Take care of your home and it will take care of you. 4 quick fixes that work like magic to take care of the little things that bug us.Read More
A growing business requires new equipment from time to time. Follow along to see how I solved my biggest organizing challenge - my workbag.
By taking time to get organized now, you can maximize your fun later!Read More
Like most of us I use apps every day. In fact, I can't imagine life without them! Apps make life easier and can be game changers for everyone - freeing up valuable brain space, giving us more time in our day and increasing our efficiency to just get more things done.Read More
What makes organizing for clients so much fun, is the progress that happens so quickly. It amazes people how much can be accomplished in just 3 hours. Especially when it's taken 10+ years to accumulate!Read More
What does a sermon, a broken heart and a Facebook ad all have in common?
About 6 months ago I was invited to attend a church service with a friend. The key scripture shared was
The pastor invited us to ask ourselves....what breaks my heart? I had trouble thinking of something concrete in that moment, so I diligently took notes instead.Read More
My goodness, it's been 3 months since I last blogged. Living where I do where the winters are long and the temperature is freezing, I make the most of summer! Spending every spare moment I'm not working with clients or catching up on office work, I am outside enjoying the sunshine and having fun.
How about you?
I've had the opportunity to be part of some really interesting projects this summer including preparing for and working an estate sale and then packing up the leftovers for donation.Read More
One of the first questions people ask me is "How did you name your business Winnow & Spruce Organizing?" As with all important decisions, it was a process and it took the better part of a month.
My naming criteria was:
1. It had to be original - no other companies in the US could have its name.
2. It had to be descriptive.
3. It had to sound clever.
4. The url.com had to be available.
5. The name would lend itself to a symbol/logo.Read More
Last weekend, I took the
to Milwaukee to visit my oldest. He just graduated from college
(insert proud mother!)
and needed help moving to his new digs; sharing a house with 2 friends.
Dropping into his life for a few days was so much fun and brought back my own sweet memories of flying out to L.A. to begin my adult life after college a million years ago.Read More
Today with Spring weather finally hitting here in Northwest Wisconsin, I thought I'd run through switching out our clothes closets for the seasons.
Living here in this cold climate means we have a lot of clothes. If you live in an older home like I do, there isn't much closet space. If you've ever wondered why? Here is theRead More
This week I've been exploring the topic of readiness; as in how do we know when we are ready to get organized?
First, assess your situation. Use this checklist to understand if you are experiencing any of these common problems that can be solved by getting organized.Read More
When you think of your home, what comes to mind?
I love this particular
, "a place where something flourishes."
Unfortunately, in most of the homes I work in, the disorganization has flourished and not much else.
From my experience, there are 3 types of homes.
Your home contains more than adequate storage such as built-in shelves and cabinets, but every nook and cranny is filled with rows upon rows of brand new items that are stockpiled as to never run out. Typically there are cases of paper towel, toilet paper, kleenex, bottled water, multiples of commonly found kitchen tools, duplicates of small appliances but can be racks of clothing with the tags still on, multiple dish sets, even a gift closet gone awry and the list goes on. Some items are kept in multiple places and some are located behind others. It's hard to find what is needed so it becomes easier to just buy more and more. Facing what's behind all this shopping and warehousing may be so painful, that it's easier to just close the doors and continue to be the shopkeeper.
The Storage Facility
This home has spare rooms, a basement and/or garage packed to the brim with everything imaginable. All items were removed from other parts of the home and placed here to decide on later. Out of sight, out of mind is the thought. Some items are broken and some boxes just contain pieces or parts to once useable things. Items could be organized and stored in plastic totes or cardboard boxes but the trouble is, there are random items mixed in and since it is difficult to find a path to walk into the room to find what we need, we just don't. Everything is usually dusty, there is sometimes evidence of insects, mice and sometimes mold, mildew, pet damage and even water damage that has gone unnoticed. It feels like a burden to live with all this clutter, but it's easy to distract yourself and forget it's there....that is until company arrives.
This home has become an archive for collections. Some belong to you, some to relatives and there may be some that pay homage to a friend's gifts to you or to someone dear who has passed away. These items are displayed on every available shelf and surface space. They require frequent dusting but some are located on the tops of cabinets and cannot be reached with ease. These collections may also include memorabilia and photos stored in bins and totes, shoe boxes and envelopes and hidden away in closets, tucked under beds, and located inside drawers. This is your family history and whether you like it or not, the amount of collected stuff is too great to actually decide to do something about it. Whether it's guilt about the money spent or the panicked feeling that you are dishonoring a memory if you were to get it out of the house, it feels like you will always be the caretaker of the museum.
Which home resonated with yours?
Isn't it time to do something about it once and for all?
What would you like your home to be like/feel like?
I am back to the land of the living having survived influenza. The secret to my success was strong lemon-licorice tea which a dear friend brought over in quarts and complete bed rest. It is at times like these that I am so grateful to live in my community. Friends brought jars of soup, washed my dishes, even did my laundry. Everyone should be this lucky and I'll be happiest when I can return all these favors to care for others in their time of need.
Now back to organizing!
I am running a special this month and next as I know we've all been doing the ol' dump and run in our garages. By dump and run, I mean dumping items wherever they fit and never quite getting the time or energy to put them away properly.
Spring is here, the snow is scheduled to melt away this weekend and I know that your garage door will be open for all the world to see. Do you ever wonder what your neighbors think when they see into your garage? I can turn your nightmare into a dream with a 6-hour session. It is amazing how quickly that mess can be turned into a success!
And if you need storage solutions, I'd be thrilled to research the perfect system for you and your lifestyle. There are many options and many come with installation too. No reason to stack your things on the floor or have a jumble of tools in a box. Garage organization solutions are not as expensive as you may think.
Text or call me today and we'll get your garage on our calendar so you can enjoy clear, uncluttered space!
If you live outside my 50-mile radius, take heart, I travel! I also offer virtual organizing as well as creating a personalized plan for you to follow along with coaching. There are many pathways for us to work together to get you organized.
What is one thing you'd like to be able to find easily in your garage?
When is the last time you cleaned it out?
Did the neighbors think you were having a yard sale?
Let's start today with this quote:
"One man's trash is another man's treasure, what he doesn't appreciate, the next man will."
So often, I encounter clients who have not ever donated anything, well other than cash that is. As far as their personal belongings, donating is unknown territory.
Unless they want to have some sort of garage sale, donating usable discards to a local charitable organization can be a wonderful way of recycling perfectly good items and sharing them with those who really need them.
First we address the usual hurdles:
Fear of seeing someone they know wearing their clothing.
Fear of seeing their cast-offs at a friend's home.
Fear of the unknown, after all, if you've never done it, how do you know?
Once we get everything loaded in the car, the rest is easy.
have Facebook to see it
showing how to drop off donations at our local
If you want to know more about donating and how to do it, schedule a coaching session with me. I even research the best places to donate your collections, clothing, furniture etc. as part of my service and if you like and you live locally, I can drop off your donations for you.
But the point of this story today is to highlight donating as a way of bringing others joy.
Introducing my friend Amy. She purchased this beautiful linen, embroidered tablecloth at her local thrift store for pennies on the dollar. She discovered upon unfolding it that it was unfinished. None of the letters were embroidered.
This is a ceremonial tablecloth to use on Jewish occasions such as
the Jewish day of rest - from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday. This tablecloth would be used for Friday night dinner, when saying prayers while lighting candles, over challah, and over wine.
I learned all this because I'd offered to finish it. You see I'm a professional organizer by day, but a sewist and maker by night.
First, we decided upon a color thread.
Then I embroidered one letter, to try things out.
It came out very well
In Hebrew it says,
Lechvod Shabbat v'Yom Tov. In honor of Shabbat and Holidays.
This thrilled my friend as now she can use it for all the Jewish holidays.
I am picturing many happy meals and memories to last a lifetime.
All because someone thought to donate it unfinished rather than putting it in the trash.
What is something you "rescued" from the thrift store?
Are you afraid of donating? What's holding you back?
This is the best time of year to sort and organize your photos. Curl up on the couch with a box of pictures, a cup of tea and start sorting.
It really helps if you get them all in one place first. Don't worry if they aren't organized, just get them all into boxes so you can sort them easily.
And let's back up a step further. Perhaps you already have them stored in plastic totes like these?
Take them out and put them into a photo boxes like this
. The large box holds up to 2500 photos and takes up a lot less room. Plus they are archival safe.
If these are beyond your budget, shop around to find a storage solution that works for you.
Recently I worked with a client who stored her framed photos in totes like these down in the basement storage of her parking garage. A very hungry mouse, chewed a hole in the plastic, and then proceeded to chew through the picture frames and eat her prized photos!
So if you think you're photos are safely stored, think again. If they are located in a basement, they could be subject to flooding, mold, mildew, insects and mice. I've seen it happen in the most beautiful of lower levels. If they are in the garage, the same thing can happen plus humidity and frigid temperatures.
If you sort with family members, it can be so much fun to reminisce, share family stories and the history of generations passed on. This time could be recalled later as a favorite memory with your children.
For sure get them off your camera & phone!
I urge you and encourage you to get your photos out of those dark boxes and into the hands, hearts and minds of those who will appreciate knowing that there is more to you than meets the eye. Photos of us reconnect us with our past selves. Photos of other people open up new awareness about our family history and give us a sense of belonging.
Good intentions may not serve you when it comes to photos. Ask for help if it seems too daunting of a project.
One of my grandmothers meant to label all the cardboard boxes filled with photos she had stored in her attic, but glaucoma took her eyesight way too soon and she never finished. She was an only child with her parents long gone. Those unknown, unidentifiable photos ended up in the burn barrel on my
when she cleared out her storage trailer. Those boxes were moved at least 5 times in the last 100 years - and no one thought to ever look at them!
Today, my uncle who is my mother's brother, sent me a very special photo that I have never seen before. This is my great-grandmother, Anna Cady. She is my namesake twice as my middle name, Anne is after her and when I divorced, I changed my last name to hers.
I've never met her but all my life my mother has told me that I am a lot like her. We both loved calico cats, beautiful photography, crafting and sewing. I have an antique writing desk that was hers, her cast iron Dutch oven and 2 quilts that she made by hand. And now, thanks to my uncle, I have a photo of her too.
There is some resemblance!
I'm so grateful that my uncle didn't wait to share this with me.
Where are all your family's photos stored?
What are your intentions?
What's holding you back from getting them into the light of day?
Who do you want to share them with? Contact me, let's get started.
The longer that I work in this industry, the more information I find about organizing. There are so many methods to choose from.
each with its own ideas of how to get started. It seems there is an unlimited number of books to read and even more research being published having to do with the psychology of clutter.
As you survey your own home in all it's chaos, considering where to start can feel overwhelming.
Reading a book can cause the thrill of anticipation, but upon actually facing the mess, many people just close the door and walk back into complacency. That is until out-of-town guests plan to visit, or hosting a graduation party is on the horizon.
Having a deadline can motivate us to take action.
Start with a plan. How many rooms need attention? How deep does the organization need to go?
How long are we giving ourselves to complete it?
Add another 3 hours.
What preparation do we need to take, such as gathering boxes, ordering a dumpster, arranging a donation pick-up? And asking for support - be it a professional organizer, a group of friends or a family member.
Once you have all this in place, you're ready to start. If you just launch into the process, likely you'll feel overwhelmed at some point and just give up, likely with a bigger mess than when you started.
Pick your happy place. Start with the place in your home that gives you the most joy.
Is it your kitchen? Your home office? The couch in front of the fireplace? The comfy chair where the sunlight streams in the window?
Thrifted for $35 from the local second-hand shop. Joy doesn't have to be expensive.
Start here. Tidy up everything in sight of your happy place. Declutter, dust, vacuum etc. In this way, you have a clean, clear space to relax and feel at peace.
Then go tackle the big stuff.
Where are you in the process of starting your organizing journey?
Tell me more about your happy place.
*Local readers in the St. Croix Valley. I'll be speaking at the Hammond Community Library on Thursday, February 15, 2018 at 6:30pm. Spread the word and come join us!
Let's Get Organized!
This is the final installment of this Where Did I Go series. Promise. There is a lot more coming to this blog this year, but we had to get this out of the way.
We left off with me waiting for a rental to open up so I would be able to move before my house was sold. I wrote down my criteria for joy: 2 bedrooms, located in my neighborhood and one more thing...
I prayed that I'd have a big enough bedroom to recreate the one I'd worked so hard to declutter and redecorate. It was my happy place and I wanted to take it with me.
The one and only rental that became available was the first and only one that I saw. I was in a foul mood that day and my friend, Mary, had to practically drag me over to the showing.
I believe in signs and wonders and this "owl" sitting on top of the garage flipped my bad attitude in a hurry. I love owls and one translation of my married name means owl. It felt meant to be from the start.
I didn't mind the peeling paint, no garage, the coin-op laundry, the fact that college students were likely the other renters or that I couldn't move into my treetops apartment for 6 weeks. I was delighted to find out the basement efficiency was available almost immediately. I was grateful and excited!
As I'd mastered the art of asking for help, I reached out to my church, and a big group of guys from the Men's Ministry, came over with trucks, my pastor rented a u-haul and they moved me in a span of just a few hours. Some of my things went to the church's garage, very little went into the basement apartment and some into storage on the premises. One man commented that it was the most organized move ever!
Of course, I'm an organizer!
And, I said goodbye to my house. My youngest son, home from college with me, walked through our house, remembering all the good times and funny stories contained in those walls.
Literally, he showed me a secret hole he used to hide things from his brother and there were items still in there!
Then for a month I lived in the tiny basement apartment. I will never ever forget waking up there the next morning and wondering what the heck had I done? Hence no pictures.
It was quite an adjustment and I was really glad it was sunny and warm outside and not the middle of winter. Thankfully there was an egress window and another small one for the sun to shine through.
Then, before I knew it, it was time to move upstairs. Again, my church, actually my pastor and his son, moved everything out of their garage into my new place and I called in more friends to help me move from the basement to the 2nd story.
I believe I had every friend I've ever made, help me with some aspect of this transition. From the sale to multiple moves, my friends gladly stepped in for me. I will never forget how loved and supported I felt. I can't wait to help someone else! I had enough help to last a lifetime.
It took awhile to unpack and because it was 85% smaller than my previous house, I had to be really creative with storage. I did not want to be surrounded by my "stuff".
My "Hoosier" became a food pantry.
I outfitted my tiny bedroom closet with a storage system for my clothes which eliminated the need for a dresser.
And my prayer was answered! All the elements of my old bedroom fit perfectly in my new space.
For the living area, I had to downsize my original ideas for furniture. My old furniture was just way too big for the space. Several trips to
and just like in
Goldilocks & the Three Bears
, it felt just right to me.
Scale is so important. Color is too. I'm not a
in the truest sense, I'm more
but with a
Which method resonates with you?
So what about the second bedroom? Follow me...
Welcome to my art studio/office!
and a place for the kids to crash when they visit.
Whoever invented blow up air mattresses, bless them. Who needs a guest room anyway?
Thanks for letting me show off this version of a tiny house. It has been very freeing living with a lot less space and a lot less stuff. And to top off this change in residence, I not only changed my address, I also changed my phone number, my email address and even my name.
So allow me to introduce myself, my name is Valerie Cady and this concludes the series on Where Did I Go?
Are you facing a move this year, find yourself unexpectedly in your own transition as I did, or are now on the other side of a big change?
If you need assistance I can help.
Whether it's getting ready for a garage sale, de-cluttering your home, or sorting through those boxes of memorabilia, I can help you figure out what to throw and more importantly, what to keep. Together we will turn your biggest headache into a place of joy.
It's not just from my own experience that I draw from, I've worked with nearly 50 clients since I started my business 3 years ago - and that was all while working another job. Now I've committed to Winnow & Spruce Organizing full time!
Won't you help spread the word and tell your friends and family about my services?
Find me on
@winnowandspruceorganizing and invite your friends to like and follow
Refer a friend to my
Subscribe to my
and receive a freebie!
Follow and share this
I am grateful for your support.
I left off of
in December of 2016.
One month later, my life was totally in God's hands and ah-mazing things were happening amidst all the pain I was experiencing from the divorce proceedings.
I can explain it no other way than to say that Jesus had ahold of my right hand and was walking me through all the plans that had to be made to sell our house and guide me into a new future, much different than the one I had visualized. I hung on to this scripture like a lifeline.
For I the Lord your God, hold your right hand: It is I who say to you, "Fear not, I am the one who helps you." Isaiah 41:13 ESV
Before the house even hit the market, a couple approached me at church inquiring if I'd be interested in selling it to them. It was perfect for their family and as we moved towards closing, the real work began.
Fortunately, I had been sorting out items by category, using the Kon-Mari method for the past year but I still had a few categories to go such as my Memorabilia and Photos.
In one sitting, I sorted all these boxes of my memories down to two. Sometimes a little pressure is a good thing. I took lots of photos of paperwork and significant items so if I want to look at them, I still can, but it all went.
I decided it was time to let go of the yearbooks and photo albums from high school, college, dating and beyond. I pulled out a few photos from these albums and tossed the rest.
(Did I hear someone gasp?)
It felt good to let go of my past to make way for my future.
I knew that I was going to have to have a big sale in order to make some money and hopefully get rid of most everything I had.
No way was I going to live in an apartment surrounded by clutter after experiencing all the clear space in my beautiful home. At this point, I still had no idea where I was going, but I knew that small was going to be in my future and perhaps even tiny.
Emptying out 4 stories of a house was a large scale version of these sorting boxes. Except for my "Keep" box only held items that I absolutely loved and would hopefully fit in a tiny apartment.
I knew that having a sale in April likely meant it was going to have to be held inside which meant all the big furniture pieces had to go to make room for all the household items. I may have worn out the
! It seemed I was selling something every day and I met the most wonderful people!
I held a
for a woman who wanted to buy some garden and outdoor decor items. Turns out she runs the outdoor flea market where I bought most of the items I was selling! Even funnier was she bought almost all of it back!
One of my besties bought my favorite swing so I could still come by and use it from time to time.
I sold a small area rug to a woman who confided in me that she'd just got off work at 6am and found out her kids had had the stomach flu all night. She had just arrived from the laundromat, where she had to wash all of their bedding. Just that morning I had emptied out the linen closet and wondered what to do with it all. As soon as I heard her story, I rushed upstairs and grabbed the giant bag of sheets, blankets, comforters, and pillows. She was so grateful as we both stuffed them into her small car filled with laundry baskets and clean clothes.
I smiled for the rest of the day.
There was a metal workbench that I sold to a woman named Kim. We hit it off immediately, wondered how it was that we had never met in our small town, and after loading the beast into her pick-up, have become friends ever since.
(In fact, she offered to come help me pack all the discards up from the big sale the following day so the donation truck could grab them and she did! She is my friend for life.)
It gave me a lot of joy during this difficult time to have some of my favorite things go to people so excited to own them.
But did I mention the garage?
So when my soon to be ex-had left town, he left an enormous mess in the garage. Piles of things willy-nilly. It was overwhelming. No way could I do this on my own along with emptying the house, plus every time I walked in there, I felt angry that he hadn't taken care of this. Fortunately, a friend offered to do it, I accepted. Even organizers need help from time to time.
It took 6 days. I watched.
Man oh man there was so much stuff. It was impassable.
READY FOR THE SALE
The sale was held. It was a blur. Many, many, many of my friends came to help with the display, pricing, and working the sale. I remember it was very cold outside and I walked many times between the garage and my house to check on things, answer questions and talk to people. It was exhausting.
I would take photos of things that weren't selling and post to
and people would text me with the photo marked with red circles of what they were coming over to buy. It was crazy!
Afterwards, it was really FUN to throw all the cash in the air!
Haven't you wanted to do this too?
The house was completely emptied out, except for the things I was keeping.
It was a bit like camping. There was no couch to sit on, no bed even. I slept on a mattress on the floor.
Meanwhile the house was closing in a month! I waited on God to find out where I was headed next.
Go back and read
Watch for Part III next.
Have you ever had to make a big move?
How did you decide what to keep?
I’ve been gone from this blog for quite awhile, about a year actually. Sure I managed a total of two posts in all of 2017,
, but mentally, I took a break from everything so I could focus on me. This is what happened.
I'll pick up the story in the Spring of 2016. My husband took a job in another state, in the hopes that we would eventually move there permanently. I stayed put to get our home ready for sale.
I had started my own version of a
back in 2015 which I blogged about in many posts since then. By the summer of 2016, I had finished my
, had the entire inside of our home professionally
and then I decided to
with staging for a house sale in mind, all while still working with clients and doing a million other things to get the house fixed up and cleaned up.
In late summer I had resigned myself to living alone and was enjoying my renewed home. Houses really do like being taken care of. Mine shone with the love and care I had given it and I relished all the space. It had been worth all the hard work.
Then something happened that Fall that changed the course of my life.
Unbeknownst to me, in that other state, my husband was making his own choices and these had led to him very suddenly losing his job. The long and the short of it was that after 27 years of marriage I filed for divorce. This started me on a path to a much different life than the one I had previously known.
By December 2016, I had taken in a renter, found a part time job and was working with organizing clients in the evenings and on weekends, my college-age sons and myself were about to lose our health insurance, and I knew there was no way I could afford the payments on the mortgage to keep our family home.
to find out how this story continues and where my new life begins!
The seasons are changing! It's a good time to clean out the ol' car.
I added these car magnets recently and have noticed people stopping and staring when I'm in traffic. I can't help but think they might be checking out the inside of my car when I park. Egads!
Thanks to one of my clients, I discovered that one can actually pay to have their car cleaned out! It's called
and now I am a total fan.
Check out all that beach sand!
So many park stickers and no easy way to remove them...I had tried.
Leaving the sun roof open for years deteriorates the stitching on leather seats, hence duct tape.
So it was very rewarding to have someone else vacuum, scrub and shine the interior of my car.
Only current park stickers, removal of beach sand and no more peeling duct tape, mystery stains and dust.
But then the real work began....decluttering.
I pulled all of this
out of the storage areas of my car.
Here is what I found
(from left to right):
Maps for 3 states, car manual, expired registration!, insurance card, window markers
, sketch of fairy godmother, phone charger, parts and pieces that have broken off car interior, fuses, scissors, barrettes, extra sunglasses - 3 pairs!, eyeglass cleaner and cloth, hand sanitizer, bug spray, first aid kit, zipties, assorted pens/pencils, paperclips, money!
(we always find money)
2 flashlights, window scraper, park passes, GPS unit, bluetooth speaker, duct tape, batteries, signal mirror
), military shovel, workgloves, diesel additive, gardening gloves
There was also some rags and assorted trash.
Some of what I found, stayed in the car and here is what I kept and where it is stored.
In one side trunk compartment, an air pump, handy for blowing up beach toys.
In other side trunk compartment: A first aid kit. I restocked it: snake bite kit, bee sting antidote, needle -
, water purification tablets, matches, firestarter -
scissors, tweezers, q-tips, triangle bandages, gauze, adhesive tape, assorted band-aids. Let the adventures begin!
In the trunk compartment: An inverter - handy for plugging in that GPS when the battery charger breaks -
Extra lightbulbs and fuses, various tools to make car repairs, a handwarmer
Instructions for the car rack carrier, the signal mirror
for survival situations because Winter!,
jumper cables, diesel additive, work gloves, shovel, and a few rags.
On top of the trunk, I love using storage totes; one for my cloth shopping bags and wrangling watermelons and other bulky items after grocery shopping and another for my organizing supplies so that I'm always prepared to work with clients. I got these at
but not sure they are available any longer. They were the totes that lined their Besta media center but they also fit perfectly in my trunk!
In the driver's side door storage: Maps, park pass, mileage book, hand sanitizer and business cards -
because someone seriously flagged me down from the side of the street to book an appointment!
In the passenger side door storage: An umbrella, bug spray and a cloth shopping bag -
for those impromptu
runs when I forget to put my cloth bag stash back in the car!
In the glove compartment: GPS, flashlight, window scraper, tire gauge, scissors, flashlight, car manual/registration & insurance card.
Truth be told about that expired car registration. I ended up realizing that I'd thrown away my renewal by accident when I put the tabs on my license plates. So off to the DMV to get a copy. It only cost me $8.00...phew!
Even organizers sometimes are too organized for their own good.
In the center console: Extra eyeglasses, eyeglass cleaner & cloth, lip balm, sunscreen -
Lastly, I restocked my coin holder with quarters for the shopping carts at
and the occasional parking meter.
I reattached my phone holder and my organization is complete.
After all that work, I'm ready for a road trip! And with a GPS, a phone and maps, I am sure never to get lost.
Have you ever had your car detailed before? I say treat yo'self!
What is the most unusual item you keep in your car?