Small Space Living

Out with the Old, Make Room for the New

Posted by on Nov 8, 2010 in Embrace the Urge to Purge, Featured, GOPACK Method, Holiday Organization, Mom Moments, MomSources™, Organizing Products, Problem-Solved!, Sanity Savers, What You Need & Where to Put It | 5 comments

Out with the Old, Make Room for the New

Pre-holiday decluttering…

It doesn’t matter if we’ve been naughty or nice, pre-holiday is the best time to declutter to make room for the slew of new stuff. Think of this process as a way to create a space for what’s on your holiday list. If you’ve asked Santa for some new books, consider purging some of what you already have. Or if you’ve asked for new clothing, now is a great time to create a place in your closet where those new pieces will hang. Let go of what you haven’t worn, doesn’t fit and you can’t see putting on again.

Here are some simple strategies for decluttering a few areas of the home:

Purge your books:

  • Donate to a Ronald McDonald House or retirement home. Facilities like the ones mentioned (there are plenty out there!) are always looking for age-appropriate reading materials.
  • Ebay your books—Perhaps you have a Collection of cookbooks or coffee table books that are no longer relevant to your life any longer. Books are heavy, so you may want to consider selling them to a local used bookstore, as opposed to online, especially if they are hard cover. And, put them together in collections, as opposed to posting (if you choose to go online) one book at a time.
  • Pass ‘em on—If it’s children’s books you’re looking to “give away” and your youngest child is older than your bff’s oldest child, offer the books to her. Of course, there will be the “special” books you want to save (I saved Good Night Moon, Oh the Places You’ll Go, and a few other treasured ones!) and you can carefully store those away with other keepsakes.

Make room for new clothes:

  • Donate to Good Will or National Kidney Foundation—This is one of the easiest ways to purge items from your closet! Get a bag, load it up, and drop it off. Done!
  • Consign—Selling items is a great way to fund future purchases, especially if you have a lot of designer clothes in your closet that were pricey to begin with! Find a local consignment shop, establish a relationship with the owner, and consign items regulary.
  • Offer to a friend—Perhaps you’ve put on or lost weight and you have multiple sizes in your closet. If there’s no intention of returning to the “off-sizes,” ask a friend who is one of those of sizes if they’re interested in the clothing pieces. Or gather your gf’s and have a clothing swap party. Perhaps you’ve had your eye on a friend’s dress and maybe she’s ready to part with it. Win-win!

Kids and toys:

Huge issue for parents! Whether we’re buying because our child says “I want” and we don’t want to disappoint or well-intentioned grandparents show up, hands full everytime they visit, ALL new PARENTS wind up with TOO MUCH KID STUFF!!! And, although we may be grateful for all that stuff, the BIG dilemma is: Where to put it all??!!

  • Storage is key and it needs to be effective storage, not where you’re chucking everything into a bottomless pit. You know, the big container full of stuff that your child no longer has any interest in picking through to find a treasure. I’m talking appropriate storage for particular items. For example, action figures need a smaller storage bin so the items don’t become an overwhelming sea of plastic for your child to deal with. Try containers such as crunch can totes, which are 12″ square and they have handles! Attach a tag to each one with the name and a photo (for kids who haven’t started reading yet) and not only can kids help clean up, but they can carry the tote to its rightful home once it’s full.
  • Limit the number of toys and books. I’m a big fan of rotatingtoys. For two reasons:
    1. Kids are overwhelmed when there’s TOO MUCH stuff. Limiting what they have to play with allows them to SEE everything…and allows you to have a place for everything.
    2. It’s like Christmas morning when you take out the toys kids haven’t played with in a while. This is a great on those cold rainy winter days when you’re stuck inside. Just make sure to put toys AWAY (rotate!) when you take out the ones that have been stored. Store toys in large clear containers to easily identify what’s inside. Put like items together. For example, all of the Loving Family Dollhouse accessories or the Power Rangers action figures in one container.

Memories last longer than stuff Consider giving the gift of an experience. We all love to have “stuff” in our hands, but when is enough, enough. Consider taking the family to a movie or a broadway show, skiing if you live in a colder climate, or to the beach if you’re in a warmer climate. Create a memory that doesn’t involve accumulation of more stuff. Take photos and make a memory book, which takes up a lot less space! Kids take their cues from parents. Now is the time to teach them the importance of spending quality time together, which is the key to solid lasting relationships.

Recently, I sent out a tweet asking what’s on everyone’s Holiday gift list…

Best answer…

May your holidays be filled with experiences and lots of happy memories!

Disclaimer: I’m not endorsing the B&W Zeppelin speaker (in fact, I’ve never used it) or any of the companies I’ve linked to in this article. These are only examples of ideas.

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C’mon Snow, I’m [Almost] Ready

Posted by on Oct 15, 2010 in Mom Moments, Small Space Living, What You Need & Where to Put It | 0 comments

We’re getting ready for winter and it feels good…just like nesting before my babies were born.

After relocating in August 2009 and experiencing a true New Jersey winter last year, this year I’m going to be prepared. Why wasn’t I last year, you ask…hey, you’re an organizer! Well, it was my first winter in the north in 15 years. While living away, I hadn’t even bought a winter coat. Yes, I had a couple of ski jackets but that was because I went someplace cold that had snow. In Charleston, we really only needed a winter coat a few times a year, so I would just layer.

This year, I decided to take care of anything that required good weather before any serious cold hit. For example, I bought a new bed that required assembly. We are in much smaller digs now that we’ve relocated, so my king bed was basically taking up the entire footprint of my bedroom. My new queen mattress on a sleek looking modern-style frame (that’s low to the ground) makes the room look HUGE in comparison to the monstrous king bed. I added some wall-mounted lights for reading, some custom artwork over the bed, and some colorful throw pillows. It makes me happy every time I enter the room!

We’ve changed over our closets to winter clothing, have the snow suits, boots and winter coats in the hall closet, and I’m outfitted with some really cool boots thanks to a recent sale. Last year, we were late on buying snow boots and borrowed snow pants from school chums. Everywhere was sold out after the first unexpected snow, so this year, we’re prepared!

The Crockpot has been unpacked and has a place in the kitchen, which is a great way to know that my family comes home to a house full of flavorful aromas and a hot meal at the end of a day. The extra blankets are on the closet shelves, just in case, and the pantry is stocked with soup for the afternoons when the kids want a snack that will warm them up.

Next up is car maintenance to make sure the anti-freeze level is where it needs to be (Whatever that really means. Thank goodness for my bff’s brother who owns a service station,) and the tires are in good enough shape to get through the snow.

Oh, note to self: BUY A SNOW SHOVEL! Last year, my mom sent me home with a snow shovel and a container of salt. I looked at her as if to say, “Isn’t this overkill? We’re not supposed to get much snow on the coast.” Well, let’s just say that there was more snow than the Jersey Shore has seen in many years and, once I have my shovel, I’m going to wish for snow days!

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A Writer’s Journey

Posted by on Aug 12, 2010 in Embrace the Urge to Purge, Featured, Mom Moments, Travel & Lifestyle, Where I’m Going, Where I’ve Been | 10 comments

I must be the only one who has not read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert. It was on the N.Y. Times Best Seller list for weeks, is currently number one on amazon dot com, and now the motion picture starring Julia Roberts will be released this Friday, August 13th. Last year, sometime, I did pick up the book, but it didn’t grab me right away and the moment passed. I was delighted to see that there would be a movie, although I tend to get very distracted by Julia Robert’s huge smile.

I’ve been to Italy, and Bali has been on my bucket list for years. Perhaps I should add India too. I’m now eager to read the book, especially since what appears to be the impetus for Gilbert writing the book was her divorce…and I’m familiar with that! There’s nothing like a divorce to send you on the journey of self-exploration and discovery of who you are and where you really want to be. The summer after I divorced, I spent a glorious two weeks in Spain and Italy–yes, Tuscany! Although it wasn’t an entire year (I do have children and somehow that just wouldn’t have worked), the two weeks abroad gave me an opportunity to reconnect with my oldest and dearest friend in Spain and solidify a bond with my dear friends C & A in Italy. There is something magical about driving through the narrow windy roads of a foreign country where fields of sunflowers go on and on and on…and, of course, the food was tremendous!

In listening to Elizabeth Gilbert’s talk (see video below), I was reminded of the challenges and the process of writing a book. Albeit my book isn’t a memoir or literary genious, by any means, but it is an extremely useful resource for new moms who are in the dark about so many things when it comes to motherhood. It was my intention with the book, to share what I wished I had known. Some small helpful hints and some enormous light-bulb moments.

I never did not want to write my book. In fact, I had to write the book and it actually flowed quite easily, which at times surprised me. Often times I did feel like I had a my own little angel feeding the words to me…it was the editing process that was a bit more challenging. My editor was fabulous–a new mom herself, so she was excited and eager to inhale as much information as she could personally, and make it clear and concise on a professional level. She gave me a period of eight weeks to rewrite a few chapters, add more content to others, and decide what would appear in the final part of the book. Honestly, I did procrastinate some, but that’s part of my process. I seem to do my best work when I’m down to a deadline, then the ideas comes quickly and easily.

I learned and accepted my process when I was a freshman in college after my English 101 professor gave us the assignment of making a collage. We all exclaimed, “What! This is college not kindergarten.” The following week, it became clear why he had us make a collage. It wasn’t about the collage, it was about our process. On the due date, in class, he randomly asked the students, “When did you complete your project?” One student said, “The night you assigned it.” Another said, “I worked on it throughout the week.” And  another–me–said, “Last night.” There was no right or wrong answer. In fact, he encouraged us to to embrace our work style (if it worked for us) and go with it, accept it, and we moved forward with some “real” class work. ;-)  I’ll never forget that teacher and how he helped me to be okay with my writing process!

This all leads me to comment on Gilbert’s video talk: Anyone who has ever taken on the enormous project of writing a book and following through to the stage of publishing, knows that it’s a huge endeavor. One that if you knew at the beginning what it actually took, you may pass. But fortunately, for most eager writers, we begin with enthusiasm–which got me quite far–and through the process, we slowly begin to realize that it’s a life changing experience; one that’s difficult to put into words, which is why, after watching Elizabeth Gilbert talk about her creative process–and the process of others–I was compelled to write a post and provide a link to her 20-minute talk.

If you are a writer, please post a comment with your experience of the process and how it has changed your life.

P.S. While in Starbucks last week, I bought the soundtrack to Eat, Pray, Love. I’m listening to it as I write this blog post. How could you not enjoy Eddie Vedder singing “Better Days.” Hopefully the movie will be just as good!

P.S.S. Two bloggers I follow, also recently wrote posts related to writing and the book, Eat Pray Love. They are Kelly Love Johnson who has a blog called microfamous and Andra Watkins whose blog is called I Cilantro Cilantro! Check them out!

Note: This blog post is not intended to be a promo for the book, movie or soundtrack. I bought the soundtrack, will buy the book, and pay to see the movie just like everyone else.

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Living Life on Purpose

Posted by on Aug 11, 2010 in Embrace the Urge to Purge, Featured, GOPACK Method, Mom Moments, Small Space Living | 1 comment

Small space living is an art. To reduce your surroundings to only what you need, what you love and what is most functional…is a challenge, but one that is satisfying in the end.

Years ago, when I began writing my first book, I was wrestling with the idea that I had reached the Joneses in the big race to establish a certain type of lifestyle, but once I got there, I started to evaluate whether or not I actually wanted to spend my time doing the “keeping up.”

For me, at that point, maintaining the lifestyle I worked so hard to achieve had become a  full-time job, and I wasn’t enjoying it more than what I realized I was missing out on. I started to ask myself, “What would I rather be doing?” The answers came quickly and easily: Spending more fun time with my kids, traveling, and writing. So I dropped out, reduced and began focusing on what was most important to me: My children, my work and my immediate surroundings.

For me, the decluttering process was a long one. I had accumulated a lot of stuff from combining two households when I got married, inheriting a lot of belongings from family members, having two children, and creating a home for my family. Then came the divorce (the separation of the households) and the realization that much of what I had wasn’t what I really liked anyway, which I know now is part of the process of once again becoming single and recreating my nuclear family.

The process of decluttering involved establishing criteria for what would stay and what would go, then there were the arrangements to purge the stuff, much of which involved consignment and craigslist.com. After decluttering and downsizing, I began to focus on “living on purpose…”, setting goals, creating surroundings that reflect my interests and influences. It’s a work in progress, as am I. It’s a comfortable place to be…and I can breathe. And there are no worries about how long it will take me to clean my small space. It’s a relief.

Anyone can fill a big house with stuff, but choosing what you put in a small space is a true reflection of who you are.

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College Bound

Posted by on Jul 24, 2010 in Dual-purpose pieces, Easy Organizing, Featured, Organizing Products, Product Reviews, Sanity Savers, Small Space Living, What You Need & Where to Put It | 0 comments

College Bound

Are you preparing your kids for college, or maybe you are off to college? Well, here are three Sanity Savers that will help prepare you for the first year:

1. Maximize Space

Dorm rooms are small and in order to make the most of the space, it’s important to the vertical space–that means the walls. For this, I recommend using shelving and hooks, specifically hooks from Command Brand Products by 3M. Why? Because they use a unique stretch-release technology, which means when it’s time to remove the hooks, they come off cleanly.

2. Minimize Clutter

We all know clutter is a distraction and it’s crucial that college students have a place where they can focus on their school work. Therefore, it’s essential that students bring only what’s essential and relevant to school. Trust me, they’ll need room to put all that is accumulated over the school year. Keep in mind that your student will be spending a lot of time in their room, so send them off on their new journey with comfortable bedding, a coffee pot perhaps, and we know that a TV has become essential for unwinding and relaxing at the end of the day. Haier TV makes a fantastic 22″ unit that has excellent picture quality, is priced less than $300, and is only about 1.5″ thick, which means it takes up minimal space. It also functions as a PC monitor!

3. Familiarize

You’ll be anxious when your child goes off to college, mainly because they’ll be in unfamiliar surroundings. But don’t let your child fool you; they’ll be anxious too. Help you child become familiar with their new area with the tools they need. Try Superpages.com,which allows your student to search for services like drycleaners and laundromats. What’s great about Superpages.com is that it’s not only FREE, but if the service isn’t done properly, Superpages steps in with its Superguarantee to make it right! That’s peace of mind for everyone!

Getbuttonedup.com can help your high schooler get organized to apply for college, click here.


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