Get organized in the new year: How to start

If you are reading this, I’m guessing you would like to be more organized this year.

Here is a pro tip for a jump start on all of your organizing projects:

Find a pile of things anywhere in the house or garage that has already been set aside because you don’t need it–a donation bin, a bag of recycling. Put it in your car right now. DON’T EVEN FINISH READING THIS SENTENCE. Go put that bag/box/pile in the front seat of your car.

local thrift shop

So many people have a pile of things waiting… waiting to be donated to the perfect person; waiting to be sorted into sizes to give away; waiting to be given to the perfect charity.

Forget waiting! It’s the new year. We are done with waiting. We are doing.

Once you take that pile out of your house you will see  immediately how much better the space feels and you’ll be inspired to keep organizing.

Here’s a partial list of great places to take that stuff in the Pasadena area: (If you live far from Pasadena, work a little google magic for yourself using the ideas below)

Goodwill Donation Centers   They also take: e-waste, corroded batteries, broken electronics (be sure to label them as e-waste), computers (will be wiped of all data).

Out of the Closet  They do not take baby or kid items in general.

Try your local thrift store. Do you have a favorite shop in town? Please tell me in the comments.

For items which a local thrift shop will not take, try:

lots of cardboard

Get Organized Already will take away as much as we can fit into our cars when we work for you

The SAFE Center  They accept pills, hazardous waste, paint, oil, and batteries.

4600 Colorado Blvd. Los Angeles, CA 90039  Saturdays and Sundays 9 – 3

Take your bulk recycling to a grocery store parking lot center for money, or to the

Caltech Recycling CenterCaltech Recycling Center in the parking lot of E Del Mar at S Wilson Pasadena, CA 91107  Monday – Friday, 8-6; Saturday – Sunday, 10-6

Only bring pre-sorted items here. The bins are labeled by recycle #. It’s a great place to bring a ton of cardboard.

All Saints Episcopal Church in Highland Park  They have a food bank for local people and will accept any reasonable food or cleaning supplies (even if opened).

5619 Monte Vista St. Los Angeles, CA 90042 (Closed Mondays)

Habitat for Humanity Restore  Donate items from your garage here.

770 N. Fair Oaks Pasadena, CA 91103 626.792.3838

And one bonus tip from my friend Jonathan:

San Gabriel Valley pickup for metal tanks that once had content under pressure, like helium or propane.  888-253-2652

Happy New Year and here’s to becoming organized. I support that.



Organized Christmas decorating

decorating like Buddy

Ever since I saw the movie “Elf” I’ve been wanting to make paper chains like this. (Haven’t you?) And every year I don’t get around to it. The holidays are like that–plans of perfection and the desire for dreamy; lots of hopes and visions of a movie-worthy season that turn into me, stuck in traffic for 40 minutes on December 23rd because I ran out of wrapping paper.


good enough is better than therapy

Sometimes it’s better to use some old newspaper for wrapping gifts than to try and make everything so impressive. And speaking of recycling and letting go of perfection, check out my idea for easy, green Christmas decorations. Every couple of days save any white paper from your recycle bin and cut it into strips.

getting crafty

pro tip: Re-purpose things for decoration.

recycled paper chain

recycled paper chain

Use homework papers from school, old grocery lists, packing slips from all of the Amazon orders you keep getting in the mail. Any white paper will work for a paper chain that would make Buddy proud. Less than perfect is so much better than nothing.

adding to the clutter?

I heard someone on the radio the other day saying they hesitate to decorate their home because it feels like adding a bunch of clutter to an already crowded room.

pro tip: For every holiday decoration you put out store an item of similar size.

You’ve heard the one-in-one-out rule. This can work for the Christmas tree, too. Take something out of the room–maybe a chair. My kids’ lego storage unit is the thing to go in our house. Which tells you how many Legos we have. (too many a lot!)
If you have a lot of family photos in frames, or have some other collection on display year-round, consider putting them away for the month. Removing a collection will open up a lot of space and when you bring them back out, you’ll appreciate the items even more.

Finally, if you live in Hollywood and you’d like some extra elfin magic in your home this month, call me. I’ve got a workshop full of elves who can wrap, decorate, de-clutter, and organize for you. Delicious!

Those are all the tips I’m handing out today because I have got to get to wrappin’.

Happy Holidays!

Nonnahs  323.230.0297

How to organize your photos with Cari Dawson

In this very informative video, Nonnahs interviews Cari Dawson of Cari’s Custom Organizing about organizing digital and paper photos. Cari is a certified photo organizer. Wow! So helpful.

How do you stay on top of your photos to keep them organized?

Spanx vs the Lapband: what’s your clutter situation?

Did you ever consider losing clutter to be analogous to losing weight? It is! And though everyone is unique, in Get Organized Already’s professional organizing adventures three different situations show up over and over.

Which of the following weight loss scenarios best describes you? Check out my pro tips to help you get organized no matter what the size of your clutter is.
nonni w basket

Tummy tuck anyone?

Sometimes when we walk in the door with our cute aprons and our magic organizing basket, people want to have a complete overhaul. Their house, or just a room, is too packed to be usable anymore. If this sounds familiar, you are probably too overwhelmed to know where to start.

Pro tip: Start with a trash bag, a lined donation bin, and a box for any papers you find. Start in one corner of the room and set a timer. Touch everything only once, put each item in the appropriate container, and work until the timer goes off. That’s less daunting than tackling the whole room, right? In situations like this, our professional team will spend a few hours getting your room, or home, back to a manageable state. The momentum will keep you moving forward on your own or with people who love you.

Staying in shape

My personal organizing style is livable and comfortable. I know where everything is, but the beds may not be made. (Shocking, I know! But this is real life we are living—not a movie.) As long as the people in my home know where stuff lives, we can all navigate around each other and not spend our time searching for our things (and yelling, “HAVE YOU SEEN IT?” across the house). This scenario is for those who need a maintenance plan to keep their home organized.

Pro tip: Let all users of items know where things belong using labels. (It doesn’t have to be fancy. A sticky note or painter’s tape works just fine inside cabinets, drawers, and pantries.)

People generally flip out about this comfortable style of organizing because they have fallen victim to thinking that organized means rigid and perfect. Newsflash: perfection is not possible! A comfortable style of organizing suits most people because it is realistic and less expensive (as in no fancy labels or matching containers to buy). And works a lot better than what about 56 percent of you have going on right now: the dreaded PicMonkey Collagewe-don’t-have-a-system approach.

Ready for the college reunion

At the far end of the organizing continuum lie the Martha Stewart and Howard Hughes personalities of the world. Get Organized Already can help you, too! I have two lovely ladies on my organizing team with extensive backgrounds in interior design. They are amazing at creating the types of rooms you see in magazines. Whenever someone calls and I can tell they want to take their home to the next level (think Better Homes and Gardens or Apartment Therapy), I send out my Label Ladies.

I love to be in these places: fresh flowers and herbs in the entryway, a calendar printed in chalkboard paint and framed in a custom frame. Open the drawers and angels sing. The labels whisper beautiful phrases like, “fresh nutmeg” and “organic basmati rice.”

I’m not kidding. It is very peaceful and if I could, I’d have a Get Organized Already organizer over here every day to keep my shizzle looking like that in a heartbeat!

Pro tip: Getting organized isn’t a one time event. It has to happen regularly.

Everyone has their comfort level. Whatever your state of comfort or chaos, there’s a way to stay organized. And my team can help you accomplish your vision of the just-right organized home for less than you spend on two trips to Whole Foods. True story.

Turkey Day Preppers

Get Organized Already

Photo credit to Vicki Nikolaidis via Flickr

Preparing for Thanksgiving is kind of like preparing for the end of the world. Everyone is hoarding food, the store shelves are stripped bare, and everyone is running around like they are never going to see the light of tomorrow.

The biggest stresser is timing. I mean, the turkey takes hours, the gravy takes minutes. There are sides, and salads, desserts, and cocktails. How in the world are you going to make sure everything comes out at the right time?

Plan ahead.

This important step may add a little more time to your prep routine, but it will be worth it. It’s something I have done to keep me from losing it every holiday season. Plus, once you have your routine down to a science, you can it apply it to other times like birthdays or the super bowl party your other half springs on you a week before.

First things first: The guest list. You can’t possibly know how much to make if you have no idea how many people are coming.

Once you have your list, prepare 1.5 servings per person even for children, because while they may not eat their allotted serving, that extra will be there for the person who comes back for their third plate.

Get Organized Already

Photo credit to Bruce Turner via Flickr

Next thing: Grocery list. Decide ahead of time what you’re going to make and write a list of food items with each one’s ingredients underneath. You don’t need to include measurements in this list. Go through your pantry and cabinets and cross off what you already have on hand. Eggs, butter, and milk are things to buy even if you have some on hand. Chances are you’re going to need more than what you have.

To make your big day easier, prep some of your food the day before. Assemble the baked macaroni so all you’ll have to do is pop it in the oven while the turkey is resting. Boil your potatoes the day before and mash them on the day of. You can even put pies together, refrigerate, and bake them while everyone is eating.

How much early preparation you do depends on your comfort level and what you’re making. To make it easier (and because I’m a huge list person), write out everything you will be making the day before. List all of the preparatory steps one food item at a time. The list will keep you from feeling frazzled, and going in circles.

What are some Thanksgiving cooking tips and tricks you find helpful?

Or is this your first Thanksgiving? If so, what are some concerns and worries you have?

Get Organized Already! promo video

I’d love to hear from you about your organizing needs.


Nonnahs (and the Get Organized Already team)

Organizing like Rumpelstiltskin: Cash for Gold!

Cash for gold? Are you kidding? Do I look that broke to you?

Granted, it feels a little like food stamps—really desperate. But wait a minute. What if my reasoning for talking about selling your gold is more about making room for more jewelry in your life? Like shoes—another precious, precious thing—gold that isn’t being worn is just sitting there, stagnant in your drawer, taking up space where new shoes could be.

Get Organized Already

Curtsey of badgreed_records

Why would I do that?

Whether you think of selling gold as releasing old energy to bring in new, better things, or you think of it as free money is up to you.

Either scenario sounds pretty darn good to me and I’ve had clients request this service for both of those reasons.

So, here’s what you do.


Go through your jewelry to find the pieces you honestly have no intention of ever wearing again: pieces from HS and college boy/girlfriends, out-of-date patterns, etc. In the case of jewelry I’m going to loosen my professional organizer belt and say when in doubt keep it. Jewelry (unlike dishes or your wedding dress) doesn’t take up much room at all and your children may actually want it.

Use a magnet

The first thing the buyer will do is use a magnet. If you’d like to save some time, test for yourself before you leave the house. If any of your stuff sticks to the magnet, forget it. It’s crap. No gold there. Put it in your donate bin.

Some of the things (HS boyfriend’s ring) I thought were fake actually were gold. So, don’t assume.

Check current buying rates

Buyers will weigh your gold by the ounce and give you some percentage of the current market rate. If you need some motivation in the form of a dollar amount to get you into the store, check this site for rates and roughly calculate how much green you’ll be getting for your gold.

scrap gold 2

Head to the store

To combat the I-must-be-really-broke-to-be-doing-this vibe you may be feeling, put on your big girl shoes and an outfit you generally feel good wearing. Dressing well always helps in a new situation. Don’t you think?

Let me highly recommend Diamano Fine Jewelry at 642 East Colorado Blvd. in Pasadena (at El Molino). According to my telephone research in Pasadena, they pay more than other buyers: 75 percent of market value. They round up on the weight of your pieces. And, most importantly, they are friendly, very classy, and courteous. It’s a fine jewelry store, not a place to send money orders or buy bus tokens. If you aren’t near Pasadena, find a reputable jewelry seller near you who also buys gold.


Wherever you decide to sell, make sure you will get paid right there. It is a crazy wild feeling like winning in Vegas. Let’s put it this way, I’m going to New York this weekend with Jeff and the recent haul I took in was worth more money than my round-trip ticket. Gulp. That stuff was sitting in my drawer for twenty years!

Treat yo’self

Don’t blow it on gas and groceries (unless you really need to). See this video clip (shown to me by Bos Organization) for inspiration.