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Mama Mia! A Job Well Done

Friday, January 28th, 2011

The report from Ellen Limes, project coordinator:

Job Well Done by a fantastic team of Professional Organizers!

We completed the organizing project for the McGhee family of sextuplets. 6 Organizers and 4 1/2 hrs. later, it was done. Check out the Go Month 2011 photo album on this site for the “before and afters”.

The McGhee’s were very pleased with the project and even let us pose for a photo op with the darling babies. A huge thank you to: Terry Cowans, Melanie Dennis, Mary Donovan, Ellen Limes, and now seasoned organizers Deb McRae and Susan Sugar.

My hat is off to you gals. I wish I could have helped, but grandma duties called. My own 6 day old grandson, Benjamin Sawyer Yakel, is just too cute!

Mama Mia GO Month Project

Tuesday, January 25th, 2011

As a way to encourage folks in their organizing projects, the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO) has designated January as Get Organized Month (GO Month.)  Each January, local NAPO chapters choose a non-profit organization or a deserving individual to receive complimentary organizing services.

This Wednesday, January 26th, The NAPO-Ohio chapter will be organizing for the McGhee family.

Photo by Peters Photography

Mia and Rozonno McGhee of Columbus, became the proud parents of sextuplets on June 10, 2010. There was an outpouring of help and needed donations throughout the Columbus area.

Now that their household has settled down somewhat, Mia reached out to the professional organizing community to help her make order of the diapers, formula, and other supplies she currently has piled in her attic. A team of six pro organizers – Ellen Limes, Terry Cowans, Mary Donovan, Debbie LaRae, Susan Sugar, and Julie Riber – are donating their time and expertise. Stay tuned for “before” and “after” pictures.

Related news articles:

Woman Has Sextuplets: Mia McGhee Second In Ohio History To Do So

Rozonno and Mia McGhee Debut Their Sextuplets

Sextuplet parents return the favor

Ins and Outs of Personal Storage

Friday, November 5th, 2010

Every person, and by extension every household, is different. Duh! We all know that, right?

But, have you ever caught yourself thinking, “Why don’t they just do it the RIGHT way?” That right way being what works for you.

This thought pattern is exactly what an organizer has to guard against! There is no one size fits all solution to clutter, storage, or containing stuff.

That is why it is essential to work with a client within the framework of his/her habits and preferences. After the owner decides what to give away or toss, the choice remains – how to contain and store the keepers.

Thankfully, we have more choices than ever on furnishings and storage units. Conversely, with so many options, it can be difficult to make a decision.

Two universal principles in organizing are:

  • Assign a home to every object/paper
  • Store items close to where they are most used

With these general principles in mind, there are a few questions that can help you think through where and how you will store your treasures:

  1. Where do I typically use this item?
  2. When and how often do I use it?
  3. Do I want this item stored with or near similar items I often use with it? [example: wrapping paper, scissors, tape, and ribbon]
  4. How essential is it that I have easy access to this item?
  5. What is problematic about where I currently keep this item?
  6. Even if my current storage system for this item is not ideal, what was the appeal about having it in this spot?

These questions will pinpoint your current habits. You will find it much easier to maintain a storage system that is customized for YOU!

Get Ready, Get Creative…Organize!

Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010

“Three of these things belong together
Three of these things are kinda the same
Can you guess which one just doesn’t belong here…”

If your kids are Gen X’ers or early millenials, you are now singing the end of this Sesame Street song in your head. Of course, to make it a ‘no brainer’, three things are items of clothing and the other is a rubber ducky. There definitely was one obviously right answer.

Not so in organizing. One of the key principles when organizing is, “Put like things together.” Just like in the song, right? Not quite.

A principle is a broad truth that is then applied to a specific case. That is what makes organizing such a creative and fun act. There is not one “right” way to sort and categorize objects.

Two people may key on totally different characteristics to decide which things are alike. The distinguishing characteristic may be:

  • Shape – An extra long knife can only fit in a certain drawer with long utensils, not with other knives.
  • Function – The office tools that write are grouped separately from the adhesives.
  • Color – An artist keeps all green acrylics together to make choosing the right shade simpler.
  • Composition – Cotton fabrics are stored and used together, as are stretchy synthetics.
  • Sleeve length – Hanging sleeveless, short -sleeved and long-sleeved blouses in groups can speed choosing an outfit.
  • Season used – A tablecloth that is specific to a particular holiday may be stored with seasonal items rather than with everyday use linens.
  • Owner – Teenagers can be territorial with their CD’s of choice.

Once you decide which things are alike, you will know the dimensions needed to store each category. Then you are ready to assign a home and choose a container. Guess what that means? Shopping!! You can’t get any more creative and fun as that!

Go ahead, sing Sesame Street songs all the way to the store and back and share your ideas and experience with us in the comments.

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

Closet Storage Tip: Use Shelf Dividers

Friday, August 13th, 2010

Don’t you hate it when you fold lots of towels or tees and the first time someone grabs one off the shelf the pile tips over?
That’s where closet shelf dividers come in. You can attach these to either solid shelving or the wire shelves in your closets. Just be sure you are ordering the right type! These are a few examples.

Check your big box stores first before you pay shipping.

Organize It


Chrome Shelf Dividers
Item No: 014982186409
10” high by 12” deep
Set of 2 – $6.99
These can slide on front of shelf, so fit all widths


Acrylic Shelf Divider
8″high x 12″deep
$13.75 each
Pricey, but so elegant! Use for  your MBR closet only?

Lilian Vernon


Wire Shelf Dividers
from Lilian Vernon
SKU: 603989
10 1⁄2″ x 1 3⁄4″ x 12 1⁄4″ H
Set of 2 – $9.98, 4 for $19.96
Expands to fit between most wire shelving slats.

NOTE: Lillian Vernon also has a solid shelf version at a reasonable price, but these fit only 12” shelves.

When you are planning the number to purchase, decide on an odd number of stacks and buy one more divider. (i.e. 3 stacks => 4 dividers)

Finally, if you want to fold with the best of them and fast, this is a neat folding tool!

Michael Graves Closet Organizing System, A Review

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

When I first saw the Michael Graves closet organization system, I thought, “No Way! That will be too much weight on one closet rod!”

With further thought about the possibilities, I have come to the conclusion that the ClosetMax system will work for some folks provided their needs are within certain parameters. Think with me to see if you “qualify” to use this system.

The Michael Graves ClosetMAX System

  • You are committed to keeping only the amount of hats/shoes, sweaters that fit in the hanging bins – a clear “one in, one out” mandate.
  • You want to use the double hang rod in a child’s closet to put his/her hanging clothes within reach.
  • You will use only 3-4 of the hanging storage bins to keep weight at a minimum.
  • You are able to reinforce your existing closet rod that is 6′ or more in length.
  • You are ready to keep the essentials of a spartan wardrobe and let go of mistakes, mismatched items, “weight loss” wannabes, stained and irrepairable items.
  • You will only keep linens used in the adjoining bath here, not the entire linen closet!
  • You want to use the 6 shelf bin to sort and label children’s clothes for each day of the school week.

OK, I am convinced that this system has merit provided it is used carefully. These are the pros and cons to consider when making your decision.


Versatility and cohesive look – The many choices of organizing bins  give lots of options while the neutral palette ties all pieces together.

No tools required – Everything hangs from your existing closet rod.

Multiple double hang options – Each piece has the double hang bar holder, so you can use the lower bar in any configuration.


The weight issue – Everything hangs from your existing closet rod. Be ruthless in trimming down your wardrobe and use this system to keep it in check.

Wasted space – Each of the hanging bins will take 10-20” of closet rod space. Only install the pieces you will fill from top to bottom

Wide access needed – this system may not work for the older narrow closets with limited entry or sliding doors. In order to find what you need quickly, the bins should have direct “reach in” access.

The ClosetMax Collection is now available at Target. You can view the collection online at NeatFreak. This manufacturer blog states that you must purchase from retailer. I guess The Shopping Channel counts because that site sells the above configuration for $89 (S&H extra).

Like any other tool, this closet system will work for the right application. I have been known to hammer the 1” nail I need to hang a picture using the end of a screwdriver. Not the best idea. Use the right tool to get the best results.