Worth repeating: The importance of a place for everything

19 October 2020

The importance of a place for everything

I wrote this post four years ago when we were in the midst of a kitchen renovation. The disorientation that losing access to your kitchen brings is real. But, of course, it’s worth it. We love our new kitchen. Re-reading this post today about the importance of having a place for everything made me want to share it again, because it’s such a universal truth.

My husband and I are in the midst of a kitchen renovation. If you’ve ever done that, you know how disruptive it can be. We’re lucky in that we actually have a spare kitchen to use. (We live in a two-family house, but no longer rent out the downstairs apartment.) Still, despite my best efforts to organize the downstairs kitchen for our temporary use, everything feels topsy turvy.

This has led to two realizations on my part:

  • The kitchen really is the heart of the home. Take it away and you feel adrift.
  • When you don’t have a place for everything, you really can’t maintain order.

I’m a naturally messy person, as I’ve written here many times. I don’t mind a little disorder around me. But I’ve come to learn that the critical component to maintaining my sanity amidst disorder is that I know where everything goes and know I can put it away swiftly.

Right now, we have items that usually belong in the upstairs kitchen (our main kitchen) and need to reside on the second floor that I just can’t find a home for. So the dining room table and a desk remain cluttered, despite my efforts. We’re slowly getting into a groove (we’ve been out of our kitchen a week). Just getting out the door has been challenging because we’re accustomed to exiting from the back staircase off the upstairs kitchen and that’s where items like our keys, my purse and dog-walking paraphernalia used to reside. For a little while, until we established a new place for them, we’d walk all over the house looking for those items.

The whole experience has given me new-found empathy for my clients who struggle because they don’t have a place for everything and therefore can’t find anything. And it’s made me understand the relief they feel when we help them establish a place for everything so they can put things away.

So far, the renovation is on schedule and (knock wood) we’ll be back in our kitchen by the end of the month. I cannot wait to unpack our kitchen stuff into the new space. (I created a spreadsheet detailing where everything’s going to go.) I’ll probably enlist the help of one or more professional organizers to help me organize my kitchen when that happy day comes.

Here’s the bottom line. The adage, “A place for everything and everything in its place” is truly the key to a peaceful life for me. If you’re not living it, I encourage you to do what you can to get there! (Here’s a hint: the first step is usually decluttering!)

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Check your credit card benefits!

15 October 2020


On my big driving trip to Walla Walla last month, a pebble hit the windshield of my rental car and cracked it. Fortunately, that happened on the second-to-the-last day of the trip and it didn’t impede my driving.

When I turned in the rental car, Enterprise charged my credit card for my car insurance’s $500 deductible. I contacted my insurance company to start the claim process and the claims agent advised me to check the benefits for the card I used to pay for the rental car because some credit cards will reimburse the deductible in situations like this.

I checked and sure enough my Chase Freedom card does have that benefit! (It’s called Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver Benefit.) I had to upload some documents into an online portal, which required a little effort. But yesterday I received notification that the claim was accepted and today $483—the cost of the repair—landed in my bank account! (Enterprise refunded the remaining $17.)

Next time you have a few spare minutes, I encourage you to peruse your credit card’s benefits. You might be pleasantly surprised!

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A great 90th birthday present

12 October 2020


Gene at 90

My father, Gene Adams, turned 90 on September 11. He lives in Walla Walla, in remote southeastern Washington state. I usually visit about four times a year but because of COVID, I hadn’t seen him since early February. I couldn’t stand the idea of not being with him to celebrate such a big day, but I also wasn’t comfortable flying there and potentially picking up and transmitting the virus to him. So I drove. It was a 4,000-mile roundtrip journey and I had a great time despite the weirdness of COVID-era travel. (I promise a post on the trip and the precautions I took.)

Perhaps the greatest part of the whole birthday was the gift I gave him. I say this as someone who is not a gift person. I rarely think of giving them and when I do, I have a hard time coming up with good gifts. The fact that he doesn’t need anything ratchets up the degree of difficulty. I was telling my friend Geralin Thomas about my quandary and she came up with a great idea that was a giant success.

Because of COVID, we couldn’t have a birthday party, which is what I probably would have done in lieu of a gift. Instead, I reached out to dozens of people from various parts of his life, asking each of them to send me a 30- to 60-second video wishing him a happy birthday and marking the occasion any other way they wanted to.

I used Trello to track my invitations and responses, which made it really easy. It was such a joy to communicate with these folks and receive their wonderful videos. People jumped at the opportunity to participate and I ended up with forty videos. I purchased an older iPad for him so he can watch the videos when he wants. (He’s a Luddite with no computer and no internet access and no desire for either.)

I put the individual videos on the iPad and also used iMovie on my Mac to string them all together into one video, which I put on the iPad. That turned out to be the way he likes to watch it most. Finally, I bought a lightning-to-HDMI adapter so that he can watch the video on his TV. I did everything manually and found it quite easy. (Since then, I have found out about a service that will send out the invitations and the compile the videos for you for a small fee, VidHug.)

He was blown away. Because he’s a Luddite he thought it was a lot harder for me to do than it actually was, though I tried to set him straight. He really enjoyed hearing from so many loved ones. The video was just plain heartwarming.

If you have an elderly relative you need a gift for, I heartily recommend this. Honestly, it was quite easy—and very enjoyable—to organize. Feel free to reach out if you need advice or tips!

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Make a plan to vote

8 October 2020


Here in the U.S., the general election is less than 26 days away. From the top of the ballot to the bottom, it’s a very important election. Because of COVID-19, I urge you to make a plan to vote now. Don’t wait to think about it until November 3 when your options will be severely limited.

I outlined the Missouri voting options in my previous post, Ready, set, vote!. Missouri has a particularly complicated set of rules about voting before election day, so if you’re a Missouri and it’s not clear to you, please check out that post. And remember, if you’re in St. Louis I am happy to notarize your ballot for you. Just shoot me an email to make arrangements to come to my porch.

Less than four weeks to the election, I urge you to decide whether you’ll vote early, vote absentee, do a mail-in vote, vote at the polls on election day or whatever other option your state might offer. You can go to Vote.org to see your options and to Vote411 to see all the issues on your ballot.

Personally, I did a mail-in ballot, which required notarization and had to sent through the U.S. Mail. I sent it on October 2 and was thrilled today to see that it has arrived at the election commission. I’m in good company. My understanding is that more than 4.5 million people have already voted in this election. It feels great to have my voting completed!

If you’re planning to vote before the election, I urge you to do it as soon as you can. The earlier you do it, the less stress you’ll experience, I expect. If you plan to vote at the polls, be sure and schedule plenty of time because you might encounter lines.

Voting is always important. But this year it is vitally important. If you haven’t already, please make a plan today to vote!

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I still love my Loopy iPhone case!

5 October 2020


Photo courtesy of Loopy Cases.

In May 2017, I blogged about my Loopy iPhone case, which I still adore. I’ve edited the post slightly and reprint it here. I’ve used the heck out of that loop for three years and it started to tear, so a month or two ago I ordered a replacement loop. I inquired about shipping and in the course of my conversation with customer service they offered to refund what I’d paid for the replacement loop, because Loopy has a lifetime warranty! I was very impressed. It makes me love them even more.

I attended the NAPO conference last month and roomed, as usual, with my pal, Geralin Thomas. Geralin is always turning me on to great things and I’ve learned over the years to take her recommendations very seriously.

This time, she showed me her phone case, which is called Loopy. This case has a collapsible silicon loop on the back, which threads through holes in the case to securely fasten the loop.

I dropped my phone in the garage last month and cracked the screen a tiny bit, so I’d been feeling a bit insecure. Who knew that a loop on the back of a phone case could give me such a sense of security?

Since I don’t have a landline, I have to keep my phone on my person, which can be a pain when I’m wearing something without a pocket. With Loopy, I can securely hang on to my phone with one finger while I’m carrying a bunch of other stuff. I can even hold my phone when I walk my dog, if I want, without worrying about dropping it.

Sometimes, though, I want my hands completely free when walking Bix. I have a dog-walking belt with a carabiner that I wear when I walk Bix in weather that’s too warm for a coat with pockets. I just attach my phone to the carabiner by the loop so that it’s handy.

An added Loopy bonus is that when I set my phone face up on my desk, it sits at an angle that makes it easy to read. If I want to put my phone in my pocket, the loop collapses.

I’m (still) tickled pink by this purchase, so I just had to share the Loopy love!

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A fun pandemic-era celebration

1 October 2020


My birthday was last week. I’m a birthday person. I’ll tell anybody and everybody when it’s my birthday (it’s September 22) and I love a fuss being made. That doesn’t mean I want lots of gifts or even a party. But I do love having a special day.

So far in this pandemic, we’ve celebrated our 30th wedding anniversary in April and my husband’s birthday in May and both celebrations were fairly subdued because of COVID. After six months of the pandemic, I knew I wanted more for my birthday.

Luckily for me, I’d heard about DFW Scavenger Hunt (DFWSH), a company that before the pandemic (if I understand correctly) ran in-person scavenger hunts, for team-building and private events, in the Dallas area. Obviously, the stay-at-home order made that impossible and they did a marvelous pivot. They started offering a stay-home scavenger hunt. When I heard about it back in July, I made a mental note and in August, I reached out to them.

September 22 was available and we easily set it up. On the big day, all the guests had to do was log in to the Zoom link Brandon from DFWSH had provided and he took it from there. There were several kinds of games, including finding items in our homes (we all were on one team) and solving word games and some trivia games. The whole thing lasted just over an hour.

We had so much fun! A couple of dozen people participated from around the country (and the world!) with friends and family from all parts of my life. Brandon had me fill out a survey about my interests and he created a custom experience with lots of references to my favorite things (like Hamilton, The Office, and American Ninja Warrior). There was much laughter. And that’s really what I was looking for. Brandon did a great job of emceeing.

I heartily recommend the experience. You can check out the Stay Home Scavenger Hunts. I just noticed they also have kids’ virtual hunts, as well as a Halloween virtual hunt and a Holiday virtual hunt! The price is very reasonable—for events like this they charge $12 per webcam. (My party was under $200.)

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Did you pay your quarterly taxes on September 15?

28 September 2020


I’ve been paying estimated taxes every quarter for 25 years, since I left my full-time to become a freelance writer in 1995. After ten years writing, I started Peace of Mind Organizing in 2005. That’s 25 years of self-employment and 100 estimated tax payments. I know that they’re due January 15, April 15, June 15, and September 15. That’s been engraved in my memory for years.

Then along came 2020. As you might recall, in response to the COVID-19 crisis, the IRS extended the deadline for tax returns, as well as estimated tax payments, to July 15, 2020. So that day I paid the first two estimated tax payments for the year. (Amazingly enough, I’d filed my 2019 taxes before the tax deadline was extended.)

This morning, I realized I’d completely forgotten the September 15 estimated tax payment. It may because I was in Walla Walla and my computer was in the shop (a one-two punch), so I was less connected to my day-to-day life. It may be because only two months, instead of the customary three, had elapsed since the last time I paid. (Although two months in 2020 feels like a lifetime.) Whatever the reason, I was a little shocked to realize that I’d let the deadline slip. And I’m making the payment today.

It occurred to me that maybe I’m not alone in this and that you could use a reminder that the estimated taxes for June, July and August 2020 were due on September 15. If you pay estimated taxes and didn’t make a payment on the 15th, feel free to join me in doing it today!

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About Janine

Hello! I’m Janine Adams — a certified professional organizer based in St. Louis, and the creator of Peace of Mind Organizing®.

I love order, harmony + beauty, but I believe that the way that you feel about yourself and your home is what truly matters.

If you’re ready to de­clutter with a purpose and add more ease to your life, you’ve found the right blog — and you’ve found the right gal.

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