Anniversary Surprise! Husband Takes Over Blog!

I was surprised when my husband penned the following letter to me and thought it would be perfect to share on my 30th wedding anniversary today. I’m a very lucky woman to be with this amazing man!

Confessions From The Spouse of a Professional Organizer

By Mitch Stone

Full disclosure people, I am not an organized person by nature. An organized lifestyle just didn’t seem natural to me. In fact, I grew up constantly losing things, looking for things, rushing to class, missing deadlines, and getting to practices late because I couldn’t find my glove, lacrosse stick, tennis racket, etc. The simple fact was I didn’t think about how I caused myself immeasurable amounts of stress by not being organized. 

Then a miracle happened, I met my wife. They say opposites attract and in our case it is true. Not only did I find her smart and gorgeous, but I realized that she had a skill set that I could really use to get my career going. She knew how to plan, how to arrange and how to organize. I had other skills that complimented hers. I was late, messy and unorganized.

At first it was a challenge to see which of our life styles would prevail. I resisted being burdened by social norms that included being on time or putting things in their place. As a result I created a bit of chaos the first few years of our marriage.

So that was the beginning of the enlightenment for me. I needed to accept the advice my wife gets paid to give others, but being organized didn’t seem normal to me. I recall wondering, when we moved into our first house, if anyone had a coat small enough to hang on the set of little hooks by the garage door. Then I saw Ms. Neatly Designed hang her car keys on one of those hooks when she got home from work. I immediately thought, “Wow! That would make it so easy to find your car keys every morning if you simply hung them up on your way in instead of throwing them down so that they would work their way into the cushions of the sofa.” Brilliant!

Then she sat down with me to make sure I calendared events like concerts, dinner parties, birthdays and anniversaries. Suddenly, I realized that I would have incredible advanced notice of what was about to take place thereby reducing the need to apologize for missing something. She labeled clear container bins for holiday decorations to be easily located in the attic rather than having to call a handyman afterwards to fix the damage caused by tearing up the house looking for them. I appreciated how much easier and less stressful those things had become for me and us.

Now that I have had the advantage of being married to this smart, beautiful and successful woman for 30 years I’ve learned skills that I never knew existed. I can honestly say I am less stressed over little things in life that used to become major disasters. For example, losing car keys isn’t a huge ordeal unless of course it happens when you need to drive your wife to the hospital because your daughter is ready to be born, right? 

Now my personal and financial records are easily found, my golf gear is in its place, my surf  and SUP boards are on racks on a wall in the garage, and my suits and clothes are neatly arranged on hangers and in drawers. Incredibly, all my mementos (aka, junk) like Grateful Dead concert tickets, college party beer mugs and vacation necklaces, that I have saved over the years so my kids can throw them out when I’m gone, have been reduced and reconstituted to fit neatly in a clear bin and stored in a closet under the stairs. Yes, my life is indeed more organized, thanks to her.

In fact, as I write this I am traveling home and next to me are my bags that I organized for the trip. It inspired me to write this because I was reflecting on how going through airport security was such a breeze since I knew where my passport was, my laptop was easily removed from the bag, and I had not over packed because I had only the shirts, pants and other garments that I would actually wear each day. It is a change for the better and something I never dreamed could be possible.

But fear not young men (and women), although I have been married to this special woman for 30 years, these are not skills that take decades to acquire. This is something you too can do. However, there is no reason to reinvent the wheel.

There are tricks to the trade, so hire a professional organizer – and I highly recommend Christine Stone at Neatly Designed. A few hours of her time helping you clean out your clutter will get you started on a less stressful way of living.

What To Do With Your Wedding Dress When Your Children Don’t Want It!

In my profession I have come across many boxed wedding dresses when purging and the same question is often asked from clients “what do I do with my wedding dress my children don’t want it.” I can totally relate to this question because as a woman who will be married 30 years in just a few days that has become my dilemma.

In 1981 Princess Diana married Prince Charles in one of the most elaborate weddings watched by millions on TV. Every girl thought it was the perfect fairy tale wedding and wanted to emulate it, including the famous dress! For the next few years every wedding you went to the bride wore what we called the Princess Di dress. When it came time for me to get married I also wanted that fairy tale wedding dress. The long train, sparkle and of course lots of lace. I know this sounds corny but it was the first dress I tried on and I knew it was THE dress. I tried on others but kept going back to that dress.

Now lets talk about those sleeves! Back in 1988 there were no cell phones, internet or social media so everything you saw was in magazines or on TV which leads me to the puffy sleeves. They were everywhere the bigger the better. You didn’t own something that didn’t have shoulder pads they even sold them separately so you can put them in your clothes!
As my 30th anniversary was approaching I decided to open the box mainly for nostalgia reasons. Was it really that dated? The answer to be honest is yes! The sleeves are still huge and its anything but simple. Then I started doing what most people do I talked about how we can rework the dress if my daughters choose to wear it. We can take the sleeves off remove the extremely large bow off the back and so on. I have a photo of my wedding day in the living room (see below) and many times I gave my  daughters the speech on how we could redesign the dress and they both gave me a look like no were good, but thanks. I even tried to sell them on the veil but no takers. My feelings were not hurt because I realized my daughters will do what I did because times change, fashions change and your taste change.

If your ready to let go of your dress here are some suggestons that might make it easier for you.

Do your homework and find out what the dress is really worth. Is it vintage or just dated? Don’t overprice it if you really want to let it go. This site gives you many options if want to consign.

Make Something New Out of Something Old
As the saying goes something old something new and these ideas are perfect to use as something old. Make a sash for the dress the bride chooses, have a piece made to add around the bouquet, make a hankie to tuck in a garter or sew a piece of your dress into the underside of their dress. If you are interested in more ideas check out this link on Pinterest .

Take a Whimsical Photo
I have seen so many great photos of people in their old wedding gowns. Be creative and it will be a lasting keepsake.

Turn Your Memory Into an Heirloom
Fabric from your dress can make a Christening gown for your grandchildren and can be shared for generations.

I saved this for last because I can here the gasps as I’m writing this. Donating to someone less fortunate will not only make you feel good but it will help someone in need. This site has great information if donation is an option for you. Just think you will be bringing new life back to your old dress and making someone as happy on their day as you were on yours.

Would love to hear any ideas you have to share!

How To Organize Toys for Preschoolers

One of the most important things you can teach your children early in life if you take something out when you are finished you put it back. This one lesson taught early can help avoid clutter and battles for you and your children as they grow.

One of my favorite ways to organize kids that are young and can’t read yet is to have pictures for them to identify where things go. As a mom of grown children I love organizing children’s books and toys because it brings back so many fond memories.

If you are ready to tackle the kids playroom follow these simple tips.

Purge items you don’t need or use. The most important step when beginning any organizing project is to purge. We started with the toys and books he had outgrown or doesn’t play with and put away some toys she could bring out later. We also set aside baby items to save if she decided to have another baby.

Sort before you organize. Sorting the toys was the next step to getting organized. We put like things together so I could make a list of what containers I would use and how many I would need.

Measure the space. Measuring although sometimes a forgotten step is crucial to getting the right products to fit a space. This project was all shelving and had great vertical space that we wanted to utilize for stacking containers.

Contain your items. I used these containers from IKEA because they are not only perfect for the space but inexpensive too!

Label the containers. My favorite part are these labels from The Container Store. I have used them before in several homes and garages but I have to say this was so fun and different using pictures as labels. They are self adhesive and come with the paper that slides right into the label holder. This is one item I buy in bulk!

This project was so rewarding especially when my client told me how much her son loved looking at the pictures and knew exactly where everything went.

How do you organize your kids toys?