Posts by Myriam Gabriel-Pollock

How to Get Your Partner On Board for Professional Organizing

We often hear “How do I get my spouse to buy into hiring a professional organizer?” They have a variety of concerns, such as the time it will take, or the cost, or having to get rid of their stuff. They could be embarrassed to have someone see their cluttered home. It’s possible they consider asking for help a weakness. They don’t understand that it is an investment that will lower their stress levels or give them more free time. He or she may also ask, “Why can’t we just do this ourselves?”

What Are the Health Benefits of an Organized Home?

A home that is free of clutter and has organized spaces is beneficial to one’s mental and physical health. The Mayo Clinic details how an organized home brings down stress levels and helps you focus, among other benefits. It’s also easier to maintain: the average American home contains 300,000 items! Consider being able to actually park your car in the garage. Or looking for something in your kitchen and finding it in five seconds instead of 30 minutes, or never. Imagine coming home and feeling calm and content in your environment, instead of anxious and stressed out about the clutter lining the hallways or all over the living room.

Have You Hired Experts Before?

Have you hired pros to install an in-ground sprinkler system, do your taxes, tutor your children, or design your website? This wouldn’t be any different. Hiring a professional organizer means you’ve hired an expert to declutter and organize your home, to help you set up systems to manage and maintain your organized home, and to mentor you on these skills. This expert will work with you in your home, and the service is completely customized to your needs, your lifestyle, and your goals. Also consider that a professional organizer can accomplish in three hours what would take you 9-12 hours.

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Packing Tips for a Well-Organized Suitcase

Travel these days has a lot of potential pitfalls, whether it’s a delayed flight, a long security line, or an issue with your reservations. You have no control over some of these situations; you’ll just have to hope for the best and adapt a Zen travel mantra. However, one of the things you can control is how organized and well-packed your suitcase is! Last-minute packing, over-packing, missing several necessities, having stuff leak, difficulty finding things in your suitcase? We’ve got these and many other issues covered with this list of packing tips to keep your suitcase well-organized.

Before You Pack

  • Make a packing list. Consider your destination and purpose—are you spending a week on a beach in Hawaii, two weeks biking in Europe, or five days at a work conference?
  • To streamline your wardrobe, use the 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 packing rule. Assume there is a place to do laundry or have it serviced. If visualization is helpful to you, lay out everything you want to bring on your bed—then cut it down by half. Put together outfits on the bed; even better if pieces go with more than one outfit.

Clothing and Shoes

  • Plan to wear your heaviest items on the plane. Items like boots, a heavy coat, or a bulky sweater—these take up a lot of precious real estate (and weight!) in your suitcase.
  • Rock ‘n’ roll, baby. The roll method makes the most of your suitcase space and minimizes creases. Lay your shirt face-down, fold in and flatten the sleeves, then roll from the bottom up. Lay your pants with legs together and roll from the waist down. If you really want to save space, use these amazing compression bags. Certain items—blazers, starched dress shirts, a cocktail dress—should be folded carefully or placed separately in a garment bag.
  • Roll your underwear as well; use these to fill in any gaps between clothing. Bras with underwire or molded cups should be stacked and laid flat together.
  • Fill your shoe cavities with socks, tights, or folded stockings (in a Ziploc), then put the shoes heel to toe (even high heels). Place them in a plastic bag to keep your clothes from getting dirty.

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When Your College Kid Is Home for the Summer

The stacks of boxes and bins, bags of clothes and bedding, and random loose items like lamps and rolled-up posters can mean only one thing: your college kid just got home for summer break! While parents (and maybe the siblings) are thrilled to have all their chicks back in the nest for three months, there is a new family dynamic that will definitely take some getting used to. Your “child” has now experienced nine months of independent living, and any expectations that this summer will be like their high school summers may be quickly dashed.

It’s a new normal in your parent-child relationship—and it is definitely on the positive side. Your student is a young adult now, even if they still have “-teen” as part of their age. They’ve experienced huge personal growth and will likely not be the same person they were last September. Their sense of independence is high right now, and you need to respect that. That being said, they will be living in your home, and they need to respect that. Here are our tips on finding a balance and making this transition smoother for everyone.

Give Them 48 Hours to Decompress

Empathize with them about finals being exhausting, packing and cleaning their place being a pain, and not seeing their college friends all summer being a bummer. Let them sleep in till noon, raid the kitchen, and not unpack or do laundry. For 48 hours. Then give them a good, strong nudge to put away all their stuff and ease themselves into the rhythms of home.

Talk About Expectations

Don’t expect that they’ll be home for dinner every night, or that they’ll be up early having breakfast with you. Assuming they are working, volunteering, or interning during the summer, they will be setting their own schedules. College kids don’t necessarily adhere to a daily routine that you may think makes sense, but if it works for them, let them do it. Clarify that it’s not your job to wake them up to go to work. If they stayed up till 3am bingeing Netflix and slept through their alarm, their being late for work is not your emergency. It’s tough love, but if they expect to be given freedoms then they should be accountable for their schedules.

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8 Easy Fixes for Common Home Maintenance Problems

Maintaining a house can often feel like a very complicated task. Depending on how old and how well-built the house is, you can find yourself constantly chasing after small problems. Fortunately, there are several tasks on that big to-do list that are actually a lot easier than you’d imagine, with simple DIY repairs that anyone can manage.

Loose Drawer Handle

You pull the handle on the drawer and it wobbles, and one day you are going to end up yanking it off for good. Assuming you’ve tried screwing the thing back in, your problem is probably that the wood is stripped. Thankfully, this is simple to solve.

Easy Fix: Use some wood glue and toothpicks to fill the hole, cut off the protruding toothpicks, and then screw the handle back in.

Broken AC

There’s nothing worse than realizing you have a broken air conditioner during a sweltering summer’s day. Several things could be wrong with your system, but it could be something very simple, such as a frozen coil caused by a dirty filter.

Easy Fix: Replace your AC filter and see if that works. If it doesn’t, you will probably have to call an AC repair professional. Use this nationwide search tool by Home Advisor to find companies in your area who can get your system back in working order.

Drywall Holes

Drywall is a delicate thing, and holes and cracks are annoyingly common. In particular, holes from doorknobs slamming into the wall are a classic issue.

Easy Fix: Fixing drywall is easy, but there are different techniques for each type of hole you’ll encounter. For a doorknob hole, a patch kit is the easiest option. This guide by Lowe’s has instructions for every drywall repair situation.

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Summer Home Maintenance Projects

summer home maintenance

Summer is THE season for grilling, outdoor activities, icy cold drinks, and…home maintenance. Wait, what? You read that correctly! Take advantage of the long, warm days to do home projects that aren’t viable during the cold, wet months. Besides beautifying your home and adding value and curb appeal, you’ll want to ensure your home’s integrity through the rest of the year. For instance, if you ignore that small leak in your roof or that overflowing gutter, by winter it could become a much bigger—and way more expensive—issue to repair. Summer is also a great time to add a cool and fun new feature to your home (fire pit, anyone?). We’ve got a super list of possible projects—some you can do yourself, while some are best left to professionals.

Outdoors

Roof Repair or Replacement

If you’ve got a leaky roof or missing shingles, or a roof past its lifespan, don’t wait for next summer to repair or replace it. It’s literally the roof over your head! The average lifespan of a roof is 20 to 30 years, although slate, copper, and tile roofs can last more than 50 years. Make the decision to repair or replace, and hire a well-recommended roofing company to do the job.

Power Wash

Your walkways, driveway, and home exterior could likely use a high-power cleaning. Rent a power washer and DIY; be sure to get professional tips on how to do this without causing damage. If you’re not sure, hire a pro.

Replace Siding

How do you know it’s time to replace your home’s siding? When paint is flaking and peeling after only a few years, when there are loose or missing boards, or when any mildew, mold, or rot are clearly visible. Angie’s List has an even more detailed list of telltale signs. This is definitely a big budget project, but it’s not something you want to neglect.

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How to Live Big in a Small Family Home

Living Large in a Small Space

Fitting a whole family into a small home can be a tough challenge, but not as much if you think ahead. Careful planning is the key to organizing and using free space efficiently. But where should you start? First, think about the needs and necessities of each family member. You (and maybe your partner) need a working area. Your kids need a space to study and play (think of pets here, too). Once you’ve made a list of all the space everyone needs to live comfortably, it’s time to think of some maneuvers to make this plan a reality. Here is a list of useful tips and tricks for your family to live bigger in a smaller home.

Go for the stars

One of the most important rules of efficient space usage is to think vertically. Use the space you have from the floor all the way up to the ceiling. If you look up in a room and see open space, keep that idea in mind and go for it. This is especially useful for rooms that are overcrowded with furniture. Organizing a home office or a living room in such a manner is easy—use plenty of shelves and hanging elements for all the books, souvenirs, and other décor accents you have. As for the kids’ rooms, you need to consider that they can’t reach very high shelves on their own. For their safety, you don’t want them climbing high shelves either. Provide them with a stool or a ladder. You could also use the higher shelves to store items they rarely use (or something that you can’t store anywhere else in the house).

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Tips and Tricks for Organizing Your Garden Shed

Many of us like gardening, but don’t enjoy opening up the long-unused garden shed after a wet Pacific Northwest winter. Looking at the cobwebs and damp leaves that have settled in, there is always that goal: “This year, I’m going to organize this place!” And then you dive in to the gardening tasks, you enjoy the blooms and the growth from spring through fall, and by the time you realize it’s almost winter again, the shed is still in disarray. Not this year! We’ve got a great list of tips and tricks to help you whip your garden shed into shape. Come this time next year, you’ll open up your post-winter shed, see and find everything you need, and love gardening even more. Green thumbs at the ready…set…go!

Small Tools

Your hand tools deserve better than being tossed into a sack and set in a corner. Storing them dirty and thrown about will cause them to rust and lose their edges quicker. If you invest in high-quality hand tools, you’ll want them to last many years. A trough or big clay pot filled with sand will keep your tools clean and sharp; wipe them with a rag before sticking them in the sand. If you are going to store them in a toolbox, wipe them down and line them up so the edges aren’t banging into one another. Add charcoal briquettes in a cloth bag—these will absorb any moisture. Of course we can’t forget the classic pegboard storage solution—so many ways to do it!

Serious DYI-ers will not recoil from this weekend project: build a potting bench! It includes a pegboard for your hand tools, as well as places for pots, soil, etc. Not a handy sort? Just order one online.

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Your Graduation Party Planning Guide

Do you have a kiddo graduating from high school or college soon? Congratulations! This is definitely something to celebrate—it’s a major milestone for you and your soon-to-be-grad. If you are considering throwing a graduation party but feel bogged down by the details, use our planning timeline and checklist. It will help you organize a fun event while keeping your frazzle-rating at a minimum.

Four Weeks Before the Party

  • First, set a date and time.
    • Make sure it works for your grad and your immediate family, as well as a few extra-special people that you or your grad would really like to attend.
    • If you can, find out from your grad’s circle of friends if anyone else may be having a graduation party. You may try to minimize conflicting party dates/times if there are other parties.
    • Keep in mind that it doesn’t need to be the weekend of the graduation ceremony. In fact, it may be easier to do it a week or two after.
  • Next, decide on the location. Whether you do it at home or at a venue, both choices have their own sets of pros/cons.
    • Home considerations include space limitations, doing the shopping and cooking, set-up and clean-up, party rentals such as tents and tables/chairs, and possibly catering services.
    • Venue considerations include a higher budget, reservations and a deposit, minimal set-up/clean-up, limited menu options, and more rigid party hours.
  • Create Your Guest List.
    • Be sure to include your grad’s invitees: friends and their parents, teachers, coaches, tutors, bosses, the family they babysit for, etc.
    • Go ahead and invite friends and family who don’t live nearby. Even if they can’t make it, they can still send a card or present.
  • Send out the invitations. Evite or Paperless Post are both free and easy for sending electronic invitations.
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50 of Marie Kondo’s Most Inspiring Quotes for Decluttering

Clutter comes in many different shapes and forms and is a very personal assessment. One person’s cluttered bedroom might mean someone else’s dream situation. It really doesn’t matter what clutter you have and the scale of that clutter—as long as you understand what clutter means to you and how you want to go about getting it sorted once and for all.

The first and most important step is actually just realizing that you have a clutter issue and are willing to change it. As you are reading this we’re assuming you are ready to take on the challenge. Bravo for taking the first step! Whether you’ve realized that you have an issue with clutter in your garage, your kitchen drawer, your entire house—or you’re looking for a digital declutter—look no further than Marie Kondo and her iconic organizing and tidying techniques.

You haven’t heard of Marie Kondo and her KonMari method before? Well, she’s pretty much the queen of organizing and she’s changing people’s lives through the magic of tidying up. Sounds too good to be true, right? If her bestselling book The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or her popular series on Netflix is anything to go by, she certainly practices what she preaches and has shown that her methods really do work.

To help get you started on your decluttering journey, check out this infographic by JD Williams. Designed to help motivate you and your tidying, the infographic shares Marie Kondo’s most iconic quotes from her Magic of Tidying Up book. You can use the infographic as a starting point to help get you inspired for a big clear-out. Or use it to  Marie’s top tips as a bit of a checklist. Good luck!

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Self-Care Ideas for Mother’s Day and Beyond

The term “self-care” hit the mainstream a few years ago, though it still means different things to different people. The Oxford Dictionary defines it as, “the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness.” A clinician on Psychology Today refers to it as, “a huge part of what’s missing in the life of someone who’s busy and stressed”. But one of my favorite statements about self-care is from a New York Times piece that boldly declares, “Self-care is for anyone who wants it.” As a mom, I definitely want it! And with Mother’s Day coming up, there are so many ways to give yourself the self-care you need, want, and absolutely deserve. Go on, treat yourself.

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