The Organizers Quarantine Essentials

Hi everyone I hope you are all staying healthy. Today I want to share some items that I have been using and loving while in quarantine. This has been a new normal in many ways for me and one big change has been our daughters moving back in with us during this time of uncertainty. As a parent, this has been such a big relief to have them under our roof safe and protected. On the other hand, our nest has been empty for quite a few years so it has been an adjustment for all of us but we are getting used to it. We also started a major home renovation at the beginning of February and have not been living in our home so when they say life can throw you curve balls they definitely are not kidding.

Like, everyone, we have been enjoying a lot of family time and I have to be honest although it’s a parents job to raise your children to be on their own with their own lives I think every Mom secretly wishes they could go back in time and appreciate the younger years because time goes so fast and you don’t realize it until your older. In my wildest dreams, I would have never imagined there would be a time when my children would move back in with us and spend every meal, every evening and every day for over a month without leaving the house. Impossible right? I know it won’t last so I have been savoring the meals, the laughter, the games, the music, and the talks. It has been so surreal and if anything good has come from this crisis it is the ability to get something back that you thought was impossible. I am sure there are a lot of you parents of adult children who can relate to this new unexpected normal.

Now that there are four of us working from home these have been a few items that have made it easier for me to stay organized and in a routine which I think is so important during times of stress and uncertainty.

AirPod Case This case has been a lifesaver with all of us using headphones in the same house. I know which case is mine and I can easily find them when I need them. They are inexpensive and come in many colors.

Elfa File Cart I have mentioned this file cart previously but I cannot tell you how essential this has been to keep my files and office supplies organized while living in a temporary space. It has wheels so I can it take from room to room and when I’m not using it I can store it in a closet. Perfect for small spaces.

iPad Pro Smart Keyboard I originally bought this smart keyboard for when I travel but lately I have been using my iPad as a second computer. It’s lightweight and has an attached cover to protect the screen so I can carry it with me.

Calm Cards for Serenity I originally brought these to our rental because I thought I would need some calm inspiration to get me through the renovation. Now with everything going on it has become a daily routine to pick a card and discuss it. We could all use some calm and serenity right about now.

I love to cook but as an empty nester, we have been used to either an easy meal at home, take out or eating out. Now that we are quarantined together as a family I have been cooking more in the past few weeks than I have in years! I have to say I have really enjoyed family mealtime again and having more than two people to cook for. These are a few favorites I’m loving in the kitchen!

Green Pans I absolutely love these pans! They are non-stick which means easy to clean, scratch-resistant and 100% non-toxic. I bought one pan and now I own a whole set!

iDesign Containers As an organizer you knew I would have to talk about a favorite to get you organized. These containers have kept the pantry in our rental organized which has been so important now that I’m grocery shopping for four. I use these all the time with clients but they are are a must-have in my own home. They come in different sizes to fit any pantry or bath space and they are on sale!

ECOS Fruit and Veggie Wash I have always washed my fruits and vegetables but recently I started using this and it takes washing to another level. Easy to use, no fragrance and rinses off with no residue or taste left behind.

White Colander Speaking of washing this is the perfect size colander to clean fruits and vegetables. Another plus looks great sitting on the counter waiting to be used multiple times a day. It’s dishwasher, microwave, and oven safe too!

Like many of you, I have been enjoying a very low key skincare, makeup, and wardrobe in the past few weeks. These have been a few favorites some new and some oldie but goodies.

Pimple Patch I keep these on hand anyway but when you have a house full of women these have come in very handy and they work!

T3 Hot Rollers If you are new to my blog you can go here and watch my YouTube video on how I style my hair and why I love these rollers so much. These have been a lifesaver now that salons are closed. I wash my hair use leave-in conditioner and put my hair in a bun overnight. In the morning I put the hot rollers in for 15 minutes and when I take them out I flip my head over, run my fingers through it, flip it back and I have full soft curls.

Kerastase Hair Mask When you have hair as thick and coarse as mine you experiment with ways to tame the frizz. I have actually been using this mask as a leave-in and love it! It has been hot and humid and this helps way my hair down and adds moisture. I just use it on the ends so my hair does not get greasy.

Nail Hardener I removed my dip nails when I saw the direction this health crisis was taking and I always go back to this product to get my natural nails strong and healthy. It really works in just a few days if you follow the directions. My daughter has been using it too and said Mom this really works!

Tom Ford Foundation Stick Like many of you I have not been wearing any makeup which has been a nice break and my skin has been so happy. If I have a video conference meeting or I’m making videos this is my new favorite foundation. It is a stick which makes applying it so easy and it covers so well I can use it as a concealer too! I apply it with a brush and the finish is amazing and the color is perfect.

Athleta Pants I love Athleta for work, travel and to lounge around the house. These have been a new favorite because of the wide leg and comfy waistband. You can dress them up a bit or just wear flip flops and a t-shirt.

Portable Speaker This was a gift from a friend and I brought it to our rental and little did I know this would provide hours of family entertainment. We have enjoyed playing music at mealtime and a competitive after-dinner game of name that tune. It is Bluetooth, easy to use and the sound is incredible!

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An Organizers Tips to Simplify in 2020

I’m really looking forward to 2020 and the exciting things that will be happening personally and professionally in the new year. At the beginning of the year, you will hear me talk a lot about our home renovation. We have been renovating our house it seems like since the day we bought it and I’m happy to say this is finally the last renovation!

I cannot wait to share it with you from beginning to end through an organizer’s perspective. I will cover packing for a short term rental, design organization for a kitchen, laundry, pantry, and home office. When the project is complete I will share the art of unpacking and organizing the new spaces. I’m sure there will be bumps in the road but at this point, I know its part of the process.

I’m also excited to unveil my new website which will make it easier for you to shop my favorites, watch videos and learn more about Neatly Designed and what we have to offer so stay tuned!

Every new year I love sharing tips to get my readers motivated and inspired to simplify and organize their homes. Some of these you may have heard me talk about before but they are always worth mentioning again.


I am not a big fan of the word resolutions. They don’t seem to last more than a month and then you feel disappointed you didn’t achieve your goal. I am a big believer in commitment because almost anything can be accomplished if you are committed to the end result, whether in your home or in your life. Commitment can be difficult because it is hard work and sometimes giving up is not an option until you have completed the job. If you are struggling to get organized pick an area and make a commitment to get it done. Once you start enjoying your newly organized space it will motivate you to tackle another area.


Time management is key to starting and finishing any project. Getting organized needs to be scheduled like any other task. It takes time to purge and organize a kitchen or clean out a closet. If you don’t schedule it the project will be not get completed and that leads to disappointment, stress, and cluttered living space.


I hear so many different preferences when it comes to how people keep a calendar. Before digital, paper calendars were the only option and then technology came and made changes most people were not ready to make. They tried it the new digital way but now I have seen a shift back to paper calendars for a multitude of reasons. I personally use both because I like a paper calendar to see everything in a monthly view especially when it is business-related. When organizing clients I discuss the benefits of both but I stress to use what is easiest to get you organized and stay organized on a daily basis.


Whether its purses, shoes, golf shirts or towels when you buy something new it’s essential to get rid of an item. If you keep buying but never get rid of anything it is a recipe for clutter. Donate or consign but let it go!


Every day I spend at least 5 minutes deleting old emails that are not relevant and unsubscribing to unwanted emails. Junk mail can be very stressful just by looking at how much you have. Some people get so overwhelmed they close old emails and just start with a new one. Staying on top of junk mail and unwanted emails save you time in the long run.


Stay away from the big box stores unless you have the room to store the items even if they were on sale! As an organizer I see people buying multiples of items and they have no place to put them. I find items shoved in cabinets, drawers, and closets where they do not belong. They forget what they own because they can’t find it and buy more. Does this sound familiar to anyone? Buying in multiples costs you money and time if you are short on storage space. Keep a list and buy what you need when you need it.


When beginning any organizing project start by purging, sorting and keeping like items together. Whether in a closet, kitchen, pantry or garage keeping like things together will keep you organized.


This is another important one when it comes to staying organized. If there is a place for everything, everything will have a home and it just makes daily life easier. When you take something out you will have a place to put it back. It prevents clutter and saves money! These drawer inserts will not only keep you organized but save time when you are searching for something.


Paper clutter has definitely improved somewhat now that we live in a digital world. I think having receipts emailed instead of paper is a great option if you keep them organized in files on your computer. I start the year with 2 files one for receipts and one for returns. When I need a receipt I know exactly where to find it which saves time. You can get more specific with receipt folders if you are working on projects or a certain store that you shop. Just say no to paper receipts!


Do not feel defeated if you need help clearing the clutter. I admire people that reach out and say I can’t live like this anymore. It tells me they are starting to take back control of their life and ready for change. Sometimes people just need a second set of eyes or a second opinion to confirm what they already know. Asking for help is a step in the right direction anytime of the year!

If you are ready for a change in 2020 the easiest way to begin is simplifying your space so that everyday living is less stressful.

Julie Ryan Photography


Tips to Finally Let Go of Your Storage Unit

Storage units have seen a significant rise in the past decade. Many people own them and pay thousands of dollars a year to keep them even though they don’t know what is in them. They dread going to their unit(s) because they haven’t been there in years and the thought of tackling it is unbearable so they just keep it.

I will start by saying I know that storage units do serve a purpose in some circumstances such as storing items during a renovation, between moves or items that have been inherited. On the other hand, keeping a storage unit for long periods of time is like having a monkey on your back. You always have that nagging feeling that at some point you are going to have to deal with it. You feel guilty because you are paying a lot of money to store items you can’t even remember. You also start to keep it a secret and that is when you know its time to let go! If this all sounds familiar you are not alone. As an organizer, I go to homes to help people purge and organize but many times after we finish I hear “I didn’t tell you about my storage unit or units”. Honestly, it never surprises me because I hear it so often. 

How can you finally break free from your storage unit? Go there! I just heard gasps as I’m writing this. Don’t worry the first visit is to get your ducks in a row and make a game plan. Enlist the help of a local mover or a strong friend so you can see everything including what is in the very back. Take an inventory of what is in the unit by taking photos and making a list of the items you don’t want to keep. Lastly, if you feel you can not tackle this on your own hire a professional organizer to make the process less stressful.

Here are some questions to ask yourself when looking inside your storage unit.

Do you need an antique dealer to appraise furniture or an art appraiser?

Do you want to sell or consign some of the items? If so where?

Do you need to schedule a donation pickup?

Do you need family members to pick up items?

Do you need a junk removal company?

Do you just need to say goodbye?

The last question is the hardest one of all but once you say goodbye you will never look back. You will feel less stress, save money and only keep the things you need, use and love! Start 2020 with the monkey off your back!