Spring Organization: One Day at a Time

Spring is here, and summer is right around the corner! No one wants to stay at home and organize during the summer, so now is the time to do some spring cleaning and organizing and you will be ready for … Continue reading

Laundry Overload

Laundry is the one constant (non-living, of course) in my life that , if ignored, will create the greatest ripple effect.  As a result of ignoring the laundry, the kids will not have clean underwear, I won’t have any workout clothes … Continue reading

Creating a Family Drop Zone: How to Get it Done

As school begins, we start to get busy with homework and projects, but we are mostly busy with all of those after school activities.  You know what I am talking about.  PTA meetings, soccer practice, soccer games, flag football practice, flag football games, ballet, The Little Gym, and the list goes on!  Your leisurely summer schedule comes to an abrupt halt and the need for an organized after school schedule becomes imperative!  Since this is the first year that my little guy can actually participate in fun “after PRE-school” activities, and my daughter is in school all day, I have a new “game-on” time which is the 3:00 to 6:00 hours.  We need to pack those three hours with a little “homework,” fun outdoor activities, and a bunch of transporting and unbuckling of car and booster seats!

So, lately I have especially seen the need to create a sort of “command center” or “drop zone” in our home so that our whole family knows who is going where and who is doing what each day.  I also needed  a nice spot to place all of the items coming in and out of our home and make it look organized.  It’s the place where you put the lunch boxes, backpacks, shoes, papers, mail that you promise you are going to go through tomorrow.  I have been eyeing all of those cool “command centers” and luxurious entryways to homes in Pottery Barn and Pinterest.  Some have their own built in cubbies for each child, and some have awesome calendars, to-do lists, grocery lists, etc… all posted and displayed in the most organized and decorative way.  Let’s get real here…most people that I know don’t have that perfect spot in their home, so they are left to create one on a small wall or spot that may not be perfectly ideal.  That is my situation, and I decided to create my own drop zone in the most ideal spot in my home, which is actually my very small mud room/pantry/laundry room.  Let me begin by saying that even though I am a very organized person, I am not a very crafty person.  I do love a beautiful (and clean) home, but I am not going to create things from scratch and sit on my computer for an hour to make a pretty color-coded child calendar (although, I might like to do that if I had a lot more time on my hands and certainly if a client requested one).  Anyway, the thing is that you can get as fancy or go as simple as you want.    Hopefully some of these ideas will inspire you to create your own command center.  But most importantly, if you add these 4 parts to your drop zone you will be well on your way to an organized school year:

1.  A spot for lunch boxes, backpacks, and shoes

2.  Calendar area

3.  Spot for papers for each child

commandcenter2

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

commandcenter3

Photo courtesy of Pinterest

Photo Courtesy of Organize Magazine

Photo Courtesy of Organize Magazine

You can add as many things as you want to your drop zone/command center.  This last picture is of my simple but functional command center.   I also added my children’s chore charts and used some little Command hooks to tie some burlap and use clothes pins to display their artwork that comes home.  Notice there is a trash can there as well (which is where most of the artwork goes…not all, but most…Shhh! ) after it has been properly displayed for a nice period of time.

My simple drop zone

My simple drop zone

Attack of the Snackers!

My husband and I are in an ongoing battle over the kids’ eating habits. He thinks they snack too much leaving them not wanting their meals. And sees all of the excessively useless eating as the reason why we won’t … Continue reading

It’s Summertime. Do you know where your beach toys are?

The Fourth of July has come and gone, but what remains are the memories of surviving one of the year’s most intense beach days ever! If you are like so many other families you had the pleasure of schlepping not … Continue reading

Confessions of a Binder Hoarder

The other day I started thinking about all of the binders I am hoarding!!!!  I decided that I am a binder hoarder/organizer!  Let me just show you a few pictures from around the house……. As a Professional Organizer, I can … Continue reading

Here come the houseguests!

School ends in less than a month (hold on while I cry and break out into hives at the thought of being henpecked for 83 days by my beautiful, sweet and loving children). So that means families everywhere will be on the move.  For my foursome that usually means an annual pilgrimage to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and one looong (hives are appearing again) car ride to the Florida Keys to visit family.  And somewhere in between all of that driving (and hives) and beach time we receive a handful of visitors here in our home town of Charleston.  It is the wonderful price you pay to live in this beautiful city.  Family, friends and one-offs alike call you up for a visit during the summer months so they can take advantage of our pristine beaches and award-winning restaurants.  Who can blame them?

Having said that, you had better be ready at the drop of hat for that phone call announcing a visit in, oh, 36 hours!!! I try to keep my house quasi-ready for those impromptu visitors.  If you follow these 10 simple steps it makes their stay at your home much more pleasant and reduces the amount of panic that comes over one who is unprepared!

Houseguests-Blog Post

1) CLEAN SET OF SPARE SHEETS– I always have a set of sheets ready to throw on our guest bed and a set available for a blow up mattress (especially when kiddos are in tow).  Since these sheets can sit stagnant for some time, place a dryer sheet in with them when being put away. Or  have a sachet next to them in the drawer or shelf.

2) EXTRA PILLOWS & BLANKETS-Especially for those cold AC nights in mid-July.  Nothing worse than freezing through the night while grasping at paper thin covers.  I’m cold just thinking about it. And plenty of pillows for propping up to read in bed.

3) FRESH FLOWERS– This does 2 things: 1. Let’s your guests know you went the extra mile and 2. Masks any pet odors that you may be harboring in your home.  You know the ones that you pet owners don’t know exist, but us visitors can smell a mile away? Subtle yet effective.

4) TOILETRY BASKET– We all know what a pain it is to fly with a collection of 4 oz. bottles of shampoo so be kind to your guests and have a mini CVS available in their bathroom.  It is so nice to freshen up upon arrival so please have on hand a selection of toiletry basics. If nothing else, a toothbrush! That is one thing they cannot borrow.

5) HOUSEHOLD CHEAT SHEET– This list contains the wi-fi password, gate codes, do’s and don’ts of the house and other nuances they’ll need to know about. It is additionally nice to put some magazines, maps and a list of a few recommended restaurants on their bedside table.

6) AMBIANCE CHECK– Make sure the lightbulbs in their room are working and that a nightlight for the bathroom is available (unless you want them wandering into your room at night).  And if you live in close quarters it might be good to have a sound machine available for them or else you might find yourself whispering to your spouse for 3 days.

7) EMPTY DRAWER AND CLOSET SPACE– It would be just plain rude if your guests had to work out their suitcase during their visit so please offer at least one drawer and a small amount of closet space including hangers

8) DECORATE SPARINGLY– This provides them comfort without clutter.  That was a nice way of saying that you should clear your crap out of the guest room.

9) MIRROR- A full length mirror and a make-up mirror (illuminated if you are feeling generous) are a very nice courtesy. Your guests will feel so much better if they are fully dressed when leaving their room to go out for dinner. Otherwise, they will be asking to use your bedroom mirror during their 32-outfit change and that is just a little too intimate and embarrassing.  Well, unless your guest is an old sorority sister and then it would be nostalgic.  But only then.

10) STOCK THE FRIDGE– I always try to ask my guests if there are any must haves (or have nots) that would make their stay more comfortable. Do they drink regular or decaf coffee? Do they have any allergies? Are they gluten-free like so many people are these days?

Well, you better get to it because, believe it or not, Memorial Day is in 2 weekends and we all know what that means…the first houseguests of the season!!!

What’s for Dinner?

I am not a cook…..a cleaner and organizer, yes!  I always have great intentions to cook healthy dinners for my family, but I usually end up coming home in the afternoon, entertaining children, and dealing with one child crisis after … Continue reading

This is truffle season, time for tuxedos for no reason!

PARTY PIC{image via Pinterest}

….according to Jay-Z in his latest song, Suit and Tie, which I love by the way. But, obviously, what Jay-Z is trying to tell us is that it is party season! And in Charleston we will make up any excuse to throw a soiree. Friends and family are hosting everything from Easter brunch to the annual supper club to children’s birthdays to end of school year parties to engagement celebrations to Spoleto events to “my husband finally cleaned up the yard so come and see” party.

And if you, too, are having a party then you need to ask yourself, “is my home ready?”. If you had to stop and think about the answer then I can bet that it is NOT. Do you know where you put those cute cocktail napkins that Aunt Susie gave you last Christmas with the cute butterflies on them? Has that platter that looks perfect with Hamby’s sandwiches on it gone missing? And where is the tablecloth that fits your odd sized table? Did you lend it to Sally? Does she have your beverage tin, too? If these are just some thoughts that are running through your head right now you might want to consider having us help you prepare for your next event. We can offer everything from home/office party preparation to ordering flowers/catering/rental items. You name it and we are there!

However, if you are willing to take on the task of entertainment preparation yourself then let us offer up some unsolicited advice…

Here are a few simple rules to follow even before you send out the invitations (which, by the way, we highly recommend super talented Liza Cleveland of Bon Vivant to style your invitations!):

1) TIMELINE & CHECKLIST- It is a rule of thumb when dealing with any looming date or goal that you start with a timeline of events and establish your to do list. This list will start with the WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHEN and then move on to the details. There are several apps that we recommend to help you with your checklist and timeline.

2) CONSIDER SIZE & LOCATION– By this time you have made the guest list. You know your target number of guests. You now need to decide where in your home you want the guests to gather and socialize. For more intimate gatherings this may not be a concern, but for slightly larger events you need to consider seating, space for a bar and food station. You might need to rearrange some furniture in order to accommodate your numbers. Have you cleaned out the dust bunnies under your sofa? This is the time in which you do a deep clean!

3) CLEAN & DECLUTTER– Since your closets are full of random stuff you crammed into them last time you had people over it is now time to find a home for those items (most likely the trash or donation pile) and make room for the kids’ toys and backpacks that have been piling up on in your entry way. We are all guilty of having a “dump zone” in our homes. This is the place where you unload all of your daily essentials including shoes, purses, jackets, notebooks and items that are trying to make their way out of the door like birthday gifts you forgot to deliver to little Bobby down the street. This stuff must go! And if you are hosting an adult party, then no one wants to come over and see your plastic toy collection while they are trying to forget about their own sweet little angels that are up eating chocolate with the babysitter that isn’t doing your dishes. Put the toys away. Now go back through the rooms you are going to entertain in and SWEEP, MOP, VACUUM & WIPE DOWN SURFACES.

4) SERVING PIECES, VASES & GLASSWARE- You need to pull all of these items out of their hiding spaces and make sure they are party ready. If you are like me, I end up using the same wine glass every night, I mean every other night, and the rest collect dust. You must wipe out or rinse the inside of your glasses. Make sure your platters are clean as well. And cull all of the vases or other creative floral containers you are going to use.

5) YARD AND ENTRANCE- First impressions are everything! Your guests should be greeted with a clean entrance to your home. So unless you live in a bubble, you are well aware of the insane amount of pollen that has collected on your front porch. Please get out there and sweep or wash it off of the said surfaces. You don’t need to call in the experts but at least make an attempt to mow the lawn and pull up a few weeds. Go to the next level if you want and blow the yard or plant a few season blooms to really bring your yard to life! Nothing says spring more that some snap dragons!

6) DECOR & AMBIANCE- While I fancy myself a party planner extraordinaire, let’s face it. So do you! Between Martha Stewart, Pinterest and your own personal flair you’ve got this covered. This is the fun part! Enjoy. But please don’t forget to make your playlist ahead of time. A party is never a party unless there is music.

We hope you enjoy the wonderful party season in Charleston that is upon us!

Welcome Cara Applegate to Ducks in a Row!

This is an exciting post because one of my long-time and dearest friends is my new partner at Ducks in a Row!  Cara is honestly one of the most organized people I know, and I couldn’t think of a better person to work with, and I am so proud to welcome Cara Applegate as my partner!

cara

Cara holds both a B.S. in Business Administration from the College of Charleston and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from The College of Graduate Studies at The Citadel. She spent 10 years of her career as a licensed sales associate in the financial industry and as a financial manager. After taking some time off over the last several years to raise her two young children, Cara has decided to focus her energy on assisting people in creating a manageable and effective work environment. Home offices and professional offices alike require a space that is well organized in order for you to become successful. Her years of work experience in a high demand environment have given her the insight needed to help you find a balance as well. Cara will help create a system that works for you and organize your office so that you can focus on being productive.

We have so many new and exciting plans for Ducks in a Row!  Check out are new and improved website:  Ducks in a Row Charleston

While I focus on the home organizing side of things, Cara is going to be focusing on the professional and home office side of organizing and will specialize in these services as well as much more!

  • Quicken and QuickBooks Set Up
  • Bill Pay and Auto-draft Set Up
  • Archiving
  • General Office Organization
  • Online/ Computer Photo Organization
  • Music and Video Cataloging​
  • Paperless Processing
  • Calendar and Scheduling System
  • New Office? She will help you create a highly functional environment

Don’t forget that we are offering a spring organizing special where you can get 3 hours of hands-on organizing for $100 if you schedule before April 30th!

We will also be offering several new a la carte such as real estate services where we can do the following:

  • Downsizing-We will help you room by room designate which items you will need to consign/donate and what you will be packing to take with you.
  • Home Listing Preparation-We will help you remove the clutter that deters buyers. We will consign/donate items for you. Also help you with design appeal for showings.
  • Move-In Assistance-We will help you unpack and place your furniture and personal effects.
  • Annual Family Photo Book
  • Entertainment Preparation- Help get your home or office party ready!
  • Consignment and Estate Sales- We can organize and execute all of your consignment or estate sale needs.
  • Moving Day Management-We will oversee your move so you can enjoy the big day and not stress about it!

Be sure to stay tuned for more details and exciting things happening to help you get your Ducks in a Row!!!!