Posted in Fall, Gardening, Seasons, Timely Tips

Seasonal Gardening Tips

Local gardening expert Charlie Nardozzi spoke yesterday on a Vermont Public Radio call-in show. He shared some excellent tips. Knowing the always-smiling Charlie to be an affable guy, I’m sure that he wouldn’t mind my passing along a few gems. A professional organizer, I’m also an enthusiastic gardener, though certainly not all-knowing!

• Don’t lay down winter mulch now. It’s much too early, and would provide a home for critters that you don’t want taking up residence in your garden(s). It’s better to wait until late November.
• As you cut back garden perennials, leave hydrangeas at about a foot high. That will be enough for them to bloom next season. (I made this particular mistake last year, cutting one back to just a few inches high. Not good! It’s taken all season for it to finally recover to a foot’s height, and without any flowers. I look forward to gorgeous blossoms next year.)
• With Halloween on a Wednesday this year, schedules may require cutting jack-o-lanterns the previous weekend. Carve them, apply petroleum jelly to the cuts, then immerse them in water. That will preserve them until the 31st.

Happy gardening and Halloween!

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De-clutter Me! offers non-judgmental, competitively-priced and confidential assistance to help clear clutter in your home and/or business. We’ve been changing “chaos to calm” since 2013.

Posted in Fall, Garage, Home Maintenance, Timely Tips

Seasonal Garage Cleaning, Even for a Professional Organizer

Today, I swept my garage and stored wicker summer furniture, placing the chairs on some old rubber car floor mats. That way, once winter snow melts off the car, the furniture legs will be protected. No old floor mats? You might lay down a used shower curtain liner. (Reduce, reuse, recycle!) No liner available, either? A small tarp would do the trick.

Another possible way to store and protect summer furniture or other delicate items – on top of horizontally-laid tires! If your garage has enough vertical space (and maybe limited horizontal room), that might be another useful option.

Another good use for used shower curtain liners – to cover bikes and other objects that aren’t fun to dust. After all, when spring returns, wouldn’t you rather use these items than spend time cleaning them?

While sweeping the garage each spring and fall isn’t fun, it feels good, in a way. It provides a timely opportunity to clear any clutter that’s accumulated during the previous few months. A great idea – this morning, colleague Steve Ertle, from BTV Creative, suggested using a leaf blower! It does a very thorough job of clearing dust, and is much faster than sweeping. A professional organizer, I was a bit embarrassed that I haven’t thought of that. It must be because I don’t have a leaf blower.

Be careful that no garage items are in the path of the dust, though, or you may have some extra wiping to do. Happy fall!

About De-clutter Me!

De-clutter Me! offers non-judgmental, competitively-priced and confidential assistance to help clear clutter in your home and/or business. We’ve been changing “chaos to calm” since 2013.

Posted in Timely Tips, Winter

Stovetop Potpourri to Boost Winter Spirits

Is winter getting to you? Here in Vermont, it’s been extremely cold at times, which is exhausting to many. There hasn’t been lots of snow, for those who like to play in it. It’s been icy, too, which makes for scary walking and driving.

On the plus side, since December through February are the three coldest months, we’re a bit more than half-way through them. Also, the days are getting longer, even if slowly, two or three minutes each day.

Could your spirits use an extra lift when at home?

You might simmer some stovetop potpourri.

Here’s a recipe that will smell like apple pie. (You also can find others online.)

  1. Choose a medium sized pot and fill ¾ full of water.
  2. Add peels of two apples, one cinnamon stick and one teaspoon vanilla extract.
  3. Bring water to a boil.
  4. Lower the heat and simmer.
  5. Replenish the water as needed.

Note: Keep in mind that cleaning the pot afterwards can be a chore. Some scrubbing may be involved, so don’t use your favorite pot.

Bonus points – the simmering potpourri will add humidity to the air, which might benefit humans, pets and plants.

About De-clutter Me!

De-clutter Me! offers non-judgmental, competitively-priced and confidential assistance to help clear clutter in your home and/or business. We’ve been “bringing calm to chaos” since 2013.

Posted in Timely Tips, Winter

To Protect Dogs’ Paws from Winter Salt

A client gave me the following information on a beautifully clear and warm autumn day. I set it aside for when it would be more useful. Today works! It’s punishingly cold and we have some, though not a lot of, snow.

Paw Wax Recipe

3 ounces beeswax
3 tablespoons calendula oil
3 tablespoons avocado oil
3 tablespoons coconut oil

Melt together in a pan on low heat, mix well, then pour into a small tin or other container. Let cool at room temperature overnight. To use, rub the bottom of your dog’s paws in the Paw Wax and go!

You also might want to give some to friends, both human and canine.

About De-clutter Me!

De-clutter Me! offers non-judgmental, competitively-priced and confidential assistance to help clear clutter in your home and/or business. We’ve been “bringing calm to chaos” since 2013.

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Timely Tips, Holiday Edition, Vol. III

From the archives, here are a few quick tasks to delegate. Do you have kids? Maybe a few dollars will sweeten the request(s), or a promise not to nag about holiday-break homework until December 28.

Updating contacts

Tweens focused on tech won’t mind typing addresses from incoming cards into a document or into your phone.

Addressing cards

Do you still have some to send? Here’s a chance for your kids (who, again, might be more focused on texting) to practice their penmanship.

Ironing holiday linens

Older kids should be able to handle this pressing matter (bad pun alert!). No collars or angled seams. Easy!

Salting the sidewalks

It’s basically encouraging kids to spill and make a mess. Large plastic cups can work as scoops, so they don’t have to haul a heavy container around.

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De-clutter Me! offers non-judgmental, competitively-priced and confidential assistance to help clear clutter in your home and/or business. We’ve been “bringing calm to chaos” since 2013.

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Timely Tips, Holiday Edition, Vol. II

As the pace of the holiday season picks up, your time might be getting used up fast, too. From the archives, here are some suggestions to save some time, and maybe some sanity, too.

  • Retire the family newsletter. With so many people using social media these days, the “old-school” annual recap may be redundant now.
  • Bake in bulk. Make a big batch of sugar cookies now. You can freeze the dough or even baked cookies. (Thaw overnight at room temperature.)
  • Reconsider crystal. Do you have delicate (hand-wash-only) glassware that you’d like to use? Maybe skip it during this most hectic of seasons, and use it some other time. Instead, your nicest dishwasher-safe glassware will make life easier, both before and after a celebration.
  • Skip the party playlist. Delegate DJ-ing to a music streaming service, like Pandora. You can choose from multiple preprogrammed channels or customize a mix.

For a laugh, from Erma Bombeck’s column, At Wit’s End, in October 1987. “My theory on housework is, if the item doesn’t multiply, smell, catch fire, or block the refrigerator door, let it be. No one else cares. Why should you?” (Of course, I don’t agree with this, but I did laugh out loud when reading it recently. Here’s hoping you did, too.)

About De-clutter Me!

De-clutter Me! offers non-judgmental, competitively-priced and confidential assistance to help clear clutter in your home and/or business. We’ve been “bringing calm to chaos” since 2013.

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Three Powerful Words

Reduce, reuse, recycle

They are suggestions we hear often. Some people groan, while others take them to heart, with gestures both large and small, benefiting us all. Please consider the following recommendations for the holidays and at other times of year. They provide a different twist on those three powerful words.

Reduce

Americans gain an average of seven pounds during the holidays. Would it be possible to decrease your food and drink intake by some percentage, to make the scale’s upward creep less challenging? Stepping onto the scale on January 2nd might be a little less unpleasant.

This is not a grumpy curmudgeon’s instruction to only chew on carrot sticks and celery stalks at parties. Maybe reconsider the last glass of red wine and/or piece of dark chocolate. (They are reported to be good for the heart. Even so, that’s tough for me, too, since I consider them to be basic food groups!) Instead, you might drink an extra glass of water. Your body will be grateful, even if it can’t voice its appreciation.

Chatting with a swimming buddy about these three powerful words, Nina shared the following Tibetan proverb – The secret to living well and longer: eat half, walk double, laugh triple and love without measure.

Reuse

If you exchange holiday presents, what to do with all of that newly-used wrapping paper? While it’s certainly responsible to recycle it, you also can use it again. How, since it might look less-than-wonderful now? If you have access to a shredder, run it through, then save it for padding when storing fragile ornaments. Or, if you’ll have to send boxed gifts in the near future, you might bag it for package padding when the time comes.

Another good reuse – unmatched socks. How does that happen, anyway? Does the washer eat a sock? Does the dryer hide one? Use unmatched socks as padding when packing delicate objects for shipping. Put fragile ornaments inside them for storage. Lastly, you also might wear unmatched socks together, even if only at home. Bonus points – it could make you laugh. (Think about the Tibetan proverb!)

Recycle

Recycle yourself, by donating blood. As written previously, donation centers experience drops in contributions at this time of year, though the need remains constant. Even if you can’t stand needles, it’s not all that bad. It normally takes about an hour, and you’ll feel good for having done it – like voting! The Red Cross will be grateful for your help.

Happy holidays! May they bring you, and those dear to you, all that you wish, and more. Cheers!

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De-clutter Me! offers non-judgmental, competitively-priced and confidential assistance to help clear clutter in your home and/or business. We’ve been “bringing calm to chaos” since 2013.

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

Timely Tips, Holiday Edition, Vol. I

As the holiday season quickly approaches, here are a few tips to save time now, and maybe a bit of sanity, too. From the archives –

  • Find any gifts bought spontaneously through the year and stored who-knows-where.
  • Add all holiday events into a shared family digital calendar – every party, cookie swap, caroling event, concert.
  • If needed, drop off fancy holiday outfits at the dry cleaner’s.
  • Shop for non-perishable groceries and booze before stores get crazy, and place orders for any in-demand specialty foods that might be in shorter supply later.
  • Order any specialty clothes, pajamas, etc., that might need to be monogrammed now, in November, before a supplier’s production staff gets very busy.

About De-clutter Me!

De-clutter Me! offers non-judgmental, competitively-priced and confidential assistance to help clear clutter in your home and/or business. We’ve been “bringing calm to chaos” since 2013.

Posted in Holidays, Timely Tips

October Holiday Decorating

These days, there’s some conjecture about whether or not Halloween has become the second-most decorated holiday. Who really cares? It gives us opportunities to be creative and maybe also a bit outrageous.

Here’s a fun and incredibly inexpensive idea, from Amy Sedaris’s book I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence. The book is funny, creative and “spicy.” (Read: over-the-top and sassy.)

To make the Nosey Tissue Ghost, you’ll need two sheets of facial tissue. Lay one out flat, then ball up the other one and place it in the center of the flattened sheet. Use monofilament (clear fishing) line to tie the head off at the neck. Dot with a felt tipped pen to mark eyes. Using clear tape, attach some more line to the top of the head.

Where to hang it? From a tree, from a front porch ceiling, anywhere where it could cause a stir. Clear fishing line is especially good, because it’s strong and will help to make the ghost look like it’s flying through the air. The local hardware store sells 500 yards for $3.00. (Once added to your craft supplies stash, it’s likely to come in handy for other uses, too.)

A few hung together could be even better. Boo!

About De-clutter Me!

De-clutter Me! offers non-judgmental, competitively-priced and confidential assistance to help clear clutter in your home and/or business. We’ve been “bringing calm to chaos” since 2013.

Posted in Gardening, Seasons, Timely Tips

Season Transition Plant Care

This Timely Tip first appeared in late September of last year. It’s that time again!

Now that summer’s officially over, you’ll want to care for outdoor plants. Here are some suggestions found online.

1. You’ll want to move your plants indoors when temperatures regularly drop below 60, and definitely before they get as low as 45 degrees F. If you can, plan to gradually transition your plants indoors, putting them in a shady spot for a few weeks before bringing them inside.

2. Decide where the plants will go in advance. Try to match the conditions outdoors, putting plants that were in bright sunlight in south-facing windows. If not possible, at least try to gradually move plants to lower-light areas over a few days or weeks. They may still lose leaves in response to the reduced light, but you can try to minimize the loss.

Note: Without any windows in the way, plants get more sun outdoors than they do inside. Use this as inspiration to wash your windows (both inside and out, if possible). Your plants will appreciate it and, if it’s been a long time since their last cleaning, so will you!

3. Inspect your plants to see if any have outgrown their pots and need to be repotted. If they do, be sure to choose a pot with drainage holes, and the appropriate new potting soil. Lightly prune plants that have gotten leggy while outside.

4. It’s really important to inspect your plants for pests and problems before you bring them indoors. Soak the pot in a tub of lukewarm water for 15 minutes to force any pests out in search of air. Drain thoroughly before bringing indoors. If you want to be extra sure that you’re not bringing in any uninvited guests with your plants, you may even want to quarantine them in a room separate from other plants for a few days.

5. Once you’ve got your plants transitioned indoors for the season, be sure not to overwater. For most plants, that means letting the soil dry to the touch before watering. You may find that the dry indoor air from your heat source(s) means that plants need nearly as much water in the winter as they do in the summer. Since they’ll grow less in response to less light, fertilizing monthly or bi-monthly during the winter should be sufficient.

Happy gardening and transition from summer to fall!

About De-clutter Me!

De-clutter Me! offers non-judgmental, competitively-priced and confidential assistance to help clear clutter in your home and/or business. We’ve been “bringing calm to chaos” since 2013.