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

Today

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?

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Souvenirs

I know that this is over a week late, but HAPPY CANADA DAY!!! The reason for my tardiness for my blog post is that my hubby took me to Ottawa (the capital of Canada) for the Canada Day festivities. We had a wonderful time, and even got to eat poutine and a beaver tail on Parliament Hill.

Being first time in Ottawa, so we tried to see as much as we could. After watching the Changing of the Guard, we learned about the history of the War of 1812 (200th anniversary this year), and enjoyed a concert. We then proceeded to get free samples, and visit Rideau Hall. We tried to get into the Royal Canadian Mint, however we got there too late, so we went later on in the week. Our Canada Day finished off with a fun concert, and an impressive fireworks display (some were in the shape of a maple leaf!).

I would like to share a fun Canadian fact with you, which has left me proud since I heard about it. As some of you may know, we hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver (remember? The one with no snow? 😛 ). All of the medals were designed and made at the Royal Canadian Mint in Ottawa (we have a second in Winnipeg, Manitoba where our currency is made). The medals were quite unique, and had a wavy texture (not easily visible in the photo, sorry):

2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Medals – Source: Canadian Olympic Committee

What I didn’t know was that the medals were all unique, and when placed together, would create an image of an Orca (for the Olympics) and a Raven (for the Paralympics). The orca is a strong animal, one that lives in a community. The raven signifies overcoming obstacles, which I am certain many of the Paralymians can identify with. Also, this was the first time in the history of the Olympics that the size of the medals for the Olympics were the same size as those for the Paralympics (Go Canada!).

Now that I’ve expanded your Canadian history, let me ask you a question: Do you buy souvenirs when you go on vacation? We’ve bought a couple of things here and there, but we have never been into the kitschy souvenirs. You know the ones. I live in Toronto, and near Niagara Falls – if you can put an image on it, they’ll sell it. You can get t-shirts, magnets, shot glasses, surf boards, statues, postcards – you name it! Apparently, there’s even a book dedicated to it called Crap Souvenirs!

So, let me speak on behalf of your loved ones: Please refrain from buying tacky souvenirs that will fall apart in the not-near-enough future. Some are tasteful, I can agree to that. But more often than not, they’re just plain ugly. Let’s not encourage clutter, eh? 😀 (You had to see that one being worked in here somewhere, right?)

What’s the worst souvenir you’ve either seen, or received?


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.


Soap Sliver Solution

Happy Friday everyone! For a change of pace, I thought that I would share with you one of my favourite tips of all time.

I would first like to thank my beautiful Mom (Happy Belated Mother’s Day/Early Birthday), who has been using this technique since I was little, and I’ve always thought it was a great idea. The dilemma: What do you do with all those little soap slivers you accumulate as you near the end of the bar? It feels like such a waste to throw them out. In an episode of The Simpsons, when money was rather tight, everyone was asked to tighten their bootstraps. Little Lisa decided to gather these random soap slivers and smoosh them all together into a soap ball. Well, this is a variation on that technique.

Take an old plastic container (I use an old yogurt container) and the plastic netting used to hold onions together (you may want 2, but that’s up to you). Then, you place the plastic netting in the plastic container, like you would put a garbage liner in a bin. Place all your old slivers into the netting. When you have enough, simply tie a knot in the netting, and you have an automatic loofah of sudsy soap bits 🙂 I use the second netting to hold my next batch while I use up the current one.

P.S. It lather beautifully 🙂 Just make sure that you have a soap saver (the plastic disc that creates a space between your dish and you soap), or else the soap will be very soft.

Do you have a way to use up old bits and pieces around the house?


My 3rd guest blog post for the Girl Guides of Canada. What have your experiences been when camping with kids?

GirlGuidesCANBlog

As we are preparing for our annual spring camp, I can’t help but think back to the first time I went to Brownie Camp as a leader. I was a Junior Leader in our Unit for two years before I became a full-fledged leader. When the two main leaders left for university before the start of the year, and then the third leader moved for work a month in, I found myself and my best friend looking at each other saying “We can do this!” And we did, but it was a learning experience to say the least.

Now, this post is meant to be about organizing or cleaning, and I will get to that, but I just wanted to share a couple of “learned tips & tricks” for Brownie level camping:

1. Always bring an extra (or two, or three) pair(s) of mittens and hats. Inevitably, one girl will…

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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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Let’s Get Digital

Paper. We all have it, but some of us have NO CLUE as to what to do with it! Here are a few tips to bring that mountain back down to a realistic, working, active pile.

 

 

1. Open your mail. I know that this might sound crazy, but it’s the first step. Also, open it right over the recycling bin. Why? Because inside most envelopes are flyers, pamphlets or brochures trying to sell you something you’ll never need. Open those envelopes and keep the one paper that you actually need.

2. Do something with the paper. Do you pay all your bills at one sitting, or as they come in? If you wait to pay them, have an area where you place paperwork that requires action. For us, we use the top of our filing cabinet. When we pay something off or update required information, then we file it. Right away. A lot of people hate filing, but it’s remarkable how quickly it can be completed if you have the right system in place, and if you are consistent with doing it regularly. With well labeled files, you know exactly where that paper belongs – quick and easy.

3. Cull your paper. Some documents you need for up to 7 years (for tax purposes), some longer (Will, Insurance, etc.) and some less (we only keep one year’s worth of bills, unless we’re claiming it on our taxes). Once your tax year is complete, put all the paper work for that year in a large envelope labeled with the year. Then, when the 7 years pass, shred it. Simple as that. If you’re only keeping one year’s worth of paperwork for a specific file, then as you put the most recent paperwork in the front, remove the last one (which should be a year old now), and shred it. One in, one out.

4. If you can manage it, go paperless. For my husband’s cell phone, we were charged $2 per paper bill – we quickly eliminated that. It will also  help with your paper dilemma. Create a good filing system on your computer and you can store all those bills electronically. No fuss, and no muss. Just remember to open those emails, and back up your computer regularly. I do like the idea of automated payments (especially for those that have difficulty keeping on top of things), but please review your bills – especially credit card bills. You never know when you might be charged erroneously, or spend more than you had intended.

How do you manage paperwork? How often do you file your papers? Have you gone electronic? Why or why not?


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!


What Is A Professional Organizer?!?

Yes, there is such a thing as a Professional Organizer. No, we don’t work exclusively with hoarders.

There, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, what is a Professional Organizer? I probably should have written this one a year ago, but a meeting with a fantastic real estate agent (Albert Yu in the Toronto area, give him a shout) made me realize that I need to incorporate this somehow, and at least it’s better late then never.

A Professional Organizer is someone who has a knack for putting things into an appropriate place, and making it easier to find when needed. We set up systems in your home or office place to make your life easier. Sometimes this requires paring down, in order to make more space. Sometimes it’s simply a matter of rejigging the area you have in order to make it flow better. There are many different types of Professional Organizers as well: Residential organizers, small office organizers, corporate organizers, photo organizers, senior move organizers, garage organizers, and those who specialize in chronic disorganization and ADHD, to name a few. Many organizers cater to a mix of clients and specialties.

You may need an organizer. There, I said it. Sometimes, I need one, too! Here are some of the types of people I work with:

Busy Bee ~ Incredibly busy and high energy. Their commitments keep them going, but also hold them back from taking time to maintain the home. (I’ll admit, sometimes I fall into this category.) An organizer would come in and help set up systems to make maintenance as simple and stress free as possible. Also, setting aside a specific appointment to get organized will ensure it gets done.

Overwhelmed ~ Having various priorities has made making decisions too difficult – until now. Sometimes you’ve got too much on your plate (a sick parent, a troubled teen, etc.), which makes keeping up the home too much of a chore. However, those issues will pass, and when the smoke clears, you’ll look around to find a home with a lot of stuff. An organizer can help you to make those decisions you once found quite tough. A sensitive ear can work wonders when trying to decide what’s important, and what isn’t – which changes with time, too. It’s time to take back your home, and your life.

Relocation ~ You’re moving! But the last thing you want to do is take all that extra stuff with you. Don’t pay the movers for their time if you’re simply going to toss it on the back end. As you pack, go through your items and donate (or toss) that which you no longer want or need. Some organizers help with the packing and unpacking process as well, which can be a huge stress reliever.

Hoarder ~ There are many different types of hoarders. Essentially, it’s the inability (or severe difficulty) with letting go of object with little or no value, and extensive acquiring of such items. If a room is no longer able to be used for its intended purpose (can’t sleep on the bed, can’t cook in the kitchen, etc.), this is a pretty good indication. Organizers, in conjunction with mental health professionals, are able to help go through the items, although this is a longer process than the above situations.

Please note that I am not writing this as a promo piece. Whenever I meet new people, and tell them my profession, they always ask, “and what do you do?” So, I hope that this helps to shed some light on this new (not actually that new, maybe about 20 years or so) up and coming field.

Have you had any experience with a Professional Organizer? Have you seen any on TV or in the media?

Want to learn more? Check out the Professional Organizers in Canada, the National Association of Professional Organizers or the Institute for Challenging Disorganization.



Here is my first guest blog post 🙂 Let me know your thoughts!

GirlGuidesCANBlog

I’ve been a Brownie leader for nearly 10 years, and for almost every one of those 10 years, I have been “blessed” with craft supplies. Not supplies that I’ve bought, but supplies that have been donated to me. I have received everything from bits and pieces of yarn and brown craft paper to googly eyes and pompoms. And we keep it! Even though we don’t have the faintest idea what to do with it, we keep it, thinking that one day we’ll be hit with an inspirational lightning bolt, and it will all come together into a masterpiece worthy of the AGO (Art Gallery of Ontario). I have a dedicated area for my craft supplies. I know other Guiders who have entire rooms filled with crafty items, but enough is enough. Let’s get realistic and either fish or cut bait. It’s time to clear out the clutter.

I still have…

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