Thursday, December 1, 2016

Christmas Cards - A Lost Art

Thanksgiving is over and the stores are primed for Christmas.  Sales and Santa's are everywhere.

You can't get away from it. It's sad. It seems that commercialism has taken over.

It's hard to enjoy one holiday at a time when they all seem to run together. But this is the time to remember your family and friends and reach out to people, your friends and family, that you have neglected over the past year. It's not entirely your fault. We are inundated with so many obligations that we can barely keep up with all of the kids activities that friends sometimes go by the wayside.

So instead of sending Christmas cards where you barely sign your name to the card - write a short note that really means something.  Not a "form letter" that you send to every person in your address book. Write something special and meaningful to each person individually. A few sentences mean a lot.

Start now. A few cards every day so that you are not overwhelmed. Make it personal.

With email and texting, cards and real letters seem to have gone by the wayside. But getting a piece of real mail means something. Something special.

So start now - one card at a time. And before you know it you will be done.

Happy Holidays!

Organizational Consulting Services

Monday, November 28, 2016

Gifts That Don't Clutter

Giving the perfect Christmas gift is a challenge.  Some people give gifts just because they feel they have to.  Others spend hours hunting down the perfect gift.

But as you shop - are you even thinking about the amount of room that your gift takes up in that person's home?  Or the clutter that is will cause?

A lot of people buy gifts they think the recipient will like - but - they might not think about the effects - such as noise or damage - the gift might cause - especially if the gift is for a child.

A drum set sounds like a great gift for a child - when it's not yours and you don't have to listen to the constant noise. Paints and other messy items might be fun - but you don't have to clean up the mess.

Try to be sensitive to the parents when you are buying a child's gift. It might help to preserve your friendship.

Then there are the gifts that you might like - but if you never see a gift that you bought displayed - maybe you don't know that person as well as you think.

One idea might be to give gifts that don't last......  gifts that are consumed or turned in for things the person might actually like, need or use.

Christmas ideas that don't clutter:

   *   Gas cards
   *   Gift certificates to restaurants
   *   Gift certificates for babysitting services
   *   Gift certificates to a spa
   *    Fruit baskets or gourmet fruit (or chocolate or candy)
   *    Gift certificates for lawn care
   *    Gift certificates for house cleaning
   *    Gift certificates for books
   *    Gift certificates for a "special time" with you
   *    Gift certificates for a weekly home cooked meal

There are a lot of ideas out there - and I am sure that you can think of more.

The gift of time is the most precious of all.

Spend time with your loved ones in this special Holiday Season!

Happy Holidays!

Organizational Consulting Services

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Thanksgiving Is Just Around The Corner - Get Ready

Would you like to enjoy a stress free Thanksgiving???

Yes, “Organized“, “Stress Free” and “Thanksgiving” can be used in the same sentence.

It all starts with the word “organized”. Don’t let it scare you. Embrace it. By being organized and planning ahead you can actually enjoy a holiday.

Start by deciding on what you want your holiday to be like. Do you really want to serve a sit down dinner for twenty (20) people? Or would a buffet be acceptable for you? Would it be acceptable for your “family”?

The pressure of trying to please everyone, especially parents and doing things “exactly” like when you were little and everything was perfect is how the “stress” starts.

It’s your house and your dinner party. You can start new traditions. I didn’t say that it would be easy or that you wouldn’t get some flack, but all “traditions” started somewhere. Make your own. You deserve some happiness.

If you really want a fancy sit down dinner party but twenty (20) people is too much for you to handle then cut the guest list down.

If you really want all twenty (20) people there then maybe you should consider a buffet. It’s much easier and your family will eventually come to terms with the fact that maybe you aren’t serving a formal sit down dinner, but the food is just as good.

You can make Thanksgiving as simple or as complicated as you want….it all depends on how organized you are willing to be.

A good way to keep the stress levels down is to divide and conquer.
Enlist your family for help. Don’t take “no” for an answer. This is your holiday too and you have a right to enjoy it.

And we all know that old saying “if Mom isn’t happy, no one is happy”.

Start at least two (2) or three (3) weeks before Thanksgiving.

Decide on the type of gathering (formal or informal), the size of the guest list and the menu.

Don’t attempt to make something new for dinner or try out a new dessert that day. It could turn out to be a disaster and that would cause you more stress. If you really want to try a new dish….test it out prior to Thanksgiving.

Menu: Do you really want to serve cranberry relish and sweet potato’s even if you don’t like them and only serve them because “they are always served at Thanksgiving”?

Make up your own menu (yes, it is radical). Serve something different. Serve something you like!

If you are having a small Thanksgiving dinner don’t feel obligated to serve Turkey. I know, blasphemy! Last year I made stuffed Cornish Hen. It was wonderful and just as delicious as turkey. You can also stuff a small chicken or even a duck! Or be really different and have Ham! The possibilities are endless.

Start new traditions! It’s not easy to buck the system but once you make up your mind that you deserve to be happy and stress free on a Holiday you will wonder why you waited so long.

Remember, the whole point of a Holiday is family and friends and spending “quality” time together. Everything does not have to be perfect. Be thankful for what you have and not for what you don’t.

A great piece of advice: don’t attempt to clean your oven Thanksgiving morning before you put in the turkey. I did that once, years ago. I then found out that after the oven is cleaned it needs to cool down and the oven will stay locked for another hour or so after it’s done. And you can’t open it! It certainly put a dent into my dinner timetable!

By starting early and making lists and getting as much done ahead of time as possible you will avoid a lot of stress.

Once you have your menu planned work backwards and make up a timetable to what needs to be done. For example: if you want your dinner to be served at 6 p.m., what time do you have to put the turkey into the oven? What time do the potato’s and vegetables need to be started? Just make a list and put it on your refrigerator door so that you don’t have to second guess yourself and aren’t panicking at the last minute.

When your family or guests start to arrive your mind and attention will be elsewhere….so a list can help you stay on track. Don’t leave anything to chance.

A few days before Thanksgiving:
* Shop for all of the essentials, including as much of the food as can be purchased ahead of time
* Make sure that you have enough spices and things that you will need for the food (and rarely buy)
* Do any of the baking or make any desserts that can be made ahead of time
* Thaw the turkey (the size will determine how many days it takes to thaw in the refrigerator)
* Buy the wine or any beverages

The day before Thanksgiving:
* Buy any last minute items at the grocery store
* Chop anything that can be chopped ahead of time (vegetables, bread for stuff…but do not stuff the turkey ahead of time) and put them in plastic bags so that you will be all ready to go the next day
* Make sure you have enough ice
* Prepare any of the food items that can be made ahead of time
* Make your family aware of exactly what you need them to help you with on Thanksgiving.
* Having assigned tasks for your kids and spouse ahead of time takes away some of the stress of what’s expected of them the next day.

The night before Thanksgiving:
* Set the table and get out all of your platters and serving dishes.
* Make sure that you have enough dishes and silverware. If you don’t, now is the time to call one of your guests and ask to borrow something. Don’t wait until the last minute to find out that you broke the gravy boat last Thanksgiving and never replaced it.

When I entertain I love to use all of my special platters and dishes. I love to fuss over my family and I love to set a very special table. I don’t consider it extra work or a hardship or stressful. It’s my way of telling my family and friends just how special they are.

But again…..the Holiday and family and friends are what’s important….not the china or the food. So if you aren’t the type of person to pull off a sit down dinner with all the decorations don’t beat yourself up. There are only so many Martha Stewarts around. And she has a staff to help her!

Thanksgiving Day:
* Wake up early so that you can have some “you” time to have coffee and relax before
the day starts (it will get stressful enough later, so the morning might be the
only time you have)
* Read over your lists and timetable
* Gather all of your food and cooking utensils, pots and pans ....
* Measure out everything that you can ahead of time and set it aside
* Follow your time table and start making the food according to the schedule
* Once the food comes out of the oven let it rest a while (you can cover it with
* Start cutting the meat and plating the food
* Have family members start their assigned tasks (setting out and serving food,
pouring the drinks…)

ENJOY your meal…… sit and talk…..

After the meal:

Have a plan in place to clear the table. Since I always make a ton of extra food so that my guests can take home leftovers I start with portioning the leftovers into plastic containers and putting each family’s containers into a plastic bag and setting it near the door so that they don’t forget them.

Once I have the leftovers divided up and mine put away in the refrigerator and freezer I then start to collect the rest of the dishes and put them into the dishwasher. I don’t start the dishwasher until after they leave so that we won’t be bothered with the noise.

Again, this is where your family members can jump in and help clear and stack dishes. It makes quick work of things when you have other people help.

I need to have as many things cleared up and put away as possible before I start serving dessert. This also gives everyone time to rest and relax before they start eating again.

Some people like to leave the dishes and the mess until the next day. And sometimes I wish I could too, but its worse the next day when you get up and walk into a mess. I’d rather get it done and over with.

Make quick work of it (or as much as will fit into the dishwasher) and then sit and relax and spend time with your family.

Remember, a Holiday is supposed to be enjoyable. If it’s not, figure out why it isn’t and change it. Skip the big complicated meal, the fancy desserts and the good china and make it as simple as you are able to handle.

Start your own tradition….and make it about family!

Happy Holiday !

Organizational Consulting Services


Monday, October 24, 2016

Seniors - Downsizing On Their Own Terms

As people age and their family size decreases (kids grow up and out) - they tend to need less room and don't want the responsibility of having to take care of a large house.

Downsizing - or rightsizing can help them get rid of the extra work needed to run a larger home.

The problem with a lot of seniors (and all people really) - is that they have a hard time letting go. They have collected items - precious items - over the course of 50 or 60 or 70 years - and it's hard to let go. Their things mean something to them.

However - they might not (and usually don't) mean anything to anyone else. It's all in the eye of the beholder!

Another issue to consider - is aging and medical issues that force people to give up their homes and move into assisted living or senior apartments. They are then forced to make some very hard decisions and get rid of things - very quickly.

So - do it on your own terms!  Start downsizing/rightsizing as you age.  Instead of waiting until you dies to give things to people - do it now!  This way you can see them enjoy your prized possessions. And if they don't want them - you have the chance to give them to someone that does!

Take control of your life and your possessions!  Don't let someone make these decisions for you!

Read:     Seniors - Getting Ready To Downsize - Start De-Cluttering Now

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Monday, October 17, 2016

Hoarding Is Everywhere

Hoarding is everywhere.....

Sometimes you can't tell if your neighbor is a hoarder.  Unfortunately, sometimes you can - by the smell that comes pouring out of the house.

Read some recent articles on hoarding from around the country:

Hoarding Conditions Slow Firefighting Efforts At Redlands Home

Blind Hoarder Lived With Remains Of Son Who Had Been Dead 20 Years

Parents Charged After Children Removed From Home In Wausau Hoarding Situation

Garden City Hoarder Home

Organizational Consulting Services

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Checklists For All Of Your Needs

RealSimple is a great magazine that has numerous articles on everything that you need to be ORGANIZED and it also has a great online magazine.

Below are some links that you might enjoy!

Checklists For All Of Your Organizing Needs

Pantry Organizing Checklist

Organizing The Kitchen Checklist

Daily Cleaning Checklist

Quick Dinner Cleanup Checklist


Organizational Consulting Services

Friday, September 30, 2016

What is Squalor

Messiness, clutter, disorganization, hoarding....squalor.

I found an interesting website that I thought might make you sit up and think. Here is a list of some thoughts from people on their definition of "squalor".

Defining squalor

It can be found in suburbia, high rises, rural dwellings, mansions, and trailer parks. What is our current understanding of squalor? What IS squalor?
Squalor is...
  • Always being late to everything because I can't find clean socks or underwear, can't find the top that I want to wear with a particular pair of pants, can't find my shoes, or my keys, etc.... 
  • Anger.
  • A bare-bones confession that opens up great dialog among down-to-earth (i.e, REAL) people from all walks of life. 
  • CHAOS.
  • Cold and unwelcoming 
  • Cringing when there's a knock at the door. 
  • Depression made visible. 
  • Despair. 
  • Destruction of things that you used to put so much value in. 
  • Dirty, perishable, wet or smelly--something to do with actual decay or built-up hard-to-remove sludge
  • Dreading opening the front door because it doesn't feel like home. It isn't a place where you relax.  It's where you hide. 
  • Embarrassment. 
  • Everyday the Fear I will go back to squalor. 
  • Far too many objects taking the place of memories. 
  • Fear. 
  • The fear I am going crazy because now I can NOT quit cleaning my house. I have become obscessed by the squalor I was in, into becoming a clean freak. There seems to be no happy medium for me. 
  • The fear of the knowledge I am screwed up and do not know how to fix it and become normal again 
  • Filling my brain with pesky little stuff so I don't have to deal with things that are important.
  • Frenzied and hostile - the opposites of calm and peaceful. 
  • Giving me lots of excuses. 
  • Going to extreme lengths to make sure no one gets the bright idea to pay you a surprise visit.
  • Having great balance because you've learned to dance over heaps of stuff. 
  • Imprisonment.
  • A "keep away" sign.  It tells the world I'm afraid or unworthy, so please don't trespass.
  • Knowing you can always stash the dirty dishes in the oven or a box if you are expecting company because washing every dish you own would take 4 hours. 
    • Finding the box of dishes a year later and forgetting you ever owned them! 
  • Knowing that water becomes stagnant when it sits. 
  • Looking around & being horrified that everything is cluttered or needs cleaning or some sort of attention—and it's gonna be me.
  • Looking at "The pile," knowing it's destroying your life, and doing nothing but shifting it around. 
  • Loud. The visual noise of it can be deafening.
  • Not being at home in your home. 
  • Not enough space for the things we feel we must keep. 
  • Not knowing how much is enough . 
  • Not home. It's a house filled with stuff and grime. 
  • Pain and fear. 
  • The pain I caused my friends and family denying them access to me as a person by keeping them out of my house. I can never go back and undo that. 
  • The pain I have now because I cannot visit my Mom because of her squalor.
  • The pain of denying myself children because I was afraid I would do to them what my parents did to me being raised in squalor.
  • Picking a few items out of the pile labeled Mount Washme so you can have clean clothes for at least the next day.
    • Picking a few items out of the laundry pile and sniffing to see if it's wearable.
  • The result of countless small acts of self-neglect. 
  • Socially incorrect.
  • A state of impoverishment. 
  • Suffocating under a stack of something.
  • Unnecessary mess. 
  • A visual expression of pain. 
  • A visual representation of emotional distress and a symptom of deeper problems 
  • Walking down the street catching glimpses into other people's windows and wishing you had a home like theirs.
 (posted on

Clutter causes many feelings.....

It takes a willingness to change to start the process to recovery.

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