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Author: Naomi CookGeneral Organizing Room Transformation Seasonal

7 Inexpensive Ways to Soothe the Winter Blues

Living Room

Did you know that February, aside from being one month closer to Spring (hooray!), is “Pull Your Sofa off the Wall” month? This is the ideal time to shake things up a bit in your living room, especially since this is the time of year when people hibernate in their homes. This time of year is also known for the winter blues, no doubt in part from taking down cheery holiday lights and decorations.

So…what can you do? Aside from becoming a snowbird and heading to Florida, you can add some inexpensive and space saving items to brighten up your space, awaken your senses, and put a smile on your face. Take a look at my own living room to see how I have incorporated some of the following items:

Welcome Mat – For an instant mood booster, find a bright and cheery welcome mat to come home to after a long day at work. Look for inexpensive options at Target or Kohl’s. Also, consider lighting up the pathway to your welcome mat with solar lights that will soak up any sun that may have been out during the day.

Full Spectrum Light Bulbs – I wholeheartedly recommend sun lamps that are used to mimic the natural light from the sun, which is often in short supply in the winter. I have one next to my sofa that I use while I eat breakfast. Another inexpensive approach is to switch out the bulbs in your main reading lights for full spectrum bulbs, which can give off the same effect as sun lamps.

Mirrors – When the sun does appear, take note of where the sunlight streams onto the wall and if feasible, put a mirror there. Note the mirror art above my sofa, which is directly across from a window. This will reflect the sun and naturally make it seem like more sunlight is in the room. Plus, mirrors give off the feeling of a roomier space.

Candles – Find a signature scent that makes you feel calm and relaxed and light it every time you come to stay in the room for a while. Personally, I love the Cashmere Woods scent by Glade. It has a nice and light musky/woodsy smell, perfect for this time of year. Mine is centered in the room on my coffee table to let the scent spread evenly throughout the room.

Pillow Covers – Find decorative throw pillow covers to update and transform your atmosphere. I purposefully chose a neutral sofa and chair for that reason. Pillow covers are also much easier to store than several accent pillows from each season, and they can be freshened in the laundry. Try Bed, Bath and Beyond for a large selection and don’t forget your 20% off coupons! As you can see, I have chosen a turquoise theme; however, if I ever decide to change my accent color, it would be fairly easy.

Throw Blankets – Find throws that are comfy, soft and most importantly, will keep you warm on a cold winter’s night! When not in use, fold them up and place them on the back of your sofa.

Artwork – New prints on the wall along with a few knick knacks on your mantle will give your room a fresh perspective. Incorporate your accent color, as I have done here in turquoise.

I hope these ideas will give you something to think about while you are curled up on your sofa…and by the way, you don’t need to pull it off of the wall if you don’t want to.

Here’s to a warm, cozy and colorful season!

Author: Kelly GalfandElectronic Organizing Family General Holidays Seasonal Shopping Storage

Ask “Where” and “Why” Before You Buy

My personal list of pre-shopping questions is taped to my computer screen.

As the holidays approach, ASK before you make a single purchase:

Where will it “live”? This is probably the last question people ask… but it should be first! If you don’t want to invite clutter, make sure you know where something will be stored when not in use; otherwise, it will sit out, collect dust, and get in your way.

Why do I need this? If you’re purchasing a gift… do they really need it? Would they appreciate tickets to an event more than an object to clutter their home? Recent studies have shown that experiences give us longer-lasting JOY than material items.

Can I afford it right now? This is not just a monetary question… electronic purchases require an investment in time to set up; new phones beg for back-ups before you transfer over to a new device and don’t forget about learning curves!

What would happen if I waited? Shopping can be fun. I am the first to admit that it’s neat to re-envision your table set for the holidays, or a seasonal lift to your bedroom (I am a sucker for linens!), but your brain doesn’t know the difference between the fantasy of seeing your table set and the reality of seeing your bed made with cozy soft colorful sheets that say autumn. Go ahead and put it in your cart (be it physical or electronic)… just don’t hit “confirm purchase.” Resist placing that order. Do NOT hand over your credit card.

If you KNOW you need it, and you can afford it, but you really haven’t a clue where to put it, hire a professional organizer to help! We’re terrific at thinking outside the box, or cabinet, or fridge, or pantry, or laundry room, or bedside table or linen closet… Our list goes on for fabulous solutions to your everyday challenges.

As the holidays approach, try keeping a list of these shopping questions in your wallet or taped to your computer screen to help avoid unnecessary purchases. List the where’s and why’s in an order that makes sense to you and your purchasing patterns. This year, go into the holidays feeling in control of your spending, your space, and your holiday experiences. Your budget and your loved ones will thank you!

Author: Nina BowdlerFamily General Holidays Organizing Seasonal Time Management

MY THANKSGIVING CHECKLIST

Thanksgiving cornucopiaSome years ago, in our new home, I hosted Thanksgiving for my husband’s family. To say that I was somewhat intimidated by cooking for 26 people is a slight understatement. You may be thinking, you’re a professional organizer… why would you be intimidated? Well, being nervous is normal especially when you are doing something that you love to do and for the people whom you love. Nevertheless, my nerves got the best of me right up to the moment when I made my Thanksgiving Checklist.

That’s right, I made a list of what I needed to do right up until I opened my front door and welcomed my guests. You name it, and it was on the list… cleaning the house, ironing the tablecloth, polishing my silver, running my stemware through the dishwasher, taking my grandmother’s china out of my china cabinet, setting the table, planning the menu, food shopping (yes, a separate list for ingredients), delegating certain recipes to family members, setting the table, and choosing which serving platters to use for each recipe I was making. All this may sound overwhelming, but trust me, if you make a list, and then transfer each “to do” to your calendar, you will not only get things done, but you will be relaxed in the process. Did you “catch on” to when I mentioned delegating? Delegating is essential when taking on something as overwhelming as hosting a holiday. Quite frankly, I am a firm believer in delegating on a daily basis. One of my favorite quotes to my family is, “I never said I was Superwoman.” We all need help and should feel comfortable doing so… now, with Thanksgiving right around the corner. Why not start a new habit and start delegating?

Back to my holiday undertaking, lucky for me, I had bought a cooking magazine that had many recipes that appealed to me, and each recipe gave a time line of what could be cooked beforehand. Some recipes could be cooked days in advance and reheated Thanksgiving day. Some recipes had sauces that could be made in advance, frozen, then defrosted that day. And don’t stress about cooking the bird since most magazines give cooking directions based on weight. Also, keep in mind that a simple menu goes a long way, especially when this holiday is about bringing family together. Each day up until the holiday, I was able to check things off my list.

Being organized not only helped alleviate stress, but it allowed me to enjoy myself and my family on Thanksgiving. Why not give it a try and make your Thanksgiving Checklist?

Author: Danielle OBrienFamily Holidays Organizing Project Management Seasonal Storage

The Key to a Simple Halloween Party

Picture Orange leaping flames from a crackling fire

Everyone can agree life can get a little hectic, especially around the holidays. Who has time to read Martha Stewart magazine, shop for the ingredients, put out an amazing buffet, craft fantastic decorations, and then be the “hostess with the mostest” at the time of the party? However, nobody wants to wants to miss out on having fun and seeing friends either. So I’ve come up with an easier way, a simplified way, to celebrate Halloween.

Here’s how to host a simple Halloween party:

• On October 1st my two Halloween bins come out of storage. One contains decorations, the same ones I use every year because they are full of memories. And the other of costumes, which we like to try on throughout the month just for laughs.

• Around the second week of October I place a flyer in every mailbox on my street, email the neighbors I know personally, and start spreading the word whenever I see anyone out and about.
My invite reads:
Halloween Party at Danielle’s house
Dress warm, bring a chair & snack to share
BYOB

• On the third week of October I purchase my candy, beverages, and paper products. During this time, I also make sure I have enough fire wood and clean up my fire pit.

• Finally Halloween arrives! I start off the day with a short trip to the Conshohocken Bakery where I buy tomato pies, cakes, granola bars, and cookies for later that evening. We set up a buffet table and our fire pit in the driveway and not long after that, the neighbors arrive with chairs and snacks to share.

Sitting under the stars outside with my neighbors, enjoying the warmth and beauty of the fire, and watching the children make their rounds from house to house is a great way to spend Halloween. It’s relaxing, fun and you don’t even have to clean your house! Try it, you’ll love it.

Author: Vali HeistGarage General Goal Setting Home Seasonal Storage

Organize your Gardening and Enjoy the Process

bright flowers put a smile on any garden setting.

Finding the time and energy to garden has been a challenge for me in the past few years. Our property seems to be getting bigger or am I getting older? Regardless of the reason, I’m not willing to give up the great exercise and satisfaction I get from planting my garden, so I need to get more organized to get it done. I also have to be satisfied with an hour or two here and there instead of a full day of gardening. After I planted my garden last year, I took pictures of the planters and the gardens and made a list of the plants I bought at the local nurseries.

Our garden shed was built on top of an old outhouse and frankly it could withstand a hurricane. It has a waist high counter and wooden shelving. We used leftover linoleum flooring from the kitchen for the floor. It’s just the right size to hold the following:

  • gardening gloves and ball caps in a closed plastic container
  • small gardening tools-store in plastic carrier or basket with a handle
  • gardening planters
  • folding lawn furniture stored under the counter
  • gazing ball and stone statues for the garden
  • rod iron poles for hanging baskets, plant and tomato stakes, and long tools (small shovel, rake, edger)-stored in 5 gallon plastic bucket with metal part up
  • items to decorate my screened-in porch
  • flower seeds and bulbs in a metal container
  • leftover potting soil in 5 gallon plastic bucket with a lid

In the spring:

  • Use 5 gallon plastic bucket with handle to pull out weeds.
  • Pull everything out of the shed and sweep it out (mice and chipmunks have made their winter homes in my shed).
  • Take plants out of the garden that died over the winter.
  • Throw out older seeds and bulbs that didn’t make the winter.
  • Divide perennial plants if too big and share with your neighbors or replant in other parts of your garden to save money.
  • Move other plants around to fill in where plants died or didn’t come up.
  • Using pictures from last year, I bought plants and vegetables and planted the planters and the gardens.

In the fall after the first killing frost:

  • Fall is for planting, so buy perennials on sale and fill in where plants didn’t live.
  • Don’t forget to call 811 before you dig too deep to prevent damage to electric lines and natural gas pipelines.
  • Wash out the planters and store in shed.
  • Store leftover seeds and bulbs in metal containers
  • Donate any ceramic planters or recycle plastic containers you didn’t use

After plants have been hit by frost, I like to fill in with fall décor so it doesn’t look so empty. I use some of the more colorful pots I emptied to hold mums and fill in with straw bales, pumpkins, cornstalks and gourds. Organize your gardening so it’s a pleasure, not a chore.

Clutter Tips:

  • Don’t store 9 volt batteries against each other or other batteries. They can spark and cause a fire.
  • When you clear the clutter in medicine cabinets donate unused and unexpired medical supplies, to C.U.R.E., c/o Mission Central, 5 Pleasant View Drive, Mechanicsburg, PA 17050.

Green Tips:

  • Latex paint disposal: equal parts kitty litter and latex paint. Let sit for one hour and throw in garbage.
  • Make the switch to permanent water bottles instead of putting plastic into our oceans. Even recycling plastic bottles produces toxins.
Author: Darla PompilioFamily General Home Organizing Productivity Project Management Seasonal

A Better Method for Spring Cleaning & Organizing

Cleaning picI don’t know about you, but spring is my favorite time of year, and the last thing I want to do is spend my weekend or multiple weekends focusing on cleaning and organizing my entire home.   Instead of pulling out that long list of spring cleaning duties, consider breaking up the list into bite size pieces to be completed throughout the year.

Maintenance is a much easier solution and a tremendous time saver.


Pick Your Battles

Look at your list and determine the cleaning and organizing tasks that make the most sense for this time of year.  For example, closets are a great place to start because this is the time of year we change from winter to spring/summer attire.  Garages are another good area of focus.  Now is the time to put away the snow blower and pull out the lawn mower.  And, let’s be honest, things tend to get piled and tossed into the garage all winter, so it’s time for a garage clean-out.  Your garden shed is another great fit for seasonal organizing.  Inspect and sharpen your garden tools, take stock of your supplies, clean your clay pots and determine your tool storage area based on how often you use the tools. Also, with the onset of warmer weather comes the need to change to lighter blankets and comforters, and once the bed is stripped you can vacuum and turn the mattress to complete the process.

Maintenance is Key
Now that you have decided which areas make sense to organize during the spring season; let’s break the rest of that cleaning and organizing list into manageable tasks to be completed throughout the year.  Baseboards, doors, and cobwebs can be dusted and cleaned during the winter when you’re stuck inside during a snowstorm.  Lampshades and ceiling fans can be dusted at regular intervals when you dust the rest of your home. Draperies, blinds and carpets can be cleaned in the fall or the end of the summer.  Many people have self cleaning ovens that can be cleaned any time of the year, and grease traps and stove filters are easy to replace or clean on an as needed basis.

Consistency is the Name of the Game
Having a consistent, year round routine will help you avoid investing large chunks of time in the spring.  Instead, get out and smell the forsythia, spend time with family and friends, or do whatever makes you happier at this wonderful time of year.  Organizing and cleaning are necessary for a functional life, so finding ways to spread it out and make it easier in the long run will save you endless hours each season.