Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Client Space: Kitchen Desk

First of all, thank you to everyone for all your support and encouragement regarding the Big News I shared back in January! I feel so privileged not only to be doing a job I am passionate about, but also privileged to have the opportunity to meet and work with such incredible people. My favorite part of helping others organize is getting to experience the sense of joy and relief they feel when a job is complete. It's amazing how I can visually see them feeling lighter and less stressed, like a huge weight has been lifted. Honestly, I feel so honored that people open up their homes to me and let me walk with them through this process. I am lucky.

Since I have been busy working, I have not had as much time for blogging. But I thought it would be fun to give you an idea of what I have been up to these past few months, so I am going to start sharing with you some of my favorite client organizing projects complete with everyone's favorite -- before and after photos! (Please note, all names have been changed to protect the client's identity).

Kathy is a dear friend of mine. We met in a workout class when her youngest and my twins were only a few months old. Soon into our friendship, we realized that we had attended the same high school and that her younger sister was one of my good friends during my freshman year. Such a small world!

Besides her five-year-old, Kathy also has two teenage sons, plus a husband, a dog and a cat. She is also one of the busiest people I know. With three kids at three different stages of life, she works tirelessly to manage the various schedules of school activities, church groups, sports practices, social events, etc. and she spends most of her time in the car driving her crew in all sorts of different directions. Phew! I get exhausted just thinking about it!

Kathy asked me to come help her with one of the most hard-working areas of her home: the desk in her kitchen.

Ideally, Kathy wanted to use this space for paying bills, working on the computer, filing important documents, writing notes, and storing office supplies. She also recognized that being the main family computer, her children would also need to use this space for doing homework and research. 

Being in a central location in the kitchen, the desk had turned into a spot to quickly drop various items. Piled up with papers, art supplies, coupons, pencils, and computer cords, the area had become a big storage space and was no longer functioning as a desk. 

When I arrived at Kathy's house we discussed her goals for the space and then quickly got to work. We started by emptying the desk and cupboards completely, weeding out the items that either needed to be donated, tossed, or put away somewhere else in the house. Once we had edited the space down to the items that actually belonged in the desk, we began arranging the items into categories in the drawers and cupboards to make a clean and functional work area. I think you will agree that the before and after photos are quite dramatic!

One of my favorite aspects of this project was this narrow desk drawer. At only about 1 inch deep, it was too shallow for traditional drawer dividers.

We got creative and rummaged through the house finding small jewelry boxes and shoe box lids that would fit in the space. We then used our Tetris skills to maneuver the boxes around until we were able to fit all of the office supplies into their own little compartment.

To pretty things up a bit, Kathy hit up Target for some contact paper and spent an evening covering each of the boxes with the blue wrap and carefully labeling each space with the name of its contents. Kathy has told me many times over that this drawer has been the most impactful part of this project as now everyone in her family knows exactly where to look for the supplies they need -- no more rummaging around for the lost ruler or having to buy another pair of scissors because the last ones have gone missing. (Sorry for the grainy picture!) 

One last picture of the desk all tidied up and that's a wrap!

I hope to be back soon with another organized client space!

Monday, December 21, 2015

Big News from Everyday Organizing!

Today is an exciting day for me.

I know it has been like crickets on the blog the last couple months, but trust me when I say that behind the scenes things have been hustling and bustling. You see, for months now I have been keeping a secret from you. A BIG secret that I am finally ready to announce and I couldn't be happier: Everyday Organizing is now open for business!

It has long been a dream of mine to dive into the world of Professional Organizing and after lots of thought, encouragement and hard work, I am finally turning passion into profession. When I started this blog two and half years ago, I hoped that one day I would be able to move beyond sharing my love for organizing on the Internet and also be able to work hands-on helping clients de-clutter and organize their busiest spaces. I did a soft-launch of my business this past fall and, as expected, I have loved every second of it! I truly believe that everyone can benefit from becoming more organized and I love helping others achieve their organizing goals.

So, are you wondering what a Professional Organizer does and how I can help you? Let me tell you!

What is a Professional Organizer?

A Professional Organizer is someone who brings experience, expertise and resources to you to help overcome clutter, develop organizing systems, and maximize the use of your space. Professional Organizers help you create a calm and orderly environment that can lead to less stress, more time, saved money and greater enjoyment of everyday life.

Why hire a Professional Organizer?

A Professional Organizer helps you to take control of your possessions and your space and, as a result, increase your quality of life. As a Professional Organizer I will not only help you organize your home or office, I will also help you create easy-to-follow systems to keep it that way. I bring a new perspective to your space and provide guidance, encouragement, motivation and practical solutions that can set you up for success. Together, we will work to:
  • sort through your items and decide what you do and don’t need
  • get rid of the items you choose not to keep
  • organize the items that remain in the space
  • create efficient organizational systems within your home or office
  • discuss tips for maintaining your organized lifestyle.

Disorganization has many costs. It diminishes your productivity when you are unable to function efficiently in the surrounding environment. A lack of organization also leads to increased stress as you feel like you don’t have control over your clutter. Additionally, being disorganized has financial costs. It is estimated that as much as 15% to 20% of the annual budget in an average household is related to unnecessary expenditures due to disorganization*. As a result, when you hire a Professional Organizer, you are taking a step toward improving your quality of life by decreasing stress, saving money, and creating more time for yourself.
 * National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO)

What takes place during an organizing session?

The first step in the process is an on-site consultation. Most consultations last between 60-90 minutes. During that time, you can expect that we will discuss areas of interest, tour your home/business, and determine the scope of the job at hand. I will ask you questions about your goals for each area discussed and begin to strategize an organizing plan to meet those goals. 

After the consultation, we will schedule our first organizing session. Throughout each session, I will work side-by-side with you to sort through your items and organize your space. We will begin by assessing all the items in the space and making decisions about each item.  Once the space has been edited, we will design the final organizing plan based on your desired goals. When creating an organizing plan, I take into consideration the natural flow of the space and the people who live or work within it. It is important that the use and maintenance of the systems we create are instinctual and manageable to the people who are using them. Also as part of the plan, we will identify the best tools, equipment and layout for the space or system. Finally, we will work together to arrange the space and implement the planned systems.

How do we get started?

Easy! If you live in the Seattle area and are interested in learning more about how I can help you, you can contact me at My new website is under construction, so you can currently find more information about my services, policies and FAQ's on my Facebook page. (And while you are over there, go ahead and "like" my page as well!) 

And that's it, folks! I am so excited about this new adventure and even more excited that I can now share my big news with all of YOU! I will continue to blog when I have new ideas and projects to share so if you haven't already done so, you can subscribe to my blog using the link on the right side-bar to make sure you never miss a new post. Thank you all for your kindness and support!


Monday, October 19, 2015

DIY Initial Bulletin Boards

I am so excited to share with you today's DIY project! This one is both easy and inexpensive, which makes it a great project for both the expert and novice DIY'er.

School has been in session for over a month now, which means we have had a month's worth of paperwork and art projects coming home on a daily basis. I'll be the first to admit I am a bad mommy and recycle most of what comes home, but there are those special projects that I want to keep on display and I needed a special place to display them. A bulletin board for each of our children was an obvious choice for pinning up their latest masterpiece. But since I can never leave well enough alone, I decided to personalize each bulletin board with each child's first initial. I had never worked with a stencil before, and after reading this tutorial on how to make your own stencil, I decided this was the perfect time to give it a try. The final product exceeded my expectations; even when empty, it looks like art instead of a plain ol' bulletin board. And, at a total cost of less than $20 per board, there is no reason not to get started on this project right away!

1. Gather Your Supplies: For this project, you will need:
  • Bulletin board (I bought mine at Target for $10)
  • Fine tip permanent marker
  • Box cutter
  • Cutting mat (you can also use a large piece of cardboard)
  • Paint
  • Small foam roller
  • Painters Tape
2. Choose Your Pattern: For our bulletin boards, I used the "Stencil" font in Microsoft Word and printed out each of our children's first initials. I did a font size of 750 and printed it out on a single sheet of 8.5x11 inch paper. Of course, you can choose any pattern for your stencil; it doesn't have to be a letter of the alphabet. Get creative!

3. Make a Jumbo Print: Now that you have chosen your pattern, head on over to your local print shop or office supply store (I used Office Depot) and ask them to print you a jumbo size copy of your pattern. My starting image measured about 7 inches tall. I knew I wanted the final image to measure about 28 inches tall, so I asked for them to copy my image at 400%.  I brought my measuring tape with me and double checked the measurements of the final image to make sure it would fit my bulletin board.  Each print cost me about $3.00.

4. Create Your Stencil Material: Once you have your pattern printed, next you will need a large piece of plastic to create your stencil. And here is where the magic happens: ask your print shop to run their lamination machine with NOTHING INSIDE. Do not laminate your printed pattern! Just have them melt the lamination material together to create a thin piece of "plastic" that is big enough for your stencil. Now, run that piece of laminated material through the laminator again and maybe even a third time so that it is thick enough that it doesn't curl up. (Note: Most print shops and office supply stores can do this for you at a cost of about $2.00 per square foot. However, if you live near a Lakeshore Learning Center, you may want to call and check on their prices. Our local store has a self-use laminator that is only $0.39 per square foot.)

5. Trace Your Stencil: Back at home, tape your jumbo print image-side-up to the back of your laminated plastic. Using a fine-tip sharpie marker, carefully trace your pattern onto the plastic. (Quick tip: If your pattern has a lot of straight lines, use a ruler to help guide you).

6. Cut Your Stencil: Place your piece of plastic down on your cutting mat. Using a box cutter, carefully cut out your stencil.

7. Paint: Tape your stencil to your bulletin board using painter's tape. Using a foam roller, paint over the stencil making sure to get two or three even coats, then carefully remove the stencil. That's it! You're done!!

We used our miter saw and some inexpensive baseboard trim from Home Depot to also create a thicker frame for each board.

I seriously can't get over how well these bulletin boards turned out. I love Love LOVE them! No one will believe you when you tell them how easy they are to make AND that they cost less than $20 each!

Here they are loaded up with a few favorite art projects:

The possibilities for this project are endless. You can get creative with choosing a different design or use the stencil to paint directly on a wall instead of a bulletin board. I am already scheming other places in my house to add a little stencil magic. In the meantime, I'll just go back to admiring a job well done!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Ask Everyday Organizing: Organizing Small Spaces

What a busy few weeks we have had! First off, we survived our trip to Disneyland. As my husband put it, it was one of those trips where you definitely need a vacation after your vacation.  It was loads of fun and totally exhausting all at the same time. Oh, and it was also 101 degrees outside. One hundred and one degrees, people! But it was worth every last sweaty, sticky, second of it.

J&A officially turned five this past week. I can't believe it. I know everyone tells you how quickly they grow up and it is so true. They seem to have birthday fever, however, as they have been wearing the birthday crowns they got at school for the past four days. I think they are enjoying the extra birthday attention. :) 

I recently received the following email from a reader: "I'll soon be moving from a 7 room house (with a full basement) to a one bedroom apartment. No drilling into walls or similar ways of organization. I'm trying to downsize as much as possible but I could use some real ideas for organizing my life once I move so "stuff" isn't everywhere. Thanks!" Finding creative solutions in small spaces is one of my favorite organizing challenges so of course I am happy to help! I've put together a list of some of my favorite organizing products for small (or big!) spaces.

1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5 / 6 / 7 / 8

Storage Furniture: Double duty furniture provides both form and function in small spaces. This storage ottoman from Target gives you a place to rest your feet when watching TV and a place to store blankets, magazines, or DVDs. 

Open Bins/Baskets:  No matter what size the space, open bins and baskets are an organizer's best friend. With a small space, it is easy for even just the smallest amount of clutter to feel like the biggest mess. Keeping the lid off means one less step to putting things back where they belong, which in turn means it is easier to keep the house tidy. I find most of my baskets at Target or Ikea, but I also often use shoe boxes (free!) and cover them with wrapping paper for a nice look. (For those of you with eagle eyes, you will notice that I forgot to include a picture of a basket in my collage above. Of course, I didn't realize it until I was about ready to hit "publish" on this post so you'll just have to use your imagination.)

Hanging Shoe Organizer: Hanging shoe organizers allow you to make use of an otherwise wasted space on the back of your door. But don't limit yourself to just shoes! I have seen these types of organizers used to store arts supplies, cleaning products, toys, pantry items, or even a vertical garden!

Hanging Sweater Organizer: Maximize the space in your closets with a hanging sweater organizer. This one from Target has storage drawers that can also be used with it, allowing you to use it in a variety of ways. 

Command Products: The Command brand is built on the premise of creating damage free storage solutions. While they are best know for their hooks, their product line also includes picture hanging strips, wall tiles, jewelry racks, key hooks, bath caddys, and, my new personal favorite, organizing caddys. Check out their website for a list of all their products and ideas of how to use them. 

Stackable Storage Drawers: These are my favorite for maximizing the space in tall cabinets and cupboards, such as a the one under your bathroom sink. 

Under Bed Storage Drawers: The space under the bed should not be ignored. It is perfect for storing out-of-season clothes, spare linens, or gift wrap. 

Bed Risers: Need a little extra space under that bed? A set of bed risers will cost you less than $10!

Cupboard Shelf: Create an entire extra shelf in your kitchen cabinet with the use of these cupboard shelves. These are also great in pantrys and tall lower cabinets. 

Want more ideas for organizing your small (or big) space? Check out these posts:

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Meal Planning Made Even Easier! Plan to Eat (plus a free giveaway!)

A few years ago, I did an entire blog series about meal planning (you can catch up here, here, here and here). Most of the ideas I shared back then I still use today, but there is one new tool that I recently started using that has cut my meal planning time in half. Introducing, Plan To Eat.


Plan to Eat is a meal planning website. You can upload your favorite online recipes with just one click of a button. From there, you can drag and drop your recipes onto a calendar to plan your weekly menu. And then, this is the best part, Plan to Eat generates your grocery list for you! YOU DON'T HAVE TO WRITE A GROCERY LIST!!!

To give you a better idea of how Plan to Eat works, here's a quick little video for you:

So, in case you can't already tell, I love Plan to Eat and here is what I love about it:
  • It is easy to upload recipes. For most online recipes, it is just one click of a button. However, even for recipes I have in cookbooks, typing them into Plan to Eat takes only a few minutes of my initial time, and then it is stored in my account forever - I never have to re-enter it!
  • Speaking of your account, even if you decide to quit Plan to Eat (although I have no idea why you would), they save all of your account information, so if/when you come back, all the recipes you uploaded are still there waiting for you.
  • Meal planning has never been easier! I start by looking at our family calendar and using the notes feature on Plan to Eat to note any nights that we are not cooking at home. From there, I just drag and drop recipes into the menu planner. I like that I can put recipes into my queue to save for later and that I can plan breakfast, lunch, dinner and snacks if I so choose.

  • Plan to Eat makes a grocery list for you!!! I know, I said this before, but it is worth saying again and again. Not only does it generate a grocery list, it also divides that list into categories such as Dairy, Meat, Baking, etc. And that's not all, folks. You can designate each item on your list to a particular store and Plan to Eat will remember your preferences. For example, if you always buy your chicken at Costco, you can designate chicken to Costco and it will always go on your Costco list! I have lists for Costco, Trader Joe's and the general grocery store and it. is. fabulous. 
  • To make grocery shopping even easier, I created a recipe called "Weekly Staples". It really isn't a recipe at all, just a list of the staples that we purchase weekly at the grocery store -- things like milk, yogurt, fruit, etc. I make sure to drag and drop it into each week's planner and instantly all those weekly items are added to my grocery list.

Update: I have learned that Plan to Eat has a Staples list feature already on their website. Not only is this feature easy to use, it serves a great reminder for those easy-to-forget items that are not listed in your recipe ingredients. Check out this video for a quick tutorial of how to use the Plan to Eat Staples feature.
  • It's affordable! In fact, I would even say it is cheap! To help entice you, Plan to Eat offers a free 30-day trial. I did my trial in January and after day seven I was hooked and signed up for the full year subscription for only $39. That's less than a latte a month. If you aren't sure you want to commit to a full year, you can go month-to-month for only $4.95 per month.
With all of the things I love about Plan to Eat, there are a few things I would change:
  • There isn't a pantry feature. That means, every time a recipe calls for salt, salt gets put on my grocery list. I wish there was a feature where I could list the items I have in my pantry and they would not get added to my list. I did email Plan to Eat about this and they responded by saying they used to have a pantry feature, but it has since been removed. They explained that they would rather give costumers a complete grocery list than assume the customers have certain pantry items that they may not actually have. It get their reasoning, but I still wish for a pantry feature.  *Update: A reader gave me a fabulous suggestion that solved my pantry problem! I created a grocery store called "Pantry" and designated all my pantry items to that store. When making my grocery list, I can quickly scan my pantry store, save the items that I need and easily delete the rest. This has been a perfect solution for me!
  • Grocery items get listed multiple times. For example, if one recipe calls for "olive oil" and another recipe calls for "extra virgin olive oil" and another recipe calls for "good olive oil" (I'm looking at you, Ina Garten), all three kinds of oil will be listed on my grocery list. Update: Plan to Eat to the rescue! This video will walk you through how to easily edit your shopping list to prevent repeatedly listing the same ingredient multiple times. 
  • For both of these issues, I have found that it is easy for me to quickly scan my grocery list before printing and simply delete the items that I do not need. In my opinion, the time I save using Plan to Eat is well worth the few seconds it takes me to delete some unnecessary items from my grocery list.
If you are ready to give Plan to Eat a try, then I have good news for you! The kind folks at Plan to Eat are giving one Everyday Organizing reader a FREE ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION to Plan To Eat! Woohoo!

You can enter to win via the Rafflecopter below. Your last day to enter the raffle is Monday, October 6, 2015. And remember, even if you don't win the big prize, everyone is eligible for the FREE 30-day Plan to Eat trial! So, head on over to Plan to Eat now and get signed up!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Organized Travel Toiletries

I can't believe it. My babies are turning five. I have no idea how they got this old this quickly, but it happened. For some reason five seems like a big number. A milestone. They are officially "kids". Not toddlers, definitely not babies. Kids.

For their birthday, we decided to go big and take them to Disneyland. It's been months of planning and anticipation, making to-do lists of errands and tasks that needed to be done, looking at pictures of the park and videos of the rides, discussing plane etiquette and the importance of being patient in long lines, and dreaming of meeting princesses and heroes.

As I was making checklists of what to pack, I realized my system for travel toiletries needed an overhaul.  I like the idea of having a travel toiletry bag that is always packed and ready to go at a moments notice. You know, for all those times that my husband and I have a whimsical, spur-of-the-moment, getaway. (Ha!). But seriously, I don't like having to start at square one every time we head out of town, so I  began by making a list of all the toiletries I wanted to keep permanently stashed in my travel bag. This may vary person to person, but here is what I chose to include:
  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Face wash
  • Eye makeup remover
  • Day cream
  • Night cream
  • Spray bottle w/ water (for wetting down my bed head)
  • Blow dry protecting spray
  • Body lotion
  • Razer
  • Shaving cream
  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Aspirin
  • Bandaids
  • Eye mask (for sleeping)
  • Ear plugs
  • Q-tips
  • Cotton balls
  • Deodorant
With my list in place, I sourced my house for what I already had on-hand and made a Target run for the rest. I purchased duplicates of several of the items on the list so that I could keep one in my bathroom drawer for everyday use and one permanently in my travel bag.  Too many times I have spent my vacation smelling like Old Spice because I forgot to throw in my deodorant and have had to use my husband's instead.

After taking this photo, I realized I forgot to include my eye mask in the picture. But trust me, it made it into the bag. I can't live sleep without it.

For most of the liquid products, I used these travel size bottles that I bought years ago. To keep myself from shampooing my hair with body lotion, I whipped up adhesive vinyl labels using my Silhouette.

Quick tip: Another way to make a cute and easy label is a strip of washi tape and a permanent marker. I have found it holds up well, even in water.

A travel sized aspirin bottle also got a cute label and was the perfect size for a set of earplugs:

Quick tip: A prescription medicine bottle makes another great travel container. I covered one in contact paper and use it to store my daughters hair ties.

Once I had gathered and labeled all my supplies, I went to work on finding the perfect toiletry bag. My previous bag had lots of pockets to help keep the toiletries organized, but truth be told, I never actually used them. Inevitably, I always ended up throwing all my toiletries in one of the larger zippered pockets. When searching for a new bag I knew I wanted something that had just one large compartment. My other complaint about my old toiletry bag is that it was too bulky. Even empty, it took up too much room in suitcase. I found the perfect bag at Ulta: it is lightweight, machine washable, and the perfect size to fit my needs.

I used a Ziploc bag to secure the items that I was worried might explode mid-flight due to cabin pressure.

To complete my travel toiletry set, I also bought the matching makeup bag. It has two zippers so that I can keep my makeup on one side and my brushes on the other.

When it comes time to pack for vacation, all I have to do is thrown in my hairbrush and comb and I'm ready to go!

Now that I'm all set and ready to travel, I am itching for my next destination. Who wants to sponsor me for a trip to Hawaii? Anyone? Anyone?