Questions to Ask Before You Buy

untitledPhoto courtesy Art of Simple

Today’s blog comes to you via the amazing Tsh Oxenreider at Art of Simple.  Tsh is, quite simply, amazing.  She writes about all sorts of things pertaining to life and simplifying your life, she has a podcast, she’s a published author AND you need to read her posts about the year she and her family traveled the world, living out of backpacks!

Basically, she’s living the dream!

I’ve posted this particular blog post on PCS Prepper a couple of times, but I wanted to share it in this space too, because it is such a short, sweet, but perfect little post about thinking it through and asking yourself some important questions before you buy an item.

If you’re trying to simplify your life and let go of clutter, one of the ways you will have to challenge yourself is to set limits on new items coming back into your home.  If you have expended energy to simplify and declutter, the worst thing you can do is go right back out and start filling the house back up with stuff.

You need to teach yourself to stop and carefully consider your purchases.  Obviously, I’m not talking about things like groceries (unless you are a spice hoarder–I’ve met a couple of those–do NOT buy any more spices!).  I’m talking about clothing.  Jewelry, shoes, kitchen items, decorative items.  Knicknacks and brick-a-brack.  Baskets and books.

As consumers, we are subject to a constant barrage of advertising and messages telling us that we need the latest and greatest clothes, gadgets, furniture, cars.  Advertising is everywhere.  It’s sneaky and pervasive and plays on our emotions.

Teach yourself to pause for a moment when you pick up an item.  Do you really need it?  Are you willing to become the caretaker for it (maybe it requires dry cleaning or is a kitchen item that requires disassembly to clean it properly)?  Do you already have an item similar to it at home?  Do you have the money to spend on it and do you want to spend money on a thing or would you rather save towards a bigger goal, like your nest egg or a dream vacation?

Don’t forget giveaways–if you’re at a convention or meeting and they’re handing out free coffee cups or swag, it’s OK to say “No, thank you”.  Believe you me, I know the lure of FREE…right this minute I have a beautiful dining room set sitting in my garage that I picked up last night because someone was giving it away.  It won’t sit there for long.  I’ll either use it in my own home or find another use for it soon.  This was a lucky deal that I stand to profit from, but you don’t need free coffee cups, Happy Meal toys, doodads and junk.  Say no.

The key is to stop, consider and only let it into your home if it passes the test.

Trust me, it will get easier and easier to walk past those displays at Target as you hone your skill as a selective consumer!

Good luck!







I’m Not Here to Judge

Do you want to contact me, but feel so embarrassed about your clutter and/or lack of organization that you don’t want anyone, much less someone who is more organized than the average human, to see it?

Are you afraid that I will make you throw everything away, leaving you with bare walls, no books, a capsule wardrobe and no memorabilia?

Do you keep putting off contacting me because you see me advertise and you know you need the help, but you keep telling yourself that you’re going to get to it…this weekend (and then it’s next weekend and pretty soon, another year has gone by and the situation has gotten worse)?

Well–I have news–I’m not here to judge!  Please don’t get me wrong, I do care why you’ve amassed clutter or why your organizing systems aren’t working.  I care about the underlying reasons why you might buy too many clothes or feel that you need to keep every gift that your mother-in-law gave you.  I care about these feelings, because they’re why you have amassed stuff and talking about those feelings can be revelatory.  Revelatory and freeing!

I’ve had so many clients who act nervous to show me the room, the closet, the cupboards that they need help with…they’re so apologetic.

Please don’t feel like you need to be apologetic about your situation, because we are all human.  We all have separate and distinct talents.  We all live differently and are wired differently.  Maybe you’re a really great defense attorney or good at jujitsu or play the bassoon in the National Symphony Orchestra.  Maybe you speak six languages or have written a book or are the best mom on the block.  Whatever it is–you have a talent.  Your talent just might not be decluttering and organizing.

I have a talent too–and that is listening and helping people let go of things that they don’t need/want/love, things that are cluttering their lives.  And then putting back the items they decide to keep.  That’s my talent and I want to share it with people, because I love to do it and I love seeing people’s look of relief when we finish up.

I’m not judging…I’m not silently thinking “Well…Mrs. Jones has really let things go around here!”.

Don’t let that be the reason you don’t get in touch with me.

Second–are you afraid that I’m a mean organizer?  That I’ll stand over you with a trash bag and force you to throw everything away, regardless of sentimental value?  I’m going to tell you something:  I have a bin of things that belonged to my grandfather, a man that I thought was a giant among men…and guess what?  I have an envelope of his beard clippings from his 1976 Bicentennial beard (apparently, it was a thing that year).  BEARD CLIPPINGS.  I can’t bear to throw them out.

Now, does that sound like someone who will make you throw things away?  Now obviously, I will offer a slightly opinion on your leopard-print stirrup pants from 1991, unless, of course, those were the leopard-print stirrup pants you got married in, but otherwise, I will likely ask you why you want to save such an item.

That’s my job…to suss out if you really and truly are using/loving/wanting all those things.  Usually, the answer is no and I barely have to coerce my clients into starting to fill the trash bags.  They’ve been wanting to for years and they finally have someone to stand and help them sort and hold them accountable for a few hours to GET IT DONE.

Third–I understand the drive to save money by thinking you can do something yourself.  I do things myself all the time.  For instance, I’ve been painting the hall bathroom for the last five or six weeks.  WEEKS.  Why?  Because I was convinced it would be a quick and easy project that I could do myself instead of calling in a painter.  Guess what?  I should have called a painter.  I know you think you’re going to get to it, but if you were, wouldn’t it have been done a long time ago?  In the meantime, those boxes/clutter sits there from week to week, taking up valuable real estate not only in your home, but in your mind and heart as well.

Therefore, you, my friend, should just call me.  Don’t be embarrassed.  Don’t be afraid of losing stuff.  And don’t be afraid of how much I cost, because I am about 3-4 times less expensive than your average organizer…I have seen ladies charging well over $100/hr and while I’m happy for them raking in the dough, I’m happy with $100 per four hour session.

I know my clients would agree that those $100 sessions are money well spent.  I know you will too, so let’s get started!

(Contact me through the form on almost every page on this site).


What to Expect–Session Time


Here’s a little about what to expect during an actual session with me.  Last week, I wrote about what happens during a consultation.  To recap that post, I come to your home and we talk about any areas that may be a concern to you or are stressing you out due to clutter or disorganization.  Generally, we agree on an area to start and set our first session date.

On our first session, I will come to your door armed with my red bin (items that stay) and my green bin (items that go), a bunch of trash bags and my trusty clipboard with your homework sheet attached.  What is homework?  Great question!  Homework is any task that we encounter while we work that you can tackle on your own after I leave to keep the decluttering/organizing project moving ahead.  The list might read:  “take clothes to dry cleaner”, “purchase storage bins for basement”, “drop old towels at humane society”.

I will try to remember to take a “before” picture before we get started on your chosen area–sometimes I get so excited to dig in that I forget!  Please rest assured that I will take care not to show any identifying objects such as your name/address, etc. and that I will not attach your name to any photos that I use.  You are completely anonymous unless you want to tell the world what an amazing time you had with PCS Prepper/Orderly Home Organizer!

After I snap that picture, it is time to get down to work!

If you need to declutter (and most people do–hey, even I declutter on a regular basis!), we will start with a good decluttering.  This means we need to open every door, explore every nook and cranny of the cupboards, pull clothes from the back of the closet and open every box and sort through the contents.

Some items will be easy for you to let go of–and some will be a little more difficult.  That’s OK.  I never make my clients get rid of an item that they want to keep, but I may ask questions about whether you use that item, love that item or need that item–and these questions may prompt you to really consider whether you DO need to keep certain items.

Decluttering takes stamina and time, especially if you have a lot of belongings and/or what type of items we will be sorting.  It’s generally easier to go through clothes, for example, than family photos or mementos.

If we will be organizing after decluttering, I do try to categorize the items that are still left so that putting them back into the closet/cupboard/shelving will be easier.

Once we are satisfied that we’ve decluttered as much as we can, I will help you organize the remaining items in a way that is easiest for you to use–because after all, organizing systems only work if they work for YOU.  I will need your input as to how often you use certain items, if you’d like them to be on a high shelf, close to the stove, stored elsewhere, etc.

If you have requested it, I will remove donated items (up to a certain amount–remember, I don’t have a U-Haul!), collect my fee and leave you with some detailed homework that will help you continue to carry on the process after I leave.  If you feel you need another session, we can book it at this time, too!

I hope this gives you some insight into what to expect during session time…please contact me if you’d like to schedule time with me or if you have any questions!



What to Expect–Consultation

I have done six (6!) consultations in the last two weeks, which is really and truly amazing.  A big “thank you” to everyone who has called, e-mailed or contacted me through this website!

I thought I’d take a moment to talk about what to expect during the consultation, just so that if you’re considering contacting me for one, you’ll know what will happen.

I will be at your home at the agreed-upon time, with my clipboard and card, ready to take a quick tour of your home, specifically the areas that are causing you the most stress.  Is your home office overflowing with papers?  Let’s take a look.  Is the toddler’s room buried beneath a layer of toys?  Do you just need some help using a space more effectively?

Whatever it is, I am there to look and talk with you about what is happening in the room and what your vision is for that space, should you choose to hire me to come and help you declutter and/or get organized.

I may offer up a few tips while I’m in your space (“You could consider getting a filing cabinet–it would fit perfectly in “x” spot”), but the main focus of the consultation is to get a feel for your situation, what sort of work you’d like to have done and to give me a chance, as your organizer, to determine approximately how many hours it would take to get your space cleared and organized.

We will have a few minutes to chat after I look and hopefully, you’ll decide that you’d like to work with Orderly Home Organizer and book me on the spot for your first session!

And that, my friends, is the FREE 30-minute consultation!  If you’d like to schedule yours today, please e-mail me at or message me through the contact forms on this page!



Baby Boomers Downsizing–Be Prepared

This is a great article from the Boston Globe that I hope anyone who is planning on downsizing soon and has adult children will read.

I have helped a few clients start the process of decluttering years of possessions in order to sell the home where they raised their family.  It’s not an easy process, usually, because there’s a very emotional component at play:  keepsakes, heirlooms, collections and other items that mom and dad have been saving under the impression that their children will desire them one day.

What they’re finding out is that the kids might take a piece here and there, but they generally aren’t interested in their grandmother’s doll collection or tea service, or even their own memorabilia from grade/high school.

Blame people like me if you want…blame the minimalist movement in general, but men and women of my generation and younger don’t want as much “stuff”.  Belongings that meant a great deal to our parents often don’t have the same level of emotional attachment for us.

Unfortunately, this leads to a lot of bafflement and hurt feelings on the part of the parents…

“I just can’t believe Jimmy doesn’t want all of his Cub Scout projects and memorabilia!”.

“My mother gave me her wedding china…it was so expensive.  We never used it growing up.  It’s antique, so beautiful.  I can’t believe Susie doesn’t want to keep this!”.

I really feel for this generation, who has been living under the weight of all that stuff for all these years and now, when they believe they are about to bestow these gifts upon their children, they get met with a shake of the head and have to watch their treasures get carted off to the Salvation Army or the Goodwill.

I would strongly encourage you, if your kids are grown and you are thinking of downsizing, to please have an open and honest conversation with your kids about any items that they might want to take when you begin the decluttering process.  Setting expectations ahead of time will help to mitigate hurt feelings and misunderstandings and may help you begin to disassociate memories and emotions from the belongings that have to go.

I would also encourage you to begin the decluttering process well ahead of time, to ease the discomfort and emotional toll it will take to let go of those items.

Best wishes!




Recent Clients

Hi All–

I have been very busy over here at Orderly Home/PCS Prepper!  Word is slowly but surely getting out that I can work minor miracles on your clutter–I’m so thankful for all the comments, e-mails and calls!  I’m looking forward to meeting some of you soon for your consultations.

I thought I’d take a moment to write about a couple of my more recent clients.  Both of them are moving soon and need to declutter to make their moves as streamlined and lightweight as possible.  It never makes sense to live with a lot of clutter, but it really doesn’t make sense when you have to put everything you own into a box, put those boxes into a truck, drive that truck somewhere and unload all the boxes!

Don’t do that to yourself!

Whether you’re moving across the country or down the road, let’s get you in lean, mean fighting shape for your move or downsize!

Take a look at the before and after photos above from a recent client.  They had moved a lot of their furniture into their garage during a home remodeling project–it was packed from front to back.  They were ready to take everything out and sort through it prior to their move to determine what they would be taking with them and what they would donate or sell at their garage sale.

We moved everything out onto the driveway (thank goodness for one good sunny day, lately!) and they sorted through the items, then we moved some of the decluttered items back into the garage and I started helping them stage items for their garage sale.  I haven’t heard how it went, but hopefully they lost some weight and made some money!

Second moving tale–my amazing friend who just finished up her fourth session with me today.  She worked SO hard to really cut out the clutter in every room, closet and cabinet in her house–top to bottom.  Because she is moving, we did a lot of decluttering and a general organize–putting like items together will help ensure easier unpacking after their move.  Today, we worked in her home office, which is one of the toughest places to declutter, in my humble opinion.  Going through years worth of papers, receipts, junk mail, etc. is not the most exciting work–but we powered through.  If you see that big paper bag under her desk, it is full to the brim with items to take in and shred (tip:  take bulk shredding to Staples or Office Depot or check within your community for a shred day).

Congrats to both of my clients on their hard work and commitment to work hard when the task seems daunting!

Do you have an area of your home that clutter is taking over?  Does it seem insurmountable?  Well, you can see here that these two sessions made a huge difference in this garage and home office–and I know that I can make a difference in your space too!

Orderly Home Organizer

Hi friends and neighbors!  I’m turning over a new leaf…introducing Orderly Home, sister site to PCS Prepper!

Don’t worry, PCS Prepper is still alive and well and I’ll definitely write here about topics relating to PCS and military life!  My original intent was to help military spouses “stress less over their next PCS” and that’s still alive and well.

However…I noticed that there are a lot of non-military folks here in the DC area who need my services.  PCS Prepper doesn’t quite scream “Hello, I am a professional home organizer!” for anyone who doesn’t know what a PCS is.

And thus, Orderly Home was born.

I hope that I can help you learn more about simplifying your life, decluttering, getting organized and all the little life-changing ideas that go hand-in-hand with these ideals.  If you want to get started, just click on the “Contact Me” button up top or e-mail me at!

Ready?  Let’s go!