Wishing you the happiest of holiday seasons!

with gratitude during the holidays


Wishing you a holiday season filled with hope, love, joy, kindness, comfort, gratitude, laughter and friendship! 

I am grateful for our connection!

It’s Not About Having it All

Jean Chatsky It's Not about having it all

Quick Start Back to School: Back To School Clothes

back to school organizing clothes


Your kids just got out of school and it is already time for Back To School.  It’s hard to get started, so I have created this series Quick Start Back to School to get everyone going!   The next post is about Back To School Clothes.


Your kids keep outgrowing their clothes. They’ve been wearing gym shorts and flip flops all summer.  Now it’s time for school to start and its time for Back to School clothes.


Weed out clothes

  • Your kids drawers may not be closing because there are too many clothes.  Your kids drawers may be a mishmash of all types of clothes together.  Start by weeding out what is too short, too tight or not appropriate for school.  Work with each child for 15 minutes, and then finish up in an hour.
  • Weed out shoes too.
  • Donate or consign clothes that day.


Categorize Back to School clothes

  • Not everything will be clothes for school.  Set up areas for dressy and after school clothes.
  • Determine what’s easiest for your child to maintain: hanging or folding clothes.
  • Set up easy access for your child to get clothes out the night before and get ready the next day.
  • Make a list and set a budget for clothing purchase to fill in.


Back to school clothes routines

  • Have your kids lay out clothes the night before and get all their stuff ready for the next day.  Start practicing this a week before school begins.
  • Baskets and a triple slotted sorter are great for laundry routines.  Each child should have a basket to carry clothes to and from the laundry room.  The sorter is great in the laundry area.
  • Host a family meeting to talk about laundry standards.  When will clothes be washed and put away? Who will help with this?  Having procedures in place helps everyone work as a team.


Back to school clothes can be found inexpensively at consignment shops, during tax free weekend or online at Thredup.   Being organized about your shopping list saves you money!


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Organizing Life’s Celebrations


organizing life's celebrations

May is the month of celebrations, including graduations from kindergarten to college and beyond, weddings, and baby showers.  Your family may be preparing for a family reunion celebration.  Celebrations are the way we come together as a family, support each other and recognize achievement.  Often we have different responsibilities to help organize the celebration.  We can all have a different role in organizing life’s celebrations.

If you are hosting the celebration

  • Set a date early and send out a notice by email to those included.  There are fabulous online resources such as paperless post and evite to include everyone.
  • Make a list of tasks for celebration, including budget, location, food, decorations, take-aways and invitations.  Check out 3 resources for each idea, makes notes in Evernote or a notebook, and make a decision so you are ready to go.
  • Invite others in your family to be a part of the preparations.  Share the responsibility and share the fun.  Check in with them on their part through email, phone or text to be sure things are going smoothly.
  • Remember to keep it simple sweetie! The bigger the plans, the bigger the stress and the bigger the budget. Simple plans create memorable occasions.

If you are attending the celebration

  • Check the date and block out the time as soon as the invitation arrives.
  • RSVP as soon as possible. In our days RSVPs are rare so help the host with this small step.
  • Make travel plans and arrange accommodations if needed.
  • Ask the host how you can help.  You can tie ribbons, put up decorations or even bring coffee!
  • Ask about whether and what gift is appropriate.  Often a small token or lovely card is what is most important.

Our family has been blessed to celebrate with nieces, nephews and other family over the past several years. Our family has attended our kids weddings at a distance. It is truly a blessing to gather and celebrate. With a plan everything comes together!

What ways has your family celebrated together?  What will you be celebrating this summer?



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Come back next week when I share ideas on organizing your family photos after your celebration!


Service to NAPO Award 2013

napo 2013 award with president croped


This year I was honored at the National Conference of the National Association of Professional Organizers with the Service to NAPO Award.  This special award is presented to an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to NAPO or the organizing industry not described under other award categories.

My service to NAPO began as soon as I joined our organization. I have been privileged to serve on the Education, Leadership Task Force, Social Media, Marketing and Conference Committees, in addition to being the Conference Committee Chair in 2008.  Locally, I have been the Vice President and President of NAPO Houston.  Being on these committees has given me the opportunity to collaborate with colleagues and promote our industry.  I always choose to serve in a way that uses my strengths and in a way that builds a team.  After 12 years of service, I have more to give too!

I am grateful to have the opportunity to work with my colleagues and make a difference in our industry.   It is an honor to be recognized with this award.

Reflections of a Chief Junker


I am thrilled to have my friend Tiffany Eckhardt share some reflections as owner of Flown the Coop.  What you think of her perspective on her stuff?

Everything in my home has a price tag.  Seriously, there is a tag on just about everything.  

 I once asked my Flown The Coop Facebook friends if keeping inventory tags on treasures at home was normal.  I was feeling a bit awkward when visitors came to my home until friends in the industry confirmed that I was not alone.

 As chief junker at Flown The Coop, I have the privilege of buying and selling unique pieces of furniture, reclaimed industrial pieces for home use and kitschy vintage items.   

I love acquiring and enjoying my treasures for a time, then setting them free to be enjoyed by another family.  For example, I recently decided to let go of a huge letter E that served as a unique focal point in our living room.  The letter came from a discarded Office Depot sign and sat behind our couch on a table as a conversation piece.  Honestly, as much as I loved it, I took just as much pleasure in knowing the gentleman who bought the E was thrilled with his new treasure.  

I try not to get attached to my treasures, except priceless family heirlooms or treasures that I bought traveling with my husband.  I’ve learned that I can eventually find replacements for pieces that I let go.  For that reason, I rarely take my Flown The Coop inventory tags off pieces I use in my home.  Eventually the piece will return to inventory and be replaced by another equally unique treasure.  

 I imagine keeping the tags on furniture or pieces of art would be embarrassing for most people.  I don’t encourage it.  What I am proposing is to keep an open mind about items that create clutter.  Letting go of items in your home that no longer serve a purpose can be freeing and can make room for a new decor.  I guarantee someone will consider your junk as treasure.  

 Enjoy your treasures, but when it’s time feel free to let them go!  

Tiffany Eckhardt and her family recently moved from Ohio to their new home in the Houston Heights.  She is chief junker at Flown The Coop, a business that reclaims and repurpose furniture, industrial pieces and kitschy vintage items.  You can find Flown The Coop at Chippendale Eastlake Antiques and at Urban Market Houston, Warrenton Antique Week and the Dallas Market.  Follow her flight pattern on her Facebook page.  Learn more about Tiffany at http://www.chippendaleon19th.com/  and http://2flownthecoop.com/

Back to School: Tips for Family Responsibilities



Back to school! Its that time of year that makes moms happy and sad; happy to start new routines and sad about the energy and organization it can take to get your family going. Throughout the month of August we are featuring organized moms who will help get you started back to school with the toughest tasks.

Moms are challenged to get everyone to do their part for family responsibilities and chores. Getting everyone to pitch in makes a difference. 

Chores at our house became more of a chore to discuss and get our son to do than an asset to our family time.  The arguing and nagging were non-stop.  To get over our hump, as I knew things would only get worse without instilling a sense of pride and ownership into our house for our son (3 at the time, currently 5 1/2), I began with a family meeting regarding expectations.   My husband had his jobs, I had my jobs, and our son was assigned his job(s).

We began with small tasks for our little man.  His first: putting away his clothes.  Not all of his clothes, but ones that didn’t really matter if they got wrinkled or not, like underwear or socks.  Each time he did it without complaining, he got to pick a sticker from the pack (we went to the store and stocked up on stickers that he picked out prior to doing this).  When he got 5 stickers, he got a reward.  Each category of our sticker chart had a pre-determined reward for filling in all sections.  After a week or two, we increased his load and ours.  (Of course, we described our jobs in more detail instead of adding more things for us to do.  For example, instead of “cleaning house”, it became “cleaning floors and vacuuming” for me and “outside chores” because “mowing and weed eating” for my husband.)  He started putting away his clothes AND putting out the napkins on the table for each meal.  Again, we followed thru with the sticker chart.  We kept it on the fridge so that it was a reminder to him AND us to use.   Consistency regarding the chart is what made this successful.  When I forgot to fill it in, he reminded me.

As he became more experienced and older, we increased his load even more.  Additionally, instead of getting stickers, he now gets an allowance ($3 a week). He saves him money for things he wants to buy.  His chores now consist of: putting all of his clothes away, matching the clean socks, picking up his room each night before getting ready for bed, setting the table for all meals, clearing the table after all meals, unloading the tupperware and silverware from the dishwasher, and washing or drying dishes (whichever would be easiest for him to do based on the dishes…we avoid him handling knives and glass as much as possible).  If he helps clean the bathroom (I spray the chemicals, he wipes), he gets 50 cents. If he helps clean the floors (yes, that includes sweeping and mopping), he gets 50 cents. If there is an extra family task (planting a tree, weeding the flowers, painting the porch, going through clothes, etc.) he has the opportunity to earn additional money (usually $1-$5) depending on the expectation of the outcome for the job’s difficulty level. On a side note, we switched to money instead of toy rewards because it was getting expensive.  As an added bonus, he is now learning the value of money.  Sometimes he requests 4 quarters instead of a one dollar bill, for example.

Here is the important part: ALL (not just a few and not just randomly) responsibilities need to be completed the first time asked AND without an argument to receive his allowance.  That means that if he does a great job all week but blows it over the weekend, he gets no allowance…not even part of it.  Seems harsh, right?  I thought so at first, but it is way worth it.  That was a challenge for him at the beginning, but after a few times of not getting his allowance, he knew we meant business.  The payoff of outlasting his behavior to show him we mean business, way out weighs giving into his fits for his allowance.  I didn’t threat to not pay him and then give him a partial amount.  What would I be teaching him?  This: it’s ok to throw fits to get what you want, you can do things in a half hearted way and get rewarded, the child makes the rules not the parent.  That’s not how it works.  I am the parent.  He is the child.  I am teaching a lifelong skill of self respect, self discipline, following directions, respecting adults, doing things because the need to get done, etc.  This is a black and white issue for us.  Either he will learn to take responsibility and become a responsible citizen or not.

It takes all of us to make our house be successful.  We set the bar at the level we want and WE are in control of him meeting that expectation.  WE are the parents.  He meets our expectation, he doesn’t set the expectation.  I learned that he could really do more than what I was originally expecting.  So, when he got rewarded for his efforts, he had the desire to show me what else he could do.  I no longer need to “water down” my expectations-I set the bar and he reaches it…because he can.  As he begins Kindergarten this year, we will increase his chores yet again.  Lucky kid…

Tiffani Collins is a 7th grade math teacher with one son.  She enjoys spending time with her family and her dog Spartan, and especially family game night. 

Kingwood Library Presentation: Organizing Your Garage

Join me at Kingwood Public Library for Organizing Your Garage on April 19 at 3:30 pm.  Starting with your organizing team, learn ways to declutter and organizing your car, gardening, athletic and more stuff in your garage. You will also learn what NOT to keep in there!

100 days to Christmas

Each year we vow to get started early for our holiday preparations.  We also want to make the holidays more meaningful and connected, less about stuff and more about people.  Jennifer Tankersley created the 100 Days to Christmas E-Book for you!

Jennifer, owner of ListPlanIt, was inspired in 2008 to start off the holiday season on September 16, posting daily ways to get ready for your holidays.  Overwhelmingly, the response was that of gratitude for daily tasks, setting goals, and offering encouragement during a busy time of year.  For the first time, you have the opportunity to see it all up front without having to wait for the next task to be published each day. The 100 Days to Christmas 2011 eBook has everything you need to get started on your holiday planning and to further motivate you through a series of major holidays.

Some of my favorite daily posts:

  • On day 99, Jennifer suggests printing out your calendar and mark all the upcoming holidays between September and December. There are many!
  • On day 93, fall is in the air! It is time to decorate for fall and also sort out the different seasonal decor.   Getting ahead on your holiday decorations by first categorizing, then by identifying what you use and what can be donated, really saves you time and money during this season.
  • On day 51, you are invited to share your blessings with a local food back.
  • On day 45, there is a moment for gratitude included in your preparation.

Each part of the holiday preparation, from budgeting, to sending holidays cards, to decorating, is included in baby steps, with a time line, to help you prepare your home.  Most importantly with this preparation you are ready to enjoy the holiday yourself! That is the best gift of all! 

You can purchase 100 Days to Christmas at http://100daystochristmas.com/.  Enjoy!