Thursday, December 29, 2011

O Christmas Tree


Taking down holiday decorations is never as fun as putting them up. And as much as I’m looking forward to 2012, I’m always sad to see the holiday season come to an end.

But, why not continue the good cheer by recycling your tree into mulch for various parks around New York City? This year MulchFest, a program through the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, the New York City Department of Sanitation, and GreeNYC, will take place on January 7-8 from 10am to 2pm.


Never fear if you can’t make it to one of these chipping sites on January 7-8. You can drop off your tree at one of these drop-off locations from January 2-8.


And finally, if you can’t make it to one of these locations, leave your tree curbside starting January 3 through January 8. Don’t put the tree in a plastic bag, and remember to remove all tree stands, tinsel, lights, and ornaments from trees before placing them out for collection.


For all you non-New Yorkers out there, check with your locals Parks or Sanitation departments. I found similar programs from Portland, Oregon, to Atlanta, Georgia, and everywhere in between.


Happy New Year and see you back here in 2012!

Friday, December 23, 2011

Happy Holidays



AND ORGANIZED! Wishing you health, happiness and peace during this holiday season and through the coming year.

To view Urban Simplicity's holiday card from Paperless Post, click here.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Gift Guide: Five Fantastic Stocking Stuffers

How about filling your family’s stockings with gifts to keep them organized? This week, I’m recommending stocking stuffers that won't break the bank. And trust me, these are gifts that everyone on your list will love.

For your Sis / Girlfriend / Wife: Stephanie Johnson Cases
I can’t get enough of these cases with so many sizes and gorgeous designs. They are great to contain supplies, make-up or other items in her bag.




For your Bro / Boyfriend / Hubby: Cocoon’s GRID-IT! Organizer
Is the guy in your life into gadgets? This is perfect for all his cords and wires and the straps provide endless configuration options. It’s also a great piece for a guy often on the go.


Mom has lots going on. With this contraption that hooks on the edge of her purse, she’ll never riffle through her bag searching for keys again.




For your Dad: ID Guard Stamp
Stamping is the new shredding. In a single stamp, Dad will prevent identity theft by making addresses disappear from bills, junk mail, invoices, and credit card statements.




For everyone: CableDrop Cord Clips
No one likes those pesky cords. These clips keep them from falling off the desk every time you unplug your laptop.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

The Perfect Gift

It’s definitely the most wonderful time of the year, but at times, finding the right gift for loved ones can be downright dreadful.


If you’re struggling to find the perfect holiday gift for someone on your list, then look no further. Give the gift of peace of mind with one of Urban Simplicity’s special holiday packages.


Closet Cleanse Package
For the man or woman who has everything, but can’t seem to find it…
In a three-hour organizing session, we’ll give a closet a top to bottom overhaul, including hands on advice to purge, sort, and re-organize every last item. We’ll also offer recommendations for our favorite products to keep your closet organized.
Price: $300


Room Refresher Package
Is one area of your home causing your loved one grief? Maybe they can’t get the home office right, or they are struggling to keep the playroom organized.
In this three-hour organizing session, we’ll create a detailed action plan for the space. The plan of action includes: understanding the function of the space, sketching out a space plan, and recommending storage units to keep it organized.
Price: $300


Gift Certificate
Just in case these packages don't seems like a perfect fit, a gift certificate is another option. Mention this blog post and receive 20 percent off a gift certificate for a four-hour organizing session.
Price: Regularly $500, Now $400


To purchase or learn more, simply call 646-942-8676 or email kkb@UrbanSimplicityNYC.com. We’ll get you taken care of and on your way in a jiffy!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Guest Blog Post: Six Tips for End of Year Financial Organization


Sometimes, you have to know when to call in the experts. And when it comes to financial organization, Judith Heft, owner of Judith Heft and Associates, is the woman to see. Her company specializes in bookkeeping and daily financial management for busy people.
So this week, I have a guest blog post from Judy with six steps she personally takes to get her financial files prepared for the end of the year. Follow her example, and you’re sure to be prepared for that dreaded visit to the accountant in 2012.

Six Tips for End of Year Financial Organization
By Judith Heft
It’s the end of November, and this year is coming to a close. I have mixed emotions about this. I don’t like the cold, so I’m not excited about winter. But, I am excited about new, clean, and orderly files. I think of it as a new beginning!

1. Out with the old and in with the new. By the end of the year, my files are jammed. I subscribe to the concept that objects that no longer serve you prevent fortune from coming into your life. At the end of the year I go through them and toss or shred what I don’t need. I love shredding and throwing old paperwork out. It’s cathartic for me. And remember that insurance policies can be shredded when the new policy effective date starts.


2. Develop a filing system that you are comfortable using. It doesn’t really matter what filing system you use, as long as it works for you. I like to use a monthly accordion file with elastic to keep it closed. That way I keep paid household bills in a neat and orderly fashion.


3. Make a separate file with anything that is tax deductible, labeled “Tax Prep (Year).” When my tax documents start coming in from my financial institutions in January, I have a place to put them so I am ready for my CPA. And, of course, I have everything categorized in Quicken so I can run an organized report. That also saves me time filling out a tax organizer.


4. Keep a permanent file with home capital improvements. That way if and when I decide to sell I will have my house tax deductions all in one place.


5. Keep deductible medical expenses in a separate file. I was in an accident a few months ago and everything was filed together so I had it all at my fingertips when I needed to look something up.


6. Update your warranty files. The end of the year is a good time to go through your warranties file (You do have one, don’t you?) and get rid of the warranties and operating instructions for the items that broke or you sold or donated.

If your life is a busy as mine, get financially organized. It will not only give you peace of mind, it will save you time and money.


To learn more about Judy and her company, check out her website here. She also offers great tips on Facebook and Twitter.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Giving Thanks to Five Organizational Tools

This time of year is all about gratitude, which got me to thinking how lucky and grateful I am to be able to do what I love – organizing – to help other people live better lives.

It also got me to thinking about the simple tools I use on a daily basis that make my life, and my client’s lives, easier. So, here are five organizing tools that I’m most thankful for.


1. Linus Drawer Organizers – From wrangling the odds and ends in junk drawers to kitchen utensils to office supplies, these bins are the best. They’re sturdy and come in shallow and deep versions.

2. Pinterest – This site inspires me and gives me unending creative ideas to solve my client’s organizational challenges. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you absolutely should, and please follow my boards here.
3. Tape Measure – I never make recommendations to a client on storage solutions without taking measurements of their space. My trusty tape measure is always at my side.
4. Label Maker – My gratitude for the P-Touch started many years before my official organizing career. And the love affair continues.


5. Amazing Key Hook – How many moments of insanity has this little tool spared me? Too many to count. I never lose my keys in the bottom of my bag, because they are always hooked on the edge of my purse. Simple. Genius.

And a Happy Thanksgiving to you! Take time to relax, eat well, and enjoy it.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A Face for Radio


That’s totally me. You have to check out my segment today on BreakThru Radio, an online station based in NYC that’s dedicated to uncovering the independent, innovative, up-and-coming entrepreneurs in music, fashion, literature, and culture. Yep, that’s also me.

DJ Marie, the station’s resident fashion guru, interviewed me for her weekly fashion-focused talk / music show called Sew & Tell. The station is hosting "Housing Week," examining the various cultural, social, and economical implications of housing and moving. Sounds fancy, huh?

We chatted about lots of stuff, but I’m not giving it away. You have to listen here.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

My Off the Hook Weekend, Continued

As promised, the juicy details of my weekend continue. After all the drilling in the kitchen last weekend, I moved into the bedroom.

Confession: I use my hairdryer daily, and I always leave it out on my vanity. Not so neat and organized.


So, I installed a hook on the underside of my vanity to hang my hairdryer. I made a hole with a nail to get the hook in more easily. Then it just required a bit of elbow grease to screw the hook in tightly.


With two mini-projects under my belt, I got to thinking about all the ways to use hooks to organize items around the home. First, the key is to put items you need easy access to on hooks so they will always be at your fingertips. Another tip is to consider creative ways to add hooks to the back of cabinet and closet doors. This will keep overstuffed areas neatly organized and items out of view.


Here are some of my favorite uses for hooks:
  • In the entryway to your home, for coats and backpacks. Bonus points if the hooks are in individual cubbies for each family member.
  • By the door, for your keys.
  • Over the bathroom door, for towels and robes.
  • In your craft or gift wrapping area, for small, regularly used items.

  • Under your kitchen cabinet, for dishtowels and sponges for dishwashing.
  • In the kitchen for large utensils, measuring cups, even pots and pans.
  • In your closet for purses, scarves, and belts. Or for those pants that never quite make it back on the hanger.
  • In your bedroom or dressing area, as an interesting way to display necklaces.
  • In your garage for tools and exercise equipment, like jump ropes and tension ropes.
As you can imagine, the options are limitless.


What are some creative ways you use hooks in your home or office? I'd love to hear from you!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

My Off the Hook Weekend

Last weekend, instead of hitting some hot Halloween party in a ridiculous costume, I decided to have a professional organizer’s version of an "off the hook" weekend.

One kitchen cabinet in particular has been foiling me for a while. Every time I go to grab my measuring cups and spoons, I fumble around to find what I need. I came across this photo on Pinterest and knew it would be the perfect solution.


I did some quick measurements of the cabinet door before hitting Beacon Paint and Hardware. It’s my go to place, because the guys don’t laugh at my ridiculous questions. For $18.45, I picked up all the supplies I needed: eight small screw-in hooks, four wood planks, eight screws, paint, and a foam paintbrush. 


First, I painted the wood planks a cheery yellow color.


After the paint dried, the real work began. I screwed the hooks into the wood planks. To get the hooks in, I made a small hole in the planks with a nail.

Next, I drilled the wood planks into the cabinet door. I’m not exactly Handy Manny around the house. Any sort of project that involves my drill makes me a bit nervous. All told, it went well, aside from one mishap.


If you drill too close to the end of the wood plank, it will crack. Oops.

The final step is to hang the measuring cups on the hooks and admire your handy work. 


Stay tuned for more highlights from my off the hook weekend in next week’s blog post. Get excited!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Guest Blog Post: Five Tips to Make Your Space Look Larger

In New York City, it’s all about working with what you’ve got, especially when it comes to our small living spaces. Part of my job as an organizer is to help clients make the most of their small spaces through organization, furniture layout, and storage pieces that can do double duty.

So this week, while I’m on the road working on a special project, I have a guest blog post from Betsy Helmuth, owner of Affordable Interior Design, a firm that gives clients of all income levels a beautiful space that reflects who they are. I love that Betsy is making interior design accessible and doing it with style.

Check out Betsy's brilliant tips to make your small space look larger. Plus, a bonus tip from Urban Simplicity: Cut the clutter.

Five Tips to Make Your Space Look Larger
By Betsy Helmuth

I know small spaces:  I lived in a 250 square foot studio in the West Village, a 90 square foot apartment in Hell's Kitchen, and a 30 square foot chambre de bonne in Paris – that's right, 30 square feet!  I survived in these cramped quarters with these tips:

1. Get Air Under There
Select a sofa and chairs with exposed legs and open arms.  These open areas allow air to circulate and make the furniture feel less heavy.

2. Work the Wall Color 

Make the larger pieces the same color as the walls.  Bulky items like futons and armoires will blend and widen the room if they are the same hue as the wall paint.

3. Get Down with Diagonals

The longest line in any room is the diagonal.  So putting something at a slant will draw your eye to the longer distance. Additionally, you’ll get corner space for a lamp or plant.

4. Concentrate on Clear

Glass tables, acrylic chairs, and plexi pieces will allow light to pass through them, creating the appearance of less and lighter furniture.


5. Allow for Luxuries

Living in tiny place can feel anything but luxurious.  Splurge on a few things that make you and your guests feel you are somewhere grand.  Get great linens, tableware, or lamps.

For more tips form Betsy, check out her blog here, where she features her sales on her favorite home furnishings. And learn more about Betsy and Affordable Interior design at affordableinteriordesignnyc.com.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Guest Blog Post: ListProducer.com



Back in July, Paula Rizzo with ListProducer.com was kind enough to write a guest blog post about vacation planning while I was vacationing out in Palm Springs. By the way, now is the time to plan a winter getaway, so check it out here.

This week, I’ve written a guest post for her blog, which was recently named the Most Valuable Blog in New York City. Seriously impressive! So I’m honored to be featured on her site and to share six financial incentives of getting organized with her readers and with you. You can read it here.

On another note, I am all about writing guest blog posts, so if you write a blog or know someone who does, please reach out to me. I look forward to hearing from you. 

Friday, October 7, 2011

My Five Simple Sanity Savers

It’s the little things that keep me going. Like a good play list during spin class or Haribo sour gummies after dinner.

This week, I’m sharing five simple systems in my home that keep me sane. These are the little things that make my days more efficient and my evenings at home more relaxing.

1. Shoe organizer on the back of my coat closet door. So simple, yet so effective. The coat closet in our home is right by the entry to our apartment, so it’s a great place to stash all the things we grab on the way in and out like umbrellas, grocery shopping bags, cold weather accessories, and gym stuff. An over the door shoe organizer is a cost effective way to keep things organized, and it makes the most of that dead space.

Photo courtesy of Real Simple

2. Home operating station in my kitchen. This is the secret to keeping my entire home / personal life organized. First, I created file folders for the main categories of paper that come into our lives: a “To Do / Pending” file, a “To File” file, a “Home D├ęcor” file, a “Diet / Food Journal” file, and an always expanding file for our 2011 taxes. In the box, I keep notepads, pens, and incoming and outgoing mail. My brilliant ideas often come to me while I’m in the kitchen or the living room, so it’s great to have my To Do list at hand. And the box keeps everything contained and in one place.


Photo courtesy of Beyond the Baby

3. Recipe and meal planning binder. People that can cook without following a recipe amaze me. That is so not me. I can make a recipe over and over and still not recall it. So, once a week, before I go grocery shopping, I quickly pull out my recipe binder, flip through the pages, find recipes for the week, and make my shopping list. Then, the binder goes right back on the shelf, only to be pulled out again when it’s time to cook. Having everything in one place makes it so easy. Here are some tips on building your recipe binder.

4. Uncluttered nightstand. It’s the last thing I see before going to bed and the first thing I see in the morning, so it’s all about keeping it simple and uncluttered. I only keep what I need on my nightstand: my Kindle, alarm clock, lamp, and a catchall for hairpins. No Blackberry!


A client's now organized nightstand.

5. My organized husband. Clients always ask me if my home is insanely organized. In all honesty, it’s pretty organized, but there is always room for improvement and like all homes, it’s a work in progress. That said, I have to give my husband credit. He’s one of the most organized guys I’ve ever met, so he makes my life easier in so many ways. He’s going to kill me for writing about him here...

What simple organization systems make a big difference in your life? I'd love to hear from you!

Friday, September 30, 2011

Pop Quiz Friday

Remember in high school when that jerky teacher would give a pop quiz on a Friday afternoon? Yeah, that was no fun.

Well, today I guess I’m that jerky teacher.

My clients always ask if their clutter and disorganization is worse than average. I’ve found that it’s difficult for people to gauge how much disorganization is impacting their life.

That’s most likely because to a certain extent everyone feels some stress or pressure to have it all together. In reality, no one is perfect. But putting some organization systems into place can go a long way to help relieve the stress of everyday life.

So for some perspective on the state of your disorganization, click on this link to take the quiz. You never know, much like getting an A on that pop quiz, it might just surprise you. 


How did you score? I'd love to hear from you.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Got Bras?


This one is for the ladies. After writing about disaster preparedness last week, I figured I would lighten it up a little and write about bras. That’s right, bras.

When was the last time you cleaned out your lingerie drawer? I’m going to go out on a limb and guess it’s been a while. Well, here’s some fantastic incentive to do so.

The Bra Recyclers is a textile recycling company that recycles and reuses bras that would otherwise go to landfills. The bras are distributed around the world through exporters and Bra Recycling Ambassadors to deserving women and girls in transition.

They take bras in all sizes and styles that are in good condition with clasps and straps that function. Special needs bras, post breast surgery and maternity bras are particularly valuable.

What’s best is The Bra Recyclers make it easy to donate. Just follow these four steps:

1. Wash it. All bras should be washed.
2. Tag it. Fill out the Bra Recycling Form.
3. Box it. Place your bras in a box or large envelope.
4. Drop it off or mail it to: 3317 S. Higley Rd, Ste 114-441, Gilbert, AZ 85297.

It’s so important to many of my clients that the items they are getting rid of are reused. The Bra Recyclers is just one of many fantastic niche recycling programs out there.

So, why not take 15 minutes this weekend to dive into your lingerie drawer, try on those bras you haven’t worn in a while, and donate them to a good cause. 

Friday, September 16, 2011

Three Steps to Preparedness

We’ve had quite a month on the East Coast. Hurricanes, earthquakes, and the memories of September 11… All in the span of about three weeks.

But, naturally, as New Yorkers, we’re resilient, and it’s on to the next. While our flexibility is fantastic, let’s use our recent experiences as an opportunity to be even better prepared for whatever comes our way. Plus, September is National Preparedness Month, a natural reminder each year to be prepared.

This week, here are three easy steps you can take to be better prepared for any emergency situation.

1. Prepare a Go Kit. I’m not going to reinvent the wheel on this one, instead visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s website, Ready.gov, for the list of 12 items that should be included in a basic emergency supply kit. It’s only 12 items; you could pull that together in no time!

Ready.gov also provides a list of additional items to consider including like cash and first aid books.

Once you have a Go Kit, make sure you find a place for it in your home or office, a location that is easy to get to and everyone in the family can locate.

2. Plan with family. It’s clear we can’t rely on cell service to reach loved ones during an emergency, so it’s important to plan in advance so you know how you will contact each other and make a plan to get back together. Even if you hate Facebook and Twitter (AHEM, like my husband), it might be worth having an account to access in an emergency situation. Finally, identify an emergency contact out of town to call and pass information through. It’s often easier to make calls out of the local area in an emergency.

3. Know your local resources. We’re lucky as New Yorkers that the City of New York offers so many resources like Notify NYC that sends emergency notifications and messages through the telephone or text message. Another great resource is the 2011 Ready New York Downloadable Calendar. The calendar has regular reminders that break planning into small, quick steps to help everyone work preparedness into their schedule. Perfect for busy New Yorkers.

Go to Ready.gov to quickly figure out resources available in your area. Search your location under Local Information.


If the thought of preparing in advance for an emergency is overwhelming, a professional organizer can help. Feel free to reach out if you’re looking for additional guidance to pull all these important pieces together. 

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Get Busy Media Features Urban Simplicity

One of the things I love most about owning a small business is meeting new people. Before starting Urban Simplicity, I wasn't much into networking. I know that sounds crazy since I was working in politics, but the reality was that I was often chained to my desk plowing through To Do lists.

After a month or so in business, I stumbled upon the world of small business networking. That’s when I met Jim Armstrong and Stephen Murphy, co-founders of Get Busy Media, a small business blog and resource center devoted to helping small, local, and start-up businesses improve their marketing and operations. We had a great time chatting, and when they suggested featuring Urban Simplicity on Get Busy Media, I was more than happy to sit down with them.

Just a little plug for Get Busy Media: It’s ranked as a top 100 small business blog by Technorati, and has been featured on prominent industry sites such as Small Biz Trends and BizSugar. Nice.

So if you’re curious about how my small business came to be, check out Get Busy Media’s profile on Urban Simplicity here.

And definitely check out Get Busy Media.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Give It Away Now

So often my clients struggle with the decision of what to keep and what to give away. It's one of the biggest obstacles people face when getting organized. Especially in New York City where space is limited.

While I’m definitely not the type of organizer that forces clients to part with everything they hold near and dear, my job is to help clients make tough decisions. I’ve found seven questions that can generally get them there.

If you find yourself holding on to things a bit too tightly (i.e. your loved ones have to pry them from your hands), keep reading. This just might help.

1. Why am I holding on to this? Always start here. Understanding what an item means to you, whether it was a gift or represents your childhood or whatever, helps you understand the function, if any, it serves in your life at this point.

2. When was the last time you used or wore the item? As a standard rule, if you haven’t used or worn an item in over a year, get rid of it. Quick tip for clothing: Put the item back into your closet with the hanger facing the opposite direction. You’ll easily see which items you don’t wear.

3. Is the item beyond repair? If you’ve done all you can to try to repair an item or if it’s completely falling apart, it’s time to let it go.

4. Is the item even worth repairing? Consider if it’s truly worth your valuable time and money to repair an item. If you don’t think you’ll get around to figuring out how to repair something, that’s okay. Just be honest with yourself and move on.

5. Does the item no longer fit your style or home decor? Times change and so does your taste. What you liked a several years ago, however attached you are to the item, might not fit into your life anymore.

6. Is there some other way to capture the memory associated with the item? As silly as it sounds, would a photo of the item be as satisfying to you as holding onto the item?

7. Would someone else use it and absolutely love it? I guarantee the answer is YES. Imagine the happiness someone would feel at your local thrift store if they were able to use the item you donated. Giving back feels good, so give it a try.


Do you have a hard time parting with things? Or is that easy for you? Let me know, I'd love to hear from you. 

Friday, August 19, 2011

Changing the World, One Pair at a Time

As you may recall from my previous blog post, I have a bit of an obsession with shoes. When I started my business and began researching creative ways to donate my clients’ things, Soles4Souls immediately caught my attention. In brief, Soles4Souls is a charity that collects gently worn shoes to provide shoes to those in need in the United States and around the world.  

Back in April at the National Association of Professional Organizers’ conference, I was thrilled that NAPO presented Soles4Souls with its' Organizing Excellence Award and announced a partnership with Soles4Souls on the NAPO Challenge, a program with NAPO members to encourage our communities and clients to clean out their closets and donate their shoes. The challenge runs through January 31, 2012 for a chance to win a trip for two on one of Soles4Souls Haiti distribution trips. How amazing is that!

If you are interested in learning more or donating shoes from your closet, please reach out to me. I am happy to help you support this amazing organization and clear some clutter along the way.

And please check out this video. Just make sure you have some Kleenex handy…


video

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Before and After: Storage Space for a Busy Family

On the heels of last week's tips to organize your storage space, I had the opportunity to work with a fabulous family with lots going on.  Between a full time job, a toddler, and a new baby, this busy mom wanted to completely organize the storage space within their apartment complex before heading back to work.


In just a couple sessions, we were able to purge unwanted items and design an Elfa shelving system from The Container Store to hold everything from holiday decorations, family keepsakes, and seasonal clothes.


Check out the before photos.






And now the after photos... 


Check out the empty shelves - room to grow!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Guest Blog Post: Manhattan Mini Storage

This week I’m so excited to be featured on Manhattan Mini Storage's blog with my six tips to organize your storage space. Check it out here.

I was so excited when they reached out to me because Manhattan Mini Storage is a fantastic option for my clients with limited space. Plus they have 17 storage locations in Manhattan. Can’t beat that!

The other thing I love about Manhattan Mini Storage is their appreciation for all things "Manhattan." They were incredibly supportive of marriage equality and were part of the festivities on July 24 to celebrate the first gay marriage ceremonies in New York City. Check out their fun video here.

I’ve been a fan of their ads for years. Hilarious.






Sorry Mets' fans... 

So, thanks, Manhattan Mini Storage, for featuring my tips and for keeping me smiling!