Friday, February 27, 2009

I need to keep this for how long?!

It's tax time and that gets many people wondering just how long they need to keep important documents. I think a lot of people keep documents unnecessarily out of fear of needing them at some point in the future.

One of the NAPO-WDC chapter newsletters last year had a fantastic one page document that outlines not only how long you should keep certain documents but also the ideal place to store them and to whom copies should go.

On a related note (which you will figure out in just a minute), I recently drank the Kool-Aid and bought an iPhone. I have to say that I love, love, love it!

Part of the whole Mac-package is something called iDisk. In a nutshell, I can store documents "out there" in a public folder and direct people to it. Which is what I'm going to do right now!

Click on the link below and you will be taken to my public folder. You will see the heading "Bluebonnet Professional Organizing". Just click on the little arrow to the left of the heading and you will see two documents that you can download and print out. One is the paper Retention Schedule. Another helpful tax-time document is also there -- the Goodwill Donation Value Guide. It helps you to figure out how much to value those items you have donated throughout the year, regardless of where you donated them.

http://public.me.com/laurimennel

(I'm keeping my fingers crossed that this magical iDisk actually works and that you will be able to access these documents easily!)

Happy filing!

Monday, February 23, 2009

Week in Review via Kitchen Tools

I have realized today that my little kitchen utensil experiment updates are actually quite revealing! As I was going through my kitchen drawers looking at the utensils I've used this past week, lots of little insights popped up about what's been going on in our home lately.

Silicone baster brush - you know, it kind of looks like a paint brush, with the "bristles" made out of brightly colored (in my case, blue) silicone. I used this for brushing bacon fat from a pan from my oven onto the griddle for pancakes. My in-laws left yesterday and I made some apple pancakes for breakfast. My father-in-law loves bacon (the real deal, not the faux turkey bacon I keep around in our freezer). He ran out to Whole Foods and got some of the good stuff. We baked it in the oven and it left quite a bit of scrumptious bacon fat on the baking pan. I saw it sitting there on the stove next to my pancake griddle and thought, "Why the hell not?!". It really did the trick. It reminded me of the little can of bacon fat that my Nanny (my mother's mother) kept on her stove top at all times.

Meat thermometer - I used this to check the temp of the pork tenderloin I made with my favorite "rub", a recipe from Central Market in Austin that I've had for years. Cumin, chili powder, red pepper flakes, cinnamon, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Mmmm.

Melon ballers #1 and #2 - Mimi was helping me with a cantaloupe the other morning. We tried the fancy melon baller with the little spring action "scooper" but that was a little too hard for her five-year old hands. We then went to the plain, old scoop and she did great.

Whisk for pudding - Made a batch of instant chocolate pudding the other night and dutifully used the wire whisk it called for in the instructions.

12" long metal skewers - I cringed a little but Mimi used these to make strawberry and banana kabobs for all of us on Saturday night.


Metal steam rack for okra - I found some incredible okra at the Indian market (Aditi Spice Market on Maple Avenue) a few days ago. This being Northern Virginia, you can't really get okra at the regular supermarket. Oh they might have a little basket of some pitiful, over-priced okra but Aditi Spice had a huge basket of really nice okra. Of course, my favorite way to eat okra is to batter it and fry it up but I wanted to try something a little different. I found a recipe for steaming it. Apparently there is a trick to preventing the dreaded okra "slime". Just trim the ends and leave the pointy "tips" intact. Steam for about five to seven minutes then toss with butter, fresh lime juice, salt and cracked pepper. Deeee-licious!

String - My little pork tenderloin needed to be tied together as it was actually two small pieces.

Teeny, tiny funnels - Mimi was in one of her frequent water/liquid experimenting moods. She wanted a couple of the tiny funnels I use to fill up spice containers. She had a really good time pouring water through the funnels into little paper cups. Then she wanted to add food coloring to several small cups of water. Then she wanted to make marshmallow "kabobs" using miniature marshmallows and toothpicks and dip them into the food colored water. Lesson learned: marshmallows aren't really that absorbent. And they actually look pretty disgusting when they're wet. But Mimi claimed to love them and she had a good time with the process!

Friday, February 20, 2009

No, it's not about crop circles!

My dirty little secret as a professional organizer is that I have about a dozen boxes, admittedly nicely containerized, on a shelf in my storage room, full of photographs, empty photo albums, empty film envelopes, negatives, cute frames I've picked up here and there, and other random, related photo items.

It's been a project on my back burner for a number of years to get these photos organized. I even carted them all over to Macedonia a few years ago thinking I would use all of my free time to finally finish this massive undertaking. Well, I carted every one of the boxes back over here from Romania, untouched, a couple of years ago.

So I went to a new friend's house last night for a "crop night". More about that in a minute. Her name is Lisa Emerson and she is a Creative Memories consultant. She is a friend of a good friend. I was very interested in what, exactly, Creative Memories was all about.

A "crop night" is simply a gathering of people (usually, maybe always, women) who bring whatever photo-related project they are working on and, well, work on it! The best I can tell, the phrase "crop night" or "crop party" refers to the action of "cropping" photos to place into photo albums, scrapbooks or frames. Lisa provides delicious brownies, fruit, other snacks, drinks and maybe even an adult beverage or two!

What it did for me was force me to go to my storage room, pick up one of my photo boxes, put it in my car, take it over to Lisa's house and start the process I've been meaning to start for years. It was a fun environment and we all just happily worked away. If you wanted to join in the conversation, you could. If you wanted to quietly work and focus on your photo sorting or scrapbook pages, you could do that, too. No pressure.

John assumed, probably correctly, that "crop night" was similar to my book club: a seemingly high-brow or productive, creative endeavor cleverly disguised as an excuse to get out of the house and drink wine! I will not deny it.

I highly recommend finding a buddy or someone like Lisa (Creative Memory consultants can be found all over the country) to inject a little fun into what can seem like the lonely, arduous task of sorting through boxes and boxes of photos. Remember, you didn't take all those pictures in a day. Give yourself time to get your memories and photos in whatever order suits you: from simple, labeled shoeboxes to elaborately creative scrapbooks.

If you want to see what products Lisa offers to help organize photos and other memorabilia, go to her website at www.mycmsite.com/lisaemerson. FYI, I bought the Power Sort Box. It's fantastically constructed, costs $35 and holds an amazing 2,400 photos!! I'm definitely not a scrapbooker and you don't have to be to benefit from some of the CM products.

Happy cropping!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Oprah.com Comes Through Again...

...with an easy blog post topic! You can get a 20% off coupon for The Container Store on Oprah.com. Just go to the home page, look for the Oprah's "Clean Up Your Messy House Tour" and click on "Get Your Coupon for The Container Store".

I needed an easy post because I've been busy this week with some fun, interesting jobs. And John's parents are up from Dallas for a visit. They are low maintenance and good company so I'm afraid I can't insert any nasty, negative in-law comments here!

They've had a good time visiting with Mimi and, of course, she loves visits from her Grandmom and GrandBob. It's been nice to have them walk her to the bus stop in the mornings and be here in the afternoons when she gets home from school. If you have parents who live in your neighborhood or even the same town, consider yourself lucky!

We're looking forward to a visit from my parents next month. Mimi is a lucky girl in the grandparent department!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Child's Play




Call me crazy but I love to help organize kid's spaces! It's nice to play a small part in helping a child build good habits for keeping their space organized.

The National Association of Professional Organizers has some good tips for getting started in organizing the children's areas of your home:

1. Have bins and boxes on lower shelves so that a child can put away the toys. Have the child label the bins and boxes.
2. Provide low hooks to hang up sweaters, pajamas, jackets, book bags, etc.
3. Take children with you when you go to donate unused items. This helps them learn to part with things.
4. Encourage your child/teenager to choose their outfits for the next day before they go to bed at night.

Here are a couple of other tips to help your kids out:

1. Let them draw fun pictures to label drawers and bins. For younger children, you can take photographs and place them on bins.
2. As birthdays approach, give kids the chance to thin outgrown toys. They might surprise you.

Target has a great storage organizer perfect for corralling all of those Legos, dolls, blocks, dinosaurs and other tiny parts. Simply go to http://www.target.com/ and type in "Storage Organizer Natural" in the search field. The bins are bright green, red and two shades of blue. There is also a really cute option the girls would love with bins in shades of pink and lavender.

Have fun kids!

Monday, February 16, 2009

Poftă bună!

Some good friends we met in Bucharest who now live in New Jersey came for dinner and a visit on Saturday. They have two children, a nine-year old boy and a six year old girl. The girls had a great time while the boy tried his best not to show his incredible boredom by all the little kid goings on. We had a great time catching up and reminiscing about Romania. Poftă bună! Which translates loosely as "Enjoy your meal!"

It's the first time since starting my kitchen utensil dump that we've had guests for dinner and I used quite a few items.

Used my pastry blender to cut a stick of butter into a cherry crisp mix. While trying to find the correct term for this tool I found a great website for, yes, baking and pastry tools. For you bakers out there it's http://www.pastrychef.com/.

By the way, my sister Amy is the baker in our family. She makes the most exquisitely hand-decorated Christmas cookies every year as well as just throwing together yummy pies, tarts, etc. throughout the rest of the year.

Used the hand crank Parmesan cheese grater (for our spaghetti).

Used one of our two ice cream scoops.

I have used so few utensils over two weeks that I've got to figure out a strategy for where to keep things I know I'll use occasionally (seasonal utensils) and decide what to do with strange utensils I've accumulated along the way. Freecycle? Thrift store?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Happy Heart Day

Some ecstatic, some sad, some hilarious, some poignant. Enjoy these six-word love stories submitted by Washington Post readers:

40 years married. 40 more please!

My parents worry I'll never marry.

So broke; yet surrounded by love.

His most romantic words: "I'll cook."

He said he'd call. Still waiting.

E-Harmony told us both: "No Matches."

I love him. He loves her.

At least I got the dog.

Marriage -- it's harder than it looks.

Being bored with you is fun.

Craigs list. True love. Who knew?

No husband. No children. No regrets.

"You're so lucky." It's not luck.

Looking for a soulmate, finding myself.

He is more than I expected.

Maybe tomorrow I'll finally say hello.

Spooning, warm breath on my neck.

You were never that cute anyways.

Thirty years. Two kids. Still smitten.

I always run. No one left.

Shy soulmates. Final semester. Last chance.

Champagne and strawberries for one.

A wedding? No way! Prop 8.

Tread softly. A dream lies here.

And here's mine:

Worth the wait. You and kid.

What's your six-word love story?

Friday, February 13, 2009

Electric Meanderings

So in the past half hour I've had several random thoughts which include the word Electric. Here's how it all started:

Fairfax County has a free service called Electric Sundays during the winter months. You can bring your TVs, computers and peripheral electronic devices like keyboards, speakers, printers, external drives, etc. You can get more information on this event on the county's recycling website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/dpwes/recycling/announce.htm#Sundays

Then I recalled something I had read the other day about the old '70s kid show, The Electric Company. You can actually buy episodes from iTunes and there is a 2009 revival show that started last month. I loved graduating from Sesame Street to The Electric Company!

My thoughts then veered to the kick I get every time I drive down Electric Avenue here in Vienna. It's my short cut to Maple Avenue.

Which promptly, as always, planted an ear worm (you know, a song that gets stuck in your head) of the reggae song "Rock Down to Electric Avenue" by Eddy Grant. FYI, I just discovered a great website called Word Spy (The Word Lover's Guide to New Words) where I learned that an ear worm is also sometimes called a sticky tune or cognitive itch. Fun site. www.wordspy.com/words/earworm/asp

The thought of reggae led, finally, mercifully, to the end of my Electric musings: My favorite sushi restaurant here in Vienna, Sakana Sushi, inexplicably plays reggae music. Which is actually kind of a nice accompaniment to my bento box.

Oh no, we gonna rock down to Electric Avenue and then we'll take it higher...

Oh, damn.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Patience Rewarded

According to About.com, the tradition of giving a specific gift on a specific anniversary dates back to the Middle Ages. When John and I were first married, we decided to follow the "traditional" wedding anniversary gift options rather than the "modern". It has been a little more difficult but a lot more interesting selecting gifts. For example, for the seventh year anniversary (our last celebration) the modern material is brass. The traditional material is copper or wool. I got John an old Afghani tea table trimmed in copper. At least that's what the guy in the antique/thrift store in downtown Vienna told me.

I've been on a quality over quantity kick regarding clothes for a while. I got rid of many, many clothes and shoes during our overseas moves. It didn't make sense to move things that I hadn't worn in a while and probably never would. Some of the last things I donated were my "work" clothes. Even though I very willingly "retired" from corporate life when we moved to Macedonia in '04, it was actually really hard to get my head around the fact that I would not need those clothes again. I finally decided that even if I did go back into the corporate world at some point, the clothes I had wouldn't be stylish or wouldn't fit, or both! If you are in closet cleaning mode, keep this in mind.

Anyhoo, back to patience being rewarded, anniversary gifts, etc. I had mentioned to John that I would like a really nice, black cashmere sweater for our seventh anniversary. You know, wool. We agreed that it would be best for me to pick it out. Although I'm not a regular (or even occasional) Neiman Marcus shopper, I figured they would have what I had in mind. I found a "superfine" cashmere sweater with a simple scoop neck. I bought it online while it was on backorder.

Yes, I bought my own anniversary gift. John and I save the romance for non-shopping-related activities. This was back in October, the month of our anniversary. I had second thoughts because it was quite expensive so I canceled the order. But by then I was on the N-M email list which I usually delete on sight. However, I sat up straight when I saw their latest subject line: 70% Off and Free Shipping, Today Only! Oh my, surely that gorgeous cashmere sweater wouldn't be included in the sale. But would I be writing a post called Patience Rewarded if it wasn't? I think not. My 70% off, "superfine" cashmere sweater that I will be wearing when I'm 70 is on its free-shipping way.

Thanks babe. I love you!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Reason to read your Costco Connection

I actually find interesting articles to read on a regular basis in my monthly Costco Connection magazine. The February issue had an article called "Doing Your Home Work" which focused on getting rid of clutter. Fellow Austinite, Lori Marrero, creator of the Clutter Diet, a subscription-based website, offered some great tips I'll share here.





"Focus on small changes you can make that you can add to as new habits become more ingrained. We recommend focusing first on having good morning and evening routines, since those support you throughout your day and affect you and your family the most.

You can start with the morning "To D.E.W." list: Dishes (empty the dishwasher to be ready for the day), Eating (plan what you're going to eat later today) and Wash (take the laundry to the next stage). In the evening you can focus on the "Triple S" routine: Start the dishwasher (so the dishes are ready to put away in the morning), Straighten up (do "clutter patrol" of flat surfaces and the floor) and Set for tomorrow (gather whatever you need for the next day)."


I love the simplicity and the fun acronyms. So often, we just don't know where to start -- so we just never start! Whether you have a bit of a perfectionist streak in you, have gotten into a bad clutter situation due to difficult life circumstances or have just found yourself too busy to stop and try to gain some control of your home and schedule, give Lorie's suggestions a go. Heck, just do the "D" today and try for the "E" tomorrow and the "W" the day after that. Baby steps, my friend, baby steps!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Um, so what EXACTLY do you do??

A lot of people get a puzzled look when I tell them I'm a professional organizer. My "elevator" line is that I provide busy people and families real solutions for organizing their homes and offices so they can relax more and stress less.

Here is how the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) defines a professional organizer:

A professional organizer enhances the lives of clients by designing systems and processes using organizing principles and through transferring organizing skills. A professional organizer also educates the public on organizing solutions and the resulting benefits. Professional organizers help individuals and businesses take control of their surroundings, their time, their paper and their systems for life.

So now you know!

Quick Kitchen Utensil Update

I'm really surprised at how few utensils I've put back into the drawers since I started this project! Since I last posted about this I've used my:


Super duper lemon/lime juicer - this is an incredible tool! I think I got this two-in-one juicer at Williams-Sonoma. It's heavy-duty, cast aluminum and can squeeze every bit of juice out of your citrus leaving the rind, pulp and seeds behind.


Manual can opener - am I the only one who never got around to getting an electric can opener? My mom always had one when I was growing up but now she also uses a manual one. This particular one replaces the one that caught on fire while we were living in Skopje, Macedonia. That one was great, however, it had a rubberized handle that, apparently, was VERY flammable! I couldn't find a replacement over there so I had wrapped the now-charred handle in several layers of masking tape.


Kitchen scissors/snippers - I used these to cut up pita bread in a lame attempt to replicate the incredibly addictive Stacy's Pita Chips. John really liked them but I found that they were just no substitute for the real deal.


Apple corer - I actually use this on a regular basis. Mimi loves apples.


Stainless steel tongs - I love these spring-action tongs that lock closed for storage.

Good, old-timey "punch" can opener - I made a crock pot potato soup yesterday and decided to get sucked into Carnation's latest ad campaign to get people using evaporated milk again. I even used the fat-free version and the soup turned out great! Maybe I will start stocking canned milk in my pantry again.



Monday, February 9, 2009

Your things are not your life...

I was just looking through some articles I had clipped when I first started my venture into professional organizing. Something I read really struck me as so simple and so important (then and now) that I wanted to share it here.

The weekly Washington Post Magazine has a regular column called "Making It". It highlights a person and the business they've started, usually after a previous career working for others. The subject of a column in December of 2007 was an organizer named Marcie Lovett. Here was her advice:

Don't buy anything to get organized; you probably have enough bins in your house. Your things are not your life; they're just things. Just because somebody gave it to you doesn't mean you have to keep it. Purge children's belongings before holiday or birthday deluges, but have the children do it with you, so they learn.

So simple, so true, but sometimes so hard to really accept and internalize and act upon. These are things I often think about around my own home and have passed along to friends, family members and clients. Thanks Marcie!




Sunday, February 8, 2009

Glimpse into our future...

So Mimi's school had a fundraiser Friday night called "Hollywood". Not too much info came home about this but from what we could gather it was a chance for the kids to dress up and dance to a DJ in the Hollywood-themed cafeteria.

As parents of a kindergartener and therefore first timers at this event, we weren't quite sure what to expect. Mimi wanted to dress up as (big surprise) a princess. She put on her favorite purple dress-up dress with lots of taffeta, all of her necklaces (mostly Mardi Gras beads, very colorful!), all of her bracelets, some lacy gloves and her pink sparkly shoes. Oh, and her pointy pink princess hat and a white "cape".

We walked in the door of the school and didn't really see any "costumes" that we recognized. I think we are just out of the loop on what the 'tweeners are into these days. I think we saw lots of Hannah Montanas and High School Musical "characters" but we're really not quite sure. Mimi got uncharacteristically quiet while we were waiting in line to pay -- I think she was a little puzzled at the apparent lack of costumes.

She really brightened up when she saw a friend from Daisies (that's the kindergarten version of Brownies/Girl Scouts) also dressed up as a princess. Then her friend Helen came in as a beautiful princess. That was all it took! The three little girls had a great time admiring each others' dresses and gawking at all the big kids running around like wild animals.

John picked Mimi up and took her out on the dance floor and I was kicking myself that I didn't have my camera. There they were dancing cheek-to-cheek, Mimi's pointy princess hat askew, smack in the middle of a pack of hyper 10 and 11 year old girls bouncing straight up in the air to an unfamiliar song.

My heart caught in my throat as I watched them knowing that these delicious opportunities wouldn't really last much longer. In a few years she will be one of those 10 year old girls who doesn't have the slightest interest in dancing with Daddy. Sigh.


Saturday, February 7, 2009

Poop to Paper

I bet that headline caught your attention! In a nod to Green Month, here's the scoop behind the poop:




The company "Mr. Ellie Pooh" is Co-Op America's 2008 Green Business Leader Award Winner. Mr. Ellie Pooh's paper products are 100% recycled. They are made up of 75% elephant dung and 25% post consumer paper. There are no toxic chemicals used in the paper making process. Natural vegetative binding agents, along with water-souble salt dyes for coloring are used. Mr. Ellie Pooh's papers are handmade, acid free and as organic as it gets.

You can read more about one man's adventure into finding his true purpose in life here!



If you've listened to the radio, read a paper or magazine, or gone anywhere near the Internet in the past couple of weeks, you've probably figured out that February is Green Month. The Mennel family recycles to the tune of three bins every week. We have a programmable thermostat that keeps us nice and chilly in the winter, and warm and bothered in the summer. We've started using CFL light bulbs throughout the house. Our regular dry cleaner is now a "green" dry cleaner.

I also have a personal Green Goddess, my friend Darla, who has introduced me to Freecycle.com, plastic bag dryers and low VOC paint! She is also a regular composter which is something I aspire to be. Maybe this spring. She is also really good about only using natural cleaning products. I'm not sure I can give up my Windex but I have tried one of the new "greener" Clorox products.

Reduce, reuse, recycle can also become part of your organizing routine. Whether you toss junk mail into the recycling bin on a daily basis, get rid of unwanted items in your home via your local Freecycle.com group or favorite charity, or just put a little extra thought into your purchasing habits (do I really, really, really need this?!), you can be green and more organized!









Friday, February 6, 2009

Valentine Feng Shui

Ran across this funny tidbit in my NAPO e-newsletter this morning:

Clear Out Your Closet

Having your closet jam-packed with your own clothes is a sign that you're not ready to share your life with someone else. Put off-season items into storage, donate clothes that don't fit to charity and rid your wardrobe of things you don't love. Both your closet and bureau should be one-third empty if you're serious about finding love.

Source: Dempsey, S. (2009).
Valentine's Day Feng Shui.
http://www.tarot.com/articles/fengshui/valentine/valentine-fengshui.php

You probably know that feng shui is an ancient Chinese system of aesthetics believed to utilize the laws of both heaven (astronomy) and earth (geography) to help one improve life by receiving positive Qi. You can read more about it on Wikipedia.

Feng shui gained popularity a few years ago as an element of interior design -- you know, always face your bed toward the door, keep your front doorway clear so that wealth can enter easily, etc. It looks like it has been further co-opted as a technique for improving your love life!

Even if you have already found love, it's a nice feeling to have an uncluttered closet! I suggest that my clients ask themselves three "closet weeding" questions about every item in their closets:

1. Do I love it?
2. Is it flattering?
3. Is this the image I want to portray?

Anything that doesn't get a resounding yes should be set aside for donation. Perhaps the recipient of the item will be able to answer yes to these three questions! Now that's what I call positive Qi!


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Long Live the Coupon!

I've been a coupon user off and on my entire adult life. Long before grocery store loyalty cards were popular, using coupons and studying the weekly store inserts were the only ways to really get that thrill of saving during your shopping excursions! I guess I've always had a thick enough skin to not be embarrassed to be seen using coupons even in good economic times. There was a recent tidbit in the Post about coupons even being "cool" during these not-so-good economic times.

There are entire websites and blogs devoted to using coupons, some with very elaborate instructions on tracking sales and coupons via spreadsheets. Sample claim: "Hey look, CVS actually GAVE me money today!" While I'm not willing to devote that much time and energy to the process, I don't mind spending a few minutes perusing the sale papers and clipping a few coupons here and there for products I already use.

My thoughts are on coupons today because I actually won the door prize at the monthly NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) meeting I attended this week. The door prize was "The Couponizer" which is simply a coupon "system" (including a purse-friendly, wirebound book with pockets for sorting coupons by category) that helps you keep track of your coupons. It even came with a cute, blue-handled pair of scissors. You can see exactly what it is here:

Long live the Coupon!

John asked me what I was doing Tuesday night as I was spreading all the "Couponizer" materials out on our kitchen table. After my usual lengthy answer (I answer his questions in paragraphs, he listens in sentence fragments!), his response was, "I didn't know you clipped coupons." (Somewhat related sidenote: I lay the blame of his occasional inattentiveness squarely at the power cord of his omnipresent Blackberry! As Mimi and I finished our breakfast this morning, I said, "I wonder where Daddy is?" Her matter-of-fact response, "Mommy, he's probably on his Blackberry.")

Anyhoo, I'm going to give the Couponizer a whirl. I see its main benefit as helping you organize your coupons and then actually using them before they expire.

Oh, before I forget -- my update to the Kitchen Utensil Upload project:

Last night we had chicken fajitas, quesadillas and pinto beans for dinner. I used one of my two pizza cutters to cut Mimi's quesadilla and the manual can opener for the beans. My intention earlier in the day was to cook dry beans in my recently Freecycle-acquired pressure cooker but time ran out on me. Note to self: post blog about most interesting Freecycle giveaways and acquistions.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Finally, video upload success!

video


Kitchen Utensil Mania, the proof












So, a pretty interesting experiment. I totally filled a fairly large bin with kitchen utensils. I also had an overflow bowl consisting solely of "chip clips", cookie cutters and corn on the cob holders! I've already used my rolling pin and thin, metal spatula making gingerbread cookies with Mimi and Lili. I'll keep you posted on what I'm using daily and returning to its rightful place in my kitchen drawer!
I'll post an "after" pic this afternoon. I've spent a frustrating hour or so trying to upload a video clip. Apparently, Blogger does have some known issues with video uploads. I'm still going to try for the video clip -- it's much more interesting!






Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kitchen Utensil Mania

Some time ago while perusing the website portion of the Oprah-Industrial-Complex, I came across the Peter Walsh "Peter's Clutter Crew" monthly project, er, project! Walsh is the organizing guru who wrote the books "It's All Too Much" and "Does This Clutter Make My Butt Look Fat?".

Of course I immediately signed up for the monthly project assignments to be delivered via email. I received my email the other day and this month's project is the kitchen and the dining room. He had a video clip about decluttering the dreaded kitchen utensil drawer. Or in my case, and probably yours, make that a plural drawers!

Here is Peter's suggestion:

Try the cardboard box test. See what utensils you're really using. Take all the utensils out of your drawers and put them in a cardboard box. For the next month, whenever you use one of these utensils, put it back in the drawer. If after four weeks it's still in the box, you don't need it.

I will be posting a video clip later on today of myself dutifully doing this part of completing my February assignment. I know Mimi and her friend Lili (they are always looking for an art or craft project -- this qualifies as such, right?!) will enjoying "helping" me so I will do the utensil dump after school.

John's response this morning when I excitedly shared the details of this project was, "Hmmm. Interesting.". While he enjoys the fruits of my organizing skills (most of the time without even realizing it), I think that he is still somewhat puzzled by my exhuberance about organizing!

On a Life and Love note, it was really cute this morning watching John and Mimi do ABC Kid yoga together. I attended a NAPO-WDC meeting last night in Bethesda. When I got home John was already in bed (still a bit jet lagged from his trip) but he told me this morning that Mimi wanted him to get her up early this morning so they would have time to do yoga together before school. She was also enthusiastically sharing her plans with him to organize her snow globes and books in her room! That's my girl!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Look, Ma, I'm a blogger!

OK, the pressure is on. My first post on my blog about Life, Love and Organizing! I'll be musing about both the interesting and mundane aspects of the titular topics -- I'll shoot for more interesting than mundane but I make no promises!

Since I can't discuss the specifics of my work due to client confidentiality, I'll try to keep it interesting reporting on a wide range of helpful tidbits I pick up every day in my life as a Professional Organizer. The specifics of my life as Wife to John and Mom to Mimi, however, are under no such obligation to confidentiality!

Bullet point bio:

Married to John for seven years;
Daughter Mary Kathleen (Mimi) is five years old;
Organizing most of my life -- getting paid to do it for about two years;
Proud native Texan living in Northern Virginia;

Let the blogging commence!