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August 29, 2008

When Organizing Isn't Enough

I know it’s shocking to think, but sometimes Organizing Isn’t Enough. That’s the premise of best-selling author Julie Morgenstern in her latest book called “When Organizing Isn’t Enough:  SHED Your Stuff, Change Your Life.” (Who knew there was more to life than organizing? ;) )

In all seriousness, in “When Organizing Isn’t Enough” Julie introduces readers to the concept of shedding, a step-by-step approach for creating space during a time of transition. According to the book’s cover: “Organizing works when you know where you’re going but don’t know how to get there. But sometimes organizing isn’t enough. When you’re eager to make a change in your life, but you are unsure of your new destination, you need to SHED.”

Whenorganizingisntenough_4The book teaches you the process of shedding. The first step is to identify the theme for your new chapter in life. This theme guides you through the next steps in the shedding process.

  • Separate the treasures—what is really worth holding on to?
  • Heave the trash—what’s weighing you down?
  • Embrace your identity—who are you without all your stuff?
  • Drive yourself forward—which direction connects to your genuine self?

This book offers a fresh perspective on decluttering and creating space during a time of transition in your life. Aside from providing a simple to follow, step-by-step process, there are number of powerful nuggets in the book—tidbits to help you let go of anything that’s weighing you down. Clutter, for example, is anything stagnate in your life, and can be found in your physical space, in your schedule and even in your habits. Julie shows you how to go through the SHED process for each of these key areas in your life and create space for a fresh, new life.

Wouldn’t it be fun to talk to Julie on the phone and learn all about her latest book? Guess what…I had the opportunity to do just that last week! And here’s the best part—you can listen-in right here, right now! Learn all about Julie’s latest book and how it can help you SHED your stuff and change your life.

Click here to listen to the interview.


August 25, 2008

Back to School Organizing Ideas: School Clothes Shopping

The weekend before school started was all about getting the kids ready for back to school. We participated in an annual right of passage, one I always looked forward to as a little girl, back to school clothes shopping!

In our family this event is preceded by the semi-annual kid’s closet and dresser organizing extravaganza. I thought I’d share some observations about what worked, in hopes it can streamline your school clothes shopping spree.

Observation number one: boys don’t like to try on clothes. So this year, we did some decision making before trying on clothes. Collin has inherited hand-me downs from a few different sources. This, coupled with playing on multiple sports teams and going to sports camps meant he had an over abundance of t-shirts. (I’m talking loads and loads of t-shirts.)

The first thing we did was sort all the clothes…those in his closet, those in the newly acquired hand-me down bags and those in the out of season / too big bins in his room. We grouped like items together: T-shirts with t-shirts; jeans with jeans; shorts with shorts; etc. Then, instead of making him try on everything…we first decided what he liked and what he would actually wear.

The questioning went like this.

Me: “Do you like it or dislike it?”

Collin: “Uh, I don’t know. I guess I like it.”

(Yes, that was the answer for the first ten or twenty shirts. Observation number two: this line of questioning isn’t working. It’s time for a new approach.)

Me: “Do you like it or love it?”

Then we were onto something. Somehow, it felt better to him to identify just the shirts he loved instead of saying he didn’t like something. So, the shirts he “just liked” went into the giveaway pile; the items he loved went into a second tier of decision making.

In this second round of decision-making, we decided if an item was school-worthy or weekend-worthy. T-shirts and sports shorts, for example, went into the weekend pile; collared shirts went into the school pile.

Once we had items grouped into the keep for school pile, Collin tried things on to see what fit. Items that fit were keepers; items that didn’t went into the giveaway pile.

After doing this sorting and trying on, the school shirt pile was very empty…not too many school-appropriate shirts in our midst, so we added collared shirts to the shopping list. He needed, at a minimum, five collared shirts, one for each day of the week.

Now…while we’re on the topic of quantity of shirts, I have to ask you to ask yourself, what is your comfort zone? How many unique shirts (or sweaters, pants, skirts, etc.) is the right amount for your kids to have to wear to school? Is one different shirt a day for a single week enough? Or is two weeks enough? Three? Four? There’s no right answer here…only comfort zones. The key is to identify your comfort zone, and then, add that quantity of items to your shopping list.

If you go through this process item by item, at the end of the closet organizing session you’ll have a terrific shopping list that you can take with you to the store. The four of us went through this process for Collin, and then, Jay and Collin hit the stores. (Kailea and I had created her list the day before, and went on our own shopping expedition.) The boys were much faster shoppers than the girls, which leads me to observation number three: boys don’t like to shop; girls do. But with a shopping list in hand, the process was simple and fun for everyone. Each team of shoppers knew exactly what they needed, and that took a lot of the stress out of school shopping (even for the boys.) This approach also kept us from buying loads of items we didn’t need (and would just have to spend time dealing with later.)

So that’s how we did it. How about you? How do you approach back to school shopping? I’d love to know your techniques and strategies. What works for you and your family? Do you do one big shopping trip at the start of the year…or do you buy a little bit at a time here and there? Please share. I’d love to hear from you!

August 22, 2008

radio interview today

That's right...the airwaves aren't safe today. ;) I'll be chatting on the o myth radio show today (August 22) at noon central / 10 AM pacific about some of my favorite topics...organizing, creative people and I bet the topic of scrapbooking will come up once or twice. Hope you can listen in!

August 19, 2008

first day of school

It's the first day of school here today...a nice, sunny, not too hot August day. A perfect day for new beginnings.

There is something about the first day of school that always makes me misty eyed. The kids look so cute— excited yet apprehensive all at the same time. The parents (at least this one) are filled with mixed emotions, too. This particular Mom is ready for the structure of the school year, time and space to focus. Yet, it's sad to say goodbye to the freedom of summer...the longer days, staying outside late playing, walking, riding bikes, and hanging out with the kids.

The house is quiet right now. I can finally focus without interruption...and yet, I feel completely unsettled.   

August 16, 2008

scrapbooking lessons…from a really old scrapbook

Look at this old beauty of a scrapbook.


It belonged to my Grandma Vivien A. Seeber. It's a scrapbook about being a member of Sigma Kappa sorority back in the 1920s. It's quite a gem. (And it seems to indicate I have scrapbooking in my genes.)

Here's another peek inside.


I love this little autograph book. My favorite part is seeing Grandma's signature on the front. That's right's her handwriting and I love it. I remember this handwriting, and it's amazing how little it changed from when she was in her 20s to when she was in her 70s and 80s when I knew her. I love that and it helps me reaffirm the importance of using my own handwriting in my scrapbooks...whether I like my handwriting or not. It's really quite irrelevant if I like my's just a piece of me that I have the opportunity to share with people for years and years to come.

Lesson 1. Use your handwriting in your scrapbooks. This is one of the deepest connections for me in this scrapbook. Seeing Grandma's handwriting made her essence tangible to me today...even though she's been gone for years.

Here's another photo of the scrapbook...isn't this great? But who are these people? I haven't a clue because it doesn't say anywhere in the scrapbook. Such a bummer. I would love to know if that lady golfing is my Grandma, one of her relatives, a friend...and if so, why is that person important enough to be in my Grandma's scrapbook about her sorority? I'd love to know because I golf, too.


Although...I do dress differently, for the record.

But that's not the point, really. This is:

Lesson 2. Every now and then, tell us who is in the photos in your scrapbooks. may seem obvious now, but in a few years (or decades, as the case is here) some grandchild may not not know that is YOU in the picture. And, speaking on behalf of that grandchild...she'll probably be interested.

And look at this. Apparently Grandma went to the Sigma Kappa Golden Jubilee Convention in June of 1924. I wonder why she went? What was the convention about? What did she learn? Who did she go with? Was $30.00 a lot to spend on the convention? What did they do there besides Sigma Kappa perhaps? I would love to know...but the story is missing from this scrapbook as well.


Lesson 3. Take the time to journal and tell your story on your scrapbook pages. If you can't figure out what to say...try putting yourself in the shoes of someone 84 or so years down the road. ;) What would he or she want to know? The little details that seem so obvious now...will be so interesting in the years to come. Start with the basics. Who made this scrapbook or page? Why did you take the time to create it? Looking at Grandma's scrapbook, it's clear that grammar and sentence structure don't matter in a scrapbook. I don't need complete sentences. I would just love a few nuggets about this experience and why it meant so much to her. It would tell me about her at a level I never knew when she was alive. And I might have discovered that we shared a love of golf...and never even knew it.

Lesson 4. Your scrapbooks matter...whether anyone is taking the time to drink them in today or not. My Mom gave me this scrapbook years ago...and frankly, it didn't capture my interest at the time. I had other things on my mind and other priorities. I said thank you and tucked it away. is a total gem. And next time Mom's in town...I'm going to pull it out and see if she can help me connect the dots to my Grandma Vivien A. Seeber.

August 11, 2008

Back-to-School Organizing Ideas: the family calendar

I recently received this question from a fellow blog reader.

I have a typical busy household with kids in sports activities and things going on all the time to keep track of. Right now, my husband and I each have our own At-A-Glance calendar that we try to keep coordinated. I have tried going digital on my Blackberry but like to see the whole month at a time, and that just didn't do it for me. I don't like the look of having a big calendar on the fridge, and ours is not magnetic anyway. I would like to have one family calendar that we all refer to and add to. In your experience, what do you find works well? Dry erase, traditional paper, one color ink per person to keep track, etc?

With school just around the corner (yes, it starts for my kids NEXT Tuesday!) I thought this was a timely question. For us…life is about to ratchet up on the complications scale…so it’s a good time to rethink the family calendar. So here are my thoughts on family calendars.

I have to agree completely on the digital calendar bit. I’ve tried this before, and like our fellow blog reading friend, found the time horizon to be just (way) too short for me. I prefer a month-at-a-glance calendar and for my family I maintain a big wall calendar (that hangs on the fridge.) OK…so the fridge part is where we differ…but that’s OK. There are other options.

An important consideration with your family calendar is where to hang it. To be most effecitve, the calendar should be hung in a centralized location where everyone can see it. This is why the refrigerator works well...your calendar is right smack dab in the middle of everything, reminding you about what’s going on. Other options, depending on the layout of your home, include the laundry room, on the back door (if that’s the door you use daily), the inside of the coat closet door, or on a bulletin board in the kitchen. You could also use a smaller calendar, and keep it tucked in a basket on the kitchen counter or on the back of a cabinet door. Hanging the calendar out of site would require everyone to adopt a new habit of pulling out the calendar and looking at it on a daily basis. This would require some effort.

I’d recommend a paper calendar over dry erase or chalkboard (even though that type of calendar looks so cool) because you can’t plan as far in advance with this type of calendar. For example, now is a great time to get all the school holidays and planned school events on your family calendar. (Or do this as soon as this info is available in your school district.) With a single-month dry erase or chalkboard calendar, you wouldn’t be able to record events further out than the month you’re in. This means you’d have to maintain a secondary calendar and then update your dry-erase calendar at the start of each month. All of this translates into double entry of info, more stuff to keep track of, and more than one place to look to figure out what your family has going on (especially if you’re nearing the end of a month.) Also, with a dry-erase calendar you don’t have a paper record of the past events…which can be nice to have (especially if you’re a scrapbooker.)

As far as color coding goes…well…I’m not a fan. I typically don’t recommend this for clients, unless they have used color coding in the past and found it to solve an organizational problem for them. I know there are advocates of color-coding out there, but for me, the benefit of having everyone assigned a specific color does not exceed the challenge of having four pens at-the-ready each time I go to update the calendar. Color coding just adds a step and an extra thought process…and I don’t find that the added benefit is worth it. Keep in mind I only have two kids, so I usually just put their initials in parenthesis in front of the event or deadline that applies to them and this works fine for us. 

I do like color, though. I use brightly colored Sharpies to update my calendar and usually select colors in keeping with the month (orange in October, red and blue in July, green and red in December.) I couldn’t do that with color coding…now could I? ;)

Wow…who knew I had so much to say about family calendars? Maybe you do, too. Let’s see if you do…

Do you use a family calendar? If so, what’s your favorite kind—paper, chalk, dry-erase, or some other kind? And I’m dying to know:  are you a color coder…or not so much?

August 10, 2008

enjoying the last week of summer...

...and putting the finishing touches on Organizing 101. Will be back to normal blogging soon!

August 04, 2008


Congratulations to:

Susan who commented on August 1, 2008 at 4:45 PM and to Margie each won your very own copy of Mini Albums in an Evening! Email me your mailing address and we'll get 'er shipped off to you!

August 01, 2008

It's.....Freebie Friday!

Woohoo! Hope your Friday has gotten off to a great start!

So the giveaway this week is mini…but it’s BIG!

(Are you confused?)

Well, let me clear it up. Simple Scrapbooks just put out a brand new special issue on mini albums, and boy is this BIG news! Why’s that? Well, I don’t know about you, but time is always something I wish I could bottle up and get a bit more of, especially when it comes to scrapbooking. So if I can find a solution that allows me to get a lot done in a little bit of time…well, let’s just say that is BIG in my book. And the folks at Simple have done it with this fabulous, special issue called “Mini Albums in an evening!” That’s right…in just one evening you can complete one of 58 scrapbook projects. How great is that?


One of my favorite projects is a Year in Review album by Melanie Louette. How brilliant is this:  she incorporated the bookmark from Real Simple into her layout, and used it as the page title and a journaling block.


Yes, pure brilliance. But brilliance aside, I’m in love with the idea of capturing a year’s worth of memories in just one evening! (And having even more justification for my library worth of Real Simple back issues…well that doesn’t hurt either.)

So, I have to tell you I love mini albums, and I actually make more mini albums than “regular” pages. I love the sense of completion that comes from finishing a mini album, and I love to give mini albums as gifts.

So, how about you? Do you love mini albums? Do you want in on this great giveaway? To enter, just leave me a comment telling me why you think mini is BIG. I’ll keep the comments open until Sunday evening, August 3rd, at 8 PM Central. Then, check back on Monday when I’ll announce two lucky winners of this super special issue (and the cute “mini is BIG” buttons, too!)

Good luck…and keep in mind, if you don’t win, this special issue, loaded with cool projects like the one below, can be yours for just $6.99. Now that’s BIG!


Have a great weekend!

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