Articles & Advice

Spring Cleaning Goes Faster With The Proper Home Cleaning Kit


This home cleaning kit was created by Melissa J. Will, The Empress Of Dirt. I love these recipes! When you are armed with the best supplies to get the job done, it’s much easier to quickly grab the kit and dust or clean. Here is an excerpt from Melissa’s blog:

12 Home Cleaning Kit Essentials: eco-friendly homemade cleaning recipes plus recommended supplies to keep your home sparkling clean

Make It Easy To Maintain A Clean Home
A smartly-stocked cleaning supply kit is the key to making regular house cleaning a whole lot easier.

This kit would make a wonderful house-warming gift (for people like me who enjoy practical and useful gifts).

The items in my cleaning kit are good quality but still frugal, use gentle cleaning ingredients you can find at the supermarket (eco-friendly, non-toxic—of course!), and make it (almost) enjoyable to maintain a clean home.

I’ve provided the recipes for my favourite cleansers (glass, tile, disinfectant, and general purpose) and links to all of the products I like. I strongly suggest you invest in longer-lasting equipment (it doesn’t cost much more) because that difference in quality really speeds up a lot of cleaning chores.

By having all these little tools at your fingertips, you can deal with any problem areas you encounter right away.

If you like your cleaning products scented, you could add a few drops of favorite essential oils.

12 Home Cleaning Kit Essentials: eco-friendly homemade cleaning recipes plus recommended supplies to keep your home sparkling clean

A lightweight cleaning supply caddy makes it really convenient to grab the kit and work on a few areas each day. I have no interest in perfection, but I do enjoy a nicely maintained home. Or that’s the plan, anyways. We all know life happens.

Make A Home Cleaning Kit includes recommended supplies and eco-friendly recipes


It does not cost a lot to get better quality supplies and they last a lot longer and are therefore more frugal.

Spray bottles – Pick different colored tops so you know what’s what

All purpose cleaner | 1 teaspoon dish soap: 4 cups water

Disinfectant | 1 part rubbing alcohol: 1 part water

Glass cleaner | 1 part vinegar: 1 part water

Tub & Tile cleaner | 1 part vinegar: 1 part dish soap

Degreaser | 1 part vegetable oil: 2 parts baking soda


Thanks Melissa! I love these recipes and am going to switch to these all- natural cleaning supplies this week.

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Is 2016 The Year You Finally Get Your Home Organized?

Getting your entire home organized might seem like an overwhelming task. Maybe even the thought of getting one organized might seem out of reach.

If you have been struggling with a messy disorganized home, I know that other parts of your life are probably also not going as smooth as you wish. You see, disorganization in any area of your life spreads over into all of the others.

Consider this scenario: You have an early appointment first thing on the morning. You set your alarm, scramble out of bed and jump into your closet. UGH – you cant find the sweater that you wanted to wear and the pants appear to be wrinkled because they were stuck between two jackets. You finally put together an outfit – not the one you had in mind but – you look acceptable.

Next stop ~ the kitchen. You want to grab a quick cup of coffee and a bagel and head out the door. Oops – the coffee container is empty and you don’t know where your refill cartridges are right now. So – skip that. You find the bagels but cant find the jam so you slab some butter and head out the door.

You do arrive on time to your appointment but you feel extremely frazzled. Also, you are not as confident as you would have been in the that perfect sweater and you try to hide the wrinkles in your slacks by sitting down quickly when the meeting begins.

So – what price did you pay for having a disorganized closet and a mess of a pantry?

#1 You werent at the top of your game for the meeting.

#2 You made it on time but barely and happy that you did not get a speeding ticket enroute.

#3 During the meeting you silently berate yourself and swear you will get it together better next time. “Oh, what was he just saying? I’d better tune in and stop festering.”

#4 You arrive home and feel defeated and also exhausted when you look around your home.

This example might seem a bit extreme, but I hear many versions of this story when I work one on one with my clients. This is why I decided to take my knowledge and make it accessible it to everyone, regardless of where they live or even their budget.

I have created a course called Home Organizing Made Simple where I can guide you and help you organize your entire home. I’ll be with you every step of the way, room by room, task by task.

I created simple instructional videos and checklists with tried and true tips that I have been using with my clients over the last decade.

This course is a step by step instruction curriculum that everyone can use to get their home organized and, once again, create space for themselves to relax and enjoy their home!

So many people are stuck in the rut of their possessions possessing them. Too many things that suck the time out of their day and keep them from being able to enjoy free time and relaxation.

So here it is! I am so proud to introduce this life changing course that will guide you and help you take control and get your home in order once and for all!

This course is loaded with videos, checklists and motivational examples developed to support you as you take control of your home and create order once and for all!

Check out the details with this link and I will see you there!

This Home Organizing Made Simple Course will:

Provide easy manageable, controllable short sprints to clear the clutter through each room of your home.

Keep you from feeling overwhelmed as you tackle each area.

Provide a gentle, professional, guiding light to help you move through your process.

Eliminate the distractions that keep you from being fully present to your family.

Eliminate the endless piles of objects stacked everywhere throughout your house.

Click here to learn more!

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Get Organized and Take Stock Before You Shop For The Holidays

It’s that time of year when houses fill with holiday cheer in the form of holiday gifts, decorations and accoutrements that make the season festive. Many of my clients are downsizing or trying to maintain a clutter-free home and they take a different view of the holidays as they work to simplify their lives. I’m not talking about anti-capitalism; but shopping, buying and gift-giving requires a paradigm shift to stay focused, organized and on the right track.

Some of you may want to move toward those same goals so let’s break it down:

Take stock:

Visit the gift closet/drawer (most of us have one) before you start buying new gifts. Assign each gift to a person on your list. If you have a lot of extras you haven’t used for years, donate them to agencies looking for unwrapped gifts.
Take your list and shop early to avoid expensive last-minute purchases and to stay within budget.
Look in your food pantry and take stock of what’s there before you buy any new food. If there are items you aren’t going to use and aren’t expired, give them to the Food Pantry in your area.
Unearth the paper products, decorations, and holiday cards you bought last year at the end of the season before you buy anything new.
Peruse your clothing closet for holiday wear that you still adore and haven’t worn more than once. Maybe an accessory such as jewelry, shoes or a scarf will give it that needed update.

Thoughtful gift-giving:

Gift of time: An experience to enjoy with someone else where you lose track of time!
One-of-a-kind gifts: Handmade gifts (yours or others).
Gift of creativity: If the receiver of your gift wants to get back to creativity in his or her life (i.e. painting, scrapbooking, writing, woodworking, photography, knitting, etc.), give a gift card to a favorite craft/hobby store.
Gift for the future: For the child who has everything, contributions to a college fund could be the answer.
Gift of nothing: If people tell you they don’t want a gift; listen to them. In other words, give them what they prefer, not what you prefer to give them.

Planning for the future:

Take all donations to your favorite charity before December 31 to get your tax receipt for 2015 taxes.
Go through your children’s toys and clothes before they receive new items and take them with you when you donate the items.
Keep large future monetary purchases in mind (i.e. house down payment, new car, etc.) to keep spending in check.
If you are paying off credit cards or saving for retirement, don’t forget those commitments at the holidays; stay on track.

It can be challenge to disregard the commercialism and retail frenzy of the holidays, but if we become discriminating and savvy shoppers, the New Year won’t bring new bills, but rather new memories to look forward to!


This article was written and published by my colleague Vali Heist of the Clutter Crew. She provided so many great tips for this season that I had to share them with you. Thanks Vali and happy holidays to all!


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3 Online Tools to Help You Stay Organized

In this day and age, there’s no denying that technology can be your best friend when you’re trying to stay organized, and whether you are among the millions who still use desktop computers, or one of those who proudly proclaim to have migrated all their computing to tablets and smartphones, there are plenty of applications that can help you make the most of your time. If you’re having trouble staying focused and just need a bit of a push, try out these apps:

1. For Desktop Users: RescueTime
Time is our most valuable commodity, and with so much information available on the internet, it’s not unlikely that you’ll end up losing more time browsing random websites than actually getting work done. RescueTime understands this, and it provides a good platform through which you can gauge just how much time you’re wasting on random websites. You load up the app on your computer, and it tracks which websites or programs you spend the most time on, giving you a great view of how you spend your time on your computer so you can adjust accordingly. If you pay for the app, you can even set RescueTime to block certain websites after you’ve spent a certain amount of time on them.

2. For Smartphone Users: 24me
According to the developers of mobile gaming website Spin Genie, growth in mobile internet is among the strongest trends on the internet landscape today, and while there were 1 billion smartphone users in 2012, this number is set to double by the end of this year. For many, their smartphones can be a distraction, but with apps like 24me, you can actually get more organized thanks to your smartphone. 24me doesn’t just send you notifications to remind you to pay your bills or to attend meetings or work on reports – if you sync your Facebook, it can even greet your friends on their birthdays for you. You can also create lists and easily share them with colleagues or family, allowing for easy collaboration.

3. For Both: GoogleNow
Whether you’re on Windows, Android, iOS or OSX, there’s a huge chance that you use Google, and knowing this, Google has created Google Now, an intelligent personal assistant that allows you to get the information you want easily from all across the web by integrating with different websites. It presents everything to users in “cards” which can be customized so you have easy access to all the information you could need, without having to manually do Google searches for it. It even has some fun and useful features, including barcode scanning, song recognition, and even the ability to store your boarding pass.


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Organizing A Halloween Trunk N’ Treat Party In 9 Easy Steps

Are you planning an alternative Trunk’n Treat Halloween celebration for kids and families this year?

For neighborhoods that aren’t conducive to sidewalk trick and treating, Trunk’n Treat parties are a safe, fun alternative to Halloween.

I found a great article on WikiHow that provided good tips for planning this type of celebration and thought that I would add my two cents and share it with you.


Families join together to host a small mim-carnival now known as Trunk’n Treat celebrations. This is an easy way to create an alternative activity for this year’s Halloween.

Adults organize and prepare booths that children can walk around to, play games, and receive prizes/candy.

You can easily organize this effort by following these 9 steps:

1. Find a venue that will hold your anticipated crowd. For instance is there lighting, parking and wide lanes to walk.

Parking Lot

2. Recruit friends and volunteers to help with parking and setting up booths and overseeing group activities.


3. Determine what type of games will work the best – i.e. bean bag games, art projects, face painting etc.

Art Projects 4. Make a sign for each game that explains guidelines and prizes.

Create List 5. Decide if the children will receive grab bags, prizes or candy.

Prizes 6. Each booth should plan on providing at least 50 treats each.

Candy 7. Get entertainers to appear at designated times.

Witch entertainer 8. Make sure that everyone knows the guidelines for the booths and other entries like whether the cars will be lighted or simply decorated. Also if trucks and vans are acceptable.

Trunk'n-Treat-for-Halloween 9. Decide in advance based on the age of the children involved and inform attendees whether loud or scary noises are acceptable.

Pumpkin in candy After all is planned and setup, enjoy a night of fun and family!

*All images are licensed by Creative Commons Uploaded by: Wikivisual/addSpace





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Organizing bathrooms

Dear Kathi,

My bathroom is small and very disorganized. We just moved in to this new condo and I would love to hear tips about streamlining and making sense of all of our stuff. To make matters more difficult, my husband and I share one sink.



You are fortunate to be able to start with empty drawers, medicine cabinet and under counter areas. If you already have put things in, pull them all out again.

You will need to toss old items that you will never use and sort the remaining. Throw out anything with an expired date and all perishables over one year old. Even toothpaste expires; the expiration date is on the crimp of the tube.

Sort all remaining items into like categories.
If you have an unreasonably large collection of lipsticks, nail polish or perfume, pare it down. Get rid of old colors and the excess that you will never use. Any amount over what you might be able to use in one year should go. Sort by item, category, and color. If you have duplicate or similar colors, unless it is your signature color, get rid of all but one. Replace each element of your streamlined collection as you use it up to conserve precious space in the meantime.

Keep your makeup all in one area, preferably in a container. The same for your husband’s shave crème and razor. Ceramic bowls are decorative, keep items from cluttering up the counter and expedite cleaning the counter top.

Attach a long magnet behind the door of your medicine cabinet to cleverly and neatly hold tweezers, clippers and other metal gadgets.
Consider installing a wire shelf by the sink to hold toiletries that you use every day, such as powders, sprays and creams. Hang a simple s-hook (found in any hardware store) by the side of the shelf to hold your hairdryer. Simply tie a knot in the hairdryer cord and pass it through the hook.

Use small plastic bins with drawers for under the bathroom sink. One drawer can be for lips, another for hair, and the third for eyes. Use whichever categories you need. Usually two plastic drawer units fit, with room in between and by the drain pipe for stand up items like shampoo bottles and suntan lotion.

If you don’t need two sets of little drawers, buy plastic stacking bins for the other side to contain like items with like. Use your imagination to find the proper containers to group all like items together.

No bathroom should be without some sort of shower caddy. The basic type is constructed of wire and hangs below the shower head. Whatever variety you choose, these caddies neatly hold your shampoos, soaps, shaving crèmes and lotions. Install a fog free mirror against the back wall for your husband. Look for a style that also holds his razor and shave crème.

If you have a large enough bathroom, buy a coat tree, or standing coat rack. Or install two or three attractive hooks on the back of the bathroom door. These are useful places to hang bathrobes and nighties as well as provide an extra hook for the occasional houseguest.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Organizing a cluttered and messy garage

Q: I need help! My garage has everything in it but my car, which can’t fit because of all of the other stuff in it. I don’t even know where to begin.

A: Don’t despair, clutter is a challenge that we all face. To begin, remove everything from your garage. I know this sounds intimidating, but this is the only way you will clearly see what you are holding onto. Start three piles outside on the lawn and separate your clutter into: throw away, donate and keep. Follow this rule: keep only what you’ve used in the past year or plan on using in the near future, i.e. within six months! If you can’t part with something because it has sentimental value, consider whether it’s the item that holds the good memories or simply the memory itself that is good. Remember that memories take up a lot less space than the items associated with them.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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Business casual dress code


I’m starting a new job in August. The dress code is business casual. Are tennis shoes considered appropriate?

Rob, Encinitas


Unless you are a professional skateboarder, basketball player, or work in a medical setting, tennis shoes are not appropriate work attire. Purchase a comfortable leather black-soled shoe in a solid color. Shoes and glasses define a man’s wardrobe. Have you ever heard the phrase, “you can tell a man by his shoes”? Shoes and glasses are the investment items to buy high-end because it is very obvious if they are inexpensive. These are also the areas that you can most easily define your style and make your image count. A well-dressed man wears tennis shoes only when travelling to and from the gym. When dressing, try to match socks with trouser color or a shade darker and never wear white socks with dress shoes.

Kathi is a professional organizer, image consultant and event planner based in San Diego California.

Please submit your questions to:
San Diego Professional Organizer

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How to Choose The Right Boots For Your Figure and Style

It’s that time of the year where we get to begin wearing sweaters and boots again. Yay! For me, this is the only consolation about the weather getting cooler and the darkness coming earlier.

With that said, many of us are scrambling to get a new pair of boots to support us through the cooler months. The selection is amazing right now, which is good, but it can also be very confusing.

So, my clients ask this question every year. How do I choose the right boot to look fabulous, be comfortable and also to carry me through the season? My number one rule for all clothing and accessories is that they should be flattering. SO now you may ask, how do I know what style is flattering for me?

(not flattering)

Choose Your Style Wisely: Whatever style boots you choose, you need to make sure that they are in proportion to your body shape and size. They don’t have to be in classic proportion, but they should add positive, not negative lines to your overall look.

For instance, short boots that fall just under an overlarge calf could highlight the heft of the leg. Stiletto-heeled boots on a very short or heavy woman could look out of balance. A big thick heavy heel will look very out of proportion on a petite frame.

If you have skinny legs, don’t wear baggy boots. Tall boots that are too wide on a skinny leg could make for a bottom heavy look. There should be no more than ½ inch between the top of boot and your leg.

If you are short, keep your hose the same color as your boot to look taller and with a longer leg line. Also, remember that the lighter the color of your boot, the shorter your leg will appear, so choose navy, black, dark brown etc.

So choose with thought. Always think of your entire look – don’t buy a pair of boots just because they’re gorgeous and leather is scrumptious. The boot has to look good on your leg and work with your overall wardrobe.

With those caveats in mind, here are a few ways to wear various styles of boots this season:

Tall Boots: If you only have enough room in your budget or your closet for one pair of boots, invest in slim knee-high boots. This style is a classic and timeless staple.

Wear tall boots with long, short, or above-the-knee length skirts. You can also wear them tucked into skinny jeans. All boots look best with tights or opaque hose.

If you are wearing tall boots with a skirt, make sure the skirt shape is compatible with boots. If your skirt is billowy, wear formfitting boots. Your overall look will also benefit if your hemline ends just over the top of your boots. If your skirt is tight, you can get away with larger boots and your hem should be a few inches between your boot top and your skirt.

If you have large muscular calves, never fear. Many of my clients swear that they cannot find tall boots to fit, but I always can find at least one pair that works for them. Many brands now carry fuller calf widths and there are many that also have elasticized back panels that expand with your calf. As I mentioned earlier, make sure there is no leg bulge sticking out of the top.

Short Ankle-Boots: These are all the rage this year and work great with pants, skirts and dresses. Short boots with flat-heels can also look adorable with sporty skirts and fun socks or tights.

Shooties: Even more popular this season is a boot with an even lower cut called the “shootie.” Many shooties have open toes, which make them a bit more complicated to coordinate. (See peep toe notes below)

Over the Knee Boots: Boots that come over the knee are a risky investment. This style is very hard to coordinate in most outfits. They are also very difficult to look good in unless you’re a long and lean model type.

Midcalf Boots: These work well with a short skirt and opaque tights or dark hose. These also work under a long skirt, again with opaque tights. A skirt that meets the boot top exactly will probably look a little odd. Better the skirt should be longer or shorter than the boot. Slouchy mid calf boots look great with tights and a skirt or with tucked in jeans.

Peep Toe Boots: The smaller the peep, the easier they are to wear. Make sure that you wear opaque tights. Sheer does not work and will date your look immediately. If you decide to go bare foot, keep your manicure fresh and only use this look if your outfit is slender and your hem is high. The bare legged shootie looks works best for the under 30. If you do wear peep toes with jeans, make sure that you add a lightweight sock over your tights so that it does not look like you are wearing hose under your jeans. Avoid heavyweight fabrics for your socks.

Equestrian Boots: This style works well with almost anything this season. If they have super chunky heels, they will work best with extra long flowy skirts. Typically flat equestrian boots can be a bit less fitted to allow for tucking in your jeans.

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Organize Your Time ~ Maximize Your Efficiency

If you are a committed worker, you certainly have your little tricks to maximize efficiency and increase productivity. Also, you should be aware that saving time is quite important. Let’s go through some productivity tips that might be helpful.

Organize Your Real Time

Remember that the time marked by the clock and real time don’t always match. Basically, it is important to remember that real time is the time devoted to work, which should always be your point of reference. If, for instance, you have 8 or 9 hours, you will probably be able to use 6 of them to complete your job, considering breaks, loss of attention, phone calls and distractions. “6 hours” is your real time. Be realistic with respect to the time available and you’ll be able to offer realistic deadlines.

Organize Your Effort and Your Calendar

Small sprints are very efficient. When you have a big project, break it up into a series of smaller goals. This will ease the pressure and it will also allow you to be more efficient, as Gantt demonstrated. Furthermore, use your calendar in an intelligent way, so that it will contain all the relevant data without requiring excessive attention. There are many programs that can save you time, energy and stress, you should learn how to use them. If you use Google Mail, for instance, you can opt for Google Calendar. You can also try Streak, it is very easy to use and extremely helpful. Plus, there are all kinds of applications that help you synchronize the calendar with your smartphone.

Organize Your Working Life

Productivity is measured not only in terms of operational skills, which constitute only a small part of your working life. Brainstorming, meetings and research sessions are, in fact, extremely important too. You have to make sure you leave enough time for these activities, because creativity and knowledge are essential if you want to maximize your productivity. Although it might seem counter-intuitive, if you spend enough time thinking you will do things faster.

Also, close anxiety and worries out of the office. Among the many distractions that characterize a working day, there are many small things that are related to your personal life and that can deeply affect your productivity. Finding a good school for your children, knowing they are safe, hiring a trustworthy person to take care of the house and finding a reliable company to look after your yard (here is an example, if you are looking for a good one), are all ways to increase your inner peace and your productivity.

Knowing that you will return to a clean, welcoming house with a garden full of flowers and colors, and having the certainty that your children are happy and safe, will free your mind and will save you a lot of precious time that you would otherwise spend preoccupying for everything and everyone. Your productivity and your efficiency are truly the consequence of your skills but never forget to take care of your emotions. We are, and we will always be, much more than workers: we are human beings.

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