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May 31, 2008

simple creative labeling ideas

You may have noticed, I've got a thing for labeling. I like to label everything from refrigerators to baskets to buckets. Labels are an important step in the organizing process...but why not make 'em cute? That's what I say, anyway. And as these examples show, cute doesn't even have to be time consuming. It can be super-simple.

Here are some ideas:


In the example above, you just use a pre-made tag from Wal-Mart. (These are Paperbilities brand in the scrapbook section.) Just add some ribbon (from American Crafts) and your own handwriting and doodling...and you've got yourself a label. (The basket was from the Target dollar spot. I snagged it a month or so ago.)


This little bucket is sporting the same store bought label, this time with Orfray ribbon (Wal-Mart again.) And the words "stamp pads" are stamped using this and this


This last example uses the same stuff, but simply adds a card-stock letter (from My Minds Eye—really old!) for an added bit of color and fun.

So there you go...if you're looking for something fun to do this weekend, why not label some bins, buckets, baskets or jars? Or you could always do something more traditional like a BBQ, but what fun would that be? ;)

Whatever your plans for this weekend, have fun!

By the way...I've been getting some great questions about The Quick + Simple Clutter Control Workshop. If you have a question, too, post it in the comments. I'll do a blog post to answer all the workshop Q's later this weekend.

May 27, 2008

baskets for scrapbook storage

The Organizing Junkie is hosting a basket carnival today, and I just couldn't pass up on the fun. See, the buckets have been getting a lot of press around here lately. But my first love organizing love was the good old wicker basket. I seriously remember going to Pier One with my Mom when I was maybe like 12 years old and drooling over all the baskets. Crazy, isn't it?

Anyway...I thought I'd share some photos of baskets (and other containers) I use in my scrapbook space / office. Since...I also haven't really talked about scrapbook organizing lately on this blog-o-mine. So here we go:


This is a photo of one of the cubbies in my space—it's journaling central. Everything I need to journal on my scrapbook pages is tucked into this one cubby.


I love this basket because it's already divided, making it perfect for stashing an assortment of goodies, like markers, journaling cards, a date stamp, and accent words. I added some drinking glasses inside the compartments so the pens would stay propped up. A sundae cup raises up the journaling cards for easy access.

Next to the basket are two containers with more journaling goodies: a ceramic dish holds little journaling cards...


and a metal tin holds stickers, journaling notebooks and larger journaling cards.


I also use a basket to hold my 8 1/2" x 11" card-stock. I love this. I have super heavy pieces of white chipboard that serves as a divider between the different it's easy to flip right to the color I'm after. Plus, big scraps of card-stock can go right in the front of each color section for easy access. The basket is labeled with a swatch booklet for quick and easy reference of color combinations to try.


Both baskets were purchased at Wal-Mart...over a year ago. The ceramic dish and metal container were from Target. Which reminds me...if anyone has any extra of those metal, rectangular buckets...the small size from a year ago...let me know. I know someone who really, really wants some and would be happy to relieve you of them. Post me a comment if you over-indulged in small, metal containers.

Happy organizing!

May 26, 2008

organizing for the do-it-yourselfer just got more fun!

You may have landed here today and thought "Where am I?"'re right here at the Creative Organizing blog. We just gave her (and the simplify 101 site) a new look in honor of something new we've been working on to help you on your organizing journey.

Do you love to organize? Or do you love the feeling of a freshly organized space? Do you love to learn new things and make new friends? Do you wish you could work with a professional organizer...but feel that you'd stretch your budget better if you did the hands-on organizing yourself?

If you answered yes to any of these're going to love our brand new online organizing workshops.


We're kicking it off with a workshop called "Quick & Simple Clutter Control." In this workshop, you'll have access to an online community, photo gallery, lesson materials, a project download and a worksheet—all designed to help you learn clutter control techniques, and then, take action on them in your own home. You'll have access to the ten simple yet effective clutter control solutions during the first week of the workshop. Then, for a full four weeks, you'll take action at a pace that works for you and your schedule, conquering the most troubling clutter hot-spots in your home.

For four, full weeks you'll have access to a professional organizer (me) via a private, for-workshop-participants-only, forum. Plus, we'll have a live telecall to get your questions answered. So you'll have everything you need to your home into a haven of calm by the end of the summer! How fun is that?

I hope you'll join me on this exciting new adventure!

May 22, 2008

new birthday traditions (and a challenge for you!)

First, a big thank you and many hugs for all the birthday wishes! You all really made my day. :)

So I was chatting with a friend today and she was asking about my birthday. "How was it?" she asked.

"It worked," I said. "I turned 40."

I then went on to tell her, all kidding aside, it was truly a wonderful day. In all honesty, the best birthday ever. And why was that? Well, the answer is this:

I *decided* it would be a great day.

In the past...I have tended to be a tad-bit grouchy on my birthday. And this pattern goes back many, many years. My 16th birthday. Grouchy. My 21st birthday. Grouchy. Thirty. Morning sickness = grouchy. I'm not sure why I was so frequently a tad-bit grouchy on my birthday...I just was.

This year, I decided it would be different. (Instead of being grouchy *on* my birthday, I was grouchy for the first few days of May instead.) It's true. I pondered and stewed and contemplated. Forty? Forty. Finally I decided, it was going to happen one way or another, so why not enjoy it?

I spent some time figuring out what would make me happy on my birthday. I had said for years I was going to have a *big* party on my 40th...but that thought, as the day drew near, was really not so appealing. Cleaning my house and making food all while opening myself up to "over the hill" gag gifts...I sensed grouchiness on the horizon.

I've also been around long enough (and have decluttered enough homes) to know it isn't the *stuff* that makes for a happy birthday. Nope. A big birthday gift wasn't going to stave off the grouchiness.

The thing that I knew would work was an afternoon of pampering. So I called. I made the appointment. And off to the spa I went for a 90 minute massage and a manicure. (Exact duration of the manicure is unknown...but did you catch the 90 minutes on the massage? Oh my heavens, this is truly the way to go.)

It was a wonderful day. Jay and Kailea made me my favorite cake. I got to talk to friends and family on the phone. Jay made me dinner. My sweet neighbor Lisa sent me an Edible Arrangement. There were other gifts involved. I got wonderfully sweet comments on my blog. It was a truly, truly special day.

I ended the day by writing thank you notes, which will be my second new tradition. (The spa thing...that ones sticking around, too.) It was wonderful to end my day focused on gratitude and expressing my thanks with those who celebrated my big day with me.

So I share all of this not to remind you once again of my age (I think this will be the last specific mention of it for at least ten years) but instead to remind you of two pathways to happiness that I rediscovered on my birthday.

The first is to take care of *you.* Happiness, my friends, is in our own hands (well, and the hands of the message therapist in this case.) But seriously, we have to decide what it is that will make us happy, and then set into motion a plan that will make it be. This took me many years and many grouchy birthdays to figure out.

The second pathway to happiness:  gratitude.

With this holiday weekend upon us, first I want to say thank you to you. Thanks for reading my ramblings and celebrating my big birthday with me. Second, I want you to do something for you this weekend. Perhaps it's some extra time scrapbooking, or a bubble bath, or a leisurely hour at the book store, or maybe even a (90 minute!) massage—just because. Simply do something for you. You deserve it AND it will feel great to get in the driver's seat of your own happiness. If you take me up on my little challenge, or if you have favorite way to pamper yourself, please share. I'd love to hear how you celebrate YOU.

May 18, 2008

the beginning of a new era

I was going to entitle this post "the end of an era." But as this era draws to an end, what I'm most excited about is the new era that lies ahead.

So what is this era that's coming to an end?

My 30's.

Poof! They're vanishing before my eyes.

According to the clock, I have about two hours left to spend in my thirties. (But, oh no, I just thought of something. I was born in the Eastern time zone, so maybe it's even less. Oh just doesn't matter.) Because just around the corner is a whole new era.

I'm so excited.

Thinking back over the past four decades of my life, this last one, my thirties, was by far the best. I see that as a great sign: life just keeps on getting better and better and better. I love that.

I've been thinking about this milestone a lot this month...perhaps this explains my lack of blogging. I've been doing a lot of introspective thinking; trying to get some perspective on this whole rite of passage. Moving from a thirty-something to a, uh, forty year old, well it just took a while to get my brain around. It's really happening. It really is.

This past decade was fantastic. Most notably, my thirties brought me two amazing kids with the wonderful husband I married late in my twenties. (And seriously, if those kiddos were all I had to show for my thirties, that would be more than enough. They make my world go round.)

But that wasn't thirties were really good to me.

On a professional front, this fine decade brought me an exit from corporate America (woohoo!) It brought me simplify 101, The Organized & Inspired Scrapbooker, The Happy Scrapper, a column with Organize Magazine, but best of all...amazing new friends...some of whom I have met in person and some of whom I have come to know and love in the virtual world of blogs, websites, email and telephones. I never would have dreamed any of this were possible in my twenties. Back then...I didn't even own a computer!

My thirties also took me on many a fine adventure. I visited places like Napa Valley with Jay, Washington with my Mom and several trips to my home state of Michigan. There were trips to Chicago for CHA; Boston, Reno and San Diego (a personal favorite!) for organizing conventions and even a trip to Las Vegas. (Note to self...fill your forties with more travel.) 

My thirties were also when I ran my first 5K (and my second and third for that matter!) In my twenties I think I would have been hard-pressed to run one "K" let alone five. Just more evidence that life continues to get better.

So...I'm sharing all of this mostly for me. To process it all. To embrace it. To rejoice in the fact that life truly is getting better. Sure. I had far fewer wrinkles when I was twenty. But along with the wrinkles of my thirties came wisdom and joy that fills my mind and heart today—wisdom and joy beyond anything I could have imagined in my twenties. And it just keeps getting better.

I love this thing called life. And tomorrow, Monday, May 19th, I celebrate forty amazing years on this planet. And I give thanks for the chance to experience this miracle called life.

Bring on the forties! I can't wait to see where this next decade, this next phase in my journey, takes me.

By the way, thank you for letting me share. Once I get through this birthday "hoopla" and the introspection that seems to be accompanying it, I promise I will blog about organizing again. I promise. :)

Have a great day!


May 12, 2008

organizing business cards

(alternative blog title: proof I shop places other than Target)

If this isn't your first stop at this may have noticed that I enjoy organizing things in somewhat non-traditional ways, with a creative touch whenever possible. Today's post combines lots of my favorite organizing things (and there aren't even buckets involved!)

Besides my love of buckets, I also love old, wooden boxes. So imagine my thrill last summer while in Seattle I happen upon this beauty:


I also happen to love the color red, so I'm not sure it could get better than this. Here's a peek at the inside of her:


Even though this box is designed to hold 3X5 cards...I decided she could be put to use to solve my business card dilemma. I have been collecting cards for years and never found the perfect organizing system for them. My rational, organizer mind said "Go electronic! It's so much more efficient." But my creative organizer mind said to do this:


"Make index dividers using your favorite card-stock, and use the cool, red box who does not deserve to sit idle on a shelf any longer." And so I did.

So here's the deal. This system isn't for everyone, by any stretch of the imagination. But for me, it became quite clear after years of not entering all my business cards into Outlook or some other electronic system...that electronic was simply not for me (even though that rational organizer kept telling me it was a better way to go...the creative and tactile side of me wasn't biting.)

My personal belief is that the best organizing systems are the ones that work for you and how you think...and the ones that make you happy. An old, red wooden box with index cards made using my favorite scrapbook paper in the world...makes me happy! So you don't have to use technology if technology doesn't work best for you. PDA's, information managers, and all the other electronic tools are terrific for people who think this way, and for people who don't develop a personal attachment to business cards. I love a pretty business card and I also remember people by their business cards. It's a visual queue I use to remember who someone is, where I met them, and when I met them.

Once I decided on the red box as the storage solution, I needed to figure out how to sort or organize my cards. Had a client posed this question of me about their business cards, I could have easily rattled off a number of suggestions. But...since this was my own personal organizing dilemma, I was riddled with the feeling that I should already know what to do. "It shouldn't be so hard, Aby," a little voice kept telling me.

But it was.

I was already feeling guilty ;) for not being more hip from a technology standpoint. Couple this with the knowledge that for the past several years the cards had been unsorted in a small (but very cute) basket where the cards were next to impossible to find when needed...well I was feeling a bit paralyzed.

So, I did what anyone in my position would do: I emailed a professional organizer.

Janine came to my rescue, helping me put my indecision to an end. The final sorting system: the cards are sorted by how I think of them! (Brilliant!) I have categories such as "scrap friends" for people I meet at scrapbook trade shows or through other scrapbook events. There's one called "BNI / Chamber" where I store all the cards for people I met through those organizations. There's one called "NAPO '08" where I store cards from people I met at this year's convention. Behind each divider the cards aren't in any particular order...which will work fine for me. This will give me a great excuse to sift through the cards when I go looking for I get to revisit all those wonderful cards again.


The truth is...the people I contact on a regular basis are in I can quickly get my hands on their info. But my cute red box will make a nice addition to my office and allow me to hold onto the physical business cards for when I want or need a memory jog about that one lady who I met at the scrapbook show that has a great organization for donating used scrapbook supplies...

So where do you weigh in on the business card organizing dilemma? Alphabetical or by category? Paper or electronic? And if you throw the cards away once they're entered? Red wooden boxes or blue? You know I'd love to hear from you!

May 09, 2008

seasonal storage solutions

This is a great time of year to let your creative organizing juices flow as you browse through the outdoor summer-ware / party-ware isle at your favorite local retailer. (Like Target for example.) You might just stumble upon a serving tray like this one:


and decide it's perfect for corralling scrapbooking and other craft gear for an evening of crafting (or button sorting) in front of the T.V., like this:


Or you might come across a silverware caddy (that closely resembles a bucket making it almost irresistible) like this one from Kohl's:


and decide it'd be perfect for corralling markers, colored pencils, scissors, paint brushes, a bottle of decoupage, sanding blocks, and other crafting essentials. (Or you might, like me, get an email from Missy with the above photo attached giving you a head's up about this darling caddy from Kohl's. Thank you, Missy, and the rest of you who think of me when you're out and about and happen upon buckets.)

So what if you don't scrapbook or craft? Are these finds useless for you? No siree. These organizing gems are terrific, even when used for their originally intended purpose.

We love to eat on the deck this time of year (in the rare event it isn't raining!) and a serving tray and silverware caddy makes it a much simpler and orderly undertaking. Load up the caddy with silverware, napkins, salt, pepper, or ketchup and mustard...and you'll save yourself many-a-step on the way to your outdoor eating adventure.

So keep your eyes open for some fun and colorful seasonal finds that will help you organize creatively (or enjoy a meal outside.) Either way, how can you go wrong?'s your turn. Have you found any creative organizing gems lately? You know I'd love to hear...

May 07, 2008

mark your calendars...

and plan to tune into the Organizing Playground Radio Show next Tuesday, May 13th from 12-1 PM Eastern time. I will be one of the guests and guess what I get to do? I get to talk about two of my favorite things:  organizing and scrapbooking! So...if you like these things, too, be sure to tune in! You can listen live or via pod-cast. (If you go to the link above you can find out all the details.)

The Organizing Playground is all about having fun with organizing. (Right up my alley, wouldn't you say?) It's hosted by Professional Organizers Allison Carter and Sara Fisher. I'm super excited and hope you'll listen in! Thank you, Allison for the chance to chat with you next week on your show!

May 02, 2008

special offer for blog readers only!

UPDATED: special offer ended Monday, May 5, 2008 at midnight. Thanks to everyone who participated in the sale...maybe we'll do it again sometime!

In honor of National Scrapbook Day (which happens to be tomorrow) and to say thank you to all you fantastic blog readers, we're offering a blog reader only special! Now through Monday at midnight get half-off the happy scrapper!


If you don't have plans yet for National Scrapbook Day, why not spend it curled up with a good book that will help you get more organized for scrapbooking? Just think, by the end of the weekend you, too, could be a happy scrapper!

To get "the happy scrapper" for half off enter coupon code "HS50" at check out. In just'll have the happy scrapper in your hot little hands!

But hurry...this insanely insane offer will end at midnight central time (US) on Monday!

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