Sunday, December 27, 2009

In With the New, Out With the Old...

Something new you may want to try this year is a “things to remember list” for next Christmas that you can place in with your decorations. Basically it is a list of things like desserts everyone loved/hated, buy a bigger turkey for next year, don’t invite so and so again unless you are mentally up for it!! This list will help you take the guess work out of next Christmas. Don’t forget to add to this list, “make sure there are enough batteries on hand”, nothing is worse than getting a new toy for Christmas that needs batteries and you only have one of the two batteries it needs.

As you know, one of my constant rants along with every other organizer in the world is “in with one new, out with one old”. Take a look around at the gifts you and your family received and before you start cramming the new blouse in your closet, is there an old blouse that is tired that it could replace? Did your children receive extra action figures or dolls that maybe could replace some broken toys or toys they rarely play with? Bottom line, it is all about excess no matter if it is Tupperware, toys, clothes or make-up there is always “extra” things around that people don’t use, play with, or wear. Do you have some of those things cluttering up your home?

New Years is this week and maybe instead of writing the typical New Years resolutions, try something new and write down new habits you could start. Instead of losing weight, try writing eating healthier or eliminating afternoon snacks. In place of getting organized you could write, spend ten minutes a day clearing the clutter. Sometimes we tend to take on more than we can accomplish and if your goal is too high, it can be hard to attain it and you end up feeling as though you have failed. Who wants to feel like that?!?!? Not me!

So this year, start with “little positive improvements”. Who knows, you may end up losing the weight you want and wouldn’t it be nice to live in an organized home! Happy New Years!

By Michelle Lehman Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Exchanges, Returns...When Will it Ever End?

Any time I feel stressed I hear that old commercial from Calgon Bath Soaps…”Calgon Take Me Away”, do you hear it?

I don’t know about you but I already have two returns and one exchange. I have to do the exchange before Christmas. I bought my husband a history book and you would think out of the 1000’s of history books out there I could find one he didn’t already have, NOT! Maybe he has too many!!!

I personally would not run out the door first thing on Saturday to do any exchanges or returns unless you absolutely have to for financial reasons. The lines will be out the door. My suggestion would be to look at the receipt and see what your time limit is for the exchange/return. Is it 30 days after the purchase, is it January 31st or is it three months? If you have some wiggle room, I would save your returns to do after the kids are back in school and everyone is back into their weekly routine. The lines will be shorter, trust me!

If you have saved your returns to do after things “go back to normal” put all of your returns in your car with the receipt in their designated bag/box. Map out your returns according to their location, try to make a full circle rather than zig zagging all over town. If you need to go grocery shopping as well and have return at a super center have your return map end at the super center so you can come straight home with your groceries. Time management is of the essence here!

If you are exchanging a sweater for a smaller size (notice I said smaller, trying to be positive here) I would go into the store and buy the sweater that you want in a smaller size. More times than not, the sweater will be marked down drastically for the after Christmas sales. Return your other sweater later for a store credit that you could use to buy a new swimsuit or just return it for cash back if that is an option. The check out lines will still be long but you will not have to stand in two different lines and you will have a chance to get what you want if you postpone the return line for a couple of weeks.

Your time is valuable and if you really enjoy shopping the after Christmas sales, take your time shop and don’t worry about returning until later. Who knows you may find a sweater you like better and maybe it’s marked down to $9.99 with an extra 20% off if you can stand on your head! Happy Holidays and have a great time shopping!

By Michelle Lehman Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...But

Everyone is so stressed out, including me. I have now started wrapping gifts like an assembly line. I put names on all of my tags first (stickers so they adhere quickly) and as soon as I finish wrapping the present the label is ready and off it goes under the tree.

I have even gone one step further, I grab all presents that are like sizes measure the largest one on the wrapping paper and cut different wrapping paper designs in the same general size so I can wrap faster. I feel like the Engergizer Bunny who just keeps going and going!

It’s not that we spent a lot of money on so many presents instead we are wrapping several books, art supplies and other things. Sometimes quantity is better than quality. Besides Santa brings all the cool gifts and we’re stuck with the socks and underwear!!!

The point to all of this is that it’s okay if you take some short cuts to get things done faster so you can enjoy this wonderful time of year!!!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Christmas Break is Almost Here!

I hate to be the bearer of bad news but next week is the last week you have before the kids are out of school. YIKES! I realize you have 100+ things left to do on your to-do list but maybe we could rearrange some items to take advantage of children being at school.

Try to get as much done next week that is secretive such as; wrapping their Christmas presents, making sure Santa has gotten everything on their list, stocking stuffers and even if you have a return or two to make because you decided on something else for your children. Nothing would be worse than a PlayStation game or Barbie doll falling out of the bag with your children in the car wondering why it is going back to the store! Good luck explaining that one!

It is difficult to finish these secret things when they are at home. If you can try to get most of it out of the way next week, that would be great! Leave making fudge bars, cookies, buying Aunt Judy’s gift for when they can come with you or help you in the kitchen. Hey…why not buy some extra aprons while you are out next week and put them to work in the kitchen. Now we are talking!!!!

Take a couple of minutes to “reprioritize” your list for next week for secret “stuff” and leave the rest for later, when you have extra help…

By Michelle Lehman Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Scratch the Christmas Cards off the List!!!

At this point of the season I just want to scratch everything off of my list! This weekend I decided to tackle or attack our Christmas cards. My husband loves for us to send out a card with a picture of the boys. By the time you figure out who to send them to and you sent you one last year that wasn’t on your list, before you know it you are sending out a ton of cards.

Here I am Saturday evening stuffing the picture into each card one after another. Now I am signing all of them with all of the members of our family. Where is my family during all of this, are you thinking? I am thinking the same thing! My oldest one is watching the football game (Texas vs. Nebraska), my youngest one is playing (Texas vs. Nebraska on PlayStation) and my husband is in and out listening to the game on the radio.

I decide to enlist in some help. I called a family timeout, TV time out and asked my husband to grab his radio. I had my oldest putting the cards in the envelope and my youngest putting stamps and return address labels on the envelopes (crooked and diagonal but they are on) while my husband and I addressed the envelopes. It was quite a production. Sure I would have loved to have Christmas songs playing on the stereo and yes we could have all been sitting in front of the fire place…enjoying the Christmas spirit. Instead we are on a roll, knocking them out!!

I know you are wondering where I am going with this? As we were finishing our task as fast as we can, my husband notices that one of the envelopes is not staying shut. He looks to see who it is addressed to and notices it is for one of his friends he likes to tease and joke with all the time. My “three boys”, yes “three boys” decide they are going to tape it, put Ninja Turtle stickers all over it, put a band-aid on it to keep it closed. They wrote on the envelope “warning contents may be hot”!

Never in my life have I heard the three of them laugh so hard, they thought they were so funny! We started off by attacking my Christmas cards as fast as we could so we could all go back to what we were doing and ended up having the time of our life. Our new tradition is to pick one card every year and “decorate” it Lehman style. Who would have known that it would have turned out to be a great Christmas memory and isn’t that what it is all about?!?!?

By Michelle Lehman Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Organizing Your Spending

Yes, I am going to try and organize your spending. I know, I know I have gone over the line this time but if someone doesn’t cross it you maybe wondering how to organize your budget after the first of the year.

First of all, find all of your available balances on your credit cards and your interest rate. If you don’t have to use them great, but just in case, let’s try use the credit cards wisely. I would use the card with the lowest interest rate and leave the rest of your cards at home so it will be easier to calculate your holiday spending. This will help you from accidently grabbing the wrong card at the checkout. Not only with this protect your budget it will protect your wallet. Sometimes in the hustle and bustle of shopping for all those gifts we loose our wallet or worse yet it is stolen. Can you imagine trying to cancel ALL of your credit cards and losing your personal information?

Speaking of which if you have not already made copies of all of your credit cards front and back of the card (account number is on the front and the toll free number for the credit card company is on the back along with a three digit security code number). If you don’t have a copier PLEASE take the time to write all the information down. I promise this will give you peace of mind knowing you have all of your information at your finger tips and you don’t have to guess or scramble to find all the account numbers.

Quick reminder, don’t over organize your holiday receipts. Keep it simple…one envelope or shoe box…all receipts no matter who the gifts are for, including you and your husband. Just fold the receipt into an a tiny square if you think he might take a peak and smudge some lipstick on a corner to make sure it hasn’t been opened.

Happy shopping and I promise I am not trying to drive you crazy, I will save that until after the first of the year!

By Michelle Lehman with Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter”

Monday, November 30, 2009

Decorating in an Organized Style

Can you believe Christmas is going to be here in a few weeks? I swear I can still smell turkey in my house! Not only did I not go shopping on Black Friday, I didn’t finish decorating our house for Christmas. Football won my vote on Friday!

I love decorating our house for Christmas. With that being said, I like to decorate in a organized style. I am not artsy fartsy, shocking I know…I am very methodical about how I do things and I like to accomplish my tasks in a timely manner.

To save time and effort for me, I take pictures of my Christmas decorations in each room so that when I pull out my decorations I don’t have to try and remember how I did it last year or worse yet try to come up with some fantastic new decorating idea. Besides balance and having everything symmetrical is very important to me. Who would of guessed, uh!?!? I have found taking pictures really saves time and there is no guess work involved.

As you put up your Christmas decorations take some of your current decorations down so you home does feel so cluttered or dare I say it…like a “blue light special” going on in your family room. Enjoy the simplicity of your Christmas decorations.

If there are a few items left over in you holiday supply that didn’t get used this year and they are not a “special” ornament, we have a beady eyed Santa that my husband had as a child that scares me so he stays protected and never comes out! If you happen to have extra Christmas ornaments or decorations now would be a great time to donate them. Sadly there are many families this year that are struggling and would love to have your Christmas decorations. Just a thought…

Monday, November 23, 2009

Don't Worry, It's Not the End of the World

It’s Thanksgiving week and the house does not need to be organized in order to eat turkey. As a matter of fact, the closet can be stuffed and so can the turkey. I know you would love everything to be perfect but it doesn’t have to be. Let it go, focus and what really matters and enjoy the preparation of Thanksgiving.

You have invited family and friends into your home to celebrate Thanksgiving and you have so many things to be thankful for this year. I say if any of your friends or family start snooping through your closets or even mention that you have a little clutter…no pumpkin pie for them!!!

I am asking you to relax, let it go, enjoy and put a smile of your face…company is coming and your house doesn’t need to be perfect! Happy Thanksgiving to all my readers!

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Organize Toys Now, to Make Room for More Toys?!?!?

No, I am not kidding…have you looked around your house? The toys are taking over your entire home and Christmas is right around the corner. How will all the new toys fit into their bedroom or playroom? They start out in a bedroom or playroom and before you know it, they've spread to every room in the house. It's almost as though they multiply or come to life at night like Toy Story and invite friends to come for a sleepover!

If you take the time to organize the toys now, this will help give you some gifts ideas for Christmas and at the same time make room for all the new presents. The key to organizing toys is finding a “home” for all the toys. Children can learn to put toys away if the method is simple and easy.

Start by clearing the clutter. Gather all the toys together in the room you choose to have their toys instead of the whole house. Sort the good toys from the junk and either donate the things that are in good. If you happen to find new toys, now would be a great time to donate them for Toys for Tots. Repair any toys that are meaningful to them and throw away things that are trash.

Sort toys into appropriate bins and storage. Toys that are alike should go into the same bin. Power Rangers in one bin, cars in another…if you have girls Barbies in one, Little Pet Shop in another, you get the idea. One little addition I would like to add is make sure if that you keep toys close to each other if your child plays with them together. For instance if your daughter always has Barbie take care of the pets from Little Pet Shop, keep the bins side by sides so that clean up is quick and easy.

If you feel that you need to a label your bins and your child is not reading, print pictures from the toy stores; laminate the picture and velcroe it to the bin.
If space is a problem in their room. Try hanging toy organization tools on doors. Over-the-door shoe hangers are perfect for organizing small toys, stuffed animals, Barbies or even Match Box Cars.

I use Ziploc Bags to store “accessories” from Barbie, G.I Joes, for organizing the pieces they don’t play with very often. Not only is less of a mess to clean up but hopefully your feet won’t get anymore on those small pieces. Boy does that hurt, I swear Legos are the worst on your feet! I would suggest you place the bags in a bin on a top shelf and get them down when the child asks for them. So many times, they just want to play with the person and really don’t want to change out guns or shoes.

Rotating toys is a great way to keep children entertained and interested in playing with their toys. Every month or so, rotate the bins so that your child has something new to play with.
Designate a time once a week for room cleaning. Everyday, your child should put their toys away, but once a week they could make sure that all of their toys are in the rights spot to prevent a future mess. "A place for everything and everything in its place."

By Michelle Lehman, Organizing Solutions “Clear the Clutter” www.organizingsolutions.info

Monday, November 16, 2009

Recyling Your Tennis Shoes!


Oh my goodness, this is the coolest thing ever! I just learned about this very cool program by Nike ReUSE A SHOE that recycles athletic/tennis shoes in any condition, or any other brand and turns them into sports surfaces! They collect shoes from partnering retail stores and other shoe recycling centers.


The shoes are taken apart in three sections. The rubber on the bottom, the sole of the shoe and the fabric of the shoe and they place them onto three different conveyer belts to get ground up. After it has been through the “Nike Grind” they use the material to make running tracks, tennis court's, basketball courts and play grounds. How cool is that?!?!?

This is from their website to give you better details of the Nike Grind process….


“No matter how your shoes are processed, the end result is the same – three high-quality Nike Grind materials ready to be put back in the game:


Nike Grind Rubber, made from the shoe's outsole, is used in track surfaces, interlocking gym flooring tiles, playground surfacing and even new Nike products, such as the outsoles of the Nike Pegasus or the Jordan XX3. It’s also used in trim items like buttons and zipper pulls.


Nike Grind Foam, made from the shoe's midsole, is used as a cushion for outdoor basketball and tennis courts, as well as futsal fields.

Nike Grind Fiber, made from the shoe's fabric upper, is used in the creation of cushioning pads for facilities like indoor synthetic courts and wood courts. “


Maybe now would be a great time to organize your shoes!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Organizing Your Gift List


I don’t know about you but we don’t have any trees with money growing on them. I keep looking out our back door but still no money trees. I know several of you will be attending the 918CouponQueens Black Friday Workshop tonight and will get great tips on how to save money this holiday season. I would like to back up a bit to make sure that you purchase things that you need and not just because it was a great deal.

So many people have a gift closet or gift tote of over bought presents. I will tell you I am probably the worst offender when it comes to my boys. We will make a list, I will check it off and then I keep seeing “extra things” that I think the NEED to have, I ended over buying every year.

I realize if we all had the financial opportunity we would buy gifts for everyone down to the school crossing guard. Sometimes we have to make choices and maybe this year we need to cut back a little so that we are not overwhelmed with the credit card bills in January. This is going to require some planning and budgeting so you are not scrambling the week before Christmas and just buying something to buy it.
Take some time to sit down to make a gift list of everyone you might possibly want to give a gift too. I would suggest if you don’t have a money tree in your backyard, you put a $ amount by the person’s name so you can have a budget for your gifts. If you have budget of $1000 for everyone and your $ amount by each person is adding up to $1300, you need to do some trimming and I don’t mean the Christmas tree.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by your list and budget, go ahead and choose the people that are most important to buy a gift for. Maybe this year you could bake cookies for some people on your list instead of buying a gift. You could ask your siblings if they would like to draw a names in place of everyone buying something for everyone to help save money. We used to buy for our sisters and brothers and found out that all we were doing was exchanging gift cards, now we just buy for our nieces and nephews.
Once you have your list written out and your budget in place, now is the time to put the 918CouponQueen's suggestions into action. Look for deals, coupons and rebates to save money. Save all of you receipts in one envelope marked Christmas gifts. Nothing is worse searching high and low for a receipt to find you have lost it and can not return the gift.

Do you enjoy gift buying Christmas gifts, or do you find it stressful? How do you make sure you stay in your budget?

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Get Your Refrigerator Ready for Thanksgiving


I mentioned last week that now would be a good time to get your menu started for Thanksgiving. I would like to take it one step further and let’s make sure your refrigerator/freezer is ready for Thanksgiving as well.

If you are going out of town for the Thanksgiving holiday or even if you are hosting Thanksgiving, now would be a great time to do some refrigerator organizing. Try not to buy to a lot of food that will not get used in the next couple of weeks or that will rot in your refrigerator while you are away.

Maybe the next two weeks you could have a “clean out” the refrigerator and pantry menu. Make meals out of what you already have at home to allow room for the turkey that will be in the refrigerator. Just buy perishable groceries that you need such as milk, fruit and vegetables and use of what have already have in your pantry and frig. Not only will you being using saving time at the grocery store you will be saving some money and I think we could all use a little extra money these days.

Before you head out of town, make sure to check your refrigerator. If you have any extra food that you know will not get eaten and it has not been open, take it to your local food pantry.

Tips for an Organized Thanksgiving

I realize Halloween just got over but why not get ahead of the game this Thanksgiving? If Thanksgiving dinner is one of your responsibilities for friends and family now is a great time to plan ahead. If you are one of the lucky ones that gets to go visit family and have Thanksgiving dinner severed to you than there is no need to read this blog, unless of course you just love my tips!

Here are a some tips to help with Thanksgiving Dinner:

Start off by making a menu of what you would like to serve for dinner and deserts. After you finish making the menu, make a grocery list that coincides with what you plan to make dinner. I am sure the 918CouponQueen would suggest that we keep our eyes open for sales and coupons from your grocery list to help save money! I would also suggest that you do not wait until the last minute to buy your turkey, nothing worse than going to the grocery store and finding out they are out of turkey! I know this from a past experience I had when we were first married…Cornish Hen anyone?!?!?

As the host of this great festivity decide who should bring a dish to help decrease some of your responsibilities. My boys always like to make homemade Pumpkin Pie but my mother will bring her famous Apple Pie from Minnesota. Since she is traveling and loves to help I ask that she brings dinner rolls, her pie and of course her homemade recipe for stuffing. If anyone else is coming add them to the “dish list”, you could have them bring salads or sweet potatoes. In the end, your menu should be filled with things you feel you could tackle without feeling overwhelmed and at the same time giving you time to enjoy the day!

A couple of days ahead of the Thanksgiving, go over your menu and see if there is some prep work you can do to help save time in the kitchen on Thanksgiving Day. Even just chopping onions, parsley or washing potatoes will help you get ahead of the game. One thing I do as I am preparing Thanksgiving Dinner is I run my dishwasher after I have finished making everything and everything is baking. This helps me get ahead of washing dishes after dinner. I like to get the big mixing bowls and pans out of the way so that all that is left to wash after dinner is the dishware. Hey, I want to watch football too!!!!

If you have a tip or even a great Thanksgiving recipe…we would love to know! Gobble, Gobble…

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Let’s Put the Halloween Decorations Away…


I know, I know it’s only November 2nd, but I hate to be the bearer of bad news…Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Start by gathering all of your Halloween decorations, books, CD’s and DVD’s into one room of your home. If you don’t have a storage tote, grab a box or large trash bag to store your items.

Now would be a great time to double check all the decorations or books to see if any repairs need to be made before the next holiday season. My poor Jack-O’-Lantern needed a dentist this morning….nothing a little hot glue couldn’t fix. I can not begin to tell you how much I love my hot glue gun!

As you go through your Halloween things decide whether or not it is worth saving for next year. Is the item tired and has seen better days or are you so sick of picking up the sticky tongue off the wall? Now would be a great time for it to mysteriously drop in the trash can ever to be seen again….just a thought!

This may not interest you, but when the boys were younger I would preserve some of their holiday artwork. I wouldn’t save every piece but I would grab one from each of them and use laminating sheets to keep them safe. I display the artwork on our garage door entering our house from the garage. They laugh every time I get them out and display them prominently for the entire world to see.

Speaking of this, I just pulled out our Thanksgiving books and a couple of hand print turkeys made from the boys when they were in pre-school. One says, “I am thankful for paint” the other one said, “I am thankful for Power Rangers”. Boy do they grow up fast!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Organizing Children’s Books


A friend of mine was asking me today what I do to keep the boys books organized because she felt like the books were always falling off the shelves in her house. So I thought maybe you would be interested in what I suggested. If not, please hold your comments to yourself! LOL

First of all a little tidbit about my boys…the older one is very much like me! Love that and his wife will love that too someday! He likes things in order and he likes it to stay that way. My youngest likes things to be organized but does not like to do the work himself, so he will keep the organizing profession going. Bless his wife!!

Both of my kids love books and they have a ton of books between the two of them. My ten year old keeps his books in a bookcase. This does not always work for all kids. In most cases, for children that are younger, the books are stuffed onto a shelf or half are falling off the shelf. What I like to suggest is big rectangular baskets to hold books. I like to put the book baskets by the bed, it makes the room look cozy and is handy when they are picking out a book to read at night.

In each of their rooms we keep chapter books, sports books, world record books, and books for night time stories before bed. In our family room we keep a basket of books that I change out from their rooms and have other books that I don’t necessarily want them reading before bed. Such as; G.I. Joe, Power Rangers, Scooby Doo and so on. I don’t want them dreaming about zombies or bad guys before bed. Call me crazy but when they go to bed I want them to sleep through the night without bad dreams!

I keep all of my holiday books with my decorations. I also keep holiday movies with them as well. For instance, when I pulled out my Halloween decorations, I had about 15 Halloween books that I placed next to our book basket in our family room. At our school the kids are encouraged to read for ten minutes everyday and these are the books they will grab to read. I try to keep the books in the basket rotated so the books are fresh and when I add the holiday books they really enjoy seeing them again from last year.

Another tip would be to put your child’s library books from school next to the book basket as well. This way they are out of the basket and not confused with the books you have at home.

One thing to remember is if your child is a toddler, keep the books they will read when they are older up on a closet shelf in their room. You will find just trying to get all of the picture books in their basket will be tough enough without adding books they might accidently tear.

If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to email me at cleartheclutter@cox.net

Sunday, October 25, 2009

I know I have mentioned short cuts in the kitchen before but I read this statistic and thought this is a good time to mention them again.

According to the National Restaurant Association, “Americans currently spend 43 percent of their food dollar on food prepared away from home, compared to 36 percent in 1981. And that percentage is considered likely to increase in the future. National Restaurant Association statistics show that, even in the depths of the recession, customers have maintained their frequency of eating and ordering out. True, they are probably spending fewer dollars on each occasion (one reason why restaurateurs may feel things are worse than they are) but their obvious reluctance to "brown bag it" or stay at home, even in the face of declining real disposable income. On top of that the National Restaurant Association has projected foodservice industry sales to reach $262 billion this year, an increase of 5.6 percent over 1991, or 1.8 percent when adjusted for inflation.”


I don’t know about you, but I don’t have that kind of money to spend on eating out everyday. I know the 918CouponQueen would agree with me that you will save more money by shopping smarter and if you are really itching to go out to eat she has several great deals to save you money at restaurants. To learn more ways to save money on groceries and eating out read her blog at http://www.918couponqueen.com/

In the mean time let’s find some short cuts in the kitchen. Taking a few steps can save you a lot of time to make dinners at home if you know a few secret tips. We are all busy, busy and don’t have enough time in the day to make dinner from scratch or spend an hour trying to make dinner after you get home from soccer games.

I know Sunday is suppose to be a day of rest, but Sunday afternoon is the day I like to get ahead of the game. I brown all of my ground beef and put it into a few freezer bags. I don’t measure anything out…scary I know, but I scoop the browned hamburger into a freezer bag for what I think is enough for several dishes. In our house we make taco’s, hotdishes (Minnesota talk) or casseroles for you Oklahoman’s. I make a small freezer bag for spaghetti, BBQ’s, and so on. The point I am trying to make is if your hamburger already done it takes no time at all to make a casserole, spaghetti, or tacos. Not only are you saving money by not going out but you are able to be at home and this will give your kids some extra time to do their homework! It’s a win/win!!

The next time you are grilling out chicken make a little extra to freeze for chicken quesadillas or put chicken in your pasta sauce for something new.

Another extra thing I like to do on Sunday afternoon is wash all of my lettuce and put it into a Ziploc bag. Nothing drives me more crazy then wanting a salad for dinner and having to clean all of the lettuce. I just want to be able to throw it in a bowl and start adding lots of toppings. I also cut up my fruit and put it into storage containers so that it is ready to go as well.


None of this is rocket science and some Sunday’s you may not have time to do any of this. All I am trying to do is give you some ideas/tips on some very useful shortcuts to make your busy day less busy. I wonder what you could do with the money you will saving from eating out less for dinner?

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Organizing Your Photos


You are going to have to be strong here, no going down memory lane...I mean business…let’s organize those photos.
First gather all of your “loosy goosy” photos and spread them out wherever you may have room. A dining room table, card table or even a spare bedroom bed will work to help organize your photos. I like to sort my photos by dates, but I have four categories: Child 1, Child 2, Vacations, and Christmas. I have a photo album for each child, one for family vacations and I make a Christmas album every year. The boys love to look at them at Christmas and stroll down memory lane.

I would suggest you set a time limit for sorting and purging. You really, really need to stay focused (again, we don’t want any oo’s and ah’s) just down to business: organizing photos. Try setting your microwave time for 30 minutes or live on the edge and set it for 60 minutes! Think how many photos you could go through!

As you sort your photos into your categories, toss any that are blurry, off center, or that you can’t remember where or who in the world those people are on the photo! I tend to take 25 shots of the same thing hoping to get one good picture if you are like me please discard the other 24 shots of your child sitting by the dog sort of smiling and keep the one good one of him smiling.
If you are not a photo album person or scrapbook person place your categorized photos into a photo box and label it’s contents. Try displaying a few pictures meaningful to you or that will put a smile on your kids faces when they see them. We pulled out old videos this past weekend and my boys laughed and laughed at how silly they thought they were when they were young. Kids love to see old pictures of themselves as long as it is not too embarrassing!

I try to update my photos in frames with new ones as much as possible. The one thing my husband likes that I do, is that I leave the old photo in the frame from previous displays. Every time we get a new school picture I put the new one in and look at years past. Boy do they grow up quickly! It is a quick “snap shot” of their lives and every time I can’t believe how big they are getting.

If you are technically inclined, and you have digital pictures try creating new galleries or have your screen saver change out your picture files to keep things new and fresh. My parents love their Kodak Easy Share digital frame and they download new pictures I email to them all the time. Don’t forget to back-up your pictures or save them on an external hard drive or through a service. Nothing would be worse than loosing all of your memories. I put the boys birthday pictures on a CD and put the CD in our safety deposit box so I know they have each year of their life in a safe place.

After you are done organizing your photos, you can go back and “oo and ah” . As always if you need anything please don’t hesitate to email me at cleartheclutter@cox.net

Friday, October 16, 2009

All Those Buttons

Everytime I buy a new outfit it comes with an extra button or two. Sometimes it even comes with extra thread. The funny thing is that I don’t sew but I need to know which button goes to a shirt or a pair of pants just in case I HAVE to sew it back on myself or like this weekend my parents are coming from Minnesota and my Step Mother loves to sew!

Here’s a quick tip on keeping those loose buttons together so you know what you have and giving them a home so when you need to sew it on or your Step Mother is coming you can find them quickly.

Most of the buttons and thread usually come inside a small plastic ziplock bag. I cut off the tag and label which sweater, blouse or pants it belongs too. With the misc. buttons I put them into snack size ziplocks by color or for old buttons that used to belong to clothing that I no longer have. My Step Mother uses old buttons to make my current clothes look new again, she jazzes things up a little!

Try to keep all of your buttons and extra thread in a box, sewing kit, or tote. I keep mine in our laundry room but you can keep yours in a closet or another place that works best for you.
I would write more but I have to get my “need to be fixed clothes” together! My guest are arriving soon!

Sunday, October 11, 2009

What To Do With Warranities and Manuals

So many of my clients ask me what they should do with their warranties and manuals. How many times has an item stopped working right after the manufacturer’s warranty expired? You go to your file and after you have sifted through 210 warranties you realize you don’t have the proper documentation or worse yet, it has expired!

If you purchased the item on a credit card sometimes that credit card company will have a free extended warranty program. You can either get the item repaired at the warranty company’s expense or receive a check for the original purchase price if the item is not repairable. If you are not sure if your credit card company offers this program call the toll-free customer service number on the back of your credit card and ask to speak to a customer service representative to find out.

I was in a car accident with our youngest son several years ago. The police officer told me that his car seat would no longer be safe since it was in an auto accident and I needed to replace it. I didn’t have the receipt but I had the warranty and I called BOK to asked them if they could go back to July 2001 and send my a copy of my transactions to show I purchased a large $ amount at Babies R Us. Sure enough they found it and I mailed it in to the manufacture with our warranty. They sent us a check nearly 80% of what I had spent on the original car seat to purchase I new one!

In most cases you will need to have your original sales receipt (photocopy it in case it fades) in order to have an item covered under an extended warranty program.

Now let’s tackle manuals. Isn’t funny how big manuals are for even a simple thing such as a toaster (BTW you can recycle the toaster manual)? My view on manuals is that once you understand how the product works (under $100) you don’t necessarily need to keep the manual. Even if you need a small part for your product you can go online input your serial number and it will pull up all the parts available for purchasing parts. I have found most manuals are posted online and let’s be honest if your LCD TV goes on the fritz do you really feel comfortable trying to fix it yourself? On the other hand if you were going to sell that same LCD TV it is a nice selling point to have the manual.

Less paper, less clutter!!! Visit www.organizingsolutions.info if you need further assistance.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Is Homework a Scary Word in Your House?

In our house we start our homework at 4:00 p.m., no not at 4:15 p.m., 4:00 rain or shine! Generally speaking I have our home on a routine, schedule if you must...gasp…I know you are thinking…no not, Michelle! I like the boys to be able to have their snack first, play or watch TV. I have friends who insist that the children do their homework before they do anything else. I feel you need a break, to chill and relax before you jump back into your school work again.

Homework can be a huge battle for families and it is extremely difficult on families that have both parents working full-time. It is a lot of pressure to do it all; make dinner, wash clothes, pick up the house and let’s not forget try to help with homework.

I had several clients that like to set up an area in their office for the children’s homework. I like this idea for kids that are older and are more independent. In our house I would be running up and down the stairs a 100 times, but maybe that would be a good thing for my bum but that’s another blog.

Our homework area is the kitchen table. One child at one end and the other one at the other end. I am such a mean mommy that when my youngest son didn’t even have homework, I would have him sit in his spot at the table and look at books just to get him used to the idea of homework while my other son did his homework. How crazy is that?!?!? One of things I like about having them here is that they have so many questions about their homework in elementary school. This allows me to be near them to answer their questions and at the same time I can be starting dinner or folding clothes.

Some suggestions I would try at your home would be to make sure you homework area is neat an organized. Try to have any extra supplies you may need (lined paper, colored pencils, rulers, etc.) handy so that you aren’t running all over the house.

Keep your children focused and help them understand that the sooner they finish the closer they are to being able to play. Remind them that we all have work to do, commitments and as a child this is their responsibility.

I try to make up little games or silly sayings that may help them to remember things for their test at school. Last week I used John Cena from WWE to help him remember that Boston is the capital of Massachusetts. If your boys aren’t into wrestling, John Cena is from Boston! I tape their spelling words to the pantry door every week so they can see them. I doubt they at look at them but it makes me feel better!

What are some things you do around your house to make homework more fun and less stressful?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Packing School Lunches & Snacks

I don’t know about your house but it seems that the boys never can agree on the same thing. Every once in awhile they can agree on what to watch on TV. but usually I think my youngest just concedes. So it goes without saying the one of them prefers the school cafeteria lunch and the other one wants to bring his lunch to school!


Now that we have been in school for almost two months, you have probably found some things that work and some that don’t work. I have found that packing my son’s lunch isn’t really that hard and to be honest if you pack it rather than buying prepackaged lunches you can save a little money. It is a lot easier to buy the Lunchables and the little bags of chips along with a juice boxe but unless you find them on sale and have a coupon they can be expensive and often not very nutritious. I take a big bag of chips, crackers or pretzels and split it up in snack bags to save money. If the juice boxes are not on sale, I fill our reusable bottles with Kool-Aid.

To keep your lunch items handy start by dedicating a drawer or cupboard space to hold your items. This will allow you to quickly and easily pack lunches. I grab crackers everyday after school to refill my son’s morning snack and put it in his backpack for the following morning. This way I don’t forget and he is not without his morning snack. I have forgotten before and boy did I feel bad, trust me I will not make the same mistake again! I even pack his Monday morning snack (usually the prepackaged Whales from Wal-Mart so they don’t sit in a plastic bag over the weekend) Friday after school.

For a stress-free morning, pack lunches the night before. Be sure to ask for some input from your child. When your children have a say in what goes into their lunch box, they’re more likely to eat it. Remember most schools allow only 15 or 20 minutes to eat lunch so make sure the foods you pack are easy to open. I have a friend who makes sandwiches for the week and freezes them to save time. Another friend of mine buys Arby’s Roast Beef Sandwiches 5 for $5 and freezes them for her son’s lunch. If your child is tired of bread try crackers, bagels, pita pockets or tortillas to create a new sandwich. Who knows, you may find a new favorite for your child. My son eats the same thing day after day, I wish I could jazz up his lunch!

I hope you find when everything is organized and handy you can literally pack a lunch in seconds!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

To-Do Lists

We all make them and remake them again and again only to notice the same things are listed from one day to the next. I realize that sometimes making a To-Do List makes you feel overwhelmed by the amount of work you have to do. I am sure you have felt that all you do is make lists and lists yet nothing ever gets accomplished. Believe it or not, there are better ways to make a list than just writing things down.

To-Do Lists should be prioritized by all things you need to accomplish that day. They list everything that you have to do, with the most important tasks at the top of the list, and the least important tasks at the bottom. Do you remember that old saying of putting them in ABC order?
A proven simple technique is ABC rating of your priorities. Mark the tasks on your To-Do List with “A’s” for the most important task. “B’s” are less urgent but still important things that you should start right after you are done with “A’s”. “C’s” are “would love to do” things that you could do if you have any time left after “A’s” and “B’s”. Those to-do’s can be moved to another day. By prioritizing your list, you plan the order in which you’ll do things and stay focused.
While this sounds like a simple thing to do, it’s when people start to use To-Do Lists correctly you will feel as though you are in more control of your day to accomplish things and you may even find yourself with some extra time at the end of the day! With To-Do Lists, you’ll be more organized and in control of your day.

Here are some tips to help you get started making To-Do Lists.
Start by writing down all of the tasks that you need to complete the night before. Make sure you have not overloaded yourself with too many things to do. Keep your list small and write with pencil so you can easily erase or add to your list. No one likes to look at a list with a bunch of scribbles and scratched out words.

Make your lists clear. For example write clearly and if you need to make a doctors appointment write who is to have the appointment and with which doctor. Sometimes if your list is to vague you might forget what you meant to do, if that makes sense. Another example would be if you wrote “car”…is that an oil change, fill gas, rotate tires.. you get the point. “Car-Oil change”
Don’t forget to prioritize your list using the ABC method. If too many things are at a high priority you will never get it all accomplished. Look at your list again and see if you can make some less important ones or move them to later in the week.

Everyone uses different methods for different kinds of lists. Here are some ideas for a To-Do List. Keep a notebook with you, use your iPhone or Blackberry, or a digital recorder. I leave myself messages at home on our answering machine if I need to put something on my To-Do List. Some people use a magnetic pad for the refrigerator. Try a few different ways to see what works best for you to make your lists. You may need different kinds of lists for different things. For example I use the magnet pad on my refrigerator for my running grocery list and I use a sticky note for my To-Do List for that day and carry it with me. I stick it to my dash board of my car (not over anything important!). I can still see that I am going a little too fast and need to slow down.

Keep in mind, you may need an additional list at home. Try keeping an ongoing list of projects that you need to accomplish, but haven’t penciled into your daily list . This list may include things to fix around the house, pay bills, send birthday cards or run to the mall for a dress you need for a wedding later in the month. Update this list once a week.

If you have any questions about time management or To-Do Lists, please feel free to email me at cleartheclutter@cox.net . If you need further assistance and would like me to come to your home please go to my website www.organizingsolutions.info for more information about my services.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Do You Know How Much Time You Have?

September 16th 2009, does that date mean anything to anyone? Anyone? September 16th is exactly 100 days before Christmas. Oh my! That means there are presents to buy, gifts to wrap, cards to send, parties to plan, and a family meals to be prepared! Do you realize there all sorts of websites set up to email you a “to-do” for each of the 100 days prior to Christmas?!?!?

If you don’t know me by now, you know I am always tooting my horn about getting ahead of the game. Do this, do that and your life will run so much smoother. With that being said, I am here to tell you, that I think we as a society (you and me) have gone overboard every year at Christmas.

Have you looked in the stores lately? It isn’t even October 1st and the Halloween decorations are on sale. Why you ask… to add more room for the Christmas decorations that already are out! Yes, you can buy Santa and his reindeer today! I am shocked at how early the stores start filling the shelves with Christmas items every year. I swear it starts earlier and earlier, could be that I am just getting old and losing my mind.

I have helped clients over the past years organize their attics, garages and closets to help make more room for Christmas decorations. What I find most interesting is that no matter how organized it is or how much room you have to store all the totes or boxes no one wants to unpack ALL of that stuff. I have had clients that have even purchased all new things to avoid unpacking all the decorations.

I am not suggesting that you hire me to organize or that I that I am telling you go out and spend hundreds of dollars to decorate your home to avoid unpacking your decorations. Instead I would like to give you a gift a “get out of jail free card” if you must. I am suggesting you give yourself PERMISSION, yes permission, to relax…to step back and listen to the Christmas songs…breath in the cool fresh air….to make things simple…to make it real. Enjoy Halloween, enjoy Thanksgiving and above all realize that it doesn’t matter if your house looks like a Macy’s Christmas room, it doesn’t matter how many gifts are under the tree, it doesn’t matter how many fudge balls or cookies you make…what MATTERS is that you and your family enjoy the holiday season and are free from stress.

Happy 88 days of a new holiday tradition of keeping things effortless and not being overwhelmed! Who knows you may thank me for this someday…

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Organizing Your Freezer...

I know you don’t want to do this, but when was the last time you saw what was at the bottom of your freezer? I bet some of us could give that “unexplained meat” to our children’s science teacher for an experiment! Why not organize your freezer today?

The first step I suggest is taking everything out of your freezer and putting it on your kitchen counter top. As you are doing this I would like you to check expiration dates and start to put the food into categories.

For example:

Breakfast Items
Desserts, ice cream and popsicles (BTW the creamy, rubbery stuff on top of the ice cream is not a topping it is old!)
Cheeses or Deli Meats
Pizza, pizza rolls, left over Mazzio’s, Papa Johns and Hideaway Pizza (Do you see a theme here…we love pizza at our house!)
Vegetables
Fruits and so on.

Here is a guideline by the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food and Drug Administration for safe storage. Frozen foods can be stored indefinitely, but the flavor can change when food is stored past the time limits below.

Raw Beef Roast and Steaks: 6 to 12 months
Raw Pork Roast and Chops: 4 to 6 months
Raw Veal Roast and Chops: 4 to 6 months
Cooked Meat: 2 to 3 months
Soup: 2 to 3 months
Raw Chicken Pieces: 9 months
Cooked Chicken Pieces: 4 months
Pizza: 1 to 2 months (In our house it doesn’t last more than a week!)
Luncheon Meats: 1 to 2 months
Raw Fatty Fish (Salmon, Tuna, etc.): 2 to 3 months
Raw Lean Fish (Cod, Flounder, etc.): 6 months
Cooked Fish: 4 to 6 months

Now that we have everything categorized and checked for expiration dates, let’s go ahead and clean your freezer with warm soapy water and a cloth. As we are putting your food back into your freezer, keep your like items categorized together on the same shelf or in the same drawer. I like to put my frequently used frozen items within easy reach inside the freezer door, such as breakfast items and my coffee.

Remember to record the date of purchase or write the expiration date on the outside of the freezer bag before putting the new food into the freezer. This will help you stay organized in your freezer.

If you have any further questions about your freezer please feel free to email me at cleartheclutter@cox.net.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Is It A Mom Thing, Or Am I Just Crazy?

We took off to St. Louis Friday morning to catch a Cubs vs. Cardinals game Friday night and go to the St. Louis Arch Saturday morning before heading home. I am telling you our itinerary because my husband accused me of being crazy and of course extremely anal Friday afternoon. Not to say he didn’t accuse me of this Thursday or Tuesday but my point of all of this is Friday.

After a nice six hour drive in the rain until three hours outside of Tulsa we arrived in St. Louis. After we zig zagged through downtown to our hotel we parked and checked in. Thank goodness we got there at 2:30 because the check-in line wasn’t bad, but after 3:00 the line was outside the door!! I will tell you we were on the road in good time because I am organized and once I have it in my head we are leaving at a certain time by goodness we are leaving on time! Did anyone thank me or mention that had we left a little later that we would have been standing in line for an hour!?!? No…but they did mention it later that they were glad we didn’t have to stand in that long line. I’ll take what I can get!

So here is where my husband and my dear children suggest I am crazy. As soon as we entered our room, first things first, I ALWAYS, ALWAYS check to make sure it is clean. If the bathroom tub is dirty…I will guarantee you the rest of the room is even worse. If the tub is sparkling (i.e. no hair, no grime, no slime) the rest of the room will be great. All is good so I start unpacking…I put the HBA suitcase in the bathroom. Unwrapped the soap, took the toothbrushes and toothpaste out and put them into a cup. Took my shampoo and conditioner out of the suitcase and put it in the shower. I moved onto the clothes in the suitcase, took our Cubs and Cardinals shirts out to hang (yes we are family that is divided). My oldest son and husband are Cubs fans and my youngest son is a Cardinals fan, I on the other hand could care less but I must keep things even so to keep things symmetrical I am a Cardinals fan. I would rather be watching a football game or hockey game but sometimes we mothers just need to go along for the ride.

As I am semi unpacking our clothes, my husband asked, “What are you doing, we are just staying over night, are you crazy?” I look at him as though I have no idea who he is talking too, it’s not like we just got married. In December we will have been married 13 years. I am thinking to myself, are you out of your mind??!?!? What do you mean, “what am I doing?” I respond, “Getting things in order, dah…what do you think I am doing”!?!?!?! He reminds me again we are just staying over night and let’s get going. I told him all moms do this, we like things to be in order and ready. I reminded him of the Berenstain Bears episode where Brother and Sister hurried to get their suits on and swim while they were on vacation. Mama insisted on getting the summer house “clean and ready” and in the end Brother and Sister helped and said it was much better to have things unpacked so they could “all relax and enjoy the vacation”. I got nothing, but a look as though I am crazy! Am I crazy or do you unpack and get things in order too? BTW the Cardinals beat the Cubs, in the end I got the last laugh!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Keeping a Calendar

All of us seem busier than ever these days and with so many commitments whether it is work, a dentist appointment or a PTA meeting we need to make sure we try to keep track of these commitments. Time management is essential otherwise you will feel like your are running in circles and getting nothing accomplished.

I still use a day planner from Franklin Covey. You would think that of all people that would not like to have paper around I would use my phone or Outlook but I am still stuck in the 80’s. I love my paper calendar!! There is something about it to me if I write it down, I feel more committed to my calendar. I will suggest if you use a paper calendar please use a PENCIL to write your appointments rather than a pen! I can not tell you how many times I see calendars with blue and black ink scribbles all over their calendars. How can you read it after so many scribbles?!?!?

After you decide what type of calendar you want to use make sure it is in format you that can hold all of your family’s appointments. I prefer the Week at a Glance calendar, this way I see what is going on at school, my work appointments, doctor appointments and soccer games all for this week. I check my calendar every night and I always look it over on Sunday afternoon just to get an idea of how busy our week is going to be. If you really want to live on the edge you could always put a menu plan on your calendar too! I know, I know now I am talking CRAZY!!!

Try to fill in monthly/yearly appointments that you already have committed to. Add birthdays to your calendar, school activities, practices, games and any other activities your family is committed to. This will help you be prepared in advance, instead of writing it in every week.

I place our family calendar on a plate holder so that my family can check the calendar regularly. I try to highlight school activities so the boys see it more quickly and I highlight their games. If you start to remind your children to check the calendar this will help them to understand scheduling and time management. Say they each have a game scheduled at the same time, this will help them to understand that both parents can not possibly be at both games. They are going to have to realize that sometimes you have to make a decisions to split up and cover two games. Sometimes it is easier to “see” the problem instead of hearing it. I don’t know about your children but my boys just hear whawhawhawhawha or is it that they don’t listen... That is for another blog!

Life is much easier when you have you are ahead of the game and know what is on your calendar for tomorrow.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Cleaning Your Washer and Your Dishwasher...

The boys both had soccer games Saturday morning in the mud! After we hosed off as much mud as we could outside I threw the clothes into the washer. I don’t know if you remember this show or not but there were these two ladies that would go around to people’s homes and show them how dirty their homes were according to their testing. I remember one of the homes they were in the tested the toilet seat and it was cleaner than her washing machine!!! YIKES!!! Apparently there are a ton of germs, mold and grime that live in our washers, who would have known? Since that show I try to “clean” my washer at least once a month by either washing it on hot (nothing in the washer) with two cups of bleach. I start the washing cycle for a minute or so to mix the bleach around the washer tub and then let it sit for 30 minutes before I finish out the cycle. After I washed the filthy soccer clothes I thought I would clean my washer but I didn’t have enough bleach so I used 2 cups of vinegar and a half of box of baking soda. To my surprise it worked pretty good, so if you are not a fan of bleach, try the vinegar and baking soda. Now your clothes can be washed in a clean washer, think of the fun your clothes are going to have!

Another machine that we use to clean our dishes that can look dirty is our dishwasher. Sometimes you can see lime deposits and iron stains inside the dishwasher. I pour a packet of lemonade Kool-Aid (the only flavor that works) into the detergent cup and run the (empty) dishwasher. The citric acid in mix wipes out stains and your dishwasher will look brand new!

Oh just think of the fun you could have today cleaning your washer and your dishwasher!!! What else are you going to do on a rainy day!??!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Too Many Possessions?

One of the many perks of being a NAPO Member (National Association of Professional Organizers) is that I can be a part of a chat forum which includes Professional Organizers throughout the United States. The other day C. Lee Cawley with SimplifyYou from Virginia sent this statistic regarding people and their possessions.

“A lot of it just comes down to the great American propensity toward accumulating stuff,” Litton explained. Between 1970 and 2008, real disposable personal income per capita doubled, and by 2008 we were spending nearly all of it — all but 2.7 percent — each year. Meanwhile, the price of much of what we were buying plunged. Even by the early ’90s, American families had, on average, twice as many possessions as they did 25 years earlier.

By 2005, according to the Boston College sociologist Juliet B. Schor, the average consumer purchased one new piece of clothing every five and a half days."

I must have read and re-read that statement a 100 times. Are you kidding me?!?! We purchase a new piece of clothing every five and a half days? I don’t know about you but if I did that my husband would have me locked in a room for weeks! What I do think is interesting is that there are consumers out there that are still spending more than they are making. I worry that some people have the mentality that, “it’s not going to happen to me.” “I am not going to lose my job, my car and my house, that will happen to someone else but not me”

Unfortunately nothing is guaranteed anymore for any of us at any given time. I hope that most people take a look at what they have and how much they have and are grateful. I know in my family we have cut back on going out to eat, less movies, less shopping and trying to save more money. I would love to tell you we are minimalists but that is not the case. I truly believe in most areas of our home I only keep the things we are using and replace as needed. I will honestly tell you I do not practice what I preach with my boys. On their clothes I do, but as for their toys, games and everything else I tend to keep a blind eye. It is very hard for me to not give them everything they want. One of my son’s never wants anything, he will always put it on a list for his birthday or Christmas. On the other hand my other son wants everything “NOW, NOW, BAD, BAD”!!! It is rather entertaining…hahahaha! It wasn’t so funny when he was three but now that he is eight he has a little more patience, not much but it’s a start.

Do any of you find this statistic alarming? Have any of you cut back on your possessions and really just kept the things you use? Do you feel people have changed and live more within their means?

Monday, September 7, 2009

Organizing Your Medicine

The boys came down for breakfast Friday morning and looked horrible…fall allergies. I usually give them Nasonex everyday but this was scratchy throat, stopped up full blown allergies. So I go to grab the Claritin to give to them. Now keep in mind the last time I used it was in the spring for my youngest son. We are out, I don’t have enough to give to both of them just one of them!!! Here I am running to Wal-Mart in the pouring rain at 6:15 on a Friday morning before school. YIKES!! I don’t want you to experience the same morning trip I had to make so let’s take a moment today and go through your medicine cabinets.

Gather all of your medicine and place them on the kitchen counter so you can spread everything out and really see what you have and need. Start first by making sure all of the dates are good and nothing has expired. Grab a paper and pen to have handy incase you may need to purchase something that has expired or that you have noticed you are out of.

From here start by sorting into children’s medicine and adult medicine. An idea to keep them separate might be keep your medicines in your bathroom and theirs in their bathroom. If your not comfortable doing that, maybe put all of your children’s medicine in storage bin, so you can just grab the whole container when they someone is not feeling well. Try to keep all of your cold/flu medicine together, stomach medicine, ointments, headache and so on. I am not suggesting you have a ton of medicine but I do try to keep things on hand that I may need in the middle of the night for the boys. I really, really don’t want to be running to Wal-Mart in the middle of the night!!!!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Making Your Life Easier So You Don’t Have to Iron

As I mentioned in my last blog, I hate to iron. To make your life easier and let you cut back on ironing I thought I would give you a quick tip on organizing your laundry. As your laundry comes out of the washer quickly sort your clothes into hanging and a pile for the dryer. I put all of my hanging clothes into the dryer for a few minutes to get the wrinkles out from the washer. As they are drying a short moment I get my hangers ready to hang them up as right out of the dryer. I take a couple at a time and keep the dryer going until all of my hanging clothes are finished being hung. This way you don’t have to fold it and you will get less wrinkles, which means less ironing! Now I put the rest of the clothes that don’t need to be perfect into the dryer to and fold them later when I have time.

Don’t forget Stylish Stepmom suggested Downy’s Wrinkle Releaser, she said “This is a HUGE style secret that I, believe it or not, stole from my husband. When I met him, he had a regular "stash" of this wonderful product at his house, and to this day, we STILL have a regular "stash" of this product at our house. It is Downy's Wrinkle Releaser and it is AWESOME!” I have never tried it before but I am definitely going to give it a shot, who knows maybe I will be able to donate my iron…a girl can dream, can’t she???

Monday, August 31, 2009

Organizing Your Cleaning Supplies

With flu season fast approaching, I thought it might be nice to make sure that your cleaning supplies are organized and handy for you. When was the last time you took all of your cleaning supplies out from under the sink? How long have you had some of those products? Are they so old that Mr. Clean has hair?!?!?!? There's a cleaner for everything and if you bought them all your cupboard would be overflowing. The truth is that a lot of cleaners are multi-purpose and you can tackle two things at one time. Clean the counter and clean the mirror with the same product. If you really want to save on your household budget, pick all-purpose and multi-purpose cleaners. You can even mix vinegar and water as a dual purpose cleaner and use baking soda to clean your sinks and showers/tubs. Save specialty cleaners for really tough jobs, and only if your others don't work well. You may be surprised by how little you really need to keep your home clean.

After you have sifted through all of your cleaners and decided to on which ones to keep place them back under your sink in categories. For example: carpet cleaning products, dish detergents, all purpose cleaners and furniture polish.

Have you ever cleaned your vacuum or when was the last time you changed the filter in your vacuum? There are so my cleaning tools we assume are keeping our home clean but you might want to take a closer look and see if you need to clean the cleaner...

How about those brushes or sponges? I always keep two sponges in all the bathrooms and in the kitchen. To keep from wondering if one sponge was used on the counter or on the floor I choose a color for my counter tops and another for my floors. I use the same colors throughout the bathrooms and the kitchen, this way I don’t have to think each time I move onto a new room to clean. Who wants to use their brain when they are cleaning, if your like me you just want to get done and move onto something else....like ironing! Oh how I hate to iron!!!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Interesting Organizing Article...

As all of you know I am a Professional Organizer and mother of two great boys. As part of being a Professional Organizer I am a member of the National Association of Professional Organizers. Now I realize you are thinking, holy cow, how cool is that?!?! Very cool!! I know you are going to find this very funny…we have a “chat group”! What this means is that we email the group questions about organizing certain areas, organizing ideas, neat products we have seen or used and interesting tidbits or articles.

Well today a fellow organizer, Stacey Anderson with Organized Innovations, LLC sent all of us an email about this article from TransWorldNews Home Organization Product Demand to Reach $8.9 Billion in 2013 . Here is a quote from the article “The sharp downturn in the housing market in 2007 and 2008 also caused many homeowners to adjust the way that they spend money on their homes, leading many to invest in built-in organization systems either to upgrade homes they plan to stay in or to differentiate homes that are being sold.” If you get a free moment read the article or email it to yourself and put the article into that great Reading Folder I suggested a few weeks ago! Yeah, I went there!!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Toys, Toys and More Toys

I have mentioned before that going through your kid’s toys twice a year sometimes sparks new interest in lost toys. Doing this allows parents to “clear the clutter” of broken toys and fast food toys.

I am not suggesting you start throwing out all the toys or donating all of them. As a matter of fact my boys kept Power Rangers with broken arms to be the “bad guy” or looks like a good guy! I remember when McDonalds came out with their Master of the Universe action figure toy in their Happy Meals. OMG I called every McDonalds in Broken Arrow, West, East, South and North Tulsa asking which toy they had this week and schlepping all over to get two Happy Meals, sometimes three just incase one of them broke. These guys meant the world to the boys and after they played with them all over the house we made them into what we call “tub toys” and once a toy is a tub toy it is always a tub toy.

When the boys were littler we had toys in our family room and their rooms. So to keep things fresh, fun and exciting I would switch the toys around. I would take up all the Rescue Heroes, all the cars and the platform we had with them upstairs and bring down Little People. I brought down the car station, bus, garbage truck and all the people. The toys became intriguing now that they were downstairs instead of upstairs. Don’t ask me why, they just did. Give it a try!

Now that the boys are older and have other tastes I try to switch things up a little now too. We seem to be going through a WWE (wrestling, for you mom’s that have girls) phase and this past winter it was Nascar. We have a train table in each of their rooms. We bought them from Target during Christmas when you can find them on sale. I really recommend them for both boys and girls. Have you ever tried to play Pet Shop on the carpet? The dogs keep falling over! Anyhow I put whatever the boys are into onto the train table so that when they play in their room they are ready to go. Not only does it keep their toys fresh but sometimes just a little change peaks new interest and reminds them how much they do like to play in their room and use their imagination! Why not try, if you would like help you can always email at cleartheclutter@cox.net

Monday, August 17, 2009

Organizing Your Refrigerator

One of the last places to get organized in the kitchen is the refrigerator. Now that the kids are at eating at school, maybe now is a great time to go through your refrigerator. I realize cleaning and organizing your refrigerator may not be at the top of your list of fun things to do but it gets a lot of use and could you so much attention.

A simple way to start is to get all of your leftovers out unless of your course they are just from last night. I think we can safely say the Kung Pao Chicken from last week is not going to get eaten for lunch anytime soon. Next I would check all the expirations dates on salad dressings, mayo, mustard (yes mustard has an expiration date!!) and sour cream. After you have checked all of your foods with expirations dates move onto the fruit and vegetable drawer. From here move onto the meat and cheese drawer, don’t forget to look at the expirations dates. Here is a great resource for you from 3-A-Day ( http://www.3aday.org ) about organizing your refrigerator.

Now that your refrigerator cleaned out lets take a warm soapy washcloth and clean all the shelves. While you are doing this make sure to group things together that are similar. Just like when we organize closets we put short sleeves together we are going to put dressings together, mustard and ketchup and mayo. Have a section for your meat and cheeses, an area for yogurts, fruits and vegetables and drinks. This will also help you when are making grocery list. It will give you a quick inventory without having to move 100 things or just guessing what you need and getting home to find there are six containers of sour cream behind the orange juice you already had purchased last week. Happy Organizing….

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Email Folders Are A Must

I know I have mentioned the importance of organizing your emails into folders before but now that school has started this is really important to keep your family organized.

Most schools are emailing school calendars, special events, teacher notes and PTA updates. With our busy schedules and our inbox on over load we really need to be ahead of the game. My suggestion would be to have a folder for each child. If your child has an extremely busy schedule I would have sub-folders under their name one for school, another for sports and the last one for activities. More times than not, we receive information early and we don’t need to respond or even look at it until a later date. Instead of leaving in your inbox to clutter up your email, move it to the child’s folder for a reference.

If you are really diligent about checking a Pending Folder I would start a folder for things that you need to make a decision about at a later date or if you waiting on an shipment you purchased. An example would be if your ordered jeans from Old Navy and instead of leaving the shipment notification in your inbox move it to the Pending Folder. When your jeans arrive delete the shipment notification from the Pending Folder. An example of a later date decision would be if you were thinking about enrolling in tennis or golf and you received emails from the places you thinking of taking lessons.

An email folder I really like to use is my Reading Folder. When I am surfing the internet and find articles or information I really would like to read in more detail I email myself the link to the article. From my inbox, I move it to my Reading Folder. If you have friends who love to send you jokes or long emails about their trip to the grocery store I would move their emails to that folder as well and when you have time to read for a few minutes you are ready to go!

Monday, August 10, 2009

School Supplies…Why Not Check To See What You Already Have at Home?!?!?!?

It seems like just yesterday I was singing “Schools out, schools out who let the monkeys out?” and now we are starting back to school this week. YIKES!

Most schools have a required school supply list as long as your arm. Here is a novel idea…why not look to see what you already have at home? So many times we end up buying more supplies than what our children actually use at school. Often times they end up bringing home the unused items the last day of school. I realize that we need to keep some “extra” supplies at home but do you really need 15 folders, 11 glue bottles and 101 #2 pencils? Who knows maybe after your done shopping at home first you will cleared out a whole drawer or shelf!?!?? Just think of the fun!

The PTA at our school sells pre-packaged school supplies for each grade. This obviously makes it very easy on most mothers so that they don’t have to run around to several stores trying to find the 4x8 pencil box that is not to exceed two inches in height. I don’t know about your children but sometimes my boys like to “switch out” the pre-packaged folders or notebooks they received in the box and buy the color of folders they would prefer to have over the 20 yellow ones they got in their box.

I realize money is tight in everyone’s home but I was thinking after you went through your school supplies at home and bought the school supplies you need if you had extra or if you had a Power Ranger lunch box or Spiderman backpack that no one is going to use, why not donate them to Tulsa Teach Credit Union ( www.ttcu.com ) or Project Elf ( www.projectelf.org )? TTCU prefers to have new items to distribute to children but Project Elf helps all children throughout the Tulsa area from school supplies to socks and shoes. Both of them have great programs and I am sure if you checked with your school counselor you will find they would love to have whatever extras you have to give to children less fortunate as you and I. If you know of some other great places to donate school supplies please leave a comment for all of us.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Great Product for Organizing School Papers!


I was looking searching the web for some great organizing products for school and came across this great filing product for organizing school papers from my friends at “Buttoned Up” www.getbuttonedup.com I thought this might be nice to keep in your kitchen/command center so that you have your children’s school papers readily available and organized.

Can you believe school is just about to start? The boys and I are still in Minnesota and my brother is taking his kids on a trip after we leave because school doesn’t start until after Labor Day and still gets out Memorial Day Weekend!!! How does that work with all of their snow days?!?! This is just one more reason the boys want to move to Minnesota!

Here is some more information about School.files from Buttoned Up. If you are interested you may go to their website and purchase it for $19.95.

School.files™Homework, class trips, extracurricular activities- staying on top of all the things your children participate in at school is a big job. Get some help with the School.files™ from Buttoned Up. It is the perfect container for keeping all the information about their scholastic life at your fingertips. By Buttoned Up™.
Key Functional Features:

Durable file folder with compartments for three children
Each compartment contains five folders: stuff to do, stuff to keep, stuff to return, fun stuff, and calendars
Lightweight construction and notebook size make it ultra-portable

Monday, August 3, 2009

Have Your Children Pick Out Their Clothes the Night Before…

With school starting right around the corner isn’t now a good time to start letting your little ones become more self sufficient? Time is never on our side on a school morning so why not let your children pick out their clothes the night before and hang it on the doorknob of their closet door along with their underwear and socks?

You will be surprised how much time is saved if their clothes are already picked out and hanging. If their clothes are not on hangers just fold them up and put them in front of the closet door. Not only have you allowed yourself a few extra minutes in the morning you no longer have to listen to “what should I wear?” This will also help your children become more self sufficient and start learning a little time management! One thing we have done in our house is put a pair of jeans and a pair of shorts out the night before just in case the weather has changed from the forecast from the night before. This is really helpful during the spring and fall when the weather changes every 10 minutes.

You could even take this one step further and pick out your own clothes the night before. I promise with the morning rush, rush, rush having one less decision to make will help get you out the door much faster!

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Start Simple Habits

I am in Minnesota with the boys visiting my family wishing I had brought more jeans!!! The forecast for today is rainy and a high of 67 degrees?!?!?!? Allegedly this is a very cold summer but I swear I don’t ever remember it being this cold at the end of July. To think my boys want to live in Minnesota....I would have to wear a sweater 24/7 365 days a year. And yes I only brought one sweater for the trip and I have worn it everyday! Enough about me, let me grab some hot chocolate here and then give you some ideas on how to start simple habits in your home so you feel a little more organized.

I realize that getting organized is not always a priority on top of that, you don’t always have extra time and when you do have the little bit of extra time organizing is not at the top of the list. What about starting with a few simple habits so that you feel a little more organized and in the process your children are learning some good organizing habits?

More times than not everyone tends to leave their dirty clothes on the floor of their bedroom or their bathroom. Why not implement a rule that everyone needs/must pick up their dirty clothes and put them into the hamper? If getting the clothes downstairs to the hamper seems to be a huge problem it can be easily fixed by buying an additional hamper for upstairs. You could even go so far as to buy a three compartment hamper so that they sort the clothes for you by lights, darks and towels. Oh the fun they could have by sorting!

I know the mailman brings too much mail and it seems to pile up on your counters all over the kitchen. Maybe you could stand next to your trashcan and recycling bin before you even walk into your house and sort the mail so that you only bring one fifth of it into your home. Not only are you eliminating some of the huge piles but now the mail that is in the house is mail that needs attention.

At night the two things that I like to start in our house is the dishwasher and the washer. I like to throw a load of dark clothes in at night and the first thing in the morning right after a hit the start button of my coffee machine I put the dark clothes into the dryer. We start the dishwasher at night to help us go to sleep, the noise of the dishwasher blocks out any barking dogs or kids who are outside playing still at 9:30 at night! Just kidding sometimes on the weekend we make it to 10:15, I know we are crazy!

These are just some simple ideas to help you and your family get into good habits and at the same time help you get a little more organized. I hope all of you are staying warm, I have to go find my big warm fuzzy slippers.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Organizing A Sewing Room


I can barely sew on a button let alone hem a pair of pants. So what makes me think I can organize a sewing room? Organizing is about finding a solution to a problem. Whether you like things in alphabetical order, light to dark or by category it is all a form of being organized. The same will follow through for a sewing room. I have seen several sewing machines covered with a pile of material, patterns, and clothes to be mended. More times than not this is not how sewers like to work. Most would rather work in a neat, organized sewing room where everything is in its place and you have room to work.
Looking at this from an organizing perspective rather than a sewer, my first question would be, would you look for your patterns alphabetically or by project? If you use a lot of patterns, you will need a file box with file folders. If you choose to organize by project instead of alphabetically you will have to categorize your patterns. For example: quilts, dresses, skirts, tops, dolls, pants, curtains and so on. As you are categorizing your patterns or putting them in alphabetical order make sure they are patterns you intend to sew. If you do not plan to use that pattern, try trading it with a friend or sell it on http://www.illooklocal.com/ or even eBay.




Material is another problem for most sewing rooms. You buy it because you love it, and then it sits. There are a couple of ways to organize material. One way is the filing box or cabinet by color or by fabric types. For your odds and ends pieces I would keep them together by color then put them into large Ziploc bags.



Buttons, snaps, zippers and ribbons can usually be found in all the corners of a sewing room. A couple of ideas for snaps and buttons would be tackle box containers, ice cube trays or little jars with lids. I have seen one person use a tie rack from her husband to hang her ribbons and use safety bins to hang her zippers from another tie rack. Sometimes using what you have makes the best organized storage unit and on top of that it will save you money!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

What’s For Dinner Tonight?


Do you find yourself asking that question on a daily basis? The average American eats out 3-4 times per week on average. I don’t know about you, but our family could not afford to do that week after week. Not only would money be tight but so would my jeans!
I like to plan my meals out for the week and I write our menu plan at the bottom of each day of our family calendar. I start by opening up my pantry and then going to my freezer. If I have an abundance of chicken...can you hear the song...”I feel like chicken tonight, like chicken tonight” sorry couldn’t resist. Back to the chicken, I look in my pantry to see if I have rice or pasta. If I do, I could make all sort of chicken recipes. When I need a new idea from our typically Chicken and Rice I go to www.kraftfoods.com, www.campbellskitchen.com and www.rachelraymag.com for some quick and easy recipes. Continue to go through your panty and freezer to make complete dinners, you will be surprised if you start making a menu plan from what you already have at home you will save more money at the grocery store!
Getting your meals organized means finding simpler ways to do things so that you can get more things done. Give it a try and see if you don’t save a little extra money, have a little more time at night to play with the kids and top of that feeding your family healthy homemade meals.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Recycling Your Computer and Phone Can “Pay” Off

So many times in homes I find old computers, monitors and cell phones. Sometimes people hold onto them just incase their new phone is not as great as thought it would be, sometimes there is someone in the family that THINKS they can use some of the old parts from the computer. I am not pointing any fingers to anyone’s husband specifically but you know who they are. If you could get money back on your phone and computer why not give it a try?

Greenphone will pay you for your used phone or phones. Go to their website at www.greenphone.com and check the list for your old phone. If its on the list it will also tell you how much money you can expect for selling it to them. You can send your phone free of charge and they will check to make sure it is in working condition. If all is good with your phone, they will send you a payment. If your phone is not working they will recycle it safely for you. It is a” win/win” for your electronics drawer or junk drawer.

Now let’s tackle that upstairs closet or that “area” in the corner that is commonly referred to as Dad’s stuff. Check out www.myboneyard.com an electronics recycling company where they recycle old electronics. All you have to do is go to their website and follow of a few steps by entering your computer information. Within minutes you will find out how much your computer is worth. You can also send in your computer free of charge and keep track of it online. Who knows, maybe out of this whole deal you will end up with some extra money, space and less things to dust!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Finding Time to Read Your Magazines


I can’t tell you how many homes I have been into to help people control the paper clutter. Always located at the bottom of pile are magazines. We order magazines with good intentions, hoping to find that little bit of time to just sit and read while soaking in the tub. Reality check, you will never have that much time!

First let’s look at which magazines you are ordering. If you subscribe to Bon Appetit or Everyday With Rachel Ray you should do one of two things. If you are really set on keeping the magazine in tact, place it with your other cookbooks. Instead of standing them up so they constantly fall, try laying them down and stacking them with the binder facing out so you know which magazine it is. Another idea if you like standing them up is to place them in between two large cookbooks, essentially they become bookends. One more idea is to purchase magazine holders. This one is from Amazon.com and is priced at $13.99 used and $18.99 new If you are willing to tear out the recipe you want from the magazine to save space then cut the recipe out and file it in your recipe holder. That could be a binder or a recipe box.

Now for the “fun” magazines…People, Vogue, Oprah and all the other magazines we buy hoping to find time to read. I have never had the opportunity to read at the pool until two years ago and let me tell it is a whole new world now for me! I keep a magazine in our swimming bag at all times. Another couple of spots I like to keep magazines to read whenever I have an extra couple of minutes is in the car and the wagon I take down to our park. I keep a couple of magazines on the side of the front car seats to read while I am waiting to pick the boys up from school, practice or even if I am early to pick them up from a party. It is amazing how much of your magazine you can read in five to ten minutes. As for the wagon, our park across the street from our house is huge and has a creek, sand area and so on. In our wagon I keep shovels, nets, pails and a magazine to read! If you have a neighborhood park and your children are safely playing on their own in plain sight, this is a great opportunity to read a little.

Now that I have given you all this extra time to read magazines…start grabbing them and putting them in spots where you think you might have an extra five to ten minutes. Happy Reading…

Thursday, July 9, 2009

I’m Organized and Structured But I’m Still Fun!

This is not going to be my typical blog on how to organize this or that. I am not going to tell you about some great organizing product I came across the other day either. Instead you are going to read about me and my day today.

I guess it started Tuesday night when I friend of mine called to catch up. She is one of those friends I love to banter with back and forth. As we are talking on the phone they are heading into Wal-Mart when all of a sudden she says to me, “Oh my goodness I have found the perfect gift for you!” She starts laughing showing her children and I can hear them laughing! She is trying to tell me what they are laughing about but she can hardly speak because she is laughing so hard she is crying! She is picturing me wearing the “Slipper Dusters” and they cant stop laughing! From what she tried to say is you slip them on your feet and dust your floors. Funny thing is, I think I would like them!

I looked up “organized” on www.dictionary.com and found the definition to be “having a formal organization or structure, esp. to coordinate or carry out for widespread activities”

Yesterday we had planned to go to Tenkiller State Park to go swimming. Planned to me means that I have scheduled when we were going to leave, what I was packing for a picnic lunch and when I planned to be home all in my head. Of course the boys knew of the plan to go swimming at the lake and they were excited to go.

As you all know, it was raining yesterday morning but I am optimistic and I want to stick to the plan…I think the rain will move out besides in Oklahoma wait ten minutes and the weather will change. An hour and half later it is still raining and doesn’t look like it is going to clear up. I move to Plan B, except I don’t have Plan B planned, the weather man said it was suppose to be nice today so I didn’t plan a Plan B.

Instead of staying home and renting a movie, here is where the fun part of me comes into play…we took a road trip to Pops on Route 66 by Arcadia! We took an hour and half road trip to buy some unique flavors of pop and go out for lunch. While we were there we visited the one and only Round Barn in Oklahoma! See I’m fun, I live on the edge not everything in my life needs to be scheduled I can go left instead of right.

So I am feeling pretty good about being a Mom who gets out and about even though it wasn’t on my calendar. I live on the edge, I am not completely black and white not only do I have some shades of gray sometimes I have some pops of yellow! As we were driving home there is an area on I-44 that I do not get cell phone reception so when we got home I saw I had a voicemail.

I am listening to the voicemail in complete astonishment…I am thinking…what…a casting agent from “World’s Strictest Parents”? He goes on to say he loves to start with Organizers because they have found they have most rules and structure and make great Strict Parents! My mind is racing thinking who sent me this prank, I’m not that crazy…it was my friend, there she goes again trying to make fun of me. Nope couldn’t be that easy, I get an email from them right there in my inbox “World’s Strictest Parents”. I was so proud of myself how I live on the edge yesterday wiped away in one phone call and email!

Surprisingly enough I don’t qualify for the show because I don’t have a teenager still living at home. If any of the 918moms have a teenager and would be interested in trying out for the show, give me a call or send me an email so I can hook you with the casting agent. My number is 918-740-1215 and my email is cleartheclutter@cox.net If you need some pointers on how to be organized, structured and a little OCD I can give some pointers!!!