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

Back to School Already?

Believe it or not, the start of school is just around the corner.  Being a former teacher and school librarian, I get so excited about the start of school.  Since my daughter is starting kindergarten in August, this is the first year that I actually get to buy school supplies for one of my own.  I am such a nerd and bought all of her new kindergarten supplies in June.  Lesson learned though, I did spend a small fortune and will wait for sales and tax free shopping next go round!

So, before you start stressing about back to school shopping and getting those supplies in order, lets be sure to get the kids’ rooms in order!  Whether your kids are in kindergarten or in college, you don’t want your kiddos to start school with a cluttered and messy room, do you?

Maybe you are fortunate enough to have your kids in camp this week?  If not, just make it a fun project you can do together and get rolling!!!!

Here’s what you need to do:

1.  Organizing doesn’t have to involve a lot of money spent on products.  Whatever you do, don’t go out and buy a bunch of organizing products.  It will just add more clutter and cause you some unnecessary trips back to the store.

2.  Get rid of all of those small toys, stuffed animals, or whatever it is, that you really don’t need or your kids don’t play with anymore.  If your kiddo has a hard time saying goodbye to things, take this time to give a lesson on repurposing and giving to those left fortunate.  I know I have written this before, but one of my favorite Berenstain Bears books when I was little was the Berenstain Bears and the Messy Room.  I just loved when they cleaned up their rooms and ended up with all of those organized and labeled bins for their toys!  If your kids are young, read them that or Room Enough for Daisy, which is a picture book that teaches kids valuable life lessons like how living with less can benefit an individual and a community.  It also teaches them to appreciate what they have and that more is not always better.

daisy

3.  Separate like items and decide what you want to use to containerize.  This is the part where you can go shopping and it doesn’t have to be expensive.  They have tons of bins at The Dollar Store or you can go crazy and buy $50 beautiful bins at Restoration Hardware….the choice is yours!  I have found that it is easier to use products with an open top so you can just throw things in rather than using products with a closed lid.  For example, in my case, I have several cute pink baskets in my daughter’s room….one for mini fairies and princesses, Barbies in another basket, Strawberry Shortcake in another basket, etc… We actually have a separate little plastic four drawer container for American Girl accessories and clothes.  Be sure to label your baskets with a cute tag or you can even use pictures for little ones. Just remember that everything in the room should have a spot and those things always go in that spot.  If there isn’t a spot for something, it often also helps to have one big bin or tub for all of those random toys that don’t fit into a certain category…sort of like your kids “junk drawer.”  Check out our previous post on favorite products for toy “organization” for more ideas.  If you have too many toys and things around, get a big plastic tub with a lid and put the toys in there.  Stick that tub in the back of a closet and “rotate” the toys every month or so.  That way you don’t have too many things out and causing clutter all at once.

4.  You don’t need to save every little project from camp this summer and school last year.  I keep one archival box for each school year (I use the Stockholm Document box from The Container Store) and keep the art projects and other keepsakes in that box.  If it gets too full, it is time to go back through and reevaluate what to keep.  Arts and crafts are another whole post that we are going to revise and revisit soon, but for some ideas, check out our previous post on art storage.

Stockholm Boxes

5.  Start going through clothes that your child has outgrown.  Be thinking about the awesome sale Charleston Repeats that will be held in September.  Go ahead and register now so you are ensured a spot as a consigner!  I swear by this sale…make a lot of money every time I do it.  It takes some work, but it pays off in the end.  You can also sell those toys and other items you are purging at the sale!

Remember, our goal is to help you reduce clutter and keep things simple.  The less clutter you have around, the easier it is to clean and keep up with, thus reducing your stress and allowing for a happy momma!

DIAR Signature

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

Consolidate with Craft Paper!

After recently helping a client  with her mudroom and having to create space for gift wrap, I was reminded of a great resource that helps you rid your house of so many unwanted and costly items.

Believe it or not, it’s CRAFT PAPER!  I could seriously write a book about the 100 uses of craft paper, but for the sake time, I will share with you my top 3 uses.

1.  GIFT WRAP– It is great for gift wrap.  You can stop hoarding those tacky gift bags and annoying sheets of tissue paper that are balled up in some box somewhere…I know you are proud of your collection, but it is so much more fun to give a gift using craft paper and add a simple ribbon or raffia.  I have my kids decorate the paper for their friends’ birthday presents, which gives it so much more meaning.  And when I realize I’ve run out of their cute gift tags by Bon Vivant I can scribble the “To & From” right on the paper.  You can also use it to wrap fresh flowers using the same decorating effect.

2.  KID ART– I always knew that kids were going to be expensive, but I didn’t know that approximately 1.2% of the budget was going to dedicated to owning a vast collection of coloring books.  We have jumbo pads, Melissa & Doug coloring pads and every single Disney character themed coloring book on the market!  And there they sit piled on top of each other with their pages half colored and ripped and stuck together all of which are deemed unusable by my 4 year old.  If there is even so much as a water droplet on a page it is trash in her mind.  So, we use craft paper. I cut only what is needed at the time.  Waste not want not.  And honestly, I have found that children are way more creative when given a blank sheet of paper than with a color by number of Strawberry Shortcake.  And when she is lacking direction, I put a vase of flowers in front her or a car in front of my son.  So fun to see their interpretation of things.

3.  TABLE COVERINGS– This ties back to #2.  I use it for all of the kids’ parties.  Instead of buying cheap table cloths or worse, have them ruin my nice ones with paint and fruit punch, I use craft paper.  You can dress it up with art work to coincide with a themed party or write on it the directions to a craft they might be doing.  I also use it as a tablecloth for the kids’ table during holiday meals.  For example, during Thanksgiving last year I used one of those cone thingys that holds gourds as the Crayon holder and the kids kept busy by playing tick-tac-toe and drawing pictures as we waited and waited and waited for the turkey.

I suggest that you keep a healthy supply on hand seeing as there are multiple uses for this trusty product.  I recommend buying a 36″ roll of white or natural paper,  which gives you about 1000 ft. to work with.  

craft paper

And to make things even easier, go ahead and spring for the convenient paper cutter (also in the matching size of 36″).  The cutter is great

because it keeps it contained and easily accessible.

Craft Paper Dispensor

Plus, think of all the money you’ll save once you stop buying all of the other products that you have just eliminated!  Go ahead, click and buy! I know you love the idea!  What are your favorite uses for craft paper? Let us know!

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!!!

A Hankering for Hangers

This is more like a plea than a lighthearted blog post so I’ll get right to the point.

Ladies and gentlemen, let me remind you of the easiest way to transform your closet from a cluttered, overstuffed mess to a seemingly styled, clothing heaven…

HANGERS

I just replaced the last of my plastic, slippery, chunky hangers (and the unmentionable dry cleaner hangers) with non-slip velvet hangers from Marshall’s Home Goods. They sell 18 packs for $9.99 in a variety of fun colors. These hangers do several things for you:

1) CREATE SPACE- They are low profile, which is key for most of us living with small closets. I reclaimed almost 12″ of hanging space!

2) REFRESH YOUR PERSPECTIVE- You can search through your closet with added ease and these hangers give way to finding clothes that ordinarily get lost in the shuffle.

3) PREVENT SLIP & FALL- I cannot stand finding an abandoned hanger in the closet only to look down and see an expensive shirt in a ball on the floor.

So here are a few suggestions on which hangers your should purchase NOW!!! Seriously, do it today!

Hangers-Blg Post

{1.  Close-ette }  {2. Real Simple }  {3. Huggable Hangers }

Have a great weekend! Enjoy the 139th Run for the Roses and Cinco de Mayo.

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

Keep Calm and Wait for Carson

We have a guest blogger this week!  My mom, Carol Cassone, who has been obsessing over storing her silver for years.  She finally tackled that closet and did an unbelievable job (just like the mother of a professional organizer).  Really, … Continue reading

Inbox Zero ~ Said No One Ever!

Inbox Zero

Well, except for me. I say it all of the time. And because you know how type-A I am, you won’t be surprised when I tell you that all 5 of my email accounts have amazingly pristine inboxes. (Yes, I have 5. Don’t ask. That is for another day.). And not only that, but I have beautifully labeled folders in each of these accounts separating everything from the kids’ school stuff to business ideas. And further more, my iPad and iPhone are harmoniously synched to reflect this state of inbox zen! But did you know that I’m not considered an inbox overachiever? Rather, I am considered a prime example of a healthy inbox owner. And there is an actual word for this! INBOX ZERO! And those 2 words, my friends, help me justify my overly compulsive behavior.

But let’s be realistic, for most of you or rather everyone but me, there is only such a thing as INBOX MILLIONS. So I’d like to offer you some help in this category so you, too, can find peace of mind and that oh-so-important email you haven’t been able to find since asked by your boss to locate it like 3 months ago. Frankly, I’m surprised you still have a job or friends with the way your inbox looks and all…Seriously, your best friend sent you an Evite to your God daughter’s birthday and you never even knew it! Nice. Real nice. Those days are behind you! I am here to save the day.

There is now an app designed to help you with inbox zero and offers triage for your insane inbox situation.  It is called Mailbox! It syncs your email accounts and turns them into a To Do List aiming to accomplish INBOX ZERO.  The company is still very young and so they joined forces with Dropbox to become even more amazing! We all know and love Dropbox.  It let’s you take your documents and pictures with you anywhere and share with anyone! But back to Mailbox…

First, you’ll need to register and get in line for your MAILBOX.  They are currently taking reservations.  I got in line the other day on my iPhone and it told me I had like 60,000 people ahead of me.  However, when I checked back today there are only 12,999 people ahead of me.  I am so excited for my number to be called.  And when it is, I will share the news with you! But for now, I strongly urge you to get your place in line so you can be well on your way to INBOX ZERO.

But while you are waiting for your new MAILBOX try out this other app that I love-PAPER KARMA! Paper Karma helps control the junk mail you receive in your actual mailbox (You know, the one on the street?).  Simply snap a photo of your junk mail and it sends a request to unsubscribe from the publisher’s mailing list!  I have used it a lot and it actually works.  No more unwanted catalogs or flyers! So happy.

Have a great weekend!