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Victory! Purged Clothes Lead to Organized Closet

Tuesday, September 7th, 2010
Recently I received this wonderful email from a friend and O4L reader. With her permission, I am letting you read over my shoulder. I hope you are encouraged and inspired to make needed changes in your life.

Dear Martha,

Here’s a praise report and some good [news] about how the LORD has given me the needed desire and encouragement to purge and organize my clothes and closet.

I had wanted to lose weight to be healthy and The LORD led me to a ‘diet plan’ that has really made a big difference.  I am down 22 lbs. and have reached my goal with 2 lbs to spare. In the meantime - the lost pounds and inches – meant lots of my clothes needed to go -  He has  given me a new mindset -  that this is the healthy weight for me and I’m making the lifestyle change to stay within two pounds of it.

So I no longer feel the need to save the larger sizes “just in case”. When I lost the first 10- or 11 pounds I gave away some of my ” too big for me but in good shape” clothing to friends and family.  It was a joy to pass things on to others (who were blessed) and to have less “stuff” cluttering up my closet.

Then two days ago – after losing this final 11 lbs - I tried on every piece of clothing I own – summer - winter – all of it and I’m actually purging at least 2/3 of my wardrobe!!

We have always had limited closet space and even though I’m not one to buy tons of clothes -I did save old ones for WAY too long and  I have had to use the  spare bedroom closet to store seasonal clothing.

Both the spare bedroom closet and our closet are so organized now. I  purged every part – old shoes – purses – belts you name it – WOW what a euphoric feeling on all fronts !!!  Also I’ve done what you’ve mentioned and used the summer sales to buy a few ‘nice replacement items’ in the new sizes – but only a few.

I still have to find homes for some of the clothing I think friends might like – but all that is decent and not something specifically thought of for individuals  is boxed up and in my car to be donated.

YOUR message is timely and I’m blessed by God’s grace to make healthy changes which I know are improving our quality of life.   MOVING Forward into a lifestyle of organization.  Thanks for your help and inspiration.

Blessings, Cyndy

Extreme Downsizing… So Tempting!

Monday, June 28th, 2010

I had just returned from a week’s vacation in Arizona and was feeling footloose and fancy free. Then I read Sean Ogle’s guest blog on Unclutterer entitled “Less stuff, more adventure”. It brought back memories of my first year of marriage to my Army Lieutenant when we could fit everything we owned – literally!- in the back of a Chevy Vega.

Tiger Balm Garden, Hong Kong

Sean went a step farther and sold the car! Now he is a world traveler living out of a backpack. He was writing from Bangkok, Thailand.

Obviously, Sean is not living in a tent and he must have a bank account he is drawing from. He is making his living with freelance writing and other online ventures. When not punching a computer keypad, he is meeting the Thai people, learning their culture and enjoying the bustle of a very cosmopolitan city.  Read Sean’s article here. Very motivating to lose the stuff that ties us down!

Did you visit the Tiger Balm Garden yet, Sean? Jeff and I were there in 1976, great place to celebrate the Bicentennial. Congrats on taking the steps to follow your dream!

Do You Love Your Quilt Enough to…? Care and Storage

Friday, June 18th, 2010

Looking at a well designed and well executed quilt is akin to gazing at a beautiful salsasunset. Both sights represent acts of creation that somehow satisfy your soul.

Jeff’s grandmother, Cordie Browning, gave us a bowtie scrap quilt that she hand-pieced and hand-quilted as a wedding present. We used it on our bed, loved it, washed it, and wore it to pieces. I wish I knew then what I know now and that I had preserved her labor of love.

Here are a few tips on quilt care and storage gleaned from experts Ann Russell a conservation consultant, and Deborah Roberts, a quilt historian and appraiser.

1.       Display your quilt on a bed at least 10 ft. from a light source, a wooden rack that has at least one coat of polyurethane varnish, or hang the quilt using a full length fabric sleeve on one end and a sealed 1X4.

2.       Protect your quilt against its enemies of light, oils, humidity, acids, and other chemicals. Since our skin secretes oils, wash your hands or wear white cotton gloves when readying your quilt for storage.

3.       Store your quilt in a low-light, moisture-free area. This eliminates basements and attics as proper storage areas.

4.       You will probably have to fold your quilt to fit the space you have available. To keep from putting stress on the folds, use rolled up batting or acid-free tissue paper to cushion each fold.

5. Place quilt in an archival box or a sack made from washed unbleached muslin or an old cotton sheet. The Hollinger Corporation manufactures archival storage materials or you may be able to purchase an archival quality box from a local dry cleaner (used for wedding gown storage.)

6. Another storage possibility is to roll the quilt on a cardboard roll from a carpet or fabric store. Wrap the roll first with an old cotton sheet.  Lay the quilt top down on another sheet. Roll from one end.  Cover with another sheet if needed. Tie loosely with cotton strips every 12″. Store flat and turn the roll every few months.

7. If you must “wet wash” your quilt, use a quilt cleaning solution in your bath tub according to product directions. Drain, rinse. After the rinse, let the tub drain moisture from the quilt for several hours. Be careful lifting the wet quilt as the weight will put strain on seams and fabric alike. Roll in an old sheet to absorb moisture. Dry flat on another sheet in a low-moisture area away from sunlight.

Two more suggestions from Deborah Roberts:

· Sew a label on your quilt and document its origin.

boots2Your quilt history will survive to the end of the next century if is labeled and documented as thoroughly as possible. Take a photograph of it and keep the photo with your documentation, in a separate area from your quilt. Place a label on your quilt. Your label should contain at the very least, the following information: Your name, (or maker’s name) the city and state where the quilt was made, or where it came from if it is an antique quilt. Also include the date it was made, or a circa date if unknown. It would also be nice to include quilt care instructions, as those who will have the quilt after you may not know how to care for it.”

· Have your quilt appraised.

circuit breaker

If your quilt is well made, you will be surprised at its worth. is a site that sells quilts online. Take a peak to see the going rate for a quilt today.

Of course, the true worth in a family quilt is the heritage it represents. Someone was creative and talented, persevered through hardship, and gave of themselves to their family. That is what we want to preserve and hand down to our children.

Thankfully, each of my children has a child-sized quilt made by Grandma Browning. They will receive a copy of this article.

Clear the Clutter! Part 3 – Keeping Stuff Contained

Thursday, April 29th, 2010

This past Monday I was giving a presentation at a local Senior Center. I met Terry who found me online and had several printed copies of my blog in her hand. Then she asked, “I found your blogs Clear the Clutter Parts 1 and 2, but not Part 3, did you write Part 3 yet?”

I was embarrassed to have to answer, “No, I have not.”

So, you know what’s coming… by golly, this is Part 3! Maintenance doesn’t have to be a bad word. Use these tips to keep your newly organized space contained and going strong.

Room to live

7 Keep it Organized Tips to making “main-tain” more than two rhyming four-letter words:

  1. Store items by categories. Name the category so you and everyone else know what goes in there. Label, if necessary. Sample categories: first aid kit, cold weather accessories (hats, gloves, scarves), everyday office supplies, Stationery/Bill paying supplies, hair care.
  2. Keep items close to where they are used so you don’t have to travel very far to put them away.
  3. Use containers that fit the item to be stored in size, convenience of access, quality of décor. Ask, “Does this container make me want to put things in it, or is it too hard?”
  4. Set limits on how many you truly need. You are the manager here. Too many extraneous things make it hard to find what you really use and love! How many margarine tubs can you use in a month? That’s enough.
  5. Commit to putting things in their homes that you have designated.  Think “There’s no place like home…there’s no place like home.” Click your ruby slippers and let that object go home.
  6. Gather things that have escaped, or are on permanent vacation from their homes into a “Move” box. Then walk around your house delivering them to the doorstep of the room where they belong. Put each one in its home the next time you enter that room.
  7. If you have kids, make a family play date to do some straightening. In each child’s room let him/her be the manager and tell the “employees” where things go. Hold your tongue, mom or dad. Any headway you make is an improvement on what was before. Other children may make some good suggestions that can better be heard by their sibling.

Maintenance issues often are solved in the organizing process.  When systems are put into place in deference to personality and present habits, the odds become much greater that we can “keep it up.” If you are having lots of difficulties maintaining your organized space, it could be that the system itself needs tweaking.

Organization doesn’t have to be boring. Use color and style to ratchet up your desire to keep your space appealing to the eye and inviting as a fun place to hang out.

Final thoughts:

  • Enjoy your space as you currently have it arranged.
  • Be present in NOW.
  • When you leave an area, look for something that you can deliver to the room you are headed to.
  • Try to spend 10 minutes a day putting things away.
  • Devote a concentrated 2 hours per month working on one area in particular.

Living and working in an organized space is more a process than a destination. Over time as you find systems that work for you and are committed to keeping it up, you will see the gradual change. If you need more support, find a professional organizer in your area on the National Association of Professional Organizers webpage. We are a diverse group but all have a passion to help others live balanced and productive lives.

Be Organized for a Medical Emergency

Tuesday, April 20th, 2010

How can you be organized and ready for a medical emergency, you say? The answer is – not totally, but having the everyday workings of your household in order makes a big difference!

When I read Erin Doland’s  April 8th blog “In Cases of Emergency, Being Uncluttered and Organized Can Help”, I was identifying with her being thankful for an uncluttered home. I don’t have a cat and am not in a wheelchair, but recently had outpatient surgeries one leg at a time with two weeks in between. DR’s orders were to stay off the leg of the week, keep the leg elevated, limit lifting, etc.

Like Erin, I found myself grateful for an uncluttered floor so I could walk like Chester in Gunsmoke and yet not trip over piles of stuff. Other basics that have been of great help are:

  • First aid supplies and medicines in one place where I can find bandages and pain meds easily.
  • Food staples on hand so my husband Jeff has only had to shop as we run out.
  • Knowing where things are in our condo so if  I need something out of reach,  I can direct Jeff to an exact location to retrieve it.

“Being uncluttered and organized is great during regular times, but can be a huge asset during those times when life puts you on a roller coaster,” Erin writes. ” Significant ups and downs are easier to manage when the day-to-day activities aren’t already out of control.”

I totally agree. One more reason to take charge now before life throws a new curve your way!

Is Your ADD Showing at Work or at School?

Wednesday, March 17th, 2010

The tickler for the latest ADDitude magazine article  caught my eye: “When the System is Against You, Overcome ADD Obstacles at Work and at School.” Some of the best people I know have ADD.  I often work with folks who have organizational problems as a result. This was information I wanted to have in my tool kit.

The article gives strategies for working through ADD, how to manage with and without medication, and highlights the hidden benefits of a limiting condition.  Better still, this advice comes from five top executives who persevered despite being labeled as losers in school. I couldn’t stop reading the personal stories of  David Neeleman, founder of JetBlue Airways; Paul Orfalea, founder of Kinko’s; Diane Swonk, economist and author; Alan M. Meckler, Chairman and CEO of Jupitermedia; and Charles Schwab, founder and chairman of Charles Schwab & Co.   Each overcame their ADD obstacles to make a difference.

Very inspiring stuff!  Read the entire article here:

Organizing Your Desktop so You are Cleared for Action

Friday, February 5th, 2010

Don't let a cluttered desk drain your energy

What does the top of your desk say about your ability to focus? Do you have to write over other papers that you are afraid to put away for fear you will forget  something?  Do you jump from one task to another depending upon the last item that caught your eye?

Your main workstation, your desktop, plays a key role in how effective you are in your office, at home or away. A cluttered desk drains your creative energy, pulls your attention from the task at hand, and steals your time as you constantly search for that paper you saw just a minute ago.

By following these four steps, you can regain control over the “stuff” on your desk, and ratchet up your productivity!

1. Place tools and equipment on your desk by “handedness.” Are you left or right handed? Put your writing implements on that side of your desk. How do you answer the phone? Most people use the hand they do not write with, so your phone will go on the opposite side. Computer placement is usually against a wall for safety and electrical access.  Be sure to leave a  space you can write on comfortably.

2. Only keep items on your desk that you use daily. These are the categories that qualify for daily use:

  • A pencil holder with pens, pencils, a highlighter, a Sharpie, and scissors.
  • A stapler, tape dispenser, paper clip holder (preferable magnetic), and a post-it pad.
  • Phone, computer keyboard/monitor.
  • An IN (To Be Sorted) box that serves as your designated  intake for all papers. A three-tiered letter tray will allow for IN, OUT, and TO BE FILED boxes in a small footprint.
  • One vertical incline sorter for current projects and ready reference lists.

3. Clear your desk of all paper piles immediately. Separate any current projects and place them in colorful folders that you can spot easily, then store in your vertical file to access quickly.  Place papers that require action in your IN (To Be Sorted) box. The rest of the paper can go in a storage container under your desk. After a couple of weeks, anything left in the box that you have not needed is either trash, or can be filed remotely as reference.

4. Take advantage of available vertical space. Adjacent walls are a great place for that calendar, schedule, or white board. Install hanging shelves within arm’s reach for reference books, catalogs, paper supplies, or pictures of your loved ones.

By following these steps you now have a desk that is cleared for action. You can see at a glance what projects you are working on currently , with  all supporting documents together in one place. All supplies are within arm’s reach. You can concentrate on one task at a time. Now maybe you can actually get some work done!