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February 27, 2009

It’s quick. It’s simple.

And it could be yours!

Clutter-control-course

That’s right…up for grabs for this week’s edition of Freebie Friday is one spot in Quick + Simple Clutter Control…the online workshop that helps you clear you clutter, quickly and simply. What could be better than that? Well…

How about sharing your clutter control efforts with a supportive, enthusiastic and fun (!) group of online friends? Yep, you get that, too.

How about having a professional organizer (that’d be me) at your access for the entire duration of the workshop—answering your decluttering questions, keeping you motivated and sharing ideas and inspiration? Yep, you get that, too.

How about having the surface clutter in your home under control and a new decluttering habit under your belt before the start of April? Yep, you get that, too! If, of course, you participate in the daily challenge and follow along with the class concepts…but of course, you’ll want to do that, right?

So how about if Aby tells you how you can win…

OK, this week, as before, to win all you have to do is post a comment. This week I’d like to hear which area in your home is most in need of a spring cleaning or spring decluttering spruce-up. Share this in the comments section before this Sunday, March 1st, at 8 PM central…and you could be decluttering, with your best new friends (and me) on Tuesday! Good luck!!

February 24, 2009

organize your purse

If there's one small organizing project that gives you big bang for your buck, its organizing your purse. After all, you use your purse every single day. Plus, it's the home to all sorts of little, bitty things that you want to keep track of—pens, coins, lipstick, lip balm, keys, your cell phone, pens, gum...

Honestly, if there's one thing that can leave you feeling a bit scattered and disorganized, it's digging through your purse in search of that ringing cell phone, or your keys, or your camera so you don't miss the great photo op. 

Ah, the stress of it all. But no more...thanks to the little organizing dynamo known as the pouchee.

I have to tell you, I was skeptical at first...would I love the pouchee or not? Well, here's a glimpse back at my first day with the pouchee.

Pouchee arrives in mail. I open the package, my mind curious about what's inside. My eyes grow wide with excitement. My legs run to get my purse and my hands dump my purse onto the table. My hands  excitedly start loading up pouchee.

My mouth smiles.  

Seriously...within minutes I was loading up that little organizing dynamo...all those little pockets...all those compartments...one sized perfectly for my cell phone...another just right for my camera...a place for coins...a spot for my checkbook...little slots for credit cards and drivers license.

Need I say more...? Organizing bliss.

Oh, wait, there is one more thing to ponder. Would my new pouchee make my yet-to-arrive Butler Bagobsolete? Or would the Butler Bag notch up my purse organization to a point beyond bliss...?

Well...that's today's organizing cliff hanger. (Who knew there could be such a thing?) Stay tuned...

February 23, 2009

Winners!

The two winners of the March / April issue of Simple Scrapbooks magazine are:

Marne who said: Finding the right place to start is my problem. It can take me forever to begin a page! Organizing everything can be so frustrating. Thanks!

And Nadine who said: Although I have your book "The Organized And Inspired Scrapbooker", pens & paper are still my biggest scrapbook organizing challenge. It's funny! ... Maybe there are sooo many of it, I love - and I "must" buy ;o)

If you are Marne or Nadine email me your mailing address and we'll get your magazines mailed off to you.

If you didn't win this go around...check back later this week for some more freebie fun. ;)

Happy Monday!

February 20, 2009

It’s Friday…

…could it mean Freebie Friday? Well, yes indeed it does! Hooray!

I seem to find myself with a surplus of the March / April issue of Simple Scrapbooks magazine…the second to last issue. (While reading that last sentence, picture my face with just a hint of a pout on it. OK, picture a big pout.) Anyway, in light of this surplus of issues, I have two copies up for grabs. Hooray!

Mar-apr simple

One of the fun things (well, for me anyway) is the *new* Get Organized column featuring Wendy and me. It was really fun to work on and we have one more installment coming in the final issue (May / June) so keep your eyes open for that.

In the meantime, if you’d like one of my extra March/April copies, simply post a comment sharing your biggest scrapbook organizing challenge. I’ll keep the comments open until 8 PM Central on Sunday evening and the winners will be announced on Monday.

Good luck…and while you’re here be sure to check out the brand new simplify 101 buttons, badges, etc. Whatever you want to call them, wouldn’t one of these look super-stylin' on your blog or website? I think so... ;)

Have a great weekend!

February 17, 2009

IKEA Shopping Tips


Ah…IKEA…paradise in the real world. A shopping haven loaded with budget-friendly organizing and decorating solutions…what could be better than that?

Well, for starters, having an IKEA in my own town would help. The closest IKEA is a four hour drive for me—from driveway to parking lot (which means another four hours to get back home!) So, a trip to the paradise known as IKEA, while worth the time and effort, must be a well-planned event.

Blog reader Vickie is planning an upcoming trip to IKEA so she asked if I had any suggestions. She, too, has the long drive factor, and needs a plan for a successful shopping day. So here are some ideas for a well-organized IKEA trip.

Shop with a list. For me, shopping with a list is necessary even when the stakes aren’t high like they are with an eight hour drive to IKEA. A list is a must for me, but even if you live close to IKEA, a list is still a great idea. The place is big and very enticing, and it is really easy for things to jump into your cart when you aren’t looking. J

To create your list, start by browsing through the IKEA catalog.  You can get a copy via their website. Or, if you prefer paperless browsing, simply peruse the website and begin creating your list.

Make your list as specific as possible. It might just be me, but after a while all the names for the IKEA furniture and containers start to blur together. Include the IKEA name for the items you want. Model numbers, color and dimensions are even handier.

Check availability online. Last time I went to IKEA, I had two very specific needs in mind: a 2x4 Expedit bookcase, and a 4X4 Expedit bookcase. If I had arrived at IKEA only to find that there weren’t any in stock…it would have been a really long four hour drive back home. To check the stock status for your items visit the IKEA website and go to the product’s web page. Once on this page look for the link that says “check stock” and you can access the current stock status for your store. While you’re at it, jot down the “rack” and “section,” as this will tell you exactly where to find your items when you arrive at IKEA.

Make sure your stuff will fit. Measure your vehicle’s available storage area (such as the dimension of the trunk, hatch back area, etc.) so you’re sure your purchases will have a place to ride home. Also, check the box dimensions of the items you want to purchase. (These also can be found online.)

Shop early. If your trip to IKEA involves a long drive like mine does, I recommend checking stock status the night before. Then, go to bed early and start your trip at the crack of dawn (or before!) so you can arrive at the store right when it opens. Purchase your must have items first...then shop for the smaller, less mission critical items.

Shop on weekdays. If possible, plan your trip for a weekday…so the crowds are smaller.

Take a friend…even if it means you can’t buy as much stuff. I know. The temptation to make the most of the trip and load your vehicle with IKEA goodness is strong…but I will never again shop at IKEA alone. Never again.

The IKEA shopping experience is a bit stressful, truth be told. It’s a combination of realizing this is a once-every-few-years type of trip (pressure!) along with “I can’t return this if it doesn’t work out at home” (pressure!) Plus, there’s the fact that the store is big, loaded with really cool stuff, and arranged in some sort of circular maze…that makes it really easy to get lost and overwhelmed.

A friend is an IKEA shopping necessity. She can help you with decisions like “Will this blue blanket work in my bedroom?” as well as “I think we really should stop and eat some Swedish meatballs…you seem to be losing your focus.” This helps you avoid getting overwhelmed, lost or dizzy, and helps you purchase things you need, as well as items that will work well for you back home.

Other handy things to bring along. Aside from the most important shopping accessory (your friend) it’s also handy to have a notebook or clipboard and paper, a pen or pencil, a calculator, and a tape measure. Also bring along any fabric or paint swatches so you can make sure things will look great in your space. Also, take along measurements of your space so you can be sure your new purchases will fit as you envisioned them fitting.

Last but not least, load up your CD player with your happiest tunes for the drive, and wear comfy shoes. Plan a break for hydration and Swedish meatballs, and a successful shopping day is in the bag!

Do you have any IKEA shopping tips to share?  Or favorite IKEA finds? I’d love to hear…

February 12, 2009

Magazine Love

If you’ve been reading for a while, you know about my love of magazines. I have always, always loved magazines and catalogs. I remember as a teenager thumbing through Seventeen magazine over and over and over again…until the next issue landed in my mailbox. And I remember the pure bliss of getting the J-Crew catalog, admiring the fuzzy, wool sweaters and Barn Jackets.

Times have changed quite a bit! My love of magazines hasn't changed, but the magazine publishing industry is definitely going through some changes. In the last couple of months three of the magazines I subscribe to have evaporated into thin air. First it was Cottage Living—a magazine I absolutely adored. Then, just a few weeks ago, I found out Mary Englebreit Home Companion was closing up shop. (Though according to www.MaryEnglebreit.com they're seeking a new publisher...let's hope they find one!) And of course, saddest of all is the end of Simple Scrapbooks Magazine.

What is a magazine loving girl to do? She must find new magazines or become reacquainted with some old ones. My Mary Englebreit subscription is being replaced with Martha…and its fun to have Martha in my mailbox again—great organizing ideas and beautiful pictures, which when I’m really being honest is what it’s all about for me, the pictures. 

I’m also a faithful subscriber to Better Homes & Gardens…if this one went out of print, you might find me in fetal position in a corner somewhere for a few days or weeks. BHG has been a constant for my entire adult life, though I’m happy to say, I don’t have in my possession all of the back issues.

To fill the void in my mailbox, I recently started subscribing to Body + Soul…quite a bit more reading than pictures, but luckily it’s stuff I’d like to read about. And of course there’s Real Simple…which seems to be getting skinnier, but you could also call it simpler, which suits me just fine.

Recently I picked up a copy of ShopSmart, Consumer Reports Quick & Easy Shopping Guide (because the cover said “Get organized for free!” and magazines that say “organized” on the front tend to jump into my shopping cart.) There are in fact some good, free storage ideas inside, mixed in with a few good but not quite free ideas. But most interesting of all were these fascinating statistics:

A Recent ShopSmart Poll Found the Following Results about Common Closet Clutter-Uppers

51% of women cling to clothing they haven’t worn in three or more years.
64% find the stuff they no longer wear hard to get rid of because they might need it some day.
60% hold on to clothes that don’t fit anymore because they might lose or gain back the weight.
58% have clothes hanging in their closets with the tags still on them.
50% know they have too many shoes, boots, or handbags but cannot part with them.
54% complain that shoes, boots, and handbags are the hardest to store.
32% have too many T-shirts.
33% admit that their closets are bulging.
18% are actually embarrassed by their closets!

Fascinating stuff, isn’t it? You can read the article on-line here:  http://www.shopsmartmag.org/. Or you can pick up a copy of ShopSmart at major retailers like Barnes & Noble, Wal-Mart, Borders, Kroger, Safeway and Publix. Subscriptions are also now available at www.ShopSmartmag.org. (Just in case your mailbox is feeling a bit empty like mine.)

So that’s the latest on the magazine situation in my house. How about you? What are your current favorite magazines? Which ones are you sad to see go? (And…did any of those closet statistics ring true with you?) Can't wait to hear! 

February 09, 2009

Happy Monday!

I hope this Monday finds you refreshed and recharged. We had spring-like weather on Saturday, more on the way this week. So exciting! I know it’s been warming up around the country, and I don’t know about you, but I’m really ready. I’m so looking forward to sunshine, warmth and most of all—green.

Yesterday the kids and I turned our kitchen counter into a mini potting shed and planted some seeds. I’m one of those people who love to play in the dirt—always have. As a child I got stuck in the mud one spring due to playing in the dirt. I had to be rescued by a neighbor. She actually had to pull me out of my shoes to return me to solid ground.

This could explain my preference for gardening on the counter—but really, I’m just impatient.

Counter top potting shed

Since I can’t hurry along the official start of spring, I thought it’d be fun to create our own little patch of spring inside and get a head start on the garden. There’s something very satisfying about playing in the dirt (without the risk of getting stuck.) And there’s something even more satisfying about planting a seed and seeing it grow into a vegetable or a flower later in the summer.

The plan this year is to repeat the small vegetable garden in the back yard with tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapeno peppers and green peppers. Last year we tried zucchini but it never did produce a single vegetable, so we’re going to skip that this year. Funny thing about zucchini, you either have too much or none. Where’s the happy medium?

On the patio I love to grow herbs like basil and oregano. And then, I grow a few cutting flowers on the side yard and in pots around the yard. I love to cut fresh flowers and put them in vases or jars around the house. Oooh…I can’t wait! It’s so exciting to know that that process has started.

Markers

We also used a few of the million pots from IKEA to plant some grass seed. The pots are sitting on a window sill in my kitchen…but once the grass grows I’ll move them to the fireplace mantle…for a little pop of green. Can’t wait for that either. I have no idea how long it will take for this grass to sprout…but I’m guessing we’ll have green grass inside far before it turns green outside. 

Pots

So, it’s plain to see, I’m looking forward to spring. As much as I love so many things about winter—fires in the fireplace, knitting, and drinking hot chocolate…I’m ready to go back outside, see green out my windows, and eat something fresh from my garden. But...even though it’s not here yet, just looking forward to spring is fun. 

How about you…what are you looking forward to right now?

February 03, 2009

one more book to mention...

Just to wrap up (for now anyway) the series of blog posts on books, I wanted to mention one more book that I came across recently:  The Experts' Guide to Doing Things Faster: 100 Ways to Make Life More Efficient.

Experts-guide

I became aware of this book because my friend, professional organizer John Trosko, is featured in the book. His section is on how to organize your closet...and of course, do so faster. I love John's tips—things such as organizing your closet on a continual basis and doing so in small time segments. These are principals I share with clients and in my workshops—organizing is a process not an event, though so often we feel as if we need to clear our calendar just to organize our closet! John also shares a simple process for purging your clothes and he suggests adding labels to your closet—you know I love that!

I love the format of this book, too. It's delivers 100 ideas for making life more efficient, all delivered in short, bite-sized chapters. John's section on closet organizing just scratches the surface on what's packed in this little book. Among the 99 other ideas are tips on how to choose an outfit from Stacy London, how to unleash your creativity, and how to quickly get in shape from Gunnar Peterson. For a quick, informative and fun read that will help you make key areas of your life more efficient, check out "The Experts Guide to Doing Things Faster."

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