Pssst...What's the Password?

Remember the days of yore when we were children and we only needed to memorize one secret password to get into the neighbor kid's tree fort?  

Well, sad to say, those days are gone.  Fast forward to our digital life that was unimaginable back then.

Now we use many, many passwords in our daily life and most of us use them multiple times a day. Why is this exactly?  Because they must be kept secret so we don't become victims of internet fraud and identity theft.

Harumph.  It is especially frustrating to be locked out of a website and time consuming to wait for the inevitable password reset.  AND it can be very frustrating to keep track of all these passwords and very tempting to use this one instead.

Don't do it.

Instead, download my free Password Log with a separate page for secret questions/answers by signing up for my

Quarterly Newsletter

.  It is my gift to you.

Truth be told, mine looks like this right now.


On the flip side is a piece of paper with the headings:

COMPANY WEBSITE                    USER NAME                 PASSWORD

and I might add, everything is neatly typewritten.  The problem is adding to this list isn't easy, hence all of the post it notes!  

But this week I've transitioned!  

On your log, list the following categories to make it easy to find what you need.

Financial companies; banks, credit cards, mortgage companies, paypal, turbotax, inveestments

Email sites; gmail, 

Social media accounts; facebook, twitter, pinterest, blog readers, linked in, skype

Music sites; spotify, pandora, itunes

Media sites; photobucket, netflix, 

Travel sites; travelocity, fare compare, student universe, state park sites

Restaurant sites; pizza delivery

Selling sites; Craig's list, ebay

Services sites; Angie's list, vistaprint

Shopping sites; ioffer, REI, sierra trading company, target, macy's, walgreens, amazon

Health sites; mychart

Phone sites; tmobile

Insurance sites; life, home, auto

If you begin today, you'll have a complete list in no time!  Just add them as you use them.

If you like it typewritten, remember to delete the actual document on your computer and instead store it on a


flash drive or external hard drive.  That way if your computer is ever hacked or stolen, your passwords are safe.

I keep our password log  in a clear plastic sheet in the freezer


.  If I actually told you where I keep all our passwords, I'd have to kill you.


If you're more of a notebook person, this is a clever password log from 



All kidding aside, keep your password log in a private, secure place that only family members know about....

that is if you trust your family members.


do your boss a favor and have a password log at work.    I read recently that when 9/11 occurred, the private investment firm of Cantor Fitzgerald had to call hundreds of family members of the deceased, as all the passwords died with their employees.  They asked them very personal questions in the hopes of discovering their passwords so they could access the information that was stored in the cloud from their computers to keep the company running.  What a hassle!

Oh and don't forget to write down the secret questions and answers too!  You may not know all of the answers to your spouse's secret questions.   So plan a date night and start writing them down.  

What street did you grow up on?

What was the name of your first pet?

What was the name of your kindergarten teacher?

Dream job?

First instrument?

Dream car?

Applied to college but didn't attend?

And these you might be sure to agree on.

Place of wedding reception?

Favorite song?

Name of best man at your wedding?

What city did you meet your spouse?

This way if something happens to one or both of you, your private information can easily be accessed.  You might want to keep a copy of your passwords in your safety deposit box along with your will,

but that's another topic. 

Whatever you do, don't keep them on your computer in case you get hacked.

How do you organize your passwords?

Have you figured out a different way to recall them easily?

No More Pasta

Friends, how many of you set a new year's resolution around food, dieting or weight loss?  

Oh my, the hands raised could fill up a room!

(my hand is raised too!)

I've decided to be very intentional this new year about what I put in my mouth.  And that decision led to an early morning session of organizing.  

Sometimes, organizing one shelf can make all the difference.

This shelf is a prime example of how simply filling a space with containers does not organize it.

All this had to go!  Per my new year's resolution.  No.More.Pasta

(at least until I hit my weight goal).

When I emptied out all those 


 containers, I found this growing in the bottom of a couple of them....ICK

Evidently I don't eat as much pasta as I thought.

In messy cupboards, there are always a few items that don't belong.  Best to relocate them. Store like with like.  

Who knew we had dips and hot cocoa?  PARTY.

These all held pasta!  

They've been replaced with grains and beans

(alphabetized of course)

.  Is couscous a pasta?

Pasta is ready to leave the house.  

It's going to the next college student who visits.

So long pasta, maybe we'll see you in a few months.

What would you do with all those empty containers?

What shelf in your home is bugging you right now?

Hop on over to my 


 page to see a quick kitchen reorg.

Preserving Family Memorabilia

Every family has something that they are proud of.

Often it is objects; a momento from emmigrating to this country, a relic from a war, some thing from an era gone by such as the family farm or something related to their cultural heritage.

It could also be something handmade; scrapbooks, embroidered household items, knitted sweaters, handcrafted furniture, or even something as large as a family home that was built by hand.

My Grandma Sokolitz

If I ask myself what my extended family was proud of, it would be my grandmother's recipes.  She was Hungarian and emmigrated to the United States when she was 5.  Back in the 1920s, women spent much of their time cooking for their household and because it was that depression era, they were thrifty and creative with the ingredients they cooked with.  She was a master chef by her own design, and closely guarded her recipes, deciding to share them with a few close family members, when we showed some interest and she realized her days were numbered on this earth.

In my experience I've found that clients let these sorts of items accumulate in their homes either because they wanted them saved when they were offered or more likely, someone in the family passed away, and so these objects were simply passed on.

In many instances, these valued things are stored in boxes, stacked up in basements, garages, attics where they are out of site.  Often no one remembers the contents much less where they are located.

When the time comes to deal with these items

(and the time always comes...)

family members can be dismayed to discover that these once valued items have been ruined by mold, dust, rust and decay and now regardless of preference, they must be thrown away.

This process can be extremely hard and filled with anxiety and sadness, which is why many people choose to hang on to such things long after their usefulness has passed, their joy forgotten.  It is just too hard to face all of that emotion and decision-making when what we really want to be doing is to go out and about, enjoying our lives.

It's no mystery why the clutter we inherit can take over valuable space in our homes and leave us feeling hopeless to do anything about it.

But back to my grandmother....

Before she passed away, I was lucky enough to inherit a large shoe box crammed full of her recipes. Excited to have them and be able to cook with them, I opened the box.

To my dismay, it was filled with recipes alright, but most of them were from other women in her neighborhood, many were scratched out on the backs of Crisco labels, and some were incomplete or indecipherable.

So, just like all of my clients, I closed the box and put it on a shelf in my basement....for 22 years,

3 states and 4 houses later.

Until now....

I unpacked the box!

I spent a few hours sorting the recipes into categories.  It wasn't easy, but it sure was fascinating!

What do you think this is for?

Rolling dough into noodles!

There was another tool in there that I couldn't bear to photograph or keep, once I found out what it was.  It was a bundle of chicken feathers, neatly tied together.  I found out from my Dad that it was used to brush eggwash on to pastry.  

Eeeew, out it went!

There were a couple of recipe books that I quickly flipped through, looking for notes from my grandmother in the margins.  And I cut out a few of the recipes too.

There were many recipes written on ephemera like this label from a can...

See the edits handwritten at the top?  The edits make it HER recipe.

How about this?

A recipe written in Hungarian!

This made me cringe, but I couldn't look away.

Then there were interesting other things that had nothing to do with cooking.

How to keep flies away and how to grow violets? Hmmm.

This made me think was she looking for a job?

Or merely figuring out which pens still had ink in them?

But I digress...

I took pictures


of everything that wasn't a recipe as during the sorting process, I decided that I would indeed compile all the recipes and photos into a digital book for my family as a surprise for Christmas!

First I had to winnow down the 50+ recipes into the 30 that were truly her own and for that I needed the help of my Dad.  Without knowing exactly what I was up to

(it was a surprise after all)

, he went through the stacks of recipes with me and even told me a few stories along the way.  

I've heard it said that when the oldest person in your family passes away, it's like the library burned down, so this was a special time with him hearing more about our family history.

Then the real work began....typing them all up.  It took looking up incomplete recipes online using Google translator for Hungarian recipe websites.  I wanted each entry to have the correct Hungarian name for the food and a picture too!  Thank you 

Google Images


Then it was off to the virtual world of 

Walgreens Photo Books

 to create this masterpiece. They have hundreds of book templates

(even a recipe template to my delight!)

and many choices for the book itself - softcover, hardcover, etc.

 Plus they always have a sale or special going on! 

 It was simple to upload all the food pictures and the photos of the ephemera I had.  Then I copied and pasted the recipes from my word document into the templates.  

It took a little fiddling to get it all just right and truth be told,

there are a few minor errors,


done is better than perfect! 

I was able to create it in a day, order multiple copies and pick them all up that evening.  How does this even happen?

Here's how it came out.

There are photos of the ephemera throughout; such as this cookbook cover.

I  just HAD to include these specialties.


And, my family LOVED it!  A fitting tribute to a great cook and the memories made around her table.  

AND I threw out the box of recipes and freed up some space in my basement - BONUS!

Pardon the flour dusting...I'm off to bake!

What inherited objects in your home could you turn into a digital family memory?

Do it soon, "before the library burns down."

Happy New Year & A New Book!

Happy New Year everyone!  

Here's to a year of decluttering, sorting, containerizing and storing only the things that bring us joy.

Check out Marie Kondo's new book!  If you liked 

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up

, this book

shows and tells

MORE about her process.  Loads of illustrations too.

 I'm excited to fold like the master.

Buy it!

If you want a sneak peek 

read this!

  There's even a short video of Marie folding an underwear drawer!

 This is a brave woman to show us her underwear.

If you have the book, what's your favorite quote so far?

New Year Possibilities

We're off and running into the new year!


If you're like me, you're sitting in a beautifully organized space

(my library)

, in a favorite chair, wrapped in a blanket, next to a space heater

(it can never be too warm)

, absorbing the sunshine streaming through the window, enjoying a cup of Chai.

Ahhhh, this is how I welcome in the new year  s.l.ow.l.y.

Have you set goals and intentions in the new year?  Perhaps you've decided to get more organized this year 

(as many people do)


This is a BIG goal and what does it really mean?  In our busy lives today there are many facets to living in organized spaces and having an organized life.  Once a person grasps the enormity of the task of "getting organized", it can be difficult to know where to start.   Once a start has been made, the work can quickly become overwhelming and then inertia sets in. BAM! another year come and gone with very little organizing progress.


I recommend you pick just one small area of your life to focus on. If this is the first time or the last time you've decided to "get organized", choose an area that is close to your heart.

What area of your life, makes your heart beat a little faster with anticipation and excitement?

Ask yourself, if my ________ was/were organized, how would that feel?

(Insert an area of your life in that blank space.)

Here are a few ideas:


Craft/Hobby Supplies

(pick just one!)

Email Account

Cell phone

Holiday Decorations



Gardening/Yard Tools



Top desk drawer

Paperwork Pile

(just one!)


(for one child, or one vacation, or one special event)

If you start with organizing something you 


you're more likely to finish it. If you start with something small, it can be a quick win and the feeling of success will inspire you.  And who knows where good feelings can lead?

At the end of 2016, you might just be living a more organized life.

What area came to your mind first?

If you tackle it, I'd love to hear how it went and how it feels now.

Write your comments below by clicking on the "pencil" icon.  

Happy New Year friends!

An Unexpected Holiday Gift

This holiday season, we received a very generous gift of 1/4 of a cow!

We were very excited at the prospect, but alas, we'd recycled our big, old upright freezer when the kids went to college.  So a shopping we did go.  But first we did a little research.


 Exactly how big of a freezer does one need for 1/4 of a cow?


 7 cubic feet.

And a new freezer appeared.

I got excited!  I'd never organized a freezer before!  So we move it into place in our basement and then...da da da daaaaa.

The Bad News:

 The placement of the freezer resulted in an extensive 3 day nearly-all-nighter project, involving removing a defunct, leaky water softener that came with our house, rerouting pipes to the water heater, installing valves and changing out pipes the width of our basement. Thankfully, our handy neighbor came over to help my very handy husband.  

We love our neighbors.

The Good News:

 We now can run the washing machine, the dishwasher, flush a toilet, and run water in every sink all at the same time while simultaneously someone takes a hot shower.  We actually tried this!  This may seem normal to all of you, but to us, this is EPIC, never before dared, as we had literally NO water pressure due to bad plumbing and woe to the person taking a shower if someone else used water.  Not good.

But it's all good now and this is an organizing blog after let's get back to the task at hand.

Except there were more issues with the space...

All these Christmas decorations had to be moved to create enough space for the freezer. This was a fortunate event and good timing. What with Christmas coming,  I had been meaning to sort and organize these boxes anyway.

Isn't it interesting how one fairly small organization project can quickly spiral into not only a home remodeling project, but also into more organizing?

 This is real life folks.  

Okay, now back to the freezer and more importantly, the meat!

The first step is to write a date on all the meat.  Since the paper packages were already marked 12/15, I decided to be consistent and mark all the plastic packages with the same date.

As an alternative, packages can be marked with the date they will expire, so you'll know when to use them by.  Here's a chart showing how long frozen food will last to mark your food accordingly.

The next step was to write an inventory.  I used

this one

  that I found on the internet.  I slipped it into a clear plastic sleeve after I filled it out and I am storing it right in the freezer!

I love this idea of writing the inventory directly on the freezer with a dry-erase marker, but I'm not brave enough to do it on our brand new freezer.  

Are you?

Next I loaded the large packages in the bottom of the freezer

And loaded the steaks on the shelf.

Next the ground beef I set in the basket that came with the freezer.  I tried a couple different ways of stacking and the picture on the right is the one I decided worked best.  Easy to grab and I fit in one package than the picture on the left.

However, it turns out there are 79 packages of ground beef. 

That's right, 79 pounds.  

Can you say "taco night" every night?

I had to come up with another storage solution.

Reusuable shopping bags!  Genius.

I filled them up and set them on top of the large packages.  

Notice the handles are laying across the top so they can easily

(well, maybe easily isn't the right word, they are heavy!)

be lifted up out of the way to access the meat underneath.

Once we eat down that 79 lbs of ground beef, I'll be investing in  4 of  


 beauties as they stack perfectly according to the reviews and have folding white handles.  Perfect in stacks of 2 next to the shelf/freezer basket. 

Label the bins according to food type and your freezer is forever organized!

Finally,  the freezer inventory is laid right on top inside the freezer.

I'll be attaching a pen nearby on the outside of the freezer of course.

If you want a pen you can freeze, try this 



There is no end to what clever people will research and publish on the internet.  

Thank you internet people, thank you


WAIT!  I know you all want to know what happened to the pile of Christmas stuff?  

Remember this 


 and this closet?

After I cleaned it out that messy closet, it has sat nearly empty since July and now I know why.  It was just waiting for all the Christmas


 beloved decorations to be stored there.  I plan to get a few more plastic totes to replace the boxes, but it's looking good so far.

I sorted out just a few things that were no longer needed, including one of those train sets that goes around the tree.  Sold it in a couple of hours on Facebook.  BONUS.

And that's a wrap - pardon the Christmas pun.

What is the most unusual item stored in your freezer?

Who's inspired to create a freezer inventory?

Give the Gift of Organizing

There are so many benefits to getting more organized and did you know that it is

one of the top 3 New Year's resolutions

 set by many people?  Help your friends and family reach their goals in 2016 by giving them the gift of organization.

Working from my experience with clients, here are some of the very best reasons to get organized.

Be able to find whatever you need whenever you need it.

If you're tired of this endless question

"Where is the ______?"

 Getting organized can eliminate it entirely or at least give you an answer to say instead of "I have no idea."

Saves money.  

Or in this case, FIND money!   Every client I've worked with so far has found money in their house that they didn't know they had.  

But back to saving money...getting organized means no more buying in excess because you know exactly what you own.  When you run out of something, you truly run out of it because it's only kept in one place

and you know how much you have

.  No more overbuying

and overspending.

May improve your health

Face it, if you're able to walk into a room and not trip over something, you're going to be able to reduce the chances of being injured in your own home.  Dust loves clutter.  If you're not able to clean surfaces regularly, dust will accumulate and can cause or exacerbate allergies.   Piles of paperwork can be a fire hazard.  Stuff piled in corners or closets can mask leaky pipes, crumbling drywall and even mold.  Clearing out the clutter is good for your health.

Adds ease to living

While I can't promise  that getting organized will transport you to a sandy beach, I can say that organizing helps my clients save time and energy.  No more starting the day in a frantic rush trying to find the car keys.  Being organized creates space in one's life.  

Reducing the amount of stuff one owns, can be transformative.

Getting rid of stuff leads to the most exciting aspect of getting organized...what happens next.  My clients say time and time again, that once they got organized, it changed their lives in ways they couldn't imagine.  

What are you hoping for in the new year?  Organizing could be the catalyst that makes your dreams come true.

Are you struggling to find the perfect gift for that special someone?  Give the gift of organizing in the form of a gift certificate.  They may say it's the best gift they've ever received.

Do you have your holiday shopping done yet?

If you could help someone get organized, who would it be?


A Few of My Favorite Organizing Things

Sorry it's been a couple of weeks...

I've been taking writing classes to improve my writing on this blog, and it's kinda sorta taking over my a good way!  That is keeping me busy along with getting ready for the holidays.  I happen to love Christmas and all the preparations leading up to it.

Speaking of the holidays, here are a few of my favorite organizing things.  Maybe you have an organizer on your gift list

or someone who needs to get more organized?

Happy Shopping!

The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo

  This book has inspired thousands of people to declutter, just one category at a time.  

My secret wish is to be trained by her and I even contacted her to see if it was possible.  Unfortunately, the reply was in Japanese but Google translator said the word "wait" was in there and "patience".  So maybe it can still happen.

A Label Maker

  Clients are always asking me which kind to buy.  My own is one that my husband got as a gift and never used, so I inherited it and free is good.  But I love this handy one and it even comes with a tape cartridge.  

Buy lots of  tape when you order it.  You are welcome.

Magnetic Notepads

  I love these so much!  If you're my client,

(and you have a frig that takes magnets)

, you get one free!  They can be found in the dollar section of Target where they can be found for yes...$1.  These make great stocking stuffers!

Gift Card to the Container Store

  Seriously, if you haven't visited this store yet, you haven't lived.  It's an organizers dream come true.  My favorite aisle has little plastic boxes, stacked to the ceiling, all color coordinated in different sizes.  I like to go and stand there, it's my happy place.  Someday I'll have a client that needs small items organized like a rainbow.

A girl can dream right?

Light Angel

  This motion-sensor LED stick-on light works indoors or out and lasts for 100,000 hours. Use it under sinks, in closets for entryways, anywhere that is dark.  I installed 2 outside at our house.  Now I can actually get the key in the door on the first try!  This makes a great gift for an older adult.  

Let there be light.

Drawer Organizers

  They come in wood, metal, plastic - you name it.  Because when you need the scissors, you need to be able to find the scissors.  And the tape, and the phone charger, and the staples...

Pegboard Organizers

  For the handy wo/man in your life.  If you've got a pegboard, these are amazing!  Many more options to choose from.  You'll want them all.

 Trust me.

Jewelry Stackers

  I've had my eye on these for awhile now.  They are so luxe and practical at the same time.  Tarnish resistant too and they'll just as easily set into a drawer as they will stacked up on a dresser.

The princess in me wants a set.

Now that you've seen my favorites.

 What's on your organizing wish list this year?

A Heart Full of Gratitude

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”                


Melody Beattie

Just a little note of thanks today for following my blog and my adventures as a professional organizer.  I'm so very grateful to my clients and many friends who have trusted me to help them get more organized this year.  It's hard for me to put into words how much it's meant to me to work with you, and how close to my heart I hold you all.

So far, getting organized has turned out to be life-changing for my clients in ways that they could never have expected and I am so happy that I get to be part of their story.

They tell me that because of organizing, they've found precious time in their days for volunteering, for devoting time to new interests, getting ahold of their finances, more time for spiritual pursuits and even for love.  It's so exciting to hear their stories after we've done the work.

For me, living an organized life, gives me more time to be creative.  I love having large blocks of uninterupted time to make, create and write.  My creativity brings me joy and I'm grateful for that too.  We all need a little joy in our lives.

This centerpiece I made with a $10 bouquet of flowers,

dried plants from my yard and a pumpkin from a friend's garden!

Happy Thanksgiving Everyone!

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving day?

Where do you find joy?

6 Things I Learned in the First 6 Months of Professional Organizing

Well friends, it's been 6 months already since I opened my car doors to start my organizing business.  I say car doors because I work from other people's homes and the car is the door that I open first on the way there, although I have been known to ride my bicycle too from time to time.

Here are 6 important things I've learned so far:

#1.  When taking before & after pictures, be sure to have the wrist strap of the camera securely around one's wrist. Otherwise it could be dropped at just the right angle to damage the focusing lens, rendering it unusable.  Ah yes, I always wondered why the wrist strap was on there.

My new


 and yes, the wrist strap has been attached.

#2.  Take before photos BEFORE starting to organize.  This has happened to me so many times that now I'm requesting the client to take the pictures themselves and text them to me on my phone before I show up!  I'm like a kid on Christmas morning, I can't wait to get started and then I pause to realize mid-way through, I'd forgotten to take the picture...oops.

Pictures are so important because they show the comparison of where we started and the progress being made.  And sometimes when we're in the middle of a project that is taking the time it takes, we may need some bolstering of our spirits as we soldier on towards completion.

#3.  Don't show frustration.  I'm only human and sometimes an organizing situation can become downright frustrating to solve!  I've learned that it's not only clients that need a break, I do too.  It can be as simple and drinking a glass of water, ducking out to use the restroom for a few minutes or even walking up or down a flight of stairs to clear my mind.  Organizing takes time and I've learned that the best solutions are often the ones that present themselves after all the sorting is completed.

#4.  Draw diagrams.  I learned this from a client that dictated dimensions of a closet to me over the phone.  We had a good laugh when I realized she was telling me measurements from the bottom up and I was writing it out from the top down.  Drawing a map of the space and then entering in the dimensions and labeling as I go, has been a lot more helpful than just a picture of it, when shopping for storage solutions. 

#5.  Have a tighter cancellation policy.  I started out with 24 hours, but increased it to 48.  I do quite a bit of research and preperation for my clients before working with them.  It can be disappointing for me when they cancel without enough notice.  This way we are both committed to the work and I have plenty of notice to squeeze in another appointment if a cancellation happens.

#6.  Never throw anything away without permission.  Luckily for me, I had set this as S.O.P. for myself (

Standard Operating Procedure)

.  My clients laugh at me, but I do not throw ANYTHING away without asking first.  And good thing too.  On more than one occasion, I've held up some scrap of paper with scribbled handwriting or some unidentifiable little plastic gizmo and the client shrieked with joy,

"I've been looking for that!"

and so it goes.  

I wonder what I'll learn in the next 6 months?  

Any guesses?

One (or Two) of These Things Doesn't Belong

So, if you've been following along the past couple of weeks, I've been on a reorganization terror in my kitchen.  It all started here, with this cupboard.  The one I featured last week in my post

"The Woe of Plastic Containers"


This cupboard is directly above the coffee and tea station that sits on the countertop. 

One problem that has frustrated my morning routine is that the mugs for coffee & tea are far, far away in this other cupboard.  

Can you see how close to the ceiling this cupboard is?  My kitchen was built for giants.  Those two shelves with the mugs are quite a reach!

It seems easy enough to just switch the mugs with the plastic was, except that some of the shelves had to be adjusted for height first.  Which means, everything had to come out of the cupboard....nothing is ever simple.

This revised cupboard we know from my previous post, did not stay this way for long, but it was a step in the right direction.  

It is so helpful to have all the summer seasonal glasses in one place, stacked up neatly, along with champagne and wine glasses all together.  

(Those prep bowls ended up getting moved, you'll see later.)

I debated hard on keeping those champagne glasses...after all, how often have I really used them? In the end I kept 6 as part of a fantasy, hoping that each of our boys will get engaged one day and we can celebrate the happy couples.  

I know right?

After some tweaking a week later, this is what I settled on.  I found a nice little holder for my pot lids and got them out of the stove drawer and spread out all the bowls on the shelf as well.

Now that

my dishes

 have more room, maybe I can finally complete the set!

For the other cabinet, the mugs from two shelves barely fit here.  There is more winnowing that must be done, but I knew my husband would have to make some decisions.  

Never organize someone else's stuff.  

His mugs are on the left, mine on the right.


"Yeah I did it!"

mug plays applause when you push a button on the bottom.  How could I part with that?  

Where does this stuff even come from?

This is working out a lot better!  Coffee, tea and mugs all in one place.  Happy Dance!

But wait...what is that thing hanging under the cupboard?

Friends, I date myself here.  I'll be removing this antique next.

If you could change one thing about your kitchen, what would it be?

Do you have a favorite mug?  Tag me on 


 so I can see it!

The Woe of Plastic Container Storage

Don't try this at home!

For the past 12 years, I've had these stored in a cabinet underneath my kitchen counter.  Tired of fishing around in there, bent over, unable to see anything but what was in front, I moved them to this cabinet, above the glasses.

This friends, was worse.

Now I could definetly see what I was fishing for, but unfortunately, because these containers are so slippery, they usually slid off the shelf as well as requiring some really creative stacking as shown here on the left.

I tried this shelf out for a week and then decided to move them over here to a larger shelf.

But after another week of fighting with this new shelf I'd chosen

with the same problems

, I decided to invest in storage and move them all to a bin.  

I'm all about exploring my options.

This is an


 drawer and it installs inside a cabinet or closet on a runner frame so it can easily be pulled out to access what's inside.

The cabinet I chose is very deep, so this drawer made great use of otherwise

unusable space


translation: space that becomes a catch all for whatever gets mashed back in there


Genius!  I even installed it myself

(this girl is learning some skills!)

I realize that this storage solution won't work for everyone.  Some might like all their lids arranged by size in a rack and all their storage containers stacked neatly by type, and that is fine.  We can do that.

But not me!  Throw it all in a bin and call it good!

 Before                                                    During                                                     After

After showing my husband, he suggested we buy new containers.  Bonus!

Want to guess what's in that blue-lidded storage container on the right?

Answer:  This mess from "What a Difference a Drawer Divider Makes"  

Of course not all of these items made the cut.  

Who says you've got to keep everything in a drawer or on a shelf?

So how do you store your plastic containers?  Stacked or piled?

Seriously friends, does every container have a lid?

The Top Drawer

Friends, we left off here....

I know this has kept you up some nights...what will she put in this top kitchen drawer?

Here's a hint.

I love to cook, so my spices have always been front and center on my kitchen counter.  

As you can see, the jars came pre- labeled and as I have different spices, I had to make new labels.

Over they years, these labels have started to peel off and the lids started to look a little grungy. 

Also this...

These are the additional spices I use often that don't fit in the spice rack!  Aggravating.

It's always been a little dream of mine to have all my spices in one place.  A girl can dream right?

Now that the top drawer is empty (

and lined with


), let the work begin!

Do the research,...the jars must fit the drawer.  I chose 


 from #thecontainerstore.  They come with either chrome or white plastic lids.  I love my choices.  I ordered 40!  Did you know you can order online and have them shipped to the store for free?  Who knew?

These are helpful too.  I only had to label 6 that weren't on these pre-made labels.

And one of these was a lifesaver

along with a tiny teaspoon.

 Let the filling

and labeling


There were a lot of stickers to remove....I really dislike manufacturer labels...ask my clients!  If you're going to make it your own, you've got to remove the label.

This perfect line-up makes me happy.  I hadn't measured across the drawer, only the depth, so this was a happy surprise!

 I closed the drawer in between filling, so that the spillage didn't seep into the drawer.  Here is a sneak peek of my progress.

 Oh it made my heart sing when I was finished!  I especially love that the jars all fit perfectly in the drawer  by width and length.  Notice there are 3 jars unclaimed

(as of yet anyway).

There was some excess space at the back of the drawer, so I located a couple of plastic rectangular containers and placed all the excess spice in their containers in there.  I know I'll use up what I have this way.  

Bonus that the containers fit exactly and thus keep the jars from rattling around.  The grip liner helps too.

The jar filling took some time, but the clean up took a lot more.  Why are projects often like this?

These miscellaneous glass and plastic jars may come in handy in my art studio or the garage later. Soaking off the labels is a necessary chore.  

All sparkling clean, ready for repurposing!

Before                                                      After

What will go in the gap on the counter?  NOTHING.  Now the pitcher with the spoons and the oil/salt/pepper tray can be easily moved when more counter space is needed.

Here's a handy way to find out if a spice you own is still good or not.

What's your kitchen spice count?

Do you keep your spices in a cabinet, a rack, a drawer or somewhere else?

What a Difference A Drawer Divider Makes

These 4 drawers have given me lots of trouble over the years.

Sandwiched right between the stove and the dishwasher, many kitchen items have been stored here and forgotten.  It's always been a bit of a mess. There have been some challenges.  

Currently, the top drawer holds kitchen utensils.  Not knives, never knives.  All sharp objects in my kitchen are in a separate drawer.  No need to reach in to a mess and cut myself

 (my biggest cooking fear)

.  I am sure some people can keep their knives and utensils in the same drawer, living together happily.  I am not one of those people.  

The next drawer is obviously very messy.  What's all in there anyway?  Hard to find and grab what is needed in the moment.

Next is towels and rags.  My husband complains that he cannot tell a dishrag from a dish towel.  There may have been arguing.  Well, who can tell them apart in this mess?  

Eww, that potholder needs laundering.

Next is all the items that don't fit anywhere else in the kitchen.  This could be classified as a "junk drawer" but all the items go together, so it's my "kitchen junk drawer".  Birthday candles, cheesecloth

(for mulled cider of course!)

, twisty-ties, plasticware, napkins, string, paper plates, pilfered restaurant mustard & ketchup packets, and other necessary items.

Last is the "bag drawer".  Garbage bags, small paper bags, and plastic shopping bags.  The cat wandered in to see what was going on.  She may have climbed into the drawer too at one point.

This drawer has been organized for quite some time, ever since I learned how to fold these sweet little triangles out of those pesky plastic shopping bags.  

Kitchen origami, swoon.

To organize the other drawers, there was shopping involved.  Kitchen drawer organizers are amazing.  Just be sure to measure carefully.  It is so disappointing to come home with the wrong size.  

When it's the right size, ahhhhh...I love how all the handles are pointing the same way.  Easy to grab them.

Can you guess what this is? 

I love that it fit perfectly at the back of the drawer.

Next up, that messy dish towel/dish rag drawer.  Rags on the left,  towels on the right. Marital bliss is restored.

Hey, what about this drawer?

Stay tuned!  A creative solution is coming, and as some of us know, creativity takes time,

and in this case, a little muscle.

Doesn't this look


much better?

Before                                                                                            After

There is something so restful about having a beautifully organized space.  

So, I know you're thinking...what's going in the top drawer?

Wait and see!!!

Honestly, when's the last time you laundered your potholders?

Enter your guess naming the mystery utensil in the comments below.

Post your messiest kitchen drawer and tag my



An Organized Back Entry

Front entries are easier to keep organized, because they welcome everyone into the house.  There is usually a closet to store coats and shoes in and they are often small separate spaces or part of the larger living room.

Back entries are another matter.  They often become a catch-all for all sorts of things that may or may not have a permanent place to be kept.  Often items are set here as if in a holding area until they can be moved somewhere else such as a garage or basement.  

More often, these items never get moved.

 The truth hurts.

If not kept tidy, back entries can become extremely cluttered.  It can be hard to remember what is actually stored there as well as hard to identify what things are.  And we all know that if we can't find it, that it can be quite frustrating! 

Sometimes we even will go buy another two or three of something because not only have we forgotten we own it already, we've forgotten where we put it!

Sound familiar?

This is before...

It was definetly a challenge to find anything in here.

First we removed everything and thoughtfully considered which items should be kept in this space  

Note:  If your back entry is unheated and you live in a cold climate, then anything that shouldn't be frozen, needs to be moved.

I'm reminded myself of this tonight as there is a freeze warning!

In this space we kept, among other items:


Nails, screws, hooks etc.

Coolers and lunch bags


Electrical cords

Twine & wire

Gardening supplies 

Painting supplies

Brooms, dustpans, dusters

Work gloves

Everything must be sorted out and containers need to be located.  We found storage containers for everything we wanted to keep!

Be sure to look around your home before buying any containers.  You might already have the perfect thing to store your lightbulbs in.

This is after...

I am a fan of clear containers as you can see what's in them.

I also love labeling all the containers as well as the shelves.  This makes it so easy to see/read what you have at one glance, and most of all, put it back when you're doing using it. 

Labels can be a big help if you have children in your home.

It's fine to have some empty space. No doubt you will find something to put there!

Pegboards make for handy storage.

These inexpensive plastic jars can be ordered 



Be sure to label the tops and then the jar can easily be replaced after use.

Having a well organized back room can save you a lot of time and trouble when you need to fix something.

What's your favorite item to keep in your back entry?

Have you ever bought something then discovered that you already owned it?

6 Questions to Sort Paperwork

Paperwork.  Does anyone really like paperwork?

When I ask my clients what is the number one area of their life they'd like organized, they usually answer paperwork!  While actually sorting out papers and creating/maintaining a filing system is a chore that few people relish,

(except for me, the professional organizer!)

there is something so settling and peaceful about having all of the important papers in order where one can easily and quickly access them.

It is time well spent.  You will save time, aggravation, and surprisingly, even money by having all your paperwork in order.

First you've got to have something to file them in.  I recommend making a practice filing system using 

these boxes

.  Once you have everything filed, then you'll know what size filing cabinet you need.   They come in many drawer quantities and there are even desks with file drawers built right in them.  Of course you'll want to consider your space as well.

I've got this beauty in my office. It's a vintage military cabinet that I picked up at the 

Beldenville Flea

.  It's really sturdy and heavy.  The doors close smoothly and evenly and it holds the just right for me amount of paperwork!

It was love at first sight!

I once worked in a small office that held 4 filing cabinets with a total of 14 file drawers.  I felt surrounded by paper and despite all of that organization, it took me hours and sometimes more than one day to locate just the right form or piece of paper. 

It turns out that the last 2 people that had held my position had each made their own filing system, rather than sorting out what was there.  Oh my!  I wish I had taken photos of when I sorted out all that paperwork into just 5 file drawers.  What a relief and a feeling of security to be able to find just what I needed, when I needed it.

No matter the pile of paperwork facing you, with a little help, it can be done!

First, gather all of your paperwork in one place.  It's going to be a bit messy for awhile, so best to allocate an unused room, a  large table or a lot of boxes to this task.  Remember to gather from all rooms of your house. It is surprising how much paper is lurking in our attics, our basements, and even our automobiles!  

Any memorabilia that you find goes into a separate box.  Sorting memorabilia is another topic for another time.

Once all the paperwork is together, let the sorting begin!  You should always keep 

these documents

 and create appropriately named files for them.  As for the rest, ask yourself the following questions to determine to keep or discard.

1. What is this?

2. Why am I holding on to it?

3.  Have I already learned/used this information?

4.  Do I ever need to look at this again and under what circumstances?

5.  Can I find this on the internet?

6.  Shall I save this for a future project that I want to spend time on?

Remember to always shred anything that has personal information on it!

In less time than you think may be possible, you could have all your paperwork in order.  

Imagine the could be yours.

What kind of filing cabinet do you use?

Do you have a funny or not-so-funny story to share about lost or misplaced paperwork?

Thoughts on "Valerizing"

This week I've been considering the idea that the ability to organize is in a person's DNA, an integral part of their genetic code.  Either you have it, or you don't.  

The title of this post is what one of my clients said she calls my style of organizing..."Valorizing".

 I wonder if we'll see this added to the lexicon for 2015?

I love this!  Yes, I am an organizer and as far back as I can remember I've been doing it my entire life, driving my family crazy by decluttering and reorganizing, and now it's my profession.  

So, the question begs to be asked, who did I inherit it from?

I'm fairly certain I got it from my Dad.  Here's why....a

fter looking at before & after photos of drawers on my


, My Dad recently wrote,

"Organizing drawers may be in your DNA from me.  When I was small there was a big drawer in the living room my mother had a lot of small things in like pencils, papers, finger nail files, rubber bands, etc.  I decided this needed to be organized.  Boy did she get mad.  She said it was perfectly fine before and now she can't find anything."

Everything in it's place.

Unfortunately for my Dad, he violated one of the cardinal rules of organizing.  You've got to get everyone on board, or at the very least, give them an orientation afterwards.

Also, all I ever needed to know about organizing a basement I learned from my Dad.  He put everything in large cardboard boxes by category and then labeled them with a thick black magic marker in capital letters.  If you can read, you can quickly find everything you need in his basement.



t's going to be cinch to help him move.

People tend to ask me lots of questions when they find out I'm a professional organizer. Often these people readily admit that they don't have the "organizer gene" but they are also reluctant to ask for help, much less paying someone.

I find this interesting.  We will readily pay for help in other areas of our life...automobile repair, home remodeling, marriage counseling, medical, dental, psychological, accounting, taxes, catering, landscaping, etc. for things that require skills outside our wheelhouse.   

Organizing falls into this category too.  If you don't possess the skill and your disorganization is causing stress, taking up precious time, an energy drain, and probably wasting money, why not ask for help?

Last week my husband picked up this little gem of a book for me at a Goodwill lie. It probably was donated from someone who bought it to get more organized!

Note the "DIS" in the title

The author has a page devoted to "Lessons from the Silverware Drawer".  If you are a person who thinks they do not posess the organization gene, take heart, go look at your silverware drawer.  All the forks are together, they are always returned to this same place after use, they are not kept anywhere else, and everyone in your home is in agreement about this.  

These are the 4 core principles of organizing!

But, let's not rest in that success for too long because the author also challenges us to find the following objects within our home.  

Be honest, can you quickly locate the following or does it take some racking of the brain, digging through a pile, file or maybe even clearing a path?

1.  Birth certificate

2.  Safety pin

3.  Your checkbook

4.  The receipt for your computer

5.  An extension cord

6.  Your 2009 tax returns

I'm using this fun test with the people I talk to about organizing.  It's a quick way for them to see just how organized they are....

or not!

So, were you able to find all 6 items quickly?

Time:  1 minute, 52 seconds

Now, Where Did I Put That Manual?

This morning, a friend called to ask if I'd check on her house, as she was away.  A strange noise was heard emenating from somewhere within, and concerned neighbors had called. When I arrived, I found nothing amiss but I did notice the furnace was flashing a series of letters and numbers so I called her back to locate the manual so that I could look up the code.

Here's the fun!  She was able to tell me right where to go to find it.

Consider for just one moment...where do you keep your manuals?  

If you are like most people, they are scattered in various places throughout your home.  

My clients tell me that this is one of the best benefits of getting organized.  They have been able to locate their manuals!

(and thus have saved themselves a lot of time and aggravation, not to mention money.)

The furnace is an easy one.  Put your manual in the holder that many manufacturers built in, just for the purpose.  Then it's a cinch to locate the manual and

also to look up the type of air filters you need.

If you're smart, write the name and number of the installer

(or whoever you like to call for repairs)

on the cover of the manual.  Then you are all set in case of an emergency.  September is 

National Preparedness Month

 after all!

If you have an older furnace, 

like we do

.  Tape a clear plastic folder to the furnace itself and slip in the manual.  

Instead of tape,

I used my latest 



Is there such a thing as a vintage furnace?

For all other manuals, they should be sorted into categories, then either filed in your filing cabinet in these hanging pocket files...

Office Depot

Or sorted into clear plastic sleeves, placed into binders and set on a bookshelf.  

Be sure to label them! This is an especially handy way to store them if you have many of the same type of items or own a very large house with lots of different items.

Categories can include:

  • Appliances (dishwasher, refrigerator, stove, airconditioner, microwave, air purifier, dehumidifier, humidifier, TV, washer & dryer, portable heater)

  • Household (furniture, cookware, clothing)

  • Outdoor (lawn furniture, gas grill, lawnmower, weedwhip, camping equipment)

  • Technology (computer, printer, camera, video recorder, watch, cell phone, gps, thermostat, watch)

  • Tools (power tools, hand tools, crafting/sewing equipment)

Once you gather all of your manuals in one place, it will be easy to determine the categories, but be sure to check that you actually still own the item!

What about warranties?

Personally speaking, I keep each warranty clipped to it's corresponding manual.  That way, if the item breaks, I locate the manual and I can easily see if it's still covered.  

If you're really organized, you can log in warranty expiration dates on a separate calendar as you make purchases. (

I love Google Calendar for this, as it allows you to create as many calendars as you want that are then linked together

)  Then you can easily see if a warranty expiration date is coming up to return something that hasn't worked out as planned.  

We had a defective printer that we returned 3 times and the company replaced it 3 times

for free

over the course of 3 years as we kept a close eye on the warranty expiration date for each subsequent printer.


henever you go to look up a manual, take a moment to rifle through the pile to see if you still own the items there.  If not, they are easy to pull out and toss.  And, if you decide to sell an item, you can quickly locate the manual that goes with it.  The new owner will thank you heartily.

When you're all done, check to be sure you have all the manuals you need.  Don't despair if  you find you're missing one.  Remember in this digital age, you can always go online and find it to print out.  I have a Singer sewing machine circa 1958 and guess what?  I found the manual online!

So what happened with the furnace?

It was flashing an operating code not an error code and now all is well.  

Did you just check to see where your furnace manual is?

Are you one of the brave who throws out all manuals, knowing you can access them online if needed?

Where's The Tape?

Have you heard this question asked at your house lately?  Chances are you have, and not only tape, but scissors, the stapler, a favorite pen, 

(just ask my husband!)

and more!  

Today's subject is desk drawers.  The place where these necessary items for daily life are most likely to be found.

This shows the contents of a typical desk.  Spread out like this, you can see lots of items that if not organized, can quickly shift into chaos.

I see lots of tape piled here!

Desk drawer #1

Desk drawer #2

Realize that these drawers are pulled out and sitting on top of the desk.

When they are actually in the desk, the contents are even more crammed and inaccessible.

Drawer #1

 Drawer #2

The first step is to pull everything out and sort into categories.  Then decisions are made as to what to keep in the desk drawers.

 In this case, not everything is going to fit!

 Anything broken or unusable is thrown out.  

Items to toss include:  old contact lens cases, old phone cases, phonebooks, movie tickets/event stubs, expired coupons, ink-less markers, broken crayons, broken sunglasses, old hair accessories, broken flashlights, dead batteries, address labels to previous home, and last year's calendar.

If there are many of the same items, decide that some are going to be kept and stored elsewhere 

(or donate them!).  

Restocking post-it notes can be easy.

The desk owner had 

this handy piece of furniture

 for the overflow items.  We labeled all the drawers! It seems like these drawers were tailor made for labeling.  I may be overly excited about labeling things.

When it comes to labels, use names that make sense to you.

 You'll want to be able to find the thing you're looking for!

Next, we set up a "practice" system using any old containers

(plastic food storage?)

we can find around the house.  We're not looking for beauty at this stage, merely functionality.

Drawer #1 

Pardon my foot!

                                                      Drawer #2

Then we see what happens...

The desk owner will quickly know if items are in the right places and if the right items are in the right drawers.  Trust in the process.

A few days later we install the correct


 for the items that the desk owner has decided to keep...and finally, beauty


functionality reign,

Drawer #1

Hey, where did everything go?!

  Drawer #2

Pared down to the easily-maintained minimum.

I love that the labeler made the cut!

So what about that tape dispenser and scissors and favorite pen?  We placed them on a pretty tray above the desk.  Easier access for all.

What household item are you constantly on the hunt for?

What's the most interesting item in your desk drawers?

(Leave a comment, I love to read them.)

Take Pleasure in your Collections

Everyone collects something...even if you don't consider yourself to be a "collector", chances are you have something lurking in your home that has accumulated beyond what is considered a useful amount that a person should own.

Remember this photo from a few blogposts ago?

Or how about this one?

When doing a little research for this post, I came across this apt definition:




  1. 1.

  2. a person who collects things of a specified type, professionally or as a hobby.

  3. "an art collector"

So, there's a BIG difference between accumulating the stuff of life (e.g. bookmarks and pens) and collecting things that give one pleasure as a specific hobby or as part of one's work life.  It could be said that one could have a beautiful bookmark or special pen collection, and it could also be inferred that these collections above are indeed to related to hobbies of mine - reading and writing.  But the reality is that these piles of things, because that is what they really are -


 - were quickly reviewed for a few special items which were kept to revive a sweet memory, and the rest?  Well the rest were bagged and donated or simply thrown out.  So they are not collections in the true sense of this definition, rather they are just part of the detrius we humans tend to accumulate throughout the course of our lifetimes and left to pile up, become just that - piles,

not collections.

So now that this difference is squared away, let's talk about the collections that people have that give them joy.  And let's talk about where these collections are kept.

I can say from working with clients that the things they profess to "collect" are often hidden away in boxes, or tucked away gathering dust in dark corners on shelves or worse, crowded together in a central place of their home, so many, that it's hard to discern what exactly one is looking at. Neglected and thus forgotten, often covered in layers of dust and even grime, depending on the location.

What to do?  Upon rediscovery, it's best to start off asking a few questions.

  • How long has it been since you've seen these things?

  • Are they intact or broken?

  • Have you missed them?

  • Are the memories that flood back positive or negative?

  • Are you plagued with guilty feelings or feel that little thrill of joy?

  • Would you rather spend your time dusting these things or living life?

  • Is there someone that might enjoy this collection and take good care of it, such as a museum?

Let your feelings guide you to determine what to do next.  It's absolutely okay to pitch the entire collection into the trash

or bag it up and donate it.

But if you

feel joy

then it might be time to find a creative way to display your special collection so that you can feel that thrill of pleasure everytime you see it.

Here are a few ideas that have worked for me!


 I've collected buttons since I was about 10 years old, in fact, as a child, I belonged to 

The Michigan Button Society

 where I learned all about the history of all sorts of buttons.  I enjoyed countless hours sorting and trading buttons with friends in the Button Club we formed at our school. For years, I kept them in Mason jars, but a few years ago, I created this out of an old framed mirror that I happened upon and a hot glue gun.

I've also seen buttons sewn into necklaces, bracelets and brooches, sewn on to wall hangings, made into Christmas ornaments etc.  You get the idea. I love buttons; they are a happy reminder of my childhood, so it makes sense to me to display them as something useful.  This mirror is the last thing I look at when I leave the house

to make sure there is nothing in my teeth!


 My married last name means "owl" in Polish.  I

t also means "noodle" in Japanese, one can only imagine what that collection would look like!

 When we were first married, family members delighted in giving me owls.  It was thoughtful and sweet, but I quickly realized that I could only manage so many owls in my life.  

When I'm surrounded by too much clutter, it clogs up my brain and makes it hard to focus.

So when we moved into our house, many years ago, I set them on top of a door frame in our bedroom Every morning I wake up and smile seeing all my owls in one place, but that's the only time I see them!  It's like a special greeting just for me.  


Found objects:

I like collecting rocks, feathers and other ordinary things found in nature and the man-made world.  These glass bottles came from swap meets in Los Angeles, antique stores and from an outhouse excavation at a century farm.  Yes, that is where people used to dump their trash!

Place another object in the mix to liven it up!  

That mosaic ball was a gift from a girlfriend and it's sitting atop a glass candlestick holder!

When choosing where to display, consider an area that has lots of natural light or install stick-on LED motion sensor lights like 


 to really brighten up a shelves in an otherwise dark cabinet.

Arrange your items so that there is space between them and even though you may have a large collection, consider only displaying those that you really love so that they easily fit in the space.  Too many in too small a space looks cluttered.  3 to 4 larger objects fit easily on one shelf.  You can always rotate items in for the season and thus display an entire collection over the course of the year.  

Remember, the less you display, the less there is to dust!

Thank you for allowing me to show you my collections!

What special collections do you have that bring you pleasure?

How do you display them?