Box 1 of 9
Posted in 2011
, May 2011
on May 23rd, 2011 by Susana Enriquez – Be the first to comment
Museum of Me
I started with the smallest box because I thought it would be the easiest.
See, even though I haven’t opened these nine boxes in years, I have an idea – albeit vague – of what’s in them. So I expected to open this box and find a bunch of old papers that I could mostly toss.
What I found were lots of memories encased in little slips of paper dating as far back as 1990. These are some of the things I found:
- Embossed matchstick covers from my cousin’s wedding in 1990 – Toss
- My 10th-, 11th- and 12th-grade IDs (What happened to the one from 9th grade?) – Keep
- Six random bumper stickers (Who is Vesta and why does she think I’m special?) – Toss
- Ticket stub from the Menudo reunion concert on August 9, 1998 – Toss
- A section of my braces, along with a card from my orthodontist congratulating me on my “great and winning smile” – Toss
- Eight heliumless mylar balloons – Toss
- Birthday cards from my auto insurance agent, my sisters’ ex-boyfriends and people I used to call “friend” – Toss
- Birthday cards from my parents, sisters and people who I still call “friend” – Keep
- A certificate of completion for the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (D.A.R.E.) program, along with three snap bracelets (including the coveted black bracelet!) – Toss
- A “Grumpy” stretched penny from Disneyland – Toss
- My 8th-grade graduation diploma – Keep
- And my favorite: The drawing Steve gave me in the 10th grade (or was it the 9th grade?) to demonstrate his love for me. That was before he kissed another girl. Drama! – Shred!
While I got rid of most of the items that were in the box – and the box itself – I still kept quite a few items. And because you learn in Organizing 101 that you have to honor the memories that you think are worth keeping – meaning, you don’t bury them in a dingy box in the garage – I have to find a nice container for them. Something I can keep on a shelf. So far, I like this box from Ikea:
One box down; eight to go.
Posted in 2011
, May 2011
on May 5th, 2011 by Susana Enriquez – 1 Comment
My parents’ house is like a museum of my life.
A peek into a dresser drawer reveals a high school cheerleading uniform, circa 1996 (don’t ask if it still fits); inside the linen closet lurks a math competition trophy from 1991 (1st place!); a relic from a failed relationship hides behind the door of a TV cabinet.
While my pieces are sprinkled throughout their house, the main exhibit is in the garage.
Deep in the bowels of the section of the garage that is supposed to house a third car (but hasn’t in nearly two decades) are nine boxes that hold the contents of my life. Well, at least snippets of my life.
For several years – a decade or two, perhaps – these cardboard boxes and plastic bins have been the resting place for my old toys, books, Beanie Babies (I, too, latched onto that collection frenzy) and numerous other things.
Most of all, the boxes are filled with delayed decisions. I don’t want to open up that bin full of Beanie Babies and face the fact that I wasted my hard-earned money. Nor do I want to part with my childhood mementos. And I certainly don’t want to go through the box that is full of memories from a relationship that is no more.
While it has been easy not to think about those boxes and their contents (my parents have plenty of space for them in their garage), it’s time to do something about them.
I would like to think that when I crack open my boxes, I’ll be able to make quick decisions about whether to keep or part with each item. But who am I kidding? Some of those boxes are full of what organizing guru Peter Walsh calls “memory clutter” – those things that trigger memories, positive or otherwise.
So one at a time, I’ll go through my boxes. Some decisions will come easily, but most will be difficult. There may be laughter; there will definitely be tears. But I’m ready.
Posted in 2011
, March 2011
on March 23rd, 2011 by Susana Enriquez – Be the first to comment
When you have an operation, you may be prepared to spend a few days in the hospital, to eat bland food, to be achy and to show more of your backside to strangers than you have, well, ever. But what you may not be ready for is the onslaught of paperwork.
My mom had knee-replacement surgery on March 11. But the packets of paper began arriving weeks earlier. First came the handouts on what to expect before, during and after the surgery. Next came the paperwork that laid out the series of doctors appointments she would have leading up to and immediately following the surgery. Then the hospital admission consent and waiver forms, the discharge instructions, the physical therapy papers, the exercise sheets and on and on. . .
Before long, it became obvious that my mom needed a system – ASAP – that would keep her papers together and accessible. Enter her daughter, The Organizer.
Because I didn’t have time to shop around for the perfect filing system, I decided to use whatever I had. In the goody bag from the Los Angeles Organizing Awards, I received a Smead Weekly Organizer (see post from February). If a small expanding file and a folder had a baby, it would be the weekly organizer.
It has six pockets – five for each day of the week and one for both Saturday and Sunday.
With my handy-dandy P-touch labeler, I made labels for my own categories: Exercises, Coumadin Clinic, Physical Therapy, CPM Machine, Hospital Discharge and Hospital Admission. I’m usually a proponent of alphabetizing categories, but in this case, I decided to put the papers that were the most important in the front pockets.
I also made labels for the cover (to identify the folder itself and to cover up the words “Weekly Organizer”). Finally, the papers went into their respective spots.
In less than 30 minutes, it was done. Now, my mom can place her folder into the plastic envelope she was given at the hospital (it was supposed to hold the stack of papers she was given) and take it with her to her follow-up appointments.
Posted in 2011
, February 2011
on February 24th, 2011 by Susana Enriquez – 1 Comment
Christmas in February
Having three bridesmaid dresses in a closet is no where near the number of dresses Katherine Heigl had in her closet in the movie 27 Dresses.
But in an effort to make a little bit of room in my closet – I can use all the space I can get – I set out to find a good home for my dresses. And I found it: The Prom Dress Project.
The Prom Dress Project, and similar groups across the country, gives all those dresses that have been languishing in closets for years – maybe even a decade or two – a second chance. The dresses are collected, cleaned and given to girls who can’t afford a dress for prom.
This kind of project really speaks to the professional organizer in me on several levels: Whenever I can, I like to find the perfect place to donate those things my clients wish to part with. And in this case, it makes more sense to donate fancy dresses to an organization like the Prom Dress Project than, say, the Salvation Army. And in terms of volunteerism, collecting and distributing dresses for this project is a good use of my organizational skills.
These are the dresses I donated, along with some random thoughts on them:
I wore this little number to my aunt’s Mexico wedding on February 14, 1998.
Instead of picking something off the rack, my aunt allowed us bridesmaids to have our gowns custom-made. Same color and fabric but in a style of our choosing. The design of my dress was inspired by a dress that I saw a celebrity wearing in some magazine. Halle Berry comes to mind. May have been Cosmo magazine. It doesn’t matter, really, since all that anyone ever saw was the bottom of the dress.
At a time of the year when the weather in this particular part of Mexico hovers around 85 degrees, a freakish storm swept through – bringing fierce wind, buckets of rain and golfball-sized hail. And yes, it was an outdoor wedding.
Luckily, the storm passed quickly and the venue had some sort of brick structure that had stayed dry and was big enough for 200 or so guests to huddle in.
And the dress? Most of it was covered by a coat all day and night.
Two years later, on July 22, the weather gods smiled upon my sister’s wedding and I was able to wear this dress as it was meant to be worn – without a coat.
It was a basic dress from Macy’s and all of us bridesmaids wore it. A little boring, but it was comfortable and I didn’t feel the need to suck anything in. And after 14 or so hours of standing and sitting and pictures and dancing, it still looked good.
When my other sister got married on August 11, 2001, I wore this dress. I don’t remember where it came from – could have been Macy’s. I do remember that it was flattering on all of us bridesmaids.
I also remember that it was a 100-degree day, which didn’t make picture time at a nearby park very fun. Also not fun were all of those teeny tiny bugs that crawled up from the grass and into the space between the solid and sheer layers of fabric of our dresses. It looked like our dresses were spotted. Good times.
I never planned to wear any of these dresses again, but I kept them for 10, 11 and 13 years anyway. I guess I felt that if I got rid of them, the memories would go right along with them.
I can’t say that I wasn’t sad to see my dresses go. They served me well and I hope their next owners have memorable moments in them.
Posted in 2011
, February 2011
on February 2nd, 2011 by Susana Enriquez – 3 Comments
And the award for best picture goes to – who cares?
Christmas came 10 months early (or 1+ month late) inside a reusable bag that was handed out at the Los Angeles Organizing Awards.
How I waited three days to see what was inside is beyond me. I guess I can say that it was an exercise in delayed gratification.
And gratified I was.
I pulled everything out of the bag and grouped all the similar items together (it’s a sickness, I know). The first things to catch my eye were the books. I heart books. Especially free ones. And especially ones written by organizing guru Peter Walsh. I got a copy of his latest book, “Lighten Up.”
Also in the bag were: Julie Morgenstern’s tried-and-true book “Organizing From the Inside Out” (which I happened to have on loan from my local library), “Alternatives: A Personal Reference of Remedies” by Bette Martin and “A Mess of Fish and Other Organizing Tidbits” by Valentina Sgro.
The next five items were a set: an Arc customizable notebook from Staples with a few accessories – task pads, page flags, pocket dividers and tab dividers. Love it! I put it all together right away and I can’t wait to use it.
The writer in me got some very sleek permanent markers in great colors by Tul and two notepads – the Shopping Planner from Family Facts and the MEpad from LobotoME (from the company’s web site: “Who needs an iPad when you can have a MEpad. It’s always connected, battery never runs out, and all you need is a lead stylus to use it.”).
To keep my weekly paperwork in order, I now have the Weekly Organizer from Smead. Since I am a weekly organizer for some of my clients, this product seems aptly named.
Coupons and gift certificates – oh, how I love thee. I got $10 off of a purchase of $50 or more at OfficeMax, a gift card for a consultation with ShelfGenie (the ones who magically make the shelves in your kitchen cabinets slide out) and a gift certificate for a free haircut by Lance at Rendez-Vous Hair Salon in Los Angeles (I’ll be using this really soon).
This group is made up of seemingly random items, but not really if you think that each item can be used to keep stuff together: a clip from neatfreak!, a glass jar from Ikea and a fabric drawer from ClosetMaid.
From USA Acrylic, a great expandable organizer that I will use to organize my jewelry, or my makeup, or my hair accessories, or my desk. . .
And finally, a magazine all about closets and some emergency contact cards.
Great stuff! Now I need to find a place for it.
Posted in 2011
, January 2011
on January 31st, 2011 by Susana Enriquez – Be the first to comment
Shoe Boxes: The Sequel
At a time of the year marked by ubiquitous awards shows that recognize the usual suspects, an emerging class of heroes was singled out as being the best in another industry: organizing.
Just two weeks after the Golden Globes and one night before the Screen Actors Guild awards, organizing books, products, shows and retailers received the coveted awards handed out by the Los Angeles chapter of the National Association of Professional Organizers.
The Los Angeles Organizing Awards, held at the Universal Sheraton Saturday, was a veritable who’s who of the organizing industry. Present were: book-writing machine Donna Smallin, Mark Brunetz and Trish Suhr of Clean House fame, and Peter Walsh - New York Times bestselling author, host of Enough Already! and overall superstar.
Here are some of the winners:
Best Home Organizing Product: Rubbermaid Storage Containers (http://www.rubbermaid.com/Category/Pages/Category.aspx?CatName=Storage)
Best Office Organizing Product: Brother P-Touch Desktop Labeling Systems (http://www.brother-usa.com/ptouch/)
Best Organizing Product Retailer: The Container Store (http://www.containerstore.com/welcome.htm)
Best Organizing Book: “Organizing from the Inside Out” by Julie Morgenstern (http://www.amazon.com/Organizing-Inside-Out-Second-Foolproof/dp/0805075895/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1296465173&sr=1-1)
Best Publication Featuring Organizational Information: Real Simple Magazine (http://www.realsimple.com/magazine-more/index.html)
Best Show Incorporating Organization on National Television: Clean House (http://www.mystyle.com/mystyle/shows/cleanhouse/index.jsp)
Most Educational National Television Show About Organizing: Hoarders (http://www.aetv.com/hoarders/video/index.jsp)
Love, love, love those products, that store, that book, that magazine and those shows!
And finally, the Downsize and Get Organized Award for Best Line of the Night goes to – drumroll, please – awards hostess/comedienne/actor/producer/author Lisa Ann Walter for “You guys are like crap nurses. No, like crap doctors.”
Speaking of crap, just like the celebrity-studded affairs, attendees of the LA Organizing Awards also received goody bags (I’m not saying that the contents of the bags are crap; it just seemed like a good segue.) . Stay tuned for a full report of what’s inside. Peeking in there I do, indeed, see some goodies.
Posted in 2011
, January 2011
on January 12th, 2011 by Susana Enriquez – Be the first to comment
10 Tips, 10 Minutes: A Practical Guide to Getting Organized
After much consideration, I finally decided on a vessel for my shoes: the Skubb shoe box from Ikea.
I liked the front opening with the mesh window, they seemed sturdy enough and the price was right – $9.99 for a pack of four.
The box comes in black and white. I opted for black because I thought white shoe boxes would get grungy. Problem is, I didn’t realize that I wouldn’t be able to see my shoes through the black mesh windows – especially if the shoes happen to be black. I’m not happy about that.
But because Ikea is too far to return the boxes, I decided to use them. I organized my shoes in such a way that I know which pair of shoes is in which box (heels in one stack, casual shoes in another, etc.). If that system fails, I can always leave the flaps open. I just hope the dust bunnies don’t see that as an open invitation to take refuge in my shoes.
Posted in 2011
, January 2011
on January 1st, 2011 by Susana Enriquez – Be the first to comment
Snail Mail Tedium
Don’t wait until you have an entire day or weekend to kickstart your organization efforts. Just get started by following these 10 tips:
1. Choose a place in your home that you most want to see organized (garage, coat closet, kitchen).
2. Label two boxes: Keep and Donate.
3. Have a trash bag handy for items that need to be thrown away.
4. Set a timer for 10 minutes.
5. Pull one item at a time and make a decision about whether you’ll keep it, donate it or toss it – the faster you make decisions, the more you’ll get done!
6. Group like items together in the “Keep” box. This will save you time when you put them away.
7. Continue the process until the timer rings.
8. Take the garbage out.
9. Once you’ve gone through each item in the area that you are working on, spend 10 minutes a day implementing organizing solutions for the items in the “Keep” pile.
10. Drop off your donation items at a collection center or schedule a pickup at your home.
The more you do, the quicker you will see results – giving you the confidence to continue. Happy downsizing and organizing!
Posted in 2010
, November 2010
on November 21st, 2010 by Susana Enriquez – Be the first to comment
What to choose for my shoes?
One of the most tedious things about moving (besides packing, unpacking, transporting your things, and well, everything else) is changing your address.
Having organized files makes the task less tedious. Nonetheless, it’s still time consuming. From AAA (auto club membership) to Wells Fargo, I moved from file to file, either calling a toll-free number and holding for a representative or logging on to Web sites and changing the information there.
I lost track of how much time had passed. But it’s fair to say that several hours later, I was finished – at least that’s what I thought. As the mail is rerouted from my previous address, it’s obvious that either I neglected to contact several companies about my address change or the change has yet to be processed. When that happens, I contact the companies that need to be contacted and grumble about the companies that have yet to process the change (Aveda, can you hear me?).
If you have an upcoming move and the state of your files makes you worry that you won’t know what number to call or what Web site to visit to make the address change, fret not. You can fill out an “Official Change of Address Form” form at your nearest post office or online: https://moversguide.usps.com/icoa/flow.do?_flowExecutionKey=_c3C7A4444-B686-C8EA-76A3-0CA41CCB4674_k9304DECB-0A42-1E8F-CC8A-473492911C2E.
Most of your mail will be forwarded for one year. That’s enough time to get your filing system in order.
Posted in 2010
, November 2010
on November 15th, 2010 by Susana Enriquez – Be the first to comment
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I had always kept my shoes in the boxes they came in. The different sizes bugged me – as well as their tendency to topple over whenever you reached for the box on the bottom of the heap – but I kept them anyway because I liked how they protected my shoes from dust.
So when I moved into a home that had shoe shelves in the closets, my instinct was to continue to protect my shoes from dust bunnies by keeping them in boxes. But as soon as I realized that doing that made no sense, my shoes were set free.
Now that I’m living in a new home without shoe shelves, my shoes are on the verge of losing their freedom. Since I moved, my shoes have been living in a large blue tote from Ikea.
I can’t bring myself to line them up in the closet because: A) It would take up too much space and B) It wouldn’t feel organized to me.
I think individual storage boxes are the way to go (as opposed to shoe shelves or over-the-door shoe organizers), but I haven’t settled on a style. These are the boxes I’m considering:
This box presents the same problem as your store-issued shoebox: a lid. But the price is right: $19.99 for a set of 12.
I love that the front of this shoe box opens. And that it’s clear. But at $44.99 for 6, I could get a pair of Jimmy Choo shoes with the money I would spend on boxes to house all of my shoes.
A less expensive cardboard alternative to the box above from Target. $27.99 for 8.
The least expensive of the boxes with the front opening at $9.99 for 4. I like these, but I would first have to verify that they are sturdy enough to be piled one on top of another about five high.
I have a tough decision ahead of me. Stay tuned.