Presentation: Its A Spring Thing! Tackle the Clutter & Take in the Color

IT’S A SPRING THING! Tackle The Clutter and Take In The Color 

Get ready for spring with a new look for your home! Join Certified Professional Organizer and Family Manager Coach Ellen Delap to learn the six step technique to tackle your clutter.  Interior Designer Leslie Sarmiento will share the newest trends in color and design for your home.  Bring a friend to enjoy this delightful afternoon program held at Kingwood Public Library on February 15 from 1 – 2:30 pm.  Please rsvp to Ellen at or Leslie at

 To learn more about organizing, visit  To learn more about interior decorating, visit  Join us on Facebook at or Leslies Interiors.

Clutter Support Groups Fall 2010

This fall I am excited to host 2 clutter support groups to help people define, establish and maintain an uncluttered life

 The Clutter Support Group supports members in

  • Clarifying their organizing and lifestyle goals
  • Transition their space and paper from disorganized to more organized
  • Discussing systems that will facilitate organization for them
  • Discussing routines that will facilitate organization for them


  • Group setting facilitated by certified professional organizer
  • Set your organizing goals and learn your organizing strengths
  • Put your strengths into practice by working on one space in your home during the 6 week time frame
  • Read along with Peter Walsh’s book Its All Too Much and discuss organizing challenges you face. 

Meeting structure

  • Beginning Tuesday evening September 21 or Wednesday morning September 22
  • Six weeks, Sessions of 1 ½ hours, at Kingwood Pine Hospital private room
  • Fee based membership of $120 for all sessions.  Pre-registration required.
  • Limited enrollment

Working with Hoarding Clients




Hoarders have become a national fascination!  Not only we do all know families struggling with this challenge, we know how tragic these situations are with respect to finances, emotions, safety and sometimes legal aspects.

Work with a hoarding situation begins with the client.

Who is the client? It is the hoarder, even though  the family, friends or other community members want the home decluttered.  An assessment of client readiness for change makes the difference.  Is the client ready to begin the process of letting go, creating a new way of life, and working toward maintenance and balance of acquisition ?  As a professional organizer, the first phone conversation with the hoarder tells me so much about our work together.

A successful approach for hoarding includes a team.

The team members are the client, the therapist and related professionals, the professional organizer, assistants to the organizer, skilled labor or other trade professionals as needed, and possibly haulers.  Collaborative therapy, where the client works with both a therapist for inner change and a professional organizer for outer change, makes for the best possible work arrangement.  As a professional organizer, I also find my hoarding clients work best with additional team members.  The energy that more people bring, the additional hauling off capability, and the resources that all the other team members bring to the project, neutralizes the shame and perfectionism the client is feeling.  In our work we usually find several home repair projects as we progress.  The project moves forward more quickly by having a handy man, electrician, and other trade people to call in as needed.


Work with hoarders proceeds at their pace.

With my own clients and their cases, we work on a regular basis, working in most difficult areas together.  Together we establish guidelines for donating through coaching.  Clients are encouraged and affirmed in good decision making.  Trust is the most important aspect of our relationship.  Clients see me as a motivator to change.    Every situation with hoarders is different in terms of how quickly progress occurs.



Hoarding resources

John Hart, PhD             


Tolin, Frost and Sketetee      Buried in Treasures


Tomkins and Hartl               Digging Out: Helping your loved one manage clutter, hoarding and compulsive acquiring

Organizing for the Mom Entrepreneur

I  love learning what works for moms!  In using twitter, I met the most organized entrepreneur mom ever, Melissa Lierman, @timeoutmom.  She shared with me the most important technology tools she uses to keep her busy home organized. 

  • My blackberry allows me to go to more kids activities because I can take the office with me.
  • Online bill paying takes the stress out of finances. 
  • Have  a dimmer switch in your bathroom for  bath time relaxation.
  • Have a DVR so you  are not tied to regular television viewing.   We just record our shows and watch when we want.   We have 2 DVRs, one for the family and one for me!
  • We have a slew of timers.  We play beat the clock, set the timer for 15 minutes and do crazy fast RTO = Restore the Order to the house.
  • The computer makes great spreadsheets for chore charts, after school routines, and organize weekly & monthly projects.
  • My  favorite non-tech item is her end-all be-all giant family calendar – master calendar to organize everyone’s work and activities.

Thanks Melissa for these great ideas! 

About Melissa

 Melissa Lierman will be married to her wonderful husband John 14 years in November and is a busy mom of 3 great kids – smart and sharp 11 year old MacKenzie Peter, artistic and creative almost 9 year old Maria Stella, and powerhouse action-packed 2.5 year old Jonathan Roger. She believes that the keys to success for a busy household are: lots of love, lots of patience, and lots of organization, and great communication.

 Melissa runs 3 businesses as a work at home mom. She travels once a a month speaking all across the United States and Canada teaching and training how to use Social Media and Twitter for Business. She fills in her time between travel with her product business (all mom-made), her training and consulting business, and her work with authors.  She teaches how to do it smarter, better, faster, stronger and goes by the nickname The Bionic Wonder Woman ! 

 Website: (complete re-do in process this summer, re-launch in september)







Financial Organizing: Organizing Your Money and Finances



We are continuing to live in tight money times. But even if not, being mindful of how we use our resources is always important.  Money and finances mean many things to people. Depending on our background, we may have experienced scarcity or prosperity. We may view money as “to be spread around like manure” (thank you Hello Dolly!) or for only the most important of needs. Getting organized about money is the first step.




Getting Organized with Your Money
Organization with your money is the first step to realizing your financial goals. Do you want to purchase a home, send your kids to college or retire early? Having a working knowledge of your finances makes these goals attainable. Be empowered by organizing your money with systems and routines that work for you. This all takes time, our most valuable resource, however organizing your money is well worth the investment.  Financial organizing takes a little extra time but is well worth it.




The Power of One
As in all organizing, you want to be able to find what you have! Having just one checking account is the way to know how and where you are spending it! Having one credit card not only simplifies paying the bill during the month, it also makes you most aware of where your money is going. If you are a small business owner, you should also have one credit card and one checking account for your company. Simplifying our connection to money can make all the difference. .




Write It Down
Writing down how and where you spend money is an enlightening experience! Just like those food logs that scare us into a lifestyle diet change, we can do the same for money. Keep a log of EACH item you purchase in a month. Not only will you realistically know what things cost to create a realistic budget, you will also know just how many times you are using money for “wants” rather than “needs”.

Ledgers can make the difference for us in keeping track of and being accountable about our funds. Use your check register all the time to record checks and debit card transactions as these occur. For bill paying, keep a ledger to record your payments to utilities, credit cards and other monthly expenses. This way you see what each bill is each month, compare the expenses of the bill each month, and be sure you paid it each month. Seeing it on paper makes money not only a currency traded, but an effective way to see what we are really about. You can also use Quicken to record the payments to see annually what your expenses are and to help balance your checking account each month.




Money and Taxes
Through out the year, donations and expenses are occurring related to taxes. Before tax season, you’ll start to receive tax related information from your job, your bank, etc. Keep all of these tax-related papers in a labeled file folder. This way, when you’re ready to do your taxes, you won’t have to search for the papers you need.




Money Routines
You hear it all the time: “pay yourself first!” Set up an automatic payment from you to your savings account. It is the most painless way to get ahead on your savings.

Having trouble paying your bills on time? Set up automated payments to get this done timely. You can use auto debit from your bank account or  You will still need to keep up to date on what is being paid and to whom, but the process can make a difference in getting the job done. Finish bill paying by filing all receipts into an easy access file or notebook.

 What works for you on making money count?



10 Ways Organizing Saves You Money


Here are 10 ways that cut to the chase on organizing and saving money. These 10 ways organizing saves you money will be the best reasons to get organized now.

1.                  You won’t need to buy things you already have. You won’t have to run to Walgreens to buy your kids index cards or school supplies.

2.                  You find money in your pockets – lots of it! We found $15,000 in a bin of papers!  We have found some money in every home where I work. 

3.                  You get reverse income by donating and using  Make a list of what you donate and create a spreadsheet.  Each time you donate usually adds up to $500 for tax deductions.

4.                  Your emotional and physical health improves so fewer doctors’ visits.  There are tons of allergens in paper piles, especially dust mites!

5.                  You prioritize saving money in entering your receipts into Quicken and know where you spend your money. Having a strong connection to your money saves you money in prioritizing how you spend it.

6.                  You clip coupons and save money every time you are at the grocery or drugstore. Some families spend only $20 on groceries a week with coupons.

7.                  You keep on top of home repair and other tasks. Prevent big expenditures by routine upkeep of your home and car.  Regular maintenance of your car means you can make more money on the resale.

8.                  You save money on the utilities in your home.  Being organized about your laundry means consistently filling the tub, washing the dished regularly with a full load and saving on heating/cooling costs by setting the temp at a consistent level.

9.                  You keep your purchases to a minimum. Being organized means buying what you need, when you need it, rather than compulsive shopping to assuage your emotions.

10.             Everyone knows saving time is saving money.  You can be more efficient and effective at everything you do by being organized!

 How does organizing save you money?








Start a new holiday tradition: Clutter free gifts

clutter free gifts


Each year we really want our holidays to be special.  Purchasing just the right gift, being sure it arrives on time, wrapping it, and budgeting for all the gifts can all be overwhelming, paralyzing and most especially not in the spirit of the season.  Is it time to rethink gift giving and simplify?  Start a new holiday tradition with clutter free gifts for your family and friends.

Our family is moving to the next step of gift giving. We are going to share in the fun of creating our Delap Family Cookbook. Everyone contributes recipes for this.  We  will print it and share it with the spirit of the season.

For our grands, we are giving memberships to the Houston Children’s Museum  and Houston Zoo  It is all about the experiences we will share as we go together to these places.

So here are some other conscious consumerism ideas. What creative and fun ideas will your family share this holiday?

Make some yummy treats to share with your friends and family too!

Ellen’s Banana Bread




½ c oil

1 ½ c sugar

1 t salt

1t baking soda

4 T milk

2 beaten eggs

3 very  ripe bananas mashed

2 c flour



Mix all together n electric mixer in the order given. Bake in 2 loaf pans sprayed with Baker’s Joy.   Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.  Freezes well!


Making the most of your money

Wondering about a budget? Here are some ideas to get you started!


Getting Started

Create a list of monthly expenses. Write down a list of all the expected expenses.  This includes your mortgage payment, car payments, auto and home insurance, groceries, utilities, entertainment, dry cleaning, retirement or college savings and everything else that is money spent.  These are the big ticket items.

Record ALL your spending. Write down all your expenses, both credit and cash in a daily log.  Doing this will make you think twice about unnecessary expenses, just like keeping a food diary makes you aware of every bite you take! After a month, review what you have spent your money on and ask yourself the true value of it.  Review this with your partner and confer on what is important, valued and prioritized. 



Look for ways to make small saving add up.

·                     Make dinner out a once a week splurge!  Bring your lunch to work and pack your kids’ lunches. 

·                     Curtail your afternoon coffee stop at Starbucks, stops for beverages like soda, and bring your own water in a non disposable container.

·                     Shop for clothes and household furnishings at resale and consignments shops. Need a holiday dress for your little girl? It is much cheaper at consignment than a major department store. Pick up furniture or other large items at

·                     Keep your home warmer in the summer and cooler in the winter.  You can save 5%–15% on your cooling bills by raising the temperature setting on your thermostat when you are away and don’t need cooling.  Keep your thermostat at 78 in the summer and 68 in the winter. Have your AC/Heat checked twice a year to be sure it is operating properly.

·                     Do chores you are paying someone else to do, like mow your lawn or clean your house. 


·                     Minimize your dry cleaning expense. 


Bigger savings on big ticket items

·                     Trade in your car for a less expensive model or purchase a used car instead of new.

·                     Reduce larger expenses by eliminating season tickets to ball games or musical events. 

·                     Refinance your mortgage with the new lower rates.  If new mortgages are costing at least two percentage points less than the rate you’re paying, refinancing may save you significant dollars.

·                     Increase your deductible on your insurance.



Some ideas for percentages for the budget

·                     Savings 10%

·                     Mortgage 25 – 30%

·                     Household expenses of utilities 10-15%

·                     Other obligations (debt/tithing) 10%

·                     Insurance, medical care 10- 15%

·                     Auto payment, car care, gas 10%

·                     Recreation and entertainment 5%

Once you have found ways to make your expenses at least 10% less than your income, create an automatic deduction each month that sweeps that 10% into a savings account. Now you are on track to be a stay at home mom!


Cultivate a mindset of less is more.

Accumulating stuff, whether it is a luxury auto, designer clothes or a big abode, takes its toll.  We have more to take care of and it ends up as a burden instead of a blessing.  Cultivating a mindset of less is more is thinking through the whether that “stuff” is more important than relationships. In creating our family, we should decide on our values and mission and create priorities as a result. Is your mission to have your children raised in a one income family with a stay at home mom or dad? It will take valuing that goal above all else to make it happen. It is in having less stuff, fewer expenses, a smaller home, less extravagant autos, and more about relationships, that we can accomplish this mission.