Relocating? Make Your Move Stress Free!

September 13, 2011

Even though the season falls smack dab in the middle of the calendar year, autumn is a time for new beginnings.  The cooler air seems to be ushered in by a parade of school buses and moving trucks.  Maybe you’re just starting out in your very first apartment; maybe you’ve outgrown your old space and are on to bigger and better.  Whatever the case may be, I’m sure you could use a little help with the moving process.  Once you’ve found the place, here’s what you do:

Check out my moving tips at Affluent Magazine!


6 Tips to a Stress-Free Move

June 2, 2010

Tis the season – there seem to be a multitude of moving trucks out on the streets. Maybe you’re just starting out in your very first apartment; maybe you’ve outgrown your old digs and are on to bigger and better. Whatever the case may be, I’m sure you could use a little help with the moving process. Once you’ve found the place, here’s what you do:

Want to learn more? Check out my article at

Unclear on the Day Number: The Move Update

March 4, 2010

Can it really only be Thursday? I’ve been on overdrive since Monday morning, and it feels like that could have been weeks ago. But all the hard work is definitely paying off. More on that later.

Now, a look at moving day:

they're here, they're here! (and on time too!)

Mover’s, Not Shakers! arrived promptly at 8:30. I signed some paperwork (we opted not to purchase extra insurance by the way) and from that moment on, our team of 4 guys got to work emptying the apartment.

hauling boxes, wrapping furniture - these guys were HARD workers.

within an hour and a half, the apartment was already this empty.

and in the bedroom - there was nothing left but the mattress.

well - empty except for that TV (with a note on it for someone to take it and keep it!)

11:30 am: we say goodbye to 201 E. 19th Street. It's a bit of a sad day for RB and me, Scott and Sue, and maybe most of all, Usdin.

here we come.

we meet the van in Brooklyn at 12:30 to begin the load out.

getting the last boxes out of the truck - and the view from our new bedroom.

While I continued to supervise the load-out, RB went back over to the old apartment. Our team had no problem getting the anxiety-inducing armoire out the door and down to the basement. All that was left was to get it uptown to Aunt Linda’s. Once again, Ross (resident man with the van – and all around great friend) saved the day. He and RB loaded it up and brought it uptown – crisis averted.

Movers, Not Shakers! finished at around 2:30 – 6 hours to move us start to finish. And that’s when the real work began. (and when we got so busy that there was no time for picture taking).

Within the next few hours our helpers arrived. JoePa, Barbara, Mark and Linda were STARS. With their help, we got all this accomplished on the first day:

  • New TV installed (JoePa & Barb picked it up for us on their way to BK, Mark set it up)
  • Kitchen entirely unpacked (and pretty well set-up!)
  • Dining Room laid out – and half unpacked
  • Bedroom completely set up
  • Clothing unpacked
  • Living room furniture secured to the walls
  • Empty boxes/packing paper stored in the basement (we’re saving these for Jared and Tara who are moving in the next few weeks)

By midnight, RB and I were basically zombies, but a good night sleep brought a fresh wave of energy (and fresh set of help – big thanks to Jeffrey and the Tanta!). RB went back to work, but I pressed on — books unpacked in the office, desk set up, living room tchotchkes and picture frames displayed on the shelves, utility closet on its way to organized…..and finally, cable/internet/and phone installed. (p.s. – in the old apartment, I made a list of all the shows I had programmed on to record on our DVR — and re-set it up on the new box immediately).

Those first two days did a lot to help us feel settled. We would not be so far ahead if it weren’t for the help of our families – so I want to thank them all again.

I hope The Moving Diaries gave you some good info on how to prepare for your own move.

And now I’m going to take some time to take care of the rest of it — I’ll be back to the blog soon to update you on our progress — with plenty of before & after pictures, tips and tricks to organizing every area of your home!

Until then – happy organizing!

Day 30: It’s the Final Countdown

February 28, 2010

duhdaduhdah. duhdaduhdada. duhdaduhdah. duhdadadadada. da. da. dadadadada da daaaaaahhhhhhhh.

Oh you couldn’t figure out what that is? That’s me singing the instrumental after the first line in the chorus of Europe’s 1986 hit The Final Countdown. Obviously.

Movers, Not Shakers will be here at 8:30 tomorrow morning, and we’re ready for them. We’ve got a few boxes around the house….

here's some.

some more.

yep, more.

and finally, the end of the boxes. and me. (I don't know if you can see me, I'm wearing camouflage.)

But of all the boxes we’ve got, this one is probably the most important:

it's crucial to have a "first night" box.

I want to be sure that if we don’t get to unpack every single box tomorrow (and we won’t!) we’ll still have everything we need for a comfortable night and morning. Our 1st Night box (ok… boxes) has the following:

  • Our bedding (which I took in to be dry-cleaned earlier this week)
  • Pillows
  • PJs
  • 2 Towels
  • Toothbrush/toothpaste
  • Extra sets of contacts, glasses (we wear disposable contacts, if you don’t — don’t forget solution and your contact case)
  • Cellphone/Blackberry chargers
  • Medications — prescriptions plus Excedrin, Advil and Tylenol — headaches and muscle aches are nearly guaranteed on move day!
  • Shower necessities (shampoo, conditioner, soap, a shower curtain)
  • the bedroom DVD player and Season 1 of The West Wing (i can’t fall asleep without the TV on. although I should be pretty tired by tomorrow night.)

Then there are the things we’re taking with us either on our person or in our own car so we can have immediate access to them when we arrive in the new apartment:

  • collection of extension cords, surge protectors, etc. — we won’t have to wait to plug things until we find the box with this stuff.
  • bag of tools – plenty of stuff might need to be taken apart, put together – never a dull moment on move day.
  • box cutters and scissors — enough for multiple people to be opening boxes at once.
  • laptops
  • checkbook — much easier to pay your movers when you don’t have to search for it.
  • small stereo and ipod — you simply can’t unpack without music.
  • passports – it’s a good idea to know where your passport is at all times and find a safe place for it when you get settled.
  • jewelry – I actually gave my jewelry box to someone I trust to hold on to through the move (she’ll bring it back once we’re in the new place). Now there’s no anxiety about it inadvertently going missing. If this isn’t an option for you, be sure that you pack a bag with your valuables and bring it with you in the car.
  • cleaning products – for your protection (and theirs), there are certain cleaning items that professional movers are not able to legally pack or move. Ammonia and bleach are flammable and should not be moved by a moving company. Open cleaning products have the potential to spill into your boxes, making a mess and potentially damaging your stuff. But you can bring them on your own — think about using a plastic bin, rather than a box, and putting it on the back seat of your car. Plus, you’ll be glad you can reach for the Fantastik and wipe down the cabinets before unpacking your nice clean glasses.

And with that, I sign off excited and exhausted. RB & I can’t wait to get settled into our new home.  Unpacking is really the fun part. I’ll be back online to give the Big Day Play-by-Play on Tuesday when we have internet again.

by the way, we’re finishing our packing as we watch the closing ceremony of the Olympics. seems pretty fitting, really. We’ll miss you 201 East 19th – you’ve been good to us.

Day 29: JoePa’s Turn to Help

February 27, 2010

I wouldn’t want my dad to feel left out of the fun (plus…we need all the help we can get!) so we found some good jobs for him today…

1) Transport the break-ables.

Sure, I packed a ton of fragile stuff for the movers to move, but there was some stuff that would’ve taken far too much time (and far too much bubble wrap.  that stuff is expensive!). That’s where JoePa and his SUV come in.

see all that stuff on what could be a dining room table? we loaded it into JoePa's car (and ours) - and brought it over to the new apartment today.

So now, the extra special fragile stuff is safely in the new apartment, and won’t be in the movers’ way as they’re dealing with all the bulky stuff on Monday.

2) Charity Drop-Off

I’ve mentioned it before, but moving is a great time to go through EVERYTHING  and weed out what you no longer want or need. Clothing that doesn’t fit, kitchen duplicates (you know you have about 4 potato peelers…), and anything that you just never use (be honest). There are wonderful organizations who will benefit from your cast-offs. Obviously, it’s best to send those donations out before moving day – why pay to move something you don’t want to keep?

these aren't making the move...

neither are these.

Luckily, we were also giving away a pretty large collection of bags – RB did a great job consolidating it all so that we could easily load it out.

ready for departure.

I should mention that RB is a great packer. In fact, he is such a good packer that when we go on vacation, I leave my stuff out and he packs it. Imagine that. Anyway, RB had been hard at work packing other stuff for a few hours before he got around to the donations pile – and a few hours of this kind of physical work really does take away from your level of sharpness. But, when I saw this pile and complimented RB on a job well done, his response was, “I like to put things in things.”

I know what you mean, RB; I know what you mean.

A Thank You.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – we have a wonderfully helpful and supportive family. Big thanks to JoePa and Barbara who spent their day:

  • Driving to the city to load the car with breakables.
  • Driving to Brooklyn to unload the breakables from the car.
  • Unexpectedly having to push/dig our car out of an unfortunate pothole/snowbank situation.**
  • Driving back to the city to load the car with donations.
  • …and sometime in the near future, dropping them off for us.

With all that stuff out of here, we can actually breathe among the boxes! It was starting to get pretty claustrophobic. Giving ourselves the rest of the day and night off — anything that’s left can be dealt with tomorrow.

**Brooklyn is so neighborly! A man on the sidewalk who saw what was going on came over with a shovel and helped push the car out too! Unreal!

Day 28: Time to do the dishes.

February 26, 2010

Another intense packing day here.  And a helpful tip for you when you’re packing your dishes….

a stack of plates, on their sides....

When you’re packing your plates, it’s important to place them in the box on their side. Plates should never be packed flat. If the box encounters any kind of force, plates on their edge can sustain a lot more pressure.

Plenty more going on here…but more on that later. Must. Keep. Packing.

2 more days until we’re officially Brooklynites.

Day 27: Tips, in Pictures…

February 25, 2010

This snowy day was a good excuse to stay inside and hunker down with my boxes. Covered a lot of categories (box-content wise) – and took pictures along the way:

Packing Glasses

start rolling the glass lying slanted across the paper.

tuck the paper into the open end of the glass as you roll.

once you've tucked enough into the glass opening, the paper will even out and you can just keep rolling...

...til it looks something like this.

Packing Small Tchothkes

Packing the bigger stuff is no big deal…wrap it in paper and stick it in the box, surrounded by padding.

it's the smaller stuff you don't want to lose in all that packing paper.

just wrap the items individually (if they need to be wrapped) - then stick the packages into a Ziploc.

Packing Sharp Stuff

This is really a safety tip. If someone is unpacking a box that contains potentially dangerous items, do them a favor, and let them know.

this could hurt you.

roll it up in paper and warn the unpacker by writing the word "Sharp" or "Blade" on it.

don't stop at one. Warn the unpacker about the whole box.

Day 26: Taking Control of the Stressful Situation

February 24, 2010

So yesterday I mentioned that I’m stressing. The nice thing about this stress is that there’s actually something I could do about it — I could pack up the contents of the stressful armoire.

So, a little more about this cupboard….up until last night, it was basically the storage place for every wedding gift we received….picture crystal, china and other highly fragile materials. And packing things of this nature is not exactly easy — if you want your belongings to show up in one piece, you better be careful how you pack it.

First off, be sure you’re using the appropriate packing materials. “China Barrel” boxes have a double thick wall and are specifically meant to protect these kind of items. It is pre-printed with the word “Fragile” and some “this side up” arrows.

This is a china barrel.

The next thing you want to do is pad the bottom of the box. You can use packing paper (which is heavier than newsprint), or even some towels/bedding that you have to pack anyway. IMPORTANT: Don’t waste your bubble wrap on padding the box!

Luckily, many of our wedding gift items were still in their original boxes, offering even more protection. Even so, DO NOT SKIP that initial padding step.

fragile items in their original boxes.

Once that first layer of items are in, you’ve got to pack paper (or something else soft) around them so that they will not shift around the box during transport.

stay right where you are.

Another layer of padding and you can continue adding to the box. For items that aren’t in their original box, you’ll need to take more care.  If the object in question isn’t solid (think a vase, or a pitcher, etc.) – start by filling the cavity with newsprint – this will make it more stable. It’s good to use blank sheets (not actual newsprint) so you don’t get ink all over your beautiful belongings.

filler paper.

After you’ve filled the cavities with paper (don’t forget about the hole between the handle and the pitcher!) — it’s time to bubble wrap:


That bubble-wrapped package can go directly in the box. Once you’ve finished your layer of bubble wrapped items, repeat the shift-prevention step and pack paper between and around the items. Continue until you’ve reached the top of the box, and pad the final layer before closing up:

a pillow makes a great final padding layer.

Once you close up, label the box according to where it’s going and what’s inside:

take this box to the dining room, please.

Because this box is full of fragile items, I wouldn’t want the movers to pile anything else on top of it. Which Is why I add the following:

don't pile on me!

You can see why these kinds of boxes take more effort than packing other stuff. But, I put on some good music and just went with it. 4 packed china barrels later, I was feeling a lot better about the status of things!

Day 25: Minor Freak-Out

February 23, 2010

Ok, I admit it.  This morning, I let the stress get the better of me. I stood in the doorway of our bathroom staring at our enormous armoire and wondered:

  1. When will  I pack all of the contents?
  2. How will we get it out the door without breaking it? (there was a necessary incident with a hammer when we moved it in….)
  3. When will we find the time to bring it back to my aunt, who has generously let us use it for the last 5 years?

See! Even organizers can get overwhelmed sometimes.

The important thing to remember is that it will all get done. People who are far less organized than me move every day. Just worry about it box by box….when i’ve emptied it, I can pass the rest of the worries on to RB.

And on the 21st-23rd Days, They Painted

February 22, 2010

that's a mask on RB's head....he'd been sanding the walls all day 🙂

With one week left to go, there was a lot of work to be done. Luckily, our landlord gave us access to the new apartment so that we could fix the walls, paint and put together some furniture before the rest of our belongings were in our way. Even luckier, we have the most supportive and helpful family and friends on the planet. There was a lot to get done, and because we had our dream-team in place, we got through everything.


I got over to the apartment early to start taping the trim. This apartment has a LOT of trim, so this job took almost 5 hours. While I was at that, RB went to pick up the painting supplies we needed:

  • (4) Gallons of paint (we ended up needing 6!)
  • (4) Roller pans (we needed 4 because we were using 4 colors….)
  • (2) Rollers
  • Bunch of stir sticks
  • (2) 3-packs of roller covers/brushes (short nap/hair), middle-road quality
  • (1) or 2½” trim brush (natural or synthetic bristle, $10-15 all you need to spend per)
  • (1) small can of “Oops” paint remover)
  • Drop cloths
  • Rags (RB’s old t-shirts)
  • Sponges (to be tossed)
  • Step-stool / ladder (our Super loaned us his…)

When he made it back to the apartment, RB helped me with the taping:

helpful RB.

That evening, my in-laws, Mark & Linda arrived to show us the next steps.

the master at work.

First you take your trim brush and, holding the brush like a pen and using your wrist to apply paint horizontally, you do all the edges of the walls – baseboards, ceilings, corners and doorframes.  The fact that we’d already taped the trim makes this a much easier process because you don’t have to worry about being neat and “coloring in the lines.”  Trimming is hard work….but a necessary step before you can get to the rollers – which, by the way, goes MUCH faster than trimming.

That night we finished the bedroom. And, I learned how to paint.


One piece of furniture that was a definite need for this new place was a new dresser, well, two actually…and in the interest of saving money, we chose a nice one from IKEA. In the interest of having a place to put our clothes when we move in, we wanted to get this done this weekend. So, while I headed over to the apartment to get to work on trimming, RB and our friend Ross (our resident “man with a van”) went over to pick up the pieces. Thank you, Ross, for your generosity of help and transport! They made it back just in time to meet my brother-in-law, Jared — who is wonderfully handy.

Jared put together our dressers with the precision of a surgeon.

The trick is, everyone needed to be doing something at all times. So, while Jared was putting together the dressers, RB was spackling and sanding the walls, and I was trimming (Ross joined in on the trimming for a while there too!). Then, when Mark and Linda arrived, Mark got to work with the roller in rooms where the trim was complete, and Linda got to work feeding us and cleaning. Bless her, my mother-in-law took down every set of blinds in the apartment and cleaned them. By the looks of things, this hadn’t been done in about 20 years.  All the while, I continued trimming.

it kinda looks like the ceiling is bleeding, no?

By Saturday night at 11:30, we’d gotten the first coat of paint onto every wall. Pretty miraculous actually. And that night we all slept like the dead.


A relatively “light” day. After we picked up some more paint (remember how we got 4 gallons, but needed 6), RB and Mark got to work on the second coats in the dining room and hallways. The lighter colors in the living room and bedroom didn’t need a second coat – but there were a few spotty spots, so I got to work doing touch-ups (this requires that you put a very small amount of paint on your brush and lightly feather over the spot to blend with rest of the wall).

As new areas started to dry, we got to my favorite part…..pulling the tape up to reveal the beautiful clean lines. The now-clean blinds went back up on the windows, painting supplies were cleaned up, and we were left with a beautifully painted new apartment.

we cannot wait to live here!!!!!

Moving tip (heck, LIFE tip!): You can’t do it all alone — when people offer to help, let them.

I just have to say thank you again to everyone: Mark, Linda, Jared and Ross — we could not have done this without you.