Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 1/1/2018

Imagine an area of your home that's particularly cluttered now, and then picture in your mind's eye how nice it would look if it was cleaned and organized. If you take a few seconds to visualize this scenario, it will feel like a breath of fresh air! For many people, a cluttered, disorganized living space or working environment tends to create mental clutter -- and that makes it nearly impossible to be at your best. On the other hand, when you create a plan to organize your storage space and get rid of household clutter, you're taking a major step toward enhancing your home and the way you feel about it. Although you may have a dozen or more areas that need to be organized, if you create a methodical plan to tackle one small area at a time, then the project is much more achievable and less overwhelming. The Outcome Is Worth The Effort If you've ever undertaken a task like this, you know how rewarding it can be to see the results. You'll also enjoy the feeling of pride that accompanies improving the look and feel of your home. When you've transformed chaos into a semblance of order, it can have a positive effect on your attitude and your self esteem. Although taking charge of household clutter is not a panacea for stress, it can be one of several improvements that make a big difference. Where to Begin You can infuse a feeling of fresh energy into your home by organizing and cleaning the following ten areas:

  1. Closets: Most homes have a ton of them and they're probably in a major state of disarray!
  2. Book shelves: If you have a library of books, then organizing them can dramatically improve the appearance of any room -- from living rooms and family rooms to bedrooms and home offices.
  3. Kitchen cabinets (Check expiration dates while you're organizing.)
  4. Bathroom cabinets and drawers (Refer to note in item #3.)
  5. Junk drawers: Virtually every home has them, and they usually consist of a combination of junk and treasures. In most cases, it's obvious what should be thrown away and what's worth saving.
  6. Garage and tool sheds: These areas are typically in desperate need of cleaning and organizing.
  7. Work bench: If tools, hardware, and supplies are haphazardly piled on top of each other or randomly strewn on your work bench, then finding what you need when you need it becomes increasingly frustrating and time consuming. Taking an hour or so to organize your work bench can make life a lot simpler and more productive.
  8. Spare bedrooms: In many people's homes, that area tends to become a repository for things that either need to be put away, given away, or thrown away.
  9. File cabinets: Being able to find important documents, information, and receipts depends on well organized and clearly labeled files. Ideally, that takes place on an ongoing basis, but if that's not happening, a semi-annual review of your filing system can help keep things in good order.
  10. Basements: Depending on how long you've lived in your house, this might be a project that needs to be spread out over a few days!
Involving members of your family in the cleanup plan can also make it move along faster and feel more like a team effort, rather than a solo undertaking. To avoid procrastination, start small and branch out from there. As the ancient Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said: "A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step."





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 7/24/2017

Do you have countless pairs of pants, shirts and shoes? Do you ever wonder where you put that favorite top? Or why all of your pants fit in a certain space last month but they donít now? Closet struggles are common but there are ways to fix those problems. Here are a few favorite tips for making the most of your closet: Donate, Sell or Toss: First and foremost, go through everything in your closet. A good rule to live by is to get rid of anything you havenít worn in the last year (unless itís a specialty item such as a dress for a wedding). We tend to hold onto things that we hope one day will fit again or will come back into style but those are not wise ways to think when you are trying to optimize space in your closet. From there it is up to you what to donate, sell or toss. Organize: Next is to organize. Make piles of whatís left based on clothing type and then organize by color. This will make your life so much easier when it comes to looking for clothes. Youíll know exactly where each type of clothing is if you put them all together and if you categorize by color youíll always be able to find what youíre looking for. Systems & Layout: If your current layout isnít working for you then maybe itís time to reassess and purchase a new closet system. Simple systems can be found at many retailers such as Wal-Mart and Home Depot. If you are looking for more intricate pieces and systems that arenít too costly then your best bet is IKEA. Consider adding a wardrobe or additional closet to your space if everything wonít fit in your current closet. IKEAís closets and closet systems are fairly customizable so you can choose for what works for you. Best practices: For drawers, fold clothing and stack vertically so that they are stacked from the front of your drawer to the back. This will allow you to see each piece of clothing in your drawers so youíll never need to dig through to find what youíre looking for. Clear storage boxes are perfect for shoes, belts and accessories. Youíll be able to see inside and wonít lose track of your stuff. Itís important to take into account the size of your closet, if you have additional space to add in other furniture for storage, and the type of system/storage that will work best for you and your wardrobe. If you have a lot of items that need to be hung or you just prefer to hang your clothes then you will want to go with a system that has more hanging space than drawer space and vice versa if you like to fold your clothes and store in drawers. Be mindful of your space and your stuff and youíre on you way to an organized closet.





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 8/22/2016

The kitchen. Itís one of the most used rooms of the house, yet somehow becomes one of the most disorganized. If youíre tired of digging past ten spatulas to find the potato peeler keep reading. Below are some tips on how to organize your kitchen and keep it that way! Start by making a bigger mess. Yes, clean everything out of the drawers and cupboards. You may want to include clearing out pantry items as well if itís been awhile since youíve done so. Check expiration dates on everything as sometimes items have a way of getting pushed to the back of a cupboard to be forgotten for years. Sort through your items and determine what can be kept, donated or tossed out. Create categories for the items you are keeping. Think baking, cooking, seasonal, often used, least used, etc. By sorting everything out into categories now, you will know what type of storage solutions and where the best place to store them is later. Find storage solutions that work. Whether you have items laying around the house you can use or need to invest in some, the best way to stay organized is to create a system that assigns a home for every single item you own. Junk drawers are born from items not having a dedicated place. Be proactive in preventing the dreaded junk drawer by finding an organization solution that includes a spot for everything. Some organization items to consider are lazy susans for spices and other pantry items, hooks to hang mugs, a stemware rack for wine glasses, a rack hang pots and pans from the ceiling, hooks on the insides of cabinet doors for pot holders or measuring cups, a spice rack installed on a cabinet door, and drawer dividers for utensils. Keep your most used items within reach. Avoid digging through cupboards and drawers on a daily basis by keeping your most used items front and center. In cabinets store your most used items on lower shelves while placing the ones you use less often on top shelves. Place your go-to cooking utensils in a vase or other type of decorative container on the counter next to the stove. You should also consider keeping pots, pans, and other cooking items close to the stove to keep them within arms reach when you are cooking. Extra Tips for the Go-Getters. Organize plastic ware with their lids. Better yet invest in a set that comes with snap-together lids or a large matching set so you arenít left trying to cram the wrong lid on a bowl for leftovers. Make the most of the empty space over your cabinets by adding shelves for extra storage. Add a lazy susan in your fridge to avoid items being pushed to the back and becoming long forgotten. Set up a station to sort typical kitchen papers like coupons, menus, and notepads. While we use our kitchen almost every day the clutter can build up and become overwhelming. With an action plan in hand and a few days dedicated to organizing the chaos you can have a cleaner, more organized kitchen before you know it!




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Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 5/11/2015

Spring has sprung, and it is time to get the house in tip top shape. Traditionally Spring is when most homeowners do a thorough cleaning and organizing. Organize Your Shed Spring-cleaning means not only giving everything a good wipe-down but decluttering your space to welcome the warmer seasons ahead. Follow these tips and you'll breathe a sigh of spring relief. For storing everyday garden and home tools, wood lattice is even handier than a basic trellis. Choose a heavy-duty variety, sold in sheets at hardware stores and lumberyards, and screw it onto a door using spacers. Then hang implements from S hooks, which fit snugly in the diamond framework. For items that can't be hung, attach broom clamps or suspend binder clips from hook. Tackle Your Garden Cleanup Streamline your round of gardening chores by sorting debris as you go. Throw biodegradable waste into a wheelbarrow, ready to dump on the compost heap when you're finished. Keep other yard trash -- labels, broken pots, and rocks, for example -- separate in a bucket hung over the barrow's edge with a large S hook. Tame Your New Plants Here's an attractive way to prevent invasive plants such as dwarf bamboo from overrunning your garden: Plant them in terra-cotta chimney flue tiles. Use a tile with a diameter that is at least 4 inches wider than the plant's root ball. Sink the tile into the soil so that the lip sticks up 1 inch; plant inside the tile. Save Time with a Spring-Cleaning Bucket For easier spring-cleaning, fill a bucket with basics that need to be toted from room to room: all-purpose and glass-cleaning sprays, a sponge, a toothbrush, a squeegee, a scrub brush, hopsacking, and terry-cloth towels in washcloth and hand-towel sizes. Between tasks, hang rubber gloves over the rim to dry. Document Your Expiration Dates Putting warranty expiration dates on appliance boxes lets you know when it's safe to throw those cartons away. To store the receipt and warranty slips, place them in a cellophane bag. Write or type the expiration date on a self-adhesive label, and affix it to the bag. Attach the bag to the box with double-sided tape. Protect Your Stored Clothing Take a deep breath: Aromatic herbs like rosemary, cinnamon, lavender, and balsam can keep clothing and shoes smelling fresh; cedar can help protect woolens from moth damage. Prepare for Summer Fun Now's the time to make sure you have sunblock, mosquito repellant, and citronella candles. A pail filled with these summer staples makes a thoughtful gift for the host of the season's first cookout.





Posted by Mary-Lou McDonough on 2/23/2015

Can you could your entire house clean in just 30 minutes a day? If you let the house cleaning slip It becomes overwhelming. By doing just a little bit every day it will help keep your home neat and clean in no time. Here is a basic plan to keep your home clean in just one half-hour a day.   Start in the Kitchen Getting started right after breakfast may be the perfect time to spend a few minutes tidying up.

  • Clear out and wipe down the sink.
  • Wipe down countertops and stove.
  • Put dirty dishes immediately into the dishwasher.
  • Run a quick wet mop over the floor.
  • Take a moment to fold and put your dish towels away.
  • Tackle the Bathroom After your shower while you are still in the bathroom do a quick clean.
  • Swipe out the sink bowl and faucet handles. If you use a premoistened cloth to wipe your face, use it for this too.
  • Clean splatters off the mirror. Use the same cloth you used on the sink.
  • Wipe the toilet seat and rim using the same cloth. Just do the toilet last.
  • Swoosh the toilet bowl with a brush.
  • Before getting out of the shower squeegee the shower door.
  • Spray the shower and curtain liner with a shower mist.
  • Bedroom Once your back in your bedroom to get dressed for the day, you can make a quick round there too.
  • Make your bed.
  • Fold or hang clothes.
  • Straighten out the night-table surface, remove any glasses or dishes.
  • Living Room Get the heart of your home in order in a jiffy.
  • Tidy the sofa.
  • Use a microfiber cloth to pick up dust.
  • Straighten coffee table and remotes
  • Doing these simple tasks will save you much more time in the end and allow you to enjoy your clean home every day.