My friend and colleague, Jodi Granok of Organizing Magic, LLC® here in St. Louis has launched a series of organizing-cartoon products. Jodi bought the full line of organizing-themed cartoons that were commissioned by Donna Smallin Kuper of Organized Greetings. Donna, who for more than ten years used the cartoons for greeting cards, has now retired. With this acquisition, Jodi is introducing products that go beyond (way beyond) two-dimensional greeting cards.
To see the full line of products visit the Organizing Magic Cafepress site. You’ll see she’s offering 30 different products, from pajamas to clocks to face masks (as well as the more traditional t-shirts, mugs and, yes, greeting cards), each emblazoned with one of the cartoons. Here’s a mug, for example:
Jodi is marketing to professional organizers, but of course anyone who loves a particular cartoon or cartoons can purchase these products.
I wish Jodi the very best on this venture!
Back in 2017 I bought myself a new vehicle. (I’m still driving it!) For someone like me who is easily overwhelmed by choices, buying a car is never easy. But this time I feel I made it as easy as possible on myself and I wrote this post at the time to share how I did it. If you’re in the market for a car, I hope this will be helpful!
I bought a car on Friday, June 9! That doesn’t happen very often and it’s very exciting. I’m 54 and this is only my fifth car. There’s a picture of me with the new ride, taken at Carmax, the used-car dealership where I bought it.
I decided to get a new car because the car I was driving, a 2008 Honda CR-V with 105,000 miles on it, was getting a little long in the tooth and it didn’t have as much cargo space as I’d like. I carry around a lot of bins and storage solutions and it was sometimes a tight fit. This meant I had to schlep bins from my garage across my back yard and into my basement on a regular basis and I was getting tired of it. The lack of cargo space also meant I wasn’t able to help my team members take donations for clients when the client was letting go of a lot of stuff. So I was ready for a car with more cargo space.
The other reason I wanted a new car was that I sick and tired of walking around the open back doors of the car when I was loading up bins. I have a petite two-car garage. (This is a major factor in this story.) I decided I would benefit from driving a van with sliding back doors.
So what’s my secret for making car buying easy? Limit your options!
One of the hardest things for me about a big purchase (or sometimes even a small one) is dealing with all of the options. I’ve learned that I’m much happier making decisions when I have fewer options.
Going into this, I knew a few things:
Sifting the first four factors together, my research revealed there were about two cars that fit the bill. Hooray! My options were immediately limited.
Those two cars were the Ford Transit Connect Wagon and the Dodge Ran Promaster City Wagon. Both are city-oriented, smaller vans (I live in a city) and both are meant for passengers. My two-car garage was just big enough to accommodate the long wheelbase model of the Transit Connect. The other small van is the Nissan SV200 but it’s a cargo van only without a back seat.
I visited a Dodge dealership and test drove the cargo van version of the Promaster City. I quickly ruled it out—I was looking for more amenities than the Dodge offered. So I had it narrowed down to the Ford.
A little more research revealed two things:
That meant I had two choices: Get a custom-made 2018 car and wait five months (and pay $30,000). Or buy a used car that is at least three years old. I chose the second option.
So I knew what I wanted. I just had to find it. I looked at craigslist to no avail. But I had a better choice. Carmax. I was able to test drive a 2016 version of the car I wanted and then have a 2014 with 23,000 miles transferred from the Columbus, Ohio, Carmax. I paid $250 for the transfer, but wasn’t obligated to buy it. That car had literally everything I wanted on it and then a little more. It was just under $20,000. The only thing I’m not crazy about is the color—it’s a boring silver. But it could be worse. They make it in a bright red that I really don’t like.
Carmax made everything really easy. And it was a no-haggle, no-pressure situation. I sold my CR-V to a friend and brought home the new Transit Connect just a few days ago. I’m tickled pink.
I started my research on May 27 and brought home the car on June 9. For me anyway, that’s fast and painless.
So my secret to easy car buying is to figure out your wants and needs and limit the options to those things. Then find that car, buying used if necessary. Usually compromises need to be made, especially when you’re buying used, but in my case I made none, beyond the color.
I’m hoping for many good years with this van!
I thought I’d share a couple of little iPhone hacks I’ve learned about that made a big difference for me. This first one works on the iPhone and iPad. You can use your iPhone’s space bar like a cursor. If you’re typing on your iPhone or iPad screen and you want to go back to edit what you’ve typed, simply press and hold the space bar and a little vertical pointer will appear. Then move your finger slightly on the space bar (while still pressing and holding) to move the pointer to the space that you want to edit. This has made correcting all my dictated messages so much easier! Try it. I bet you’ll love it.
The other is for people who use multiple Apple devices. I just learned about this one a week or two ago and it’s already been a huge help. It’s called Universal Clipboard and it’s useful to those of us who have more than one Apple device connected by iCloud.
With Universal Clipboard, you can copy something on one of your devices and paste it to the other. So if I see a website on my phone that I want to view on my MacBook, I can simply highlight the URL, touch Copy and then on my computer open a browser, click in the browser window and select Paste. (I use the keyboard shortcut Command-V to paste.) The URL shows up, I press enter and then I can easily the website it on the big screen.
Another example might be if I’m starting an email on my phone and find it annoying to use the little phone keyboard. I can select the text I’ve already written, touch Copy (or Cut), then paste it into an email on my computer. It works for photos, images and videos too! I found that it worked like a charm on the first try because my preferences were already set for it. If you try it and it doesn’t work, try clicking on the link above for instructions on adjusting your system preferences (you need to enable Handoff).
If these are new to you, I hope you find them as useful as I have!
I’m three-quarters through with the 100-day dress challenge! I’ve worn the same black wool-blend dress every day since December 4, 2020. I’m still thoroughly enjoying the challenge and I absolutely love the ease of dressing that it’s provided. (I’m wearing the Rowena Swing Dress, regular length, in size XS.)
Right now it’s really cold in St. Louis. (When I got up this morning at 7 am the temperature was -2F with a wind chill of -17F. Crazy cold. So my dress is just another layer to keep me warm. I appreciate extra layers that are warm and lightweight!
Here’s what I love about the challenge:
If I were going to an office every day or working in clients’ homes it might be more challenging. But this is the perfect time to do a challenge like this.
You can read about the challenge at the website of Wool&, the company that makes the dress I’m wearing and that issued the challenge. And you can read my first post about the 100 day challenge for more information about why I’m doing the challenge.
When the 100 days are over, I am confident that I will keep wearing this dress. I really love it. It’s outrageously comfortable, odor-resistant, wrinkle-resistant and easy to wear. The prize for completing the challenge is a $100 store credit toward a new Wool& dress. I’m looking forward to trying a different dress and am confident it will become a staple of my wardrobe.
In order to qualify for the $100 credit, I have to wear the dress at least eight hours a day and take a picture every day. (They give a little grace and will accept 95 pictures.) A lot of people are showing off their pictures each day on Instagram, but that’s way too much pressure for me. So I’m uploading mine into Dropbox and will share the folder with Wool& next month when I finish the challenge. To be honest, the hardest part is to remember to take the picture!
Here are some shots that show some of the looks I’ve created with the dress. (I’m not going to show you the days where all I did was throw the dress over long underwear and sweatpants.)
I look forward to seeing what the next 25 days bring!
My friend, Geralin Thomas of Metropolitan Organizing in Cary, N.C., is a professional organizer who specializes in coaching other professional organizers. If you’re not aware of all the amazing content she has put together to help organizers, you’re missing out. Let me help you remedy that.
Geralin has launched a series of short videos, which have come out weekly, that answer questions she gets about starting an organizing business. I think they’re terrific. They’re both informative and fun, much like Geralin. Her casual, approachable style in the videos is so authentic. It’s one of the reasons I’m so fond of her. Believe me when I tell you that over the dozen+ years of our friendship, I have benefited repeatedly from her answering my many questions. She is not only smart but wise.
Here are the new Ask Me Anything videos, all on her YouTube channel:
There will be more videos in the coming weeks, so I suggest subscribing to her YouTube Channel so you don’t miss them when they come out.
Geralin’s contributions aren’t limited to videos. She also has an information-rich blog. Here are two of her latest posts, which detail tools of the trade, physical and digital:
And, finally, an easy way to tap into Geralin’s wisdom is to check out her FAQ, each of which is answered with a link to one of her blog posts. (I should also mention that she sells a robust set of forms that organizers can use for their own businesses and offers one-on-one coaching as well. You can check out those paid resources on her Products + Services page.)
Even if Geralin weren’t a dear friend, I would recommend her free resources and paid coaching and forms for anyone who is, or aspires to be, a professional organizer. I can attribute much of my success to the help she’s given me over the years!
Back in 2014, I wrote a blog post about how I revamped the way I organize my small collection of jewelry. You can read all about it in my post Improving my jewelry storage but essentially for the last seven years I’ve been using jewelry stacker cases from The Container Store to store my jewelry in three layers. The jewelry box is on my bureau. My necklaces hang on a tie rack on an adjacent wall.
The top layer, which has a lid, is supposed to contain my more often used jewelry (earrings, rings and brooches). The second layer is to contain my less-used earrings. And the bottom, deeper, layer is for bracelets, along with one or two seldom-worn necklaces that I’m not ready to let go of.
Since the pandemic started, I’ve seldom worn jewelry at all. But the jewelry box, whose lid is typically open, was starting to attract non-jewelry clutter. And the earrings had become a bit scattered, so even if I did want to wear earrings it took a little time to find a pair. To be honest, it was unsightly and annoying.
Here’s a before photo:
I saw that messy box every day and most days I vowed to do something about it. But it felt like it would take at least an hour, and I never set aside the time. But about ten days ago, my Declutter Happy Hour partner, Shannon Wilkinson, asked me to do a 15-minute project and take before and after pictures to promote the class. I thought I’d see how far I could get with my jewelry box in 15 minutes. To my astonishment and delight, I actually finished it!
Here’s the after picture:
I went through the jewelry, separating out earrings without mates and some jewelry that either was broken or I no longer like. I paired up my earrings and stored them in the top layer in little categories that make sense to me. I moved the special-occasion earrings to the middle layer, since I’m not going out to special-occasion events these days. The bottom layer was under control, since I never wear bracelets. I wasn’t ready to let bracelets go, though, because I could see myself wearing them again after life gets back to normal.
I kept the brooches on the top layer, despite the fact I haven’t worn one in ages, because I like looking at my little collection. Most were inherited from my grandmother and they make me happy. I also have some little lapel pins and buttons that I enjoy. So I stored them together in plain sight.
The reason I’m bothering to write this long post is really this message: It’s amazing what you can declutter and organize in 15 minutes! These tiny projects really can make a big difference and are so easy to accomplish. As I’ve done before, I urge you to take a look around and see what tiny organizing project you might tackle. I bet it will make you feel great!
I think one of the things I missed most during the pandemic is browsing at The Container Store. It’s open to the public, but I’m trying minimize my exposure to the virus and have been there perhaps twice in the last nine months. So most of my purchases have been done online.
One of my favorite things at The Container Store is their Elfa product line. It’s a shelving and drawer system that’s very flexible and modifiable. I love recommending it to clients for their kids’ rooms, for example, because the shelves, rods or drawers can all be switched around as the kids grow and their clothes and storage needs change. There are Elfa storage solutions for every room in the house.
I use Elfa in my own home, in a closet in my office and to store my yarn stash. I also use three different Elfa file carts in my office, one for my business archives, one for my genealogy papers and one for the files that I want close at hand. That one lives under my desk.
We’re about three weeks away from the end of the annual Elfa sale, where you can get 30 percent off on Elfa products and installation. (That brings the file cart down to $77.) I find myself yearning for an Elfa system for my guest-room closet, but I’m trying to resist because it’s definitely a want, not a need. But if you have a need, now’s the time to check out Elfa!
You can design your closet system on the Container Store website or go to a store, if you have one nearby, with your measurements and allow their designers to create a free design for you. This year, you can have a virtual design consult to get help your design without going into the store.
Don’t snooze! Sale ends February 23.