Tips to Help You Spring Clean Your Wardrobe

May 6, 2010

Spring has officially arrived! Perfect sunshine days mean you can take your workout outside, you can break in those cute new sandals and you can switch your usual latte to an iced version. And, of course, spring is the perfect time to do a good thorough closet clean-out.

Want to learn more? Check out my article on!

How to Organize Your Office to Reduce Stress & Increase Productivity

April 7, 2010

The Beauty Bean’s Alexis Wolfer needed help.  Chaos Theory to the rescue!

Read all about our organizing session and solutions at

Making a House an Organized Home: Operation Linen Closet

March 30, 2010

You followed along for a month as we moved out….now I am eager to share all of the organizing adventures of moving in!

Today’s focus:  The Linen Closet.

pre-move-in linen closet. it goes back pretty deep.

I wrote quite a bit in The Moving Diaries about organizing things before you pack them so they’d be ready to be put away when you get to your new home. The one exception is The Linen Closet — I used the contents as padding in boxes of fragile items so sheets, towels, robes, blankets and pillows were scattered between the MANY boxes. Every time one of my wonderful unpacking helpers found something like that I told them to just stick it in the linen closet and I’d deal with it later.

this had to be dealt with...

Maybe your linen closet looks a little like this? Here’s how I tackled the situation:

1. Empty the closet and as you’re doing so, sort the contents into categories that make sense for you (your towels, guest towels, your sheets, guest sheets, etc…)

this part of the couch was holding guest sheets & towels, beach towels and extra throw blankets. The entire living room was in play.

2. Prioritize your categories — which ones will you need to access frequently? Which can be stored in the deeper recesses of the closet (because you rarely reach for them…)?

because we change our duvet/comforter seasonally, they can be stored in the back

3. Create homes for your categories — and label accordingly! I love labels because it means that no one can say “I dont know where this goes” or “I don’t know where to find that.”

name that shelf!

4. Containerize! I’m sure that some of the things you want to store in your linen closet might not fold so nicely (or stack up so neatly on a shelf…). For a linen closet where decor is not really an issue, I like clear plastic containers (like these from The Container Store) so that you can see what’s inside. Of course, I still label my boxes.

pretty boxes all in a row.

I was able to complete this project in about 2 hours. It’s ok if it takes you longer — i just want you to realize that you don’t need to commit days of your life to your organizing projects. Just find an hour or two and take care of something!

In the end, you’ll be left with a more functional space — like this finished product!

neat, tidy, and best of all....organized!

A recent visitor said “Now THIS is what a closet should look like!” I couldn’t agree more, Lisa. I couldn’t agree more.

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!

And Now Something Completely Different….

March 3, 2010

Before I get back to my regularly scheduled “move update” programming, I thought you might like a little change of pace —

Check out my monthly column on The Beauty Bean — this month, I talk about getting your gym back in order.


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!