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I ‘Heart’ Container Store Stocking Stuffers – 2016 Edition

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Have you started your holiday shopping yet? Here are some fun, useful, and unique stocking stuffers for family and friends! I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

 

Remember when you were a kid and you couldn’t wait for that holiday season Toys ‘R’ Us catalog to come in the mail? The excitement! The anticipation!

Well, that’s how I feel about The Container Store’s Stocking Stuffer Collection catalog. I know sometime after Halloween it’s going to find it’s way through my mail slot. Lucky for me, I live ten minutes away from The Container Store in Paramus, NJ but instead of driving over there ahead of time, I wait for the catalog. I like to flip through the pages and pick out the items I like before heading to the store to see and possibly buy them.

What I found most interesting about this year’s Stocking Stuffer collection is that there are very few ‘organizing’ products. Most fall into the fun/kitchy/useful item category. Some I looked at and didn’t really understand their purpose.  That’s OK–I’m sure somebody does–and that’s who will buy them! Something for everyone…

Last time I did a Stocking Stuffer Roundup was in 2013. Some of my favorites included a Dressing2Go container and a vintage rubber ducky shower cap. It’s been way too long–it’s time for another roundup!

I’d be writing until next Friday if I featured all of The Container Store’s Stocking Stuffers so I picked a handful to share with you. They’re split into three categories: Useful, Cute & Fun, and Makes You Go Hmmm…. If you’re in need of some stocking stuffers or small gifts for the people in your lives, consider these and the others in the collection…

USEFUL

Maggrip Car Vent Phone Mount $ 9.99

Car Vent Phone Mount - I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

This product secures a smartphone to a car’s air vent for clear, safe viewing. Has  5-star rating on the website.


ToyDriver Screwdriver $ 9.99

Toy Screwdriver- I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

My kids are 6.5 and 10 but I remember when they were little and EVERY toy had a battery. And every toy had a battery compartment held together by the tiniest screws. Boy, could I have used this a few years ago! Comes with a flat head and Philips head bit. My cousin had a baby last month and I am considering sending this to her!


Pocket Monkey $ 11.99

Pocket Monkey - I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

It’s a bottle opener. It’s a multi-head screwdriver. It’s a phone stand, an envelope opener, and much more. TSA-Compliant and thin as a credit card. You never know when you’ll need one of it’s many features…


Flint Retractable Lint Roller $ 8.99

Retractable Lint Roller- I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

Ever go to a dog lover’s home and come home with half the dog on your pants? Keep this in your purse, glove compartment, or travel bag and be dog-hair free! Works for white lint napkins on black pants and anything else your clothes can be covered in. Comes in Slate Gray and Copper. Refills sold separately.

CUTE & FUN

Angry Mama Microwave Cleaner $ 9.99

Angry Momma Microwave Cleaner - I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

I usually use lemons in hot water to steam-clean my microwave but wouldn’t this be a whole lot more fun?

 


Emoji Cooking Stamps $ 5.99

Emoji Cookie Stamps I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

Emojis are all the rage now! Take a departure from baking gingerbread men and snowflakes this season to create some cool kid-friendly cookies.


Corkers Cork Decorating Kit $ 5.99

Corker's Cork Decorating Kit - I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

I’m allergic to wine so I don’t exactly have corks hanging around my kitchen. But, for those of you who do, here’s a cute ‘adult’ art project for you! Choose from airplane, deer, dog and pino figurine. A nice add-on if you’re bringing a bottle of wine to a party.


Beepegg Timer $ 19.99

Beeped Timer - I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

A bit pricey, but if you like soft and hard-boiled eggs, this could be a good investment piece for your kitchen. Store in the fridge with your eggs for best results. You’ll always know where it is when you need it if you store it near your eggs!

MAKES YOU GO Hmmmm…

Oven Pull Monster $ 2.99

Oven Pull Monster - I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

This seems useful but it’s not the most friendly-looking kitchen gadget out there. It looks a little freaked out–as if it knows it’s about to go head first into a hot oven. For the chef in your life with a good sense of humor…

Handbag Raincoat $ 19.99

Handbag Raincoat - I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

I get it. It’s raining. You don’t want your handbag to get wet. But, a raincoat for a handbag? Where does it drip dry? It comes with a pouch but if you’ve ever tried to get an umbrella (wet or dry) back in it’s ‘pouch’ then I can’t imagine trying to do the same with a handbag raincoat. A bit pricey for what it is but if you carry an expensive bag and live in a rainy area, it could be worth it.


Wine Glass Shade $ 12.99

Wine Glass Shade - I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

Like I said above, I’m allergic to wine. I own wine glasses for when company comes over but I never thought of ‘setting a mood’ with one of them. For the wine enthusiast in your life…

 

Poo Pourri 2 oz. – $ 9.99

Poo-Pourri - I 'Heart' Container Store Stocking Stuffers - 2016 Edition I organizedartistry.com

OK, Container Store. You had to go THERE? Travel-sized for a purse, backpack, or diaper bag. What disturbs me most is that on this page (and all other pages) on The Container Store website, there’s a spot where you can upload a picture of the product in use with the hashtag #containyourself. I dare anyone to buy this product and upload a picture of themselves using it!


For more of The Container Store’s Stocking Stuffer Collection click here. There are stocking stuffers for kids/teens, pets, travelers, techies, chefs and many others in your life.

If you’re driving to The Container Store to peruse their stocking stuffers, consider donating an unwrapped book, toy, gift card, or toiletry to their Holiday Hugs program. They’re partnering with children’s hospitals around the country to deliver ‘Holiday Hugs’ to their patients. Program ends December 18th.

Three hundred and twenty-five days until next year’s Stocking Stuffer catalog!

I’d love to know–which stocking stuffer is YOUR favorite? Share in the comments below…

 

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Cool Product: OXO POP Containers

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Last summer, I went on a field trip to The Container Store with my colleagues from NAPO-NNJ. As you can imagine, the bunch of us that attended had a blast! We saw a few demos, learned about some new products, and had a chance to roam freely through the store. While I was roaming, I happened upon these: OXO Good Grips POP Containers

Cool Product: OXO POP Containers. So easy to open and close--I don't know who likes to use them more--me or my kids! I organizedartistry.com #OXOPOP

They were so cool! You’re probably thinking that I bought out the store…but I controlled myself and didn’t. Even though they were ‘cool,’ they were a bit pricey. I left The Container Store without them in my hand but those POP containers lingered in my brain and heart…

Here are a few reasons why I thought these were a ‘Cool Product.’
• Their square/rectangular shapes fit well side-by-side on shelves
• They stack!
• Easy open/easy close
• Aesthetically pleasing

Fast forward a few weeks. I was shopping in TJ Maxx and found a shelf in the Housewares Department filled with OXO POP Containers! And, in TJ Maxx fashion, they cost less than the ones in The Container Store–jackpot! I brought these two babies home with me, gave them a good washing, and put them to work in my pantry closet.

Cool Product: OXO POP Containers. So easy to open and close--I don't know who likes to use them more--me or my kids! I organizedartistry.com #OXOPOP
Here’s how they open and close… This is the lid when closed. That big button gets pressed to open the container. Press down and…

Cool Product: OXO POP Containers. So easy to open and close--I don't know who likes to use them more--me or my kids! I organizedartistry.com #OXOPOP
It opens!

Cool Product: OXO POP Containers. So easy to open and close--I don't know who likes to use them more--me or my kids! I organizedartistry.com #OXOPOP

When that big push-button is in the ‘up’ position, the lid is loosened and can be lifted. The push-button also acts as a handle! I thought that was pretty cool, too.
Cool Product: OXO POP Containers. So easy to open and close--I don't know who likes to use them more--me or my kids! I organizedartistry.com #OXOPOP

Push the big button down again to create an airtight seal with the pressure of a few fingertips.

Right now, I’m using the two large POP Containers for storing pretzels and Tostitos Scoops. I also bought two tall, slim containers that are holding Twizzlers and small cookies. I purchased one smaller POP Container and it fits an entire package of Fig Newtons perfectly. It’s so easy for my kids to operate them. They are able to get their own snacks and nine times out of ten, the lid goes on and nothing goes stale. That’s pretty good odds for a 4 and 8 year old…

If you’d like to try one out for yourself, check your local TJ Maxx store. I have seen one or two floating around Home Goods but I haven’t seen any in Marshall’s. Want to spring for a 10-piece set? They are sold at The Container Store, Amazon and other home stores. If you have a 20% off coupon, consider purchasing them at Bed Bath and Beyond.

Try one–I think you’ll get hooked on OXO POP!

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I ‘Heart’ Container Store Stocking Stuffers – 2013 Edition

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I am one of those lucky Professional Organizers that lives less than 15 minutes from The Container Store. It’s great to be able to stop in, wander the aisles and check out new products whenever the mood strikes.

Despite it’s proximity to my home, I always look forward to receiving their catalogs. My favorite one arrives through my mail slot at the end of November–The Stocking Stuffers catalog. There’s something about this collection of cute, helpful, gadgety things that just makes me smile.

I flipped through the catalog last week and found a few items to share with you. Are you looking to fill holiday stockings or are you in need of the ‘next best thing’ to keep you organized? I think you’ll find a product here or on the stocking stuffers page of The Container Store’s website to suit your gift giving and organizing needs.

And now, some of my favorite Container Store Stocking Stuffers of 2013…

Bondi

The Bondi is known as a ‘helping hand.’ Use it to secure an item and hang it over a doorknob, rearview mirror, stroller or anywhere you need to hang something small.

Cuppa and Dash Measuring Cups and Spoon

Designed by Umbra, these space-saving items are perfect for the cook who is short on space and appreciates good design.

Tab and Page Markers

If you’re like me, as you read you feel the need to mark off helpful or inspiring passages in books and magazines. I don’t usually read without a pack of these next to me. Great for color coding and they come in their own carrying case.

Dressing-2-Go

Ever take a salad to work or to an event but you don’t want to bring the whole bottle of dressing with you? Enter the Dressing-2-Go bottle. It’s BPA free, leakproof and holds 2 oz of dressing–perfect for those watching their calories.

This last one will probably not keep you organized, but it was so cute I wanted to share it…

Shower Cap

For the ladies, this vintage-inspired shower cap is covered in rubber duckies–what could be more adorable? It also has a ruffled rim which keeps water out of your eyes. I don’t want to leave any one out, but this item may be a bit too girly for a guy with long hair…

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I think I hear some stocking stuffers calling my name. Good thing I live close to The Container Store…

Cool Product: Nalgene Leakproof Bottles

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Have you ever packed your suitcase and opened it later to find a mess? I’m talking about shampoo spilled all over your clothes. How about a body lotion explosion?

Regardless of what can open, spill or explode, the last thing you want to do when you arrive at your destination or get home from a trip is deal with messy laundry and suitcase cleaning.

If you’re traveling by plane, train or automobile in the near future, you’re going to want to take a close look at these…

Today’s Cool Product is: Nalgene Leakproof Bottles

Cool product: Nalgene Leak Proof Bottles I organizedartistry.com #nalgene #leakproof
Nalgene Round Leakproof Bottles

I first spotted them in the Travel section of the The Container Store. I bought a few to try–filled them with my bath gel, shampoo and moisturizer and took them on a trip. To my surprise, I arrived at my destination with no leaky bottles in my suitcase. Success! I bought more and have relied on them for peace of mind, ‘clean’ and easy travel ever since.

Besides different shaped bottles, Nalgene makes jars, too. I use jars for items with a thicker consistency such as diaper rash cream and my nighttime moisturizer. An example:

Cool product: Nalgene Leak Proof Bottles I organizedartistry.com #nalgene #leakproof
Nalgene Leakproof Jars

The bottles and jars come in different sizes but the 1 oz. and 2 oz sizes work best for airline travel.

I keep a few extra Nalgene bottles and jars in my linen closet for when I need one at the last minute. No more last minute trips to the store before a vacation!

Cool product: Nalgene Leak Proof Bottles I organizedartistry.com #nalgene #leakproof

Now that I have two kids, I don’t go away often. But when I do, I take my  “I’m-ready-to-leave-the-house-at-a-moment’s-notice” bag off the shelf. It has almost everything I need for a quick getaway–most of my toiletries are in Nalgene bottles labeled across the outside.

Which reminds me: Don’t forget to label these bottles once you’ve filled them. You don’t want to accidentally wash your hair with your face moisturizer… Use a label maker or removable labels by Avery. Blue painter’s tape and a Sharpie will work, too if pressed for time. You don’t want to miss your flight!

Cool product: Nalgene Leak Proof Bottles I organizedartistry.com #nalgene #leakproof

If you’re planning to visit family or a far away country, get yourself a few Nalgene Leakproof Bottles and Jars. When you get back from your trip, I want to hear all about your adventures and your clean suitcase!

Cool Product – JosephJoseph Double Dish

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Like many Professional Organizers who live near a Container Store, I like to take time here and there to walk the aisles and check out what’s on the shelves. I’m always looking for cool, new products and boy, did I find one… I thought this one was so unique, I had to own it.

It’s called the Double Dish by a company called JosephJoseph.

Besides being in awe of the product, I thought the company name was fun, too. Turns out that JosephJoseph was started by twin brothers, Richard and Antony Joseph. They melded their experience in product design and business to form a company that designs stylish kitchen and cookware accessories (their mother is so proud..).

The ‘short-and-sweet’ function of this item is to  ‘Serve snacks, hide waste.’

But wait, there’s more…
– Serve snacks in small dish, hide waste in collection dish
– Alternatively, use as two separate serving dishes
– Perfect for shelled nuts, olives and edamame beans
– Dishwasher safe

I bought it. Couldn’t wait to use it. Here’s how it works…

Put it on a flat surface. Fill the white bowl with whatever food needs to be shelled or have pits removed. I used pistachio nuts…

Eat a nut (or an olive or edamame pod) and place the shell/pit/pod through one of the open green areas of the Double Dish. When the bowl is finished, remove it to reveal what we usually want to conceal. Take it to your trash can/compost bin and dispose of it.

Put the white dish back on top of the green dish, fill with food, and repeat.

Organized eating!

Gone are the days of putting a smaller bowl with a shell/pit/pod next to the bigger bowl and hoping people realize it’s purpose.

Summer is almost upon us–wouldn’t this make a great conversation piece at your next BBQ?

My Favorite Organizing Pins on Pinterest

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If you spend a good amount of your time surfing the web, I’m sure you’ve heard of Pinterest. If not, run–don’t walk to the site that is taking social media by storm.

According to their website, “Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing the things you love.”

As a user, I would say that, “Pinterest is a tool for collecting and organizing images of inspiration.”

A little over a year ago, I joined Pinterest–read all about it here: Organized Artistry is on Pinterest!. I’ve been having a great time with it.

On Pinterest, you create and categorize ‘pin boards’ according to your interests. After you create your themed-boards, you load your own visuals or ‘re-pin’ visuals posted by others to your boards. I created boards for my organizing business and some that have to do with the book I’m writing for brides.  I thought that would be my only use for Pinterest, but it has much more to offer…

– When the time comes to make some major changes in my home, I’ll not only be flipping through decorating magazines, I’ll also be looking for decorating inspiration on Pinterest.

– I have found recipes to cook for my son who has multiple food allergies.

– There are tons of posts on clothing, makeup and health that I have learned from.

It is very easy to get sucked into the visual wonderland of Pinterest for HOURS at a time. There’s so much to see and learn!

Besides other categories, there must be thousands of ‘Organizing’ pins on Pinterest. So many great ideas to learn from and implement in your life!

Since time is precious, I would like to offer you some of my favorite organizing pins on Pinterest. Some I created myself and some I re-pinned from other boards.

Disclaimer: Although I love Pinterest, I think that there are many visuals on the site (especially the ‘Organizing’ visuals) that promote ‘perfection.’ Items in the photos are neatly lined up, labeled and look as if they are untouched by humans. Being organized is not about being perfect. It’s about being able to find what you need when you need it–plain and simple. I try to not promote or perpetuate the idea of perfection in my boards/pins, with my clients and in my own home.

I’ve seen some creative and mega-cool organizing ideas on Pinterest. Here are a few I think you will enjoy, appreciate and find inspiring…

From my ‘Kitchen Organizing’ Board

This pin is from my blog post, Top Ten Helper Shelf ‘Hot-Spots’ for Your Home. At last count, I have approximately 15 helper shelves in my home with most of them being in the kitchen.
Thought this was a creative idea. Hang cork board squares on the inside of a cabinet to manage and also hide papers such as invitations, receipts and shopping lists.
I dream of this in my kitchen. PULL OUT DRAWERS! LOTS of them! Never lose food in the back of your cabinet again. 
Thought this was a very organized way to grate and store cheese. Also perfect for grating cheese in advance. Store bagged cheese in the refrigerator until you’re ready to use it.

From my ‘Get Ready for Spring Cleaning’ Board

Spring Cleaning or all-year-round cleaning–this is my favorite cleaning product. With two little boys in the house, I use the Magic Eraser A LOT! Most of its use is in my kitchen with white appliances. It ‘erases’ dirt–yes, magically and is the only thing I have found that can cut through the greasy, sticky spots on my stove top.

Though this idea was so smart. At the end of the winter, store your boots with cut up pool noodles inside of them. I bought pool noodles at the end of the season last year in Target for less than a dollar. That’s a very inexpensive way to retain the shape of your boots until next winter. 
As soon as I saw this ‘pin’ I knew I had to add it to my Get Ready for Spring Cleaning board. I work with a lot of clients in their closets and have seen many of these commandments broken. My personal favorites are #2 and #3.


From my ‘My Favorite Organizing Products’ Board

You won’t find this organizing product at The Container Store. It’s a productivity app called Evernote.  From their website: “Evernote helps you remember, act upon (and share) ideas, projects and experiences across all the computers, phones and tablets you use.” Every time I get an idea or wish to record information about some aspect of my business or personal life, I store it in Evernote for future reference. My desk would have a zillion post-its strewn across it without Evernote.

I know that many people love and swear by ‘huggable hangers.’ I’ll be honest with you–they are not my favorite hanger. I use and recommend crystal hangers. Although they take up more space in a closet, they work well to prevent those ‘shoulder bumpies’ that can ruin a top very easily.
This is my Brother P-Touch label maker. I’ll admit–I love it…maybe even more than the Magic Eraser. It has been quite a workhorse–creating labels for clients and my personal usage for the past ten years. Labels just make things look more organized–don’t you think?
This is only a partial list of my Pinterest boards and pins. To see all of my boards and everything I’ve ‘pinned’, head on over to Organized Artistry on Pinterest.
Did any ‘pin’ gave you organzing inspiration?

On Hurricanes, Organization, and Being Thankful

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It’s been almost a month since Hurricane Sandy blew through the Northeast.

I am thankful that my family came out of the hurricane fairly unscathed. We had power and heat–our only loss was internet and cable for about a week. We know many who slept in chilled houses and went wherever they could to charge their phones and laptops for weeks on end. And that’s nothing compared to people who completely lost their homes…

But I was nervous…

You see, in the spring of 2010, a month before giving birth to baby #2, a storm dropped our neighbor’s huge tree onto our home. It came through a window of our three-season room and took up about 80% of our backyard.
Our neighbor still has another big tree in his backyard and as you can imagine, my husband and I were concerned about Hurricane Sandy causing similar or worse damage to our home.
We hoped for the best but prepared for the worst. And then got organized.
We made ice. And filled ziploc bags with water to make more ice. We bought all the ‘D’ batteries we could find and gathered all our flashlights, candles, and electronics in one place. I also gathered all information we might need in case of an emergency: 
-our homeowners and car insurance polices/account numbers, 
-our PSE&G account and contact information, 
-the telephone number for News 12 New Jersey to hear news reports if we had no other way to access the news.
I packed a few days worth of clothes for all of us and a weeks worth of diapers for my little guy. This is just the kids’ pile…
I also packed water, non-perishables and made a list of perishables to take with us in case we had to evacuate our home.

I was anxious about another tree falling on my house during the hurricane but I was equally as anxious about the possibility of having to feed my youngest child if we had no refrigeration or way to heat food up. He has multiple food allergies on top of the fact that he’s 2.5 and doesn’t have the most sophisticated palette.

I channeled my anxiety by making lists–a great way to get organized and prepare for an event such as a hurricane. I started on paper but then switched over to my favorite productivity app, Evernote. I use this app as a place to dump my brain and keep information for future use. I started an ‘Emergency Preparedness’ folder in Evernote and created the following lists of items we’d need:

-perishable food
-non-perishable food

-perishable food for my child with food allergies
-non-perishable food for my child with food allergies
-important contact information
-what we’d need to take with us in case we need to evacuate (clothing, cash, medicine, important papers, etc.)

You can access Evernote from any computer or your phone–the information is all in the cloud. I HIGHLY recommend this app. My desk would be overrun with papers and post-its without it!

Now that I had made my lists, I felt more prepared for the upcoming storm. What I wasn’t prepared for was my 2.5 year old getting his foot stuck between the slats of a dining room chair as the wind was howling and the trees were swaying. Days later, people asked us if we had any damage due to Hurricane Sandy. I laughed and said to them, “one chair–and it was INSIDE the house.”

It was repaired the next day and now our son’s booster seat sits on this chair. I think we’re going to be telling this story for years to come…

After the storm blew through, we touched base with family and friends discovered that we were one of the few homes around town that had power. We had no TV or internet access but I was grateful that we had heat and a fully working kitchen.
Our preparedness helped us as well as with others. We shared extra batteries, extra room in our fridge and freezer and gave out food, ice and a warm place to hang out to those who needed it.

School was closed for seven days. What kept my kids most occupied during the no-school days following the hurricane?

Balloons!

Is it possible to be thankful for a bag of balloons? Why not?

We also had nieces and nephews stop by to play and warm up. We had fun with stickers and crayons and other non-electronic toys. I will say–despite the fact we did not have cable, our DVR worked. So, we did have a bit of television to keep the kiddies occupied.

During this time, I also taught my kids how to use the Swiffer. They loved pushing it around, especially my 2.5 year old. He and my 6 year old had a competition–who could pick up the most dirt and dust with it. I had very clean floors after the hurricane!

Slowly we heard about more and more people getting their power back. Schools were opening again. Gas lines were getting shorter. Everyone from celebrities to relief organizations were collecting for Hurricane Sandy relief.

My son’s school sent a note home that they were collecting items for the towns of Little Ferry and Moonachie, NJ. I used this event as a lesson in gratitude/being thankful. My six year old and I talked about how we were very lucky that nothing happened to our house during the hurricane and how others had not been so lucky. We collected items from the list, labeled the bags and he helped me take them to school.

Three cheers for Warren Point Elementary School of Fair Lawn, NJ!

Three more cheers go out to Girl Scout Troop 445 of Fair Lawn. They made up a list of food items they wished to collect for those affected by Hurricane Sandy and were nice enough to staple a plastic bag to the list. Very organized, ladies!

Once again, I took my son into our pantry. We had another talk about people affected by the hurricane that need food and how lucky we were to have what we need in our house. He read the items from the list and I put them in the bags–a lesson in literacy and gratitude. I recycled the plastic bag, and used paper instead…

Other companies/organizations involved in collecting for Hurricane Sandy–

Deposit A Gift, an online cash gift registry service, has partnered with The Foundling Hurricane Sandy Relief Fund and is donating an extra 4% for every dollar given. Here’s how you can help. People have even created ‘registries’ for family/friends who have lost much to Huricane Sandy. Here’s an example of how one couple is raising funds for their Aunt Pat who lived in the devastated Breezy Point area of NY.

Whole Foods near me in Paramus, NJ is collecting coats through December 7th for New York Cares 24th Annual Coat Drive. According to the NY Cares website, “the storm created an unprecedented demand for warm coats.”

The Container Store is partnering with One Warm Coat to collect gently used coats, hats and mittens, sweaters and sweatshirts.

Please take a look in your closets and see if you have any outerwear that is in good enough shape to donate. This is the perfect time to de-clutter and help others.

Hurricane Sandy blew through town a few weeks before Thanksgiving–a time when most of us have more of an awareness of what we’re thankful for.

I’m thankful for much but in terms of the hurricane, I’m thankful…

-we had power, a working kitchen and didn’t need to leave our home.
-that we were able to help others after the storm.
-for my husband being home from work for a week and the time we got to spend as a family.
-for the break from the internet. As wonderful as it is, sometimes my eyes and brain need a rest…
-for the little time we got to organize. Not always easy with little kids around but we tackled a few -hot spots in my house.
-for Evernote which got me organized for this storm and prepared for a similar emergency in the future.
-that the only storm damage we had was a dining room chair!

A hurricane is a powerful reminder of our need to express gratitude and desire to be of help to others. Just because Thanksgiving has passed and the holiday season is upon us doesn’t mean we should forget about those who were affected by Hurricane Sandy. Please consider de-cluttering your closets, buying an extra holiday gift for a displaced child, or donating food to a local food pantry. Keep thankfulness and gratitude on your mind and in your heart this season and always.

Peter Walsh Organizes Rachael Ray’s Kitchen

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If you watch television and you have even the teeniest tiniest interest in organizing then you know who Peter Walsh is. If not, here’s the short version: Peter Walsh is an Organizing Expert from Australia who has a ‘tell it like it is’ attitude but also uses compassion and empathy while organizing with his clients. He has worked miracles in tiny spaces, as well as in the homes of hoarders. I first saw him on an organizing show called ‘Clean Sweep’ and from there, he occasionally appeared on The Oprah Show as well as other daytime shows.

I ‘Like’ Peter Walsh on Facebook. He’s always posting about projects he’s working on, easy organizing tips, and when he’ll be on TV next. So, a short while ago, he posted that he was going to be de-cluttering Rachael Ray’s home kitchen on The Rachael Ray Show. Sweet! My DVR was set. If you didn’t get to catch it last week, here’s what happened…

Rachael Ray, America’s sweetheart of the kitchen had a secret…

She told her audience that she has a tiny NYC apartment kitchen and that she’s just as guilty as other homeowners when it comes to de-cluttering her kitchen–it never happens. Cluttered cupboards, out-of-date food in the pantry and cabinets overflowing with pots and pans were just some of her organizing issues.

If I had her hectic schedule, I might not have time to de-clutter my kitchen either…

She decided to bring Peter Walsh to her home to see if he could get her kitchen organized again. Rachael gave him a quick tour of the room and then he kicked her out and started organizing. Peter started with the pantry–he emptied it, sorted the items and tossed all expired food in the trash.

Some of Peter’s pantry tips:

-Store platters upright for easier access. Use an organizing product that stores baking trays to do the same thing for platters.

-Keep flat surfaces clear. They are for food prep–not for storage.

Peter then headed to a spot most people wrestle with in their kitchen–the junk drawer. Like the panty, Peter emptied the drawer and sorted out the trash. He then grouped ‘Like with Like’ and used containers to keep ‘like’ items together.

Peter used drawer dividers like these to organize Rachael’s junk drawer

What junk drawer items did he hold up for all the world to see? Four pair of gardening shears! Since Rachael didn’t use them very often, he promptly moved them to a different area of the kitchen.

He then removed all magnets from her refrigerator. I have a ton of magnets and children’s artwork on my fridge–Peter Walsh would have a field day with my fridge!

He and his crew worked to de-clutter the rest of Rachael’s kitchen and then brought her back in to see.

The first spot he showed her was the pantry–she loved how de-cluttered it was and how Peter had grouped ‘like’ items with like items on clear trays from The Container Store. They then moved on to the junk drawer–Rachael was so thrilled with the way it looked, she gave Peter a high-five! He had removed many of her household tools and placed them in labeled bins in a cabinet over the refrigerator to get them out of the way.

Rachael then walked over to the fridge and saw that most of her magnets were gone! She almost had a heart attack because a magnet with her deceased dog’s picture on it was no where to be found. It was quickly placed back on the fridge–organizing crisis averted!

As I often do with my clients, Peter gave ‘Organizing Homework’ to Rachael…
-go through all cooking utensils
-separate out the ones she uses often from the ones she barely uses
-keep drawers neat and tidy

Peter offered up two tips and advice for the viewing audience:
1. Stop using the word LATER as in, “I’ll put that away later.” Do things as you go and he promises it will make a huge difference.
2. Flat surfaces are for PREPARATION not STORAGE.

Peter also gave the viewing audience five ‘Double Duty’ organizing products to use in the home:
1. Use an empty tissue box to store plastic bags (I do this in my own home.)
2. Use a tension rod to create hanging space under a sink
3. Thread a tab from a soda can over a hanger and hang another garment from it to double your closet’s hanging space. (I LOVED this tip!)
4. A tag from a loaf of bread can be used to wrap around and label electrical cords.
5. Use extra glass vases to corral multiples of items.

I thought this was a great segment. Kudos to Rachael Ray for being brave enough to have Peter Walsh organize her kitchen for all the world to see!

*Author’s Note: I love watching de-cluttering segments on daytime television–I pick up great organizing and product ideas all the time. But, what I’d like you to know is that de-cluttering a room takes hours–sometimes days and sometimes weeks. It looks quick on TV but what you don’t see is a multi-person crew working arduously to get the job done in a certain amount of time. When it’s just you, or you and a friend, or even you and a Professional Organizer the process takes a LONG time.

 If you are de-cluttering an area of your home, don’t despair that it’s taking a while to emerge as a clutter-free space. Make good decisions, have trash bags at the ready and look for the light at the end of the tunnel. Here are a few tips to make sure your organizing efforts are taking you in the right direction.

Top Ten Helper Shelf ‘Hot Spots’ for Your Home

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A while back, I wrote an article for my website about my favorite organizing products. Years have passed but my favorites have not changed. One of those favorite organizing products is the Helper Shelf.

What is a ‘helper shelf?’

A helper shelf divides the horizontal space of a shelf, offering more storage space above and below itself. They come in many different widths and heights—some are even width-adjustable. Looking for one to match your decor? You’ll find most are made of chrome, plastic, metal or wood. Helper shelves can be found in the same aisle as other kitchen organizing products and purchased at home stores like Target or in specialty stores such as The Container Store. They can be used anywhere you need to double a shelf space.

I recently counted how many helper shelves I was using in my home–about 15! And I have a few in my basement that are waiting to be used when the need arises.

Do you have places in your home that could use a helper shelf? If so, get ready to get organized. Here are my top ten helper shelf ‘hot-spots’ for your home:

1. Linen closet – Besides sheets and towels, linen closets often house medicine, health and beauty supplies, lightbulbs and other small items. This is a picture of the shelf in my linen closet where I keep health items for my two kids. Notice–lots of little packages. A perfect spot for a helper shelf!

2. Medicine cabinet – If there’s a spot in our homes with small bottles and boxes, it’s a medicine cabinet. Most standard-sized helper shelves don’t fit in a medicine cabinet but while shopping at the Christmas Tree Shop a few months ago, I came across one that was made especially to fit in medicine cabinets. I bought it for a whopping $1.99. Turns out I didn’t need a helper shelf in my medicine cabinet so I now use it on my…

3. Kitchen counter – I have a small kitchen and need certain items handy. Thought the ‘medicine cabinet’ helper shelf would work well to organize items near my stovetop. This is a picture of the small helper shelf in action–shorter items below and taller items on top. It’s been working very well for me!

4. Kitchen cabinet – This is where many people use helper shelves. My kitchen does not have much cabinet space so I had to maximize the space as best I could.

Between these two cabinets, I have five helper shelves. They came in extra handy when I had kids and had to make room for their kiddie plates, bowls and cups.

5. Freezer – I have one of those older refrigerators with the freezer on top. I use a helper shelf to double the space that might otherwise be a pileup of bagels, frozen veggies and leftovers. Small items such as the ice cube trays fit well under the shelf while flat items stack well on top.

6. Pantry – Sometimes we can adjust our pantry shelves and sometimes we can’t. If you have tall pantry shelves that can’t be adjusted, a helper shelf will create more space. Double the space means double the room for food storage! Here, small food items such as jello and pudding boxes fit well underneath and larger boxes stack equally as well on top.

7. Playroom – Kids have big toys and small toys and as a parent, I know that not all shelves accommodate all sizes of toys. Place a helper shelf on a tall shelf to store puzzles or board games on top and create a home for small toys like cars or a basket of Beanie Babies underneath.

8. Home Office – Use a helper shelf in a closet or storage piece to neatly stack and store office supplies. This will make it much easier to find and retrieve the supplies you need.

9. Laundry room – Like the playroom, a laundry room also has large items and small items that both need an organized home. Purchase a heavy-duty helper shelf for detergent storage and place small items such as dryer sheets and a receptacle for lonely socks below.

10. Over/Under Kitchen Sink – I had one of these when I lived in an apartment years ago. It was a great way to make more room for me in my already tiny kitchen. I put my sponge underneath the shelf and kept dishwashing soap and a few decorative items on top.

What are YOUR helper shelf ‘hot spots?’

Best Products for Organizing Your Car

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Long commute?
Live far from your family?
Got kids?

Then you probably spend a lot of time in your car.

Our cars are like a home-away-from-home. Sometimes we eat in our car. Sometimes we sleep in our car. We have TV screens and stereos and storage spaces in our cars. Yup–sounds like home to me…

So, if it’s important to keep our homes organized, it is equally important to keep our home-away-from-home organized, too.

I drive a big SUV and if I didn’t organize it, it would resemble a dumping ground on wheels. I have to organize my belongings, stuff for my kids, supplies for my business and supplies for the car just like I would organize any space in my home. When you’re ‘on-the-go’ you have to be able to find what you need quickly.

Your first step towards an organized car is to sort and purge the items currently living in it. Once you know what is staying you’ll need a few organizing products to help you keep your home-away-from- home neat and tidy and of course–organized.

Here are a few products I use in my own car and a few that might be useful in special situations:

Trash receptacle – If you don’t want your car looking like the city dump. I highly recommend purchasing a trash receptacle for your car. This is the one I have by Case Logic and it works well for me. Unfortunately, it’s so old, the company doesn’t make it anymore:

I keep it thrown over my gear stick and hanging into the passenger side. It’s easy to stuff the garbage into the top and the velcro bottom opens easily to release the trash. I own this in tan to match my old car’s interior but when it has seen better days (the time is coming soon!), I’m getting one like this:

Auto Trash Bag by The Mod Mobile

There are so many fun, colorful and cool designs, I’m not sure which I would pick! Check all of them out on Allyson Hill’s The Mod Mobile Etsy site.

Visor CD Organizer – Downloading songs to my iPhone is on my long list of ‘Things I’d Like to Do Someday.’ So in the meantime, I’ve purchased a CD organizer for my visor–also from CaseLogic. My music, kiddie music–it’s all stored neatly and at arm’s reach.

Collapsible Crate – I got mine at a discount home store a bunch of years ago but you can find them at some office supply stores and The Container Store.

Photo Courtesy of Office Max

This is what is in mine: box of manila folders for organizing jobs, plastic bags, extra umbrella, and the ‘restaurant’ bag I’ll be discussing next. Other items that can fill the crate are groceries, car accessories, and random items that might otherwise float around your trunk or back of car.

“Restaurant” Bag – I got a drawstring backpack as a promotion from a store I was making a large purchase at a few years ago. When I saw it, I knew what it would be perfect for–a ‘restaurant bag.’ I call it a ‘restaurant bag’ because it is filled with items to keep my kids occupied when we go out to eat. I keep it stocked with paper, crayons, stickers, and a package of wipes. This is kept in the crate so I’ll always know where to find it when we pull into the restaurant parking lot.




Other Organizing Products for Your Car:

Recycle Bag Holder – According to the Tote Buddy website, the Tote Buddy is the ‘world’s first reusable bag holder.’ It neatly holds all of your recycle bags when you go to the market. It’s perfect for keeping all recycle bags in one place instead of strewn across a trunk or backseat. Here is an example of one below:

The Tote Buddy

The people from Tote Buddy were at the NAPO Conference 2012 EXPO with all of their beautiful designs. It would make a great gift for someone who prefers to use recycle bags when they go shopping.

Organizer for Kids: Kids come with a lot of STUFF and they like to bring some of that STUFF with them when they go in the car. To prevent all that STUFF from being all over your car, consider an organizing product that hangs over the driver/passenger seat and faces the child. Many styles have room for crayons, hand-held games, books, DVDs and other STUFF kids like to have with them in the car.

Over-the-seat Car Organizer by Lillian Vernon

Desk: Do you or someone you know work out of their car? This product is a very good solution for those with mobile office needs. The Car Go Desk secures in the passenger seat with a seat belt and offers space for files, mobile equipment and peripherals.

cargodesk.biz

OK–next time you get into your car, take a good look inside. Would any of these products make your car more organized? Do you currently use any of these products? Tell me–I’d love to know!

What area of YOUR life needs organizing?

Contact Stacey to Get Started!

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