Introducing My New Writer, Amy!

October 26, 2012 by  
Filed under Amy, Blog, Guest Post

Meet Amy- My New Writer!

I’m so excited to have another writer for my blog. Amy is a neighbor and good friend and I know she will have some awesome things to share with all of you! She’ll be bringing some new and exciting content to my blog!



Hi all!  My name is Amy Trauntvein and I am excited to share a bit of myself with you.

Meet Amy

Some things about myself.  I enjoy gardening and puttering around my yard. Nothing tastes better than a homegrown tomato!  I like to exercise, mostly walking (outside and on my treadmill) and Pilates but my favorite is Yoga.  I’ve been active with yoga for 7 years and really should get certified one day, hopefully.  I love to read and finding books at yard sales and goodwill is my favorite.  You can’t beat  fifty cents for a book!  I’ve got a “to read” stack in my bedroom which keeps growing.  I’m buying them faster than I can read them.  I have a weakness for books.  I have fun baking and sharing the treats with others, can’t keep it all in the house or I will devour them myself!  Not friendly for the figure.  I am very active in my church and am currently serving the children in our congregation aged 18 months-12 years old.  I sure love those kids!  I love volunteering at my kids’ schools doing whatever I can to help the teachers and staff.  I love being in the classroom and getting to know all the kids.  But my highest passion is couponing and bargain shopping.  When I was a newlywed, we were poor, below poverty level poor so I had to learn how to make a buck stretch and stretch.  I’ve been saving on my shopping for over 20 years now so it is just a way of life for me. I am not an extreme couponer like you see on TV, but it IS fun to save a few bucks!  I just might take you on a few shopping trips with me in the future. Meet AmyI have been married for 22 years to my awesome hubby, Todd and we have 4 equally awesome kids who keep my young!  Our favorite thing to do together is travel.  Here we are at Mount Rushmore, South Dakota last summer.  We’ve taken the kids to 44 of the 50 states, including Hawaii, and last year we spent a week traveling around England for my oldest son’s high school graduation. We are always up for a new and adventure!  Every summer we drive 3600 miles roundtrip, to spend part of our summer with most of our extended family who lives out west.  Well, that’s me in a nutshell!  ~Amy

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Mesothelioma – A Guest Blog

July 13, 2012 by  
Filed under Blog, Guest Post, Health & Safety

Heather Von St James is sharing her journey with cancer today. She found out she had Mesothelioma soon after giving birth to her daughter.  For those who know me, you know I have a great fear of cancer, after my Mom died from melanoma (skin cancer). So when Heather wrote and asked if she could share with my readers, her story… I was more than happy to have her share her story.

Mesothelioma – The Importance of Support During Cancer

by Heather Von St James


August 4, 2005 was one of the happiest days of my life. That was the date that my husband and I welcomed our little bundle of joy, Lily, into the world. My pregnancy was smooth, and I was amazed by how much love I felt for my little girl as soon as she was born. My husband and I were not the only ones who immediately fell in love with Lily. Our family members and friends rejoiced with us, and they were there to support us through the exhaustion of caring for a newborn.

I never would have guessed how much I would need to rely on the kindness of others later in that year. I returned to work when Lily was about a month old and I began to realize that I was not feeling right. I could not shake the feeling of extreme fatigue and exhaustion, and I became short of breath while performing normal tasks. When the sickness did not go away, I decided to visit my doctor. He ordered numerous tests to try to determine what was wrong.

On November 21, 2005, my world was turned upside down. On that day, my doctor informed me that I had malignant pleural mesothelioma. I did not really know anything about this disease, but it is a form of cancer normally caused by asbestos exposure. I found out that I had come into contact with asbestos when I was young, and this exposure had now come back to drastically affect my life.

When I heard the word “cancer,” all I could think about was my baby girl. She was only three and a half months old, and the doctor told me I had a life expectancy of only 15 more months without treatment. I gritted my teeth and determined to fight this cancer with everything that I had.

My husband and I decided that I should seek treatment with a mesothelioma specialist in Boston. During this time, my parents took Lily to live with them in South Dakota. Being across the country from my growing daughter is one of the hardest things that I have ever had to endure. I was forced to watch her grow through pictures instead of experiencing her milestones for myself.

On February 2, 2006, my doctor performed anextrapleural pneumonectomy. The surgery removed my entire left lung and all of the surrounding tissue, and the recovery was painful. After over two months of recovery, I also underwent radiation treatments and chemotherapy.

There were times when I was not sure if I would make it, but I am proud to say that I am now free from cancer. I cannot take all the credit for this victory because I had help from countless people along the way.

During my cancer journey, I found out that I had a wonderful support system in my life. It is comforting to know that there are people who will do anything to help you when you cannot help yourself. Now that I am on the other side of cancer, I am determined to do what I can to provide support to other mesothelioma sufferers.

Heather Von St James is a 43-year-old wife and mother. Upon her diagnosis of mesothelioma, she vowed to be a source of hope for other patients who found themselves with the same diagnosis. Now, over 6 years later, her story has been helping people all over the globe. She continues her advocacy and awareness work by blogging, speaking and sharing her message of hope and healing with others. Check out more of her story at the Mesothelioma Cancer Alliance Blog


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Summertime with Kids

June 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Activites for Kids, Blog, Family & Friends, Guest Post

Summertime….and the living is easy?

by Evelyn Cucchiara



Ah….summertime. That season of the year when everything slows down and you get a chance to relax. At least in theory. Reality might be a bit different, especially if you have kids. If you’re not careful, you may just replace your hectic running around school time schedule with a hectic running around summer time schedule.  Except it will now be accompanied by a side dish of guilt because you know that summertime is supposed to be when you slow down and relax. A vicious circle. Time to jump off that merry-go-round.

Summer can be all you remember it being when you were a child. Long lazy days and what seemed like unlimited time. You just have to do a bit of organizing before the season starts. Some ideas to get you started:

  • Don’t sign up for more than 2 scheduled activities. What sounds like a great idea now won’t be so great in a few weeks when all you and your kids want to do is relax.
  • Sit down with your family ahead of time and find out what activities/day trips/events they want to do this summer. Keep a list. Tops on our list is going to an amusement park, having giant ice cream sundaes for lunch one day, scheduling a trip to a different library once a week followed by reading time, watching movies (complete with popcorn and snack bar) on rainy days…….. you get the idea. Find out what is important to your family – don’t worry about what the neighbors are doing.
  • Once a week, enlist one of your kids to help cook dinner. They’ll learn important life skills, you’ll spend quality time together, and hopefully when they get older they will take over some meal prep!
  • Try this idea year round, not just in summer – so that I don’t end up being the maid all summer, we schedule two family clean-ups a week just to keep the house in shape. What’s a family clean up? We ring a bell, all family members gather, each member picks a chore to do (in our house you get a choice of dusting, de-cluttering, vacuuming or a quick cleanup of the bathroom.) First come, first choice. This keeps the house in decent shape.
  • To keep the kids busy and give them a sense of contributing – son #1 is in charge of sweeping off the front walk daily, son #2  handles blowing off the driveway and deck weekly. (Son #3 is 18 and has an actual paying job out of the house.)
  • Two birds with one stone idea – the kids clean out their bedroom and playroom and gather any toys they haven’t played with in a year. They can play with them for a few more days, then we list them on Craig’s List or eBay and they get to keep the money.

Those are a few ideas to get you started. Just remember, summer is about slowing down and recharging for the next year.  If you don’t have time to read a few pages of a book just for pure pleasure this summer, something is wrong. Plan a lose schedule of events and activities, and you should end up in August reflecting on what a great summer you had, not wishing you had done more.

An important part – don’t forget to schedule some time with your friends – no kids allowed! A girl’s night out at the movies, some couples meeting for drinks at an outdoor watering hole, whatever sounds good to you! Just be sure to organize it before the summer slips away……………………………..

Happy summer!…………………………Evelyn



Short bio:

Hello everyone! I’m Evelyn Cucchiara and I’m a mom, business owner, author & blogger from New Jersey. My organizing experience comes from the trenches, so it works! Here’s my life in a nutshell: I’m a mom of three boys, I own and operate a children’s art studio, I write 2 blogs, I wrote an eBook on organizing entitled “30 Days to an Organized Home”, I tweet daily organizing tips and, along with my husband, I own a house flipping business. Want more info? Visit one or more of my websites: for daily organizing ideas for ways to bring happiness into your life
My art studio web address?
And last but not least – my eBook website

And if you’d like to follow me on Twitter: @organizingwithe


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Organizing Girls Headbands

Organizing Headbands


Hello, I’m Becky from Organizing Made Fun!  Sandy has a lot going on this month and so I’m helping her out!  She and I both LOVE organizing.  One question I get a lot is how to organize headbands!  They are quite tricky!

becky from organizing made fun

I found an easy way to organize headbands. So, my sweet daughter and I decided to give it a try.

This project was fun AND easy!

She did most of the work.
We took an empty oatmeal container, 2 pieces of pretty 12 x 12 scrapbook paper, and some mod podge! That’s it!
She took some painter’s tape to hold it, then…
I helped a little by cutting the excess for her.
She squeezed out her Mod Podge…
Rubbed it all over the paper…
Here is her finished project
(she added some stickers to the top of the canister)
Her messy drawer full of hair stuff went from this…
Seriously, she fit all her hair
goodies in and around that thing!
Lots of goodies!

You should try this!  If you have lots of little girls, this is the way to give them each their own way to organize their hair stuff (or for yourself).  It’s cheap and easy!!

Thank you Becky!!  Everyone be sure to go visit her blog! I love it, she has some great ideas and does a wonderful job!







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Packing Tips

Tips and Tricks to Packing the Perfect Carry-On

by Sunny Brady

carry on

I consider myself very lucky; I not only enjoy my job, but I also have the
opportunity to travel all across the United States. As an account manager for a
storage company, I am required to visit our facilities. About a year ago, I realized
just how much of my “free” time was being spent waiting at the airport’s baggage
claim. It was then I became a dedicated carry-on traveler. Since then I have not only
saved a bundle of airline baggage checking fees, but I have learned many tricks on
how to pack a carry on. There is an organizational science to packing a carry on and
by following these tips you can avoid baggage fees and minimize travel time.


  1. Do Your Research: In the past few years, airport security has beefed up significantly. So before
    you start to pack, do some research on the airports you will be passing through,
    double check the regulation carry on bag size, the laptop policy and the rules for
    carrying on liquids. There is nothing more frustrating than having all your toiletries
    confiscated at the beginning of your trip. So it is well worth it to do a little research.
  2. Make Use of Available Resources: When it comes to picking your carry-on luggage, be sure to maximize your
    options. Most airlines allow you one carry on and one personal bag or purse, which
    essentially means two carry-on bags. I often bring a small rolling suitcase, to stow,
    packed with my clothes and toiletries and a briefcase with my laptop, reading
    material for the plane and work papers, that I keep under the seat. For the carry-on
    bag that you plan to stow, make sure the bag fits airport regulation size. Most
    luggage is now sold based on airport regulations, but don’t be afraid to ask at the
    store to be certain. Depending on your preference, hard cased rolling bags or soft
    duffel bags make great carry-ons.
  3. Be Budget Conscious: Since you will be carrying everything on, you will need to pack toiletries in
    your bags. Now that airport security regulations dictate the volume of liquid you can
    bring on the plane, you will need to purchase security certified sized bottles of
    shampoo, conditioner, or face wash. Instead of buying brand name, airport sized
    shampoo bottles, try buying a bunch of plain three ounce bottles. That was you can
    fill them up with whatever toiletries you already own and can reuse them for
    multiple trips.

carry on

Let the Packing Begin

Before you put anything in your bag, lay out everything you plan to pack. Try
to wear your bulkiest clothes and shoes on the plane so you can avoid packing them
and wasting precious space. Since you need to fit everything in one carry-on bag,
there are two strategic packing strategies to choose from. Folding clothes is one of
the least efficient ways of packing your carry-on:

  1. Many of my friends swear by
    the “rolling” method that they claim allows you fit the most items in your bag and
    also keeps clothes wrinkle free. This method is pretty self explanatory, but consists
    of rolling your clothes up in to tightly compacted tubes. Then you pack them into
    the suitcase.
  2. The other option is lying clothes completely flat on top of each other.
    This option eliminates the extra bulk of folds and allows you to fit quite a bit of
    clothing into your carry-on.

Once you have packed your clothes, put your toiletries in a quartz sized, clear
plastic bag on top. That way when you go through airport security, if they request
you remove your liquids and put them in a bin they are easily accessible. Remember
you can’t bring full water bottles through security. Instead back an empty water
bottle that you can fill up on the other side of security or once you are on the plane.
Also keep a jacket handy, there are usually drastic temperature changes on the
plane and it can also serve as a makeshift pillow.

Once you are all packed, you can print out your boarding pass, skip the hassle
of checking a bag and breeze through airport security. Carrying on saves a bundle of
time and money, once you make the switch you will never go back!

Sunny Brady is an account manager for Storage Arizona. 


photos provided by Sandy

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Donate To Protect The Planet

February 25, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Donating & Causes, Guest Post

Great Way To Off-Load Junk without Trashing The Planet

by: Janice Hill

Clearing out the clutter in your home and in your life can have a major impact on how much you enjoy the life you lead. If you and your family feel like your clutter is taking over your lives, it’s time to fight back.

janice hill

Armed with a broom, a few handy-dandy trash bags, and an iron will there is nothing you can’t accomplish – at least not when it comes to the task of off-loading your junk without trashing the planet, that is.
You have to Crawl Before You Walk
Getting started is the hardest part by far. Depending on how long the problem has been building in your life, the task at hand can feel completely overwhelming. Now it’s time to take a few baby steps so that you can divide and conquer your clutter problems.
Don’t tackle the top of the mountain just yet. Instead, start at the bottom, one item at a time. Clear off enough space to create 3 piles: keep, toss, donate. There are plenty of great charities like Habitat for Humanity Stores, Goodwill, and Kars4kids that are all too happy to take your donations. Even animal shelters will be glad to receive things like old towels and blankets to line their cages.
You may need to get a few boxes to label so that you know what’s what. The things that are going to be tossed are generally in no shape to salvage at all. Recycle what can be recycled and carry the rest straight to your garbage container so that they do not find their way back into the clutter pile somehow.
Divide the room into grids and take one grid at a time, with frequent breaks in between, so that you aren’t completely overwhelmed and give up in frustration.
Take Time to Enjoy the New View
Once you finish cleaning one room – that is you have everything out that is going and everything put completely away that is staying – take a moment and enjoy the new view of your room before moving on to the next room. This little moment will help you sustain your momentum long enough to get the job done. It will also allow you a moment to appreciate the fruits of your labor.
When you do move on to the next room, remember all the things that got you through the first room. This new room represents a new beginning and a new opportunity to use what you’ve learned. Break it down into bite-sized pieces so you can enjoy small boosts throughout the cleaning process as you accomplish each and every one of your smaller goals. You’ll be surprised by how much faster the job seems to go when you do something like that.
In the end, it isn’t the major changes that you’ve made to the cleanliness of your home that matters most. It’s the small changes in how you approach cleaning and getting rid of the clutter that matters. These are small steps that are sure to get you going in the right direction.

Janice Hill describes herself as a dedicated Mom who is determined to find her way without losing her hair.

Feel free to link up or just visit my Organizing Mission Monday Link Party!

Organizing Mission Monday

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Organizing The McGhee Sextuplets

Organizing The McGhee Sextuplets

by Melanie Dennis

Ohio Professional Organizers Organize the McGhee Sextuplets Storage Space for GO Month!

Melanie Dennis,  from the Columbus branch of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) got to experience some fun when she and five other organizers  helped the McGhee family organize a room over their garage.  She offered to write a post for my blog telling of their experience.  See how these six organizers made life just a little bit easier for this instant family of eight!

The McGhee family is scheduled to be on Oprah Show today February 21 in a show called Miracle Births, Miracle Babies so be sure to watch it! You can also visit the McGhee family on the McGhee Sextuplets Facebook Page.


mcghee sextuplets

GO Month – The McGhee Sextuplets

by Melanie Dennis, CPO®
Every January, members of the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) raise awareness in a celebration of Get Organized (GO) Month. In the past, the NAPO-Ohio chapter members have gotten together to done Messy Space contests, an organizing lecture series, and decluttered non-profit businesses like the Waste Not Center and Susan G. Komen- Race for the Cure offices. This year a request came from the McGhee family in Gahanna, Ohio who needed help in a new home. Mia and Rozonno McGhee became instant Columbus celebrities after the birth of their sextuplets in June of 2010. Friends, strangers, church members, and family have blessed the family, helping them with the never ending daily needs of six babies.

They estimate they are using around 40 diapers per day at this point. This means they need lots of supplies on hand. The initial assessment of the family’s organizing needs and budget for the project was done by Ellen Limes .

Five other organizers, Susan Sugar, Terry Cowans, Mary Donovan, Debbie McRae, and I, volunteered to help on a very chilly January day to build shelves and sort baby clothes and supplies in an over the garage storage area.

“Before” Photos of the Space above the Garage

mcghee sextuplets before space

There were diapers, diapers, diapers everywhere

mcghee sextuplets before space

People had donated clothes for the sextuplets that had not yet been organized

mcghee sextuplets before spaceAfter sextuplets and moving to a new house, the McGhee’s just didn’t have the time to organize this space above the garage.
mcghee sextuplets space before

The “After” Pictures

mcghee sextuplets space after

The clothes were sorted by age and sex. Everything was labeled for easy identification later.

mcghee sextuplets space after

Just by adding these shelves and getting things off the floor, the transformation was amazing!

mcghee extuplets space after

Mia McGhee is one happy camper!!!

Mia mcghee mom of sextuplets

When we finished, the family invited us in to see the little ones and take some photos. Reluctant to enter with dusty shoes and boots, Mr. McGhee reminded us that he owns a carpet cleaning business so it wasn’t a problem. We posed around their custom built high chair for six. It is always a lot of fun to work on GO month projects with my colleagues, and even more so when the recipients are so darn cute!

mcghee sextuplets

melanie Dennis

Melanie Dennis, CPO®
Certified Professional Organizer
Neat Streak Professional Organizing
Blog: Room-inations

I’m linking this post to:

Keeping It Simple – Motivate Me Monday

Making The World Cuter Monday

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Paper DeCluttering

January 4, 2011 by  
Filed under Blog, Guest Post, Offices, Paper

Guest Post

by Stephanie Calahan

Stephanie’s Comment On My Blog Became a Guest Post

The following post was actually a comment on my “What would Sandy Suggest” blog post.  I felt there was so much great content in here that I decided to take her comment and make it a guest post!

Paper is one of the biggest problems for people and I know I have people ask me about it all the time, just like Stephanie.  Here are her tips on paper decluttering.


Paper Decluttering – by Stephanie Calahan

I have found that paper paralyzes many of my clients. We hold on to a lot of the stuff! Here is one way of thinking when you are in declutter mode:

Think DART — Throw your DART and You’ll Hit Your Mark Every Time!

The D in DART is for Decision. You have to make a decision about the items in the piles that you have.

The A in DART is for Action. There are different types of action, but no system works unless you ACT!

The R in DART is for Reference. We all have items that we keep for reference. There are specific tools that you use to keep those items where you can remember them.

The T in DART is for Toss. Now, toss does not necessarily mean throw away. I can mean recycle, shred, sell, does not belong in this room, etc…

8 Questions to Use as You are Making Your Decisions

Here are some questions you can ask yourself to make the decision process process easier:

Does it require any action by me/us?
If an item requires action (a phone call to make, a report to write, a bill to pay, an outfit that requires altering) then it is an “ACT.” Keep everything that requires action in one location, so that when you have time, you will be able to go through and check the items off of the list! This is the A in DART — for action.

Are there tax or legal implications?
Have you talked to your council about the information you keep and how long you keep it? If not, you might want to consider doing so. Each industry has different documents that should be retained as does residential paperwork. If you answer “yes” put in your Reference system; if not Toss.

Is it recent enough to be useful?
Is the address book that has not been updated in 3 years really current? Just like food has an expiration date so do the things in your life. If you are keeping things that are no longer current, you are not allowing yourself the space for new and better things to start. If you answer “yes” put in your Reference system; if not Toss.

Is it difficult to obtain again?
Birth certificates, legal documentation, marriage licenses, company incorporation papers, the list goes on and on. If there are items that are difficult to find or obtain again, you may want to consider keeping the item in a container designated for that type of item. If you answer “yes” put in your Reference system; if not Toss.

Is it beautiful, useful or loved?
Are you keeping something that you think is hideous because it was a gift to you from someone special? Don’t. Only surround yourself with things that bring you joy. Most likely, the person that gave you the gift would not want you to keep it if they knew you did not like it. If you answer “yes” put in your Reference system; if not Toss.

Can I identify specific use?
Do you keep things because you might “need them someday?” That is fine if you #1, have the space to keep the items and #2 know what you are going to do with the item. If you are keeping something for the express purpose of keeping it, consider that item a little harder. If you answer “yes” put in your Reference system; if not Toss.

Does it reflect the person I was or the person I am now?
Are you keeping things that were important to you in the past, but really do not have the same meaning anymore? Does your space reflect who you are or who you were? Get rid of things that no longer hold meaning for you. If you answer “am” put in your Reference system; if “was” then Toss.

What is the worst possible thing that could happen if I get rid of this?
This one is one of my favorite questions! If you can ask yourself this question and find that you can live with the answer, then it can make it easier to let go.

I look forward to the next edition of What Would Sandy Suggest.
To your success!


Stephanie runs Productive and Organized Home

Stephanie LH Calahan

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Paper Clutter

September 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Guest Post, Offices, Paper

Paper Clutter

by Linda Samuels

What does Paper Clutter & Toilet Paper have to do with each other?

toilet paper

Paper Clutter by Linda Samuels CPO-CD

Linda SamuelsSomeone once stated that we’d have a paperless society when we have a paperless toilet. Almost a decade ago, the paperless toilet arrived, yet unlike the prediction, we still are far from living in a paperless society. In fact, we seem to have more paper than ever. If you are struggling with your piles, you are not alone. While people face a variety of organizational challenges in the digital age, the most common one is pervasive paper clutter.

Let’s be honest about our papers. If your piles are too high and your filing cabinets so full that you can’t easily find the documents you need, you might consider making some changes.
Many people despise looking at their piles, let alone touching them. By postponing the work, are you making the task more difficult? Here is one simple tip for sorting through your papers that might work for you:
* Set a timer for 15 minutes
* Crank up the music
* Put the recycling & garbage bins next to you
* Play the “Sort and Release” game
* When the timer rings, stop working
Instead of having a marathon session and facing potential burnout, try to work in regular, short, focused intervals to tame your paper clutter.
If the growing piles of paper are causing you more distress than the effort involved in organizing, and you are finding it impossible to sort papers on your own, you are one among many. I encourage you to enlist help from a friend, family member, or professional.

The other side of organizedLinda is the author of The Other Side of Organized, and has been featured in The New York Times, Woman’s Day, Ladies Home Journal and Bottom Line Personal. Linda can help your readers find the “balance between chaos and perfection” in their lives, as she is a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization. And, hey, if your readers can’t look around their homes and claim some room ‘chronically disorganized,’ then more power to them!

Disclaimer – The toilet paper and paper clutter picture was taken by me and not submitted by Linda.  I just loved how she related paper clutter and a paperless toilet together!

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Organizing Under the Sink

Easy and Efficient Under Sink Storage

What have you tried to store under your kitchen sink? The space is different in each house depending on where the water lines and disposal end up.  You are lucky to get one skinny container on one side of the cabinet.

Then there is the mix of cleaning products; dishwashing liquids, powders and tablets; trash can liners; rubber gloves; and assorted scrubbing doo-dads. The shapes and sizes are a nightmare to organize and contain.

When you are in a hurry, something is bound to topple over.  Gooey spills, dishwasher detergent powder, and spider webs conspire against you to make a sticky, dirty mess under there!

Let me offer a few suggestions. You are free to mix and match to come up with a solution that fits your unique circumstance.

  1. Store only what you use in the kitchen here. If you have an adequate pantry or space in your laundry room, keep the majority of your cleaning products there. This also helps cut down on the danger of poisons a child can reach (locks are necessary, but should not be the only safeguard!)
  2. Move trash bag liners to your plastic wrap area. These boxes should fit in the drawer on their side.
  3. Cover the floor of your cabinet with a rubber mat or shelf liner. The spills and grit will be easy to clean with a wet sponge. Once that cheap particle board gets wet, it is never the same. A pristine cupboard looks good when you get ready to sell.
  4. Use a slide out container with a stable bottom. Choose solid plastic, mesh, or metal stripping that is less than ½” apart to avoid tipping.
  • A 6 qt plastic shoebox with no lid will do for the side of your cabinet that has the most head room.  This is the frugal organizer’s option.
  • The Rolls Royce of pull-outs for the tall side is the 11” X 21” chrome Lynk Professional Kitchen Under-Sink Rollout Double Drawer.  There is an 11’ X 18” version as well.

Once you make these changes, you will be surprised at how easily and efficiently you can access everything you need from your now beautiful under sink storage!

Martha Clouse is founder of Organized For Life, a professional organizing company.     After moving 11 times in 20 years as a military wife while raising four children, Martha shares with you what she learned “under fire” about coping with change, using time to your advantage, and how to create a calm oasis out of chaos.

To learn more about setting up rooms for maximum utility while retaining a spacious feel, the basic systems you need in your home office to guarantee productivity, how to save an hour a day consistently, and to receive access to the free e-booklet “60 Tips to Get Organized NOW!”, visit Organized For Life.

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Closet Organizing

August 11, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Closets, Guest Post, How To Organize

Closet Organizing

by Melanie Dennis CPO

Today’s Guest post is by a fellow local Professional Organizer, Melanie Dennis CPO (certified Professional Organizer). I consider her the guru of closets. Not only does she plan them out and organize them, but she installs it all herself! Ok…that is way beyond me. I wanted her to tell you and me some of her closet secrets!

You use your closet twice a day.  Some of us do the happy dance, and some of us feel contempt for the piles on the floor, the poorly used space, the spouse who hogs the rod, or shelves and rods bowing from the weight of it all.  The good news is that it can be better.  Lots of today’s melamine and wire kits can be installed with a few basic skills.  It can be overwhelming staring at the closet hardware at the store and know what you need to get the results you want.

Where to Begin?

Start with graph paper and a tape measure. Draw your closet shape and size.  After purging and donating the old clothes, measure the amount of clothes on the rods in the following categories. Hanging space is either long hang, short hang, or double hang (two short hangs one above the other.) Count sweaters and shoes. When planning your space don’t forget the non-clothes things stored in the closet like cameras, memorabilia, binoculars, or luggage.  Here are some of the magic numbers closet designers use to customize your space.

24” – how wide to leave between clothes hanging on each side of a closet for a person to walk through.  This is also the average depth of a reach-in closet.

21” – how much room you need from a wall to hang clothes on a hanger

34-36” -where you should hang the lower rod to hang slacks on the bottom of a double hanging wall.

75-80”- where the top rod of double hang goes.

67” -where contractors hang a long hanging single rod leaving an awkward amount of space not used wisely.

7-8” -amount of shelf space needed per each pair of shoes.

12” from the back wall is where a rod generally hangs.

2’ -how much long hanging rod space the average woman needs unless she long hangs her pants by the cuff or waist.

0’ -how much long hanging most men need.  A hook for a robe will suffice. I am a fan of hooks for everyone.

45 -average number of shoes a woman has. I am above average and that is all I am saying about that.

2-3 -sizes of clothes in most women’s closets. Yup…you are normal.

No drawers should higher than the eye level of the closet owner.

Piles of clothes should not be more than 12-14” high because they will topple easy- use more shelves with shorter piles will ensure better long term organizing. Some systems have supports for piles of clothes and purses to hold them upright.

Don’t fuss with systems that offer corner solutions.  Hanging in a corner is not efficient.  It is better to take one side all the way to the corner and hang the adjoining wall rod two feet out from the corner.  You can tuck rarely worn clothes in the corner.

Finally, splurge on matching hangers.  It makes a huge difference.

Melanie Dennis, CPO® is the owner of

Neat Streak Professional Organizing in Columbus, Ohio.  She has designed over one thousand spaces both as a as a closet designer for The Container Store and later as a professional organizer.

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Balancing Work at Home

Work at Home Balance

by: Jennifer  Ascher

More and more women today are work at home moms. Balancing both running a household and a business can sometimes feel like a juggling act. Even as a Professional Organizer and always being good at time management. I can’t help but remember back when I started my own work at home journey how overwhelmed I felt trying to balance both worlds. But over time and a lot of trial and error I discovered that it is possible to do both. Here are some suggestions that will hopefully help you balance being a work at home mom.

  • Take the time to research and invest in a good planner. Tweak it to meet your needs.
  • Spend time on the weekend planning the upcoming week.
  • Identify your time wasters and get rid of them or at least cut them down
    • Keep a log for one week of all your activities. You might just discover that you spend more time than you thought watching TV, surfing the net etc. Those are all extra hours you thought you didn’t have to invest in your business or home.
  • I discovered that having check lists for various things such as cleaning, business tasks etc. where very helpful when it came to planning my day and week.
  • Menu planning and cooking ahead is a huge time and sanity saver.
  • Have daily routine in place and stick to them.
  • Don’t force yourself to get up earlier or stay up later. Know when you are at your peak and use that extra time to work on your business.
  • Make sure to schedule time for yourself everyday even if it’s just 10 minutes.

At the end of the day the most important thing to remember is that you are a mom first and your kids will only be kids for a certain amount of time. Remember to take time everyday and just play.

Jennifer (better know as the Organizing Geek) is the owner and founder of Organizing Without Limits a Professional  Organizing Company in Oakland County, MI. As a busy work at home mom with 2 boys, Jennifer believes that  organizing goes beyond pantries, closets or even time management it’s about taking control of your whole life.  Organizing without Limits offers both hands on and virtual organizing services to help you gain control of every aspect  of your life. You can reach Jennifer at Organizing without Limits or for more organizing tips and tricks visit her  blog at  Organizing without Limits (blog)

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How to Do a Job You Hate

July 22, 2010 by  
Filed under Blog, Guest Post, Offices

How to Do a Job You Hate

by Adrian from Adrians Crazy

I had a slow day at work today, so I decided to catch up on my most hated task – FILING! I don’t know why I dislike filing so much, but I always have and that isn’t likely to change soon.

So the question is, how do you approach a task you really dislike doing?

– Put it off and hope it chokes and dies! (Appealing, but not likely)

– Pay someone else to do it for you (could you outsource it to India??)

– Foist it off on someone who doesn’t mind doing it? Or maybe you could trade a job someone else hates that you don’t mind. I do this one a lot at home. Everyone has different likes & dislikes. For example – I will take dishes over mopping every time.

– Maybe you could do a little every day so it doesn’t pile up to a big ugly job.

– Simplify the task so you can get it out of the way faster.

– Offer yourself a small reward for doing it (hey, this works on my kids!).

– Get someone to do it with you so you can at least have some company.

For filing, I take an approach that hits several of these points. First of all, I can put it off for a while. It’s not a critical task in my job, so I can do that without too much guilt. That’s better for me than having to face it every week or so.

I’m rarely able to foist it off on someone, but I have managed to a couple of times. When my kids come to the office with me, I can usually bribe them into doing it for me. Also, my co-worker doesn’t mind filing, so sometimes I can trade a job with her or at least get her to help me with it so I’ve got someone to talk to.

I’ve also simplified the job so it is much easier and quicker to do. I used to file things in a very detailed manner, and it would take me 3-4 hours to do. Then I realized that I only dig into them a few times a year, so it’s not really worth the time and effort to sort them so much. Now, I just sort them into a few general categories and dump them into larger folders. So if I need to find something it might take me an extra 5 minutes of digging, but the filing job takes me half the time.  That’s a win-win in my book.

What hateful job do you end up putting off the most? How can you use these ideas to make it easier?

Adrian hangs out at her very aptly named blog It’s a good name because she works full time, runs both Pampered Chef and Stampin’ Up! businesses, attends every blogging conference she can manage, and is raising a husband, three sons, four grandkids, a pair of crazy cats, a St. Bernard, and a rotating assortment of goldfish. Obviously, it is a very crazy life!

Adrian is not a professional organizer, but is a “Recovering Messie” and is sharing a lifetime’s worth of lessons she has learned with her Clutterbugs series (every Monday) and her new Women and  Finance feature (every Thursday).

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Decluttering the Toys

September 14, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Cleaning, Guest Post, Playroom

Decluttering The Toys

by Stephanie Calahan

She has some great advice and was wonderful to offer me two guest posts on kids and organizing.
Please read Stephanie’s post as she offers her thoughts on helping kids to sort through their toys.



‘Disappear’ Toys or Ask Your Child to Choose Which Ones to Give Up?

One of my Twitter friends @CarlaYong posted this question

“A question for the Moms out there: better to ‘disappear’ toys or ask your child to choose which ones to give up?  A bit more info on my Q: DD just turned 4YO & has previously willingly given up toys to younger friends & does get attached to everything!

I am asked this question frequently, so I thank Carla for the blog post inspiration!  Keep reading for my reply.

When my son was about 2 years old, we started teaching him how to make choices about his belongings.  He was very into picking toys, books, clothes, etc. that could go to another kid that did not have as much as he did.  He was excellent and empathetic, and we thought, “Wow, this is going to be easier than we thought.”

At about the same age he was a complete and total Elmo fan. He had all kinds of Elmo things.  There was one in particular — it was a simple stuffed Elmo.  Nothing fancy to him, but Elmo was his best buddy and went everywhere with him.

Well, over time, he of course lost interest in Elmo.  When he was about 5 years old, we were in his play room in the basement going through his things.  Out popped Elmo.  Since he had not played with stuffed toy in at least two years, I suggested that Elmo should go to a new home.  This is somewhat of how the conversation went…

NO!!!!! he screamed, quite passionately.  “I don’t want him to go….” he whimpered

So I tried to reason with him first…

But D, you have not played with him in a long time.  Do you really think that you are going to play with him again?

He then looks at me with those loving, pitiful eyes that only your child can get away with…

“Momma, I’ll play with him now that I remember him.”

OK, reason did not work like it used to.  He is now old enough to have learned that “things” hold some kind of emotional value.  Elmo represented his first best buddy.  Elmo was comfort and fun times.  Elmo was before school work….  This would require a totally different strategy… how about greed?

OK, but what if we sold Elmo at the resell shop and he will go to a little boy or girl that really likes him?  You can take the money and get something else.

“No, I don’t want Elmo to go to someone else.  He is MY friend.”

AAAHHHH!!  I had it figured out now.  I could do a lesson on friendship and still de-clutter.

But how do you think Elmo feels?

“What do you mean?”

Well, have you been a very good friend to him lately?  I mean, think about it D.  Elmo used to go with you everywhere.  He played with you and visited cool places with you and stayed in your nice comfy bed at night. Now look at him.  He is in the cold basement in the back of a dark cabinet!

“Oh no!  I have been a terrible friend.  I am so sorry Elmo.” he cried hugging the toy.  “Mom, I don’t want Elmo to feel sad.”

It was at that point that he acknowledged (to himself) that he really would not play with Elmo anymore.

OK, I tell you what… Ms. Jeannine has a little boy who LOVES Elmo now.  How about we drive over to her salon and we can give her Elmo for her little boy.  That way, you know where he is going and you know that he will continue to be loved.

“OK.  Can we do it now?”

So, we drove over to my friend’s salon and while we were parked, my son had a tearful goodbye with his first best friend.  We then walked into the salon and he talked with my stylist and explained that he wanted her son to have him.

She was touched—you could tell that this was a difficult parting for my son.  She even teared up a bit.

As we drove home, we stopped by Dairy Queen for a little treat.  As we ate our ice cream he was already giggling and talking about other things.


I told this in a story form because I think it is important to see how this technique can play out in a situation with your child.  By personifying Elmo – by giving him feelings and making him more like a live person – my child had a totally different way of looking at the situation.

Yes, the drive to the salon took more time than I had originally allotted for that particular project, but my son learned so many good lessons:

  • Empathy – thinking of how his actions could make someone else feel.
  • Charity/Generosity – thinking of how my stylist’s son would enjoy playing with the toy.
  • How to Make Difficult Decisions – it was not easy for my son to make the choice he did, but by helping him learn to make that choice at 5-years-old, other more difficult choices at a later age would be easier to make.
  • Mom Was There for Him – because I did not take the toy out behind his back, or tell him that he had no choice…because I took the time to help him make a decision his way and gave him the respect to say goodbye to a good friend and understand his feelings.

Overall, I’d say that was worth it for me!  Since then, we have had other challenges when it is time to let things go and as he gets older, I use more of the techniques that I use with my adult clients.  But this, by far, is one of my favorite de-cluttering stories.

How would you have handled this situation?  Do you think I took it too far?  What are your thoughts?  How have you helped your child let go of things?  I know my Twitter friend would love the tips and my other readers would too.  Please share in the comments section below.

To your success!

You can hear more from Stephanie at her business blog or her family/home blog or get social/network with her!

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Pork Recipe

August 23, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Food, Guest Post

Janelles Pac Man Pork Recipe

pac man pork
This week’s Gem of the Week award is going to go to Janelle from At Home with My Monkeys for her Pac Man Pork. I love the name…her kids named it because they “gobble it up”. I will frequently have the kids name a new recipe, but ours is something like Jenney (my last name) surprise. LOL
I also like Crock Pot recipes. I think they are great in the winter…and although I usually don’t make them in the summer (we grill out more) they actually make more sense in the summer instead of using the stove. I just think of Crock pot recipes as nice warm comfort “winter” food.  (Read more…..)


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Butterscotch Cake Recipe

August 16, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Food, Guest Post

Guest Post from SnoWhite

I am giving my Gem of the Week Award to SnoWhite (isn’t that cute?) from “Finding Joy in My Kitchen.”
This cake looks soooo good! She gives the step by step pictures (which I love) to making this cake. You will have to go see the whole process. You can see it very simply by clicking HERE.


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Sugar Free Peach Crisp Recipe

July 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Blog, Food, Guest Post, Health & Safety

Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker has earned my Gem of the Week again. She has given us a recipe that diabetics can enjoy! My father is a diabetic and loves good desserts…and is thrilled when we can find a good recipe that is sugar free.
Join our Share my Recipe Sunday and add your recipe to the Mr. Linky. Feel free to pick up any recipes to use in your kitchen!


There are a lot of diabetics in my family. It runs in the family. Therefore, I try to make desserts once in a while that everyone can enjoy without as much guilt as usual ;-). This dish isn’t terribly sweet and lets the flavor of the peaches shine through. If you choose to use fresh, you may have to alter the time a bit.

1/2 cup oatmeal
1/2 cup flour
1/3 cup crystaline fructose
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
3 cups sliced frozen peaches
2 tsp minute tapioca
Place peaches in the bottom of a 9 X 9 pan. Sprinkle with tapioca and 1/2 tsp cinnamon. Combine oats, flour, fructose, butter and remaining cinnamon in a bowl and combine with a pastry blender until nice and crumbly. Sprinkle over the peaches. Bake uncovered 350 degrees for 40 minutes. Serve with sugar free vanilla ice cream if desired.

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Create a Craft Room

Create a Craft Room In Your Closet!

by Yard Sale Princess

Have you ever wanted one of those craft rooms that you see in the magazines? But then you think, “But I don’t have a room for it.” Here is someone who took her craft room to a new place….her closet! She is lucky enough to have two walk in closets and she uses one of them for her craft room. I think it is great and love what she did with it. You would never know from the pictures that she is even in a closet. Check it out!
This is her first guest post and I think she did a great job!! She will be doing more soon I am sure.


Thank you, Sandy, for inviting me to be a guest blogger! This is my first time ever and I am super excited!
Well let’s just jump right into this. Okay, I have a deep dark secret place that I even hide from Hubs, it is my crafting closet.

It is a long closet space that is in our master bedroom. (We have two walk in closets and my wonderful husband designated one as my crafting space.)
I try to keep it clean and organized but I also use it as a hiding place for things that I want my kids to stay out of. I literally toss something in and shut the door. I call this my “STASH AND DASH” system.

Due to this fact, it has become uninspiring. Hubs has tried to help me in the organization process. The cabinet and table were Christmas gifts 3 years ago and he is bummed that they are being abused. The pathetic wire shelves around the top were put in by the home builders and are just too high for me to really use effectively. It really has inadequate storage. When I found myself pulling my hordes of crafting supplies all the way down stairs to do a project just so I could spread out, well, I knew that I had reached my breaking point. So we have decided that if we are going to do a “craft room redo” then it should be done right! So we have taken EVERYTHING out of the room! We have repainted it a bright and inspiring color! Hubs was not allowed to have any input on the color, otherwise it would have been “tan”. Then we rearranged the existing furniture and added some new storage! I am so glad that I put everything into plastic tubs and labeled them. It is totally working out for me!
Ta Da….
Here is the end result!

This cabinet fit perfect in the cubby space! Look at the great paper sorter, it makes it so easy to see what paper I have and they are right at my fingertips.

Bins and baskets are used to contain items. The clear containers make it so easy to see what I have. Every container is labeled! Notice the spice rack that I used for all the little beads. They work great!!

I am absolutely in love with this room! I love the jars of yummy treasures and colorful tidbits,like buttons, corks, ribbon and such. I may add some of my own framed photography around the perimeter for inspiration but I LOVE IT!

Thanks for taking a look at my craft closet. You can visit me and see more of what I do at Digging For Treasures.

Yard Sale Princess

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Menu Planning

Guest Post by Organizing Junkie!

by Laura from I’m an Organizing Junkie

Laura from I’m An Organizing Junkie helped to inspire the feel of my blog. Once I discovered blogging I looked at many. I felt most comfortable with hers as I felt it was inviting and fun. I liked the colors, the feel of it and I decided that I also wanted to have a “comfortable” feel to my blog rather than “stiff or stuffy” feel.
She is by far the most recognized organizing blog and I am thrilled to have her being my guest blogger today.
I am so glad she is doing menu planning because it is something that I am not good at. I wish I was….I wish I liked to cook….I have attempted menu planning many times and never seem to stick with it. (See organizers aren’t always organized at every aspect of their lives – although I think we hate it when we aren’t!)
I am going to try her method and give it another shot. Just like I have started couponing..I am going to incorporate menu planning.


Home Organization

Menu Planning Made Easy

I started menu planning three years ago when I became a stay at home mom. It literally changed my life and now I don’t know how I ever managed without it. I use to be under the impression that menu planning was too rigid and wouldn’t offer me any flexibility. Yet that couldn’t be farther from the truth. Menu planning allows me to prepare and shop for a whole week of dinner options at one time and even though I menu plan what I’m having on certain days I am by no means restricted to that. Having all the necessary ingredients on hand allows me the flexibility to switch days around if I need too without any problems. The menu planning itself takes me no time at all. Let me take you through the process of what works for me step by step:
If you can, choose a regular grocery day and stick to it. For instance I like to get groceries on Monday mornings at 8:30 am when the grocery store is less busy and I can get in and out in no time flat.
The night before grocery day sit down with a notepad and create sections for each day of the week.
Then looking through cookbooks or online start putting together a list of 5 or 6 different meals your family might enjoy that week. To make it a little easier for me when I do it, I start by figuring out which “meat” I’m going to have on which day. So on my notepad I might have chicken marked down for Monday and beef marked down for Tuesday. I also usually try to include at least one meatless dish. Once I know what meat I’m having I can do a quick search for say chicken recipes to find one that I want to use in my menu plan.
As you are doing your menu/recipe search you will certainly come across some more dishes that you’d like to try. I created a folder in my bookmarks called “recipes to try” with sub-folders listing the various food categories (ie: veggies, chicken, desserts, etc) and as I find recipes I’d like to try in the future I bookmark them for quick and easy access in subsequent weeks.
Don’t forget to create a night for leftovers. I purposely make extra on the other days so that I can afford myself a leftover day or two and that way nothing is wasted. This is especially helpful if scheduled for nights when you are busiest. I also do Simple Supper Sundays where anything goes.
Some other considerations to keep in mind when creating your weekly plan is what you might already have on hand in your freezer or pantry that might need to be used up. Select recipes around those ingredients and save money on your grocery bill that week.
Have a look at the grocery store sale flyers. If roast is on sale it is a good time to include roast in your menu plan. Also cross reference with any coupons you might have on hand.
Write a grocery list of the foods you need and post your menu where everyone can see it. No more having to answer the annoying “what’s for dinner?” question.
Join Menu Plan Monday to share and get menu plan ideas from other participants.
Smile and relax knowing that come 4 o’clock each evening you’ve got dinner covered. No panic necessary.

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I Guest Posted On Ellie Merritt’s Blog

I Did a Guest Post On Ellie Merritt’s Blog from NBC 4

Ellie and I are tight.
LOL No, not really – but she did post a 2nd guest blog from me.  It is called Spring Cleaning – Get Organized Tips, so I am thrilled.
She has her own News show on NBC channel 4 here in Columbus. It is called First at 4 with Ellie Merritt. She does the normal news stories for the day, but what is really nice is that she has a little more focus on woman and mom’s. On Mondays she rotates having on Marcy from Stretching a Buck and Tara from Deal Seeking Mom (local mom bloggers) to give tips on saving money, coupons and free deals. She realizes the value and how much the bloggers can teach, so she features us often.
Check out her blog called, Elaborating with Ellie and you can check out my post, but you can also look at the other information she has and learn a little more about her. (She is really nice)

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