Posted in Seasons, Spring, Timely Tips

To Combat the Cold, at least Emotionally

It’s been seriously cold, with wind chills in the 20s below zero. Some areas, like near the New England coast, are buried under as much as 7 feet of snow. It’s difficult. I can hardly visualize green grass, can’t imagine going out without multiple layers of clothes.

What to do? Since the calendar will advance at its own inanimate pace, bring some green into your home! A bouquet of flowers and/or a new houseplant will boost your spirits, in a big way! It may not help with clutter, but it/they will make you smile. Just be sure to ask for wrapping for protection against the cold.

Spring WILL come. Like Stevie Wonder’s wonderful song lyric reminds us, “…the seasons know exactly when to change.”

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Posted in Seasons, Spring, Taxes, Timely Tips

Tax Time Again!

Is the idea of filing your 2014 taxes filling you with dread? If so, and even though it’s still January, you may want to start the process. As with de-cluttering, there’s a lot to be said for starting. It’s all about forward “mo” (momentum).

If you have all needed documents gathered together in one spot, all to the good. Congratulations! It will make the task much easier. If not, here are some tips. Suggested previously on this website, they may make your life easier. They’ve worked for me, as I near finishing mine.

It’s easy. Store receipts, etc., in a tax file. I keep one going all year long. It includes letters about charitable contributions and medical receipts. There’s a list about online purchases, so I can pay state sales tax. (Yup, I’m one of the honest ones!) Elsewhere, in the old-fashioned calendar I carry around and in a small notebook kept in the car, I log miles driven for all volunteer activities, including choral rehearsals and performances. I typically drive ~2,000 miles a year. At 14 cents a mile, it’s well worth it.

Admittedly, these suggestions are so low-tech as to be no-tech. They work, though. You might try them. When tax time comes around again, as it surely will, you may be grateful for your tax file!

Posted in Home Maintenance, Seasons, Spring, Timely Tips

Worth Repeating

What’s your time worth? Probably plenty. Here’s a way to save some, if/while you wash your windows, inside and out, this spring. Wipe one surface horizontally and the other vertically. That way, you’ll better be able to tell where any streaks developed. It will cut down on task time plus, bonus points, you won’t be bugged by those left-over marks.

Posted in Home Maintenance, Seasons, Spring, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Saving Screens Sanity

Do you have slightly differently-sized screens for your windows? Is matching them a frustrating process?

Here’s an easy tip to tame the task. As you prepare to put them up, mark each with its location. After washing each screen, attach a piece of masking tape to its frame. With a magic marker or sharpie, write its direction. For example, I label my three living room screens as follows: living room (west), living room (southwest), living room (southeast).

I do this task in the spring, because the screens are up as late into the year as possible. (I hate bugs in the house, including those that somehow hang around in the fall, fighting off their inevitable end.) It’s much easier with warm fingers, instead of cold ones.

Welcome spring, especially after such a tough winter!!

Posted in Home Maintenance, Seasons, Spring, Timely Tips

Spring into Action!

Writing on a dreary Sunday, it’s rainy, with the temperature just around freezing. Snow persists, though some bare, muddy ground with still-brown grass is visible. Lovely – not!

Sunny and warm spring days WILL come! Truly, they will. Back during the fall, this page included a Timely Tip suggestion about repairing any screens needing attention. Didn’t get to it? Now’s an even better time. No doubt, in a few short weeks, we’ll open our windows to welcome spring’s fresh, soft air. Will you be faced with remembering that, oops, some screens are ripped or otherwise need work? You might consider digging them out now, and hauling them off for repair. They’ll be ready to put up and you won’t have to “compete” with other people ordering similar services.

Posted in Filing, Spring, Suggestions, Taxes, Timely Tips

Tax Time!

Are your 2013 taxes driving you crazy? With the deadline looming, you may be scrambling to file on time or, if you won’t be ready, to request an extension.

I worked with a client yesterday morning before she met with an accountant to file her taxes. We spent most of our time together organizing current and recent bills, and double-checking that she had all needed documents for her meeting. I shared with Sue my ongoing practice about tax readiness.

Suggested as a Timely Tip on this website last fall, perhaps it bears repeating and expanding, to help you stay ahead of the game for this year’s taxes, when filing time rolls around next winter.

It’s easy. Organize papers in a tax file. I keep one going all year long. It includes letters about charitable contributions and receipts from medical appointments. There’s a list about online purchases, so I can pay state sales tax. (Yup, I’m one of the honest ones!) Elsewhere, in the old-fashioned calendar I carry around and in a small notebook kept in the car, I log miles driven for all volunteer activities, including choral rehearsals and performances. Last year’s total was 2,056. At 14 cents a mile, it’s well worth it.

Admittedly, these suggestions are so low-tech as to be no-tech. They work, though. You might try them. When tax time comes around again, as it surely will, you may be grateful for your tax file!

Posted in Clearing Clutter, Seasons, Spring, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Stylish Storage

Now that we’re past the mid-January point, you may have caught your breath after the holidays. Are you now thinking to make sense of some piles that you’ve perhaps had for a long time, and others that somehow appeared during holiday busy-ness?

Here are some easy fixes. I especially like baskets, for their functionality and style. They look good and can be used for different solutions as your needs change. Made in many different sizes and styles, they often can be found quite affordably. Store toys and books; catalogs, magazines and newspapers before recycling.

Like baskets, cloth bins hold many objects, too, from table linens to toys to…you get the picture.

Trays are great, too. They don’t take up much space, and can tame the mess on bathroom counters, bars and other areas.

Canisters are great for kids’ stuff. If you can find them, the kind made of clear glass with tops on the bias will keep contents visible. Think crayons, small plastic pieces for built structures.

Already suggested elsewhere on this website, you can easily organize bills, which tend to collect on my kitchen counter; maybe on yours, too. Place them in due date order in a manila file folder or in a napkin holder.

Posted in Planning Ahead, Seasons, Spring, Timely Tips

Grills Just Wanna Have Fun!

Do you have a grill, either the old kind that uses charcoal or a newer gas item? Regardless, if you clean the grate now, before storing it for the winter, you’ll save time. By next spring, any leftover “gunk” will have had that much more time to get attached and will take more effort to clean. Besides, when you want to barbeque for the first time, about the last thing you’ll want to do is struggle with removing months’-old residue. After all, grills just wanna have fun!

De-clutter Me! serves Burlington, Vermont, and surrounding areas. Call or email today! 802.598.3639 or clearclutternow@gmail.com.

Posted in Home Maintenance, Planning Ahead, Seasons, Spring, Suggestions, Timely Tips

Pre-pre-pre Spring Sprucing Up

Just about everywhere, both here and abroad, it’s been a brutal bear of a winter. Despite today’s vernal equinox, real spring weather feels very far off. The snow gauge in my front garden still registers more than 1.5 feet. More snow and nighttime temperatures in the teens are on the way; at least, around Burlington, Vermont.

Is this extended season making you crazy? Challenging your spirits? I remember thinking, in early February, that watching the Olympics would get me through most of that month, then the worst of winter would be over. So much for that thought! Instead of perhaps scowling, here are some things that you might do to lift your spirits. When spring finally does arrive (and it will, please!), you’ll be a few steps ahead.

Buy something colorful now. It doesn’t have to be expensive. A new throw pillow or framed print might brighten up your living room, and put a smile on your face.

Similarly, treat yourself to some greenery. Think you have a black thumb? Try pothos, an easy plant to care for, tolerating lots of different light conditions. Available in a number of varieties, it wants water once a week. Mine does, anyway.

If you have them, dust your ceiling fans! That way, when it does warm up and you want their cooling breezes, you won’t be “treated” to a dust shower.

Wash the windows. Can’t get outside yet? Do the insides. You’ll be ahead of the game. If you’d rather wait until you can do the insides and outsides at the same time, wipe one surface horizontally and the other vertically. That way, you’ll better be able to tell where any streaks have developed.

Think about your spring bedding. Do you need to replace anything, for once it’s “safe” to store flannel sheets? Maybe do it now, because spring WILL come!

To the extent possible, forget about the calendar. Real spring weather will arrive when it’s good and ready. Since we’re not “driving the bus,” do what you can, now, to bring some new life into your home.