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March 30, 2010

Stuffing Easter Baskets + Other Easter Stuff

Where I live, spring is starting to spring. And I have to tell you, this is putting a spring back in my step. The grass is greening up. The trees are budding and just about to pop. And best yet, the weatherman is forecasting a high in the 80’s for later this week! Which means it could be a warm and spring-like Easter. Hooray!

My kids no longer believe in the Easter bunny. (Sad but true.) So this puts me in that odd stage of redefining our Easter traditions. Which traditions stay despite there being no “real” bunny, and which traditions go?

The bunny itself has gone, but not surprisingly the baskets filled with candy and other goodies have stayed. (Not sure how my kids pulled that one off, but they did.) Now though, it is the Easter chicken that visits our house, hides the eggs, and fills up the baskets with goodies. I think we will also still dye Easter eggs, and I’m thinking we might bake some Easter cookies, since I have some cute Easter colored sprinkles I’d like to use up.

The Easter chicken will be carrying on the Easter Bunny’s tradition of an as-clutter-free-as-possible approach to stuffing the Easter baskets—something that this professional organizer fully endorses. So here are our Easter chicken’s favorite tips for clutter-free basket-filling and Easter-ing.

Easter-basket Reuse the basics year after year.
The Easter chicken raids my Easter storage bin which contains the baskets that formerly the bunny, and now the chicken, reuse and refill year after year—ever since the bunny started visiting my kids. We have four baskets, since one year we had friends visit us for Easter and felt we’d have better chances of keeping up the bunny tradition if all the Easter baskets matched. So the chicken gets a little bit of variety in his basket selection. The Easter grass is also reused and stored right in the baskets.

Create some recycled Easter grass.
If you don’t already have Easter grass for your baskets, our Easter chicken suggests shredding paper scraps (perhaps some scrapbook paper scraps) to create recycled Easter grass. This will have the added benefit of decluttering your scrap stash a little bit, which is always a good thing. Right?

Fill the basket with practical and creative fillers.
Filling the basket is the fun part. It’s like creating mini gift basket for the kids each year. The bunny’s approach (which has been passed down to the chicken) is to shoot for creative and practical fillers that match the child’s interests. If they’re into baseball, baseball themed stuffers are good. If they’re into helping Daddy in the yard, gardening themed stuffers are good. If they’re into all things girly, lotions and potions fit the bill (and stuff the basket.) Our chicken focuses on items that will get used or eaten—and therefore not end up as clutter. Here are some ideas to share with your bunny (or chicken, as the case may be.)

  • body spray
  • book
  • bubble bath
  • coloring books
  • crayons
  • crocs
  • flashlight
  • flip flops
  • gardening gloves, seed packets, bulbs or kid-sized gardening tools,
  • gel pens in spring-like colors
  • gift card
  • glitter glues
  • gum
  • hair accessories
  • jewelry
  • jump rope
  • lip balm
  • loofah
  • lotion
  • markers
  • movie tickets
  • nail polish
  • notebooks
  • paperclips
  • pens / pencils
  • perfume
  • playing cards, trading cards, baseball cards or small games. (My son got the card game Monopoly Deal in his stocking last Christmas…and we love it!)
  • reusable water bottle
  • sidewalk chalk
  • spring themed cookie cutters
  • spring themed socks
  • sticky notes or a small seasonal notebook
  • straws
  • stuffed animals
  • sunhats or baseball caps
  • sunglasses
  • swim suits
  • toothbrush
  • and, of course, a chocolate bunny or other favorite candy

This year our Easter chicken will be avoiding stuffed animals, as the chicken has noticed an abundance of these in one of my child’s bedroom. But were it not for past over-accumulation of stuffed things, the chicken would definitely place this high on the list of basket fillers.

If you celebrate Easter, I would love to hear your approach to creating a fun and clutter-free holiday. What are your go-to basket stuffers? And if you have kids that have outgrown the bunny / basket stage, did you change your Easter traditions? And if so, how? Thanks for sharing!

March 25, 2010

Closet Organizing Before and After Photos


This post has moved to our new organizing blog. Go there now to see Closet Organizing Before and After Photos.


March 22, 2010

Did You Count Your Check Marks This Weekend?

I did. And boy, what a motivating little exercise that turned out to be. Here's my check mark tally:

  • Finish at least three of those nagging to-dos on my business to-do list. (8 check marks!)
  • Finish at least five action steps for a class I’m taking. (6 check marks!)
  • Finish the laundry. (1 check mark - though really, laundry should count for more don't you think?)
  • Finish swapping out clothes (winter to spring) in my closet. (1 check mark.)
  • Mail my Mom's birthday gift. (1 check mark.)

For a grand total of 17 check marks! Woohoo! How did you do?

March 19, 2010

It’s Finish It Friday!

I’m in the mood for some finishing! There are some things that have been lingering on my to-do list for just a tad bit too long, and my friends, today is the day to create some serious check marks! Woohoo! I’m very energized and excited to see how many check marks I can create today and over the weekend.

So…here’s my Finish It Friday list:

  • Finish at least three of those nagging to-dos on my business to-do list.
  • Finish at least five action steps for a class I’m taking.
  • Finish the laundry.
  • Finish swapping out clothes (winter to spring) in my closet.
  • Mail my Mom's birthday gift.

Okay, that is a lot—it would mean eleven check marks if I do it all so I better get on with it!

What’s on your list this weekend? Please share your list in the comments along with what it means in terms of check marks. Let’s see how many check marks we can create collectively this weekend. Sound fun? (Okay, it does to me, but I could be a tad bit odd in that respect. Am I’m alone in this?)

Happy Friday!

March 18, 2010

Stay Organized Tip: Declutter Regularly

A common roadblock to getting organized is the fear that once you get your space organized, you won’t be able to keep it that way. The truth is this:  organizing is an ongoing process not a one time event. So, once you've organized a space it won’t stay that way on its own. You have to continue to maintain it going forward. But here’s the really cool thing. Once you set up a space and organize it so that it fits you and your lifestyle, staying organized is an easy and even enjoyable process. (I know, easy for me to say since I thrive on this stuff.) But truly, staying organized is the icing on the organizing cake. The first step is realizing that staying organized doesn’t just happen—it requires new habits.

DonateA terrific habit that will help you stay organized is to declutter on a regular basis. This includes surface decluttering—getting things back to where they belong on a regular basis, and deep decluttering—getting things you no longer use or love out of your home on a regular basis. This deeper decluttering is particularly powerful because it makes the everyday surface decluttering that much easier. It’s simpler and faster to put things back where they belong when your home isn’t stuffed to the gills with items you aren’t really using any more.

So how do you make deep decluttering a habit? Well, here’s a technique that works great for me. Find a local charity that will come to your home to pick up items. Where I live, a children’s charity comes to my neighborhood once a month. This means that every single month I have a simple reminder and extra motivation to do some deep decluttering. Once a month, the local charity calls to ask if we have anything to donate. I often say yes, even if I don’t yet have anything set aside to donate. By scheduling a pick up, you give yourself a deadline to get at least one bag of items out of your home. And this is pretty powerful stuff.

Take action! Remember, it is action that creates change! So here are some simple action steps to help you create a decluttering habit and mindset.

Action Step 1:  Do a quick internet search to see if there is a local charity in your area that picks up items. Call around and when you find a charity that does this, get on their list and ask them to contact you any time they’re coming to your area.

Action Step 2:  Begin to incorporate regular surface decluttering into your daily habits. Before going to bed, put away the things you used today. Clear off the flat surfaces and start each day with a clean slate.

Action Step 3:  Share your favorite decluttering strategies in the comments section. What decluttering habits do you have in place? How do you stay on top of it all?

March 12, 2010

Weekend Anticipation + Planning

Its Friday…but boy, yesterday felt more like Friday than today. Yesterday it was sunny and warm; today it is cloudy and much, much cooler. But nonetheless, the weekend is about to begin. Hooray!

We have a fun weekend planned. Lots of kid’s activities to attend—a basketball game, a Tae Kwon Do lesson, and a trumpet recital, and then we’re getting together with two sets of (dear) old friends (as opposed to (old) old friends, if you know what I mean.) So, it’s clear to me this won’t be much of a “get things done” kind of weekend. Tonight will be house cleaning night since there is no time for that tomorrow or Sunday, and then somewhere along the way, I’ll squeeze in a few loads of laundry. So that’s my plan for the weekend. I’m hoping the sun will show its face again soon—really enjoyed those open windows last weekend, but that doesn’t seem to be in the weather man’s plans.

What’s on your to-do list this weekend?

March 11, 2010

Stay Organized Tip: Shop Your Closet First

One of the most effective ways to prevent clutter is to keep unnecessary items out of your home in the first place. If unneeded things don’t make their way into your home, they can never turn into clutter. This little tip will not only help you stay organized, but it will save you some money, too.

Spring-catalogsWith spring in the air, it’s a good time to keep this tip in mind, especially if you’ve grown bored of your winter wardrobe and you’re ready for something fresh. Those spring catalogs with all the cute short-sleeved tops, skirts, and sandals may have you thinking it time to do some shopping, but before you shop in the stores or online, shop your closet first.


If you put your spring and summer clothes into storage, pull out the bins and go through your clothes. Try items on. What fits? What makes you feel good? Which items are you ready to say goodbye to? After you’ve gone through and shopped your closet, make a list of items you need to round-out your spring wardrobe. Then, with your list in hand, head out to the stores. By knowing what you need you’ll be far less likely to bring home items you don’t need—things that ultimately would have become closet clutter!

By the way, if you’d like more simple and practical ideas to declutter and organize your closet, my online closet workshop begins today. For less than the cost of a new pair of shoes, you can learn how to organize your closet so it’s filled with clothes you love, organized in a way that works for you.

March 09, 2010

Organizing Article: Is organizing an instinct or learned skill?

Do you ever feel as if you should already know how to get organized? That somehow organizing is a gene and you missed out on it? If so, you’re in good company. Often when people call to inquire about my organizing services or online workshops, they feel funny reaching out for help because, well, Shouldn’t I already know how to do this?

If you've ever felt this way, too, check out my new article "Can You Really Learn How to Get Organized?" Then, come back here and share your thoughts. Do you think it is possible to learn how to get organized? Have you learned how? What approaches have worked best for you?

March 08, 2010

Happy Monday!

I hope you had a great weekend! Around here we had our first taste of spring—warmer temperatures and a nice freshness in the air. Ahhh…it’s almost here.

I did a bit more spring cleaning this weekend, which wasn’t at all hard to do with the weather so spring-like. My focus was on the kitchen. I finished scrubbing the kitchen cabinets with Murphy’s Oil Soap and elbow grease. And then, I cleaned off the tops of the cabinets using my father-in-law’s trick of lining the cabinet tops with paper. So instead of dusting and scrubbing all that greasy, gunk that accumulates up there…you simply (and carefully) remove the old paper and replace it with new paper. Every time I do this project I want to hug that man. This trick saves so much time on an unpleasant cleaning project. It’s simple. I like simple.

I also changed this…


to this…


That's better. Goodbye snow; hello flowers. I am ready for the real ones—pop up any time you’d like little flowers.

On Saturday I dropped off the tax documents, and picked up the corporate tax documents. Really happy to have that done—enough said. I also finished up laundry on Saturday which meant a laundry-free day Sunday. This gave me time to make a double batch of chocolate chip cookies with Kailea, and did I mention the windows were open? (Yum and yay!) I still need to finish the lesson but I’m happy to report I made some progress on it this weekend, with more to follow this week. All in all, a great weekend, one that was topped off by grilling chicken kabobs for dinner last night. Grilling! Hooray!

So it’s Monday—a great day to plan the week ahead. When’s on your to-do list this week—anything fun and exciting? Hope you have a happy Monday and a terrific week.

March 05, 2010

Finish It Friday + Yes, I’m Still Here…

Hello, friends! Sorry I’ve been MIA for a while. Everything is good—very good, just very busy! I’ve been doing lots of organizing with clients, and lots of writing for a new online workshop. And I’ve been doing even more writing for my monthly newsletter and weekly quick tips. Plus, we’ve been gearing up for new sessions of Organize Your Paper Clutter and Organize Your Closet—both of which begin next week. Uh, yes, this business of mine about simplifying got a tad bit complicated these past few weeks. So, the blog took a back seat. But I’m back, and it’s Friday, and it is good.

Today I’m going to do a Finish It Friday post today. And then from here on out, I’ll be doing Finish It Friday just once a month and bring it back to finishing instead of me listing everything I plan to do for the weekend. Doing Finish It Friday just once a month will simplify my blogging to do list a little bit and give me some space to write posts on other topics. Sound like a plan?

Okay, so here’s what I plan to finish this weekend:

  • Finish laundry
  • Finish compiling tax documents
  • Finish cleaning kitchen cabinets
  • Finish writing lesson for upcoming workshop

So, I’d love to hear from you. How’ve you been? What’s on your to-finish list this weekend? Can't wait to hear.

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