Posted in Kitchen, Success Stories

A Cleared Counter

It can happen easily. A wide kitchen counter is a convenient place to drop mail and other items, especially when the other person living in the house and its two friendly dogs want attention.

Judy and I devoted a wintry day’s session to clearing the counter. It had a pile of newspapers, holiday cards, other mail and a box of gifts to be sent.

As we worked, we decided where some items might go – into her desk and a file cabinet, which we would clear at another time.



Posted in Kitchen, Success Stories

“Fuel for the Jet Engine”

Jennifer found De-clutter Me! online, reading the website Timely Tips. She got in touch shortly before Thanksgiving. We emailed back and forth, spoke, and set a date for just after the holidays, during the first week of January. A nasty snow storm got in the way, so we postponed.

Our first session date finally arrived – on a brilliantly sunny and cold afternoon, the day after another snow storm. Quite typically January.

Jennifer, her husband Jim and I sat down at their table to get more acquainted and discuss their project. There were a number of areas in the house that could use attention. We toured around, then I suggested that we start at the table itself, so they could enjoy meals in a peaceful setting without bills and other mail “intruding.”

We set to work, and cleared the table. We found a quote, from the 19th century Arts and Crafts designer, William Morris. “Have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” That’s good guidance!

In the pile also was a handwritten note, based on a conversation with Jennifer’s friend Jari, who suggested that they “lean into it” – their de-cluttering work. Jennifer said that she could tell that I, as a professional organizer, would be “fuel for the jet engine,” their catalyst.




Our first session’s time used up, we discussed a homework assignment for before our next session. As part of it, I suggested that they trim “dead stuff” off the plants near the table, and give them showers. (I do that monthly, in the kitchen sink or in the shower during the winter then, as much as possible, outside with the hose during the summer. Why? I figure that photosynthesis works better when not competing with dust. Plants actually look happier afterwards! An encouraging bonus, especially during the winter – the opportunity to smell the plant dirt. Spring will come!)

We spoke about areas to focus on next time, looked at our calendars and scheduled our second session for just under three weeks away. Smiles all around! Success!

Posted in Office, Success Stories

“You’re My Tea!”

That’s what Alison said at the beginning of our session, meaning that I provided the needed energy, instead of caffeine. She had requested time with a professional organizer for Christmas. Her mother, who lives in Pennsylvania, looked online, and emailed me, encouraged, in part, by my musical interests. She’s a professional violinist.

After a few exchanged emails and a phone conversation, Martha sent a check, with Alison’s local contact information. We scheduled a date during the first week of January.

Alison has a small business, in which she leads “early childhood and movement classes for babies to five-year-olds and the grownups who love them.” We would focus our time on two bookcases in the guest room/office of the apartment shared with her husband.

Attending to the bookcase on the left and working top to bottom, we first pulled books for donation and give-away. Next, we consolidated instruments. As many other clients have, we collected cords for various electronics and placed them in a basket. We straightened curricula.


Next, the bookcase on the right. We pulled boots, shoes and sandals from the top. They would go into the closet or closer to the front door. We put office supplies together. As with the other bookcase, we stored together some materials for Alison to sort at another time.




Our gift time used up, Alison was delighted, saying that she would ask her mother for another visit in early January of 2019. That’s a first! No one’s asked for de-cluttering a year in advance. Bonus points for Martha – Christmas shopping done!

Posted in Bedroom, Success Stories

A Holiday Gift, in Stages

Based on a recommendation for a professional organizer, Eugenie contacted me about her friend Linda. Her charming, old farmhouse was very full with two houses’ worth of furniture, plus she might benefit from some de-cluttering. We wrote back and forth about how to best help Linda.

After receiving Eugenie’s check for several sessions and some more exchanged emails, Linda and I scheduled our first session. It would be mid-day on a beautifully bright, though very cold, day.

We looked around the first floor. I asked what was bugging her most. Her answer – her upstairs bedroom, but she was concerned that I would be shocked and put off by it. I told her that I’ve seen many situations that could use some attention. Not to worry!

Once upstairs, we started with her dresser. We cleared, then she dusted it. Success!


Next, we started on some piled books, magazines, etc., on the floor next to her bed. Making a good start with it, our time was then used up. We likely would return to it during our next session together.

Posted in Basement, Success Stories

To Simplify and Minimize in the Basement

Azur responded to a posting on the Front Porch Forum, Vermont’s online community bulletin board. He spoke about the family’s basement, and wanting to simplify and minimize it, “like five tiny houses.” He wanted better “flow” between its rooms, which had included his work space and play space for his two daughters. Excited to start our work together, Azur said that he already had brought excess clothes to the Salvation Army.

We started in a basement interior room. I suggested that he devote a corner bookcase to storing photography equipment. Its top shelf needed some attention, but the bookcase was otherwise usable.






Next, we worked our way across two tables, which held computers, memorabilia, and other items. As often seen with other clients, there were cords from varied electronics, which we placed in a separate bin for later sorting.





Our focus switched to a bookcase in another corner of the room, which we then organized. Why no photos? They looked fine in the camera, but then came out blurry. Frustrating!

Azur was pleased, and we agreed to reconnect after the holidays. He, his wife and daughters were thinking about them. We will return to our work when it’s warm enough to create more order in the family garage.

Posted in Seasons, Timely Tips, Winter

To Protect Dogs’ Paws from Winter Salt

A client gave me the following information on a beautifully clear and warm autumn day. I set it aside for when it would be more useful. Today works! It’s punishingly cold and we have some, though not a lot of, snow.

Paw Wax Recipe
3 ounces beeswax
3 tablespoons calendula oil
3 tablespoons avocado oil
3 tablespoons coconut oil

Melt together in a pan on low heat, mix well, then pour into a small tin or other container. Let cool at room temperature overnight. To use, rub the bottom of your dog’s paws in the Paw Wax and go!

You also might want to give some to friends, both human and canine.

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Timely Tips, Holiday Edition, Vol. III

From the archives, here are a few quick tasks to delegate. Do you have kids? Maybe a few dollars will sweeten the request(s), or a promise not to nag about holiday-break homework until December 28.

Updating contacts. Tweens focused on tech won’t mind typing addresses from incoming cards into a document or into your phone.
Addressing cards. Do you still have some to send? Here’s a chance for your kids (who, again, might be more focused on texting) to practice their penmanship.
Ironing holiday linens. Older kids should be able to handle this pressing matter (bad pun alert!). No collars or angled seams. Easy!
Salting the sidewalks. It’s basically encouraging kids to spill and make a mess. Large plastic cups can work as scoops, so they don’t have to haul a heavy container around.

Posted in Kitchen, Living Room, Success Stories

A Holiday Gift from Afar

Muneeza emailed from Connecticut. Would I be available to help her best friend Eileen, as a holiday gift? Sure!

Eileen is busy. Her husband is away for work from Sundays through late on Fridays. She home schools their two active and bright children, and works, too.

How to use our two gift sessions (six hours total)? She decided to focus first on an extra downstairs kitchen in their house, part of a former apartment. It stores home schooling supplies, her sewing materials, wrapping paper, books, and other miscellaneous items. In our first session, we made a good “dent” in the kitchen, and would finish it during our second session.





In our second session, we finished the kitchen.




With our remaining time, we turned our attention to the apartment living room’s books and LPs. The smaller bookcase section results follow.


When our time was up, Eileen was pleased, and I was happy to email Muneeza with thanks for her loving gift.

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Timely Tips, Holiday Edition, Vol. II

As the pace of the holiday season picks up, your time might be getting used up fast, too. From the archives, here are some suggestions to save some time, and maybe some sanity, too.

  • Retire the family newsletter. With so many people using social media these days, the “old-school” annual recap may be redundant now.
  • Bake in bulk. Make a big batch of sugar cookies now. You can freeze the dough or even baked cookies. (Thaw overnight at room temperature.)
  • Reconsider crystal. Do you have delicate (hand-wash-only) glassware that you’d like to use? Maybe skip it during this most hectic of seasons, and use it some other time. Instead, your nicest dishwasher-safe glassware will make life easier, both before and after a celebration.
  • Skip the party playlist. Delegate DJ-ing to a music streaming service, like Pandora. You can choose from multiple preprogrammed channels or customize a mix.

For a laugh, from Erma Bombeck’s column, At Wit’s End, in October 1987. “My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?” (Of course, I don’t agree with this, but I did laugh out loud when reading it recently. Here’s hoping you did, too.)

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Three Powerful Words

Reduce, reuse, recycle. They are suggestions we hear often. Some people groan, while others take them to heart, with gestures both large and small, benefitting us all. Please consider the following recommendations for the holidays and at other times of year. They provide a different twist on those three powerful words.

Reduce. Americans gain an average of seven pounds during the holidays. Would it be possible to decrease your food and drink intake by some percentage, to make the scale’s upward creep less challenging? Stepping onto the scale on January 2nd might be a little less unpleasant.

This is not a grumpy curmudgeon’s instruction to only chew on carrot sticks and celery stalks at parties. Maybe reconsider the last glass of red wine and/or piece of dark chocolate. (They are reported to be good for the heart. Even so, that’s tough for me, too, since I consider them to be basic food groups!) Instead, you might drink an extra glass of water. Your body will be grateful, even if it can’t voice its appreciation.

Chatting with a swimming buddy about these three powerful words, Nina shared the following Tibetan proverb – The secret to living well and longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.

Reuse. If you exchange holiday presents, what to do with all of that newly-used wrapping paper? While it’s certainly responsible to recycle it, you also can use it again. How, since it might look less-than-wonderful now? If you have access to a shredder, run it through, then save it for padding when storing fragile ornaments. Or, if you’ll have to send boxed gifts in the near future, you might bag it for package padding when the time comes.

Another good reuse – unmatched socks. How does that happen, anyway? Does the washer eat a sock? Does the dryer hide one? Use unmatched socks as padding when packing delicate objects for shipping. Put fragile ornaments inside them for storage. Lastly, you also might wear unmatched socks together, even if only at home. Bonus points – it could make you laugh. (Think about the Tibetan proverb!)

Recycle – yourself, by donating blood. As written previously, donation centers experience drops in contributions at this time of year, though the need remains constant. Even if you can’t stand needles, it’s not all that bad. It normally takes about an hour, and you’ll feel good for having done it – like voting! The Red Cross will be grateful for your help.

Happy holidays! May they bring you, and those dear to you, all that you wish, and more. Cheers!