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April 30, 2007

dirt...

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My weekend was pretty much all about dirt. On Saturday, I played in it. Planted flowers in my flower boxes and planted my deck herb garden. So happy that it's warm outside and time once again to play in the dirt. I have a rule: no garden gloves allowed. What fun would planting be without getting messy and feeling that good, rich soil in your hands? That's what I want to know. Am I alone in this one?

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Jay had his share of fun with dirt this weekend, too. He covered a bunch of it with mulch. Our yard looks so much nicer thanks to his hard work. I was happy to plant the flowers and avoid the mulch ... because once upon a time I came face to face with (you guessed it) a spider! while mulching. The hugest spider I had ever seen up to that point in time. So much for Jay's mulch helper.

Speaking of dirt ... if you subscribe to my newsletter, you get all the latest "organizing dirt." (Is there such a thing?) Like when our new website will be launched and spring cleaning tips and other fun stuff like that. If you're a subscriber you should have gotten your newsletter this afternoon. If you're not a subscriber, you can sign up here. Right after you sign up you'll get a link to my archives. Click on that to read today's newsletter.

Have a happy May 1st ... can't belive it's here so soon!

April 26, 2007

big plans ...

... in a little binder.

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On the message board in my goals 101 class at BPS we were chatting about my planner. I shared some of the details on the message board, but thought it'd be fun to show pics and share it here, too. You know, so you can see the madness to my method  ... er ... I mean method to my madness. Or do I? Let's see ... 

But before the big reveal (ha ha) I have to bring you up to date on the status of my circa. If you've been reading my blog for a while you may be surprised to learn that I'm not using my circa any more. I know .. . I'm a fickle girl. What can I say? Except that, really, you would be fickle, too, if you walked into your husband's office every single day and saw him surrounded by russell + hazel mini binders. You, too, would come up with any excuse under the sun to have one (or two or three) of those little gems to call your very own. It's like sending a shoe fanatic into a space loaded with shelves full of brand new, beautiful shoes. Could the shoe fanatic resist? But of course not. In time, even the strongest becomes oh so weak. I rest my case.

You will notice, however, that my basic system is the same as it was with the circa.

I have binder tabs where I keep my lists organized. My tabs are as follows:

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lists - for my action list, master project list, and future project list. I'll also include gift lists or lists of movies to watch, books to buy or blogs to read. It's just a fun place to put one of my favorite things: lists.

errands - yep, you guessed it, this is where I jot down things I need to pick up when I'm out and about.

notes - project notes and random ideas for blog posts, newsletter ideas, scrapbook ideas, etc.

paper - cleverly, this is where I store my blank paper ;)

calendar - like the circa system, I still use Outlook for my calendar. I print month views of my calendar, three hole punch and fold them, then snap them into my binder. If there were a way to make my paper calendar ding and automatically record recurring appointments, I'd forgo the electronic calendar altogether. But since it can't, I use this hybrid system to get the best of both worlds.

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In the front of the binder is a paper pocket --- great for stashing checks, coupons, and other small items.

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The clip on the front can be used for daily to-do lists ... if I want or need to break down my larger action list into a daily list. And if not, I just like that clip sitting there with the little ribbon tied to it. For me it's the simple things that make me happiest.

OK ... so recently in Better Homes and Gardens they did a feature on planners. It was one of those articles that totally fascinated me. They showed three lady's planners and I seriously don't think I would have grown tired of it if there had been fifty planners shown. So ... if you want to indulge me, I'd love to see YOUR planner. It's seriously fascinating stuff. Wanna play?

April 24, 2007

taming kitchen clutter

I recently received this question via email.

“I have a problem, with clutter being its ugly name!!  I am doing much better, however, I recognize one HUGE issue in that my kitchen is VERY small, yet central to our home and activities.  Hopefully in about a year we will have a new, bigger, remodeled kitchen that has places to put things.  Until then, the areas that I am fighting with include the mail, papers from school, and the tiny desk.  Do you have any suggestions?”

The kitchen is the hub of so many homes --- so having it free from clutter and well organized is a major boost to your sense of well being and the productivity in your home.

Carve out a small corner in your kitchen for office essentials such as pens, stamps, envelopes, note paper and other items you need to handle the mail and paperwork. I like to corral my items in a basket and use a small glass votive to keep pens and pencils standing upright and easy to access. Add folders for school papers (one for each child or labeled with the days of the week) and another for “bills to pay” … and you’re good to go.

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Customize your folders ... to add an extra dose of inspiration in your kitchen.

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Create daily routines for handling the mail --- shredding or recycling papers you don’t need, filing away bills to be paid, and filling out and returning paperwork for school. The less space you have, the more often you’ll need to go through your paperwork, handle it, and discard what you don’t need to keep.

For paperwork you do need to keep on hand and refer to from time to time, my favorite solution is the command central binder. It allows you to easily corral paperwork like phone directories, business cards, sports schedules and carryout menus in one handy, tidy spot.

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With your file basket and the command central binder, you’re paperwork can be handled and stored in even the tiniest of work quarters.

Good luck! And let me know if you have any other questions!

things ...

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... aren't always what they seem, are they?

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I've been thinking about things a lot this week. It's the final week of Stacy's Library of Memories Class and the topic this week is things. Betcha didn't even know I was taking it, did you? Well I have to say, taking this class right in the middle of working on the book, creating my new space, and working on our new website ... probably not my brightest move. But, I'm so glad I did, even if I wasn't able to fully immerse myself in it right away. The class is beyond fabulous and I'll definitely go back to the material and continue to incorporate the approach into my scrapbooking. So ... if you haven't taken it, jump on the opportunity the next time Library of Memories is offered.

The thing I love about Stacy, (OK ... one of the things) is that she gets you thinking about things ... important things like holy blue jeans and how they can make you crazy but are also such a unique part of life as it is right now.

My life won't always be this way.

My life won't always be filled with holy jeans or a little boy who plays so hard that he gets holes in *all* his jeans.

I wont always be faced with the dilemma ... do I replace the jeans or hope it stays warm and buy new jeans in the fall?

The little boy will grow up.

The little boy won't always play so hard.

These holy jeans are just a thing that says so much about my life today. Holy jeans are a sign of a life well lived by an eight year old boy.

I'm so glad I was encouraged to notice.

Six pairs of holy jeans are photo-worthy, scrap-worthy, and in this case, blog-worthy.

How about you ... what things make your life uniquely yours?

Now ... what to do with all those cute pockets ...

April 22, 2007

quick tips for oranizing kids' clothes

Elizabeth asked if I had any tips for storing kid's clothes. Turns out I needed to tackle Collin's clothes this weekend and make the big winter to summer clothing swap. So Elizabeth is in luck! Here are some ideas:

In season / casual clothes go in my kid's dressers, like this:

  • bottom drawer: pants and shorts
  • next drawer up: shirts
  • next drawer up: underwear, socks and pajamas. To add a bit of order in this drawer, I put the socks in an unlidded plastic shoe box.
  • top drawer: special clothes ... those things you need to find in a hurry and don't want to be scurrying around looking for ... like the baseball uniform, swim suits, soccer shirt, and so on. Because this drawer isn't terribly full, it's easy to find these things and know if they're clean and ready the night before the big event.

Out of season clothes are stored in three bins in the closet. During the transition time (when one minute we need winter clothes and the next we need summer clothes) the bins can be easily pulled off the shelf to use the items inside.

I also have one bin in each child's closet for donations. As they grow out of things, the items can go right into the bin.

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And, yes, they're my favorite bins. I say, if you find something that works, keep on doing it! What could be simpler than that? ;)

I don't hang many of my kid's clothes because I like to keep everything together and their clothes are really causal. But, I had to share this idea a client of mine uses. She has a little girl and gets complete outfits that come with matching accessories (like from Gymboree.) She likes to store the outfits and accessories together on hangers. To store the accessories (socks, hair bows, etc.) she bought some small straw purses from the dollar store. The accessories are tucked inside the little bags and the handle hangs from the hanger. Isn't that a fun idea?

If you have a fun or favorite idea for storing kid's clothes, please share! I love hearing your terrific ideas.

April 18, 2007

ideas on where to buy furniture?

I got an email from Jen who is downsizing her home office. She works from home in a small home office but is going to now give it up so her daughters can each have their own bedroom. (What a nice Mom, wouldn’t you agree?) She’s going to be moving her office into her bedroom, and will be buying new bedroom and office furniture. She loves Pottery Barn but is looking for more affordable alternatives.

Do you have any ideas on furniture sources for Jen? I suggested J.C. Penny --- they have some Pottery Barn style furniture and www.computerdesks.com has some nifty computer armoires. And then there’s always IKEA – which isn’t exactly Pottery Barn but boy it sure can stretch your decorating dollar. Know what I mean?

I haven’t been out shopping for bedroom furniture lately (heaven knows I need to, but that’s a whole different story.) So I thought I’d see if you have any ideas for Jen.

Thanks for your help! Can’t wait to see what resources you can introduce to Jen (and me!)

April 17, 2007

a basket full of happy

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Isn’t this the happiest thing you’ve seen in a while? This basket, or rather the goodies in it, had me giddy to the point of dizziness while shopping at CKC convention last weekend. Seriously, I was dizzy. Because get this: Wendy and I found KI memories icicles (which is a serious find) at half off! I just can’t wait to play with my basket full of happy.

So … what do you do with your new scrapbook products, those that make you deliriously happy when you get them home from the store? (Oh … please don’t tell me your new friends are suffocating in the plastic bag they came home in. They’re not right?)

If so, how about carving out a basket full of happy in your space? This handy storage container will allow you to admire your purchases and dream of all the possibilities for using them on your scrapbook pages. You could use an over-sized glass jar, a wicker basket or a galvanized bucket. The container doesn’t matter. Just get those goodies out of the bag and let that dizzy, deliriously happy feeling of finding the perfect new product linger on for just a bit longer! After all, it isn’t every day you find your favorite, discontinued product at half-off! You with me?

By the way … it was cupcakes. :)

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April 11, 2007

guess who's coming to visit?

did you guess her? If so, you were right!

guess where we're going to be?

did you guess here? If so, you were right! (maybe we'll see you there?)

made one of her very favorite things tonight ... can you guess what it is?

goodbye buddy

Unlike the last post ... this one has absolutely nothing to do with organizing. It's about life and love and loss.

Have you ever noticed that life's lessons often turn up in the most unexpected places? Years and years ago (so many years ago in fact, my husband Jay and I don't really even remember how many) we found a little brown dog. Back in those days, we worked together in the corporate world. One Saturday, Jay decided to go into work for a few hours after making a quick trip to Subway for a sandwich. I'm not really sure why, but I was dropping him off at work that day, when all of a sudden we saw a little, stray, brown dog. The dog was skinny, timid, had a hurt paw, and two sores in his eyes. He was a mess of thing. Having a dog of our own, we instantly felt sorry for him.

Jay called to him "Come here little, Buddy" and lured the dog to him with his Subway tuna sandwich. The little dog ate the sandwich and then, scurried away. Still timid. Still hurt. Still afraid.

We went about our Saturday business, half hoping the owner would find the little dog. And half hoping he wouldn't, since the dog was clearly not well cared for. Jay did his work. I did my Saturday errands. And eventually I came back to pick him up. The little dog was still there.

We went home and kept thinking about that little dog. Will he be OK by the busy street? Will someone find him and take care of him? We really should do something...

And so we went back to work to rescue the little dog. But without a tuna sandwich, our efforts were fruitless. We couldn't lure the frightened dog to come with us ... so We left him some dog food and headed back home, troubled by what would happen to our new little buddy?

We thought about the dog over the rest of the weekend, and decided that if he were still there by the end of work on Monday, we would take him home, fix him up and take him to a no-kill shelter so someone could adopt him. But during the workday, the dog catcher came and nabbed our little brown dog. Our hearts were sick. We knew no one would rescue him from the pound ... not unless we did.

And so we did.

We rescued him from the pound --- never intending to keep him. We already had a big dog and a small apartment. We were all set on the dog front. Our vet fixed up the little brown dog and he looked pretty good. But, he was still terrified of people and kept his tail wrapped very tightly under him. A happy dog, he wasn't.

Aside from the little dog's social skills, our plan was unfolding just as we had planned.

Step one: fix up the dog.

Step two: find a no-kill shelter for our little buddy.

And that's where things got tricky.

It seems no-kill shelters are very scarce. Even scarcer, are no-kill shelters with any vacancies for little brown dogs that aren't in very good shape and are afraid of people. And time wasn't on our side. We were leaving for Florida the very next day so Jay could be in the wedding of a good friend. What were we to do? We weren't planning to keep this little brown dog, so boarding him while we went on vacation seemed crazy. (Paying the vet bills to have him fixed up, didn't seem crazy ... but we had to draw the line somewhere.)

At this point we realized we had no choice. We had to take him to a shelter. We figured we could always adopt him back when we got home, right? And so, I took our little buddy to a shelter on my way into work. That sweet little dog, who was so afraid of people, sat right next to me in the front seat of my car. As I held the steering wheel, he put his head on my arm and looked up at me with his sad, little, brown eyes. I was really growing attached...

I took him into the shelter and went through the paperwork with the lady at the shelter. Everything was fine until we came to the part where I had to relinquish all rights to this dog. I could never ask what happened to him. Nor could I come back for him.

I started crying. "I can't get him back if no one else adopts him?"

"No ... you can't."

My head was spinning ... I'm leaving for Florida ... the dog doesn't have shots ... I can't take him anywhere for boarding even if I want to ... I want to ... but I can't ... I call Jay ... we have no choice ... I have to leave him at the shelter.

"Would you like to donate money to care for the dog?" A voice interrupted my turmoil.

I emptied my wallet. Left the little dog. And headed into work. Sobbing for a little dog I hardly knew...

I called Jay on my way in and he, too, was upset. He told his friends at work the story, and his friend Chuck had an idea. He would go into the shelter while we were in Florida ... and if no one had adopted him yet, he would adopt him for us!

And so he did ... on the last day before the little dog's fate would have been exactly what we were trying to
avoid, Chuck went to the shelter and rescued our little brown dog. It went something like this.

"Yes, I'd like the old one in the back," he said. "Right, the one that doesn't want anything to do with people. That's the one." The people at the shelter had it pretty well figured out that Chuck was rescuing the dog for me. But it didn't matter. Our little buddy was rescued.

When we came home from Florida, we had the latest addition to our family. We called him Buddy. And he was a sweet, little dog. A dog who loved to wag his tail and go for walks and eventually, he even loved people. Sure, he had his quirks from an earlier, unfortunate past ... but he was a special dog. A gentle dog. A sweet dog. And he was our dog until his very last day.

On Monday, we had to say goodbye to our little Buddy.

Buddy

We miss him. He was a part of our family for so long. And somehow in the loss of Buddy, we've become aware that we learned so much from a scared and timid dog that only needed love and good walk once in a while. Buddy taught me...

1. If you truly love to do something, you'll want to do it no matter how tired you are. Buddy was an old dog and a very tired and weak dog. Yet, pull out the leash and he was ready to go for a walk.

2. Sometimes you don't know what you really want. We thought we were all set in dog arena before little Buddy came along. We were wrong. We had plenty of room in our home and our hearts for Buddy. Taking him in was one of the best decisions we've ever made. 

3. When you help someone, you get helped in return. Many times over.

4. Pay attention to those who matter to you ... they won't be here forever. We (obviously) knew Buddy was old and that he wouldn't be around too much longer. But, it doesn't help any now that he's gone. He's just as gone. And we miss every little thing about him. The good things and even the things that annoyed us (you know, old dogs develop some pretty unpleasant habits.) We can still hear his labored breathing even though he's gone. When we drop an ice cube, we expect him to run over and snag it ... chewing it up in no time.

It's so easy to get caught up in the every day ... the big projects with real deadlines, the book writing, the business, the fill-in-the-blank. Buddy taught me to take time for what matters to me ... and most importantly, the people (and four legged friends) who matter to me no matter how busy I am.

I missed a few walks with Buddy... I don't want to miss any more phone calls home, or trips home, or time playing Barbie’s. It's time to take time.

5. It feels good to dance in the face of sadness. Monday was a tough day for all of us. And it was just amazing to me how well my kids handled it all. They were very, very sad. And yet, very happy for Buddy. They know he's in a better place. All on their own, they planned a party for Buddy. They had games and drinks and streamers and balloons and signs and pictures of Buddy and music and even dancing. It felt good to celebrate the life of our little friend and celebrate his passing to a better place. It felt good to dance in the face of sadness.

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(sign says:  have a happy life in heaven.)

April 10, 2007

Pantry Organizing Ideas

I thought I'd try something new and post some organizing ideas on this creative organizing blog of mine (ha ha.) It's been a long time, hasn't it? But here we go! I've been getting quite a few questions via email. (If I haven't answered yours yet ... hang in there with me just a little bit longer ... an answer's coming soon.)

So ... let's get started! Here's the first question:

“I was wondering if you had any ideas as for organizing my kitchen pantry.  It’s not a pantry per-se.  It’s a whole wall of cabinets which I use as a pantry.  I have everything stuffed in there in no particular order and it’s driving me INSANE!”

The first thing I’d suggest is to take everything out of your pantry (or wall of cabinets) and group it by type. Put baking things together, canned goods together, snacks together, cereal and other breakfast foods together, and so on. Edit out anything that’s been hanging around for too long (like canned Yams that have been there since two Thanksgivings, ago.) If you know you’re not going to eat it, and it’s still in good shape, donate it to a local food pantry.

Once you’ve downsized, reload your cabinets, grouping like things together. Prioritize where things go based on how often you use them. Keep daily use items, like cereal, bread and other breakfast foods, at eye level and in reach. Keep less frequently used items on higher shelves, and store heavy items on lower shelves.

Using bins inside your shelves can help keep items contained and grouped together. Plus, bins can act as a make-shift drawer, allowing you to access things at the very back of your shelves. Bins are also handy for storing things on high shelves, that you can’t see from below. Simply pull down your bin, pull out what you want, and tuck the bin back up on the shelf. (Use this strategy for lighter weight items like spices that you can easily maneuver off the top shelf.)

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Add labels to your containers or right on your shelves to remind you where things belong. This will help you reap the benefits of your organized pantry for even longer!

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Happy organizing!

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