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October 30, 2009

Friday To-Do List

So it’s Friday, again! And it’s a rainy Friday. Again! It has been an incredibly wet and dreary October in my neck of the woods. But, oh well. I guess that’s what umbrellas are for.

So what’s on your Friday to-do list? Mine is simple and sweet:  Enjoy spending time with my Dad. Yay! My Dad and his wife are in town for a visit, and I’m seriously just so happy to see him. So, no projects this weekend—just some trick-or-treating and relaxing with this very-special-to-me man that I call Dad.

So no finishing for me this weekend…just sitting back, relaxing and enjoying the fruits of past weekends labor, like this fun (or perhaps funny) little project:



This project came together over the course of a couple of weekends. I was inspired by an article about seasonal decorating in this magazine.  The article talked about simple ways to transform your home’s decor for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and then New Year by using the same items in different ways for each holiday. So that got my creative juices flowing—I loved the idea, but wasn’t really sure how to pull it off in my home.

Then, I saw another project in Better Homes and Gardens where they strung pressed leaves from a ribbon on an empty, painted picture frame. Viola! I’ll hang ghosts from an old picture frame. The best part of this project is that it cost nothing. The frame was a curb-side “find” (thank you “Auntie Phyl”), and the ghosts were made from our old bed skirt and fiber fill that I had on hand. Fun and free—gotta’ love that. 

I’m hoping to do some other seasonal projects for Thanksgiving and Christmas using this frame. Who knows if and when inspiration will strike? We’ll see…perhaps a future Finish It Friday project.

So…that’s my weekend, and a little look back into projects completed in weekend’s past. I’d love to hear what’s on your Finish It Friday list! I hope you have a wonderful, productive and relaxing weekend. See you on Monday!

October 28, 2009

Could I ask a favor?

On Monday I mentioned that I had an exciting announcement. Well, the wait is over! The exciting announcement is just moments away.

But first, here’s a bit of background.

On January 30th, The 5th Annual Los Angeles Organizing Awards will be held at the historic Raleigh Studio in Hollywood California. This is a one-of-a-kind national event put together by the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers. And it is very cool—think red carpet event in Hollywood. Seriously—it’s that cool.

Over 200 members of the professional organizing industry will attend this event to celebrate the people and products that have helped shape the organizing industry in 2009. And guess what? The Simplify 101 website and this blog is a finalist! We have been nominated for Best Organizing Website or Blog!

Jay and I are seriously honored to have been nominated and made the list of finalists. Because, even though in my Monday post I said this big announcement had nothing to do with babies, in a way it has everything to do with a baby. Simplify 101 is like our third little baby—we have poured our hearts and souls into it. So, to be recognized in this way…well…it is just too cool for words. (Literally, I am in a rare state of speechlessness, thus explaining my delay in posting about this.)

So, could I ask a favor? If you enjoy this blog, our website, newsletter, workshops—anything that is simplify 101, would you take a minute and vote for simplify 101? This is a case of “most votes wins”, so we would truly and sincerely appreciate your support. (And if you would spread the word to your friends and family to get them in on the voting, too, that would be very, very appreciated.)

Voting is super simple. Here’s how to cast your vote:

  • Go to
  • Click on “Cast Your Votes Now Through December 15!”
  • Under “New Users” enter your e-mail address and click the “login” button. (By the way…I voted last year and I didn’t get unsolicited mystery emails as a result of entering my email address…so no worries there.)
  • Scroll down until you see the category Best Organizing Website or Blog, and then look for Simplify 101™ Blog/Website - Aby & Jay Garvey. Click on the circle next to Simplify 101.
  • Then, scroll down to the bottom of the page and enter your name. (Your email address will already be populated. If you do not want to be added to the email lists indicated, change the selection to "no.") Click “submit” and you have voted!

Thank you so much for your support! Jay and I are truly honored and are very grateful for your support.

October 26, 2009

Check, check, check!

Wow…no wonder I waited to paint my hallway for so long. What a royal pain in the legs, back, arms and feet. ;) In my mind that project was going to take about three hours. Which it probably would have, had I only painted the walls. But I painted the doors and trim, too. And OMG…that was a s-l-o-w process to say the least. I painted seven door sides (I only did the side facing into the hall, except in the bathroom where I did both sides.) And I painted trim for days. Literally. It took forever! And I still have to paint the coat closet doors…but my friends that will have to wait for another day, week, or maybe year, for that matter. See, my three hour (in my mind) project actually took over 12 hours in the real world. Yikes! That’s a lot of time to be going up and down a ladder, bending down on the floor to paint trim, and finally, finally rolling on a beautiful shade of Bone White paint from Benjamin Moore. Oh how I love this new paint. So at the end of it all, there was a nice reward, it really does look nice. And it’s done! Woohoo!

Other check marks for the weekend included:

  • Laundry. (check!)
  • List those two items on Craig’s list that are left over from last weekend. (uh…no check…)
  • Finalize Halloween costumes. (check!)
  • Make ghosts. (check!)
  • And a couple of add-ons—sign up for next session of yoga (check!) and sign up Kailea for Tae-Kwon-Do (check!)

Well…that was a fun little endorphin rush. Just saying “check” over and over has made me quite happy. Yay for endorphins!

Now it’s your turn! Please tell me about all of your check marks—I would love to hear about them. I was happy beyond words that so many of you joined me in Finish It Friday this week. Believe me, I thought about you more than once as I was going up and down that ladder, painting those doors, painting that trim…painting…painting…painting… Thanks for being there with me in spirit. :)

Okay…that’s it for now. But check back again soon because I have a really exciting announcement to make. (And it has nothing to do with babies…) 

October 23, 2009

Happy Friday!

Oh my gosh, it’s Friday again. Already. Did this week fly by for you, too?

At any rate, it’s Friday so it’s time for some weekend planning. I’m up for finishing some more stuff today and this weekend. Here’s my list:

  • Laundry — finish today so I don’t have to worry about it this weekend. Always better this way.
  • Paint the hallway — this is a maybe as it assumes that I can find a suitable paint color today.
  • List those two items on Craig’s list that are left over from last weekend.
  • Finalize Halloween costumes.
  • Make ghosts.


Okay…there’s my list.  What’s on your list this weekend?


October 19, 2009

The Best Laid Plans are Flexible

As you know, last Friday I posted what I realized was an aggressive list for Finish it Friday. Since the weekend is when I have my biggest block of “do-stuff-around-the-house” time, I love the idea of starting the weekend with a to-do list—a.k.a. my Finish It Friday list. My list helps me stay focused during the weekend, which means more things get done than if I didn’t have a list or a plan.

Now, from working with clients and online workshop participants, I know there are those of you out there who avoid planning because you feel like if you make a plan you have to follow it. The thinking goes something along the lines of this: If I make a list for the weekend and don’t check everything off the list then I feel like I’ve failed.

Ouch! That is pretty high stakes stuff. Do it all or you’ve failed. I can see why you’d resist creating a plan if success or failure was that black and white!

My approach to planning is a bit more flexible. See, I didn’t finish my entire list this weekend, but I did get an awful lot done. I don’t think I failed at all. What do you think? Here’s what I checked off my list:

  • List three items on Craig’s list. Partial check. One item was listed, the other two are closer to being listed, but not quite done.
  • Straighten up the basement back room.Check – and well worth the effort. Yay! 
  • (Start) and finish cleaning the house! Check!
  • Transfer photos to jump drive for my family in Michigan. Check!
  • Order samples for master bedroom window blinds. Check!
  • Paint a picture frame. Check!
  • Finish up my projects for Get Organized for the Holidays. Nope…but hey, that’s what today’s for, right?

So…did I fail? Well, first let’s explore why those other things didn't get done. In a nutshell, I got a better offer (or made a better plan.) Yesterday, we decided to take advantage of the beautiful October afternoon and go on family outing to the pumpkin farm. We left the house at noon for some much needed clothes shopping for the kids, and then headed to the pumpkin farm. We returned home at about 8:30 PM after dinner at Jay’s parents. Long story short—there wasn’t much time to get things done yesterday! And that was fine by me. Because I made my plan on Friday, I got a lot of stuff done on Saturday. Even though all I did was post one thing on Craig’s list and put a second coat on that picture frame—I wasn’t at all taunted by my to-do list yesterday. I knew the world wasn’t going to come to a screeching halt if my other two items weren’t listed, and I knew that I could finish up the holiday class projects today. So…it was all good.

The moral of the story is this. When you make a plan, even something as simple as a weekend to-do list, you don’t have to get it all done to be successful. This isn’t a case of all or nothing. Anything you check off your list is a success. Every check mark is progress. Every check mark is a step forward.

So if you avoid making plans or even to-do lists due to fear of failure, try reframing your thinking. To-do lists and plans aren’t all or nothing propositions, nor are they set in stone. They’re a tool to make it easier to get things done—and they do work! So give planning a try and give yourself the permission to keep it flexible! You can change it, tweak it, delete things, and defer things to your heart’s content. Remember, the best laid plans are flexible.

So…I’d love to hear from you. What works for you when it comes to planning, making to-do lists and getting things done? Do you love lists or avoid them like the plague? Or, if you’d like to share what you finished this weekend, you know I’d love to hear!  (And thank you to Brenda, Mikia and Cheryl for joining me in Finish it Friday! And Michelle, I look forward to hearing from you next week.)

Happy Monday!



October 16, 2009

Finish it Friday is Back!

So it’s Friday, and boy do I have a lot of lingering to-dos hanging around on my happy little to-do list. It was a really busy week, (thus explaining my absence from this blog,) and as a result, there are just a few things I need to finish up.

Would you like to join me? I'd love the company. If you’re new to Finish It Friday, you can read the details here. If it sounds like fun, but you aren’t sure where to start, read this post. Then, pick a kitchen micro-organizing or cleaning project. Really, it’s that simple. Just pick a project. Decide to finish. And then, post here when you finished. Sound like a plan?

I'll go first. Here’s my Finish It Friday list. (I need to give myself a nudge, so it’s a pretty long list.)

  • List three items on Craig’s list. (I’ve been putting this off way, way too long!)
  • Straighten up the basement back room.
  • (Start) and finish cleaning the house! (I usually do this during the week…but this week was just too busy. Oh well…)
  • Transfer photos to jump drive for my family in Michigan.
  • Order samples for master bedroom window blinds.
  • Paint a picture frame.
  • Finish up my projects for Get Organized for the Holidays.

Okay…I’ve gone on record! Wish me luck. We also have soccer, some shopping to do, and a family get-together, so it’s going to be a full weekend. But it will feel really good to get this stuff done! Just putting it in writing has me motivated to do it. And it will have the same effect on you, too, so, please join me! I’d love to hear what’s on your to-do list this weekend. Good luck with your Finish It Friday projects!

Organizing Quick Tip: Now is a Great Time to…

With the holidays just around the corner, now is a great time to declutter your kitchen! This week, take a few minutes each day to do a kitchen micro-clean up project. Here are some ideas to whet your appetite.

  • Wipe down the cabinet fronts and appliances to make your kitchen sparkle.
  • Go through the fridge, pantry or food cabinets and remove any expired foods.
  • Take inventory of the items in your freezer and make plans to use up the older items in the next few weeks, creating space for holiday cooking and baking.
  • Go through your food storage containers and match lids to containers. Clear out lidless containers, and container-less lids. (And while you’re at it, whittle down your collection if it’s gotten a bit out of control.)
  • Inventory your spices and baking supplies. Stock up on needed items in upcoming weeks—ideally when they go on sale.
  • Pull unnecessary items such as extra fast food drinking cups, dated (and un-loved) freebie coffee cups and mugs, and tattered dish towels from your drawers and cupboards.

Tackle these simple projects while you’re waiting for the pasta water to boil. Then, as you see progress (and love what you see), add to the micro-project list. Best of all, if you start now, your kitchen will be in ship-shape well before the holidays arrive!

P.S. If you'd like more weekly tips like this, delivered to your email in-box, sign up for my organizing quick tip.  

October 12, 2009

Congratulations to…

Jennifer C from California, USA! You have won a signed copy of The (now-out-of-print-and-really-hard-to-get-your-hands-on) Organized & Inspired Scrapbooker! Woohoo! I downloaded all the survey results (thank you so much for your responses, by the way) and each entry was assigned a number in the order in which it was received. Then, I went to to generate a random number, and Jennifer C’s number was selected! If you’re Jennifer C, check your email in-box for a congratulatory email, and we’ll work out the details for getting your book mailed to you.

Congrats again Jennifer C. and thank you, thank you to all of you who took the time to answer the survey. Very helpful info in those survey results. Now, it’s time for me to get busy…

October 09, 2009

Happy (Freebie) Friday!

Yay, it’s Friday again, and best yet, it’s Freebie Friday again! Woohoo! So I mentioned that this week I would be giving away something that is very hard to find…so here it is:


It’s a copy of The (now-out-of-print-and-really-hard-to-get-your-hands-on) Organized & Inspired Scrapbooker, co-authored and signed by me. Hooray! Now, don’t be mad at me for hoarding this. I picked up a spare copy many, many months ago after first learning the book was going out of print. I wanted to have a spare copy for a rainy day, and well, it’s raining cats and dogs here. So, today is the day! Woohoo!

Now, this week’s Freebie Friday is a bit different than most; replying to the comments will not enter you into the giveaway. Instead, all you have to do is complete a brief online survey. For a while now I’ve been toying with the idea of creating an online workshop on (you guessed it) scrapbook organizing. This is the topic I hear most often in our surveys that people would like…so my goal with the survey is to find out more details about what you want in a workshop like this. Things like how many weeks should the workshop run? What topics would you like covered? What kind of space do you scrapbook in—your own room, a shared space, etc. In a nutshell, the survey will help me create your ideal online scrapbook organizing workshop. Sound like a plan? Terrific!

Alright…click here to take the survey. Make sure to answer every question…and include your email address, first name, last initial, and location. Without this info…there’d be no way to let you know you won, and that would be very, very sad. I will notify the winner via email, but announce the winner’s first name, last initial and location on the blog post, so every will know who won. Be assured I will only use your email address for notifying the winner. I won’t add you to any list, though I do have some good lists if you want to sign yourself up for one or two and get even more organizing tips and ideas. But I digress.

Take the survey first for your chance to win The (now-out-of-print-and-really-hard-to-get-your-hands-on) Organized & Inspired Scrapbooker. Enter before 9 PM on Sunday October, 11th. I will announce the winner on Monday! Good luck and have a great weekend!


Updated: The survey is now closed and links have been turned off. Thank you to everyone who participated. :)

October 05, 2009

Organize Your Paper Clutter goes to...

Okay, that was really fun. I just finished reading, tallying, and organizing all the comments from the Freebie Friday blog post.

Do you want to know the number one paper organizing challenge? It's keeping up with the inflow. Twenty two of you reported this as your top challenge. From there, the next most common paper organizing challenges were school papers and keeping track of items you need to act on in the future. You want to know where to store these things, and how to keep track of them, while you’re waiting to take action. Pretty interesting, isn't it?

Below is a list of all of the paper organizing challenges that are addressed in the Organize Your Paper Clutter workshop. So, if you aren’t sure what to keep or how long to keep it, this workshop will help you sort it out. You’ll learn how to put together paper organizing systems that work for you and the kinds of paper that come into your home such as invitations, event fliers, recipes, magazine clippings, and other papers for future use, plus bills, kids artwork, school papers, mail, magazines, memorabilia and other sentimental paper, coupons, receipts, project papers, and to-do items. Plus, we’ll talk about what to do with important papers like birth certificates and insurance documents and how to tackle your paper backlog. And the best part of all...we'll have a whole lot of fun in the process. 

Top Paper Organizing Challenges Covered in Organize Your Paper Clutter

  • Keeping up with the in-flow (22)
  • School + kid papers (20)
  • Papers for future use like invitations, event fliers, recipes, magazine clippings and other random papers (20)
  • What to keep and how long to keep it (13)
  • Finding time to deal with my paper / finishing my paper organizing project / keeping up with filing (13)
  • Where to keep it and where to keep it because I need to see it (10)
  • Bills to be paid (10)
  • Keeping the kitchen counter, table, or island clear (9)
  • Kid’s artwork (8)
  • Mail in general (8)
  • Magazines (7)
  • Memorabilia / sentimental paper (6)
  • Backlog (4)
  • Coupons (4)
  • Receipts (4)
  • How to file bills / categories (3)
  • Desk (2)
  • Old bills (2)
  • Project papers (2)
  • To-do lists / to-do items (2)
  • Where to begin (2)
  • Random piles (2)
  • Putting paper where it belongs (1)
  • Staying motivated / creating new habits (1)
  • System for important papers like birth certificates, insurance papers, etc. (1)
  • How to make pretty systems (1)

Pretty interesting stuff, isn’t it? But you’re probably even more interested in knowing if you’ve won or not. ;) Well…if you’re name is Kelly and you said...

What do you keep? How long do you keep it? My husband has held on to everything that comes through to door for the last 13 years! Now I'm afraid to get rid of things!! I am drowning in old bills, owners manuals, and junk! Not even to mention the papers that 3 kids come home with! I can't keep track of it all!!’ve won a spot in Organize Your Paper Clutter! Woohoo! Email me and we'll get you all signed up. Thanks everyone for playing along. I really enjoyed reading your comments.

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