Image

Archive for Do-It-Yourself

3 Tips to organize moving students back home easier?

Moving back for the summer?

Moving back for the summer?

It is that time of year when college and university students are moving back home for 4 months.  If you pack up their items in an organized way it will take some of the work out of moving them back to school in September.

1. Buy bins that stack inside each other when they are not in  use.

It will make them easy to store.   Most of us like to cut costs and use boxes to move students.  Since moving is a ongoing process for the next number of years buy some bins.  They will stack nicely in a truck/van and in a closet or storage area at home.  You will only have to get them once where as with boxes they are usually recycled and you need to find more every time. Bins  are  waterproof.

2.  Before the student begins packing, make a list of items they need at home.  

Make sure those items are packed together.  Label those bins, bedroom.  Other items that they only needed for school can be left in the bins  to be moved back to school in September.  Label them basement, closet where ever they will be kept.  You may need a bins or two labelled laundry.  Some items may need to be washed before they are stored away for the summer, bedding, blankets, winter coats etc. This makes unloading quick and easy.

3.  At home, designate an area where the bins will be stored over the summer.

Clean the area out before you go to pick up your students.  If everything is kept close together or in a limited number of areas when September arrives, you know where everything is.

A little planning can make the move quick and easy.  Next I will talk about how to making the living arrangement at home easy and enjoyable.

Moving to university

Don’t forget anything

What have you done to make moving your child back home easier?  Share a comment below.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

5 Spring cleaning and organizing tips for your home office

Spring cleaning your home office can lead you in many directions.  Perhaps:

  • your inbox is inundated,
  • your files are filled or
  • your time management is missing.

You need to start somewhere so let’s start with the S.P.A.C.E. that houses your office.

Look around your office and start:

1. Sorting the items that are visible into groups of papers, books, office supplies, client files, product, advertising materials etc.

Start with the visible clutter first.

2. Pair down each pile to the items that are current and recycle or shred the rest.

3. Assign a convenient place to store your resources.  If you use them often keep them near your desk, if they are used infrequently store them further way but still in your office.  If they are never referred to but needed for tax or legal purposes they can be stored in another room.

4. Take each of those piles and select the best Container for keeping the items organized, binders, magazine holder, bins, boxes etc.

 

Organize with binders

Organize with bins

Organizing for the person who likes to see everything, the visual person

 

 

5. Evaluate your new S.P.A.C.E.to make sure it will help you be more efficient, productive and profitable this year.

 

 

Share one of your office organizing tips in the comment box.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Downsizing? Read Don’t Toss my Memories in the Trash

This month I am reviewing a book to help you in downsizing yourself but probably someone else in your life.  Don’t Toss my Memories in the Trash by Vickie Dellaquilia.

Guide to help downsize a loved one.

This book has very practical steps and suggestions for downsizing in many different types of situations. The person maybe moving to a smaller house, an apartment, moving in with family members or to a seniors home.  In each situation the person is losing something and must learn to adapt to a new living situation. They may need to get use to meeting new people, having less privacy, being less independent.  This book guides the caregivers to avoid  pitfalls that can occur.

Here are 6 tips from the book

1.Giving up the family home is like losing a loved one.  When the family is gone the memories are all they have left.

2. Remember the goal is to get the parents resettled with the things they love that make them happy and comfortable.  It is not about the finances of selling stuff, emotional battles over a childhood or arguments between family members.

3. Consider how much energy and time you have for the job.  Children sometimes have a small window of opportunity to help and want to do it in a week when parents need to go more slowly. Get help with moving, selling items, removing junk you don’t have to do it all yourself.

4. Have a goodbye ceremony with some family and friends to say farewell to the house.  Take pictures of things or video of experiences in the home.  Then start packing up

5. Take pictures of how a room is set up, how things are on the dresser or in the bathroom.  At the new place you can replicate the situation so they can adjust more quickly.

6. Have sheets of packing paper and use them to simulate the furniture and assess what large items can be moved and where they will fit in the room.  A visual representation can make decisions easier.

This book covers: 

  • Timelines
  • How to start talking about the need to  move
  • How to start
  • What to take
  • Packing suggestions
  • What to ask a mover
  • Unpacking
  • Adjusting to the new home

It is a great, quick, easy to read resource.

Post a comment about the best tip you have for helping someone to downsize

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 

 

Clearing an Estate? Read “They Left Us Everything”

Today I am reviewing a booked written by Plum Johnson, They Left Us Everything  a memoir. She is a Canadian author from Oakville, Ontario. It is an easy to read , novel style story about her experience emptying her parent’s home.  Once you start reading it you become engaged in the story and can’t put the book down. It takes you on a roller coaster of emotions:  sad, humorous, happy and thoughtful.

Paperback book, They Left Us Everything

by Plum Johnson

Many people have had the experience of going through years of possessions and trying to figure out

  • how to divide things between family members,
  • where to donate things,
  • the division of labour between family members on how the work will get completed and
  • when to sell the home.

This book takes the reader through the many pitfalls and solutions that Plum and her siblings discover to solve these difficult situations.

One of my favourite parts of the book is the chapter on how they divide up their parents’ possessions between the 4 siblings .  Plum has made an annotated inventory list complete with photographs, 422 items, 8 pages long.  There are two categories; one for all the furnishings that have been appraised and priced and one for historical items that were considered priceless. They take turns picking things off the list until everything is gone.  It is very interesting to read the how the process goes, who selects which items and why, and how competitive they can be during this process.

The book has practical suggestions but mostly it gives the reader emotional and psychological insights into the relationships that they have with their parents and that their parents have with each other.  It also shows how these relationships affect how they experience dealing with their parents’ possessions. Learning from their experiences can help each of us to understand the many layers of feelings that affect each of us and our relationships with people and “stuff”

A few memorable thoughts from the book are;

  1. “The most valuable things come from within yourself”
  2. “Are you untangling the stuff in the house or untangling yourself from your parents?”
  3. “Gradually things in the house relinquished their hold on us.”

Post a comment about the part of the book you liked best or a tip to make clearing an estate easier.

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

Start Organizing your Garden Now – Tips from a Professional

My guest blogger is Ron Thiessen of Thiessen Farms .  logo1large2He has been farming  all his life.  As a child he worked with his dad and then took over the farm.  He sells his produce at markets and has developed a Community Supported Agricultural Program (CSA) of over 200 families who buy a share of his crops and pick up their produce every week at his farm from May to October. He is located in Jordan Station, Ontario , Canada.  He has written on organizing your seeds, choosing your crops and charting their progress.

Crop Planning and  Choosing Seeds

Brad’s Atomic Grape Tomato

Brads-Atomic-Grape

“Elongated cherries in clusters. The colour (and flavor!) is a full-blown assault on the senses – lavender and purple stripes when immature, turning to technicolor olive-green, red, and brown/blue stripes when fully ripe. Really wild! … this amazing variety a good candidate for market growers …” (from www.rareseeds.com)

When we saw this new tomato in a seed catalogue it immediately became a must grow variety for Thiessen Farms in 2017. It looks and sounds amazing!

And when we found seed for the hottest-of-hot peppers – Ghost, Carolina Reaper & Trinidad Scorpion – there was no doubt that they would be on the list too, along with Glass Gem corn, Superschmelz kohlrabi and Golden Wa Wa cabbage.

Coloured kernels of corn on a cob

Glass Gem Corn

Superschmelz kohlrabi

I’ll admit it. We’re suckers for a cool sounding name and a fancy description. That’s why our seed list has grown to more than 450 varieties of  over 60 different vegetables and herbs. But it’s really a cheap thrill. For a few bucks we get to try something new. Sometimes it will turn out great and become a favourite. Other times it’s a disappointment and we never grow it again. But it’s always fun experimenting!

The first week in January is always seed ordering time. We pour over the seed catalogues devouring the particulars of all the vegetables, herbs & flowers, choosing the varieties we will grow in the upcoming season. The selection of seeds is overwhelming making it a delightful yet daunting task.

Here’s how we make our choices …

1. We know what we grew in previous years.

We keep a master list – a spreadsheet that names each crop and  variety we grew last season, the amount of seed we have on hand, the year purchased, the company it came from, and the number of days from seeding until harvest. This gives us someplace to start. When the seeds are ordered, all this data is updated & any new varieties are added and those we will not be growing are eliminated.

2. We keep good records – an awful lot of records.

We have a chart where we record every seed we sow in the greenhouse – the date we seeded, the amount, the date the first seeds poked up through the soil, the date we transplanted them and how many, and a spot for random comments. We have more charts where we record everything that gets planted out in the fields – whether it is direct seeded or transplanted from the greenhouse, the variety, the amount, the date. Throughout the growing season we make written notes – both quick observations that we jotted down on the run and more formal evaluations of the different vegetables and how they grew, and produced, their yields, taste, plant health … Photographs are also very helpful for this and  so easy to take with cellphones. We find these records invaluable and refer back to them often.

3. As commercial growers we look to our customers for information 

What crops sold well and which ones did not, what caught the customers attention, what vegetables are they asking for … We have more charts. For each day at the farmers’ market we record what we brought, how much we sold, the prices and the weather for the day. There are similar charts for each Community Support Agricultural Program (CSA )pick-up. These give us a clear picture of what to grow and how much based on actual sales.

4. What would be fun and interesting to grow!

We always try to grow something new that we have not done before. Recent examples include kalettes , cauliflower  artichokes and fava beans.

The seeds are arriving almost daily now

Close to 500 packets of seeds – different sized envelopes, some paper, some foil, even a cloth bag or two, and at least one larger 25 pound sack (snow peas). Add in any leftover seeds from other years, various jars of seed that I saved myself, and we end up with well over 600 different containers of seeds.That’s a lot of seed to deal with and to keep organized!

Proper storage is necessary to keep the seeds viable 

Cool and dry storage being the most important conditions. We keep the seeds in our workshop in small, plastic shoe boxes. A label on the lid notes what seeds are inside. These plastic boxes are then stored in larger plastic bins all with secure lids. This keeps them dry, clean & safe from curious animals (ie cats, or even mice – in case the cats are not doing their job!).And there the seeds wait until it’s time to plant them.

IMG_8905 (2)

What have you learned from Ron Thiessen a commercial grower that will help you to organize your garden this year?

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices, in person and virtually. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 

Sage Home Organizing Advice from 1961. Could it possibly work in 2016?

1961

1961

I was given article by Janet Barclay of Organized Assistant that was from 1961 in the Toronto Daily Star.  It is advice to a new bride on how to keep the honeymoon going forever by keeping her home neat and tidy with organization and know how. It was a delight to read.

Here are some highlights

  1. “Because you are working there is little time for housekeeping chores so they must be done consistently.  If you  get in the habit of leaving things until later the apartment will soon be a mess an you’ll be frazzled and bad tempered.”
  2. “Enlist your husband.  With a working wife he will likely be only too glad to pitch in for a few minutes a day”
  3. “Plan a grocery list.  Bridegrooms are usually helpful if you can plan the shopping for Thursday or Friday night or during the day on Saturday.”

Forming habits and sharing responsibilities are good advise for then and now. 

The article continues by describing a way to stay organized.  We can learn a lot from this writer in 1961.

Have a daily cleaning schedule.

It helps to have habits so work gets done without having to put much thought or energy into it.  Making beds, tidying up dirty dishes, clean up messes as they happen.  But do you need to quickly dust , including pictures with a special cloth with the polish already in it, wipe off the stove, refrigerator and counter tops?

Silver had to be polished regularly to keep it looking clean and shiny

Silver had to be polished regularly to keep it looking clean and shiny

The next thing in the article talks about things to take care of every 2-3 days. 

If you have a list of things that need to be done once or twice a week it makes it easier to stay on top of things instead of spending a lot of time on the tasks later.   Do laundry, sweeping/mopping the floor, taking out the trash or recycling.  But do you need to polish several pieces of silver 2 to 3 times a week or clean the bathroom thoroughly?

Scheduling things weekly makes it easy to give others a chance to take responsibility for keeping the home organized.

Planning menus for the next week can make grocery shopping easy and more economical.  Anyone can make supper if the menu is planned and the food is available.  Carpet cleaning companies suggest vacuuming rugs once a week to extend the life of your carpets.  Perhaps doing your laundry is a once a week task.  Checking the refrigerator to see what food needs to be used before it goes bad will also save you money.  But do you have to mend the socks for the man of the house, get the dry cleaning ready, wax the kitchen floor, clean the oven including the racks or change the sheets?

To keep floors shiny they needed to be waxed and you couldn't walk on the floor until the wax was dry.

To keep floors shiny they needed to be waxed and you couldn’t walk on the floor until the wax was dry.

Think about the things that should be done twice a month.

For some people it is grocery shopping, changing the beds, cleaning the house, repairing things that are broken.  Make a list that suits you and keep up with your organizing. But do you need to clean the windows, clean out your appliances or clean out your coffee maker regularly?

What would be good to do once a month? 

Perhaps you would want to do more extensive cleaning in one room each month.  Cleaning walls, window coverings, windows , blankets or furnace filters  .  If you spread out the work over a year, you will have cleaned each room by the end of the year but  you will never have to spend a lot of time all at once.  No need for a spring or fall cleaning blitz that can cause people to procrastinate because the job seems so big and  overwhelming.  Some people like to do food preparations, browning meats, dicing and freezing vegetables and / or baking once a month to make food preparation on a daily basis easier.  You may decide to organize an area of your home each month.   Some of these monthly tasks that may take minutes,  some may take a couple of hours.  Plan what works for you. But do you need to oil the furniture  or take down and wash the fixture?

Furniture needed to be oiled to protected it from drying out and cracking.

Furniture needed to be oiled to protected it from drying out and cracking.

Lastly look at things that only need to be done twice a year. 

Perhaps they are seasonal tasks.  Put way or get out patio furniture, toys, car tires,bikes etc.  But do you need to wash rugs, clean Venetian blinds or take all the clothes out of your closet and give them a good cleaning and airing?

The interesting thing about this article written in 1961 is how much things have not changed.  A lot of things they suggested to do daily, weekly monthly or yearly have not changed. Doing a little each day, week, month or year makes it easier to stay organized.  Having the tasks scheduled makes it easier to avoid procrastination. Although we hardly ever use silver, we have self defrosting refrigerators and self cleaning appliances, we don’t do a lot of ironing, we have now added to our schedules, software and hardware maintenance, cleaning more than one vehicle, pools, lawns, etc.

Cleaning Schedule / Organizing Schedule

When my mom died my sister made a cleaning schedule for my dad.  It was similar to the ideas in this article.  It was based on what needs to be cleaned each week and then one additional thing to clean each week which changed each week, and then a thing to do each month with each month different.  By the end of the year the entire house, walls, drapes, cupboards, baseboards, appliances had been cleaned with only a little extra effort need once a month.

Some of you may sit down and make a list of things to do each day week, month, semi annually and annually.  For others make the lists as you go.  At the end of the year you will have good ideas of how to schedule cleaning and  maintenance tasks to have a life that runs  smoothly and leaves more time for fun, joy and happiness.

What things did your parents or grandparents do, that you still do, to keep your life and home running smoothly?

Julie Stobbe is a Trained Professional Organizer who brings happiness to homes and organization to offices. She enjoys working with her clients to provide customized organizing solutions to suit their individual needs and situation. She reduces clutter, streamlines processes and manages time to help her clients be more effective in reaching their goals. Contact her at julie@mindoverclutter.ca

 

For the DIY – Re-purposing Unused Items

New Life for A Bike

When you are sorting through your items,  unused items may need to go to the garbage, recycling or can be re-purposed.  Finding a new life for your things might save your money.

  1. A peg board can make a great place to hang jewellery or medals. Paint it the same colour as the wall.  If you prefer decorate it and make it a piece of artwork to hold you items.

    Use a peg board to hang jewellery or medals

    Use a peg board to hang jewellery or medals

  2. A magazine holder can be used on a shelf, standing up or laying down to hold paper products in your kitchen, wax paper, baggies, parchment paper, plastic wrap etc.
  3. Muffin tins can be used to hold paint

    Muffin tins can hold paint for those touch up jobs around the house.

    Muffin tins can hold paint for those touch up jobs around the house.

  4. Egg cartons are good for jewellery or small craft items, beads, “googly eyes”, stickers, glitter. It also makes a good desk drawer organizer for tacks, paper clips, binder clips, keys, etc
  5. Plastic containers from fruit, vegetables, take-out food, baby wipes can be used to hold markers, pencil crayons and pens
  6. Dressers make great entryway storage places.  Paint or decorate it to match your entryway and then use the drawers to store, keys, sunglasses, sunscreen, scarves, mitts, hat, baseball caps etc.

    Use a dresser in your entryway to provide more storage

    Use a dresser in your entryway to provide more storage

  7. Icing containers.  If you buy icing in the grocery store they are great containers for storing pens and pencils on your desk.  Once the label is removed it is a beautiful white container.
  8. Cleaning Caddy can be used to hold art supplies.  Use the icing containers to hold crayons, rulers, pencils, stamps, glitter glue.  Add scissors, glue, tape stapler and you can take your art supplies anywhere.

    Use a cleaning caddy to hold art supplies

    Use a cleaning caddy to hold art supplies

  9. Laundry hampers can be used to store extra pillows or blankets.  It is a great way to keep them neat, clean and out of the way until they are needed for company, watching TV, laying by the fireplace.
  10. Picture frames can be turned into chalk boards, white board or magnetic boards by painting the cardboard or wood insert  with specialized paint.  It comes in lots of colours.

Leave a comment and let me know what best thing you have repurposed and its new use.

Residential Organizing Services for the Region of Niagara, Hamilton, Halton-Peel and Surrounding Area