Monday, June 30, 2008



I discovered the Goodreads website the other day when a friend of mine sent me a page of quotes from famous book authors.

Goodreads is a website where you can keep track of what you're currently reading, what you've read in the past, as well as what you're planning to read next.

You are able to review the books you've read using a 1-5 star system as well as inserting comments if you so choose.

Goodreads also lets you meet up with your friends to see what they're reading. You can comment on their book choices, ask to borrow what they've read, and find out about books you've never heard of before.

You can also join one of hundreds of book clubs on this site, as well as meet up with authors who are also registered on Goodreads.

I love this website because, as an organizer, it lets me create separate bookshelves of books - fiction, organizing books, non-fiction, other how-to books, etc. As a book lover, there is nothing better than seeing how many other book lovers there still are out there in cyberspace.

Check out Goodreads for yourself. I'd love to hear what you think.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Summertime Table Setting - Great Idea from Martha Stewart Living


I saw this article in the July, 2008 issue of Martha Stewart Living and wanted to share it with you.

Martha has set up an old armoire on her patio and stocked it with everything you would need to set your summer table and decorate for a summer party - dishes, flatware, glasses, lanterns, baskets, ice buckets, etc.

Let me know what you think of this idea.

Book Conventions are Highly Organized

During the last few weeks, I've had the pleasure of attending two large book expos - the Book Expo America (BEA) and the American Library Association (ALA) convention.

I marvel at how these huge shows can be so organized - right down to the minute in terms of exhibit openings, seminars and author breakfasts. I went to quite a few exhibits and autograph signings at the BEA and the authors arrived on time and the signings went off without a hitch. The author breakfasts started on time even with some very well-known celebrities and authors and I found all the exhibits to be well organized and well staffed.

Yesterday, I attended the ALA Conference and, again, was so impressed with the exhibits, author signings and variety of seminars and conferences offered to attendees.

In early May I was able to tour a convention set up in progress and was amazed to see what the hall looked like only 24 hours before the beginning of the convention. Large electronic lifts in use throughout the hall, unpacked crates everywhere and people working all over the room. Nothing was ready - you couldn't even tell that there was going to be a convention the next day. Amazing.

I have to give credit to the companies that organize these conventions and to their hard-working employees. They are generally behind the scenes and don't get the recognition they deserve. So here's to you!

Saturday, June 28, 2008

My (Other) Career - Elementary School Librarian

Two days a week, I devote myself to my other real love - books. I am an elementary school librarian for a small private school near my home. We have a wonderful selection of over 9,500 books - both non-fiction and fiction and I see approximately 180 students each week.

I love to keep the library organized and wanted to show you some pictures of how it looks when all the books are shelved or displayed around the room.

I've got some new ideas which I am thinking about implementing this upcoming school year so I'll be posting on how those are working out in the future on this blog.

I'd also love to hear what you're reading since I'm always looking for great recommendations for myself and for the students.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Informative Articles to Share With You

Periodically, I will be posting articles which I previously published on a now-defunct website, Sense of a Woman. This website was designed for women over 40 who were juggling careers, kids, marriage, divorce, empty-nest issues, menopause, etc.

I felt like sharing these articles on my blog because the subject matter is timeless and will allow my readers to know a little more about my organizing interests.

I'd love to hear what you think.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Having a Garage Sale - A Way to Get Organized and Make Some Extra Cash in the Process

Garage Sale

Holding a garage sale is a great way to eliminate clutter in your home and make some money for your efforts. But first, ask yourself if the time and effort to prepare for a garage sale is worth the money you will make.

Compare the cost and time of having a garage sale versus donating your items to charity and taking the charitable deduction.

garage sale

If you determine that it’s worthwhile, here are some tips to have a successful and profitable garage sale:

First off, purge, purge, purge. Be ruthless – it’s time to de-clutter your home. A good rule-of-thumb is anything not used for the last 6 months should go. (This does not include seasonal/holiday items but purge through those as well). Go room by room and pull out any items you no longer want or need and take them to a designated spot in your garage or other clear space.

The best type of items to sell at a garage sale include:

** Tools
** Furniture
** Garden Furniture & Supplies
** Toys
** Videos/DVD’s
** Books
** Kids Clothing
** Bedding in Good Condition
** Sporting Equipment
** Kitchen Utensils and Appliances (in good working order)

Most adult clothing does not sell well except for special occasion items (wedding dresses, leather coats, costumes). Don’t sell anything that is torn, stained, missing parts or any older baby furniture that does not comply with new safety codes.

Garage Sale 2008

Two Weeks Before:
Clean the items you are selling, price them fairly (you will probably knock off a dollar or two at selling time), sort items keeping like items together. Collect plastic and paper grocery bags and newspapers for wrapping breakables.

One Week Before:
Advertise in your local paper, Recycler or Pennysaver – making special note to discourage dealers or early birds prior to the start of the sale. Clear a space in your yard or driveway where you will hold the sale. Do not hold the sale inside your garage as buyers tend to focus on non-sale items.

Two Days Before:
Get tables cleaned and ready. Go to the bank and get two rolls of quarters and $50 worth of one and five dollar bills for change. Don’t price any items for less than 25 cents to make giving change easier.

One Day Before:
Make signs to post around your neighborhood. Make sure you are aware of any permit or sign posting regulations in your city. Make your signs legible and accurate.

garage sale

Day of Sale:
Start setting up about 2 hours before start of sale. If you’ve already priced and sorted your items, this should be easy. Have someone post your signs around the area. Place your change in a fanny pack or money belt and keep with you at all times.

Send the kids to play at a friend’s house or to Grandma’s for the day. Crate or board any dogs.

Have a friend or relative man the check-out table at all times.

Do not allow anyone to enter your house for any reason – including using the bathroom. Direct them to the nearest gas station or coffee house in the area for that purpose.

If someone is interesting in purchasing a large ticket item and does not have all the cash, take a deposit to ensure they will return to make the purchase.

Only take checks from friends and neighbors.

See if your neighbors are interesting in participating in the garage sale as well. This will save on advertising and sign costs.

Lower prices as the day goes on to try and sell as much as possible. At the end of the day, donate what’s left to your favorite charity. Pack everything into the car and take it that day so it doesn’t end up cluttering your garage. On your way back, take down all the signs you have posted in the neighborhood.

Reward yourself with a nice dinner out. You’ve done a great job!

Organized Quilting? We'll See ....

I am about to embark on a new adventure - something I have very little experience with. I am going to make a quilt - one that I fell in love with after seeing it in a quilting magazine about two months ago. The pattern is called Dandelion Wishes and here is the finished product.

Isn't it just beautiful? I love the subtle faded colors. The woman who designed this quilt has a wonderful blog called Fig Tree Quilts. Check out pictures of her gorgeous home and other beautiful quilts she's created.

I have signed up for a quilting class which begins in about two weeks so I can get some basic instruction on cutting the pieces and machine piecing them together. I will post updates here on my organizing blog on how things are going.

I am hopeful that I can be organized enough to add quilting to my list of hobbies. Let's see how I do. Wish me luck!

My First Book Recommendation - Rightsizing Your Life

While I was contemplating becoming a professional organizer, I read as many books on organizing as I could get my hands on. Anything with the word "organizing" in the title, was on my bookshelf.

My first recommendation, "Rightsizing Your Life", is one of my favorites because the subject is so close to my own life.

It’s said that you spend the first 40 years of your life acquiring things and the next 40 years getting rid of them. Boy, does this apply to my life. When I married my husband, we both were just starting our careers. He loves science fiction and movies and I love collectible glassware and toys from when I was a kid.

We both started collecting - a lot! We had shelves full of Star Wars toys, life size movie props, full cupboards of Fire King jadite and display cases of Liddle Kiddle dolls and their accessories.

Remember these?

Anyway, when we had to move - twice in two years - we realized that we had to start downsizing our collections because it was becoming more and more difficult finding places to display everything as well as packing and unpacking all these "things".

As the author of “Rightsizing Your Life”, Ciji Ware states, "rightsizing is the process of simplifying your surroundings so you can focus on what matters most". More isn't always better. In fact, with less "things" in your life, you have time to spend with your family and friends, on outside hobbies, travel and cultural events.

As we age, we become more aware of the fact that others’ lives around us are changing. Kids are growing up and going out on their own, parents are entering retirement/assisted living homes or passing away. Our friends are moving to smaller homes, condos or to their dream homes in newer, far away communities.

To begin rightsizing, try and imagine what your life would be like with less stuff around you. Try and figure out what your “core passion” would be says the author. Surround yourselves with only the “people, possessions and activities you love”.

Ms. Ware recommends taking a walking tour of your home with a notebook and pen in hand. Make a page for each room and jot down only those items that are the most important to you.

Do we really need 6 sets of dishes, 4 sets of flatware, a full bar of glassware and pots and pans for an army? Do we need a closet full of heavy winter coats, scarves, gloves and boots when we really want to live in a warmer climate? How about that garage full of old potting materials, tools and ski and sledding equipment we never use?

After a house fire, my family and I lived for one year with only a minimal amount of clothing and some personal papers and books and didn’t miss a thing. The home we were renting during the renovation process was furnished with the bare minimum – set of dishes for four, eight glasses, a set of flatware, three pots and pans and a couple of cookie sheets. You learn to adapt with what you have – just as you learn to adapt to the size home you live in whether its 1,200 square feet of 4,000. It’s all about what’s really important to you.

Be honest with yourself – this is the time to think about your future and relinquish those things that encumber you and keep you from living the life you really want to live.

How would you begin rightsizing your life?

Monday, June 23, 2008

I Love to Read/How About You?

I am a huge lover of reading. I work two days a week as an elementary school librarian - more about that later.

I'll be blogging about great books I've read, am reading, or want to read - including books on organizing, relocation, or downsizing as well as general fiction and non-fiction.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Man, It's Hot Outside

hot sun

So, how do you stay cool in the summer heat? Right now, it's 104 degrees outside and I'm trying to keep air conditioning costs down by only running the air conditioner when absolutely necessary. Here's what I try to do to help stay cool without incurring crazy electricity costs:

Close blinds and curtains early in the day to keep the sun and heat out. Run ceiling and portable fans to increase air circulation.

Try and get your errands and yard/outside work done early in the day and spend the afternoons inside where it's cooler. I'm thinking about watching a Netflix movie in the next few minutes - Now Voyager starring Bette Davis.

When the weather starts to cool down (if it does) in the evening, open screened doors and windows to let in the cooler air but keep pesky mosquitos and other bugs outside.


I think it's going to be a long summer so grab that cold glass of iced tea or lemonade and enjoy the great indoors during the heat of the day.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Easy Travel Tips for Summer Trips

beach nz

Summertime is vacation time. Here are a few tips for making your summer travel plans carefree.


Plan far enough ahead to make sure your passports are current. With the new passport laws, it’s taking longer to get passports than ever before. Check with your local post office for passport delivery times.

Go online to search for things to do when you reach your destination. Plan an informal schedule of places you want to see or restaurants you want to try. The internet is also a great source for weather information.

Call the hotel ahead of time to see if the room is equipped with shampoo, hair dryer, iron, refrigerator, etc. Airline carry-on sizes of shampoos, conditioners, hairspray, etc. are limited to 3-ounce bottles.

If you’re traveling out of the country, make sure you’re aware of what inoculations are necessary for your destination. Plan accordingly.

Try the 50% packing rule – after packing your suitcase, remove 50% of the clothing items you packed. Most of us over pack. Mix and match or layer your items so they can be worn more than once.

Include a plastic bag in your suitcase for dirty items and wet bathing suits.

Try rolling your clothing when packing your suitcase. Pack socks and underwear inside shoes. Leave some room in your suitcase for items you may purchase on your trip.

Worry No More

Pare down items in your wallet – bring necessary items only: identification card, credit card(s), insurance card(s) and AAA card.

Before leaving the house, clear your refrigerator of any perishable items. Clean the house and put fresh sheets on the bed. Put lights on auto timers. Have your mail held at the post office and cancel the newspaper. Most newspapers will let you donate these copies to local schools.

If you’re traveling with young children, create a boredom survival kit – books on tape, educational DVD’s, and creative car games such as state license plate search and travel bingo.

Make sure you travel with a small first-aid kit and motion sickness pills.

Lastly, don’t forget to have a GREAT time!


Just What is a Professional Organizer?

Do you have clothes in your closet that you haven’t worn in over a year? Have you been waiting to lose weight to wear that special pair of pants again and can’t remember the last time you wore them? Has this month’s In Style magazine arrived and you realize you haven’t read last month’s yet? Have you incurred late charges on your bills because they were lost and not paid on time? Did your son or daughter miss that special birthday party because you misplaced the invitation?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, a professional organizer may be just what you need.

My name is Wendy Cross and I am a professional organizer. After 25 years of working in the business/office management field in the areas of law, entertainment and education, I left the corporate work place two years ago to start my own business - Steps to Organization.

A professional organizer can help individuals in many areas including organizing the home office, kitchen, garage, closet, children’s rooms, time and calendar management, photographs and collectibles. Additionally, professional organizers can be hired to help downsize a home for a retired couple relocating to a retirement community or to ready a home for sale. They can also help students who are struggling with organizing their time and study skills.

In the business field, a professional organizer can help set up filing systems, work with individuals and groups on time and resource management and assist in setting up computer files and accounting programs.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Welcome to Steps to Organization

I'm so excited to be creating my own organizing blog. There are some wonderful blogs out there and I felt I could create something unique here on my blog so I welcome all your thoughts, suggestions and constructive criticisms.

I hope to post often with informative organizing ideas, new products, great books I've read, and more organizing suggestions than you could possibly imagine.

Please post your thoughts to help me keep my blog interesting and up to date.

Thank you and I look forward to your comments.