Clean Out Your Junk Drawer

Clean Out Your Junk Drawer

Ahhh…Junk drawers… We all have them. We also all have drawers designated for a specific purpose that ultimately become unruly and unorganized as we toss more stuff into them. Here’s another possible way of how to clean out your junk drawers of items you no longer need or use.  (For more ideas, go to another one of my blog posts on Junk Drawer Organization)

1) Dump the contents of a particularly cluttered drawer or drawers into a large plastic crate. Call it the Crate of Unorganized Things.

2) Set the crate of unorganized things aside for a week to a month. See how often you go back to it for items you actually need.

3) As you pull the items you actually need out of the crate, put them in a designated container or bag. These might include kitchen utensils, office supplies, cables, and extension cords…

4) Anything you haven’t looked at in that crate within a month’s time can be tossed or donated.

5) Now take the designated containers of items you actually use from step 4. If these items already have a designated drawer or place in your home, put them where they belong.

6) The remaining items will now be the contents of your junk drawer.

Limit the contents of this junk drawer to just one drawer. Do try to limit those items to what you truly need to have closest at hand, or it will be difficult to find what you need.

Photo: Unslash

What to Do When a Spouse Dies

What to Do When a Spouse Dies

Being prepared for whatever life throws at you is so important. This became glaringly so to me recently as a client of mine suddenly lost her husband. One of the first questions she had for me was what to do when a spouse dies. Isn’t there a checklist? As a result, I hope this will help any of you who may need this or at least prove to be a source of help to which to refer.

Veterans – Notify your local Veterans Administration to see if you quality for any assistance with the funeral, burial, or anything else. You will need a copy of the discharge papers.

Death Certificate – The funeral director will provide this to you. If you need additional copies, you can contact the city hall in the place where they died. Get at least 10 – 12 original copies so that you have them when you need them. Some companies just need a copy of the death certificate; others need an original.

Social Security – If your spouse received Social Security, you need to notify the office of the date of death, so all benefits stop and to inquire about any death benefit to which you are entitled. If you are the surviving spouse, you will need to also ask if you are eligible for an increase to your own benefit. If you have minor children, ask about their benefits as well.

Employer – Let your spouse’s employer know of the death. Ask is there are any benefits you are entitled to and if so, how to obtain them.

Health Insurance – Contact your health insurance provider to see how the death of your loved one will affect anyone else on the policy and how to keep coverage for the survivors.

Life Insurance – You will need to fill out a form the company provides along with a death certificate once you notify them of the death. Most important and often neglected is investigating whether your loved one is listed as a beneficiary on another policy. Change that immediately to avoid issues later on.

Credit Cards – Notify all credit card companies of your loved one’s passing. If you are a co-signer on the credit card or you are associated with that credit card, ask how you may continue to use that card or get one issued in your name.

Accountant, Financial Advisor, and Lawyer – Let your accountant, financial advisor, and lawyer know immediately so they can begin to advise you of what information you need to gather or forms to complete to help make it an easier time for all when the final tax and legal papers are filed.

Bank – If you have a joint account, change it to just your name. Investigate if there are any other accounts at the bank such as a trust account.

Car – Have the deceased name removed from the title of the car and transfer it to your name.

Bill Paying – If you do not get paper bills in the mail, you may need to contact the companies to have them change the email address and name associated with the bills. Put everything in your name. During this very stressful time, make sure that you are paying your bills. Make a list of all the bills you can remember that need to be paid such as mortgage, insurance (home, auto, umbrella, etc.), utilities (gas, electric, water, cable, phone, internet), mobile phone, condo fees, credit cards, and any other bills that you or your spouse paid.

I have mentioned a few documents that you need to gather but it is also helpful to have your hands on:

Social Security Card

Birth Corticate

Marriage License

Deed/Title to Property (home, car, etc.)

Insurance Policies

Stock Certificates

Tax Forms for Recent Year

My heart goes out to all of you who have lost loved ones. During such a painful time, it is regrettable that there still remains a lot to do, but it is manageable if you take a day at a time and ask for help as needed.

Photo: Photo by Kristina Litvjak on Unsplash

Organize Your Children’s School Records

Organize Your Children’s School Records

This may be an ideal time to organize your children’s school records before they head back to school, whether it be in person or virtual for the upcoming academic year.

1) Sort – Gather all their papers and separate everything into piles per child. Then further break down the pile for each child by school year.

2) Separate – If you already have their papers sorted by school year, then you could further separate the schoolwork from any sports or clubs in which they participated Create a file for each child if you have more than one.

3) Storage – Store commonly requested documents such as vaccine records and birth certificates, among others, at the front of each child’s folder for easy access.

4) Digitize – As records come in, digitize them, and keep on a single USB or external drive organized by child and year, Ideally, one labeled drive per child.

5) Maintain Lists – Keep a list of school websites, teachers’ emails, and school phone numbers. Keep this handy, but in a secure location. 

You will be so happy to have this project completed by the time your children return to school. It may even be a fun, rainy day activity to work together, reviewing with them what they did when they were younger.

Photo: Photo by Ben Mullins on Unsplash

How to Maintain Houseplants

How to Maintain Houseplants

Feeling like you need to bring some nature into your home but don’t know how to properly maintain and keep plants alive? I know the feeling. I used to have a lot of indoor plants, but as I moved throughout the years, the plants didn’t. Let’s explore how to maintain houseplants.

Light – Consider what type of light you have in the areas you would like to add some greenery. Some indoor plants thrive in sunlight, whereas others prefer dim interiors. Matching required light to specific plants will set you up for healthier plant growth.

Quality Potting Soil – Just like we feed our bodies good nutrients, the soil for your plants needs to also be of good quality. Buy potting soil at a garden or nursery store.

Water – This is an area where many of us mess up. Certain plants love to be watered frequently, but there are a vast number of houseplants that do not require a lot of water to thrive. Do research to learn how best to water the plants you bring into your home.

Fertilizer – As you water plants, nutrients come out of the soil. Therefore, you will need to fertilize the plants regularly. If you have a flowering plant, fertilize once a month. When plants are not growing as much, typically in the winter, you don’t need to fertilize. If you see the plant is starting to change color and is dropping leaves, you may want to add some fertilizer.

If you do not have a green thumb try to grow one of these 30 indoor plants that may be impossible to kill.

Photo: Unsplash

Adjusting to the New Normal

Adjusting to the New Normal

COVID-19 has changed the way people live their lives beyond the adjustment to having to work from home and homeschooling. Even the way we shop for groceries and every day essentials has changed. These changes are likely here to stay, even if the COVID-19 crisis ends. Here are things you can consider doing to adjust to life in the “new normal.”

Consolidate Shopping – If you are trying to avoid multiple exposures during the week, how can you consolidate your shopping and errands? As we all know it is better to get all your errands done in one day to save you time and also gas. Now this has become even more important so that you are only out of your home once a week to do your errands. Plan what needs to be done such as grocery shopping, drug store pickup, dry cleaning, and post office mailing; then make your list and map out the best route to enable you to go to all these places in one trip.

Preparing Personal Protection – Have you stocked your car, your purse, and your home with masks, hand sanitizer and in some cases gloves? Make sure you have a supply of each of these items available for ready use. I personally have a pile of masks near my door, so I remember to grab one and put it on before leaving the house. I also have a few in my car in case I forget to grab and wear one on the way out of my house

Utilizing Delivery Services – If you are more comfortable staying in your home, have you considered using delivery services? Most grocery and drug stores are offering both curbside pickup and delivery services. This is one way to limit your exposure. The downside to this, though, is that you may not be able to pick out the type of fresh vegetables you want, such as being able to select green bananas over yellow ones as you may have done when you are in front of the bananas. As long as you can accept this, it really is a great alternative to shopping in person. Restaurants are also offering the same options, so consider this if you crave your favorite meal. Patronizing restaurants – if your budget allows – is helping to keep these establishments in business.

Remaining Safe – It is without question that the top priority is to stay safe at all times. Wearing a mask whether it is mandated or not will not only keep you safe but also keep others around you safe. Washing your hands often with soap and water, and when that isn’t possible, use hand sanitizer with at least 70% isopropyl alcohol. Wiping down frequently touched doorknobs and other surfaces with disinfectant will be another way to limit exposure. Of course, socially distancing whenever out as well as limiting the number of people you are in contact with has proven to keep us safe. It is your comfort level that will dictate how you act, but do listen to the CDC and follow their guidelines.

We are all human, and there is a lot on our mind these days… therefore, give yourself a break as you adjust to this new normal. We are learning as we go along and training ourselves to be as careful as we can. Stay safe and as healthy as you are able.

Photo: Pexels.com

How to Keep Your Car Organized

How to Keep Your Car Organized

We are certainly driving our cars less during this COVID-19 pandemic. Just maybe then it is the perfect time to get them organized. How to keep your car organized once life resumes to “the new normal” is perhaps a better question to address, and these tips will help you accomplish that more beneficial goal.

Declutter Your Car – The first step to regaining control is to remove all unnecessary items from your car such as the obvious: trash. Then empty out the glove compartment, middle console, pockets in the doors, items on the floor and seats, and finally the back end or truck of your vehicle. ONLY put back what you deem absolutely necessary.

Keep Necessities in Your Car – The goal is to only have essential items in your vehicle. You shouldn’t allow your car to be your rolling junk drawer or storage unit. It is so much easier to keep your car clean and decluttered by ONLY transporting the essential items such as car registration, sunglasses, phone charger, phone mount for hands-free use, trash receptacle, garage door opener, facial tissues, and pen and a small pad of paper. IF you have children, you will also need to think of their needs and your sanity by making sure they have items to keep them occupied. Utilizing the back side of the driver and passenger seats is a great place to put books, DVD player & DVDs, toys, wet wipes, and water. Don’t forget to include an emergency and first aid kit. Keep in the trunk reusable shopping bags and an insulated bag for carrying perishable food in warmer months.

Use Containers to Corral Supplies – A car not only looks better but is more easily maintained if one uses containers to house items therein. In that your car is moving, you want to ensure that items in your car are not rolling around, possibly causing any hazards while driving. Using trunk and/or visor organizers as well as back of seat organizers can provide inordinate help in this area.

Maintain the Order – Try making a habit of looking around your car before exiting after the long work/carpooling day and bring in items that you only needed to use during your day and will not likely need the next. Trash accumulates, and if you get into the habit of emptying it into a store or gas station trash bin as you exit the car or gathering your trash, depositing it into your personal garbage can, that is one definite way of maintaining order. Moving forward then, once a week look around your car and make sure it is back to the way it was nicely organized and decluttered.

A car is meant to transport people, not all of the sundry toys, month-old, crusty french fries, and wrappers most of us would be embarrassed to claim. Keeping the seats available for passengers versus books and clutter is the way to go. No pun intended…

Photo by Mick Haupt on Unsplash

What To Do With All Those Clothes You Rarely Wear, But Don’t Want to Part With?

What To Do With All Those Clothes You Rarely Wear, But Don’t Want to Part With?

Closets are the bain of our existence: a place for our clothing that can quickly become disorganized because, well, who doesn’t love clothes shopping? Especially at Marshall’s or TJ Maxx where you can get designer duds at super low prices that incentivize you to buy MORE? The truth is that many people don’t want to part with their clothing even if they don’t wear it because they feel that may just want it someday. Also, people generally move up and down the scale, and there is a bad tendency to purge clothing when you lose weight, only to have to buy it when you — sadly – may regain it. We all know that it is not a good idea. It gets expensive. After all, very few people stay the same size forever. Therefore, what to do with all those clothes you rarely wear, but don’t want to part with? Try a few of these tips to help out with this dilemma.

Containerize – Buy some airtight containers and sort your clothing either by size or season. Make sure that, whatever you do, you label the outside of your container with content details.I usually suggest doing so on two sides of the container: the long and the short of it, if you will. If you keep smaller or larger sizes because your weight fluctuates, this is a great way to store those items. The same goes for maternity clothing.

Organize by Frequency of Use – Put the most frequently worn clothes up front so that you can see them. Your lesser worn garments can go behind your favorites, and I would challenge you to test yourself by trying the following. Hang all clothes with the hanger facing the opposite direction when a new season begins. As you wear and launder your clothing, return each item to your closet, hanging it in your preferred way. At the end of the season then, it becomes a cinch to see what you have and have not worn, thereby perhaps making it easier to decide what you don’t wear.

Inspect for Tears and Pills –  This is an easier decision maker. If the article of clothing has tears or rips that cannot be repaired or just looks worn and, therefore, not an attractive item to wear, recycle it. Some material pills easily, and that alone may make your decision to let it go much easier.

Wear and Keep for a Year – If you have indeed worn a piece of clothing, keep if for a year, and then decide if it is out of style or not as flattering as you originally believed. If you still want to wear it, keep it; otherwise, let it go.

Absolutely Cannot Let it Go – Perhaps you have a special outfit that you only wear occasionally, but it fits and is flattering. In this case, store it properly to maintain the quality of the fabric, but tuck it away to allow your more frequently worn items easier access and visibility. You’ll know where to find it when that next magical moment calls for it!

If you are tight on space, the decision may be an easier one in that due to your storage and/or closet space, it is impossible to keep all your clothes. Make your decision and then put the items in a black bag to donate. Out of sight, out of mind…

Photo by Parker Burchfield on Unsplash

Spring Into Successfully Cleaning Your Home

Spring Into Successfully Cleaning Your Home

Despite the unprecedented time in which we currently find ourselves, some things never change:  it IS that time of year. Time to do spring cleaning. I know here in the Northeast we have actually seen snow in April. Though the weather may indicate otherwise, here’s how to spring into successfully cleaning your home. 

Decide where you will start and how long you will spend. –Spring cleaning is about going that much deeper in your cleaning, encompassing areas that you normally do not clean. Do you want to start from the top down or to begin at the lower level of your house and work your way up? If you live in a one-level house, do you want to start in the front or in the back of your house? Create a list of what needs to be done in each area of the home, and then decide how long you will spend tackling it.

Gather cleaners, buckets, brooms, and dust rags in advance. — It will be hard to clean if you don’t have the proper tools to use. Do an inventory in your planning stages to ensure you have the proper implements. Using the list you have created of tasks to be done, you will more easily be able to access required tools. Before rolling up your sleeves, order the items online, or do a run to the store to buy or to stock up on the cleaning supplies. 

Assign each family member a specific task or a specific room – Enlist your family in helping with spring cleaning. Have one person do the vacuuming; then assign another family member a task such as dusting all surfaces in the house including tops of doors and window frames. Alternatively, if it is easier to assign an entire room and all that it involves to a family member, try that as another option. Even if it means each person is responsible for deep cleaning their own bedroom, that person may be more invested in the project. 

Create a schedule –  Rather than leaving the cleaning to chance, create a schedule for when tasks will be done, in what order, and by whom. 

Reward time – Plan to do something fun when the cleaning is done to reward yourself and your family. You all have worked hard. Now celebrate! 

Getting this spring cleaning done will not only make your home sparkle but will also lift your spirits. You’ll fall in love with your home again! Let the sunshine in through your clean windows and highlight all those newly clean areas in your house. 

Photo by Crystal de Passillé-Chabot on Unsplash

How To Organize Your Home For An Emergency

How To Organize Your Home For An Emergency

Never before has it seemed more important to organize your home for an emergency. While we are all dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic, did you actually feel prepared to shelter in place? Should this re-emerge in the fall or should another disaster befall us, let me try to help you organize your home for an emergency with these helpful tips. 

First aid kit – You may have a few items in the house already that belong in a first aid kit such as band-aids and antibiotic ointments, but you should also add items that the Red Cross recommends for a home. As an aside, while you are at it, you may as well assemble a duplicate kit for the car or camper if you own the latter.

In-home activities – Your home probably houses several books, movies, or video games to keep you and your family occupied for a bit, but when one is ordered to shelter in place, having a few other activities on hand will be viewed then as lifesavers. Coloring books have come a long way since we were children… both for our own and for us! Buy books to have on hand, or you may also want to print out pages to color in advance. Play charades, grow an indoor garden of herbs, do yoga with your family, organize a scavenger hunt. Having an indoor picnic or camping indoors overnight, watching old home movies, and hosting a dance party via Zoom or just with your family are all fine ways to pass the time. Planning these things — or directing the kids to do so — are healthy emotionally and mentally and have the added benefit of bringing the family together, creating memories to share for years to come. These are just a few creative activities to keep your family inside and to avoid boredom. 

Stock-up items – We all know that there were shortages of toilet paper as well as masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, and wipes when COVID-19 first hit. When the immediate pandemic is over, make sure your home is stocked with those items. Were you prepared in terms of a well-stocked pantry and freezer? Hmmm… Grandma’s old adage about being stocked for three months rang true, didn’t it? Try then to keep at least two weeks of food and ingredients in your freezer and pantry to prepare favorite family dishes. Seriously consider prescription drugs for everyone in your household, food for your pets, and items you cannot live without. Why not involve the children and your spouse in this now at a “family meeting”? Make the lists and then shop for those items together to have everyone feel a part of the planning. 

Checking on websites such as cdc.gov and local websites will keep you up to date on what is allowed in terms of sheltering in place, essential jobs, and up to date rules on just about everything. Knowledge and a sense of control when all around us seems so confusing are key when managing a crisis. These simple steps well in advance could just be the tickets. Besides, we never know when the next major snowstorm or Nor’easter will strand us inside…

Photo by 🇨🇭 Claudio Schwarz | @purzlbaum on Unsplash

How to Adopt the Perfect Pet

How to Adopt the Perfect Pet

Now that we have all more or less adjusted to our “stay at home” situations, you may just be thinking about adding to the family….

Adopting a pet into your family is more than just hitting up the local shelter, breeder, or pet store. Most people don’t realize that bringing said pet home necessitates purchasing supplies and doing some basic training. As a result, many pets get turned in as owners are not prepared. That’s why shelters are so packed these days. In fact, when animals are not what owners want or don’t behave the way they expect, pets do get turned in. To forestall this unfortunate scenario, I am sharing the following tips on how to adopt the perfect pet. 

Research – Do your homework in advance. Decide what type of pet, particularly, what sub-type or breed you want. Read up on it at the local library and online. I remember when my young nieces and nephew did research to find the best breed for their family and lifestyle, presenting the facts to my brother and sister-in-law, turning the whole endeavor into a joyful, unifying family project before even beginning their search for what turned out to be the most loving, adorable dog, Lakota, a fluffy white American Eskimo breed, whom we all came to love.

Look Ahead – Look down the long road at what a pet may or may not need. A colleague and her husband were shocked and annoyed, but prepared and, therefore, unperturbed, by their boxer needing major knee surgery a mere three months after he first came home. Our own childhood pet, Caesar, a mild-tempered, loving black Lab, sat on his tail one day…..if you can imagine!  Who knew it was even possible, let along how costly the vet bills were to care for the poor dear.

Train – Consult with a dog trainer and have a plan for training and socializing (dogs) your pet. 

Ask Questions – Don’t fall in love with cuteness. Puppies and kittens are adorable. So are some of the dogs and cats on a rescue’s web pages. Ask questions about vet bills, pet origins, and habits as well as reactions to people and children before you adopt. Don’t be scared off by red flags such as ‘Has accidents every day’ or ‘Pees outside the litter box’. You can learn to remedy these by investing time in training your pet to stop. You just need to be prepared that this will definitely require your time and patience.

Living Situation – Consider your living situation, particularly if you rent. Consult your landlord and/or homeowner’s insurance agent before you even go looking. Cats and certain dogs may not be allowed in apartments or condos. To bring this to light, pitbulls and staffordshire terriers are two dog breeds specifically excluded on homeowner’s policies. Before even beginning your search for a pet to enhance your family life, determine what, if any, you are allowed to adopt.

Have Fun – Pets are adorable, funny, and a ton of fun. Their loyalty and unconditional love can bring hours of loving enrichment to your family as well as years to your life.


Knowing all that you may be in for in advance and doing your research will give you the pet that will best fit into your now newly expanded family.

Photo: Adobe Stock Photo

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