simplify 101
Creative Organizing Blog

« September 2010 | Main | November 2010 »

October 29, 2010

It’s Freebie Friday!

Up for grabs this week is two spots in the online workshop Get Organized for the Holidays. Woohoo! This workshop begins next Tuesday, November 2nd, and as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I’m super excited about this workshop. It is one of my very favorite workshops because it’s just so much more fun to tackle my holiday to-dos with the support and camaraderie of the simplify 101 community.  



Even though I already have a holiday plan, one that I use year after year, I love the idea-sharing that goes on in the private workshop forum and the motivation that comes from going through the holidays with a bunch of online friends. Every year I get new delicious recipes, and new ideas to simplify the season, courtesy of fellow workshop participants. And, I’m also super excited that Benita will be back again this year. I could go on and on...but instead, let me just cut to the chase and tell you how to enter. :)


If you’d like to join the fun, here’s how to enter for a spot in Get Organized for the Holidays:

1.  Leave a comment sharing what the area of your holiday preparation could most use an organizing intervention—to make it easier and more enjoyable.

2. For a second chance to win, either link to this giveaway on Facebook OR tweet this giveaway with a link on Twitter. Then, leave a second comment telling me where you mentioned this giveaway.

Post your comment by Monday, November 1st at 9 AM US CST. Good luck my friends, and have a great weekend!

UPDATED: comments are now closed.

It’s Friday – you know what that means…

It’s time for another round of Finish It Friday. Woohoo! Are you in this weekend?


If you’re on the fence about participating, read the comments in last Monday’s check-in post. You’ll see lots of happy finishers there. Why not get in on the fun this weekend? You’ll have more fun and get more done. And remember, your list doesn’t have to be long—just one thing will do. Why not tackle that one nagging (lingering) to-do this weekend, and see for yourself how great it feels? Be sure to note an item or two on your play list. Even if it’s already scheduled and you don’t need a reminder (or motivation) to do it…remembering that you are planning to have some fun this weekend is a huge motivator when it comes time to do the other stuff.


Here is my list for the weekend. You’ll notice a cleaning theme. As of this moment I’m in the mood to do some deep(er), fall cleaning. I’m really hoping this mood continues over the weekend. ;)


To-do-list-copyright-simplify101 Finish It Friday To-Do List

1.  Wrap-up loose ends from sale. More progress is planned.

2.  Plan Collin’s birthday celebration. He wants to have a camp out, and we don’t have a tent. So…let’s just say there are a few details to get figured out and finished up this weekend. :)

3.  Clean behind stove

4.  Clean behind refrigerator

5.  Steam tile floor in kitchen.


Play List

1.  Go trick-or-treating…or hand-out candy. We do this on 30th here which is a day early, but this year has the benefit of being on a Saturday…which is fun.

2.  Read.


So what do you have planned for the weekend? I can’t wait to hear! Remember, there’s still time to sample a free less of Get Organized for the Holidays. Sample lesson offer ends Monday, November 1, 2010 at 9 p.m. US CST, so sign up now! If you love Finish It Friday…you’ll love Get Organized for the Holidays.


That's all for now...check back later today for a fun Freebie Friday!

Guest Blog Post from Benita of Chez Larsson

I'm super excited to turn over the blog today to Benita of the inspiring blog Chez Larsson. Benita and I "met" via the blogosphere a couple of years ago and became fast friends as we share a lot of common interests. Last year Benita put together a bonus handout for my online workshop Get Organized for the Holidays and spent two weekends with us online answering questions, checking out photos from workshop participants, and basically just inspiring all of us with her ideas and suggestions. We all had so much fun that Benita has agreed to come back again this year. (Woohoo!) So, I thought it would be fun for you to get to know Benita a bit and get a peek into what she's going to be sharing with us in the workshop. I hope you enjoy! Thanks Benita for blogging here today!


GOFH2-copyright-BenitaLarsson When do you start to think about decorating for the holidays? What's the spark?
I think about the holidays all year around actually because it’s part of my job as visual merchandiser but I start thinking about the holidays for more private reasons around September when it gets chillier here in Sweden. Then right about now I’m craving holiday inspiration and am always super pleased that the stores bring out the decorations right about now.

Where do you find inspiration for holiday decorating?
I like to save some magazines’ holiday issues from the previous year and around September I start flipping through them. I also go to the archives of my favorite blogs and re-read their holiday posts. Oh, Martha is a huge inspiration too, online and the magazine! 

Storage space is such a premium for so many of us, where do you store your decorations when they're not on display?
I have a few boxes in the storage room of my basement where I keep decorations. I have one box marked “Advent” and it’s the one I start out with in late November and it contains the early decorations such as advent candle holder (Swedish tradition) some string lights and a few other bits and pieces. The other boxes get opened around mid December when the tree goes up.

Do you change the styles and colors of your holiday decorations over the years?
I do! I rarely repeat my decorations exactly as last year but I don’t go buying a lot of new stuff either. I just don’t use it all every year. One year I might skip the red and go all white and the next year I bring the red out again and the third year mix the red with aqua and so on.

What's one decoration you display year after year?
I don’t think I have one of those I-have to-display-this-or-it’s-not-Christmas-things. I’m not a very sentimental person :). 


GOFH-copyright-BenitaLarsson When it comes to decorating for the holiday, what tips do you have for keeping it simple yet festive?
Don’t spread it out in every nook and cranny of your house. It’s going to be a nightmare to put up, take forever to take down and be a chore to keep clean. Instead pick out a few places such as the mantelpiece, on and around the dining table, the stair railings, the kitchen window and sill. And keep it simple; don’t display everything you have just because you have it. Maybe Santa no.35 can take a well deserved rest this year and do a come-back next.



Can you give readers a sneak-peek into what you'll be sharing in Get Organized for the Holidays?
I will share some of my simplest and easiest holiday décor ideas. I’ll also share a few tricks of my trade such as how to group items in an eye-pleasing way which may come in handy when you decorate you mantelpiece or your side table for the holidays.

Thank you, Benita! I look forward to seeing you online soon. :)

October 28, 2010

Are you ready to get ready for the holidays?

I have a question for you:  Are you someone who dreads seeing Christmas items before Halloween? Or do you think: Hooray! The holidays are coming?


I used to be someone who thought it was crazy that retailers filled store shelves with Christmas items before Halloween. Frankly, those items served as a reminder that my busiest time of year was fast approaching. And I didn’t want to be reminded.


The span from October 31st to January 1st is filled with big events and activities in our family. Aside from the usual Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve; both of my kids have their birthdays. This equates to a major event to plan and prepare for exactly every two weeks—with Halloween being the kick off event. This also means a whole lot of extra to-dos on my to-do list. Plus, when my kids were younger, this also meant a ton of extra stuff coming into my home—toys, books, clothes, (and did I mention toys!) and I had to find a home for all of these extra items.


Now, though, when I see holiday items in stores and my mailbox starts filling with holiday themed catalogs, I actually get excited! The holidays are coming! Hooray! 



So what’s the difference between now and then?  Well, now I have an organized system and a plan for this time of year, one that makes the holidays something I look forward to and enjoy all season long. One of the biggest secrets to my happy holiday plan is starting early. This is another reason I get excited when I see the holiday items filing the shelves. Now I see these items not as a reminder of stress to come, but as the chance to get a jump-start on holiday preparations. 


My newsletter article this month is all about how starting early eliminates stress. This is true for all projects, but especially true for the BIG project known as the holidays! If you don’t yet subscribe to my newsletter, you can sign up here. Or, if you’d like to read the article online, it’s right here.


Hope you enjoy! Before you go though, I’d love to know:  Are you ready to start getting ready for the holidays? Do you love seeing holiday items before Halloween, or does it make you want to hide your head in the sand? Thanks for sharing!


See you tomorrow for Finish It Friday...and some other fun stuff you won't want to miss! :)

October 27, 2010

simplify with mini zones: weekly quick tip

Today's post is a sample of my weekly organizing quick tip. If you don't currently subscribe, you can sign up here. Enjoy. :)

Sometimes a really simple idea is all it takes to make a task easier and more enjoyable. One of my favorite simple organizing ideas is the mini zone. The idea behind a mini zone is to corral together all of the items needed to perform a task into a container. Then, you store your container where you do the task—or you use a portable container and carry your project supplies and tools to the location where the task is performed. Simple? Indeed. Effective? Most definitely.


With the holidays fast approaching, it’s a great time to create a seasonal mini zone or two. Here’s a mini zone idea to whet your organizing appetite:  create a holiday card sending mini zone.



First, find a festive container such as a metal bucket or wicker basket. Next, gather your card sending supplies such as printed address labels, stamps, cards and your favorite writing pen, and stow them in your container. Now you have everything you need to send out your cards in one handy, portable mini zone. Guess what this means? You can get started on sending cards early in the season, and work on the task in little bits of time instead of in tackling this job in one frantic rush at the end of the season!


Happy organizing!


October 25, 2010

Monday Morning Check-in

Happy Monday morning to you! I hope you had a fantastic weekend filled with finishing and fun! This is the place to share what you finished this weekend. I can’t wait to hear! I loved reading your to-do lists on Friday…and look forward to doing it again this week! Okay…here’s my check in.


Finish It Friday To-Do List

1. Itemize donations for Wednesday charity pick-up. Check!

2. Wrap-up loose ends from sale. Progress made! I plan to work on this in short time segments throughout the week.


3. Start and finish organizing knitting stuff. Check!

4. Finish project plan for bathroom project…and make progress. Check! The plan is done…and Jay made good progress this weekend. The cabinets are out; the light fixture is out; the faucets have been removed and all pipes capped off. I spent some time searching online for inspiration photos. So, the next step is to figure out what we want in terms of the counter top. (BIG decision!)


Play List

1. Go to pumpkin patch. Check! So fun. It was absolutely beautiful this weekend. 

2. Knit…another scarf. Progress only --- no plans to finish this one. :) Check! This was Friday night’s relaxation activity.


So, I love the addition of the play list. There’s something really motivating about tackling a to-do list knowing that I’ve got play scheduled, too. The past two weekends the play happened on Saturday…which made getting things done the rest of the weekend that much easier. Did you find that, too? How did you do with your to-do list this weekend? I can’t wait to hear!


Enjoy your Monday!


October 22, 2010

Finish It Friday

Happy Friday to you! Who is up for another round of Finish It Friday? If you haven’t played along yet, there’s no better time than today to dive in and start finishing up some lingering to-dos. It will feel soooo good to put a big fat check mark next to a to-do that’s been hanging out on your to-do list for far too long. Your list doesn’t have to be long—finishing just one thing will feel pretty darn good. I liked have a "play list" last weekend—so let’s do that again, too. Okay, let’s do this!


To-do-list-copyright-simplify101 Finish It Friday To-Do List

1. Itemize donations for Wednesday charity pick-up.

2. Wrap-up loose ends from sale. This is the perfect candidate for finish it Friday --- as this has been lingering on the to-do list a bit too long. Thanks for the extra nudge my finishing friends. 

3. Start and finish organizing knitting stuff.

4. Finish project plan for bathroom project…and make progress. Much of what can be done on this project now are tasks Jay is better equipped to do. But, there are still some things to pick out and buy. (And I know how to pick out and buy, so that will be on my to-do list this weekend.) We selected faucets this week (woohoo!) but need to hit the buy now button, pick up the lights, etc.


Play List

1. Go to pumpkin patch.

2. Knit…another scarf. Progress only --- no plans to finish this one. :)


Can’t wait to hear what’s on your list this weekend! (If you haven’t registered to sample the free lesson of Get Organized for the Holidays, that'd be something fun to add to your list this weekend.) Thanks to everyone who plays along this week. Here's to some good finishing and fun!


Have a great weekend!


October 21, 2010

An Organizing Lesson Learned from Knitting (Another) Scarf

On my Monday morning check-in this week, I shared photos of my latest knitting project, which quite predictably, was another scarf. I thought I’d share a bit more about this scarf…and weave in an organizing lesson. Sound fun?


Scarf-1-2010a Every time I start a new knitting project someone in my family asks “What are you knitting?” And everytime someone asks me this question, I answer: “A scarf.”


Their reply is just as predictable as my answer:  "Another scarf?" they ask. Yep. Of course, another scarf. See I’m not just your ordinary knitter. Nope, I am a scarf knitter. And while this approach to knitting isn’t for everyone—it works for me. And that’s where my little organizing lesson comes in. Which is this:


Before you start a project, understand why you’re doing it.


My first step when I work with clients—whether coaching clients, in-home clients or workshop participants—is to help them understand their goals for getting organized. Sometimes we can get lost on the way to an organized space, and understanding our reasons for wanting to be more organized really helps. 


For some people, getting organized is all about how a space looks. We’ve all seen the organizing eye-candy in magazines—photos of stylish spaces filled with beautiful containers—and really who wouldn’t love that? But organizing can be about so much more than just creating a space that looks good. There’s function—creating a space that works well and makes sense to all of its inhabitants. There’s the feeling an organized space can give you—a feeling of calm, control, peace. And most important of all, there’s what happens on the other side of organized. The space you create in your home and life via organization opens up opportunities for doing other spending more time with your family, or having friends drop by unannounced and being able to welcome them in without worry about clutter. And maybe just maybe, you'll take up knitting. ;)


With any project—whether its an organizing project, a knitting project, or any other type of project you'd like to put on your to-do list, it’s incredibly helpful to understand your reasons for investing your time and energy into that project before you begin. What do you want out of this project anyway?


For me, knitting isn’t just about creating another scarf. Instead, it’s about the actual process of knitting. I find knitting to be incredibly relaxing, and because I spend so much of my time on the computer, knitting gives me the chance to do something tangible and create something that I can hold in my hands. It’s extremely rewarding to start—and finish—a project in a short amount of time. I also love knitting because it’s portable and it allows me to interact with and be with my family while I enjoy a hobby. Just think though—if I didn’t understand these goals I might find myself knitting a sweater or socks or something else more complicated than necessary to achieve my goals. And in the process I could grow incredibly frustrated. My creative outlet designed to eliminate stress, could become a burden that actually adds to stress to my life—which isn’t at all my desired outcome. 


Just as with knitting, with organizing there are many possible destinations and reasons for getting organized. And understanding your goals before starting a project makes it easier to navigate your way through the project and make decisions. So, before starting your next organizing project, ask these questions:

  • What’s this all about for you?
  • Why do you want to get more organized?
  • How will you know when you've arrived at destination organization?
  • And best yet, what things will you do in your freshly organized space?

Ahh…the possibilities!


Before I call this a wrap, here's a quick photo of my latest scarf. (And wow, I have to tell you, doing a self-portrait in a mirror...not as easy as it looks!)


I found this pattern via ravelry which led me here. ( that site!) My scarf is narrower than the pattern called for (23 stitches wide) and shorter (because I only had two skeins of yarn.) I used Lion Brand Nature's Choice Organic Cotton Yarn in Dusty Blue (from Michael's.) 

October 18, 2010

And the winners are...

The winners of the two spots in Quick + Simple Clutter Control are...


Cheryl who posted on October 15, 2010 at 02:04 PM and said:

The closet under the stairs (also on my Finish It list) and my husband's mail! Oh and my shed! And my spare closet. . . .Ok, so I have more than one.


And Ray who posted on October 15, 2010 at 08:54 PM and said:

My office is a disaster. It will only get worse as gifts for the kids get hidden away in the mess. Without intervention, some may never re-appear. Please don't ruin my kids' Christmas... ;)


Congratulations Cheryl and Ray—I look forward to spending the next three weeks with you online! Please email me at aby at simplify 101 dot com to get registered for the workshop! If you're not Cheryl or Ray, remember you don't have to tackle your pre-holiday to-do list alone! Quick + Simple Clutter Control begins tomorrow and we're planning to have lots of fun tackling our surface clutter and getting our homes holiday-ready! I hope you'll join the fun, too!

Order in the Cupboard: Weekly Quick Tip

If there’s one source of clutter nearly all of us can relate to—it’s food storage container clutter! It’s one of life’s great mysteries—how do our food storage containers multiply in the cupboard while we aren’t looking, and at the exact same time, the lids vanish into thin air?! While we may not be able to solve this particular mystery, we can declutter our food storage containers and create some order in the cupboard.


Here are my favorite tips:


Sort + Match. Pull your storage containers out of storage and match the lids to the containers. You may be surprised to find that you aren’t missing as many lids as you think.


Eliminate.  After you have your containers matched with the lids, let go of any containers that are stained, missing a top, or are otherwise past their prime.


Store.  This next tip may surprise you…I recommend that you store your regularly used food storage containers with the lids on. It’s true that this approach takes up more space, but if you have food going bad in your refrigerator you probably have more food storage containers than you need anyway! When you have fewer food storage containers and start to run low in the cupboard, take it as a sign that it’s time to clear out your refrigerator.



Say goodbye to hunting and searching. When you store your containers with the lids on, you never have to search for a lid when it comes time to clean up after dinner. Instead, simply match lids with containers when they both come out of the dishwasher. Viola! Problem solved…and you may have just solved one of life’s great mysteries, too.


Create a food storage mini zone.  Store your food containers in close proximity to your plastic storage bags, foil, wraps, and chip clips! Everything you need to store leftovers will be together, saving you time and the frustration that comes with clutter!



How do you organize and store your food storage containers?


Happy organizing!


Powered by Typepad