Archive for the ‘Organizing tips’ Category

Do you have an accident waiting to happen at your parents house?

Are your parents climbing ladders and step stools because they feel they can do things themselves? Climbing the ladder to clean out the gutters or touching up the paint is something they always did and still feel capable still doing. Years ago that wasn’t a problem; they were a lot younger and much more agile and steady. But things are changing.

How can you stop them from doing this before they have that accident which could put them out of commission permanently?  Whether it is fixing the dripping kitchen faucet, changing a filter or light bulb, putting in the screens, or anything else that needs fixing.  What peace of mind would you have knowing that Dad and Mom are not climbing ladders or step stools, crawling under sinks, or make many trips down the basement stairs which are all possibilities for accidents.

There are plenty of small businesses that can help you help your parents.   Some of them you and set them up on a monthly retainer, and they will stop by your parents home on a regular basis throughout the month and take care of things that need fixing.  You know all the little (and not so little) do it yourself projects that you don’t have time to do for your parents. Arrange to have everything done without anyone in the family climbing a ladder and taking unnecessary risks.

All you need to do is keep a perpetual “honey do” list and once a month, as regular as clock work; this company would come in and do what is on the list. If the job was too big or more involved then they may need to schedule more time, but for the most part routine maintenance and repair projects that Dad or Mom want or need done are finished and scratched off the list.

Consider this type of service as a gift for the entire family!

 

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Attic Treasure Hunting

The value of any treasure discovered is always dependent on the quality, uniqueness, and scarcity of the particular items. Attics have always been the source of great treasure hunts for years, as well as the source of great agony.

For families who have to clear out and dispose of their valued treasures, it is difficult. Time and patience is a valuable commodity when sorting and clearing attic treasures. Care and concern should be given with all items as there may be items that have both monetary and sentimental value, or NOT. If you are fortunate enough to find one or two pieces in that category, then you need to decide what to do with them. Even finding a piece or two with sentimental value only – something you had long forgotten about it — will be a wonderful discovery.

Once the Treasure Hunt is complete and the “stuff” has been categorized what happens now?  For the items you have decided to keep, it depends on the situation you and the family are in; you might be moving so will these items move to new location or will you be taking them to your home? Or you may be staying for a while longer so that will require repacking and labeling the contents of the carton or bin. Be sure to put a date on the bin so you know how long ago you last viewed the contents. Put these repacked and organized containers neatly in a designated space for future access.

Now, you need to take away the items designated as trash, donation, give to family, or sell.

  • Move the trash, if possible, directly out to the curb, a dumpster or at least to the garage to wait for trash day.
  • If you have not already scheduled a donation pick up; do it now.   Move the donation items down to the garage clearly marking them as donations – not to be mistaken for trash.   Resist the temptation of second guessing your decisions.
  • Items marked ‘give to family’, bring them down to an area that can be designated staging area; put all items in here clearly marked with the designated family member’s name. Make a call and schedule a time for      things to be picked up. You may need to make several calls, and then  finally say; “If you don’t come by Sunday, I will be putting them in the trash on Monday.”
  • Put all items for sale in one spot (either leave them in the attic or garage marked sale items). Then determine what type of sale to have.  Arrange for  an appraisal, if necessary. Set a date, even if it is weeks or months away, it will help motivate you to complete the project.

For items that you truly feel have monetary value but you don’t know what it is, I recommend strongly that you pay for an appraisal from a qualified independent appraiser, who knows furniture or artwork. By having an appraisal of the pieces in question, you will be able to make an educated and informed decision on what you want to do with the pieces in question. You won’t walk into a store someday and see your piece (or something very similar) for sale for hundreds of dollars and you sold it for $5 at a moving sale!

Patience, persistence, and many helping hands are the basic elements needed to complete this project. It could take days, weeks, or even months, depending on the level of all available elements at any point in time.

It Is A Mirage – A Clean Garage!

Okay, this month is the time to make a confession. If you think that my house is neat as a pin, with nothing out of place you are wrong! Don’t get me wrong I am organized and stuff like that, but I live to enjoy my home and, like everyone else who provides a service for other people; I am tired when I get home so my house is the last to get any attention. This goes for all parts of the home, especially the Garage.

Garages are suppose to be for your car, or if you are from Massachusetts ‘cah’! Personally my ‘cah’ has never been in the garage. It is always ‘pahked’ in the ‘yahd’ (or driveway), because there isn’t enough room in the garage. There is always enough room for other things, like shelving units, storage boxes, bikes, tools, my work supplies, and anything else you can think of BUT not the ‘cah’.

So this month we need to concentrate on the garage. It should be a fairly simple and quick process now that the weather is warm and you can leave the door (or doors) open.  If you really look around, there really are not a lot of useless or unneeded items.  The real problem is that we don’t put the items back where they belong. When we finish with the item we put it in an empty space, and there is stays, that space becomes its home. Slowly, but swiftly, these items start to encroach into the next available space and then everything just looks so cluttered and unwieldy it becomes too much trouble to spend the little extra time to make things right.

Now let’s get started! Put the ‘cah’ on the street (out of the driveway), and pull everything out of the garage and put it out in the driveway or the ‘yahd’. Don’t forget to gather all the help you can for this project, because it can become tiresome and hard work as the day progresses. It should only take a few hours with help.

Once all the ‘stuff’ is out of the garage take the broom and give the garage (floor, walls and ceiling) a good sweep. You will be amazed at the amount of dirt and dust you will pick up. You may want to sprinkle a little water (not too much or you will have mud) to hold down the dust. When you finish sweeping, let the dust settle for a bit, and start sorting through the ‘stuff’ out in the ‘yahd’.

Trash whatever can be trashed. All those grocery bags and other plastic bags that you have accumulated, consolidate partial packages of items, put like items together. Decide whether or not you need to install wall hooks or purchase another shelving unit.

Remember the goal is to clean the floor so you have room for your ‘cah’.  With a plan in mind and the dust settled, it is time to start putting things back where they belong. Tools are in the tool box, the bikes are in a rack or hung on wall hooks, and the trash barrels are off to the side but convenient to the door. Everything is in place now step back and take a picture!  Remember how it looks, this is what you want all the time.

Now ‘pahk’ the ‘cah’ in the garage. There is plenty of room now!   You can actually open the door without knocking or hitting anything.  What a nice, satisfying experience and just think it didn’t take forever to accomplish.  Congratulations, you have a ‘wicked p**a’ clean garage that any Boston ‘cah’ is proud to ‘pahk’ in.  Now it is time for a Dunk!

Decluttering and Downsizing a Kitchen!

Kitchens are a very special place for many people.   They could be your domain, refuge, and gathering spot.  Or it may be just a necessary evil that you need, but do not enjoy.   However you feel about or use your kitchen, it might be either the first or the very last space in your home to declutter and downsize.  One reason for this is there are so many nooks and crannies to store, put, and hide things.

Oh, those nooks and crannies are wonderful until you try and find something.   How many times have you tried to find something, couldn’t find it, and purchased a new one?   Only to find the one you knew you had but it was shoved in the back of the drawer (or cabinet), hidden under a pile of other important items.  This month let’s just tackle kitchen drawers, how bad can that be?

The process will be the same or similar for all drawers, so just pick a drawer.    In my kitchen we only have four drawers, 2 for utensils and 2 for junk!   A Christmas presents started us to work on organizing one utensil drawer, however, once we got going one drawer lead to two; and we felt so good about the progress we ended up doing all four drawers.

Our Christmas present was a beautiful wooden drawer organizer, which adjusts to the width of the drawer you happen to be concentrating on.   We started with the cooking utensil drawer by;

  • Removing all the contents
  • Cleaning the drawer (wash and dry thoroughly)
  • While waiting for drawer to dry, go through the items in the drawer;
  • Throw out any broken items
  • Separate duplicates
  • Insert drawer organizer and adjust size to drawer.
  • Return items to drawer in the appropriate size space.
  • Segregate one of a kind items in their own space

Do not return duplicate items, unless they are different sizes of an item like spatulas or such.  Duplicate items that you do not need, can be donated or given to someone, but don’t hang on to them.

Like I said doing one drawer, was just the start of the project.  All the other drawers were the same basic process, but the junk drawers took a bit longer.   Junk drawers require looking through papers and things, so it is definitely something we put off as long as possible.

Once you put back all the items in there appropriate compartments and toss or give the rest away stand back and admire the great job you did and how beautiful they look.

Shoe Fetish or Just a Love Affair

It always amazes me when I am downsizing and decluttering closets how many shoes people have. Not just women, but men too! People seem to have a real issue throwing away or even donating, unused and older shoes.

Scattered on closet floors, hanging over doors in bags, and the real serious shoe people have them methodically stored in plastic boxes labeled by color and style.  If they get really carried away, or leaning toward obsessive compulsive behavior they will even make a note to what outfit and handbag it goes with!  Makes you want to ask; Is it a shoe fetish or just a love affair with shoes?

I freely admit that I love shoes!  Shoe shopping is really the only shopping I truly love.  There is something about the new shoe smell (something like a new care smell), trying on new shoes, and visualizing what outfit you will wear with them.  This is why I love to buy new shoes, BUT my question is; Why is it so difficult to part with shoes once they no longer meet our needs?

I have pondered this question for a while now.  I think there are a few possibilities why we procrastinate.  We cannot part with them because;

  1. I still liked them,
  2. They are still comfortable (unlike other pieces of clothing) and still look reasonably good.
  3. They make me feel good, beautiful, or whatever.
  4. I still like the style and have not been able to find another pair in that color or heel height.
  5. They just do not make shoes like these anymore.
  6.  I have an odd shoe size and they are hard to find.
  7. They are classic, never go out of style, and go with everything!

These are my excuses, I am sure you some of them or have your own perfectly valid and rational reasons for hanging on to shoes for longer than reasonably necessary.

So what are shoe lovers to do, when shoes tumble out of your closet, or worse yet you need a whole closet for only your shoes?   It is difficult, but tough decisions must be made.

  1. Separate shoes that you wear regularly and put them to one side.
  2. Take the shoes that you wear with particular outfits (some shoes in #1 may overlap),
  • Ask the question – How often have I worn these shoes and outfit in the past 12 months?  If the answer is zero to 2, seriously consider donating the shoes and the outfit.
  • Then take a look at the shoes that you cannot remember when you last wore them and toss or donate them.

Separate the regularly worn shoes from the ‘special’ shoes in your closet, then when you buy a new pair evaluate whether to retire a pair from either collection, and DO IT!

Just like Neil Sedaka’s song says, Breaking Up Is Hard To Do,  when you have this love affair with shoes it is really hard.   However, I know we will all find another pair of ratty, old sneakers or comfortable boots to fill the void in our heart.

Good Old DAZE

Over the past few months I have worked on creating the family tree and it is like working on a very large and complex jigsaw puzzle.   It is amazing what we think we know about our family and their families only to find out that we have very little knowledge at all.

In the good of days, it was not polite to air your family’s dirty linen for all to see, so unless you knew for sure your family was rich, socially acceptable, educated, etc., people often chose not to discuss family history.

With the aid of todays computer and internet access, families can find a tons of information on-line.   There are many popular websites to aid us in this quest.   However, the best source of information is by learning and speaking with our older relatives and their friends.

It is amazing at how much I really do not know about my ancestors, and how very little my grandparents and parents did not share with us.    I am finding that great-grandparents divorced and remarried and had a slew of children from the second marriage.   My Grandmother never divulged these ‘secrets’ there were on a need to know basis, and no one needed to know.

So my advice to everyone is to try to document what you know about the family history.  Gather the photo’s, memorabilia, and important documents in one central file and write your recollections.

This is important information for the family and it will make it easier to compile into a concise and exact history of the family.   It is a great starting place for us as well as for future generations to continue.

Quiet Progress

I met with a client the other day, she felt like she would never be ready to move by the end of the month.   Then she started telling me what she had all ready started and finished.   It was huge!

This small petite woman, realized that she needed to start doing something to make this move happen.   In her own quiet way, she allocated a few hours throughout the day to sort through dresser drawers.   Throwing out items too worn and unserviceable, collecting all good and usable items for donation, and neatly putting the keepers back in the drawer.   That is huge, and I told her so!

She did the same type of thing in the kitchen and bathrooms.  So when it came down to really getting serious about downsizing for the move, she have very quietly made progress toward her goal.

It is amazing what progress you can make with just an hour or two a day!   Try it, you will be very pleased with your results.

Winter Is Coming, Is It Time To Close The Window?

NO!  I’m not ready yet! All summer and even through the cool fall nights I keep the  window open. You never know what fresh and invigorating thoughts and ideas will  come floating through the open window and I want them to have a clear pathway to me.

We are preparing to button down for the winter. We have always been able to do
these things and we just take them for granted. However some of us have older
relatives who are becoming or are frail and may not be able to do the usual
fall preparations. Like outside the:

  • leaves need to be raked
  • the gutters need to be cleaned, and
  • The garden needs to be prepared to with stand a killing frost.

Inside the house there are also plenty of things that need to be done before winter
sets in:

  • Pull out the winter clothes; and put away clean summer clothing
  • Donate old, but in good condition, winter coats and other clothing
  • Clear away items that may be blocking the heat ducts, and dust and clean the ceiling fans

Ladders and step stools are not something our older friends and relatives should be
using. They will argue and insist that they are fine, but deep down they are
probably looking for someone to come and give them a hand with these items.

If you cannot help, maybe there is a scout troop or a youth service group at a
local church that would be willing to take on a community service project. I am
willing to wager that the young people will benefit from such a project as the
older people they are helping.

Let’s keep an eye out for our older neighbors, friends and relatives this fall and
winter and give them a helping hand whenever possible.

Are You Ready To Move To A Smaller Home?

  Yeah, my new e-booklet is ready!  ARE YOU READY TO MOVE TO A SMALLER HOME? is just the first of a series of e-booklets. My friend,Fran Fahey of Fran’s Fine Editing my favorite and only copy editor, worked on the booklet and turned it around in “jig” time.

ARE YOU READY TO MOVE TO A SMALLER HOME? is for families with seniors or baby boomers who might be starting to think about downsizing or may have some doubts and concerns if they are ready.  If they are not sure what to  do, there is a quiz and seven helpful tips to get them thinking and started with the process. It is also a great tool and resource for all sales and marketing people in Assisted Living or Home Health Care.

I would like to send you a complimentary copy of this e-booklet for your review and information.   PIease email me at; Claire@AtWittzEnd.com and I will forward the link to you.  If you would like to purchase a print version, which can be customized; i.e.: “Compliments of: XYZ Assisted Living ” please let me know and will forward pricing information.

3 Tips To Keep Healthy Food in Freezers For Older Relatives

Have you looked into your freezer and it is full, but you don’t know what is in there?   You end up taking out a package of “mystery” meat thinking it is steak only it is really a pork chop!  In our day-to-day running around trying to get everything done we forget the obvious things — like marking the freezer bags listing the contents and date. 

You do not need to be old to answer yes to this scenario.   Young vibrant people, who have great eyesight and memories do it as well as  more and more to older adults.   However with older adults it can be more serious, because their generation tend not throw things out.   It is a sin to waste perfectly good food!   Just because it has been in the freezer for a undetermined length of time and is badly freezer burned it is still perfectly okay.

This is what many family members and caregivers are finding when they look in freezers (and refrigerators) of their older relatives.   Keeping the freezers filled with good, healthy, and edible food is a problem.
Here are three simple tips, that most of us will say is just common sense.   

  1. Ignore the complaints and go through the freezer (and refrigerator) and throw out all food that is: old and freezer burned; old packages of frozen food products (veggies, ice cream, etc.) old expiration dates; little packages of food items with no indication of content or date.  In refrigerators: do the same thing – if in doubt throw it out!  Once you have these items cleared out and know that there is no harmful food left you can start from scratch.
  2. Slowly replenish the freezer and refrigerator with good fresh meat and frozen food products.  Before freezing, get a permanent marker, sturdy freezer bags, good plastic wrap.   Re-wrap meat in individual servings in plastic wrap and place in freezer bags (you can put multiple pieces of  the meat in the bag); put the label from the store in the bag so you can see the product name; then seal the bag and write the date on the bag or food container. 
  3. When you add meat and food products to the freezer place the new items (prepared the same as described in 2 above) behind the previous items.  In other words; use the FIFO method – FIRST IN FIRST OUT– to rotate the food out of the freezer.  Only have 3 rotations of food in the cycle.

These tips will help your relative or caregiver know what they are taking out for dinner and it is going to be good and healthy for them.

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