Evaluation of Accumulation

books-book-pages-read-literature-159866.jpegJust because I’m an organizer doesn’t mean that my stuff doesn’t start to pile up.

“There is no bottom!” my frustrated friend likes to say, when it comes to sorting through her things.

“There is, I promise!” I always reply.

“You’re lying, Benson.” (I’ve withheld a colourful expletive – use your imagination)

                         The truth is…there is a bottom but there isn’t an end.

Being organized is a process that involves continually evaluating your space and time to make sure that there is balance. Unfortunately, despite our best efforts, we don’t hit a point that we never have to deal with our stuff again. Unless we plan to never make another purchase, our kids no longer grow, we don’t need new clothing and we cease to receive gifts, we will always need to evaluate what items deserve a space in our lives.

Today, I sorted out two bookcases in my living room. They were organized. There was enough room for every book and for some photos and décor. I, like many of my clients, like my books. However; I was determined to be critical in my choices and only keep those that truly brought some sort of value to my life. Their ‘value’ is obviously based on my own beliefs. The criteria for their value was:

  1. they were unread but I knew I would read them
  2. they were my favorite reads
  3. they were common ‘lend out’ books
  4. they were published works of one of my writer friends

I went through them twice and was absolutely true to myself. There were many books that I would like to read that deep down I knew I would never get to. In the end, 64 books left my house. Many of them have sat on a bookcase in my life for 20 years! My journey with the books cannot end here as more books will find their way into my life. Yay! I love to read but that means that I need to continue to deal with those future books and make sure they aren’t taking up permanent residence in my space.

This same concept goes for clothes, household items, toys and décor. Everything that makes up your home needs to be evaluated on an ongoing basis. If we truly want to have a simplified space then ‘liking’ something may not be enough – we need to LOVE it. Our home can fill to the brim with things we like but that means the things we love will never stand out. Keep sorting, keep evaluating. There is a bottom. I promise

I’m not the Bedroom Police

Teens. Teen boys to be precise. They are the centre of my world. They eat so much that I wonder if I should invest in livestock. They smell. They bring their friends over to eat and be loud. They break their stuff. They break mine. They have weird contests with even weirder punishments for the losers. I find myself continually investing in socks, shoes and cologne…and more socks. Sometimes I find my boys hilarious. Often I find them annoying.

Most of all, they are messy.

Found this in my son’s drawer…

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Don’t get me wrong. I love my boys and their friends. I’m crazy proud and love my title of Mom of all boys.

But seriously.

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This is a recent photo of my 14-yr-old’s bedroom. Well, a portion of it. Just picture more floor covered with clothes and most of my drinking glasses and spoons hidden here and there. As you can see, he owns a clothes hamper. Also, has access to a laundry basket. Yet, inventive young man that he is, he has found a new purpose for these laundry tools.

I am not the bedroom police. I pick my battles. My rule is that their mess must not exceed the walls of their room and I draw the line when I can smell it down the hall.

A Professional Organizer? Who me?

My kids have chores. They have rules. They have to do their homework, take out the garbage, walk the dog and cook a couple times a month. They also have jobs, sports, friends.

They have lives.

Although it appears as though it may not be done often, they also do their own laundry.

When I work with a client I work hard to help them find function and maintainability despite their busy lives. It means that everything will not be perfect all the time. Probably not even close. They will have to choose what areas of their lives have priority over others and then we simplify everything so that after a long day they don’t have hours of housework to do. Isn’t that enough?

My boy’s rooms are not their priority. They are not my priority either. At the end of the day when all of us are home and can actually spend a little time together I would rather hear about their day or play cards or snuggle in for a movie than send them up to clean their disgusting bedrooms.

I’m only a few years from an empty nest and those bedrooms will be clean. The beds will be made. My spoons will be in the drawer and everything will be quiet.

I’ll take the messy rooms for now.

Breaking the Closet Blues

 

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So I’ve found myself starting my spring cleaning a little early this year. Perhaps it’s the unseasonably warm weather we’ve had here in Alberta or perhaps it’s my impatience with the long winter months that has me feeling stifled and overcrowded in my own home.

It started with my closet. I gave it a good cleaning but after looking at my inventory of clothing I realized I don’t enjoy a lot of stuff on my hangers. Maybe I did at one time, but now? Not so much.

And really, I’m a girl. I want to enjoy my clothes.

Clothing holds memories. It’s a good friend’s wedding. Or a romantic evening. Or a comfy favourite when a baby still slept on your shoulder. We remember the time that everyone complimented how put together we looked. Or how fabulous we felt walking out of the house in our new jeans. But we also have memories of being slimmer or hipper. Or of people who are no longer in our lives. We remember days that felt simpler or a past we wish we could relive. We end up with a closet that is complicated and emotional.

It’s silly. We all do it.

Your closet should not be a walk down memory lane. We have photos and social media. Or loved ones for that matter. Our closet should be full of wearable items, which make us feel good. Every time.

They fit.

They’re comfy.

And they are appropriate for the lifestyle we are living NOW.

I’m not saying get rid of that little black dress or your favourite college sweater. Hardly. But we should have more items in our closet that are wearable than those that aren’t. I want to look through my clothes and know that no matter what I grab I’m going to feel good. I can bend over without risk of my jeans splitting or worse – be in tears when I can hardly get them done up. I don’t want to look longingly at any piece of clothing when it’s never going to deliver what I’m hoping for. Its fabric and thread. If you can’t put it on, don’t absolutely love it, or it makes you feel bad when you see it – Let It Go!

An Organized Mess

There is a common misconception that because I’m a Professional Organizer my house must be in perfect order. In the pantry, my soup can labels are pointed out and lined up like a supermarket isle. My clothes are hanging in the closet sorted by like a beautiful rainbow. My linen closet is full of sheets and towels, folded with crisp corners. And of course I must be well put together and always prompt for each occasion.

To this I say: Bahahhaha! Hell no!

Not to say I don’t have a handful ofType A qualities about a few things but I am like every other mom out there with a busy household, messy teenagers, meals on the fly…you know what I’m talking about.

So I’m here to confess to 3 of my not-so-organized qualities and what the hay, a few that scream Martha Stewart just so you can get in your daily eye-roll.

1. I am messy in the bathroom. Hmm…that sounds kinda gross, doesn’t it? I mean that I tend to spread out my make-up, toiletries and crap (not crap) across the entire shared his and hers bathroom vanity. The funny thing is that I don’t really use a ton of beauty products and I own very little make up…yet, to my husband’s daily annoyance, I use up the entire counter and only clean it on the weekends.

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2. My mismatched sock bin could double as nest for a Bald Eagle…or two. I’m not sure the exact physics behind how the sock pairs get separated and then disappear between the dirty laundry pile and the dryer’s end cycle. I think it has to do with the mix of grime and static forming a wormhole or something…I don’t know. I’m not a scientist. I am, however, an optimist and I like to hold on to that recently widowed sock in hopes of its partner’s safe return. I mean who doesn’t love a happy ending?

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3. My closet is a disaster half the time. Now I need to be careful here because this is a sore point between me and my wonderful husband (much like my bathroom mess). My hubby is in charge of putting away our laundry. I wash and fold – love that part – but he puts it away. It’s a pretty sweet deal. When he is done, everything is hung, my jeans are stacked in perfect columns, and my closet is an organizer’s dreams. Unfortunately, I come in, and like a teenaged girl, I am sifting through, removing items, trying things on, changing my mind…and through this painful process I usually lay the items across a chair or sometimes…gasp…piled on the floor, instead of putting them back. So just to be clear. The mess in the closet…that perhaps spills to the bedroom on particularly indecisive days, is mine. Not Hubby’s. MINE (see that Hun, now the world knows).

Now, I do have other not-so-organized qualities but I’m not about to put myself out of business.

Point is: I’m not perfect.

Now for the slightly OCD qualities I may encompass.

1. I lied. My linen closet is a breathtaking vision of colour-coordinated, perfectly folded goodness. Yes, even the fitted sheets. I don’t let anyone else fold towels because I like them folded a certain way and no one in the household has mastered this. True – I’m not exactly fighting over the folding exclusivity. To add an extra level of way-too-much to this, I check and straighten everything in my linen closets weekly. Sometimes refold a few things just for funzies. Yeah…I know…It’s sick.

2. My spice cabinet looks like a Pinterest photo. It’s so strange that I went as long as I have without putting some sort of system into my spice cupboard. Really strange considering how many systems I have installed for other people. I really only have a handful of spices that I am using daily so as long as they were at the front I was satisfied with my mediocre spice storage. But now…sigh…so pretty. I can grab the garlic without 5 of his pushy friends falling out behind. I can see everyone in there and they can see me. I’m like the conductor of a little spicy orchestra.

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3. Total list freak. You may be thinking; ‘oooh me too, I always make lists’. Like most Listers (new lingo right there, folks) lists make me happy. They get me organized. They keep me sane. But I have perhaps fallen into the dark side of list making. I have a folder in my office of laminated lists.

Just the important ones…about…um…20 or so…

I have packing lists that I love. The camping list in particular is a three part series: Initial pack which includes everything we need to load into the RV in the spring followed by the regular pack which is all the staples that we need for each trip (this is also broken down by family member). Then (of course) there is the end of season checklist. Who doesn’t have this list? I also have seasonal ToDo lists, the chore schedules…

Wow look at me. I could talk about lists all day, but I digress…

Whether you are catching me with one of my not-so-organized moments or one of my nearly-needing-an-intervention moments, organization is about how it WORKS not necessarily about how it LOOKS. Yes, I am storing a rather large sock orphanage but guess what – they are contained in one designated place and everyone in the household knows where to find it. My lipstick is in the sink-ish vicinity and will not travel beyond the confines of my bathroom counter. What I want for myself and my clients is a household that functions well. This means that we need realistic systems that are maintainable. Don’t strive for perfection if perfection is going to be impossible for you to upkeep. Strive for ease and function and you will win every time.

And hey, everyone is different. Embrace your imperfection. We love you that way!

6 Great Space-Free Gift Ideas

I love giving gifts. Seriously. It feels so good, right? I don’t have a gigantic budget to work with, nor do I like to give gifts that are going to take up room on a shelf. In a time when we are trying to consume less and get away from so much ‘stuff’, it poses an interesting challenge…or opportunity when it comes to gift giving. Mother’s Day is only few days away and I’ve had a few conversations about on the subject.

Gift giving, even when done with the very best intentions, can cause one of the biggest problems I see as a Professional Organizer. Clients keeping items they do not want or need out of obligation. The item at hand represents the love or appreciation of someone in their life. It does not matter that the sweater is ugly or ill-fitting, or that the vase is taking up too much room, or that it’s a teapot and you only drink coffee. The gesture has become the gift and it is difficult to part with a kind gesture. It is a complicated subject with all sorts of emotional ties but it fills shelves, storage rooms, cupboards and closets. It is something that we as givers should be mindful of.

I have actually made it my mission in 2015 to give gifts which are personal yet consumable. Since we are nearly halfway through the year I’ve had an opportunity to try a few different things.

Food and Drink

You can’t go wrong with an essential like that. Everyone eats and drinks. This year I have cooked meals with my guest’s favorite food items on the menu or taken a friend to lunch. I’ve put together trays of baked goodies and fruit. I’ve given wine and drink gifts, a restaurant gift card for a favorite food joint and more than a few coffee cards. Don’t forget the true power of a nice gift of chocolate or a fancy cupcake. Everyone loves a treat! I think the two most appreciated food gifts that I’ve given were a grocery gift card to my recently moved out son, and a supper drop-off to friends who are always on the go.

An Experience

Such a fun option! Concert tickets, movies tickets, live theatre, comedy clubs. Swimming passes, a round of golf, a tour, a sports game – wow! The possibilities are endless and the gift can be customized to your loved one’s tastes. This is a favorite of our children. We have done everything from the zoo to a rock concert. An experience always pleases.

BTW…I love massage or spa gift certificates – just saying…

Flowers

This is such a flexible gift because not only do you have such a variety of blooms to choose from, there is a wide price range to work with. You can pick up a bundle at your grocery store for under $20, even under $10 or you can go to a florist and spend whatever you are comfortable with. When the season is right you can give outdoor potted plants or even go hunting for wildflowers and give a hand-picked bundle.

Gift Cards

I hear the argument that gift cards are impersonal. I disagree. I can thoughtlessly grab a random coffee mug just as easily as a random gift card. Gift cards are an opportunity to gift someone with a choice. Nearly all retail outlets, coffee shops, restaurants and even gas stations have gift cards. You know your friend and loved one. You know where they love to shop and eat. But it’s not necessary to make the exact purchase for them. How wonderful it is to go to your favorite place and purchase something you love and will value without worrying about the cost. As a giver you can spend whatever you wish and it can either subsidize your loved one’s purchase or cover the entire amount.

Charity

I love this one. I love to give it and receive it. Many people have a charity that is close to their hearts and a charitable gift in their name is lovely. I have recently purchased Gifts of Hope from Plan Canada . They support many international charities and you can simply buy a gift card. Your recipient can go online and choose whether they would like to support equipment purchase for an undersupplied medical clinic, purchase a goat for an impoverished village or many of the other opportunities of generosity.

Time

This is another gift I love. It could come in the form of help with yard work or painting or whatever project is on the agenda. It could be providing childcare so your loved one could enjoy some free time. It could be bringing coffee and cake for a leisurely visit or just going for a long walk in a beautiful location. There are endless ways we can give our time and it will be most appreciated.

A warm hug also goes a very long way.

Consumable gifts sidestep the ‘what to give the person who has everything’. Man, if they have everything they really don’t need you to add to the pile. I’m not totally against giving ‘stuff’ but as the giver you have a responsibility to give something that adds value to the recipient’s life. It should be respectful of their time and their space. Sometimes we are sure we understand our loved one’s taste…but we are often wrong. And even when we aren’t, did we consider the space they have to store it or if perhaps they had something else in mind?

Something to consider.

Hugs

My 101 Item ‘Big’ Purge

It all started with my pantry.

I had tons of stuff I didn’t use any more. Jello molds, chocolate molds, duplicates and triplicates of cookie cutters. I had several items in my pantry that have been taking up space in my life since before I even lived in this house.

So the purge started.

As my pile began to grow I realized that I already had 19 things ready to leave my home and I hadn’t even tried. Why not make it 50? Even better – 100! Meh, who likes round numbers anyway? Let’s make it – 101!

In a 3 hr period I’d gathered 101 items to purge from my life forever. Imagine the extra space I have in my closets and storage rooms. Under beds! In our drawers!

Ready to see the mountain?

……

purge pic

(insert cricket chirp…)

Feeling a little underwhelmed? – yeah, I know.

101 items sounds like a lot. I mean its 101 items! But in a time where it isn’t unusual to have duplicates and triplicates of things, I think most of us could part with 101 items and not really notice a difference.

I can honestly say I did not delve into dusty crevices or murky corners in search of unused and forgotten loot. I pretty much walked around with a laundry basket and chucked crap into it.

To be fair, I counted things individually. So I didn’t count all cookie cutters as one, they counted as 11. I parted with about 20 magazines, a lot of little home décor items that were no longer enjoyed, a pile of clothes and some empty storage bins.

Some might argue that if removing 101 items from my house wasn’t noticeable why bother? Its kinda true. The bin that I emptied the cookie cutters and jello molds from is still sitting in my pantry. I did not gain square footage. But I gotta say – it feels good to have less. Those 101 items carried a weight. They had the clinginess of consumerism in a time where I’d like to have less ‘things’ in my life and more time, activities and adventures.

Remember – the less ‘stuff’ you have, the easier it is to keep your space neat and your time free.

So why not do the 101 item challenge? As you can see, it will not take much effort and can be done without making life-altering changes. You do not have to become a minimalist. You barely have move from a maximist. Just start to move things. Start to pay attention to what is being used – what isn’t. And start to make decisions on whether some items really bring any value to your household.

Have fun!

 

Stick to the Holiday Budget

It’s the most wonderful time of the year…

Love that song. My kids probably want to scratch out their eardrums by now because I’m already playing the Christmas tunes. What can I say? There is snow on the ground and it makes me feel festive.

But let’s face it,

it’s also the most expensive time of the year. Our vehicles are burning more fuel as they warm up in our driveways. Our furnace is running nonstop. The short days mean our lights are on longer and of course we have that big day in December to save our pennies for.

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I’m not a believer in entering the New Year broke for the sake of an extravagant Christmas but sometimes we aren’t even trying for that extravagant Christmas.

It just sorta happens.

When my kids were younger I was the year-round shopper. If I spotted a deal I grabbed it, tucked that little treasure away and kept it for the big day. It definitely helped to spread out my shopping but I didn’t realize how much I was spending. A little bit here. A little bit there. A few months to forget what you even purchased. Next thing you know you are way over budget and you’ve bought double the gifts.

Your New Year has 2 glaring problems:

You broke the bank

You have way too much ‘stuff’

Let’s look at the budget.

I have a list…yes a list…another list… This one is fancy, practical and over the top nerdy if you ask my friends.

I make a Christmas Spreadsheet on excel.

Don’t roll your eyes. It’s a lifesaver!

I can add to it throughout the year if I want, or jot down ideas so I don’t forget them once my official Christmas shopping has begun. Each person is listed so I don’t miss anyone.

Here is where it gets Nerdy. First of all I highlight each item as it has been purchased so I know that its been covered. I also set up formulas so that my columns automatically add up what I am spending individually on each person, as well as total for all spending.

Sounds complicated, but it really isn’t.

Man, is this system a wakeup call! I might have scored some great deals but each thing adds up quick and I’m often astounded by my totals. This method keeps me in check. I know what I can afford and the numbers don’t lie.

On to the next problem – the ‘stuff’.

We know that a load of new items is entering the household. So when better to do a big purge? Save some time between the holiday shopping and baking to go through your closets. Sort out the toys. Evaluate your movie collection and sift through that craft pile. Box up the extra and haul it away!

This is also a great time to work with the kids. They may be more receptive to part with some of their old toys knowing there are new surprises heading their way. You will find that even our children have more generosity in their hearts at this time of year and the concept of donating their gently used toys so that other children can enjoy them may be appealing.

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You are ultimately in charge of how much ‘stuff’ is entering your home. Everyone has their own ways to celebrate and whether you do so with gifts of use, of desire or of time is really up to you. But take a moment to look at what is manageable for you in your household and then decide how much physical space you have available for new items.

Enjoy your Christmas prep – 26 sleeps!

Just a little note…

There are plenty of organizations collecting blankets and warm clothing at this time of year. Have a look through your closets and see if you have items to contribute.

Tomorrow’s Tedious Tasks

 

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With day light savings coming November 2nd (at 2AM for those of you who, like me, need the reminder) it’s a good time to discuss the other things that hit our calendars either annually or bi-annually.

I have a list (yes…another one…yes I’m neurotic..) with all of those items that need to hit our calendars but may not come as frequently. I’m not talking about getting your teeth cleaned or your snowboard waxed – which we also have to keep up with – but those household maintenance chores that sneak up on us each year.

Think of it as a monthly maintenance guide. It seems silly to have another list going but with all the business of life it’s hard to remember to get some of these things on the TO DO list let alone to get them done!

The duties I’m referring to are things like furnace cleaning, putting up the Christmas lights, fertilizing the lawn, cleaning the windows. Those tiresome tasks that sneak up on us every year. A better way to do it is just build a year Calendar with those items that need to be done and spread them out so you are only doing 1-2 things a month.

Here is my 2014 Tedious Task list:

January

Take down Christmas lights

February

Clean under fridge/stove

Clean oven

March

Change smoke detector batteries

April

Remove winter tires

Clean light fixtures

May

Clean gutters

Fertilize lawn

June

Clean windows

July

Deck and/or Fence maintenance

August

Clean carpets

Clean light fixtures

September

Fertilize lawn

Have furnace cleaned

October

Clean gutters

Put up Christmas lights

November

Smoke detector batteries

Winter tires on

December

Make 2015 task list

Some items are scheduled based on appropriate time of year. Others just need to be maintained so I fit them in somewhere. You shouldn’t have to do more than a couple of these things a month.

What are your tedious annual tasks? When do they need to be done? Do you have water filters that need to be changed? Do you reseal your granite counter tops yearly? Do you need to dump out your central vac canister or prune your shrubs? Take the memory work out of these chores and get them on the calendar at the start of the year.

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A couple things to note…

We change our furnace filter monthly (excluding summer months) so it is not on my list, but maybe it needs to be in yours. We also only get our furnace cleaned every 2-3 years so it will be good for a while. If you have a Carbon Monoxide detector they only have about a 2 year life span so it’s something to make sure hits your list when necessary (I was good for 2014).

Hope this helps!

Meal Planning 101

Once upon a time there was this beautiful princess…ur…lovely young…uhh…mildly exhausted…

Ok…Once upon a time there was a seriously burnt out housewife.

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She spent her day raising her beautiful yet messy boys, washing laundry, cleaning spills and trying to keep her sanity all at the same time. And although she was wickedly brilliant (was) and in her pre-children life, tidy and organized (with way perkier boobs), she was too exhausted by suppertime to make the simple decision of what to cook.

Sound familiar?

Ok confession time. This was me…I know…you must be shocked.

I hate deciding what to cook. Seriously. HATE. IT. After a long day at work I have no decision-making capacity left. I’m curious how many of us are driving home with only one thought in our tired little heads;

Meal planning was not a quick fix for me. I went on and off of them a few times before the system stuck. But I can honestly say I would be lost without the meal plans now.

Meal planning did four things for me.

1. It brought my shopping bills down.

2. We have much less wasted food.

3. I am not plagued with the mealtime decisions at my most tired time of day.

4. We were not opting to Eat Out as frequently.

The first thing I do is pull out the family calendar. I plan for two weeks at a time. I look at all our weekly activities and choose meals that will work with our schedule. Wednesdays are our busiest days so I usually opt for a crockpot supper that evening. I also look at what will be leftover from one day to another. If it’s a beef roast on Monday, then we will probably have beef barley soup on Tuesday. Another factor is what items expire quickly in the fridge. I find that things like spinach won’t last for two weeks so I will schedule anything containing food with a shorter lifespan earlier in the plan.

The next thing I do is pull out the shopping list. I make my shopping list at the same time I make the meal plan. Then I know I have all the ingredients to make everything on the schedule. This was one of my biggest hang-ups before adopting a meal planning. I wouldn’t have all the supplies required to make slam together a supper option and this often lead to us ordering in. A costly compromise.

My boys are responsible for cooking on Mondays, so it’s up to them to make sure they know all the ingredients they need and that those items hit the grocery list. Their responsibility to cook a meal each week has brought more diversity to our meal plan (after I ruled out choosing pizza or subs every time). They are interested in trying things they find online or see on TV. I love it!

The nice part about the plan is no matter what, you have your supplies. Maybe on Tuesday I don’t feel like cooking a lasagne or something came up and I need a quicker meal, I can simply swap it for another day. I can also have some of the prep done the night before if I feel so inclined.

I’ve seen some fantastic meal play display boards and meal planning guides– mostly on Pinterest. Some are quite elaborate. Some a little too complicated to be considered a time saver. There is a great printable chart at StrawberryMommyCakes. Personally, I just jot it down on my calendar with the rest of our life events.

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One thing I find helpful is a list of meal ideas (I know…another list). Most of us are rotating about 15-20 meal ideas. It’s a good way to keep track of what you like as well as the items that weren’t hits in your household. If there are meals that are the go to for last minute meals then make sure those ingredients are staples in your pantry. Ours would be soup and grilled cheese.

I’ve been utilizing the meal plan for about 5 years now. It has evolved along with the rest of the changes that our family has seen. I’m grateful that we can be a little more adventurous in our meal ideas now that my boys are older. The biggest bonus is that I enjoy cooking more now that I haven’t completely stressed about what I was going to make.

Try it!

A client showed me a brilliant e-book recently by Mystie Winckler called Simplified Dinners that not only supplied recipes but gave several adaptations of each based on time, tastes and available ingredients. Worth checking out!

Holy Shh…ed, what a Mess!

Summer vacations are done, the kids are back to school and we’ve got a few good weeks left before we can expect a lasting snowfall.

Life is good!

So, what’s next?

I really like to tackle the shed and yard while there is still a little heat in the day and it’s not dark by 4:30 pm.

Oh ya…and the ground isn’t covered with snow.

Like with all reorganization projects, I re-evaluate each item I come in contact with.

1. Do I like it? (seriously…do I?)

2. Will I use it? (Truthfully…Will I? Will I ever?…)

3. Do I need it? (…hmmm)

Having a garage or shed for storage of our seasonal items is such a luxury. We do not want to use up the valuable real-estate with items that we don’t need.

I’ve dumped out my shed, now what?

I make three piles:

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My first sweep it’s to get rid of anything that is obviously garbage. Be realistic about broken items that you are holding on to. Are they repairable? Would you actually have them repaired? Is that broken chair from this season or has it been broken for five years? If you want to fix these items DO NOT put them back in the shed. Set them aside so that they can be repaired and then do it.

My second sweep is to look for duplicates. Or triplicates. We use two hoses. We also use two watering cans. But for the most part I do not need to keep more than one of most items. Maybe it would be handy to have two garden spades – but do I need four? Look at all of your tools and make sure they are needed, used and in good repair.

 Messy-Shed-310x464[1][9]                  Purge the rest!

Now to look at the seasonal items I’ve have taken out of the shed. Are there plant pots, garden décor, patio furniture? I have to ask myself, if I truly love/need these things why aren’t they already out of the shed for us to enjoy? Why have I not filled these pots with flowers or sat in these wicker chairs?

Re-evaluate.

It is ok to love something for a few years then trade it for something else. Our tastes change. Our hobbies change. Our lifestyles change. Only keep what you love today.

Now what’s left?

My shed has a lot of kids stuff. Sports equipment, lawn toys and probably a bike or two. It’s time to look at these items with the same scrutiny as with your décor. Are the toys in good repair? Are they still played with? Does the sports equipment fit anyone in the household? Most kids are continually accumulating more outdoor toys. They also have growing bodies and evolving minds. The shed is not an archive to map their childhood. It is a storage place. That is all.

Start purging.

So now we have three neat piles and a big empty shed. After I sweep it (and knock down the spider webs and scout for creepy crawlies…) I look at the Keep pile and see what kind of storage tools are need to keep this space in order. Do I need shelving? Would some things be more accessible on hooks? The ultimate goal is not only that the shed is in good order but that the items inside are easy to access and visible so I can actually find them when you need them. Now is the time to invest in these storage options.

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Keep in mind the frequency that each item in the shed is used. If you are putting away all of your summer stuffs for the season, perhaps the tools you will need over the fall and winter should be most accessible. You know your needs so set up this space to work for you. You do not want to be empting the shed in search of Christmas lights when there is a foot of snow on the ground.

That leaves only the items not returning to your shed.

Garbage                                  Repair                                       Purge

We’ve come so far. Let’s get it to the finish line.

Haul away the garbage. Simple.

Get those repair items where they need to go for repair. In a month if that item is still sitting around waiting for the repair fairy to show up…maybe it needs to hit the trash.

And the purge…

Purge it! Don’t wait! Purge it now. Donate, or sell, or pass it on to a friend. Get it GONE before it creeps back into a space that could house something you actually want. Purge items are sneaky like that.

You know it’s true.

Well there is just one more step…since the shed is in order…and the snow has yet to appear…and there is still a little sun left in the day…

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Cheers!