Pics to take with your cell phone or camera

One of the advantages of digital cameras and cellphones with cameras are that you can use the cameras to capture things other than standard images.   I wasn’t born in the digital age so it doesn’t always come naturally to me to think about taking a picture instead of using some other mechanism to retain info.

From Home Depot $10I bought some flowers this weekend, a variety I had never heard of: Coreopsis.  I knew that next year when the plants came back up I wouldn’t remember a thing about them, including the name.  So I took a picture of the label that came with the plant.  I did that with the other varieties of plants I bought as well, alternating with a picture of each plant.  So next year, I can go into a store and ask for some Coreopsis or Calibrachoa Caberets (purple and white flowers pictured) and know I’ll like what I’m getting.

A few weeks ago I attendedCalibrachoa Caberets a charity event with friends.  They had bought a raffle ticket for a $10,000 prize.  My friend showed me a pic of the ticket on his iPhone, proof of owning the ticket just in case it got lost.  Snap a picture of any important documents in case you need the info in a hurry or you want proof you had the document in your possession.

A friend of mine, who was shopping for blenders, asked me to check prices in one of the warehouse clubs I belong to.  There were a number I found I thought she might be interested in, so I took a pic of each one, as well as the price tags which showed features and prices.  I was able to send her the pics and not have to worry about writing it all down and possibly missing key attributes.

My husband and I have been looking for a new vanity for our powder room.  Every time one of us comes across a new item, we take a pic of it along with the price/description.  Those pics come in handy when you’re trying to remember and compare similar items.  After a while, everything starts to look alike and these pictures can help you remember key details.

A few years back we were robbed and had to let the insurance company know what was stolen.   A lot of items were taken and it was a little hard to figure out what was missing.  In some cases we still had the boxes (because my husband never throws out the box for anything “important”) which helped us prove exactly what models of each item were stolen.  For years I’ve heard about the idea of photographing all of your possessions for reasons just like that, but we have a lot of stuff and it sounds overwhelming.  I have started taking pictures of the model and serial numbers on bigger ticket items we purchase just in case.

Pictures are not just pictures anymore, they’re data .  What unusual items have you used your camera or cell phone to take pictures of?

Downsize and free yourself

My siblings and I banded together to help my 78 and 83 year old parents downsize to a smaller 2150 square foot ranch (bigger than my house) a few weeks ago.  One of the main purposes in moving from a house they loved, but which they knew they couldn’t stay in long term, was so they’d be forced to purge some of their possessions.  Mom and Dad have their own set of “crap” and neither wanted to deal with the other persons stuff so the thought was they’d be forced to get rid of a lot of it in the process of moving.

Things didn’t go according to plan.  The house sold 4 days after being put on the market (they receivied four offers, two over their asking price).   The details of the deal were finalized as they left for their annual month-long trip to Florida.  They returned to their Amherst home to start frantically packing and ended up closing and moving less than a month later.  Needless to say, they didn’t have time to sort their belongings and instead packed and moved most of them.  As my siblings, husband, brother-in-law and I hauled boxes out one door and into another we all vowed to purge our own belongings long before we got to my parents’ age.

I recently came across this great online article entitled: Organizing is Turning You Into a Hoarder and it really hit home with me.  In the past, my husband’s solution to having too much stuff was to go out and buy more totes and shelving units to store it.  I’d hit my limit a while back and decided maybe we should get rid of some items, but he hadn’t hit his. I’m hoping the experience of moving my parent’s “useless” stuff will hit a chord with him and make him rethink his strategy.

Time to turn ’em around and inside out

This October has been beautiful and warmer than normal, so I delayed putting away my summer clothes and getting out the winter ones.  After seeing this week’s weather forecast I decided it was finally time to start turning things around and putting them inside out.

I’d actually already put away a tote full of clothes I knew I wasn’t going to wear again until next year.  With the nice weather last week I’d made a point of wearing some lightweight clothes I hadn’t had a chance to wear earlier.   There were more clothes I hadn’t worn than I had expected. Since I changed my schedule this summer, working from home two days a week, I wasn’t wearing as many of my “career” clothes.

backwardsAs I put items away, I did pull a few pieces out, because either they didn’t really fit or had fallen out of favor.  They’ll get offered to my sisters and nieces, and then either get listed with other clothing on Craigslist or get donated.  There were some items that I wasn’t quite ready to get rid of but never wore.  Those items got turned inside out and put away as a reminder for next spring that they’re potentially on the chopping block.  There were still a few pieces of clothing I wasn’t ready to give up yet, even though they were inside out and backwards (a sign they hadn’t been worn for at least 2 years).  All the year round clothing in my closet has already been turned around so I can start the process again.

As I sort through the totes of fall and winter clothes, I’ll assess whether items should even return to my wardrobe. If they do, they’ll be hung up backwards or placed inside out in drawers and then we’ll see in the spring which ones I never wore.

Turn them around and inside out

People who know me know I’m a bit of a clothes horse.  My clothes aren’t real expensive but I acquired quite a collection over the years and still have quite an investment in my wardrobe. In 2009 when I was unemployed, I was able to take advantage of my large wardrobe and got to wear clothes I hadn’t worn much in past years and since I couldn’t afford to buy many new items I was glad to have a large selection to choose from.

I’ve always had a hard time getting rid of clothes.  If something goes out of style, I still hang on to it in the hopes that it will eventually make a comeback.  My closet is stuffed and I have about 6 totes of out of season clothes and shoes I keep in the attic.  I spent this past weekend putting away the winter clothing and bringing out the spring and summer clothing. Another reason I’m reluctant to let go of items I bought is because I somehow get the feeling that getting rid of an item means I probably shouldn’t have bought it in the first place.

Seven months ago when I got out my fall and winter clothes I tried a suggestion I had heard which would help me prune my wardrobe.  I hung all the clothes in the closet with the hangers facing towards me instead of away.  Once I wear something the hanger gets turned around.  This allows me to see how much of my clothes I actually wear.  I  know some clothes I wear often and others hardly at all.  These past few months, at least once a week, I tried to wear something I hadn’t worn yet.  So as I put away my clothes away, I had to make some tough decisions.  It was time to let go of  pants that didn’t really fit and wouldn’t likely ever fit again.  And I’m not a twenty year old anymore so the some of the shorter skirts were out too.  It felt good to let go even though I probably didn’t get rid of as many as I could have.

So now as I get out the spring and summer clothes I’m backing to turning everything around and trying to wean some more items out.  I have a lot of items that go in my dresser drawers so I’ve turned all of those inside out to indicate I haven’t worn them yet and 6 months from now I’ll see what’s still turned around which means I should get rid of it.

This method is working for me so if your closet is bursting at the seams you might want to give it a try.

April is a good month to…

The warmer weather and sunnier days of April always gets me motivated. Here are some productive things you can do this month:

  • Sort through your old books, movies, CDs and video games and decide to swap for different items on or and one of its sister sites
  • Join Planet Fitness. They usually run a special the first week of April. If you’ve been thinking about joining, now’s the time to take action.
  • Go through your stuff and find items to sell online
  • Prepare for a garage sale
  • Buy something from the WXXI auction and help a good cause.  The Rochester PBS station auction for 2011 starts April 16, so register now.

April’s going to be a great month!

Shred even the small stuff

I’m very excited that Dorothy Madden, founder and owner of ORGANIZE IT!, a professional organizing company has agreed to write another guest blog.


Professional Organizer Dorothy Madden

Dorothy Madden

Looking for a cost-effective and convenient solution for shredding your papers?  Look no further than your local OfficeMax!

Last year OfficeMax partnered with Shred-it, a global leader in secure document destruction, to provide shredding services for individual consumers and small businesses. It’s a win-win for everyone, especially the environment because the shredded materials get recycled.

Don’t let your piles collect at home! Regardless of how much or how little you have, just box your papers neatly, load them in your car and drive to your local OfficeMax. Your papers (including staples and paper clips) are weighed before shredding. Currently the cost is 59 cents per pound.

An OfficeMax ImPress associate inserts your papers into a locked container behind the counter (you can watch) and only Shred-it has the key. Shred-it’s truck comes every couple of weeks (more often if needed) and a bonded, insured Shred-it representative shreds the papers on-site within the Shred-it truck. Learn more at:  OfficeMax secure document shredding.

There are five OfficeMax locations from Rochester to Lockport and nine in the Buffalo-Niagara Falls area. For a location close to you, see the OfficeMax store locator. So where’s the catch? There is none.  However, it is recommended that you call the store before going to confirm there is room in the Shred-it containers.  They fill up fast!

As you prepare your taxes, you may find you have old information to shred. Or you may just be in the mood to get organized and clean out some files, a little at a time. Consider using this easy, affordable, convenient solution available at your local OfficeMax!

Additional resources for Shredding, Recycling/Disposing, Selling, Donating, and Consigning your items may be found at

Dorothy Madden, a professional organizer in Rochester since 1997, is the founder and owner of ORGANIZE IT! She helps people create orderly solutions for everyday life in their offices and homes. Learn more at .  You can contact Dorothy at 585.381.5511.

Get Organized

Every January I get the urge to get organized and declutter. After putting all of the holiday decorations away I love how my house seems to have more space which has a calming effect on me.  I then vow to continue decluttering and do a better job of keeping my stuff organized.

Last year at this time I was lucky enough to have professional organizer Dorothy Madden, founder and owner of ORGANIZE IT!, a professional organizing company, write some guest blogs about undecorating after the holidays and dealing with items amassed during the holidays. I was happy to see an article, How to kick clutter in the new year, featuring Dorothy on the front page of last week’s Messenger Post Newspaper.  I’ll leave this topic to the expert…Dorothy!

Professional Organizer Dorothy Madden

Dorothy Madden