Friday, June 28, 2013

Organizing Day Pick Me Up!

By now you realize that I am a huge fan of smoothies.  A meal in a glass is just about the best invention ever as far as I am concerned.  When I am organizing I need to keep my energy up and my focus sharp.  I don't have time to stop and whip up a hot meal.  

This week I'm sharing a smoothie I found in a newsletter from Animal Place, one of my favorite farm sanctuary rescue groups. In fact I plan to visit them this Fall.  Here's a link so you can read more about them and perhaps sign up for their weekly vegan recipe:

Doughy Morning Coffee Smoothie

Serves 1

cup cooked oatmeal (cooled is best - otherwise, just double the ice) 
1 tbsp instant espresso powder
1 cup ice
1 cup non-dairy milk of choice (I used vanilla soy)
1 tsp vanilla/hazelnut/almond extract, whatever you like! (recommended- half vanilla, half hazelnut)
1 tbsp ground flax seed
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
3 deglet noor dates (about 1 big medjool)
Optional: cocoa powder for a morning mocha!

Pour in a cup, and you're ready to start your morning :)

Photo and recipe credit to Leslie Kolafa, founder of the blog Flora Foodie.

Volunteer Benefits

A few weeks ago I decided to volunteer at a local pet rescue.  I was asked if I had any time to cuddle some sick puppies who had just been brought in to their facility.  What dog lover would say no to being part of a puppy pile?  I did not plan to fall in love with one of them.  But that's how love works, isn't it? It comes in when you least expect it.  The young man pictured above is Carson.  Isn't he a handsome dude?  He's whip smart, sweet and living at the vet's office while recovering from his illness.  On the days I don't have a client I drive over and play with him for an hour.  Wherever Carson goes in life I hope my words ring in his ears: 'You are so smart!'  'What a good boy you are!'  How did you get to be so handsome?' Some volunteers come by for a few minutes just to get him out of his hospital cage so he can pee and poop on grass.  We're all in love with this special guy.

In your neighborhood there are dogs just like Carson in need of love, kind words, cuddling and a good walk.  If you cut down on social media, reading time, exercise, phone time with friends or whatever way you fritter away time each day in oder to relax, could you help out a local rescue?  I'm not suggesting you eliminate any of these activities!  I am suggesting you curtail them a bit so that you have a few minutes to give to a being in need.  You might prefer a different kind of volunteer work and I believe that all are vital and needed.  On Fridays I like to 'go to the dogs' so that's my focus. The watch words for this weekend are: Open your heart.  The best thing about giving your time is that what you receive in return is greater than any sacrifice you have made to be at the rescue, the shelter, the farm sanctuary, the hospital  or the library.  And the animal, child or adult who benefits from your love will take that with them for Eternity.  It's the best win/win game in town. Are you playing?

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Closet Design Tips

I have to admit that a professionally designed closet is expensive.  However it adds to the value of your home which you will appreciate when it comes time to sell.  It also makes your life easier saving invaluable commodities like time and money.  I think it's one of the best investments you can make. 

Have you been pouring over magazines and visiting show rooms to get ideas?  You want to have some ideas before you engage the help of a professional.  Have you engaged a closet designer/space planner?  Companies like The Closet Factory will give you a free estimate and a basic design.  You can also take your measurements to the free space planners at The Container Store.  Each entity offers a different type of solution.  The latter being a better choice if you're renting and don't want to provide your landlord with an upgrade on his property.

Remember to weed out your wardrobe and know exactly what you have before you engage a pro.  What you literally need to store in that closet will impact the design.  And if your designer never asks to see your wardrobe find someone else!  I've seen exquisitely designed closets that did not serve the client's needs but they were beautiful to behold.

As you might imagine when I look at a closet I see it differently than the average person does.  I selected the above design because it appealed to me and thought I'd share my thoughts with you.  Learn to think like a professional organizer.

·      This closet has elegant, clean lines and makes great use of every square inch of space.  Clearly the woman using this closet has more clothes to hang than she does items to fold. She's got areas she can designate for different types of clothing (casual, work, business) and she can adjust or remove the hanging rods.  If her 'long hang' suddenly needs more space than her 'short hang' she can remove a rod and be good to go.  

·      Be sure you have holes pre drilled the length of the section so that moving the rod up or down is easy.  I had a client who had a custom built closet and didn't want too many holes drilled in the exotic wood she used.  Every time her wardrobe called for a bit of 'noodling' she had to call out the carpenter. 

·      I like the fact this design has an open area that serves as a dresser top.  I'd be sure that was both beautiful and functional when I organized it.  I'd place some decorative items there that had sentimental value to my client. Little touches allow us to enjoy the experience of getting dressed.  After all that's why we get organized, isn't it?  We want to enjoy every square inch of our home. Clutter and poor design make that very difficult. 

·      I'd add a small mirror in the dresser top area as well as a full-length mirror on the back of the closet door.  I want my clients to see their outfits from every angle.

·      I like the fact there are no shelves above the hanging rods but some people love to see them.  It’s the illusion of ‘more bang for the buck.’ Unless you are very tiny and your clothes are short in length you won't be able to make use of such a shelf.  Don't be fooled! 

·      ·While it isn't visible I'm sure there's a telescope rod in this design.  You pull it out when you want to plan an outfit or need to pop the dry cleaning somewhere until you have time to remove the plastic and transfer the garment to its waiting hangar.  It's an indispensable tool!

·       As gorgeous and useful as those built-in shoe shelves are there is one thing I would add:  a cover of some sort like a glass door so my shoes would stay clean. (See my recent post on shoe storage).

I’d be curious to know what you saw when you looked at this closet. This design is from The Closet Factory.



Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Store Stuff in Style

What does the average person do after a special trip?  He or she will gather receipts like airline tickets, museum entry stubs, city maps etc  and toss them into a bag or box and shove them to the back of a closet.  We are convinced that one day we will indeed make an incredibly special album.  Or maybe we'll take out our special box and share the contents with our children and friends.  Or maybe in our dotage we'll take out the spoils of fun times and pour over them lest we forget our adventure. What's a professional organizer to do when confronted by these bags and cardboard boxes?  Why suggest a better way of course!

The boxes seen above are a great idea because the labeled contents call out to us and beg to be handled. When we look up on a dreary day we're forced to smile at the happy memories that flood our mind just looking at words like 'Japan' or 'London.' These boxes are from the Martha Stewart Collection but you can get similar project boxes at places like The Container Store. If you're a 'crafty person' you might want to jazz up some old shoe boxes and create your own memory box. Just be careful you don't go crazy with design and size.  Try and have a consistent theme and size/shape box.

What I also admire about these shelves and it's something you'll find I mention frequently is the creative way the shelves themselves have been put together.  Items weren't just slapped up to get them out of the way.  Everything has been artfully arranged so that it's pleasing to the eye and yet logical and organized at the same time.  There is never any reason that beauty and function can't be married! Now that you're inspired, what projects will you schedule on your calendar? Until things are planned they remain wishes and dreams.  That's a great place to start but it will never get you over the finish line.

Loss, Change, Fear and Getting Organized

Come back to square one,
            Just the minimum bare bones.
Relaxing with the precious moment,
            relaxing with hopelessness,
                        relaxing with death,
not resisting the fact that things end,
            that things pass,
   that things have no lasting substance,
that everything is changing all the time –
            that is the basic message.


Getting organized is in some ways about loss as much as it is about creation.  If you believe on some level that you are your 'stuff' or that its absence will mean you are losing the experience associated with an item then the process of creating order will be filled with fear and dread for you. Change is the currency of life. Holding on is called 'grasping' in Eastern philosophy and it the path to sorrow.  Flowing with life as if you were on a great river voyage will create fluidity in your experience.  

I remember the first time I went white water rafting.  The water was tranquil and calm and the four of us enjoyed getting to know each other and our intrepid guide.  We heard the churning water in the distance long before we saw it.  Suddenly our guide spewed out rapid fire commands.  At a certain point the oars are drawn in and you let the rapids take you where they wish.  Your experience will be as good as your preparation.  If you fight the guide and do your own thing you place everyone in danger. I saw it instantly as a metaphor for life.

A professional organizer is your guide when it comes to dealing with your stuff.  A skilled, experienced and compassionate organizer can lead you through the decision making process.  Your stuff may be tossed, recycled, moved to a new location, donated or repurposed.  In the end you'll see what remains in a new light.  Your environment will reflect your current experience rather than be a frozen homage to the past.  You'll come out the other side wondering why you ever hesitated. You'll also have a new skill set.   A great organizer is a coach, a teacher and a guide.

Monday, June 24, 2013

'I'm Organized. My spouse is the problem!'

Perhaps the most frequent question I am asked is a variation on the title of this post.  It could be a woman or a man at one of my seminars assuring me that the lack of order at home is due to his or her partner.  He or she doesn't honor the organizing that is done.  What should this poor victim do? I have three suggestions.

  1. Is this lack of respect a surprise to you?  When you look back to the early days of your relationship were they different or did you turn a blind eye to the lack of respect you experienced?  Why do you think out of all the people on planet earth you decided that this was the person you wanted to spend the rest of your life with? Does the experience of being dismissed feel familiar?  Did your parents and siblings treat you this way?  Very often we replicate painful experiences simply because they are familiar and oddly comfortable.  Understand what's behind the experience and you're in a better position to change your reaction because the only thing you are in charge of in life is ~ you.
  2. Communication is the perfect antidote to situations of discord. Tell your partner what your goals are for the shared space.  Ask if he or she shares them and if not how would they like to experience life in this space?  Do they have ideas they wish to contribute when it comes to an organized closet, kitchen or bathroom?  Is there an area they would like to control?  Assumptions will get you into trouble.  Communication will clear the air. Very often you feel disrespected while your partner is feeling controlled.
  3. Consider asking a professional organizer for help.  You and your partner have emotional issues that are being worked out through the environment.  We are able to take a clinical view of the space and its contents.  It may be easier for both of you to honor the system created by a stranger than one invented by either of you.  This is a more costly proposition in terms of finance.  It's incredibly cheaper when you consider the emotional price you'll pay without one of us.
I found this quote on Pinterest and feel it's the perfect close for this post. It's by Jacob M. Braude.

Consider how hard
It is to change
yourself and
you'll understand
what little chance
you have in trying
to control others.


Friday, June 21, 2013

Lunch Time on Organizing Day

You're finally doing it.  You've weeded through the unwanted debris in the kitchen cupboards, your clothes closet or maybe the dreaded garage. Now just as you prepare to take the next step you feel a bit lightheaded.  Darn! You're hungry and just don't feel you can stop.  I've got a great meal in a glass for you.  It will sustain you for hours and is filled with more good things than you can shake a stick at. You  can whip it up in minutes and sip it during the afternoon.  It's thick, filling and nutritious.  You will of course have to get your ingredients during the week.  If you have to stop and drive to the store all is lost!  Feel free to modify to suit your personal taste. But do use one frozen fruit in place of water. You want fiber not filler.

                                        The Official Zen Organizer Smoothie

  • 1/2 cup almond milk and 1/2 cup coconut milk, both plain and unsweetened. (These are great non-dairy sources of calcium and protein.)
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon each: vitamin C crystals, Maca, and Chia seeds (Vit. C promotes cell repair, Maca regulates hormones and Chia is an excellent source of fiber)
  • 1/2 to 1 tablespoon Flax seed oil for heart health
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup of Fage Greek Yogurt, 2% fat (I add 2 drops of Stevia).  This is an amazing source of protein, calcium and probiotics.
  • 1/2 cup plain tofu (another great source of protein). Use one scoop of protein powder if you prefer
  • 1 banana
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup frozen mango (take out of the freezer about 5 minutes before you start).  This will add fiber and vitamins and replace the need for water. 
Put the milk into the carafe and add the vitamin C, Maca, Flax seed oil and chia seeds.  Blend.

Stir in the yogurt and tofu and blend.

Next add the banana and blend.

Finally add the mango.  Pulse a few times so you break up the frozen mango without damaging the blades. You'll be able to hear when the frozen bits have been pulverized.  Lunch is served!

I use a small single serving mixer so I can drink out of the carafe and save a step and some time.  The Magic Bullet is the most famous version.  If you need to pick one up go to Bed Bath and Beyond and use one of their ubiquitous 20% off coupons. You can find them on line, in your mail box or with the Sunday newspaper.  Save your receipt because BBB will give you a replacement if something goes wrong.  And unless there's a sudden change in store policy those coupons are accepts long after the printed expiration date.

The ingredients are all found at your local supermarket.  I shop at a Trader Joe's that's 2 blocks from my home.  Maca Powder is the exception.  It's a bit on the expensive side and you need to go to a specialty market like Whole Foods or Mother's to find it.  The upside is it lasts a long time so the per serving cost is low.   You can also find it on line at a discount site like Vita Cost.  I learned about Maca from Dr. Oz. 

Finally you can make changes over time to keep your smoothie fresh for your taste buds.  If I don't have tofu I use Hemp protein powder.  If I'm tired of mango I might try frozen berries.  And you can always adjust the ingredients to make the drink thinner.  I like mine so thick you could eat it with a spoon!  Let me know how you like it and if you tweaked the recipe.

Pit Bulls, Loud Noises and the Fourth of July

I was on the floor surrounded by a new client's extensive shoe collection.  She asked if I liked dogs.  I told her I love dogs and she should absolutely let hers into the house.  I didn't think to ask what breed.  The next thing I knew I was literally nose to nose with a pit bull.  This was my first experience with a pit and all I knew was the terrible press I had read.  I asked if it was safe to be this close. My client laughed and assured me that her dog was a lover not a fighter. The next thing I knew Roxy crawled into my lap. I had to sort shoes with 60 pounds of muscle on my crossed legs.  I was too enchanted to ask her to move.  Once she knew I was comfortable with her,  Roxy began bathing my face in kisses! I loved that dog and visited her periodically until the day she died.  Her picture is in my office.  This need to be close and affectionate is what I have experienced with every pit bull I've ever personally known.  

It's Friday and I like to 'go to the dogs' as the week comes to a close.  I hope you plan to spend some quality time with your pooch this weekend especially if you work outside the home.   The beautiful pit pictured above is from Dog Bark Publishing:  She's wearing a Thunder Shirt.  It's a great invention designed to help dogs who are nervous when they hear loud noises like thunder.  The Fourth of July is on the horizon and  your pup may be bothered by firecrackers.  I invite you to consider one of these shirts as a possible antidote.  They are available at most pet emporiums.  

By the way another way to help a nervous pooch is Rescue Remedy which can be sprayed directly into the animal's mouth.  If you prefer you can add a few drops to your pet's water each time you provide a fresh bowl.  Rescue Remedy is designed to help human beings who are in shock or under extreme stress but it's safe for animals.  I hope you'll keep it in your medicinal bag of tricks for everyone in the home.   You'll find it in all health food stores and many grocery chains like Whole Foods or Mothers. It's one of the Bach Flower Remedies.  You can find it on line as well.  Try Vita Cost ( or Amazon.

By the way did you know that in the late 1800's and early 1900's pit bulls were sought after by families to protect children? They were known as The Nanny Dog. Remember that the next time you encounter one on the street.  If he has a responsible owner you're in for a dog bath of kisses or the experience of a big muscle bound baby in your lap.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Picture Perfect

Isn't this a clever idea?  You cut out paper in the exact shape and size of the photos you have to hang and then create your visual design before you fetch your hammer and start making holes in the wall.  You can also place the shapes on the floor to start.  If you slap up images over time with no plan in mind what you'll create is a visually unappealing hodgepodge of images. A display like this is an opportunity to tell a story with images.  It might be the story of your family, a reunion or a special vacation.

Once you do this prep work however don't rest on your laurels for the next few years until you decide to paint the room again or redecorate. Switch out the images periodically and you'll be newly inspired every time you enter the space.  Your family and friends will think you keep redecorating! And your children will be grateful.  No teenager wants mom and dad to wax poetic over the photos of him or her during a chubby stage.

Stay current.  Stay creative.  Enjoy the fruits of your labor every time you enter the room. It's a big pay off for a few hours one afternoon. In the meantime be sure to save your digital images until you're ready to print out a few for display.  I like on line sites like Picassa or Snap Fish. You can create an album and elect who can view it.  What a wonderful way for family and friends to stay current with your life and those of your growing children. As I've shared before these albums are also a great way to save and share children's art work.  If you have a creative way to store and share photos please share your ideas here. 

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

How Depression Impacts Your Environment

This quote speaks to the pain that holds us back.  Very often we don't realize that it is emotional pain that is preventing us from moving forward with our organizing projects.  We live compartmentalized lives and fail to view all of our experiences as part of the whole.  Would you be surprised to learn that I 'read' an environment from the minute I enter it? I know your level of self-esteem.  I can gauge how fulfilled and happy you are in life. I very often know if someone or something has hurt you.  It's usually your depression that causes that cascade of piles all around the house.  Happy people don't generally live in chaos.

I worked with a woman who was great fun to be in fact I was shocked when I saw her wardrobe. Every item she pulled out of the closet was either inky black or dark brown in color.  The fabrics were all heavy as if she lived in New York rather than (mostly) sunny Los Angeles.  I asked if she had purchased these items at the same time. I wasn't surprised to hear her explain that these were the items she bought after her husband of many years announced he was leaving her for another woman.  Her sorrow and mourning were expressed in her clothing choices.  Now three years after that shock she was ready to move on.  It is always a privilege to be a part of this healing process.

What story does your environment tell all those who enter? 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Purse Problems

It's hard to find a woman who doesn't carry too much stuff in her purse. In One Year to an Organized Life I've got great tips for whittling down the contents of your purse.  In fact I strongly suggest you whittle down the size of the bag itself! But once you're down to the sane basics, how do you keep it all straight? The gizmo above is a popular solution.  Your sort your stuff and pop that contraption into your bag and off you go.  If that works for you, I say 'Do it!'  It just doesn't happen to work for me. 

I decided to photograph my personal containers and share them with you. You'll see them at the top of the page. The long, skinny roll container holds my make-up.  The mesh bag is where I put my i Phone charger (I don't want it to get tangled in my purse).  The 'Divorce Money' is from one of my favorite designers Anya Hindmarch.  I keep my cash and credit cards inside.  I don't carry change.  I do have a small change purse in my car so that I'm always ready with coins for metered parking. And that's it! I can find anything in a flash because I know the shape and feel of the containers. There is no end to the power and fun you can have by creating categories.

And for those who are wondering how a writer makes it through the day without pen or paper the secret is my iPhone.  I use 'Notes' for just that purpose and yes, sometimes I do toss a pen into my purse.  It's to help out my friends whose phones don't help them out when it comes to recording important information.  And finally there's always a tissue in my pocket.  Mom told me not to leave home without it!

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Power of Parental Words

This piece first appeared as a Facebook post on my public page 'Regina Leeds, The Zen Organizer' on Father's Day, 2013.  I wanted to share it with a wider audience and remind all parents no matter their sex that there is power in our words. Indeed we all need to be mindful how we speak to each other not just our children.  And let's not forget the power of the written word! The comments you leave anonymously on Social Media sites can sting the recipient for a lifetime.  Make it your goal to uplift, encourage and support. We already have more than enough negativity to go around!

Many years ago when I was tinkering with my first book I joined a women's group. We decided to meet for one year and learn about money management. We began by sharing stories of our childhoods and how we learned about money. The stories were hilarious. It's as if no one ever gave a formal lesson in how finances work. You were supposed to learn it all by osmosis. 

But over and over again a theme emerged from each of these stories: the women had never or rarely been told they were pretty or smart by their dads. I was lucky because my dad told me those things every day of his life. He wasn't perfect. I'm not putting him on one of those 'perfect pedestal' we create after someone dies to make them mythic. But his words rang in my head when I made the transition from actress and organizer to organizer and writer. I was terrified. But I heard him in my head clearly saying: "Regina, you are smart. You can do anything you put your mind to." 

On this Father's Day I ask all daddies of little girls to tell them how pretty, smart and capable they are. You are the first man in her life. She will carry your opinion of her forever. It will shape the choices she makes. Thanks, gentlemen, for listening to a grateful daughter. And oh yeah teach her about money, OK?

Photo is by Mischa Bolton Photography.

Re-cycle, Re-purpose and Re-invent

We're all pretty much on board with recycling these days, right? The only people I know who don't recycle are the ones who live in wealthy communities where the recycling is done for them.  Sometimes we don't see ways to reinvent what what own so that our possessions stay current with our needs. And that's another form of recycling, isn't it?  Instead we 'off load' old furniture and never stop to think that with a coat of paint the entire character of the piece would  change.  The drab old dresser you inherited from Aunt Tilly that no one in the family wants to use might just be a knock out if it were painted red and placed in the family room.  Instead of clothing it could hold board games, CD's and DVD's or maybe even stuffed animals. I chose a hot red dresser for this blog post from my Zen Organized Life board at Pinterest so you'd get the feel of what I'm talking about.  

Above is a second photo from my Zen Organized Life board  that shows a dresser repurposed in still another way.  They removed the bottom drawer and placed a basket in the newly open space.  I can see this in a large entry, in a living room or family room.  Why not take a spin around your home and pretend you have never been there before.  I call this the Fresh Eyes Experiment or Exercise and it appears in many of my books. You will see your furniture and its placement in a new way if you do this with an open mind. A friend of mine says if my furniture were on wheels every time she came over it would be in a new location.  Shake things up in your environment and you'll open yourself to new opportunities in life.

And last but not least don't forget to take a second look at some of the household tools you depend on like the humble hamper or the trendy trash can. (How could I resist?).  It might be time to move the big trash can you have in the family room to your master bathroom and place the small one you thought fit perfectly in that spot to the family room.  Families grow and shrink and our tools need to change with out needs.  See if you have some 'handy helpers' who need to be put in the 'relocation program.'  You're going to feel like you went on a shopping spree!

I invite you to visit my Pinterest boards to get more creative ideas.  A picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Snack Food for Organizing Day!

I found this recipe in the Forks Over Knives weekly newsletter. Forks Over Knives started as a DVD and it's now a full fledged movement extolling the health and planet benefits of a vegan diet.  This particular recipe is from Eat, Drink and Be Vegan by Dreena Burton and I chose it because everybody loves hummus.  It's a great source of protein and you can dip your favorite fresh veggies in it and never lose a step while you tackle some big project like cleaning out your home office. I'm half Lebanese and I grew up eating hummus.  I'm always a little disgusted by the store bought variety because it's loaded with sodium and/or too dry.  It's best if you can whip up a good for you delight like this and control all the ingredients.  Speaking of control remember that overdoing a good thing turns it into a bad thing!  I'm trying to keep your blood sugar up and help you make good decisions.  I don't want to expand your waist line.

White Bean Hummus with Fresh Thyme and BasilFrom Eat, Drink & Be Vegan
  • 2 cups cooked cannellini (white kidney) beans (drained and rinsed if using canned beans)
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 small to medium clove garlic, sliced
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt
  • 2½-3 teaspoons fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, torn or roughly chopped
  • 1-2 tablespoons water (may not need, just to thin dip as desired)
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a food processor, combine all ingredients except water, thyme, and basil.
Purée until smooth, gradually adding water as desired to thin dip and scraping down sides of bowl as needed.
Add thyme and basil and purée briefly to incorporate ingredients.
Chef’s Notes:
You can make this dip look very elegant. Try piping the dip into mini-bell peppers (cut in half), halved grape tomatoes, or endive leaves. Alternatively, spread it thinly on slices of bread with a layer of “shaved” cucumber (using a vegetable peeler to remove thin strips lengthwise off cucumber, before reaching the seedy portion). Cut crusts off bread and slice in strips or cut in shapes with cookie cutters.
Make a double batch of this hummus and store portions in the freezer. It thaws wonderfully!

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Travels with Fido

When she was alive my Golden Retriever Katie frequently went with me to clients homes.  She was well mannered and everyone loved having her around.  What can I say?  Golden Retrievers are special dogs just don't get one if you're looking for protection.  Your Goolden will greet any intruder with a joyous bark, a wag of the tail and all the kisses they can handle.  On the other hand if you want a buddy to go through life with you've found your breed!  Traveling with a dog whether it's for the short or long haul requires some planning in order to be stress free.  The blue unit pictured above is great because you can haul enough food for a day or two (depending on the size of your pooch) and you have a built in water bowl.  This unit is at the Container Store.

The green bowl is collapsible and great for walks in hot weather. Just clip it to your slacks and away you go. On a hot day you'll need to quench your thirst as well so be sure and carry a large bottle of water. You and your pet can stay hydrated together. The version of a collapsible bowl seen above is at Amazon.

If you plan a car trip this summer be sure you scout out pet friendly dog lodging before you leave home. You don't want any unwanted surprises and please do NOT leave Fido in the car over night.  He doesn't understand it's the hotel management that doesn't want him.  He thinks his pack leader has abandoned him. No vacation is worth it. Fido is after all your best friend, right?

Who's Got the Corner Office?

The guy or gal in the corner office has the view and the assistants.  He or she probably has acolytes and a fat bank account. They probably wield power over your life.  Have you ever noticed what they don't have? They never  have a desk facing a wall or a window.  They face out in the 'power position.'  The place the Mafia Don takes in a restaurant. The place every Feng Shui practitioner will tell you is powerful. The above image shows how great it looks. 

One night I was leaving a home office after a day of work.  My client and I cleaned out the supply closet and went through every nook and cranny.  We created a file system, organized the desk and even made the bulletin board a thing of beauty.  There was just one change she would NOT let me make: move the desk so her back would no longer be facing the entry.  I wanted her to look up and see the entry door to her right and the window overlooking the courtyard to her left.  In front of her was that famous bulletin board.  I had an idea.  I suggested we turn the desk around so she could sit behind it and see how it felt.  If she didn't like it, we'd flip it back.  No big deal, right?

She sat there for a few minutes in silence and then she looked up at me and said: "I love it.  I feel like a Captain of Industry!'  I rest my case. In Feng Shui by the way one of the key reasons you don't want your back to the door is so that no one can sneak up behind you.  My clients will say things like: "I live alone.  No one is going to sneak up behind me." or "No one in my family would do that!" But remember that Feng Shui speaks in metaphors as well as practical language.  The desk position suggests in addition to real live humans in your home or work place not being able to sneak up behind you, you won't have people doing sneaky things behind your back. Get it?

I know.  Go turn your desk and I'll be back tomorrow.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Clothing Storage

If you need to store out of season clothing or items like evening wear, cocktail dresses or even costumes  invest in something like a cotton canvas bag. My all time favorites are pictured above.  Your clothing will stay clean and protected.  Once again cotton breathes with your clothing while plastic will destroy over time. In addition to the ones pictured above you can purchase a bag for one or two items or simply buy a canvas shoulder cover to keep dust from settling on your special buys.

These bags are also great if you have to store items in a guest closet.  It gives you privacy when guests are using that closet. Remember to put things in these bags in the same order you wish them returned to your closet. You won't have to reorganize every season. And if the bag stays in your closet and you need something from it retrieval will be a breeze because you've stored by color and type.   If you sell some items you no longer need on line or at a consignment store you can raise the money to solve your organizing challenges in style.

Ribbon Revolt

Most of my clients are raising families so the need to wrap gifts comes up frequently.  A common question is: "How can I store my ribbon collection?"  The solution really depends on how much ribbon you have and how much space do you have to store it.  I have a client whose home is over 7000 sq ft and we laugh that we just can't find a designated spot for her ribbons.  I've been collecting solutions on my Zen Organized Life at Pinterest and thought I'd share just two of the choices I have on my board to get your creative juices flowing. Here you see a towel bar and a simple basket repurposed as ribbon holders.

I invite you to visit my Pinterest boards to get more creative ideas.  A picture is indeed worth a thousand words.

Hooker's Delight!

It would be great if time and money were no object, wouldn't it?  We'd all remodel our closets and bathrooms to give ourselves the maximum storage. In the real world however sometimes the solution is clever, inexpensive and readily available.  Take the hook pictured above.  I pop one over the guest bathroom door when guests are here and voila! they can keep several items handy.  You can do it in your own bathroom if you rent and don't wish to put holes in the wall.  Now your nightgown and robe won't be taking up valuable space in your closet.

Many stores like The Container Store will do free space planning for you to help you maximize whatever space you find a challenge.  But here's my advice: weed out what you don't need to keep before you visit a space planner.  Why factor in storage for 50 shoes for example when all you're going to keep in the end are about 20?  Go in prepared with the measurements and a realistic idea of what kind of help you need.  And don't be surprised if the solution is a  hook or other handy gizmo that costs well under $5.00

Shoe Storage

My closet has the requisite number of shoes but a plethora of purses.  I am not the average woman. My clients have taught me over the years that the typical female has an ocean of shoes.  If I had beautiful, easy to fit feet I'd probably join the ranks.  For now however I content myself with solving this issue for others.  Here are some quick and easy guidelines to tame the shoe war in your closet.

  • The shoe rack shown above is your best friend because it can store any style or type of shoe.  You absolutely want them off the floor where they can get separated, lost or worse fall prey to your new puppy.
  • Put those fancy party shoes you wear a few times a year in clear shoe drawers.  You can stack these boxes, see what you have at a glance and retrieve with ease.  Please don't use clear shoe boxes. Inevitably you'll need the pair on the bottom and have to move the entire stack to get to your treasure.
  • Sport shoes and sandals can be popped into an over the door canvas shoe bag. Your shoes are safe, off the floor and at eye level.  Don't pick up this model in plastic or metal.  Be kind to your shoes.  The fabric wants to breathe and the cotton canvas model isn't noise every time you open and close your closet door.
Thinking you have more shoes than these solutions can handle?  They these tips on for size ~

  • Find a stackable shoe rack.  No matter which system you use keep your shoes sorted by type and  by color.  You always want to employ solutions that save time in the long run.
  • Sort through your shoes and see which ones should realistically be donated to charity or a good friend.
  • Send to the shoe maker the ones that need new heels or some other repair that will salvage them for another season or two.
  • If you wish to keep your shoes in the original boxes keep them separated by type and in color order but add labels to the boxes.  Some people also attach a photo of the pair inside.  
  • If you have evening shoes or dressy boots that are rarely worn, try and store them in a guest closet so you can open space in your every day closet for the items you must have close at hand.
Happy Shoe Organizing!

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Saturday is Food Day!

When you are in the middle of an organizing project it's often difficult to stop to eat because you're excited.  You see the final result looming on the horizon and you don't want to waste a minute.  Ah, but if your blood sugar dips you won't be able to think straight.  And that means your project may take longer than necessary and you'll be cranky.  I want to avoid delays and crankiness at all costs.

This  healthy treat recipe comes from Heather Pace a raw food dessert chef. They are called Super Food Cups.  I'm sharing one version here but Heather has a lot more choices at her web site and I invite you to visit and experiment. Just one word of caution: being good for you doesn't mean you get to eat an unlimited number! 

Happy Organizing!

Superfood Cups

Add whatever "add ins" you like. I've listed the items I used in this batch but I also like adding goji berries and cacao nibs.

1/2 cup melted coconut oil
6 tablespoons melted coconut butter
4 tablespoons lucuma
3 tablespoons maca
2 tablespoons mesquite
2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons maple sugar
1/2 teaspoons vanilla powder
Add ins:
Dehydrated buckwheat
Dried mulberries
Coconut Flakes
Hemp Seeds

Sift the powders into a bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir all together. Make sure the mixture stays warm to avoid ceasing.
Stir in whatever amount of "add ins" you want.
Pour the mixture into little paper cups or silicone cups.
Chill for at least 20 minutes in the fridge.

Heather's website is:

What type of information would you most like to find here?

June 2009, in China

June 2009, in China
At the Summer Palace outside Beijing

About Me

My photo

I will always be grateful I grew up in Brooklyn, New York.  It was a rich atmosphere that introduced me to different races, creeds and professions.  It seemed that anything was possible if you were willing to work hard to achieve your goals.

I'm a yogi which means that my spiritual path is that of yoga principles that have been handed down for over 5000 years. Yoga is an ancient philosophy based on the Gita, the sutras of Patanjali and yes, the Bible. The postures are a key element as is meditation. We honor all paths.

I got my first dog when I was 6 years old after a full year of begging.  She was a collie and her name was Queenie.  As an adult I've had 2 golden retrievers.  A female named Miss Katie who came into my life when she was 3 months old and an ancient male golden who came to me when he was 15.  I'd like to have a Great Dane next but we'll see what the universe has in store.

I've been organizing clients for over 24 years and writing about it for over ten.