Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area


Card Conundrum

What do you do with cards? I was challenged by a client the other day, who likes to keep all the cards she has received over the years. As you can imagine, there are a LOT of cards that need to be stored. So, I got to thinking, what do I do with them?

When I was a teenager, I would keep all my cards. As I entered university, I decided that I would keep only the cards that I really loved, and that could be added to my “pick me up” box – a box filled with things to give me a little “pick me up” when needed. When I got married, I did away with the box, and only keep a few, select cards now (note to self: get a memory box to house such cards – my dresser drawer is not sufficient).

Christmas cards are interesting in our house. As you may know, my hubby and I are Christians, so my Mom gave me a great idea (she probably read it on one of the blogs she follows): put them in a basket, and pray for one person each night.

On January 1st, I take all the old cards, cut off the front, and give them to a person at our church who sends them over to Africa (if they haven’t been written on) – they use them as Sunday School prizes. The new batch of Christmas cards go in the box, and we’re all set for the next year. That way we’ve really been able to enjoy them for a year, and are ready to make way for the new ones 🙂

Then there are the cards from our Wedding:

Having just celebrated our 4th anniversary this month, I have struggled with what to do with these cards. Every time I went to give them the old “heave ho”, I was overcome by the amount of love we received when we tied the knot. Couple that with reading cards from loved ones who have passed on, and I just couldn’t do it. So, imagine my excitement when I came across a suitable pin on Pinterest. The idea is to bind your cards in such a way that will make them easier to look at. So, I created my own version:

In the original pin, she had made one book, but I have no idea how she fit all those cards in one. Granted, in these books are also our wedding shower cards.

It was very interesting though, when I finally sat down to go through them, I also found sympathy cards (not that we got married, but my father-in-law passed away – just wanted to be clear), thank you notes (address to us, not others), and a Christmas card. It’s amazing how unmarked areas can quickly become a catch all 🙂

What do you do with the cards you receive? Please feel free to also cast your vote on this poll.

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I Don’t Like Shopping

I don’t like shopping. There, I’ve said it. I have many friends, and clients, who enjoy a little (or a lot of) retail therapy here and there, but I just can’t quite seem to wrap my head around it. I can still distinctly remember my last impulse buy, 3 years ago. We had family staying with us, and they had given us some money to contribute toward their share of the groceries. Money doesn’t tend to burn a hole in my pocket, by any means, but as I went out shopping that day, I saw it: Guitar Hero: Aerosmith Edition, on sale for nearly the same amount as I had been given. It was screaming at me, “DEAL! DEAL!” and so I bought it. When I got back, I told my husband, and he nearly fell over. He was just saying to the others that of the 3 of us who went out, I would be the least likely to buy anything (and it’s true!). So, did I use the game? A bit. But it’s collecting dust now… And I was completely disappointed in myself.

I asked him if we should return it. He asked me if I thought I would use it, and enjoy it, and I insisted that I would, so he encouraged me to keep it. But I still felt bad. You see, we are currently debt free (YAY!). When we got married we had some debt, and we wanted to get out from under it. You’ve heard me mention Dave Ramsey before, and we used his methods to snowball ourselves out of the comparatively small mess we were in. This purchase set us back a bit, but I realized then that I really don’t enjoy shopping.

Clothing? Nope. I have a “shapely” figure, so it makes it difficult for me to find jeans that will fit my hips. Toys/Games? Not really. I get bored easily, and I hate to spend money on something that I just won’t use long term. Makeup? I don’t wear any, except for maybe twice a year. Food? Well, that one I don’t mind as much, but I find myself getting frustrated at the quickly inflating prices. Jewelry? Again, I rarely wear it. Gifts? Oh! Don’t even get me started! This last Christmas I found myself calling my Mom in a panic, not knowing what to buy anyone (and only wanting to purchase useful items, instead of dust collectors).

You see, the only time I even enter a mall is when I have a specific purchase in mind. I make a beeline for the store that will likely have what I’m looking for, walk straight to my desired purchase, cash out, and leave. I can physically feel myself getting anxious as I walk in. Perhaps it’s the number of people (although I’m pretty outgoing). Perhaps it’s the frustration of seeing so many families inside on a beautiful day. But I think, largely, it’s the fact that people spend money simply to waste time (double waste, really). I was about to go on a tangent about ethical shopping practices, and how our consumerist society is spurring on poverty in other countries, but I’ll leave that for another day.

Today, I will say this: I don’t like shopping, and I’m okay with that. Generally, it means that I have more cash in the bank, and I spend my time doing other things that I enjoy, and that will give me longer lasting rewards (reading, gardening, spending time with the hubby, saving for retirement).

Do you like shopping? What do you like shopping for?

P.S. Anyone in Toronto looking to purchase a slightly used Wii Guitar Hero Game? 😉


Clutter Free Christmas

This year, the youth group at our church is putting on the Charlie Brown Christmas play. 

In this classic, Charlie Brown goes around lamenting that Christmas has become “too commercial”. Lucy comments that it is being run by “a big eastern syndicate” – can you tell we’ve gone through these lines quite a few times? In the end, Linus points out the true meaning of Christmas – the birth of Jesus. I’m not trying to be all “religious”, however, I think  you’d agree that we, as a society, have certainly strayed from those classic traditions – spending time with family, enjoying a nice meal together, and being thankful for what we have.

Christmas has become a time of rushing around, long lists of “wants” and “to do’s”, buying the “I LOVE IT” presents (thank you Best Buy), and generally feeling stressed out. Then we have the aftermath – the mounds of once used wrapping paper, the gifts that were well intentioned but will sit around until they can be (safely) regifted or donated, and the swift realization that we “went a little overboard” this year, having to really cut back in January to make it balance out.

Now, I’m not trying to be a Scrooge. I love Christmas. It just so happens that Christmas is my husband’s birthday (and the day we got engaged), we celebrate the birth of Jesus, and all that that means, and I love the time we get to spend together as a family, snuggled up with tea, playing a board game together (Jeanette, if you’re reading this, please bring Ticket to Ride again – I love that game!). What I am saying is this: we typically don’t need the stuff we receive for Christmas (most of it, at least), but there are many others out there who go without. We often believe that we’re thinking of others at Christmas, and this is true, however, let’s think of those less fortunate. Here are a few gift ideas that won’t clutter up your home (nor someone else’s), but will certainly be a blessing to those in need:

1. Toy Mountain – there are many different organizations who have a means to hand out new toys to those less fortunate at Christmas. Take your child shopping, and have them pick out a great toy that another child will receive – perhaps you could volunteer to help hand those toys out. (Toy Mountain)

2. Gift of Compassion/Gifts of Hope – Compassion Canada and The Salvation Army are just 2 organizations that offer opportunities to purchase animals, clean water, mosquito nets, or education for those in developing countries. A couple of years ago, I did this for 3 of my closest friends. For Christina (who’s a teacher), we bought school books, for Sharon (who collects water bottles from all over the world), we bought clean water, and for Diana (who was in med school at the time), we bought a pig (emphasizing the need of good nutrition for health). My friends were really impressed by the thoughtfulness of those gifts, and they felt good that they had helped, too. We also gave them each little token gifts to remember the donation made in their honour. (Gifts of Compassion/Gifts of Hope)

3. Microfinancing – Personally, I feel that this is the best use of donated money for developing countries. Nationwares (there are other organizations who do this as well) is an organization that provides small, low-interest, business loans to individuals and small groups in developing countries. This allows the entrepreneurs to start up a business, and essentially become self-sustaining. They sell their products and pay back the loan, which is then put back into the system to aid another entrepreneur. These people may also hire others from their village, and the benefits are magnified. My father-in-law always said “A hand up, not a hand out”. (Nationwares)

So, this Christmas, consider cutting out the clutter, and helping others at the same time. Turn the focus around, and avoid getting caught up in all that commercialism. I promise you, your spirit will feel lighter.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE!