Archive for the 'fall' Category

Organized for Student Success, Part 5: Organize Their Space

An Organized Student is a More Successful Student

As your student(s) begin their new school year, take the opportunity to work with them in organizing their bedroom and clothing. Use the same basic steps outlined in Organizing a Study Area, in my previous post; Organized for Success, Part 4: Organize the Student .

  • Think through how you want your space to look and function
  • Empty out drawers, clothes and any bins that are storing clothing
  • Group like things together. Create sub categories such as Underclothes, Sports Clothes, Uniforms, School Clothes, Dress Clothes etc.
  • Toss old or worn clothes and donate outgrown, seldom worn, or out of style clothes. The biggest pitfall is keeping more clothes than you actually can use or have room for. Be realistic in what you are keeping.
  • Return the keep pile to the space and think through what, if any, storage accessories or containers you may need. Assign a specific space for each sub category of clothing.
  • Store often used clothing close at hand, while utilizing harder to reach space for seldom used items. Store off-season clothes in a clearly labeled bin or under-the-bed container.
  • Be careful not to over-stuff drawers and closets. You will go a long way in helping your child stay organized by actually providing a space for all of their belongings and then making it both easy and accessible to put them away.
  • Make use of storage space, which is often overlooked, such as the backs of doors or inside of closets to mount hooks, racks, or pockets. Use hooks for storage

    Beautiful and Functional Possibilities by The Container Store

    of everyday items such as sweatshirts, pajamas, robes, and towels. If your child doesn’t have many hanging clothes, install shelves in half of their closet for additional folded clothes or for toy storage.

Now that you know what your child owns and what needs they may have, you can still take advantage of summer clearance sales.

Happy (and Organized!) School Year!


Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series;  Part 1: Saving on Supplies Part 2: The College Years, Part 3: The Traveling Student, Part 4: Organize the Student and Part 6:  Organize Their School Memories.

Organized for Student Success, Part 3: The Traveling Student

In my previous post, The College Years, Get in Order for Dorm Living, I talked about getting ready for and packing for life in the dorm. What to do if you are heading across the country, or across the state, for that matter? How do you fit all that stuff in your car and still have room for the people? Bed Bath and Beyond has come up with the perfect solution with their new Pack and Hold Service.

Get Organized for Success with Bed Bath and Beyond!

Their Pack & Hold service allows you to shop either online or at your local Bed Bath and Beyond store and have your purchases shipped directly to your school. Alternatively, you can have your order shipped to the Bed Beth & Beyond store that is nearest to your school and pick it up when you arrive in town.  In both instances, shipping charges do apply, but keep in mind that you are bypassing the headache of bringing home, packing up, and shipping these items yourself.

Bed Bath & Beyond has almost everything you will need for a dorm room, as well as packing advice, checklists, and practical solutions to common problems in the dorm. Check out The College Insider with links to helpful college websites, and products organized by sections.

To take advantage of the Pack & Hold service, you will need to know:

The Dorm Room Address

Be aware that many colleges and universities use their gym or other large facility to store all  shipments received before move in date. You will want to call your school and confirm exactly where your packages should be shipped and where you should pick them up.

The Ship Date

Colleges and universities usually have a window of time in which they will accept deliveries for incoming students. Again, you will want to call your school and determine this time frame. Next, keep in mind that when you select your ship date with Bed Bath and Beyond, that you are selecting the date when your order will actually ship, not the date that it will be received by your school. So, factor in an extra 3-8 days for standard shipping methods within the contiguous United States, and 5-10 days for shipments to Hawaii or Alaska. An exact shipping date cannot be guaranteed, so it is important to communicate with your school as you are making your plans.

Thanks Bed Bath and Beyond! You have started a good thing. I have a feeling other stores will be following suit.

Looking for a gift for a college bound student? Keep in mind that Bed Bath and Beyond does offer a College Gift Registry. Not registered? A gift card makes a perfect gift!

Happy (and Organized) School Days!


Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series;  Part 1: Saving on Supplies, Part 2: The College Years,  Part 4, Organize the Student, Part 5:  Organize Their Space, and Part 6:  Organize Their School Memories.

Organized for Student Success – Part 2: The College Years

An Organized Student is a More Successful Student

This is true whether your student is heading off to kindergarten or, like 3 students in our family, heading off to college. The better prepared and organized your students are as they head off, the more they are able to concentrate on the important tasks that lay before them.

Moving Day......Simplify the Process!

Get In Order for Dorm Living

Pre-Pack Check

Before you even check out any of the Packing Lists below, it’s a good idea to check out your individual school’s policies. You can find on-campus housing policies both online and in the student handbook of most schools. Alternatively, feel free to call your campus housing office. Find out answers to the following questions before you begin packing:

  • What are the dorm policies?
  • Which small appliances can you bring, and which should you leave at home?
  • How is your dorm room set up? What furniture is provided with your room? Is the furniture stationary, or are you able to move it?
  • What is your bathroom situation? Are you heading down the hall or do you have a private/shared bath?
  • How are you allowed to decorate your room?

Roommate Check

If you are sharing a room, be sure to check in with your roommate(s) before purchasing and packing the larger items that you will need. Dorm rooms are SMALL, and shared items can go a long way in freeing up needed space. Consider sharing items such as: TV, DVD player, Game Consoles, mini-fridge, and microwave. You may also want to coordinate who (if anyone) will be bringing a rug, curtain, etc.

A quick introductory phone call to your new roommate(s) can go a long way toward getting acquainted, starting your relationship off on the right foot, minimizing the stress of shopping and packing, and feeling more prepared.

Life Detail Check

  • Vital Papers – Prepare a small file box with important papers that you may need during the school year.  Create sections for: Banking, School Passwords and Information and Personal Documents
  • Medical Concerns and Health Insurance – Be sure that you are covered under your parent’s policy or purchase medical insurance that is offered through your school. Be sure to have copies of your insurance cards and your current physician’s contact information. Familiarize yourself with your school’s Student Health Center, services provided, costs and hours. Be sure to bring along any medications that you are currently taking.
  • Renters insurance . Most schools will advise you to carry renter’s insurance to cover personal belongings. Accidents happen and thefts do occur, even in the best situations, and generally your University will not replace or reimburse in the event of loss of personal items for any reason. It’s always best to be prepared. A small fee can cover you for several thousands of dollars of coverage.
  • Protecting Your Valuables. Along with taking time to get renters insurance, protect yourself and your belongings by labeling your valuables and electronics with your name and hometown. This can be as simple as using a permanent marker, engraving your name and hometown on your valuables, or going more high tech using assett tagging. A simple assett tagging package can be purchased very inexpensively. ReuniteIT by LoJack asset tags allow you to label your personal assets, so that if they are ever lost or stolen, finders can return them to you. Better yet, removal attempts will always leave a trace, immediately identifying the item as a probable theft, and reducing the likelihood that it can be resold or pawned. A quick google search of “Assett Tags” or “Property Tags” will bring up hundreds of other options.
  • Cell Phone and Internet Access. Check your cell phone plan and be sure it will accommodate your new living situation. If your going out of state, be sure you won’t be paying for long distance or roaming fees. If you will be texting more and/or use your phone to connect to the internet, be sure you have unlimited texting and online minutes. Keep in mind that most colleges do provide internet access to dorm rooms.
  • Banking. Take the time to call your school and find out which banks have branches on or near your college. Many banks reach out to college students and offer free checking accounts.  It’s a good idea to open a checking account at a local bank. You may want to consider getting a debit card and find out where your bank’s ATM machines are located to avoid ATM fees. But, be sure to take the time to consider a spending budget and the importance of avoiding unnecessary debt.

Packing Check

If you are heading off to live in a dorm, chances are your University has sent out a packing list. Use this as a guideline, taking into consideration your personality. The lists tend to be organized into sections of Bed and Bath,Eat, Study, Electronics and Relax, Storage, Tools and Organizing Helps, and finally, Cleaning and Laundry.

Keep in mind, that it probably isn’t necessary to pack clothes for every season during your initial move. Depending on where you are heading, you may be able to bring home your summer clothes at Thanksgiving and/or Christmas, and pack up the rest of your fall/winter duds. Then during spring break, switch out your winter for spring/summer clothes. Try to keep to your favorites, as this is what you will end up wearing anyway.

Finally, you know yourself. Don’t pack items that you won’t use (even if they ARE on every list!). Remember, “Less IS More”. There is a fine line between being prepared and over-stuffing your small space, your mind, your time, and your energy with useless items from home. I found a list entitled, “Top5Must-Haves” from a reputable and popular online college resource. My students used none of these “essentials” in their dorm room! Think real life and essential. The reality is that most students will have the opportunity to head out to the local discount store and pick up anything they need.

That being said, below you will find a simple packing list of essentials:

Bed and Bath:

Bedding: sheets, blankets or comforter, pillow(s), pillow protector/mattress pad, book light

Send them off in style with Pottery Barn Dorm Bedding!

Bath: towels/wash clothes, toiletries, medicines, tissues

Bath attached to your room? toilet paper, bathmat, shower curtain, toothbrush/soap holder, bath cleaning supplies – don’t forget to coordinate with your roommate(s)

Bath down the hall? bath caddy, flip flops for shared shower, robe


Microwave/Refrigerator -remember to coordinate with your roommate(s), quick snacks such as granola bars & fruit cups, a couple mugs, cups, and bowls,  hot and cold beverage mix. Don’t forget that most likely you have a FULL meal plan.


Books – if you haven’t already done so, it’s time to order textbooks. Check online. Many schools offer the convenience of ordering online and picking up at the school bookstore. Quick, convenient, and space saving! Bring along any basic resource books that you will use (dictionary, thesaurus etc), but don’t bring these items if you generally access this information online.

Check out PBDorm Line of Study Accessories.

Basics – Day planner (if you don’t maintain online planner), notebooks/binders /folders, basic office supplies, alarm clock (to wake up for class!)

Electronics and Relax

Extra pillows/back rest, i-pod or mp3 player, headphones, stereo/cd player, gaming systems

Storage, Tools and Organizing Helps

Hangers, towel rack for the door/closet, extension cord(s), multi-plug outlet, sticky tack, a few basic tools, light bulbs, milk crates or wire shelves for storage, and a fan

Purchase, after checking out your room, or bring along a few organizing tools such as drawer organizers, closet organizers, shoe storage, shelf dividers, but don’t open until you are sure they can be used (and make sure you hang on to the receipts).

Cleaning and Laundry

Laundry: Laundry bag/hamper, laundry soap and dryer sheets, quarters, stain remover, drying rack, small iron/board (another item that can be shared with roommates – and only bring it if you will use it!)

Cleaning: Find out if a vacuum is available on your hall, basic disinfecting wipes will cover most other needs

Check out one or more of the lists below, but please keep in mind that you won’t need all of the listed items. I suggest checking out a few lists to jog your memory, but your best bet is to create your own lists of items that you actually use on a daily basis.

SallieMae College, What to Pack for College Checklist

CollegeBoard Checklist for College Dorm

Bed Bath and Beyond College Check List

Dorm Room Checklist

College Dorm Room Needs Checklist,

Heading Out of State and Travel Space Limited? Watch for my next blog post; The Traveling Student”

Happy (and Organized!) College Days!


Be sure to check out all of the articles in the Organized for Student Success Series; Part 1: Saving on Supplies,  Part 2: The Traveling Student, Part 3: Organize the Student, Part 4:  Organize Their Space, and Part 5:  Organize Their School Memories.

Happy Thanksgiving


I am thankful for a week at the beach with my husband and 4 kids, 3 of whom live away at college. What a tremendous blessing it is to be together!

I am thankful for the opportunity that I have to work with such awesome people on a daily basis, including clients, fellow organizers , NAPO board members, and local business colleagues.

I am thankful for the opportunity to do work that I absolutely love!

I am thankful for my clients, who allow me into their homes and lives.

I am thankful to be able to bring simplicity and order into lives that are often times crowded and stressed.


It is through giving that we receive.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to give through In Order for Life.

I am thankful that In Order for Life is able to provide help and hope to a young man, Cadeiado, through Food for The Hungry sponsorship and their excellent work in Mozambique, Africa.

I am thankful for clients, who consistently give of their overflow. They receive the satisfaction that their, once loved, possessions are going to help others. After client appointments, it is not uncommon to see me driving through Goodwill, or up to a Little Love Barn with a car full of donations.

We have gone to Appalachia to serve the people. Meet a Little Love Barn and Appalachia Ministries, through Uniontown Bible Church. I am consistently able to bring slightly used, very loved, possessions to be donated to the Appalachia Project. These items will eventually make their way to Appalachia, where the local people will sell them, and the proceeds used for local programs, by the local people. Helping people to help themselves and others.

We have gone to the proms. Meet The Priceless Gown Project.  $1,000’s worth of one client’s beautiful gowns were donated to this effort. The Priceless Gown Projects provides gowns and accessories to local young women, who may otherwise not be able to attend their prom, a special ending to their high school years. They recieve the dresses of their dreams and memories to last a life time.

We have gone to the dogs! One client, who consistently and tirelessly, works with animal rescue and care, was able to donate a full truckload of linens, blankets, and towels to a local animal rescue project. Items that are always needed at animal care and rescue facilities.

Truckload of Donations

We have gone to the dogs (and cats)!

We have gone to the schools. After organizing a craft room, a local craftswoman and Stampin Up representative, donated several boxes filled with art and craft supplies to a local Elementary School. These included items that could be used for arts and crafts, as well as items that could be used as teacher prizes. Both teachers and the administration were thrilled with her generous donation.

Donations to a local school

We have gone into to the schools.

With Much Thanksgiving,




Clean Sweep in the Garage

If you have been following along with my 4 Simple Steps to Garage Organization, you have reached the final step of your project. And this will be, by far, the most rewarding and creative step of the process. Let the fun begin!

During Step 1, you developed a clear strategy for organizing  your garage, when you completed the following sentences:

I want to be able to __________ in my garage.

I want to be able to store __________ in my garage.

Next, you cleared out the old, broken, and obsolete items in your garage, making space for the things in your garage that are truly useful and relevant to your life today.

Now is the time to figure out HOW and WHERE to store each section or zone that you will be keeping in your garage.

As you make decisions, keep these basic organizing principals in mind:

  • Have a Home – Everything being stored and used in your garage should have a home – a place it belongs, fits, and can be put away (easily!) when not in use.
  • Store at It’s Point of Use – Items should be stored where they will be used, and items that are used most often should be easiest to get to.
  • Like With Like – Make it easy on your memory, and store all items related to each category or zone together.
  • Make Conscious Trade-offs – In general, the more stuff you have the less room and the less time you have, while the less stuff you have, the more room and time you have. So, ask yourself, “Do I want more time and room or do I want more stuff?” Then, act accordingly!

So, let’s start moving around the garage with some readily available, creative, and simple storage solutions:

Storage for Off-Season Items

Look Up!! Generally your off-season items will be taken out at the beginning of the season, and returned months later.  These items may include your lawn chairs, coolers, and outdoor activities, along with your Christmas and Holiday items, sleds and snow shovels. Take advantage of the unused space above,  within your garage.

Overhead Storage Unity with Shelf

Overhead Storage Rack

Overhead Storage


Bikes and Sports Equipment

Consider space near the garage doors, closest to the outdoors, where these items will be used. Again, look up! Utilize  the available wall space, creating zones for sports equipments and bikes.

There are so many options!

Bicycle Storage Rack

Golf Organizer Rack

Skate Organizer Rack

Car Maintenance and Parking

Rolling Tool Chest


Protect your garage floor with Park Smart Garage Floor Mat

Oil Bottle Holder



Gardening Supplies and Work Area

Free Standing Garden Tool Organizer

Mesh Garden Tool Organizer

For An Excellent Work Area, Include a Potting Bench

Work Bench, Tool Storage and Project Area

Tool Storage


Build Your Own Workbench and Project Area

Workbench with Storage

These are just a few examples of the many creative and efficient organizing tools available on the market today to help you get your garage In Order for Life.

Take a trip to your local home improvement store or simply take a trip on the internet and find solutions that match your needs. Then, move section by section, around your garage, as you reorganize your space.

Happy (and Organized!) Days!


4 Simple Steps to Garage Organization

Fall. The perfect time to tackle the garage. The weather is cooperating. It generally will not be too cold or too hot to get out there and work.

The garage tends to be a strange animal, housing an assortment of our projects, our past and our present, and things that just may be needed “some day”. Because of it’s multitude of uses, and our “out of sight, out of mind”  attitude, the garage tends to get cluttered quickly. And organizing it can be a daunting task, but it doesn’t need to be.

Follow along as I guide you through 4 straightforward steps to organizing your garage.

1. Plan

To begin your garage reorganization, settle in with a pen, a note pad, and your creativity, and complete the following sentences:

I want to be able to __________ in my garage.

I want to be able to store __________ in my garage.

Now congratulate yourself, because you have just come up with a clear strategy for organizing your garage!

If you are like the vast majority of people, you will have multiple answers for each sentence, because the garage tends to fill many functions.

A sample strategy may be:

I want to __________  in my garage.

  • work on my cars
  • complete woodworking projects
  • complete maintenance projects

I want to store __________ in my garage.

  • Christmas and off-season items
  • tools
  • bikes and sports equipment
  • paints and painting supplies
  • gardening supplies
  • seldom used kitchen appliances
  • a car!

2. Prepare Your Area

Chances are, your garage is dirty and crowded. If possible, set aside an entire afternoon, and grab a friend or family member to help you. Next, create the following areas outside of your garage: TRASH, RECYCLE & HAZARDOUS WASTE, GIVE AWAY, TO REPAIR, OTHER LOCATION, and KEEP.

3. Sort and Purge

And let the dirty work begin! Now is the time to pick up every item in your garage and sort them into one of the areas above.

Depending on how crowded your garage is, you may need to tackle one section at a time, keeping the STAY pile inside the garage in a cleared out area.

Your goal here is to make quick, decisive decisions. If you are finding it difficult to make decisions, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Why have I been keeping this?
  • Have I (we) used it this year? If not, will I (we) likely use it in the coming year?
  • Is it still doing something for me?
  • If I have more than enough of these, how many do I realistically need?
  • Am I tired of seeing this? Thinking about it? Cleaning it? Moving it around?
  • If I’m going to keep this, is there a more practical place for it?
  • If I’m not going to keep this, would someone else find it useful?
  • If I get rid of this and need it again, can I rent, borrow, or purchase it easily?

Now that you have sorted through all of the items in your garage, it’s time to take a few trips.

  • Gather all your trash and put it out, or take it to the dump.
  • Decide where you will bring your items to be donated. For my Carroll County friends, check out my Carroll County Donation Guide in the Renew, Reuse, Recycle link on my website.
  • Contact your county recycling center and/or landfill to find an appropriate location to dispose of hazardous waste. Again, for my Carroll County friends, check out my facebook post announcing the Residential Household Hazardous Waste Drop Off Event on Saturday, October 23rd.
  • Take your “Other Location” items to their proper areas.
  • Finally, take a second look at the items in your “To Repair” area. If the item is truly worth your time, energy, and money needed to complete the repair, bring it to the appropriate place to be repaired. If not, add it to your trash pile.
  • This leaves you the your “Keep” pile, which you will deal with in step 4.

Finally, as you sort and purge each section of the garage, take the time to sweep out and clean out the area.

4. Decide Where and How Everything Will Be Stored………….Let the Fun Begin!

Check back in the coming days for simple, creative storage solutions for each section of  your garage in my “Clean Sweep in the Garage” article.

Happy (and Organized!) Days!


Dinner is on the Table (And I Haven’t Lost My Mind!)

Fall. The perfect time to get your kitchen in order. The fall season tends to be the time that we bake and cook more often. Simplify your life, and the hours you spend in the kitchen, by first organizing it. Once completed, you will be ready for the holiday cooking and baking to come. Check back, later in the month, as I guide you through simple steps to simplify and organize your kitchen.

If you want to get a jump start on getting your kitchen in order and your family on track, sign up NOW for my upcoming workshop:

Dinner is on the Table (And I haven’t Lost My Mind!)
The dinner hour is approaching and once again, your anxiety level rises as you anticipate another trip to the grocery store and another trip to the drive through. This workshop will teach you practical skills, tricks and techniques to meal planning, organizing your kitchen and pantry for maximum efficiency and how to actually get those meals on the table day by day!

Choose from 2 dates:

Tuesday, October 12, 10 – 11 AM
At the Robert Moton Center, 300 S. Center Street, Westminster, MD
Wednesday, October 13, 7 – 8 PM
At the Westminster Senior Center,125 Stoner Avenue, Westminster, MD

Register online , by going  to “Home and Garden” or by phone at: 410-386-2103

Happy (and organized!) fall!


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NEW Home Learning Parties!

Organizing Just Got Fun!
Now Scheduling Home Learning Parties for Summer 2011
Gather your friends, choose a topic, learn, simplify AND earn free and half priced products from the Clever Container Company! To schedule your party, call Cheryl at 410-259-1466 or email

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