Monday, April 30, 2012

Organizing Tips for May

No one wants to be inside in the month of May.  Flowers have been blooming, the weather is mostly nice and we are tired of being in the house.  This is a good time to work on organizing the garage and getting the outdoors ready for summer activities.

Since the Garage is never first on our list of projects, let’s begin there.  During the winter it often becomes a temporary dumping ground for items.  If this is the spouse’s territory, be sure to work together as a team.  God forbid that you should purge or arrange items that were “special”.  I have found the most effective way to motivate a spouse is to begin purging and organizing your things.  Sometimes the guilt factor is motivating.  Sometimes.  Regardless, you never really can win a battle with a spouse.

Take advantage of systems that will allow you to organize your items off the floor.  It is much easier and faster to clean with fewer items on it.   For pennies or hundreds of dollars, you can invest in organizing solutions that will work for you.  Check out the home improvement stores for hooks, peg boards or shelving units to hold items that are now stacked on the floor. Be sure to label bins and cardboard boxes used for storage. 

Move out items you no longer need.  Only things you continually use should be kept.  Boxes of old magazines, newspapers, etc. should be recycled.  Let’s face it.  You didn’t have time to read them before and you won’t later on.  There are too many new ideas coming at us everyday and those articles are outdated.

Review the sporting equipment to see if it is still needed.  Move on any you no longer use.  For those you save, look for specialty hooks, bags and shelves to store those.  Be sure to keep children’s things at lower levels so they can access them without your help.

A great plan would be to make room for the car if you have not already done this.  Your automobile is probably the second most expensive investment you have made so take care of it.  Mark off a space for it on the floor.  Identify a wall item or hang a string or chain from the ceiling as a marker for how far you should pull forward.

If outdoor, yard or garden items are kept in the garage, garden tools and accessories, look over each one.  Remove rusted, broken or stained plant containers, stepping stones and other garden fixtures.  Create racks or hooks for the tools and locate them together in one area.  Specialty items are also available to hang rakes, shovels, etc. so they do not get tangled together or take up floor space.

Outdoor furniture may need to be cleaned before using, so check over each piece.  Toys that are outgrown or no longer needed can be moved on.  If you have water sports equipment or pool accessories, try to store those in good condition in their own area for convenience when they are needed. 

Yard art is becoming very popular but be careful you do not allow it to take over.  It can become clutter just like anything else.  There is nothing more beautiful then flowering or luscious plants, shrubs and trees, so make them your focal point.  Adding hanging baskets or a border of blooming flowers can make a significant impact.

Once your garage is cleaned, you may consider a Garage or Yard Sale.  Here are some reminders.
**Collect, clean and repair items weeks ahead as you purge spaces. 
**Check prices of similar items.  Put on price tags and store in a common area.  (Preprinted price tags can be found in some stationery stores, dollar stores, etc.)
**Choose a sale date.  Join with neighbors if possible for a common date.
**Check community rules and get permits if necessary.
**Arrange for charity pickup or make plans for items not sold.
**Write ad for newspaper, Craig’s List, newsletters, etc.
**Make signs and flyers for bulletin boards and curbs where allowed.
**Obtain sufficient tables, racks, etc. for items to be displayed.
**Get change for large bills and newspaper, bags, etc. for fragile items or large sales.
**Use extension cords for testing electrical items.
**Place pens, paper, calculator, extra price tags, tape, and stapler at check out table.
**After sale, remove signs, clean area and dispose of unsold items as planned earlier.

A few other reminders for May:

Change the a/c filter and have a routine inspection of all its components before the scorching days of summer arrive. Clean ceiling fan blades and give other fans an inspection.

Clean the carpets and floors.  They were used and abused all winter and deserve a thorough cleaning.  If piles of clutter or stacks of items are on them, consider moving the items to shelving, cabinets or tables.  Floors are easier to keep clean when only furniture is on them. 

Monday, April 2, 2012

One reader's response this month

In addition to this blog, I have my articles published in several places including a newsletter I send to a distribution list of tolerant followers.  One of them has sent the following response that is priceless. Everytime I read it I laugh until there are tears rolling down my face.  She has given me permission to reprint it. I know some of you will identify with parts of it but all of you will enjoy it.  Thank you Diane  Kniskern for making my day!

"WHAT?!!! You mean I don't need 8 pillows/4 sets of sheets for guests, even though no one has spent the night with us in over 6 years? What if they all show up at the same time??? Oh, yeah, we don't have any extra beds. Well, we had an overstuffed couch and love seat that I bought for $150 at a yard sale in 1992 at Ft. Sill. I was saving the bedding for those. But they took up almost the whole bonus room and there was no room for the $10 recliner I got for my husband's knee replacement 2 years ago, so I called Good Will to come get them.

Unfortunately, the 300 lb man with breathing problems and the 85 lb teenage driver were unable to lift the couch over the back stair railing to the large front stairs, so the larger man held it while the younger one ran down and around to the bottom of the back stairs. Then the big one let go and the little one almost got crushed at the bottom of the stairs, as the doorway was too small (as I had previously suggested to them...). Well, they finally managed to get it back up to the top and by then, the large man was panting and drenched with sweat. I took his pulse and, fearful he might have a heart attack, told him to lie down on the couch while I got some water for them. Then, I went to garage to get my handy dandy chainsaw and I cut that sucker in half. The couch, I mean! I told the man to get on the love seat. So, they were able to get the couch out in two pieces and the love seat onto their truck. They didn't even take the couch! (They don't take calls from me anymore, either.)

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the 8 pillows/4 sets of sheets. Well, I might make a dog bed some day. I've been saving some big pieces of foam.....

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Organizing Tips for April

April cannot decide if it will be warm or cool.  Our area has the last day of potential frost as April 15th but that has not always proved to be true.  It is also the month of spring rain as in “April showers bring May flowers”.  On the cool or rainy days, take some time to organize your linens and bathroom(s).

If space is limited in linen closets, consider placing extra sheet sets in the bedroom where they are used.  They can be stored in closets, inside under the bed containers or even under the mattress of that bed.

Replace heavier bedding with lighter weight items.  Some quilts or comforters need only to be put through the “air” cycle on the dryer to remove dust.  Store them in pillow cases or the large plastic bags now available to keep them clean.  Vacuum bags can also be used but be aware they will gradually allow air to return.

 Remove sheets, blankets, etc. that are torn or in disrepair.  If they can be fixed, find someone to do it, otherwise, recycle them to local pet shelters or other appropriate places.

 We often collect pillows and other bedding to have on hand in case guests stay overnight.  Evaluate what you have that has rarely or never been used.  Perhaps some of them can replace those you have removed, or they can be donated or sold to allow room for better organization of the space.

Make similar decisions about your bathroom linens.  Towels and wash cloths that are in disrepair should be removed and replaced with those you have been saving for a special occasion or purchase additional items on sale.  Most department stores have linen sales throughout the year and discount or outlet stores also offer good savings. 

 Many cotton items will dry rot if not used over a period of time.  This often occurs on the folded edges so check those that have been sitting on the shelf for a longer period of time.

 Clear the bathroom counters and contain any times that must remain there.  Use trays, baskets, bins, etc. to make clean up easier there.   Be diligent in removing old or expired products and store duplicates of items in another area.

 Be sure all products in the bathroom have a label.  This is especially important with medicines.  You may check out taking expired medicines to your local pharmacy or ask them the best way to dispose of them.  Flushing in the toilet or garbage disposal is no longer recommended because of contamination of local waters.

 If the bathroom needs updating, consider using hooks rather than bars for towels.  Children find them much easier to use so be sure to put those lower on the wall or door.  Consider using dark or disposable towels for removing make-up

 Placing a magnifying mirror on the wall saves space and is more convenient that a portable model.  Using pull out shelves or wire baskets under the sink will make access much easier to items stored in the back of those cabinets.

 Keeping these areas organized requires daily maintenance because of daily use.  Setting up a schedule and requiring participation of all the family members can help keep them clean and neat.

If you have organizing ideas or questions, I would love to hear from you.  You can contact me by email: