Sort It ~ Professional Organizing for the Toronto Area

Conquer Your Closet – Part Deux

About six months ago, I wrote a blog about clearing out and organizing your closet (Conquer Your Closet). Typically, after I write a post, I pester my husband to see if he’s read it. Well, he showed me. When I got home that night, he had flipped all my hangers around. “Practice what you preach,” he said. You see, in my previous post, I wrote that it is handy to flip your hangers around, then when you wear an item, you turn the hanger the right way around again. In six months you’ll have a very good picture as to what you wear, and what you may want to look at again. So, here I am, and here’s my closet six months ago, and today:

Six Months Ago


So, there you have it. I counted and I have 16 hangers that are still reversed. Now, for the record, I have been letting go of clothing items that aren’t right for me, so I’ve been able to maintain the amount of clothing I have, for the most part. Here are the items that haven’t seen the light of day in the last 6 months:

Yes, there’s a disco shirt there, and yes, there’s a Hawaiian shirt, too, but since my husband and I work with the youth at our church, you need a couple of choice items that only see the light of day once in a while (notice I said “couple”, not “3 or 4 choices per occasion”). I have taken my forlorn items, and grouped them together, at the front of my closet. I see a few of them going in the next little while, and a couple being worn in the near future, as well. I’ve also trimmed down a bit since my last purge, so perhaps these items will fit better than last time.

There are a few benefits to having less:

1. Less laundry – You won’t let it sit around and pile up if you need a pair of underoos.

2. Quicker decision making – Less choices makes getting dressed in the morning much more efficient. Unless you lay out what you wear the night before… but I don’t 🙂

3. Someone else is blessed by your things – My friends regularly pass on their items to me, and I love it! They’re new to me, but they’re tired of them. Give your clothes a new chance to make someone else feel good.

We’ll see the condition of my closet when I get home tonight… I’m weary 😛

How do you decide how much clothing is enough?


Eat, Drink and Be Merry

The other day, I was packing up a couple for an upcoming move. What got me was that I was packing liquor bottles with only a little bit left in them. Now, this isn’t the first time this has happened. Nearly every home I pack has nearly finished something or others lying around. Even when my husband and I toured the home we now live in, we were astounded by the amount of liquor on display (to be fair, they had a bar in the basement, which led to many, many gifts of alcohol). It seems like a waste of effort to move nearly empty bottles, so I got to thinking, how could one remedy this situation?

And then it hit me – have a party! Now, I’m not saying that you should have a throw back to your college days, with people lying all over the house in the morning, but try to use up what you have.

So, here are my rules for a Potluck Pantry Party:

1. You can only bring an item that you have made out of items you already have (excluding items you need to buy fresh like fruit or vegetables) . Don’t forget to check the chest freezer!  This is also helpful to use up items in the basement before they pass their best before date.

2. You can only drink items you already have (not only alcohol, this includes pop and frozen cans of concentrate, too). Get creative with your mixed drinks, and try to only make items using bottles that are only 1/4 full. Imagine all the money you’ll get when you return those empties 😛

3. Light candles. We all have tons of them, but we never use them. Honestly, how many tea light candles can one house need?

4. Get creative and have fun! *Please be responsible. Don’t drink and drive.*

5. Send home the leftovers in your mismatched tupperware. If you have oddball items that you aren’t particularly attached to, make sure everyone leaves with one filled with lunch for Monday. Four birds with one stone.


Would you consider hosting a Potluck Pantry Party? What types of things could you create from the depths of your pantry?

Previous Post

I won! Please take a look at this Decluttering Diva’s blog 🙂

100 things 100 days

Total raised for your charities: $167

Call me cynical, but when someone does a giveaway online, I always wonder about the process. Did they close their eyes and point to a winner on the screen? Did they enter they enter their favourite reader 25 times? Did they just choose their best friend?

Here at 100 things, 100 days, we’re on the up and up. To prove it, I enlisted the help of my youngest (five-year olds are all about fair) to write down the names of everyone who entered, fold them in half, and draw one out of a bowl.

I taped the entire thing on my iPhone – upside down. Yep, upside down.

Then, my five-year old requested a re-take because he wasn’t happy with his pronunciation of the word congratulations.

And on play back, I realized that I sound exactly like Ma Ingalls on Little House On The…

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My second guest blog post with the Girl Guides of Canada. Please let me know your thoughts!


I’ve been a Brownie leader for nearly 10 years, and for almost every one of those 10 years, I have been “blessed” with many craft supplies. Although I’ve kept many (fewer recently), that doesn’t make me a “hoarder” – a term that has become rather mainstream lately. With TV shows like “Hoarders” and “Hoarding: Buried Alive”, people will often describe their home (or, more often than not, a friend’s or family member’s), trying to determine if they fall into this category.

I strongly believe that my grandmother was a hoarder (she was never diagnosed), and although my family saw some of the warning signs, we didn’t realize the magnitude of the situation until she had to move to a retirement facility. It was then that we realized that she likely hadn’t slept in her own bed for a couple of years. It was very difficult to come to this realization…

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Use It or Lose It

This topic may seem similar, as I posted on something along these lines last year (You’ve Got It, So Use It), but who doesn’t like a little reminder now and then?

First, let me confess. I have a “collection” of those little floss containers you get from the dentist at your check ups. And by “collection” I mean 10. Seriously. Here’s the evidence:

It’s not that I don’t floss, I just don’t do it as often as I should. I’ve tried to remedy this by flossing on days with a “U” in them (Tuesday, Thursday and either Saturday or Sunday), so that if I don’t do it everyday, at least I’m flossing every week. Why? Because my husband told me that the plaque that’s on your teeth, and in your gums, can travel through your blood system, and build up in there. YIKES! That was enough to get me flossing more regularly…

Anyway, my point it this: I need to use this up before I purchase any more. And, if I’m not going to use it, then I can’t have it cluttering up my space. If you’ve ever seen our bathroom, you’d understand. But it’s not the size that matters, but the fact that anytime you want to get around it, you have to shuffle it around. And for what? If you’ll never use it, so why not let someone else be “blessed” by it?

Lastly, if you have so much of it that even if you used “it” at every opportunity, you still wouldn’t make a solid dent in it, perhaps you should split “it” and pass some of it on. Don’t let it bog you down just because you think you’ll use it “someday”.

What do you have an overload of? Will you ever use it? Please excuse me while I get to flossing 😀

P.S. While I haven’t completely depleted my body wash (please refer to above mentioned post), I’m getting near the end. Imagine that… But I haven’t bought anymore all this time! Saving space AND money!

But It May Come In Handy One Day!

We all have some “just in case” items. Toilet paper, canned goods, bottled water – things that we keep around the house because we anticipate needing them in the somewhat near future. Some are legitimate, like food and household staples, but others are long shot items that will likely never be needed.

I have found that as we start considering donating or tossing an item, we are more likely to part with it the next time we come across it. For example, if you have a large collection of books, and you think to yourself, “I don’t read most of these books anymore, nor will I go back to them in the future, but I’m just not ready to get rid of them yet”, the next time you go through your books, it will be easier for you to let go of them, because you haven’t used them between the initial thought of letting them go, and the second decluttering experience. Your justification for keeping them will no longer be supported (“but it might come in handy”). So, start asking yourself what do I rarely use, and no longer get joy out of owning? My husband challenges me on things, and I challenge him. As I think about it, I tend to realize that I don’t wear that top anymore, or I haven’t played that game in forever, nor do I plan on it. Sometimes it just takes another’s prodding to get you moving in the right direction.

The more stuff you have, the more energy it takes to maintain it. Also, the longer you hold onto an item, debating with yourself whether you’ll ever use it, or be able to, the less useful it will be to someone else. I have seen many items that were once in great condition deteriorate over time just by sitting around. The adhesive in books will break down. The elastic in clothes will dry out. Canned food will expire. Items that once could have been helpful to someone else, now have to be thrown out. Sometimes it is simply time that will be the difference between these two options:









So, if you’ve considered tossing (or donating) an item for some time, perhaps it’s time to bite the bullet. If you haven’t used it in the last year, and you don’t get joy out of it, don’t let it take up your space and energy. Wouldn’t you much rather have items that bring a smile to your face when you look around your home?

What have you been debating about parting with? Will you take the plunge?

Your Eyes Are Bigger Than Your House

You’ve heard the term “your eyes are bigger than your stomach”, but I’m beginning to think that our eyes are bigger than our homes!  We tend to buy items without first thinking, “where will they go?” Then, we get them back to our place only to find that it won’t fit. Sigh…

I was reading an article the other day, and I found these 3 stats to be quite startling (full article –

  • It took 25 years for the industry to build its first billion square feet of storage space. The second billion square feet was added in just seven years, from 1998 to 2005, according to the Self Storage Association.
  • The average American home has grown from 1,400 square feet in 1970 to 2,300 square feet today, but the average size of the household has shrunk from 3.1 to 2.5.
  • In 1995, one in 17 American households rented storage space. By 2007, that ratio had increased to one in 10, according to the Self Storage Association.
I know we’re not American (or, at least, I’m not), but I don’t think that these stats would be that far off for us Canucks. We buy things, but we don’t want to let go of anything. But really, that’s unrealistic. If you’re going to buy a new dish set, you must first decide what to do with the old one. I was speaking with someone the other day, and her sister has 6 dish sets. She entertains – a lot – and her food matches her dishes – Culinary Art at its best, I believe. However, if you only host Christmas and Thanksgiving and you have 5 people in your family to invite, perhaps you don’t need the extra 5 sets? Space available can determine whether an item is a need vs. a want. If you have space for it, decide if you want it. If you don’t have space for it, decide if you need it. If you do, you need to let something else go – a want.
So, when we say we don’t have enough money, and we don’t have enough time, could it be that we’re spending our time, earning the money, to fill our houses with stuff we could probably live without? If you don’t have enough money, look around. I’m sure you could let go of a few things, and make a bit of cash at the same time. Then you would have more time to enjoy the things you do have that you bought with your money!
Happy Thanksgiving!

Lost and Found

Last week, 3 years after I moved out, I went over to my parents place to start clearing out the last of my belongings. It had been something I’d put off doing until my husband and I bought a house (almost 2 years ago now), then once we’d gotten settled (about a year ago), and then until I had no more excuses 🙂

As I was going through my old boxes, and taking a trip down memory lane, it amazed me the items I had completely forgotten I had, or just assumed they’d gotten lost in the move(s). I can’t begin to tell you how excited I was when I found my long lost Hanson CD (My husband? Not so much). There were a few other items that I smiled at, and proceeded to toss away, or recycle (no, not my Hanson CD). My Mom and I had a nice time going through items that sparked memories.

Now, let’s put a dollar value on this, shall we? One of the items that I found was an old keepsake box that I had cleverly put a cheap diary lock onto (for security purposes, you know?). I thought that I had they key at home, so I left it for the time being. When I got home, however, I realized that I had, at some point, thrown the key away. Well, as many brothers might have done in the past, I took a bobby pin to it and popped that sucker open. I was pretty confident that I had some old stickers in it (which I did), but I had forgotten about the $27 dollars in rolled change! So, what did I learn? Cleaning out my old stuff: $27. Getting my parents off my back: Priceless 🙂

You also have to understand that I am also a Brownie leader, with the Girl Guides of Canada, which means that I have enough craft supplies to construct a house, and then furnish it. Okay, that might be an exaggeration, unless pompoms and googly eyes have more structural strength then I give them credit for, but it is certainly more than I need, or will ever use. But when I was asked politely, but firmly, to finally get my things out of my parents’ house, I knew that they would be part of my battle. Fortunately, we’ve had a new unit open up and they are desperate for crafty things – problem solved! I once was lost, but now, am found.

I always tell my clients this: If you clean up, you will always find money. It may be a few cents. It may be Canadian Tire money. It may be a $20. But you always find money.

You’ve Got It – So Use It!

When my husband and I got married, we decided to try to be more conscientious about our spending. We wanted to bring our costs down, and pay some things off. So, I thought about ways I could help save. I thought about it, and I realized that I had a few bottles of shower gel that I could use up, thereby cutting down on the cost of soap for our family. It was a small gesture, but 3 years and 3 months later, I still have yet to buy body soap. I still have 3 bottles to use up, and lo and behold Christmas is right around the corner (I usually get 1 or 2 bottles). I have never asked for shower gel – I guess I just seem like that type of person (not that I’m complaining!).

How often do we accumulate things, but we don’t use them? We go out shopping, thinking “I could use a new pair of jeans”, meanwhile we’ve got 6 perfectly good pairs at home. Or, we buy a really nice throw pillow, but don’t have a place to put it? When you are purchasing items, try to visualize where it will go when you get home. If you already have items in that spot, where will those items go? Also, be weary of impulse shopping. You may really like something at that particular moment, but when you get it home, you may not be so enamoured with it anymore. If it is a large purchase, think about it for a couple of days. If you still really want it, then go through to process of what you will do with it when you get it home.

My husband will often bring up the “3 bottles of ketchup!” story. (We had a full bottle of ketchup in the fridge. I forgot about it, so I went out and bought another one. Then, I went to Girl Guide camp with my Brownies and brought home another mostly full large bottle). Have you ever gone out, and bought a food item, only to come home and realize that you’ve already got 6? The shopping list can be your friend! It will help you stay on budget, and avoid becoming a Costco warehouse 🙂

Have you got ample amounts of something? Toilet paper? Pens? Reusable shopping bags? Take a walk around your home. Take a mental inventory of what you have, and make a note of items you do not need to purchase in the near future. Once you become aware of what you have, you can and will make more educated purchases.

They Paved Paradise and Put Up a… Storage Unit?

Storage units are becoming all the rage. Let’s say you downsize, but you want to keep more than you can fit into your new place. What do you do with your excess stuff that you can’t bear to part with? Store it. I think that storage units, or at least the mysterious contents within, are getting more publicity with TV shows like “Storage Wars”. But think about it, why do shows like “Storage Wars” exist? It’s because the renters (not owners) of these units have failed to keep current with the cost of keeping their (extra) stuff stored!

Let’s take a mathematical look at this. After perusing the internet, I found the cheapest storage locker to be $25 per month for a 4 x 3′ locker. That’s pretty tiny. That was also by far the cheapest, as the next price up was $70/month. The highest price I found was $530 per month – climate controlled of course (We’ve only just turned on our A/C for the first time, and it’s the middle of July). So, you could spend as little as $300 per year, or up to $6,300 per year, storing stuff.

I completely understand that sometimes people require storage units because they’re in the middle of moving, but the closing of your new home is after the closing of your old one. Or, perhaps, you live in an apartment, and you’re an avid camper and outdoorsy person, but you simply don’t have space for your canoe in your bachelor pad – maybe you could get creative and turn it into a couch? Just kidding 🙂 But, I do understand that sometimes they are more of a necessity than a luxury.

However, I truly believe that more often than not, storage units are used as a delay tactic, so that one does not have to deal with tough decisions this instant, but can put it off until later. But putting it off can cost you, big time. If you have items that you do not want, or that you do not use any more, consider selling them. Kijiji and E-bay are both great options for getting money out of your excess stuff (rather than spending money on it). Another possibility is to seek out consignment shops. Don’t care about the money? Donate it!

If you are currently using a storage unit, I want to encourage you to seriously think about what you are storing. If you can’t remember what’s in there, sell it. If you can, consider the cost of the storage, and determine if it is really worth it. Sometimes less is more.