block the time needed to properly deal with the groceries when coming home from the store. 

3. Invest in the right containers for your freezer and your refrigerator

Select containers that are similar in size and shape, so they stack well in the fridge and freezer. Avoid round containers because these don’t use the space efficiently. Stay with a line that serve for both for fridge and freezer, so you only buy one type. Select a system that is microwave safe, dishwasher safe, and BPA free. I personally love the TellFresh line from The Container Store.

4. Wash and prepare your produce

Remove all packaging. Remove stems and other non-edible parts and cut up the fruits and vegetables up to the point where it won’t affect freshness for the days until it will be used. By washing and repacking in sealed containers, many things stay fresh longer. Also, your fridge and pantry will look spectacular. Having everything washed, cut, and ready to go, will make everything meal prep easier and more pleasant. This is efficiency at its best! You will be ready for your Mise en Place in a flash!  

Another great advantage of following this routine is having healthy snacks very accessible.  When we are hungry, we eat what is available. If we have ready-made fruit packs or cut up veggies to munch on, the chances on having healthier snacks increase.

5. Remove most of the packing from your frozen products

You save a lot of space in the freezer and fridge when you remove your frozen items from the packaging and re-group them in designated freezer containers or use your freezer door compartments. Frozen fruits and vegetables in bags, for example, don’t stack well, and once bags are opened, products don’t preserve their freshness the same way. That is not very inspiring.

6. Maximize the space and organization of your fridge by including bins

Typically, the fridge comes equipped with a couple of drawers to keep special items at slightly different temperatures. There are bins you can incorporate into the fridge to create compartments and separate the various categories of products. Not only will the fridge look fantastic, but things will be easier to find – and it also will be much easier to monitor what’s there, what we need to buy more of, and what has expired. The design of some fridges allows for the drawers to be substituted with some of these bins to create even more space.

7. Label!

Don’t skip the labeling part. In order to maintain the freshness of your fridge and freezer products, you need to know their expiration date or at least when they were bought. I know labels can get problematic, and the process could be a tedious one, but all these problems are solved with the Label Once labels! These are sold on Amazon. You write on them with any sharpie or marker and erase with any eraser. Once applied to a container, these labels stay put, even in the dishwasher. No more excuses! It is simpler to label and relabel now.

8. Treat your pantry with the same respect and care 

Use transparent or translucent air-tight containers for dry goods like flour, sugar, rice, pasta, dry beans, chips, cookies, crackers, and cereal. This way products stay fresh longer and you’ll know how much product is left. These containers stack well and give your pantry the Pinterest look you dream of. Bags and opened boxes do not look appealing and do not stack well, they can spill, and the product inside can easily get contaminated.  

For all other kind of products that don’t need to be transferred to containers, use baskets or bins to create clusters of product categories and separate food groups. 

Have a system for condiments, whether a section inside the pantry or a designated cabinet next to the stove. Another alternative for condiments is to use the Elfa Spice Rack. This tool makes excellent use of the much-neglected vertical space of the pantry door.

An organized kitchen reduces food waste, and promotes cleanliness, joyful cooking, and a healthier lifestyle. Get in the habit of organizing your groceries after going to the store and see your productivity, efficiency and joy in the kitchen exponentially grow. 

What’s for dinner?

My Best Client Meetings Are In The Bathroom

My Best Client Meetings Are In The Bathroom

One way or another I tend to end up having very meaningful meetings with my clients in their bathrooms.  It is interesting (and sometimes hysterical) how consistently and naturally this happens! Let me explain….

There is a lot to be explored about how people use their space and how they move around. As an Organizer, it is very important for me to retrace the clients’ steps throughout their space and routines to see where areas of opportunities can be found and where their current systems might be failing. Only by retracing my clients’ steps and moving in their spaces the way they do or having them show me how that happens, can I best notice their roadblocks to efficiency. It is then that the most unusual and amazing solutions come to life.

When clients understand the importance of this, they get on board and sometimes they get so excited, they take me by the hand and want to show me how they do virtually everything around the house.  So, even though this happens all over the house, the fact is that most of the time we end up in the bathroom.  

One example of a bathroom meeting is about the shower caddy. I personally have always been against typical shower caddies that are hung on the shower head. With those, you would have the water streaming in your face while you reach out for your products. Do you shower facing the shower or with your back to the water stream? It seems this is a debate comparable to which is the correct way to install the toilet paper roll.  If you don’t like the traditional shower caddy, for example, you will need a different solution. Maybe the corner tension pole with baskets is for you. But wait! What if you have high or vaulted ceilings or crown moldings in the bathroom ceiling? There might be unforeseen challenges, but I will always find a solution! It is important that we walk the walk together. 

As an Organizer, the right way will be the way that my clients prefers.  But whatever that way might be, being aware of how this happens in their space allows me to see if I can improve any part of their system or suggest alternatives that make life easier. 

Oh… but timing and context can make this really interesting! I can’t avoid recounting one of these bathroom adventures. 

A man called me once to help him develop systems, especially in relation to his clothes, bathroom and laundry routines. This was a very interesting multi-level, high profile, bachelor’s apartment.  Because he needed systems in those areas, it was important to explore his routine and habits regarding his clothes.  We started the tour of the place and eventually made our way to the third story, where his major area of concern was; the closet/bathroom area. Sure enough, as fate would have it, his girlfriend arrived in time just to hear me say: “Would you like to undress in the bedroom instead of here in the bathroom? Luckily, she knew her boyfriend had hired a Professional Organizer and she could not be more charming.  Then we started talking about where she would like to undress! The system needs to work for both, after all.I love my job! Although every case is different, it seems like we always end up discussing productivity and efficiency in the bathroom! 

Functional Storage Space That Looks Great Inside And Out

Functional Storage Space That Looks Great Inside And Out

The challenge of organizing open storage space

What to do when you have an overload of things to organize but little or no space at all to do so? Sometimes we resort to allocating items in areas that are not storage-designated spaces and, therefore, result in those home-made open, visible storage areas. Other times, the open storage space is a matter of design. The storage space is purposely designed with the openness in mind.

One of the most charming houses I’ve ever worked with was a custom-built home without any kind of regular storage space! The few spaces available to store things, even in the kitchen, where small and highly visible.  

When faced with this kind of challenge, two things are necessary to organize the space: a sense of style and homogenous storage solutions that would complement the décor.

Items that need to remain in plain sight, due to lack of storage space, need to be graciously arranged. They will have to look appealing. Any storage systems implemented need to be homogeneous and complement the décor since these will remain highly visible. It won’t matter how well these devices accomplish their organizing purpose if they don’t effectively blend in with the décor, the spaces will still look disorganized. We want the storage pieces to look the same, so the spaces look uncluttered and reflect a clean and harmonious look. When storage space is open, minimalism and maintenance are the words to remember. Minimalism is important because open storage areas won’t look good if they hold an excessive amount of items. Maintenance is important since over time, with daily routine, it is easy to forget that the storage space is actually décor at the same time. Due to its visibility, it is crucial to maintain the order and aesthetics of the space. This might include the color mix, specific arrangement of items, number of pieces and/or homogeneity of additional items used such as baskets.

Consider this picture.

Professional Organizer Open Space Storage - Functional Storage Space That Looks Great Inside And Out
Professional Organizer – Open Space Storage

Without the right amount of pieces and color balance, this kitchen would never look so appealing. Some kitchens rely solely on shelves like these for storage while others include shelves like these for style but also have cabinets and drawers.  Either way, when open storage space is involved, minimalism and maintenance of the space are critical.

A peek inside cabinets and drawers

The situation described above is not a pretext to use cabinets and drawers to stuff everything else that could not be out in the open storage space. Shelves in cabinets and drawers still need to be organized and functional so you know exactly what you own and have easy access to it. Otherwise, what is the purpose of having any of that?

That’s where tools and supplies such as drawer dividers, over the counter door organizers and shelf dividers come into place.   

The ability to notice details and the willingness to creatively tweak little things are key to achieve the perfect organized space in every cabinet and drawer. 

Consider the following kitchen cabinet and notice all details involved in the process that resulted in this organized, functional space. 

KitchenCabinets 1 - Functional Storage Space That Looks Great Inside And Out
Kitchen Cabinets

Previously, books were stacked sideways as some did not fit the space, recipe clippings and copies were sticking out of books and binders, and labels were hand-written. Most importantly, all those healthy recipes collected over time had not been used because they were disorganized and hard to find. Planning a week’s worth of recipes based on different books had proven to be too cumbersome. Meals were boring, repetitive, and not the healthiest kind.

To end up with such functional and nice-looking cabinets, some tweaking was necessary.  

  • Shelves were readjusted, so everything could fit appropriately. 
  • Favorite, healthy recipes were photocopied, cut, and pasted on 4″ X 6″ index cards. 
  • Recipes were then classified by type of food (breakfast, lunch, dinner, side dishes, soups, desserts) and placed in index card boxes.  **By pulling out cards that could be mixed and matched, a whole week’s worth of healthy and varied meals could be planned. 
  • Each recipe box was properly labeled with the type of recipes that each contains.
  • A system was developed for medications and supplements where pill bags are prepared for each family member each week.  There is a box per family member, labeled with their name and each box has a divider to separate morning from evening medications.  **Everyone knows where to get their meds and supplements when they are due.  

**Is that an improvement in functionality, or what? This kind of thinking is what you can expect from a Professional Organizer.  As you see, organization takes skill, patience, strategy, time and attention to detail and aesthetics. Feel like you might benefit from the help of a Professional Organizer? Let’s set up a time to talk. I’d love to hear about your situation and see if I can help. Call me at 972-896-8933 or email me at [email protected], and we’ll set up a time to chat.