Links:nike air max pas chernike air max pas chernike air max pas chernike air max 90 pas cherair max pas chernike air max 1 pas cherair max pas chersoldes nike air maxnike air max 1 pas chernike air max 1 pas chernike air max pas chernike air max pas chernike air max pas chernike blazer pas chernike blazer pas chernike blazer pas chernike tn pas chernike air max pas chernike air max pas chernike air max 1 pas cher Grace Brooke, LLC http://gracebrooke.com Home and Office Organizer Extraordinaires Thu, 11 Dec 2014 12:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 Moving Time – Your Clothing Closets http://gracebrooke.com/2014/12/moving-time-clothing-closets/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/12/moving-time-clothing-closets/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 12:00:14 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3917 One of the more difficult aspects of moving can be trying to fit your current stuff into certain areas of your new space. Closets can be one of the more tricky areas to work with unless you are lucky enough to have a new space with expansive nooks that you are already salivating about filling. […]

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organized closet

One of the more difficult aspects of moving can be trying to fit your current stuff into certain areas of your new space. Closets can be one of the more tricky areas to work with unless you are lucky enough to have a new space with expansive nooks that you are already salivating about filling.

Let’s be honest, most of us would love to have a showroom closet. In the bedroom you would open the closet door and walk in to something Carrie Bradshaw from Sex in the City would swoon over. While you might not be able to pull off that type of high-end look, with a little bit of planning and organization you can easily go from functioning to fabulous during your move.

A quick closet reduction

Rather than just grabbing everything in your closet and stuffing it into boxes, something I am sure all of us – myself included – has done, it makes more sense to do a little housekeeping first. By slimming down your closets you not only save time and energy in moving what you really use, but you also have more flexibility for organization at your new space.

Start by asking yourself important questions about everything in your closet:

  • Does this fit? A size above or below can be acceptable if the item passes the rest of the questions.
  • Have I worn this in the last 12 months?
  • Is it likely I will wear this again…ever? If not then out it goes.
  • Is this in style or does it match my style? See above.
  • Is the item damaged and if so will I actually fix it? If it has been six months or more than it is doubtful.
  • If I was in a store would I buy this today? This is a great question for those items you are on the fence about.
  • Do I like to wear this? Items we feel comfortable and confident in get worn more often while items that don’t meet that criteria regularly are passed over.

When you are truly honest it can be fairly easy to make a decision about what to keep and what to donate. Really there is no point to take up space with items that you don’t really love or that serve an important function in your life.

Working with the new space

New spaces are exciting because you have possibilities. Even on a budget there are ways to maximize any closet to make the most of the space while also being organized. Remember, organization helps save time and energy when looking for and using items. After completing the above step you should have a better idea of how much actual ‘stuff’ you have to work with.

Now it is a matter of using some tips and ideas to better organize it:

  • Take measurements of your closet, including depth, before shopping for storage solutions. Aim to make every inch count.
  • Use a variety of storage units to fit needs. Dresses, suits, dress shirts and the like should be on hangers. Drawers and shelves are perfect for folded items including sweaters. Boxes and bins are great for odds and ends like socks, underwear and scarves.
  • Multi-level shoe racks fit under most hanging clothes and can help keep shoes neat and orderly. Hang your longest items before measuring the space underneath.
  • Use coordinated hangars. This creates a clean look and allows more items to fit in a small space because each hangar works with the next in regards to spacing.
  • Consider drop hangers for limited space. This is where you have hangers that attach at the front of each other taking up less space on the rod for multiple items.
  • Store most-used items at eye level and less-used items below. Those used absolutely least go up top. This makes it easier to get what you need quickly.
  • For folded clothes use dividers or stacking systems to ensure they stay in their own space.
  • Hooks are a great way to add storage space to small nooks along with racks on the back of a door, bedroom or closet.
  • Additional space can be made under beds with storage boxes. This is a great place for seasonal wear to go and then can be alternated out as the year goes on.
  • When shopping for storage solutions don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. In addition to the storage section in a store like Bed Bath & Beyond, check out the kitchen, bath and laundry sections as well. Different sized spaces have different needs and you might find something that works perfectly in another section of the store.

A more organized closet is part of a more organized, and thus efficient, life. Taking some time to reduce your clothing collection prior to moving and ensuring your new space is organized well from day one will end up saving a lot of time and energy that can be spent on more enjoyable pursuits!

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Organized Unpacking http://gracebrooke.com/2014/11/organized-unpacking/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/11/organized-unpacking/#comments Thu, 27 Nov 2014 11:00:56 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3914 Does anyone enjoy unpacking after a move? This portion of the moving process can feel like a trip to the DMV or dentist, but it really isn’t. When you think about it, you have already done all the hard, time-consuming labor like packing and unloading the heavy boxes and furniture. Now all you have left […]

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unpacking

Does anyone enjoy unpacking after a move? This portion of the moving process can feel like a trip to the DMV or dentist, but it really isn’t. When you think about it, you have already done all the hard, time-consuming labor like packing and unloading the heavy boxes and furniture.

Now all you have left is the home stretch of unpacking!

Here are a few tips for a more organized unpacking process that can not only help get things done in a systematic manner, but at the same time can help to reduce some of the stress and anxiety that builds up when faced with big tasks.

Tips for an organized unpacking

Obviously it pays to have packed in an organized manner. Ideally you decluttered prior to packing and took some time to label boxes properly. Even if you skipped those two aspects, these steps will certainly make unpacking a smoother ordeal!

  • Clean first – A great idea before you even start lugging boxes into your new house is to give it a thorough cleaning. The bathrooms and kitchen should be given primary attention; it is hard to put stuff away in a dirty environment. A simple dust and vacuum should suffice for the rest of the house.
  • Boxes in the proper spot – Ideally as you unload you are placing all the furniture and boxes in the rooms they will end up in. If that is not the case make sure to shuffle boxes until they are where they need to be. For bathrooms you might stack boxes outside of the room due to space issues.
  • Start in the bedroom – If you have kids’ start in their room first then go to yours. Setting up the beds with fresh linens means you have a cozy place to rest when all your work is done. If you have kids then getting them unpacked first means you have a place for them to play (out of the way) while you work on the rest of the house.
  • Get the clothes out – Clothing can quickly transfer from boxes to the closet and dresser. Not only does this make you feel more settled in but it is a fairly quick process making you feel more accomplished. Ideally the bedroom is a sanctuary for people and the sooner that room is settled the sooner you will feel “at home”.
  • Open every box – Rather than working one box at a time, it makes more sense to open every box in a room. This prevents shoving boxes aside for later which can result in searching for something that you forgot to unpack and can make for more economical movements.
  • Reorganize as you go – If you didn’t declutter prior to the move now is the time to set aside the excess. You can easily create a few boxes for the attic to hold things you don’t really need out.
  • Move to the bathroom – After the bedroom, the bathroom is the next room to check off. It is a small room so it won’t take too long and again, it helps make you feel “at home’. With an organized bedroom and bathroom you have the peace of mind that you can sleep and get ready like you normally would.
  • On to the kitchen – Many people think the kitchen should be set up first, but let’s be honest – you are probably ordering take-out food. Often the kitchen has the most number of boxes to unpack as well, so saving this project until after a few other rooms are finished can help with motivation.
  • Other rooms – After the kitchen the best progression is laundry room, coat and linen closets, dining room, porch and home office. People often accumulate a lot of dirty clothes during a move so getting the laundry room set up with a few loads going while you work makes sense. Closets are small accomplishments that can make a dent in the wall of boxes. The dining room is often a low-key room that then gives you a place to have dinner. A porch or patio offers a nice outside breather with typically a simple space to set-up. Finally the home office or similar room has more equipment with wires that can take some time which is why it is near the end.
  • Save the den for last – Den can be the family room or whatever room it is that you set up your television and go to relax. The reason is simple, that room is a trap for relaxation. You might think a marathon of Housewives of Beverly Hills or a sports game in the background wouldn’t hurt, but any distraction slows you down and later in the day that couch looks very tempting.
  • Artwork – One of the last things to do it hang up art and other knickknacks. This step should always be near the end as you might adjust furniture and other items as you settle in.
  • Storage areas – For the garage, attic and other storage space save them until everything else is completely unpacked and settled. Often people add items to these areas during unpacking so waiting saves time during final organization.

As you complete a room, take the time to break down boxes and put them in their own place (garage, outside, etc) in a neat pile. That way as you work you will be able to see your accomplishments in the form of organized, moved-in rooms. It is much easier to stay organized if you start organized so use these tips to help the next time you move!

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Managing a Move with Kids http://gracebrooke.com/2014/11/managing-move-kids/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/11/managing-move-kids/#comments Thu, 13 Nov 2014 13:00:45 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3909 Ah the joys of moving which are only magnified by the presence of small children. For most people moving can be quite a bit of work. When you add small children into the mix that amount of effort multiplies exponentially along with the stress. So what should you do? Unfortunately there is not a one-size-fits-all […]

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moving with kids

Ah the joys of moving which are only magnified by the presence of small children. For most people moving can be quite a bit of work. When you add small children into the mix that amount of effort multiplies exponentially along with the stress.

So what should you do?

Unfortunately there is not a one-size-fits-all approach that works. However, as a mother of two, I have learned quite a few things over the years – most of it through trial and error – that I am glad to share.

Empowering the Kids

Part of the problem with a move is that kids feel powerless. Think about it…often parents tell them “we’re moving” which allows them no input on the decision. Therefore it helps to involve them in as many other decisions as possible.

  • The Wish List – Have the family sit down and make a list of all the things you want in your new home such as separate bedrooms for kids, a bigger backyard or even a tree for a tire swing. Try and make sure everyone gets at least one thing they want.
  • House Hunting – Let them see prospective houses. While the decision is ultimately for the parents, make sure you take their input seriously.
  • Designed by Kids – Let the kids help design their own rooms, from paint to furniture arrangement. You can even turn it into a project for them to work on while you are packing using construction paper to map it all out.
  • Make a Memory Book – For out of town moves take some time to gather photos, visit favorite places and share memories. Saying goodbye in the right way allows for closure.

moving boxes

Moving Tips

  • Prepare the Kids – Moving is a complicated process that your children might only have a basic understanding of. Explain all the steps, how long it will take and exactly what will happen.
  • Ask for Help – Moving is a lot of hard work and having people like friends and relatives help out is a huge blessing.
  • Packing Projects for Kids – Let kids lend a hand by packing some of their own things, wrap items in bubble wrap or work on labels. Even if you have to re-do things at night it will keep them involved in the process.
  • De-clutter After Hours – It can be hard enough to get rid of items as an adult, but for kids it can be next to impossible. Often you will agree to get rid of something and 30 minutes later they have it out and are playing with it feverishly. Avoid this problem by working on this project when they are asleep or out of the house.
  • Don’t Rush – It is hard to get things done quickly and efficiently while kids are underfoot. Make sure you have plenty of time so you aren’t frustrated with the inevitable interruptions that will occur.
  • Listen to Kids Concerns – Kids can and will vocalize feelings, questions and concerns. Listen and treat their feelings with respect, even if you can’t accommodate what they want.
  • Goodbye Party – This is a great way to turn a move into a positive, exciting experience – throw a party! This gives kids (and you) a chance to say goodbye to the people who matter the most and have some much needed fun.
  • Pack Special Bags – Favorite toys, activities and clothes should be in special bags for the kids that stay with them the entire move; this provides something to do during the trip and is a source of comfort.
  • Special Box of Toys – Kids will need things to do right up to the move and as soon as you get to the new house. Have a special box (or two) of favorite toys and games to pack last and then unpack first.
  • Provide Alternate Entertainment – Babysitters, day camps, modeling clay, a new movie or anything that will keep those kids occupied will help you get a lot more done.
  • Make it an Adventure – Moving is often a crazy time. Rather than get upset by it, embrace it and have more of an adventure allowing kids to do things you normally wouldn’t.
  • Follow Routines – Once you are in your new space it is helpful to try and follow familiar routines. Nighttime and tuck-in routines, Sunday morning pancakes, Friday afternoon games of catch and other things let kids now that just because you moved and some things changed, not everything does.
  • Reassure Kids – A home is security for most kids and moving can cause insecurity about other aspects of life. Reassure kids that you will always be there for them even if a home or school changes.
  • Make it Feel Like Home – When unpacking, focus more on making it feel like home rather than just getting it done quickly. Put up familiar things first.
  • Explore the New Environment – Get out and see what the new neighborhood has to offer and get kids excited about their new home!
  • Use Postcards and Email – Let kids send pictures and share their new home with friends and family.
  • Use Moving Boxes for Fun – Did someone say “box castle in the living room?”

Moving is one of the top-five most stressful things to go through in life right up there with death and divorce. Understand that it will be tough and make sure you have time to not only get the packing done, but also to have time and space for yourself to deal with excitement and sadness that often overlap during a move.

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Using Organization for Labeling and Packing http://gracebrooke.com/2014/11/using-organization-labeling-packing/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/11/using-organization-labeling-packing/#comments Thu, 06 Nov 2014 17:11:13 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3904 Using good organization practices for labeling and packing items, whether for moving or just storage, is always a wise idea. Often times when doing something like packing a box or tub there is the good intention of doing things properly, but we cut corners to save time. However that time saved ends up being time […]

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things to consider when moving

Using good organization practices for labeling and packing items, whether for moving or just storage, is always a wise idea. Often times when doing something like packing a box or tub there is the good intention of doing things properly, but we cut corners to save time. However that time saved ends up being time wasted down the road when you can’t find what you want or are worried about the condition of your packed items.

What is the best solution?

It makes sense to develop a system for packing and labeling that you can use for any situation. Not only will it become familiar and thus faster when you do it, but it will also save time later when you need to find something and provide peace of mind that your stuff is protected until you need it.

Labeling Pro Tips

For many people labeling involves a black marker and some quick scribbling on the side of a box or tube. I know, I have done it. Quick? Yes. Efficient and well organized? Not at all.

When you label a box “Memories” and then unearth it from your attic three years later are you really going to remember what “memories” are in there? The same thing can be said for almost anything when it is labeled in such a general manner. Heck, even Christmas supplies end up being a game of hide-and-seek as you try and remember if the tree skirt and stand was in the “Christmas 2″ or “Christmas 4″ tub.

There are various organizational ideas you can employ to help making find items simpler. Pick and choose from this list to create what works best for you and you needs:

  • Label effectively – Labels should be descriptive so that you can tell at a glance what is in a box or tub. Rather than just “X-mas 1″ you might add next to it more descriptive terms like ball ornaments, wreaths and the like. When you label think about someone else trying to find something and how easy it would be.
  • Consider label apps – Technology has come a long way. Now we have apps available to help with just about everything including organization. It can be a great tool for organization. Apps like In That Box for the iPhone allow you to enter items into a database and then track them. You can print out labels for your boxes or tubs, some even with options for QR codes, which allow you to quickly see a list of contents.
  • Use stickers – White sticker labels are perfect for boxes and tubs. You can find them in a variety of sizes, they are eye-catching and if you re-use a box or tub you just need to apply new stickers over the old ones.
  • Label uniformly – Rather than labeling on one side only, label consistently in the upper right hand corner of each side and the top of the box. It helps to add arrows to indicate which side is up. That way no matter what side of a box you see, you can identify the label easily.
  • Packing lists – For people who prefer the paper and pen method over apps, it can be helpful to create an inventory list for your boxes. You can then use a reference number on your label to the appropriate list. It is also a good idea to leave a copy of this list on the top of the box before you seal it.

labeling

Packing Pro Tips

Packing for short-term or long-term storage should involve similar steps. After all, no matter how long your stuff will be stored, you want it to be safe and sound.

  • Tubs or boxes – The choice between tubs or boxes should be based on time and money. Boxes are a cheaper storage solution, but for items that are going to be stored long-term the added cost of tubs should be looked at in terms of protection. How often have you heard stories about water leaks or storm damage in an attic or garage ruining items in cardboard boxes? For moving your household boxes make the most sense, but for those items going to the garage, attic or other storage spots consider investing in storage tubs that stack evenly together.
  • Right size boxes – Put heavy items in small boxes and light items in bigger ones. If you do mixed-weight items in a box, put the heavier items on the bottom as to not squish lighter items.
  • No empty spaces – Fill in gaps with clothing, towels, or packing paper to ensure boxes aren’t loose, unbalanced and won’t shift or settle.
  • Focused packing – For moving, pack only items from one room into one box rather than mixing different rooms together. For storage pack similar items in the same box so you don’t have to access multiple boxes or tubs to get what you want.
  • Tape boxes – The bottom should always be well-tapped along the middle and seams to prevent bottoming out. Making a few wraps all the way around the box’s top and bottom edges, where stress is concentrated, can help add structural support to a box.
  • Bundle breakables – Dishes and the like should be packed carefully with paper around each one and then bundled together. Bundles should then be packed on their sides and not flat to reduce the chance of breaking. Specialized boxes are recommended.

Efficient labeling speeds up moving and unpacking time because you quickly identify the contents and where things belong. Proper packing protects items for both the short and long term. By approaching both tasks with an eye for organization you will end up saving time and energy down the road whether your goal is moving or just ensuring the important things you keep in storage stay safe.

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Selling Your Home: Organizing & Staging http://gracebrooke.com/2014/08/selling-your-home-organizing-staging/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/08/selling-your-home-organizing-staging/#comments Tue, 26 Aug 2014 12:00:55 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3848 One of the more difficult aspects of preparing to sell your home is staging. Many realtors prefer that a home is “staged” properly for open houses and regular viewings by perspective clients. The reason for the staging is simple; people want to look at a home and imagine what it would look like if they […]

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Staged Living Room

One of the more difficult aspects of preparing to sell your home is staging. Many realtors prefer that a home is “staged” properly for open houses and regular viewings by perspective clients. The reason for the staging is simple; people want to look at a home and imagine what it would look like if they lived there.

That can be rather difficult when your home has an array of knickknacks and personal mementoes along with the other type of personal touches most of us adorn our home with. Think of it from the buyer’s perspective; what do you want to see when you walk into your potential new home?

To work around that issue I recommend that you take the time to organize your house for staging to better showcase your home for those perspective clients.

Organization for staging

  • De-personalize – Ideally you want a buyer to imagine themselves living in your home. You want them to look around and picture how they would fit into the different rooms and spaces. To effectively do this it helps to de-personalize a space by removing items like pictures, personal knickknacks, college or sports memorabilia and the like. There is also a psychological reasoning behind this; you want to remove any subconscious negativity. If you have pictures up but none have kids in them, it sends a message that perhaps this house isn’t big enough for a family. Or if you are a big Dodgers baseball fan, all of your baseball memorabilia might irritate Giant’s fans. Packing up collections, clearing off the fridge and removing excess items makes your house show better.
  • De-clutter – Do you know what moving time is perfect for? It is the perfect time to de-clutter and downsize your living space! If you haven’t used something for a year or more then donate it! This goes for clothes as well. Consider books, magazines, papers, small appliances, CDs and the like. If you pack them up then you have to move them and find space in your new house. Plus, after you have de-cluttered, your house will feel more spacious to both you and potential buyers!
  • Pack it up – Now we are down to the nitty-gritty! First, pack up all of the items from the ‘de-personalize’ step. These are important to you so they will be making the move. By packing them up now you are saving time later. Next, anything you do not need for the next six months should be packed up. Consider out-of-season clothes, sporting items and even kitchen appliances to be eligible for packing. One recommendation for storing them is a POD or put them in an out-of-the-way space like the attic or garage. Space bags are a great idea to help with bulky items like blankets, comforters and coats. Again, this helps clean your house out to make it look more spacious to potential buyers.
  • Clean – A detail cleaning of the house is a must before showing it off to potential buyers. One recommendation is hiring a cleaning service and asking for a “detail cleaning” which can run in the neighborhood of $300-$1200 depending on the service and size of your house. This should be a top to bottom cleaning that includes blinds, fans, under objects on the shelves, baseboards, ceiling, inside cupboards and even the fridge. Don’t forget the windows, both inside and out, which will also help let in more light.
  • Stage – Staging is sometimes done by the real estate agent, but you can always do it yourself as well; after all, you will be living in the space between showings. Make sure to adjust furniture if needed for open walking spaces through rooms. Use touch-up paint or a Magic Eraser to help clean up walls. Put new bulbs in lamps and light fixtures to help increase visibility and warmth. For decoration, remember that each room should have one purpose such as bedroom, office or dining room. If a room has too much stuff and an unclear purpose, remove the excess to make the room seem bigger. You want your home to look clean, spacious and welcoming.

While we didn’t cover the exterior of the home, the same general rules apply. You want things to look clean and fresh outside to then entice people to come inside. A fresh coat of paint on the front door, removal of old objects in the yard and planting of seasonal flowers are great ideas to spruce up the exterior.

Many people feel their homes will already show well, but they forget that they are an impartial judge. By properly organizing, de-cluttering and staging your home for potential buyers you are helping them see the potential that made you decide to buy the house in years past. Plus you will be saving yourself time and energy by removing unneeded excess and having some things packed up when moving time is upon you!

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Home Organization: Creating a Neat & Tidy Attic http://gracebrooke.com/2014/08/home-organization-creating-a-neat-tidy-attic/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/08/home-organization-creating-a-neat-tidy-attic/#comments Tue, 19 Aug 2014 13:00:47 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3842 If you are like me then the attic is a place for long-term storage. Holiday decorations, old mementos and even unused shoes can find their way up there. This area of the home is where things are often stored, never to be seen again. For those people who are preparing to move, the attic can […]

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Neat and Tidy Attic

If you are like me then the attic is a place for long-term storage. Holiday decorations, old mementos and even unused shoes can find their way up there. This area of the home is where things are often stored, never to be seen again.

For those people who are preparing to move, the attic can create quite the quandary.  Since the attic is a space where you have “plenty of room” people often avoid making tough decisions about what to keep versus store and plenty of things just get shoved up there; out of sight, out of mind.

So what is the best way to attack this problem?

I have developed a 6-Step Guide to organizing your attic to help conquer the clutter and make the moving process simplified by actually moving to your new space only the things worth keeping. By properly un-cluttering the attic you are setting yourself up for success in your new space.

6 Steps to Attic Organization

1. Get a helper – Most attic spaces are not built for human convenience. Because of space limitations moving items is often a two person job so the first step is to enlist the help from someone like a family member or friend. You need to be mindful when working in attic spaces because of the smaller access points, unfinished nature of most spaces, irregular flooring and general need for a ladder. Make sure to be careful up there!

2. Have a space for junk – Ideally you are going to be getting rid of a lot of stuff. That means you need a temporary place for items to go. Depending on the amount of stuff in your attic you might need to rent a small dumpster. Or it could just involve using large garbage bags and space in your garage before loading up your car to haul items to a dump or charity for donation. By being prepared for the items you will get rid of, it makes it easier to actually get things out of the house!

3. Start the de-clutter process – Clutter just isn’t trash and cheap junk that fills up space. One of the toughest things for people to do is getting rid of things that they think have value, whether that is emotional or monetary. Are you holding onto items out of scarcity, guilt or a false sense of security? Be ruthless with yourself. The general rule is if you don’t love or use it, its clutter.

4. Categorize and sort – After you have gotten rid of the excess “stuff” you should be left with a manageable pile of important items that are worth saving and storing. Of course important things should be placed in the proper spot and stored correctly not only to keep them safe but also to help you remember what items you have and where they are. Common sorting piles would be things like holiday decorations, out of season clothing, heirlooms, or out of season sporting supplies. Some things might even belong elsewhere in the house!

5. Create storage solutions – Now that you have items sorted they should be stored in an appropriate manner. Plastic bins, tubs, banker boxes and other sturdy storage options are recommended. Ideally you should use storage solutions that not only fit the items you are storing, but stack easily together and fit within the space they will go. When you are cleaning out an attic, especially before a move, this is a great time to re-store items in appropriate containers, which are then packed and ready for moving from one space to another.

6. Label and inventory items – One aspect of long-term storage that should always be considered is proper labeling of items. We can easily forget what we put in different boxes or storage tubs. Think of your storage space in terms of time; searching through boxes for things is a time waster. The key to solving this problem is creating a detailed list of what is in each box and then labeling the outside of the box clearly. A written list can be placed inside the box or tub so you can determine the contents at a glance. On the outside of the container you can place masking tape in a visible location and then write a quick description such as, “Christmas Decorations – Tree,” or “Grandma’s China.”  

A space like the attic might seem overwhelming to deal with, but by following this 6-step program you can go from “cluttered” to “organized” fairly quickly. Remember, when you de-clutter and organize your spaces prior to a move you are saving yourself time and energy during both the move and unpacking phases because you have less “stuff” to deal with.

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Home Organiziation: Tips for Downsizing Your Kitchen http://gracebrooke.com/2014/08/home-organiziation-tips-for-downsizing-your-kitchen/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/08/home-organiziation-tips-for-downsizing-your-kitchen/#comments Tue, 12 Aug 2014 17:08:14 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3835 Getting ready to move into a new home with less kitchen space than you currently have? Do you have so much “stuff” that you aren’t sure how to make it all fit in a functional manner in your new space? Rather than just throwing everything in boxes now and attempting to deal with it later […]

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Getting ready to move into a new home with less kitchen space than you currently have? Do you have so much “stuff” that you aren’t sure how to make it all fit in a functional manner in your new space? Rather than just throwing everything in boxes now and attempting to deal with it later when space is really a premium, let’s take a different approach.

By de-cluttering and downsizing what you currently have combined with a little planning and preparation before you pack can save you lots of stress on the other end. By making the decision now on what to keep you are setting yourself up for less clutter in your new home.

Keep in mind, the less you have to pack means the less you have to carry and then unpack saving you time and effort!

Here are 10 tips for downsizing your kitchen before a move:

1)      Clear out the junk drawer: Why does every kitchen have a junk drawer? Even more confusing is what is in the junk drawer, which nine times out of ten are items that are better suited for other rooms in the house.

2)      Pick your appliances carefully: Being selective about your electric appliances is a necessity in a small space or one with limited countertop availability. That means sacrifices need to be made! The two key things to think about are what you use the most and what saves you the most time. For me it is the coffee maker, Vitamix and cutting board that make the cut. Also if you aren’t regularly cooking for a lot of people, smaller can be better for things like microwaves, toaster ovens and the like.

3)      Matching sets for dishes and glasses: Over time many of us collect a hodgepodge of dishes, glasses, mugs and the like. However, the more mismatched your items, the more space they take in the cupboards. While a plain white set of dishes might seem boring, you can still dress up table settings with good tabletop decor.

4)      Invest in space-saving pieces: Nesting bowls, multi-purpose tools and stackable kitchen gadgets can combine functionality with fun. For example, the Bin 8 Bottle Kitchen Tool, which retails for about $25, is about the size of a wine bottle when stacked and provides useful and needed tools for cooking.

Multi-purpose tool

5)      Match your Tupperware: Tupperware and similar food storage items are very useful, but only if they have a lid. Go through and make sure each piece has a matching lid and place any that don’t in your get-rid-of pile. Now look at what is left and keep a reasonable amount, focusing on those that stack easily together.

6)      Go to the back of the pantry: What is in the back of your pantry or shelves as far as non-perishable food? People tend to buy items like canned goods, pasta and baking items then never even use them before the expiration date. Unless you use items regularly they shouldn’t take up space and expired food should always be thrown out.

7)      Organize bulk foods: Certain food items like cereal, beans, oats, flours and the like come in odd shaped containers that do not organize easily or fit shelf space in the most efficient manner. A good solution is to develop an organization system that incorporates simple canisters or storage bins that effectively fit your space. For example, Mason jars are an inexpensive and efficient way to store a variety of items. They can easily fill up shorter shelves, are visually appealing and you can tell how much of something you have at a glance. This method can also be combined with adding an extra shelf in larger cabinets to effectively double your space.

8)      Get rid of the knife block: Knife blocks might seem like useful storage when in fact they are space suckers! A mounted knife rack is not only functional, by keeping tools close at hand, but a great way to save space in your new digs.

Magnetic Knife Holder

9)      Re-think knick-knacks: People tend to acquire items that end up becoming clutter. Ask yourself, does this item have a function or mean something special to me? If not then it should be placed in the “unnecessary pile”. Also when considering knick-knacks you want to look at wall space rather than counter space for placement.

10)   Do I need it: It is time to play the consideration game as you go through your cabinets and drawers looking at each appliance, utensil, pot and pan! Ask yourself, “When was the last time I used this?” and “Does this give me joy?”

Give yourself time, keep it simple and don’t over think things. The bottom line is that it’s all subjective based on you and your needs. A good thing to remember is that this is an opportunity to ensure your new kitchen has only the things you truly love and need. Good luck!

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Downsizing: What to Consider When Moving to a Smaller Home http://gracebrooke.com/2014/05/downsizing-what-to-consider-when-moving-to-a-smaller-home/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/05/downsizing-what-to-consider-when-moving-to-a-smaller-home/#comments Thu, 08 May 2014 16:35:24 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3811   So, whether you’re moving from a spacious, large home to a significantly smaller space or moving in with a significant other, downsizing is a must.  But how do you determine what to keep with minimal stress and maximum efficiency? Downsizing is not as easy as it may seem. It can be overwhelming, cause anxiety […]

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small spaces_ 

So, whether you’re moving from a spacious, large home to a significantly smaller space or moving in with a significant other, downsizing is a must.  But how do you determine what to keep with minimal stress and maximum efficiency? Downsizing is not as easy as it may seem. It can be overwhelming, cause anxiety and create tension amongst family members. On the flip side, it can also be a cleansing experience and leave you with a sense of relief. It is important to have a game plan and a timeline to tackle this big project. Below are two crucial steps to take when downsizing.

Take Inventory:  Look around your home and the things you have in it. Create a list or take photos of your belongings then ask yourself, “What could I live without? What can I replace?  And what do I absolutely have to keep?”  You only want to keep the things you love, bring you joy and serve a purpose. It can be that simple. Everything else can be donated, sold or tossed. Taking inventory of your possessions will help you assess the overall big picture of what you have and what your needs are for your new home or space. Take into account the size of your furniture. Will the large sectional and king size chair fit into your new family room? Can the monster size flat screen TV be mounted on the wall? Will these items fit neatly into your new home or will they leave you feeling squeezed into a tiny space?  If your new home is smaller than your current one, these will definitely be items you’ll want to consider replacing.  Look at furniture pieces that provide multiple uses or can be tucked away. For example, a coffee table can serve as extra storage or seating and a bed can be folded up and hidden in a cabinet (Murphy bed). A storage trunk can be used as a mini office. Files and office supplies can be stored inside while a cork board can be attached to the inside lid of the trunk and used to keep important reminders. The trunk can also be used as a coffee table or bench. Armoires can be repurposed to store toys, hold and organize gift wrap, used as a wine bar or simply used as an office.

Letting Go:  When downsizing, you are ultimately going to have to let go of belongings that hold some value and memories for you.  One of the main reasons why it’s so hard to declutter is because we look at an item that we no longer need and we remember how much time, energy or money it took to obtain that item.  Keep in mind, the treasures you decide to hold onto will cost you additional time, energy and money to move. Now that you’ve managed to take stock of your home inventory and sorted the items you wish to purge, how do you figure out how to sell, donate or store these items?  When it comes to selling our possessions, we tend to put a higher value on it than others will. Consider this and do some research on Craigslist and eBay before pricing your items. Larger furniture items and appliances sell well on Craigslist and at garage sales. If the furniture is antique and of high quality, take it to a local consignment shop. You will earn 50-60% of the sale if the furniture piece sells within the 45-60 day time frame. Smaller items such as electronics, books, video games, computer equipment, toys, clothing and art have success on eBay, Craigslist and at garage sales. Depending on the time and effort you want to invest in this project and the value of the belongings, often times it makes more sense to donate the items and receive a tax credit. Another option is to hold an estate sale if you are leaving a majority of your treasures behind. You can hire a professional team to come in, prices everything and organize the event. The commission is usually 50%.

What do you do with the old refrigerator that no longer works? You can try adding it to the “free” section on Craigslist to see if you get any takers or transport it to the recycling center at your local dump. What about the sofa that is covered in stains and has lost its stuffing? These items can be places in the “free” section on Craigslist, taken to the dump or Salvation Army can pick them up.

Give yourself plenty of time to tackle this project and create a plan. Enlist the help of friends and family. Living a life with less stuff to care for and manage will create more time in your life and provide an overall lighter feeling for you and your family.

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What’s Hiding Behind Closed Doors http://gracebrooke.com/2014/05/whats-hiding-behind-closed-doors/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/05/whats-hiding-behind-closed-doors/#comments Thu, 01 May 2014 17:19:40 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3803 The Importance of What’s Behind Closed Doors Our homes are a reflection of who we are and what we do. They tell a story about the people who live there. What does your home say about you? Are you someone who loves to entertain, enjoys gardening, has an obsession with scrapbooking, collects books and loves […]

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What's behind the door?

The Importance of What’s Behind Closed Doors

Our homes are a reflection of who we are and what we do. They tell a story about the people who live there. What does your home say about you? Are you someone who loves to entertain, enjoys gardening, has an obsession with scrapbooking, collects books and loves STUFF? Does this story represent you in a positive light?

When it comes to putting your home on the market to sell, it is just as important to declutter and simplify the closets, drawers, cabinets and anything else behind closed doors, as it is the open areas. As a Professional Organizer and someone who regularly tours open houses, I am constantly peeking into pantries, linen closets, kitchen drawers, bedroom closets and under the sink. These areas will tell you a lot about the home, the people who live in it and how well they care for the place.

Your home is an extension of you. Are you always on the go? Busy, busy, busy?  Are you organized and in control or are you stressed over the clutter in your life?  Throwing everything in a drawer or a closet might give the appearance that you keep everything tidy and in order, but when you have potential buyers opening cabinets and closets, your secrets will quickly be revealed! Your CLUTTER represents you, your home, how you care for yourself, your home and your home’s overall appearance.

You want to have a home that looks and feels inviting, inspiring, happy and full of joy. For it to reflect its full potential, its charm and the reason why you fell in love with the home in the first place. Don’t let the things you own drag you and the price of your home down. Before putting your home on the market, make the time to purge items that no longer bring you joy, love or serve a purpose. Remove items off the floor, be ruthless with how many knick knacks are displayed on the buffet table and how many books are kept on the bookcase. But don’t forget what’s hidden behind closed doors. It is important to recognize that these spaces are just as important as the open space and fluidity of your family room, bedroom, kitchen and bath. Potential buyers will want to know what kind of storage space and options your home has. These are key selling points too. They will be envisioning themselves living in the home and where they will be storing their kid’s toys, wedding gifts and collection of figurines. If the closets, drawers and cabinets are crammed full of STUFF, the potential buyers won’t be able to see what is accurately offered.

Think of your storage space in terms of time. The more things you have to look or sort thru to find what you need are time wasters. If you keep just the necessities and everything has a purpose and place, you’ll feel better and more confident about showing off your home.  

Here are 4 tips on how to spruce up your storage spaces to show off your home’s inner beauty and potential.

Junk drawer:

Everyone has a junk drawer right? Or two or three… you get the point. Nothing is wrong with having ONE junk drawer, however make sure the items inside are sorted and contained using various size drawer organizers. Don’t let the items inside the drawer float around looking like a chaotic mess. Dump everything out. Relocate excess pens, tape, batteries, broken toys and anything that does not serve a purpose. Use small containers you may have already around your home or purchase drawer organizers from a local office supply store or Walmart/Target. Only put back the items you need at your fingertips to manage day to day life. To bump things up a notch, get beautiful shelf liners to line the inside of the drawer.

Linen closet:

This space is usually jam-packed with towels, sheets, pillows, extra bedding and many other things…just because they ‘fit’. I have found the linen closet can be used for many other purposes just by relocating towels into the bathroom where they are used and sheets/bedding to the room they will be used in. Pair down your linens to two sets of sheets per bed. Roll the bath towels and display them in a pretty basket on the floor, counter top or inside a cabinet. They can be hung from a ‘hotel like’ towel rack on the wall. Limit your bath towels to two towels per family member. This simple step can make your bathroom more inviting and appealing. Now you have freed up the storage space within your linen closet and can show this area off to eager buyers.

Pantries:

Pantries have a way of hiding expired foods, looking disorganized and feeling cluttered. STUFF gets shoved in there. Make the time to purge expired foods and items that don’t belong. Organize the can goods and boxes of cereal. Get rid of the original packaging for chips, crackers, rices and pastas. Put these items in clear, storage containers that have locking lids. This trick will keep your food fresher longer and you will be able to see how much you have left. Create a ‘snack bin’ for individually packaged food items. Make sure to have ‘negative space’ on the shelves so the pantry doesn’t feel cluttered.

Closets:

Our bedroom closets hide many skeletons! This is the perfect time to purge unwanted items, clothes that haven’t been worn in the past year and shoes that no longer have a spring in their step. This will be a helpful step in preparing for your upcoming move. No one wants to see clothes bursting out of the closet or drawers of the dresser. Swap all the mix match hangers with matching flocked hangers. These flocked hangers save space, are kind to your garments and look great. Take a few minutes to use your sorting and color coding skills by lining up items from whites to blacks, short sleeve to long sleeve, skirts to pants.

Show that your bedroom closet is an inviting place to walk into first thing each morning, starting the day off in a relaxed, stress-free environment.

Follow these tips and your home will be sure to sell much faster.

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6 Tips To Declutter Your Home Before A Move http://gracebrooke.com/2014/04/6-tips-to-declutter-your-home-before-a-move/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/04/6-tips-to-declutter-your-home-before-a-move/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 16:38:16 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3793 6 Tips For Declutter Your Home Before A Move Getting ready to move and not quite sure where to start? Do you have so much “stuff” that you just want to throw it all into boxes and sort it out later?   The mere thought of packing up all your belongings into boxes making you stressed […]

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6 Tips For Declutter Your Home Before A Move

Getting ready to move and not quite sure where to start? Do you have so much “stuff” that you just want to throw it all into boxes and sort it out later?   The mere thought of packing up all your belongings into boxes making you stressed and overwhelmed?  Let’s take a different approach.  One that will free you of some of the heaviness and weight you may feel when looking at the overall, big picture. Decluttering and downsizing what you have before a move can be very beneficial and save you lots of stress on the other end.  The unused and unwanted things that have costs you time, money and energy are not worth any more time or energy packing up to move to your next location.  Make the choice now to minimize your possessions; to keep only what holds true value and start creating new habits for yourself and family before moving into your new home.  I advise people to keep only the things they love, that bring them joy and serve a purpose. Everything else is clutter! Keep in mind, the less you have to pack and unpack = less to move = less time and energy sorting through your treasures in your new home.  It’s a win win! 

Here are 6 tips for decluttering your home before a move:

1) Create a Plan and Stick With It!  Envision yourself a few weeks from now.  Have a vision or a theme for your new home and future lifestyle.  What do you want it to feel and look like?  “Have nothing in your house you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.” William Morris

2) Prepare yourself and be ok with letting go.  Purging is a process.  You may want to hold onto things because of the cost, it was a gift or it was once valuable but hasn’t been used in a year or more.  Are you holding onto items out of scarcity, guilt or a false sense of security? Be ruthless with yourself. Your new home and lifestyle will thank you.

3)  Toss, Donate and Downsize.  Gather up anything that is broken, stained or torn to be tossed or donated. This includes all the things that are no longer useful or serve a purpose and get them out of your home.  Even those items that never got unpacked from your previous move (you know the boxes hiding in the back corner of the garage)! Stop buying groceries and household items in bulk now so you will have less stuff to pack and move.  If you have duplicates of things, pair down and only keep the one in the best condition.

4) Give Yourself Time.  Keep it simple and don’t over think it.  Go room by room and take your time, then rest.  Begin the downsizing process weeks or even months before your move.  There’s no need to get overwhelmed. Priorities your home room by room. This will help you manage each project and keep the mess contained. 

  • Sort things into “keep” “give” and “trash” piles.  When sorting into your “keep” pile only keep the things that are practical, useful, and extremely meaningful.
  • Put away or box up what you “keep”. Remember to remove the things that take up too much space or detracts from the showing of your home. You want it to be open, clutter-free and inviting.  Think about keeping that mentality in your new home as well.
  • Haul the rest away.  If you feel you have time and energy, consider having a ‘moving sale’. Use Craigslist to sell bigger items. If you plan to leave a majority of your items behind, contact an Estate Sale Coordinator. Otherwise, pay it forward and donate to your favorite charity.

 5) Ask for Help.  Things will be easier to toss when you have a system and a buddy to keep you focused and motivated.  Plus it tends to speed the process along.

6) What would you grab in case of a fire?  Obviously, you should think of saving only people and animals.  However, thinking about this in the abstract can really show you what you value and what’s the most important to you and your family.  If you can live without it, do you really need it?  Keep this in mind when decluttering, minimizing and packing each part of your home.

Bottom line, it’s all subjective.  It comes down to what is too much for you.  Use this time as an opportunity to create your new home, filled with only the things you truly love, bring you joy and serve a purpose.  Good luck!

 

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Asking For Help http://gracebrooke.com/2014/04/asking-for-help/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/04/asking-for-help/#comments Fri, 04 Apr 2014 10:00:04 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3763   Help, considered a four letter word by some.  Asking for it can be challenging, especially for an “independent” woman, but learning how to can prevent burnout, teach kids how to ask for help and make life easier.   I discuss the benifits of asking for help with fellow Professional Organizer, Tracy Paye on wsRadio.com.  Ever […]

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Ask for Help

Help, considered a four letter word by some.  Asking for it can be challenging, especially for an “independent” woman, but learning how to can prevent burnout, teach kids how to ask for help and make life easier.   I discuss the benifits of asking for help with fellow Professional Organizer, Tracy Paye on wsRadio.com.  Ever feel like you have too much on your plate?  Carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders?  You have to be willing and open and ready to ask for help.  And once you do if you allow yourself to receive assistance, amazing things can happen and open up for you!

Check out my conversation with Tracy Paye of Miss Organized.

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http://wsradio.com/wsradio/episode_details/114/25414

 

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Have Faith & Let Go of The Unnecessary http://gracebrooke.com/2014/04/have-faith-let-go/ http://gracebrooke.com/2014/04/have-faith-let-go/#comments Wed, 02 Apr 2014 11:00:48 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3770 It’s a constant process to learn to let go of things in your life that does not serve you.  Be it things, relationships, thoughts or attitudes.  These are all things that weigh us down and keep clutter in our lives.  I believe that by letting go of anything that doesn’t have a purpose in my […]

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Let Go 1

It’s a constant process to learn to let go of things in your life that does not serve you.  Be it things, relationships, thoughts or attitudes.  These are all things that weigh us down and keep clutter in our lives.  I believe that by letting go of anything that doesn’t have a purpose in my life, I’m not only freeing up the clutter, but actually allowing the things that I desire and am passionate about to manifest.  

By definition, faith is believing and trusting in things unseen or not proven.  I believe that there is power in believing, knowing, trusting, having faith that things will work out.  There is power in positive thinking!  Why put out needless stress and worry about things that are out of your control?  Does that really serve you well?  No.  Worry and stress is your minds clutter and it takes away your joy and your peace.  You don’t have to always have it figured out for it to work out. 

Try a new motto this year, not just a new resolution and believe, have faith that it will serve you well.  Write it down on paper or on a post it and place it on your fridge or your bathroom mirror.  Be intentional in your thoughts and affirm it daily!  You can be successful and attain your goals without all the worry.  Learn to also be selective in what you allow in your life.  Don’t let go of one thing and add another bad habit or thought.  Let go of the things outside of your control and approach the things you can control with a greater sense of empowerment.  Say “I CAN!  And I will because I say so!”  What a cleansing process this can be.  To release yourself of bad habits or thoughts, worry and stress are just as necessary as the physical clutter in our lives. 

Let go and have faith!  Everything will be ok. Trust the process.

Happy Organizing!

Faith in the Absence of Control 1

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Home Organizing Tips – Lego Storage Ideas http://gracebrooke.com/2013/05/lego-storage-ideas/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/05/lego-storage-ideas/#comments Wed, 01 May 2013 12:00:09 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3629 If you have kids, you know the excruciating pain of  stepping on a Lego piece with bare feet!  It makes you want to throw them ALL in the GARBAGE!!!!  The only good thing about Legos is the fact that your kids will sit in their rooms for HOURS on end playing with them.  It’s really […]

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LegoStorageIdeas

If you have kids, you know the excruciating pain of  stepping on a Lego piece with bare feet!  It makes you want to throw them ALL in the GARBAGE!!!!  The only good thing about Legos is the fact that your kids will sit in their rooms for HOURS on end playing with them.  It’s really bitter sweet!

As an organizer and mom of two, I am often asked, “What are the best ways to store and organize Legos?”

Here are a few unique ideas and clever ways to store and organize those pesky little buggars… I mean toys.

Lego Cabinet

store and play

 

 

I absolutely LOVE this idea of taking a binder and some sheet protectors to create a Lego Instruction Manual.  It is perfect to store all the Lego instruction sheets and booklets.

Happy Organizing!

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Organizing Your Office – Storing All The “Little Things” http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/organizing-your-office-storing-all-the-little-things/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/organizing-your-office-storing-all-the-little-things/#comments Wed, 24 Apr 2013 13:00:41 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3620 How do you store and organize all the tiny, little office supplies you need on hand?  There are so many fun and clever items to organize the “little things” in life and our office that are just laying around our homes.  For example, use an old muffin pan to store your paperclips, staples and tiny […]

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How do you store and organize all the tiny, little office supplies you need on hand?  There are so many fun and clever items to organize the “little things” in life and our office that are just laying around our homes.  For example, use an old muffin pan to store your paperclips, staples and tiny little gadgets.  Or use an ice tray or even an egg carton to keep rubber bands and pushpins handy.  Think outside of the “ice box” and re-purpose items you already have laying around collecting dust.

Grab that old ice tray that just sits empty and put it to work.  It will easily fit into any desk drawer.

A framed pegboard!  Of course, a great way to keep everything organized and did I mention, easily accessible?

Also frame a piece of sheet metal and use magnetic spice containers to hold buttons, tacks, paperclips, plus much more.

 

Add a ronmatic feel to your office by using antique glasses and dishes to store and organize the simple things.

Use “test-tube” glass containers to store items and have fun looking at it!

 

deskorganizer

This is what I personally use to organize the “little things” on my desk.  It is an Eastern Indian spice rack!  It works great for jewelry, beads, crafts and so much more.

Happy Organizing!!!

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Organizing Your Office – Choosing the Right Shredder http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/organizing-your-office-choosing-the-right-shredder/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/organizing-your-office-choosing-the-right-shredder/#comments Mon, 22 Apr 2013 13:00:29 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3607 There are so many types of shredders out these days.  How in the world do you know which one to choose?  Of course, the money factor plays a huge part as well as how much you will be using it.  You may need something basic that will shred your junk mail or you may have […]

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There are so many types of shredders out these days.  How in the world do you know which one to choose?  Of course, the money factor plays a huge part as well as how much you will be using it.  You may need something basic that will shred your junk mail or you may have the need for something with a little more gusto to shred piles of papers.

If you have mounds and mounds of documents that need to be shredded, consider taking the boxes full of papers to a local store to be shredded.  Office supply stores and UPS stores will often times provide an in-house shredding service. You’ll pay less than $1 per pound to have your secrets destroyed. Your favorite financial institution may even provide this service!  I’ve even heard of many other businesses such as mortgage companies who have free shredding events for the public.  Take a peak in your local newspaper or even Craigslist to see if there are any shredding events in your neighborhood. Your favorite, local Professional Organizer my even know of a few resources as well.

Once you have the backlog of papers shredded and destroyed, I suggest finding a shredder that will help you maintain your office by shredding documents as you go.

After doing a little research on the “top shredders” on Consumer Research website, I found these results:

Recommended by more reviewers than any other shredder, the Fellowes PS-79Ci combines superb safety features with quiet operation, a 6-gallon pull-out waste bin and guaranteed jam-free performance. This model shreds CDs and DVDs as well as credit cards and documents secured with staples or paper clips. Safety features include a sensor that shuts off the shredder if a hand gets close to the slot.  The shredder carries a two-year warranty.  You can pick up one of these  at Amazon.com for $179.00.

 

If you don’t need to destroy CDs or shred a lot of paper at once, reviewers say this budget paper shredder is a good value. The 5-gallon bin doesn’t pull out; to empty it, you must lift off the top, which contains the motor, cutters and controls. This model also has an opening in the front of the bin for papers that need to be recycled but not shredded. Safety features include a patented sensor that shuts off the shredder if a hand gets close to the slot.  The Fellowes DS-3 shreds staples and small paper clips as well as paper and credit cards, and carries a one-year warranty.  This shredder can be purchased for $75.00 at Amazon.com.

 

This small, Aurora AS800CD Cross Cut Paper Shredder from Walmart can’t do anything fancy; the size of its crosscut shreds are larger than most, so it isn’t the most secure, plus it doesn’t have any remarkable safety features. Still, in more than 200 user reviews, owners are overwhelmingly happy with this simple shredder. With a bin size of about 3 gallons and a paper capacity of just six sheets (don’t try more than three sheets at a time to be on the safe side), it’s best for light duty. But in its price range, it gets much better reviews than competing paper shredders.  Visit Walmart to pick up this shredder for $25.00.

Happy Shredding and Organizing!

Mind Over Clutter

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Organizing Your Home – Fancy Ways to Store Laundry Detergent http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/fun-and-fancy-ideas-for-storing-your-laundry-detergent/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/fun-and-fancy-ideas-for-storing-your-laundry-detergent/#comments Thu, 18 Apr 2013 20:23:14 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3542   I don’t  know about you, but I am not a huge fan of doing laundry.  BUT maybe if there was a little pizazz or eye candy to look at during the process, it could lessen the burden? Have you thought of taking an old water dispensers, canisters or your fish’s old home and transform […]

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I don’t  know about you, but I am not a huge fan of doing laundry.  BUT maybe if there was a little pizazz or eye candy to look at during the process, it could lessen the burden?

Have you thought of taking an old water dispensers, canisters or your fish’s old home and transform it into a Designer Laundry Detergent Dispenser?  Not only would it be uber fabulous to look at, but it would be a creative way to use something you already have around the house to store your detergent.

I LOVE the feeling of walking into an area that is very appealing to the eye even if I have my arms full of dirty laundry.  Now I know some of you are probably thinking, “Why would I want to take the time to pour my laundry detergent into another canister when it is already in a dispensing container?”  Well, my friend, the only answer I have to that is simple!  When we add some fun and spice to our life, we make the day to day, mundane tasks feel more doable!

Why do you pour your rice into a food storage container?  Naturally, you would not want the bag to accidentally open and cover your floor or counter tops with rice?  Heavens NO!  And, it looks a lot nicer stored in a clear, glass container instead of a plastic bag.  A plastic bag that once you open, you cannot re-seal.

So check out some of these glamorous ideas and think about what would work best for you.

A fun idea is to put that water dispenser that has been sitting in the box to use.  Use a fancy cup for dispensing too.

I LOVE this idea, not only for laundry detergent, but for everything else that is stored next to the washer and dryer.  Use these canisters for your dryer sheets, pocket treasures found when emptying out pockets, clothes pins or even a little decor to spruce it up a little.

A DYI canister.  Simply decorate with any color or theme and display.  It is fun to see what kinds of great scooper’s you could use.  Maybe a fancy measuring cup in the shape of a flower or a fancy spoon.

Of course, Bubble’s old fish bowl!  Finally, a great way to put that old fish bowl to use.  Go grab it out of your garage, clean it out and add a little decor around it.

This is another great idea, using a plastic garbage can to store your laundry soap.  This would be perfect if you buy your powdered detergent in bulk.

So turn that boring old laundry area into a fun, inviting place to be.  I would love to hear any other tips or suggestions you have to spruce up the laundry area.

Happy Organizing!

don't love back

 

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Organizing Your Financial Papers for Tax Time http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/organizing-your-financial-papers-for-tax-time/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/organizing-your-financial-papers-for-tax-time/#comments Mon, 08 Apr 2013 13:00:38 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3580 It is that time of the year.  TAX TIME!   Are you feeling like you are swimming in papers? Receipts piled high and there isn’t an end in sight? Invoices, bills and bank statements scattered across the floor?   This year, get organized so you will be better prepared for next year and the years […]

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It is that time of the year.  TAX TIME!   Are you feeling like you are swimming in papers? Receipts piled high and there isn’t an end in sight? Invoices, bills and bank statements scattered across the floor?   This year, get organized so you will be better prepared for next year and the years ahead.  It is so nice to be able to grab a folder and head to your accountant with all the necessary documents!  No need to pull out your hair out in a mad search for your tax files.  (I personally know people who spend WEEKS preparing their taxes. I see so much headache and heartache during this time of year.)

If you own your business you will need different organizing strategies than an individual who does not own a business.  Lets chat about some of the many choices that are available for everyone’s needs.

As a business owner, I personally LOVE the brown accordion  folder labeled with the months of the year.  I keep all my statements and receipts organized and in order this way.  Since I use a bookkeeper, this is the easiest system to organize and maintain. Use a decorative basket or storage bin to hold (hide) your financial papers.

Financial papers organized and neat

As an individual who does not own a business, you may want to designate a certain file or folder in your file cabinet labeled “Current Taxes“.  Make sure this folder is easy to access and view. Once you start receiving your tax documents in the mail, you have a place to store them until you need them.

Tax file

Think outside of the {file} box! Here’s a simple system to use and maintain, but maybe not the prettiest. It is using my all-time favorite organizing product – the over-the-door shoe organizer!!!

 

It is wise to keep the current year taxes and last year’s taxes easily accessible. All other taxes can be kept in what I refer to as “Deep Freeze“. Don’t use “valuable real estate” to store information that you will most likely ever look at again. Keep these financial documents safe, but not in your main file cabinet or in a drawer at your desk. Think closet, garage, attic or fire proof safe.

 

Happy Organizing!

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Organizing Your Home – Hiding Your Ironing Board http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/organizing-your-home-hiding-your-ironing-board/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/organizing-your-home-hiding-your-ironing-board/#comments Fri, 05 Apr 2013 13:00:16 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3564   Where do you store your ironing board?  Some people prefer it in their laundry room or spare bedroom.  I personally enjoy the convenience of having it my bedroom closet.  When I am getting dressed and find that something needs a quick press, I don’t have to go far to get my iron and ironing […]

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Where do you store your ironing board?  Some people prefer it in their laundry room or spare bedroom.  I personally enjoy the convenience of having it my bedroom closet.  When I am getting dressed and find that something needs a quick press, I don’t have to go far to get my iron and ironing board. Unless you enjoy streaking through your house half naked!

I know storing an ironing board can be a challenge for some, especially if you have a small place.  The board is awkward in shape, not attractive to look at and big to store. There are simple things you can do to store your ironing board and keep it away from sight.  Check out some of these great ideas.

 

“Built in” cabinet for your ironing board. Mount it on the wall and have enough storage for the iron, starch and other supplies.

product image

 

When I had a walk-in closet, I preferred to use an over-the-door holder/hook just like this one.

Over the door holder

I love learning about sneaky ways to hide things! This is very clever and a great use of space…it’s a board tucked away in a hidden drawer.

 

If you are REALLY tight on space, there is a product (magnetic ironing blanket) you can use on top of your washing machine.

Magnetic Ironing Blanket

 

Happy Organizing!

 

simplify your life have more fun

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Organize Your Home in 60 Days – Online Course! http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/organize-your-home-in-60-days-online-course/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/04/organize-your-home-in-60-days-online-course/#comments Wed, 03 Apr 2013 10:00:18 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3575 Do you need to refresh and revitalize your home? Join me and my friend/colleague, Jennifer Ford Berry (author of the Organize Now series) for some “tough love” in our next online organizing course starting this Thursday, April 4, 2013. Do you have a “honey to-do list” that isn’t getting completely? Tired of staring at the […]

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Do you need to refresh and revitalize your home?

Join me and my friend/colleague, Jennifer Ford Berry (author of the Organize Now series) for some “tough love” in our next online organizing course starting this Thursday, April 4, 2013.

Do you have a “honey to-do list” that isn’t getting completely? Tired of staring at the same cobwebs since last summer? Feeling like your clutter piles keep growing and growing instead of going away? Are you wondering…

“How can I make more room in my closet?” 

“What is the best way to organize my kitchen and/or  bathroom?”

Well you will love our new, online organizing course, “Organize Your Home in 60 Days”.  Simply sign up and sign into our exclusive Facebook page where you will learn many of our all time favorite organizing strategies for your home.  FINALLY you can accomplish your goal of getting organized and it will only take 60 days! Not 60 years!!!

For as little as a $1.50 per day…

 

What we will cover:

  • How to declutter and organize the entryway
  • How to create a streamline and efficient kitchen
  • How to put together a master bedroom that is a peaceful haven
  • How to maximize closet space
  • How to simplify the bathroom and linen closet
  • How to create a laundry system that will save you time and energy
  • How to organize a family room that brings your family together
  • Learn how to purge and organize your garage into zones
  • Spring Cleaning tips from the experts!

Are you thinking, “I am so busy! How long will each session take?”

  • 10-15 minute “check-in”(anytime) in the exclusive Facebook group per day
  • 3 – 5 hours per week

 

Click here to learn more.

Here’s the crazy thing, you will have access to not one, but TWO organizing experts for 60 days who will act as your personal coaches and cheerleaders.

This is worth THOUSANDS of dollars!

Sign up today for only $97 and start making the necessary changes in your life!

sign up today

 

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Moving Soon? http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/moving-soon/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/moving-soon/#comments Mon, 25 Mar 2013 22:56:22 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3550 You’ve heard the saying, “Moving sucks!”.  It can be a stressful, painful and a overwhelming experience and most of the time, should be left to the professionals! Since we started offering packing and unpacking services a little over a year ago, I continue to be on the lookput for reputable moving companies to refer to […]

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You’ve heard the saying, “Moving sucks!”.  It can be a stressful, painful and a overwhelming experience and most of the time, should be left to the professionals!

Since we started offering packing and unpacking services a little over a year ago, I continue to be on the lookput for reputable moving companies to refer to clients.

I had the wonderful opportunity to interview Eric at Tana Movers this past week.  I am sure you have seen them around town if you live in Sonoma or Marin County.  I have even seen them in my own neighborhood.  After I checked into them through YELP and saw their five star ratings, I thought they would be the perfect company to contact for some credible information.  Lets face it, no one LOVES to move.  The hassle of getting boxes and delicately packing all of your priceless belongings SUCKS!  We’ve all experienced the lovely headaches and backaches that come with moving. It is well worth the investment to hire professionals to help with any size project!

GB, LLC: “What is the biggest mistake people make when moving?”

Tana Movers: “People underestimate how much stuff they actually have.  It is so important to really get your items organized.  The better organized you are, the faster the move.

Some great tips Eric shared is to place all your smaller boxes into one large box.  It makes it a lot easier to move.  Instead of moving a bunch of cereal sized boxes, put them all in one large box.  Makes sense, right? Another great tip is to use a Dolly.  (No, not the ones that little girls dress and play with).  They are so helpful in moving boxes and larger, heavier items with ease.

Have some items that need to go to Goodwill but are too large for your car?  They can haul it away at NO EXTRA COST!  Now where can you find a moving company that does this?  AMAZING!!

The best tip of all is to remember you get what you pay for.  If you want quality moving for all your priceless possessions, it is worth the investment.

So check out Tana Movers at www.tanamovers.com or contact them at (707) 293-4277.  Eric said they have traveled as far as Santa Barbara, Los Gatos, Chico and even Lake Tahoe!  Remember, “Smile, Help is here…”

Simplify in order to thrive

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Cleaning Tips from the Experts http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/cleaning-tips-for-the-experts/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/cleaning-tips-for-the-experts/#comments Mon, 18 Mar 2013 13:00:30 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3506 Ever wonder how to you can make cleaning your home more fun and be more efficient with your time?   Cleaning the house is one thing I’d rather not do. Instead of spending hours cleaning on a weekend, I would rather explore the beautiful wine country I live in, play with my children or go on […]

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microfiber towels glass mirror
Ever wonder how to you can make cleaning your home more fun and be more efficient with your time?   Cleaning the house is one thing I’d rather not do. Instead of spending hours cleaning on a weekend, I would rather explore the beautiful wine country I live in, play with my children or go on a hike. Recently, I interviewed my friend, Diem Tran who owns, Simply Maid Home in Sonoma County. I personally use Simply Maid Home and LOVE their professionalism, friendliness and the products they use!
Diem Tran women in business sonoma county
When I asked her, “How and why did you get into the industry?”
Diem answered, “I worked for the largest house cleaning company in the U.S. for about 2 years doing sales and I loved it. Post college, I decided to open my own business doing what I loved. I wanted to create a traditional business such as house cleaning with a modern management style through empowerment and encouraging personal growth among my team.”

 

She has so generously shared some of her tips and tricks to cleaning.

 

I had to ask her, “What is your favorite cleaning tip?” 
Diem said, ” I LOVE the top-down, left-right method. This is: begin your cleaning at the top level (ceiling corners) and work your way down as you dust or wipe surfaces, then move to your right as you complete one vertical section. This prevents fallen dust to land on areas you’ve already clean and helps you not forget to cover an area because you’re moving about the room systematically.”

 

“What is a common mistake people make when purchasing cleaning products or supplies?” I asked.
Diem answered, ” They like to think that abrasiveness is what helps clean the surface. They believe more bleach or more chemicals will make the cleaning easier and all they’ll have to do when they get home is spray, leave and then wipe. The truth is cleaning is a routine, that’s what keeps things clean. We have good cleaning products, but they’re not magic…cleaning is best when consistent and it only takes a few minute a day to avoid any build up that would ever require the toxic products.”

 

Check out Diem’s Top 3 Tips to cleaning:
#1 If you have frosted glass shower doors that are not treated for hard water, apply a coat of lemon oil to the side facing the shower. This will help repel water deposits and keep your door like new.

 

#2 Use an apron when cleaning. This will cut your cleaning time down by 15%. Have your cleaning products and towels hanging off your apron so they are ready for use so you don’t have to walk back and forth to get the necessary items from your storage closet. It’s like rapidly drawing your cleaning gun from your holster on dirt villains!

 

#3 Don’t throw away used toothbrushes. Instead, use them to clean the groves of the faucet. Toothbrushes are soft enough to not scratch the hardware while fine enough to pull the dirt out from the crack where the faucet meets the sink.

 

Want to learn more or have Diem’s team visit your home, check out the website at www.simplymaidhome.com.

 

declutter the unimportant

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Top 10 Hampers/ Laundry Sorters http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/top-10-hampers-laundry-sorters/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/top-10-hampers-laundry-sorters/#comments Thu, 14 Mar 2013 13:00:21 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3512 Here are the TOP 10 Hampers and Laundry Sorters we found on Amazon.  It can be difficult to find the perfect hamper to fit your lifestyle or home.  Some people do their laundry daily while others do their laundry once a week.  No matter the routine, you still need to have someplace to store your […]

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Here are the TOP 10 Hampers and Laundry Sorters we found on Amazon.  It can be difficult to find the perfect hamper to fit your lifestyle or home.  Some people do their laundry daily while others do their laundry once a week.  No matter the routine, you still need to have someplace to store your dirty clothes.  Right?  Unless you toss them onto the floor and the magic laundry fairy does your laundry for you.  That would be fabulous!  Anyhow, here are a few great laundry basket designs.

1.  Rubbermaid 4D06 Configurations 23-Inch Foldable Laundry Hamper

2.  Household Essentials Double Hamper Laundry Sorter with Magnetic Lid Closure

3.  Seville Classics SHE16166 3-Bag Laundry Sorter

4. Whitmor 6205-2466-JAVA Easy-care Double Hamper

5.   Household Essentials Clothes Hamper with Lid

6.  Honey-Can-Do HMP-01453 Sturdy Resin Hamper with Rope Handles

7.  Richards Homewares 3 Compartment Micro Mesh Sorte

8.  Whitmor 6208-2417 Triple Mesh Sorter With Wheels

9.  Whitmor 6097-3529-BB Chrome and Canvas Four Section Laundry Sorter

10.  Seville Classics WEB153 3-Bag Laundry Sorter with Hanging Bar

I must say, I think this one is my favorite.  I love the fact that it has an attached hanging bar for your clothes to hang dry on.  Unless you like the look of clothes hanging in your doorways.

Happy Organizing!

Messy Mind Messy Room

 

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What Do You Use For Stains? http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/what-do-you-use-for-stains/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/what-do-you-use-for-stains/#comments Mon, 11 Mar 2013 12:00:31 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3499 WOW!!!  I absolutely LOVED reading all of your fabulous responses on my Facebook page about what you use for certain stains!  Thank you so much for taking the time to participate.  It is so hard to know exactly what works for what stains until you try it or hear about it.  Otherwise, how do you […]

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on top of dryer or shelf, use wicker tray, glass candy jar for powder laundry detergent, aquare candle holder with small wood sppon for baking powder, plain glass vinegar bottle, glass jar with one flower - all for laundry stain removers!

WOW!!!  I absolutely LOVED reading all of your fabulous responses on my Facebook page about what you use for certain stains!  Thank you so much for taking the time to participate.  It is so hard to know exactly what works for what stains until you try it or hear about it.  Otherwise, how do you know what to use to get the stain out?  Also, when’s the right time to apply the stain remover?  Some people believe that once you have washed and dried a garment that is stained and the stain hasn’t disappeared, then it’s a goner.  Well let’s take a look at what everyone had to say about this hot topic of stain removers.

Blood stains:  Zout (tip by Kelly Llyod)

Coffee stains:  Ice Cubes (tip by Mirjam de Rijk)

Grass stains:  Zout (tip by Kelly Llyod)

Ink stains:  Hairspray (tip by Michele Curcio)

Juice stains:  Zout (tip by Kelly Llyod)

Oil and Grease stains:  Dawn Power Clean dish-washing soap  (tip by Kelly Llyod).

Stains on White Clothing:  OxyClean (tip by Sonja Patton Hardy)

All Stains:

Fels Naptha (old fashioned laundry bar)(tip by Jolene Fiscella)

Mix of Dawn and Peroxide (tip by Mirjam de Rijk)

Natural Oxyclean and shout (tip by Michele Curcio)

Oxiclean spray (tip by Shelly Arredondo and Annette Giroux)

Stain “Tide” sticks (tip by Denise Nickerson and Angela Lofton-Berry Moore)

Zout (tip by Lynn Figone)

Now print this out and pin it up next to your washer machine.  When in doubt, check it out!

The world would be a much better place without stains.  I do have to say that I loved Dayna Harvey’s stain removing tip of , “I just buy new clothes.”  

Happy Organizing!

simplify your life have more fun

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Got Dirty Laundry? {Video} http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/got-dirty-laundry-video/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/got-dirty-laundry-video/#comments Fri, 08 Mar 2013 12:00:10 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3495 What do you do with all your dirty laundry?  Do you have a sorting system?  Check out my video for some helpful tips. //www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsuw4QghfnI Happy Organizing!  

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What do you do with all your dirty laundry?  Do you have a sorting system?  Check out my video for some helpful tips.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=dsuw4QghfnI

Happy Organizing!

declutter the unimportant

 

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Your Favorite Meal Planning Apps http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/your-favorite-meal-planning-apps/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/03/your-favorite-meal-planning-apps/#comments Wed, 06 Mar 2013 11:00:38 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3479 A BIG THANK YOU to those who responded to my request for your favorite meal planning apps! I am so excited to share what has people buzzing when it comes to simplifying the dreaded question of “What’s for dinner?”. THANK YOU to Rochelle Waite who suggested “The Cooking Pot.”  This app is only $2.99. It can be used […]

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A BIG THANK YOU to those who responded to my request for your favorite meal planning apps! I am so excited to share what has people buzzing when it comes to simplifying the dreaded question of “What’s for dinner?”.

THANK YOU to Rochelle Waite who suggestedThe Cooking Pot.”  This app is only $2.99. It can be used for: iPhone, iPod touch, iPad with iOS 6.0 or later.  Cooking Pot by Progressive Aspect Pty Ltd is a recipe organizer, meal planner, and shopping list app for your iOS device.

The app helps you pick your recipe, shop, and prepare the meal by providing easy to understand instructions. This app will help people of all cooking backgrounds and budgets: from students on a budget just learning to cook, to foodies who want to expand their cooking horizons.

You can choose recipes that take less than 30 minutes to prepare if you’re in a hurry. Why not try out the app and save yourself money on fast food? You’ll probably lose some weight too since you’ll be eating wholesome, nutritious food. You’ll learn to use seasonal ingredients, cook with what you have in your fridge and pantry, and reduce the time you spend in the grocery store.

Vegans, vegetarians, and people with allergies and intolerances will find tons of suitable recipes. You can remove unsuitable recipes easily using this app.

You get soups, entrees, main course meals, drinks, and desserts in this awesome app!
Cooking Pot was released mid-December 2012.

THANK YOU to SARAH MORRISON who recommendedPlan To Eat“.  This app even gives you a FREE 30-Day trial.

Shopping Lists On The Go:  The mobile site provides a phone-ready shopping list that is easy for you to view on your phone as you shop.

Check Off Items As You Go:  Tap the check-box next to each item as you add them to your cart. Once you check them off, they will be grayed out, or use the Hide Checked Items feature to remove them completely from the list.

Add Additional Items:  Add additional items to your shopping list from your phone so that you don’t have to try to remember them until you get home!

View Purchased Items in Your Pantry Inventory:  When you check an item off on your mobile shopping list, it is automatically moved to your Pantry Inventory on the main site. From there, you can see which items you’ve purchased and when they were purchased.

View Recipes on Your Phone:  Access your recipe book and pull up individual recipes right on your phone. Refer to recipes while at the grocery store or even  while you’re in the kitchen preparing them so your recipe book is always with you.

THANK YOU to JULIE MACDONALD who suggested Take The Meal.” 

 

What is your favorite app to simplify meal planning and cooking?

 

Its not about having enough time

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4 Simple Tips To Streamline The Perfect Pantry http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/4-simple-tips-to-streamline-the-perfect-pantry/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/4-simple-tips-to-streamline-the-perfect-pantry/#comments Thu, 21 Feb 2013 12:00:29 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3450   If you are lucky enough to have a pantry, you already know pantries free up kitchen cabinet space for plates, glasses, cookware and other items.  Use these practical and creative ways to organize a pantry and create the perfect place for food storage and more. What should be placed on the  top shelf of a pantry? […]

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If you are lucky enough to have a pantry, you already know pantries free up kitchen cabinet space for plates, glasses, cookware and other items.  Use these practical and creative ways to organize a pantry and create the perfect place for food storage and more.

What should be placed on the  top shelf of a pantry?

When organizing a pantry, the placement of commonly used goods is of the utmost importance.  Organize the top shelf with seldom-used items since they are difficult to reach.  They should not be heavy or difficult to hold onto.  Placing large bulky items on a top shelf is a safety hazard.  Baking supplies, napkins or seldomly used foods are perfect for the top shelf when trying to organize a pantry.

 

Repackaging Dry Goods

Dry goods such as crackers and cereal are not always easy to organize when left in the original packaging.  When organizing a pantry, consider repackaging dry goods including pasta, cereal, crackers, and snacks in clear, plastic or glass containers.   Repackaging these items into plastic or glass containers  will help your pantry look neater on the shelves and most importantly, they will stay fresher longer and be easier to see what you have left.

 

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Organize Pantry Food According to Variety

An unorganized pantry is filled with an array of canned goods, boxed foods and more.  This makes specific goods impossible

to find.  Remove everything from the pantry and organize food in different categories.  For example, line up and stack all your canned veggies.  Organize an area for pasta sauces and canned tomato products. Organize soups in another location.  Wire racks work perfectly for organizing cans.  Where lazy Susan’s work nicely for spices, oils, vinegars, sauces and smaller items such as baking goods. This will make locating specific items much easier and as a result, the pantry will look much neater.  Be sure to store vinegars, oils and syrup on spill proof mats for easy clean up.

 

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Organizing Small Packets and Snacks

Small items such as drink mixes and spice packets are a little more difficult to organize in a pantry.  I prefer clear plastic bins to store healthy snacks in for my kids.  So when they ask me for a snack, I can grab the bin, set it on the counter and they can make their own decision. Or instead of using plastic, you could use pretty lined baskets.  Use one basket for spice mix packets and another for drink mixes.  When they are the right size the contents will be easy to organize, thumb through and locate.  Also, the lined baskets will add visual appeal to an otherwise ordinary storage space.  I also suggest to clients one of my all-time favorite organizing products to store these items. It is the clear, plastic, over-the-door shoe organizer. Hang it from the wall or door. You could also line the walls of the pantry with wall paper to add a little pizazz to your pantry.

Store all your appliances such as crock pots, blenders and heavy mixers on the bottom shelf of your pantry. It is also a good idea to take them out of their  boxes for easy accessibility.

Happy Organizing!

Simplify in order to thrive

 

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5 Secrets to Successful Meal Planning http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/5-secrets-to-successful-meal-planning/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/5-secrets-to-successful-meal-planning/#comments Tue, 19 Feb 2013 18:03:03 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3456 Do you ever feel like you just don’t have enough time to cook a delicious, healthy meal for everyone in your family?  Trying to get everyone at the dinner table at the same time just feels impossible!  Have you just thrown in the towel and said, “McDonald’s, here we come”?  It can be quite challenging […]

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Family Eating Together

Do you ever feel like you just don’t have enough time to cook a delicious, healthy meal for everyone in your family?  Trying to get everyone at the dinner table at the same time just feels impossible!  Have you just thrown in the towel and said, “McDonald’s, here we come”?  It can be quite challenging to get everyone to sit down and eat dinner together when your husband might have a meeting and/or the kids have practice or dance.  Well, here are some great tips to help resolve these problems.

Plan Your Meals:  Set a day each week where you are going to plan out your meals.  This might include reviewing the Sunday paper searching for sales and coupons.  Keep a list close by to jot down some good sale items to pick up.  I LOVE getting a good deal on groceries.  Maybe steaks and artichokes are on sale? This would be a great treat for the family to enjoy on a night you can all sit at the table together.

Access Your Weekly Routine:  This means set aside some time with a calendar and plan out your weekly meals.  For example, if your son or daughter has basketball practice on Wednesday nights, this would be an ideal night to toss something in the crock pot.  When you get home at 7:00, dinner is ready!  Look at your calendar, pay close attention to your evening schedule and plan your meals accordingly.  Another great idea is to create some repetition to your weekly meals.  Maybe “Tuesday Taco Night” or “Friday Pizza Night”.  This will simplify your weekly meal planning and take the guess work out of preparing meals.

Schedule Your Grocery Shopping Day:  I typically do my grocery shopping on the weekends so we have plenty of food for lunches, dinners and snacks for the upcoming week.  However, depending on your family’s schedule, this may not work. Instead, shopping on a Thursday evening might be best (also not as busy). If you are a morning person, consider getting up and out the door by 8am to get your shopping done by 9am.

Create Your Shopping List:  I love using my pre-printed shopping list that I have posted on my refrigerator door. Once an item is used up, all we have to do is circle or highlight the item on our pre-printed shopping list. There is no need to CREATE a new list each week. We just grab the list of the fridge and go!

Pre-Printed shopping list

 

Don’t Lose Meal Planning Momentum:  Once you start following the above steps on a weekly basis, you will be a meal planning expert.  Say Goodbye to Taco Bell and McDonald’s.

I recently discovered an app www.supercook.com.  All you have to do is enter an ingredient, and presto, a list of possible dinners will appear.  For example if you have chicken breast in your fridge, a list of all dinners with chicken breast will appear.  So Fun! Now you won’t cringe when they ask you, “What’s for dinner?”

 

 

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Simple Tricks to Keep Your Fridge Neat and Clean http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/simply-tricks-to-keep-your-fridge-neat-and-clean/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/simply-tricks-to-keep-your-fridge-neat-and-clean/#comments Thu, 14 Feb 2013 13:00:07 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3431 Sometimes opening the refrigerator door can be a scary thing! Between stuck on food, moldy left-over containers and not being able to find what you need can cause your hair to stand on end. Recently I created a couple videos with a few of my favorite organizing tricks to keep your fridge neat and organized. […]

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Sometimes opening the refrigerator door can be a scary thing! Between stuck on food, moldy left-over containers and not being able to find what you need can cause your hair to stand on end.

Recently I created a couple videos with a few of my favorite organizing tricks to keep your fridge neat and organized. Take a peek! They are short and sweet.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=WcVLhX1_IAk

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=1W1jlqpZdBM

 

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Closet Chaos – Biggest Mistake Made http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/closet-chaos-biggest-mistake-made/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/closet-chaos-biggest-mistake-made/#comments Mon, 11 Feb 2013 23:21:22 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3385 Want to know what the biggest mistake people make when organizing a closet is according to a Professional Closet Designer? Keep reading… Have you ever thought about having a professional closet designer visit your home?  Some may think of it as a luxury, while other know of it as a necessity! As a Organizing and […]

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Closet Organization

Want to know what the biggest mistake people make when organizing a closet is according to a Professional Closet Designer? Keep reading…

Have you ever thought about having a professional closet designer visit your home?  Some may think of it as a luxury, while other know of it as a necessity! As a Organizing and Efficiency Specialist, I know the importance of having the right tools and systems to simplify life.

Recently, I had the great privilege of interviewing Frank Longhetto, owner of Closet Crafters.  I am so excited to share the inside scoop about his amazing closet systems.

First, let me fill you in about Frank, he has been in the closet business since 1985.  He was looking for a job in San Diego and was hired as a closet installer.  Frank told me, he still prefers to be the one to visit peoples homes and/or offices and design their perfect closet system.  He finds so much joy in closet organization.  He says, “It really changes peoples lives.”  It’s not like a diet where you have to wait for a result!  This life changing experience occurs when your closet is complete.  There is a home for everything in your closet and everything you need is easily accessible.

Frank always asks his customers what their priorities are when they are searching for the perfect closet system.  His main priority of organization is accessibility.  What good is organizing if you can’t reach it?  He gave a great example of using an extended hanging bar that covers up your shoes at the bottom of your closet.  What good is it if you have to get down on the ground to search for your shoes?

When I asked Frank, “What is the biggest mistake people make when trying to organize their closets?”  He said, “When people invest in small patchwork items that do not work they end up spending hundreds of dollars on inexpensive items that keep breaking when they could have invested that money on a custom designed closet system.” Another mistake people make when trying to organize their closets is putting a spare dresser in a reach-in closet.  This can really do damage to the closet doors.

 

80/20 rule

 

When talking about closet organization, Frank shared his 80/20 rule (which I believe every organizer out there knows).  He said, “People wear 20% of what they own while the other 80% sits in the closet collecting dust.”  Frank is a big fan of seasonal storage.  He says it’s great to store your seasonal clothing labeled in a storage bin up on a shelf.

I have personally worked with Closet Crafters on a couple projects and have enjoyed each experience. I highly recommend using Closet Crafters to simplify any size closet or pantry.  Not only do they specialize in closets, but they specialize in garages, office, media and commercial.  Visit the website at www.closetcrafters.com.

Happy Organizing!

Simplify in order to thrive

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“Spice” Up Your Kitchen http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/spice-up-your-kitchen/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/spice-up-your-kitchen/#comments Fri, 08 Feb 2013 12:00:38 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3370 If you love to cook, you most likely have a large selection of cooking spices. Where do you store them all? If you don’t like to cook, you most likely have a large selection of spices that have done bad!  It’s time to ditch the expired spices and organize what’s still good. Here is a […]

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If you love to cook, you most likely have a large selection of cooking spices. Where do you store them all? If you don’t like to cook, you most likely have a large selection of spices that have done bad!  It’s time to ditch the expired spices and organize what’s still good. Here is a short video sharing some of my all-time favorite ways to store spices in the kitchen.

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nr3-OaNmZnA

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Kitchen Knife Storage http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/kitchen-knife-storage/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/kitchen-knife-storage/#comments Tue, 05 Feb 2013 12:00:33 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3346 Having an organized kitchen is a luxury to some and a necessity to others. Here is a short video I did sharing a few different ways to store and organize your kitchen knives. To have an efficient kitchen, you must have your knives within arms reach! //www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgFESV-B8dQ

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Having an organized kitchen is a luxury to some and a necessity to others. Here is a short video I did sharing a few different ways to store and organize your kitchen knives. To have an efficient kitchen, you must have your knives within arms reach!

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=tgFESV-B8dQ

to be upset over what you don't have

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Simplifying The Linen Closet http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/simplifying-the-linen-closet/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/02/simplifying-the-linen-closet/#comments Fri, 01 Feb 2013 12:00:08 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3323   Have you ever wanted to use your linen closet for something else but had no idea where to store all your linens?  Sometimes all you need to do is a good purging of your closet… Declutter those old sheets that you are saving (you know, for when you paint or go camping or…).  And […]

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Organized Linen Closet

 

Have you ever wanted to use your linen closet for something else but had no idea where to store all your linens?  Sometimes all you need to do is a good purging of your closet… Declutter those old sheets that you are saving (you know, for when you paint or go camping or…).  And those extra pillows with stains on them for guests to use when they stay the night. And the 15 bath towel you are holding onto because “they are still good”.  It is time to DITCH them!

Don’t get me wrong, it’s great to find a new purpose for these things, but put a limit on the amount of STUFF you hold onto to simplify your life and create a positive, healthy energy in your home.  If your husband wants your old torn, tattered towels for washing the car, then find a new home for them in the garage. Just keep 2 of them!

My hope for you is to simplify so you can thrive.  To simplify means to eliminate the unimportant to make room for what IS important. When you keep only the stuff that you LOVE, brings you JOY and serves a PURPOSE, you shift the energy in your home to something more positive and healthy.

It is important to have limits when it comes to our STUFF. Here is what I share with my clients when it comes to linen closets and limits.

  • 2 bath towels per person (kept in the bathroom where they are used)
  • 2 hand towels per bathroom (kept in the bathroom where they are used)
  • 2-3 wash clothes per person (kept in the bathroom where they are used)
  • 2-3 extra bath towels for guests (kept in linen closet or guest room)
  • 1 set of sheets per bed (wash and put right back on – no need for storage space!). If you need to hold onto 2 sets, keep the extra set of sheets in the room where they will be used.

When it comes to extra bedding (blankets and pillows), storing them in vacuum sealed bags are best (and saves lots of space) and kept in the linen closet (or under the guest bed).

When it comes to beach towels, grab a large canvas bag and stock it with all your beach supplies (sunscreen, hand wipes, sun glasses, beach toys and extra plastic bags for wet clothes) and keep your beach towels rolled up nicely inside the bag. Just grab and go when you have the urge to hit the beach. Keep the “beach bag” in the coat closet, mud room or in the garage.

 

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Going back to sheets and bedding, grab some baskets or book-ends to store your sheets and put them up in the closet of the bedroom they belong in. Or simply keep them in a drawer in your night stand or dresser.

 

Rolled Towels

 Roll towels and store them on a magazine rack in your bathroom.

 

So what are you going to do with this new, reclaimed space now that your linen closet has been purged? Maybe you could create the gift wrapping station, scrapbooking center or sewing center that you have always wanted? Or convert it into a toy closet!

I would LOVE to hear about all your transformations!

Happy Organizing!

keep only what you love

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Get More Done With “Time Blocking” http://gracebrooke.com/2013/01/get-more-done-with-time-blocking/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/01/get-more-done-with-time-blocking/#comments Wed, 30 Jan 2013 12:00:21 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3310 Do you find yourself constantly saying to yourself (and to others) that you “don’t have enough time”? I hear it everyday from people I interact with. Personally, I have removed the phrase from my vocabulary and encourage all my clients to do the same. When it comes to time, it is not that you don’t […]

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Get More Done

Do you find yourself constantly saying to yourself (and to others) that you “don’t have enough time”? I hear it everyday from people I interact with. Personally, I have removed the phrase from my vocabulary and encourage all my clients to do the same. When it comes to time, it is not that you don’t have ENOUGH TIME, but instead it is that you are not clear about your PRIORITIES. Switch from saying, “I don’t have enough time” to “That is not a priority at this time”. It might sound harsh, but that is the reality!

If you struggle with “having enough time” to do all the things that you would like to accomplish, consider “time blocking”. It is one of my favorite ways to simplify my schedule and get more done.

What is time blocking? Time blocking is committing to working a single project or task for certain length of time.

6 Steps to Effective Time Blocking

(source: wikiHow)
 

Identify your high priority tasks and projects. Time blocking is especially effective for tasks requiring greater concentration. Determine which tasks need to be completed first and prioritize them by order of deadline and importance. For example, if a report is due in a week and you have an important meeting tomorrow, prioritize your meeting preparation ahead of conducting research for your report.

 
Block out time for specific tasks. Break tasks down into chunks that can be completed in smaller time increments. For example, if you are designing a flier, allot a separate block of time for completing each page.

  • Set a goal to finish the task within the time allotted. Decide on start and finish times for the particular task and adhere to the schedule.
  • Block time by yourself to complete tasks that require greater thought and concentration. Scheduling time alone will help you focus on challenging tasks.

 

Use a visual tool to block time. Your visual aide may be a calendar, a piece of paper or an Excel spreadsheet. Mark the blocks of time to show clear start and stop times.

  • Draw blocks of time on a piece of paper. Write a short description of each task in each time block. Draw a line through the task once completed.
  • Use an online or mobile device calendar. Type in each task and utilize the repeat feature for recurring tasks. Choose an alert option to notify you of start and stop times, if the feature is available.
  • Code blocks of time on an Excel spreadsheet. Create a grid with start and end times. Fill in higher priority tasks with darker colors. Create a color key to denote the priority levels of tasks.

 

Time Blocking Calendar

 

Schedule breaks. Regular breaks are conducive to greater productivity and concentration. When time blocking, schedule regular breaks in between activities. For example, focus intensely for 2 hours on a specific task, take a 10- or 15-minute break and work for another 2-hour block of time.
Limit activities that interfere with your time blocking goals.

  • Eliminate unproductive, time-consuming activities. During the block of time allotted to working, avoid unnecessary forum browsing, television watching or Internet surfing. Devote your full attention to the high priority task at hand.
  • Avoid checking email, answering the phone or texting. Focus your attention only on the task that you blocked off the time to complete. Let your calls go to voice mail, turn off your phone and sign out of your email account.
  • Notify others that you will be unavailable. If working at home, explain your time blocking strategy to family members so that they will refrain from interrupting you. In an office setting, limit interruptions from co-workers by suggesting that they join you in time blocking activities.

 

Find quiet work spots. A coffee shop, a library or a quiet corner of your office building are possible places to spend uninterrupted blocks of time focused on specific tasks.

 

This video shares ideas on how to use colors to simplify your calendar. (More like “Day Blocking”)

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=XoGGwj1bjjU

 

Happy Organizing!

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Alternative Uses For Coat Closets http://gracebrooke.com/2013/01/alternative-uses-for-coat-closets/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/01/alternative-uses-for-coat-closets/#comments Sun, 20 Jan 2013 01:56:43 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3268   If you have a coat closet that is stuffed with coats, empty bags, shoes, trash, and other odds and ends, I suggest it’s time for a “coat closet makeover”! Sometimes using coat closets for coats isn’t the best way to use the space. I personally use our coat closet as a “toy closet”. After […]

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Coat Closet

 

If you have a coat closet that is stuffed with coats, empty bags, shoes, trash, and other odds and ends, I suggest it’s time for a “coat closet makeover”! Sometimes using coat closets for coats isn’t the best way to use the space. I personally use our coat closet as a “toy closet”. After adding free-standing shelves and an over-the-door shoe organizer (yup, one of my all time favorite organizing tools), the toys are neatly stored and organized in clear, plastic bins and in a convenient location for my little ones to get to.

Some other alternatives to coat closets are:

Just when you thought you didn’t have a spare bedroom for your hobbies or that office you always wanted, now you do!

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Or transform these closets by removing the door and adding a bench and some coat hooks.  Make it into a tiny mud room or sitting area.

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Give your coat closet a full make-over and  transform it into a sewing room or craft room or wrapping station or library or utility closet or office computer room or my personal favorite…. a Life Management Center.

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Gift Wrap Station

Don’t let this often forgotten about space be wasted.  There are so many possibilities.

 

Happy Organizing!!!

Mind Over Clutter

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No Closet? No Worries… http://gracebrooke.com/2013/01/no-closet-no-worries/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/01/no-closet-no-worries/#comments Mon, 14 Jan 2013 14:03:46 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3279   A few months ago I was out house hunting. My spouse and I had found a home that we thought would be perfect for our family. It had so many great things going for it (on a cul-de-sac, had a pool, loved the floor plan, great neighbors, etc.). However, there was something odd about […]

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ElfaCloset1

 

A few months ago I was out house hunting. My spouse and I had found a home that we thought would be perfect for our family. It had so many great things going for it (on a cul-de-sac, had a pool, loved the floor plan, great neighbors, etc.). However, there was something odd about that house; it had NO CLOSET in the master bedroom! How did people survive in that home for the past 30 years without a closet to store all of their pants, shirts, handbags, hats and dresses? I was baffled. It got me thinking…

Are you closet-less?

This is a time when “thinking outside of the box” is a must. Here are some ideas that will hopefully inspire you to store and organize your clothes in a unique yet functional way. Just because you don’t have a closet doesn’t give you the excuse NOT organize your stuff! ;D

If you are someone who doesn’t want to SEE the STUFF, you’ll want to invest in rods, curtains/drapes or an armoire.

 

instant closet

A single clothes rod attached to the ceiling. Simple. Chic.

no closet, no problem

Add curtains to soften the look and cut down on visual clutter.

free standing unit

A free standing unit which you can customize to your needs.

single rod closet

A simple garment rack never hurt.

closet headboard

I would have to say this isn’t good Feng Shui, but definitely an interesting way to store clothes!

closet in armoire

Conceal items behind closed doors.

pretty closet

I like this system. Easy to put up and take down when you are ready to move.

Customize it your personal needs.

Kid closet

This is a bookshelf converted into a extra storage space for kid’s clothes.

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I ADORE this idea.  An armoire just for shoes!!!  It looks so glamorous!  Everything is easily accessible, easily seen (nothings hiding in boxes or in the back) and of course dust free.  Who wants to dust shoes?  Don’t you hate that? You get ready to go out and grab your fancy, FUN shoes and they are all full of dust!  “Hold on honey, I need to dust my shoes off before we go.”

In the end, we didn’t buy the home (for other reasons – not because it didn’t have a master closet).

Happy Organizing!

Messy Mind Messy Room

 

 

 

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Setting Goals for all of the Layers in Life http://gracebrooke.com/2013/01/setting-goals-for-all-of-the-layers-in-life/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/01/setting-goals-for-all-of-the-layers-in-life/#comments Fri, 11 Jan 2013 23:00:58 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3256  Guest Post by Jennifer Tankersley Your life is complex.  There are layers upon layers of people, places, and things.  Each layer is important and yet some get more attention than others.  With the start of the New Year, it is important to reflect on your roles, your passions, your responsibilities, and your relationships.  Let’s take […]

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 Guest Post by Jennifer Tankersley

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Your life is complex.  There are layers upon layers of people, places, and things.  Each layer is important and yet some get more attention than others.  With the start of the New Year, it is important to reflect on your roles, your passions, your responsibilities, and your relationships.

 Let’s take a look at 12 areas in your life that are important to care for, nurture, and build. They are areas that should be considered frequently, tweaked, and adjusted. . .not just in the new year, but throughout the year and years to come.  (areas below are in alphabetical order, not in order of importance)

  • Business/Career – Whether you are working in or out of the home (with or without pay), consider your business goals and formulate a plan for achieving those goals. Lay out your long-term vision and then break down each goal into short-term steps that you can accomplish today, next week, next month, and this year.
  •  Family – Confer with family members about ways to improve relationships, be more supportive, and spend more quality time together. Consider support for needs and desires in daily (e.g., homework), weekly (e.g., family night), monthly (e.g., visit to grandparents), and yearly (e.g., family vacation) family life.
  • Finances – Create goals for your finances. Do you need to eliminate debt? Do you need to save for a new appliance? A car? A vacation? College? Retirement? Identify your money streams (in and out) and make adjustments to allow for debt reduction and/or savings increases.
  • Health – Create goals for taking the utmost care of your health. Consider the food/drinks that you consume most frequently. Consider ways to keep your body strong. Consider the value of your mind and find ways to keep it active.  Don’t place your health last. Create health goals for lifelong healthy habits and practices.
  • Home – List the realistic goals you have for improving your home. You may not be able to do everything you would like this year (improving a home can be costly), but list some things that are within your power to improve in 2013.
  • Leisure – Give some attention to your personal interests. What are you passionate about? What stirs you and makes you remember who you are? Set goals for some time to spend at your leisure.  Schedule in practice time. Find someone who shares your interest and will provide you with extra incentive to participate.
  • Mental – Set a goal to add ways of utilizing your memory and creativity in your daily life. Look for ways to develop your mind in a constant quest to learn. Read a non-fiction book or biography. Enroll yourself in an adult ed class or college class. Volunteer to teach or mentor someone in an area in which you are familiar. Look for new experiences and jump in.
  • Projects – Make a project list considering the amount of time required and the supplies needed for each project. Prioritize your projects based on your schedule and budget for this year. Decide which project(s) should wait until future years.
  • Relationships – Schedule in time for relationship-building. The best way to develop a relationship is to devote time on your calendar to dates with your hubby, consistent calls or visits to your parents, time alone with your good friend(s), etc.
  • Service – Look at the needs of your community.  Consider ways that you can make a difference by donating your time and/or talent. Keep your eyes open for needs that you can meet, such as groceries for a family in your neighborhood where the earner is in between jobs or an assisted-living home where the residents might enjoy occasional baked goods.
  • Spiritual – Create goals for improving your spiritual life, whether that be consistent study and/or research, time spent in prayer or meditation, regular get-togethers with those who can build and encourage your beliefs, or daily memorization. Then commit to a time of day or carve a time out of your week to devote to those goals.
  • Travel – Brainstorm your ideas for travel for the next 5 years or so.  Be realistic. For example, if you can’t afford to take a large family vacation each year, then plan for one large vacation next year and a smaller getaway for this year. Talk to your spouse or include the whole family. Set reasonable goals for saving, asking off from work, purchasing tickets, reserving hotels, etc.

Jennifer Tankersley is the founder of ListPlanIt.com, which has everything you need to plan and organize all of the areas of your life.  She also recently wrote an eBook called 100 Days of a New Year 2013 to help set your goals, manage your health and finances, and organize your home.  It includes 75 links to lists and worksheets from ListPlanIt.com and is available for just $5 in 3 formats:  PDF, Nook, and Kindle.

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Clever Storage for Holiday Ornaments {Video} http://gracebrooke.com/2013/01/clever-storage-for-holiday-ornaments-video/ http://gracebrooke.com/2013/01/clever-storage-for-holiday-ornaments-video/#comments Thu, 03 Jan 2013 14:00:11 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3215 Now that the holidays are over it is time to pack up and organize for next year’s festivities. I am someone who likes to take the Christmas tree down just days after Christmas. We get our tree just after Thanksgiving so it is usually dead by Christmas anyways. Although I love Christmas time, I can’t […]

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simplify your life have more fun

Now that the holidays are over it is time to pack up and organize for next year’s festivities. I am someone who likes to take the Christmas tree down just days after Christmas. We get our tree just after Thanksgiving so it is usually dead by Christmas anyways. Although I love Christmas time, I can’t wait to pack up all the decoration and put them away. Less stuff on display = happy me! 

As you pack up your holiday decorations and Christmas tree ornaments, make sure to keep the fragile items protected from being crushed and broken while in storage. In this video (3 minutes), I share some clever ways in which you can safely store your ornaments using items you already have around the house. Gather your egg cartons, plastic cups and card-board.  You are going to love this!

 

//www.youtube.com/watch?v=AD38jzqTqTs

 

 

 

 

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Showing Off Your Holiday Cards http://gracebrooke.com/2012/12/showing-off-your-holiday-cards/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/12/showing-off-your-holiday-cards/#comments Wed, 19 Dec 2012 14:00:10 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3165   I absolutely LOVE receiving holiday cards! It brings me so much joy to see the faces of friends and family. Going to the mailbox each day is like Christmas for me. I can’t wait to open the cards and display them! However, if you are like me and always looking for fun and creative […]

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Greeting Card Tree

 

I absolutely LOVE receiving holiday cards! It brings me so much joy to see the faces of friends and family. Going to the mailbox each day is like Christmas for me. I can’t wait to open the cards and display them!

However, if you are like me and always looking for fun and creative ways to display your holiday cards, hopefully you’ll be inspired by these images. Holiday cards make a great conversation piece and add lots of “festiveness” to our homes.

 

Add beauty to your staircase.

Create a wreath using clothes pins to hang and display your collection.

Display them on your cabinet doors.

Mantel

   Take a piece of string or wire, attach it to your mantel to hang your collection.

box

Simply keep them in a box on a side table.

bulletin board

Grab some cork board and create your own “Holiday Gallery”.

card book

card binder

At the end of the holiday season, keep your collection organized and neat by

storing them in a binder with sheet protectors or using paper/book rings.

 

 

Happy Holidays!

 

 

 

 

 

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Spreading Kindness – Just Cuz http://gracebrooke.com/2012/12/spreading-kindness-just-cuz/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/12/spreading-kindness-just-cuz/#comments Mon, 17 Dec 2012 17:29:09 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3156   Tis the season of giving which makes it a perfect time to perform as many random acts of kindness as possible! When was the last time you did something out of the goodness of your heart? Chipped in that extra couple of cents for the person in front of you at the grocery store or […]

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Commit Random Acts of Kindness

 

Tis the season of giving which makes it a perfect time to perform as many random acts of kindness as possible!

When was the last time you did something out of the goodness of your heart? Chipped in that extra couple of cents for the person in front of you at the grocery store or helped an elderly person down some stairs or brought dinner or cookies for someone in need?  There are so many things we can do to help someone everyday.  Especially during the holidays! Instead of all the take, take, take…lets give MORE than we receive!!  Take this time during the year to teach our children how they can make a difference in someone’s life simply by offering a smile to someone, opening a door, saying “thank you”, and sending homemade cards to those with little or no family.

This past Thanksgiving my kiddos and I dedicated a week to performing random acts of kindness. (I do them throughout the year in smaller ways, but took this time to get my children involved.) We had so much fun doing them! Kindness spreads… We found that as we took sweet goodies to our local fire house and sheriff’s department, we were given private VIP tours of the locations. It was a treat for all of us!

RAOK - Just CuzHere are a few more ideas that will get you inspired to take action!

  • Donating pajamas to any local Sleep Train
  • Donating unwrapped toys to a fire house or police station
  • Bringing cookies to the fire house
  • Sign up for a Secret Santa program at your local bank or grocery store
  • Asking a school if and when there will be a food drive
  • Show your child’s teacher just how much you appreciate him/her by bringing in supplies for the classroom
  • Volunteering at a Soup Kitchen for the holidays
  • Buy an extra coffee and give it to a homeless person
  • Send a heartfelt card to an old friend, family member or stranger
  • Gather up all the hotel shampoos and conditioners that have been collected during your travels and donate them to the women’s homeless shelter.
  • Treat an elderly person to an afternoon of pampering at a local nail salon or hair salon.

 

 

Spread the kindness…

 

 

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Avoid Storing Holiday Decor – Decorate Naturally http://gracebrooke.com/2012/12/avoid-storing-holiday-decor-decorate-naturally/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/12/avoid-storing-holiday-decor-decorate-naturally/#comments Mon, 10 Dec 2012 15:00:34 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3098   //www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHI1cJk3Wvo If you are like me and want to live with less stuff, start decorating for the holidays with all natural materials. I love the smell of pine needles, evergreen and cinnamon. When decorating with these materials (plus many more items found in nature), my home is filled with a wonderful scent that represents […]

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//www.youtube.com/watch?v=LHI1cJk3Wvo

If you are like me and want to live with less stuff, start decorating for the holidays with all natural materials. I love the smell of pine needles, evergreen and cinnamon. When decorating with these materials (plus many more items found in nature), my home is filled with a wonderful scent that represents the holiday season. What I love most about decorating with natural garland, wreaths, topiaries, fresh fruit and cinnamon, I can dispose of them when I am done and don’t have to store them for the next year.

Start the season off with a holiday decorating party. Buy the supplies and invite your friends over to help make garland and wreaths. Of course, fill them up on spiked eggnog and yummy holiday sweets and they won’t want to leave! If you aren’t so crafty or want to devote the time to this, contact your local florist to create these masterpieces  and they will decorate for you.

 

Simplify in order to thrive

 

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Keep Sane This Christmas http://gracebrooke.com/2012/12/keep-sane-this-christmas/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/12/keep-sane-this-christmas/#comments Thu, 06 Dec 2012 15:00:06 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3112 Guest post by Jennifer Ford-Berry Christmas is right around the corner! Are you ready? Have you been enjoying this amazing season?   This truly is my favorite time of year.  I don’t feel stressed out or overwhelmed, why? Because I started preparing for this season in October and November.  Yep, that’s right…I am what you call a […]

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Guest post by Jennifer Ford-Berry

Christmas Time

Christmas is right around the corner! Are you ready?

Have you been enjoying this amazing season?

 

This truly is my favorite time of year.  I don’t feel stressed out or overwhelmed, why? Because I started preparing for this season in October and November.  Yep, that’s right…I am what you call a non-procrastinator.  I start all projects early and I LOVE a good plan!  Is this annoying to my friends and family?  Well….some.  But you know what? It keeps me sane and that is all that matters.

Most people I know completely lose sight of what this season is truly about. They are so lost somewhere among consumerism and their long list of responsibilities that they couldn’t enjoy the moment if they tried.

Where is the magic??  Well there is no magic about getting my “To Do’s” done, but since I get them done early, I am able to sit back and notice the rest of the season. I am able to enjoy the magic in my children’s eyes.  I am able to give and to count my blessings….to me that is where the magic lies.

So by now you may be rolling your eyes thinking “Good for you Jen, but I am still stuck with the anxiety of getting it all done”!  Well, it is true that we are now into December, but you still have plenty of time to make a choice!  Right now you can make a choice: a choice to live this season differently and a choice to start your tasks earlier next year.

Below are some of my favorite tips for staying sane this season:

-  Get your shopping done early.  Every year I have a personal goal of having 85% of my shopping and wrapping done by Thanksgiving.  This may seem extreme, but by setting this goal I usually hit it.  I shop all year so that makes this easier.

-  Give experiences instead of stuff.  This is truly the best gift you can give and you can do it today from the comfort of your home computer!  Memberships, concert/play tickets, sporting events, a night on the town and the wine of the month club….there are all sorts of great ideas out there.  The best part is that the anticipation doesn’t end after they open the gift.

–  Simplify greeting cards. Let the idea of the perfect, matchy-matchy holiday card go.  Grab some candid photos from the past year instead.  I always order my cards the week before Thanksgiving.  My favorite site usually has their annual coupon posted by then.  I say my favorite because they address, stamp and mail my cards for me…genius!

–  Make time to get together with your friends! Every year my husband and I host a holiday wine tasting party for our closest friends.  Everyone brings a snack and a bottle of wine for the tasting.  It is simple, informal and a nice reason for all of us “grown-ups” to relax.  This year I am surprising my friends with a slide-show that captures many of our favorite memories from the past 3 years…shhhh!

–  Learn to say no.  Let the whole family decide how you all want to spend this precious time of year.  Do not get guilted into events or gatherings you really do not want to attend.  At the beginning of November I check the Internet for dates of holiday events that I want to do as a family.  I mark all the dates in my planner early so that when we get an invitation we can say no if our priorities already claimed the date.

–  Stock up on items you need the most. I do this early so I don’t have to waste time rushing around for last minute ingredients when I need to bring a dish to pass.

-  Sort, purge and give before the holidays. I sort and purge the kids’ toys weeks before Christmas so that I have room to put away their new gifts after the holidays. I have them choose at least two things each that they can give to someone less fortunate.  Then we also find other ways for us to give as a family during December.  It drives me nuts when kids only talk about what they can get!

–  Watch Christmas movies.  Oh how I love a good Christmas movies.  It seems like they are the only ones left with a happy ending nowadays.  It reminds me that with love and faith anything is possible.

Happy Holidays!

Jennifer Ford Berry is an organizational expert, best-selling author, entrepreneur and speaker. Her first book Organize Now: a week-by-week guide to simplify your space and your life has sold over 250,000 copies world-wide. Jennifer has recently published Organize Now: 12 month home and activity planner and Organize Now: your money, business and career.

 

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The List of My All-Time Favorite Organizing Tools http://gracebrooke.com/2012/12/the-list-of-my-all-time-favorite-organizing-tools/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/12/the-list-of-my-all-time-favorite-organizing-tools/#comments Tue, 04 Dec 2012 15:00:51 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3077 I absolutely love to organize! What helps make organizing so much fun (I know, only freaks like to organize, huh?) is all the clever and useful products laying around the house or easily found online or at a near by retail store. It’s a fun little game to look around your home at the stuff […]

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I absolutely love to organize! What helps make organizing so much fun (I know, only freaks like to organize, huh?) is all the clever and useful products laying around the house or easily found online or at a near by retail store. It’s a fun little game to look around your home at the stuff you may already have taking up space and find a new purpose for it. (Remember, you only want to keep things that serve a purpose, bring you joy or items you absolutely love. Everything else is just clutter and should be ditched!)

Here’s a list of a few of my all-time favorite products/tools used for organizing and simplifying my life and the lives of clients:

1.  Over-the-Door-Shoe Organizer

all-time favorite organizing product

 

2.  Under-shelf Baskets

all-time favorite organizing product

3.  Plastic Food Storage Bags (Ziploc bags)

all-time favorite organizing products

4.  3M Command Interlocking Strips and Hooks

all-time favorite organizing products

5.  Tiered Pant Hanger

 

6.  Clear Shoe Boxes

all-time favorite organizing products

 

7.  Rubbermaid Plastic Edge Magazine Holder

all-time favorite organizing products

 

8.  Life Management Center

My very first LMC

 

9.  Fun, Sassy File Folders

10.  Brother Label Maker

all-time favorite organizing products

 

11. Desktop File Bin

all-time favorite organizing products

 

12.  32 Compartment Drawer Organizer

 

13.  Magazine Holders

all-time favorite organizing products

14.  Calendars

all-time favorite organizing products

 

15.  Mighty Magnet Memo Board

all-time favorite organizing products

 

 

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My #1 All-Time, Must-Have, Can’t-Live-Without, Favorite Organizing Tool http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/my-1-all-time-must-have-cant-live-without-favorite-organizing-tool/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/my-1-all-time-must-have-cant-live-without-favorite-organizing-tool/#comments Thu, 29 Nov 2012 13:00:00 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3058   Wanna know my absolute all-time favorite, can’t-live-without, must-have organizing tool?   It’s the Life Management Center®.   This tool/system will simplify any busy household and help organize families on the go. I put this system into place in all my client’s homes.  It has made such a huge difference in my life and in […]

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My very first LMC

 

Wanna know my absolute all-time favorite, can’t-live-without, must-have organizing tool?

 

It’s the Life Management Center®.

 

This tool/system will simplify any busy household and help organize families on the go. I put this system into place in all my client’s homes.  It has made such a huge difference in my life and in the lives of hundreds of people who I have helped. It is a system which every home needs to have to organize the day-to-day activities, all the incoming mail, homework, bills, invitations, family calendar, shopping lists, phone directories, receipts and so much more.

How this system will change your life:

  • Improve the household communication
  • Eliminate piles of paper
  • Everything is in one spot to simplify managing day to day activities
  • No more lost receipts and bills
  • You will be able to save money
  • Gain more time to enjoy the things and people you love
  • Plus many more benefits…

 

The image above is a photo of my very first Life Management Center®. It has evolved over the years as my family and lifestyle have changed. Our systems will need updating from time to time as our children grow, people come and go and our careers change.

In fact, I love this system so much that I wrote an eBook on it! “Who’s Managing Your Life? A Simple Guide to Creating a Home-Based Life Management Center”.

Take advantage of my Holiday Special up until December 1, 2012 and save 75% off. Grab your copy for only $4.99 (normally $19.99).

 

Learn more about my ebook.

 

Happy Organizing!

 

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Favorite Organizing Tool #7 http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-organizing-tool-7/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-organizing-tool-7/#comments Mon, 26 Nov 2012 14:00:22 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3042 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqO8h2O_-44   My next all-time favorite organizing tool is the Rubbermaid Plastic Edge Magazine Holder.   Check out this video (an oldie, but goodie) on how I use this product. The Plastic Edge Magazine Holder is hard to find in retail stores, but easier found online at Staples, Office Depot and Amazon. If you like […]

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//www.youtube.com/watch?v=uqO8h2O_-44

 

My next all-time favorite organizing tool is the

Rubbermaid Plastic Edge Magazine Holder.

 

Check out this video (an oldie, but goodie) on how I use this product.

The Plastic Edge Magazine Holder is hard to find in retail stores, but easier found online at Staples, Office Depot and Amazon.

If you like to hold onto your favorite cooking magazines or catalogs, the Plastic Edge Magazine Holder will keep your publications organized and neat in any binder. I love using them, because I can pull a full collection of publications down off a shelf at one time as oppose to grabbing only one or two.

These holders work great in the office too. If you use catalogs as a reference, keep all your catalogs in one binder using the Plastic Edge Magazine Holder.

Use them for:

  • Household manuals
  • Newsletters
  • Training guides
  • Directories

 

Happy Organizing!!!

 

 

 

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Favorite Organizing Tool #6 http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-organizing-tool-6/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-organizing-tool-6/#comments Fri, 23 Nov 2012 13:00:17 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=3030 My next all-time favorite organizing tool is the clear shoe box.   The clear shoe box can easily store and organize all your shoes, flip-flops, slippers and some boots.  But like most other organizing tools, you can use the clear shoe box to store and organize other items such as pictures, fabric, arts and crafts, gloves, […]

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My next all-time favorite organizing tool is the clear shoe box.

 

The clear shoe box can easily store and organize all your shoes, flip-flops, slippers and some boots.  But like most other organizing tools, you can use the clear shoe box to store and organize other items such as pictures, fabric, arts and crafts, gloves, belts, Tupperware lids, small toys, Lego’s and Barbie clothes. The possibilities are endless.  I personally use them to store first aid supplies and sort my medications (cold and flu, allergies, etc.) They also work great for sorting cookie cutters, baking tools and gadgets, electronic cords and greeting cards. These boxes are fabulous because you can see what is inside of them, they stack on top of one another and they are very affordable. Makes for the perfect organizing product/tool.

 

These boxes can easily fit in your closet, kitchen cabinet, bathroom cabinet, or pantry.

 

Even though the boxes are clear, it is still helpful to label what you are storing inside.

 

When it comes to storing shoes, it is helpful to take a photo of the shoes and attach it to the front of the shoe box.

 

Use a clear sliding shoe box to store fabric napkins and other linens.

 

I use these boxes for just about anything…anything that will fit inside it that is!

 

Happy Organizing!

 

 

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Favorite Organizing Tool #5 {Video} http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-organizing-tool-5-video/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-organizing-tool-5-video/#comments Mon, 19 Nov 2012 11:00:39 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=2976 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAqiVn1x3m8   My favorite organizing tool #5 is the tiered pant hanger.   It can be stored in any closet or hook or door knob.  It can be found at Target, The Container Store, Walmart and Amazon. The tiered pant hanger can be used to organize a variety of items such as table clothes, linens […]

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//www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAqiVn1x3m8

 

My favorite organizing tool #5 is the tiered pant hanger.

 

It can be stored in any closet or hook or door knob.  It can be found at Target, The Container Store, Walmart and Amazon.

The tiered pant hanger can be used to organize a variety of items such as table clothes, linens and blankets.

It can be used to organize ribbon.

It can be used to organize bracelets and watches.

 

It can be used to organize scarves and shower curtain rings.

It can be used to organize fabric.

Use it to organize your tissue paper.

What can you use the tiered pant hanger to organize?

Happy Organizing!

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Favorite Organizing Tool #4 http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-organizing-tool-4/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-organizing-tool-4/#comments Fri, 16 Nov 2012 13:00:29 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=2942   Do you ever want to hang something, but you hate patching holes in the wall? Or know that your landlord would have a fit if you did?  Well, now you can have the freedom to hang just about anything… ANYWHERE!!!  Check out my all-time favorite organizing tool #4… The 3M Command Interlocking Strips and […]

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Do you ever want to hang something, but you hate patching holes in the wall? Or know that your landlord would have a fit if you did?  Well, now you can have the freedom to hang just about anything… ANYWHERE!!! 

Check out my all-time favorite organizing tool #4

The 3M Command Interlocking Strips and Hooks.

 

They can be found at Home Depot, OSH, Target and of course Amazon.  The hooks come in white, clear, brass and clear with wire hooks.

Use these nifty little strips to hang pictures on your wall.  No need to knock on the walls to find a stud that will keep a nail secure (oh, so many jokes I could make here).  The directions are simple and friendly for everyone to follow.

Organize your jewelry and keep them tangled free.

Hang your holiday decorations.  Simply attach the hook upside-down on the inside of a cabinet, attach a ribbon to display a wreath or Christmas greeting cards.

 

 Hang your broom and mop.

Hang your baking accessories on the inside of your cabinet.

 

 

I love this! It’s a Kleenex box filled with plastic bags mounted to the inside of a cabinet.

Mount gadgets to the dash of your car.

Another organizing tool where the possibilities are endless.  What will you hang?

Happy Organizing!

 

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Favorite Organizing Tool #3 http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-organizing-tool-3/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-organizing-tool-3/#comments Tue, 13 Nov 2012 13:00:50 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=2908 Plastic Food Storage Bags are another one of my all-time favorite organizing tool.  There are so many items you can store and organize using these bags.  They are available in a vast array of sizes including, snack, sandwich, quart, gallon and even 2 gallon sizes.  You can grab a box at just about anywhere you […]

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Plastic Food Storage Bags are another one of my all-time favorite organizing tool.  There are so many items you can store and organize using these bags.  They are available in a vast array of sizes including, snack, sandwich, quart, gallon and even 2 gallon sizes.  You can grab a box at just about anywhere you shop.

Plastic food storage bags are great for freezing foods such as meats, soups and fruit.  They are also great for storing and organizing holiday decorations or toys.  The bags can be used for traveling or even packing material for breakable items.  With a Sharpie pen you can easily label  the plastic bags with a date an item was put in the freezer, what technical device a plug belongs to or even what nails or screws belong to a certain item.

 

Here are a few more ways you can organize using plastic storage bags:

1. Put all your spare keys in little snack size bags and label them so you don’t lose your head when you lose your keys!

2. Divide each weeks’ worth of pills and vitamins among seven labeled snack size bags.

3. When it’s raining, bring along a larger size plastic bag to store your wet umbrella in so you can still stash it in your purse.

4. Marinate meat by placing your chicken breasts in with your marinade and stick it in the fridge until it’s ready.

5. Store your iPad in a gallon size plastic bag to avoid spills and sticky fingers.

 

Check out these examples of what can be stored and organized using plastic food storage bags.

 

Store some yummy snacks for yourself or kids.  (I thought this was cute using a paperclip and pipe-cleaner).

Store and keep your ribbon organized using sandwich or gallon size plastic bags.

Finally a way to store and organize all those tiny little toys like LEGOS!!!

Traveling?  Here is a great way to organize your children’s clothes using gallon size plastic bags. They are also great to pack your liquid necessities such as shampoo and lotion to keep from exploding all over your clothes.

This is a great idea if you have kids who play sports.  Get a wet sponge, put it in a plastic bag and freeze it.

Presto!  You have an ice-pack.

Another great idea to store and organize all your tech STUFF.

Here is a clever way to use a plastic bag for pancake mix or frosting.  Happy decorating!

Plastic Bags are easy to wash and reuse.

Happy Organizing!

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“Favorite Things” #2 {Video} http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-things-2-video/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/favorite-things-2-video/#comments Thu, 08 Nov 2012 13:00:25 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=2890 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7plzsgMJZs This month I am sharing all my favorite organizing products and tools to simplify not only your home, but your office. The under-the-shelf basket is another big time favorite of mine because it is so versatile. It can be used in the kitchen pantry to hold bread, rice bags, crackers, snacks and so on. […]

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//www.youtube.com/watch?v=i7plzsgMJZs

This month I am sharing all my favorite organizing products and tools to simplify not only your home, but your office.

The under-the-shelf basket is another big time favorite of mine because it is so versatile. It can be used in the kitchen pantry to hold bread, rice bags, crackers, snacks and so on. I also like to use it in kitchen cabinets to maximize the space by holding smaller dishes, napkins and dish towels. It works great in laundry rooms, bathrooms, bedroom closets and even in the garage. Anywhere you have a shelf, it will help to maximize the space!

The under-the-shelf basket has endless organizing possibilities.

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My All-Time FAVORITE Organizing Tool {Video} http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/my-all-time-favorite-over-the-door-shoe-organizer-video/ http://gracebrooke.com/2012/11/my-all-time-favorite-over-the-door-shoe-organizer-video/#comments Tue, 06 Nov 2012 13:00:23 +0000 http://gracebrooke.com/?p=2858 //www.youtube.com/watch?v=togwqb0dBWM This is my all-time favorite organizing tool – the over-the-door shoe organizer.  It can be used for absolutely EVERYTHING (except adult size shoes, in my opinion).  The only space it requires is the wasted space behind your door.  It could be a pantry door, closet door, linen door, bathroom door, bedroom door or even an […]

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//www.youtube.com/watch?v=togwqb0dBWM

This is my all-time favorite organizing tool – the over-the-door shoe organizer. 

It can be used for absolutely EVERYTHING (except adult size shoes, in my opinion).  The only space it requires is the wasted space behind your door.  It could be a pantry door, closet door, linen door, bathroom door, bedroom door or even an under-the-stairs door.  If you happen to run out of doors, this handy organizer can easily be mounted onto a wall.  The over-the-door shoe organizer can also be easily mounted onto the back on the driver or passenger’s seat in an automobile.

Check out some of these genius ideas using my FAVORITE organizing tool:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I thought this was a great idea for the holidays.  An Advent Calendar!  Make it yourself with the days of the month and little goodies for each day.  How fun!

How do you use an over-the-door shoe organizer?

Happy Organizing!

 

 

 

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