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Springtime Garage organization

It’s spring and finally starting to feel like it.  Time to put away the shovels and sleds and get your garage organized.  Afterall, kids will be playing outside more and I’d rather be playing with them than searching for balls, bike helmets and other outdoor gear.

First things first. Sort like items together and purge.  I always start an organizing project with a few contractor bags.  It’s usually easiest to sort through the stuff you can do without.  Put trash into one bag and items to donate into another contractor bag or other heavy duty bag or box.

Properly dispose of old paint and oil cans and empty cleaning supply bottles.  Check with your town’s disposal facility to find out when they accept hazardous waste.

Once you have like items grouped together (i.e. gardening, car care, outdoor games, bikes and other ride on toys, helmets, other pads- like street hockey and skateboarding kneepads, chalk, bubbles, etc) think about where to store them.  I like to use plastic shelving like this InterMetro one from The Container Store.  Hard working shelves are 18″ deep (any deeper and items can get lost on the shelves)  and can hold up to 300 pounds per shelf!

intermetro

Frequently  used items used should be stored at eye level or below. Seasonal items should be kept on higher shelves. Choose ventilated shelves and drawers which allow visibility to what you’re storing — they also prevent dust and dirt from collecting. I use mesh handled bins like this one from The Container store to coral

  • baseballs and whiffleballs
  • chalk
  • bubble and bubble toys
  • street hockey balls and pucks
  • wrist guards, knee pads, elbow pads
  • outdoor games

mesh handled bin
Lacrosse sticks, baseball bats, hockey sticks, are oranized in a couple of tall mesh bins. Rollerblades sit on the shelf by themselves but get stored in clear bins during the winter.
mesh bin casters

About 80% of items stored in a garage can be stored on shelving — the other 20% can be organized on hooks.  These items are usually handled tools including shovels, roof rake, and gardening tools.  Other large bulky items like garden hoses, ladders, strollers and backpack carriers can also be stored up off the ground on hooks.  To organize your entire garage, you’ll need a combination of shelving, drawers and hooks to keep everything organized.

I recommend kids’ bikes, sports equipment and toys to be closest to the garage door if possible and everything else deepest in the garage.  Create a “gardening station”, “car care station”, “winter station” to keep like items together. Once you’ve designated a spot to store everything you must be diligent and conscientious about returning everything to it’s proper place.

If your storage space is limited, consider storing items hanging from the ceiling, under a workbench, behind the door, and maximize vertical wall space. Utilizing The Container Store’s best-selling elfa shelving, everything from bikes to hedge clippers to screwdrivers can be in their own designated spot!

elfa Garage

Spring is in the air!

Spring is here. Really it is.  Hard to believe when you’re still sending your kids off to school in full winter regalia.  Days are bright and sunny and the air is crisp.  Perfect time to clean out and organize your closet and wardrobe.

Many clients have told me when they attempt to do this, they get overwhelmed and end up stuffing all the clothes back in the closet and shoving shoes and accessories into any nook they can find.  If you do a little bit at a time  you’ll be more successful.

Step one: Purge current season’s clothes. You know which pieces you love and feel good in.  Those obviously stay.  If there are any pieces that you didn’t wear or that you didn’t feel great in, put them in a donation pile. I often use shopping bags with handles or contractor bags so all the donation items are ready to go.  If there are pieces that need laundering/dry cleaning/repair set those in a separate pile.  Take care of them before you store them.

Step two: Purge and organize tops.  Go through spring and summer tops and remove any that are dingy or that you don’t love.  If you have 15 black t-shirts,  pare ’em down.  If you have hanging space in your closet, I recommend hanging as much as possible. It makes it easier to see what you have vs. going through a pile in a dresser drawer.  Hang them in majority color order: reds, oranges, yellows, greens, blues, purples, browns, blacks, whites.  Within the color hang by sleeve length: tanks, short sleeve, 3/4 sleeve, long sleeve. I like to use these low profile non-slip hangers from The Container Store.  Using only one type of hanger provides a uniform look making your closet neater.

Step three: Purge and organize bottoms.  Same process as for the tops, for shorts, skirts, capris, ankle length and long pants.  I keep shorts, capris and jeans on shelves in my closet and hang skirts, dressier pants and dresses.  I like these hangers from The Container Store to hang skirts because they save space.

Step four: Purge and organize shoes and accessories. I hang my scarves in color order on the back of my door with a rack like this one from Bed Bath and Beyond. I have earrings on a jewelry stand like this available at the Container Store.  I don’t have a ton of earrings, so this sits on my dresser.  Again, I like to see what I have. It makes getting dressed easier.  Sterling silver jewlery is in a closed jewelry box on my dresser so they don’t tarnish.  If you have shoe shelves in your closet, you can use those or a shoe rack like this one.  Most of my frequently worn shoes for the season are in the hall closet on the main floor and not-so-frequently worn shoes are in my closet.  You can sort and hang belts on an organizer like this.  I like to stand purses on a shelf (in their dust bag if you have it).  These shelf dividers keep them separated and from falling down.

You don’t have to sort and organize your wardrobe in one go.  You could do it in four smaller chunks of time.  Once you’ve organized and sorted your wardrobe, it makes it easier to know what you need to shop for!

 

 

One last purge

With the holidays fast approaching and new toys sure to enter your home, I encourage my clients to walk through their home (or at least the kids’ playroom and bedrooms) and donate any toys that are no longer used.  Use contractor bags to gather donations.  They are sturdier than regular trash bags and you cannot see through them, so you’re more likely to get the items out the door. If the items are visible, you may get little hands pulling toys back out of the bags claiming that they are their most favorite toys that they can’t live without.   Don’t let the kids sabotage your plans to stay organized!!   I also like to have a few clear bins on hand for storing new holiday toys.  I usually have a few shoe size boxes and a few sweater size boxes from the Container Store on hand to coral all the pieces to a new game, toy or craft.

You can schedule a donation pick up in advance by going to GoodDonor.org or scheduleapickup.com.  If you schedule a donation pick up in advance of doing your walk through, gestimate how large or small your donation will be.  Scheduling a donation pick up in advance will make it more likely that you actually go through your home and collect items to be donated.  You can’t really blow it off once it’s scheduled, it gives you a deadline for your last purge of 2014.  It’s kinda like working out, you may not initially feel that enthusiastic about doing it, but you’ll feel great after it’s done. 🙂

Christmas cards!!

Some friends feel strongly that they want to hand address their Christmas or holiday cards. While I admit, it does look more personal, depending on how many cards you send out, it can take A LOT longer to hand address them vs. printing out some cute address labels. Also, even if you hand address cards a few at a time, after writing out a few addresses, I don’t know about you, but I would not like what my handwriting looks like! Plus, I’d rather get the whole job done at once vs. doing it over a few days, but that’s just me.

I use Avery #18863 clear labels or Avery #5163 white labels to address our holiday cards. (I used them for birth announcements too!) There are 10 labels per page. The thing about using labels for your holiday cards, is that you can play with fonts and add images. I like to use a larger font for the recipient name, usually in a fancier script andimage then the address in an all caps font for contrast. These Avery labels are large enough to accommodate the use of different size fonts as well as including an image if you wish, such as a wreath or Christmas tree.

I use the Word template that corresponds to the labels and make address changes and additions to the list each year. Not in a bah-bum-bug scroogey way, but there are also a few deletions each year too. For example I don’t send Christmas cards to teachers from previous years and their sport teams change too, so I don’t necessarily send them to their previous year’s coaches or teams in their entirety either.

I used to print out return address labels, but a couple of years ago I ordered a return address stamp from Tiny Prints. They offer a variety of styles. Ours has a script “B” in the middle and then our family name and address in a circle around the “B”. I like how it looks and love the efficiency of it!

You can save yourself a trip to the Post Office by ordering your stamps in the mail. They’ll charge you a nominal fee, which can be worth it instead of waiting in a long line.

Can’t wait to see our friends and family’s holiday cards this season!

 

Christmas and holiday gift organizing

I cannot believe Christmas is less than 30 days away!  I’ve already created a gift list for each of our family members and others who we give gifts to, including teachers, our cleaning lady, and sitters (we don’t call them “babysitters” any more!).   I start with a list of gift ideas for each person. My husband and I go through the list together and make edits.  For the kids, we like to choose different types of gifts, for example, we try to have a gift that encourages movement (like a hockey shooting pad or a chin up bar), creativity (crafts), education (books, science or STEM activity sets) and good old fun (such as Wii games).  Listing out all the ideas makes sure we get a variety of  types of gifts and to stay within our budget for each child.  Once we have decided what we are going to get, I list out where each item can be purchased, whether it is online or at a brick and mortar store.  I prefer to do online shopping as much as possible, as I have already transitioned into my “stalker” strategy when looking for a parking space– I look for someone coming out of a store and ask them if they’re leaving and then follow them to their car.  Santa will not be nice to people who steal parking spaces from others who were patiently waiting. I digress.  The holiday season is about spending time with family and friends and joy and happiness.  In the end, whether you get your child 10 toys or 2 toys, it’s the time spent together as a family that they’ll remember.  image

Timeline project

My daughter, who is in 2nd grade, just completed a timeline project.  The project required writing out a plan, finding the right tools (pictures) and putting it all together.  It got me thinking about planning for the holidays.  Thanksgiving is coming up in just a few days and Christmas is about 30 days away. (Eeeak!  Gotta get to my Christmas shopping which I’ll talk about in the next post.)

Whether you are cooking the main course or bringing sides or dessert, making a plan will help make it less stressful.  Each day you should plan what you are purchasing and from where.  At this point hopefully your orders are already in from stores that require pre-ordering.   More specifically, you should plan what you are cooking/baking and for how long on a timeline.  You can’t double book your oven!  Unless you have two ovens, in which case I’m envious!  You should also plan what serving dishes and utensils will be used for each food item. I  like to put a small Post-It note inside the serving platter/bowl with what I am planning to serve in it.  It ensures I have enough serving pieces and the right serving pieces.  An added bonus is that when it all comes down to putting the food out, it’s easier for others to lend a hand.   Also, make sure you have enough food storage containers to store leftovers.  I prefer rectangular shaped ones, as they stack easier in the refrigerator/your kitchen cabinets.

Hope you all have a very happy Thanksgiving. I’m looking forward to my favorite meal of the year.  More importantly, I am so very grateful for my husband and our beautiful children, our families and our health.

 

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