by JUDY OZMENT on MARCH 1, 2013


Today is the 16th annual Read Across America day. This is a program that I think is fabulous because I loved to read as a child & I still try to get in as much reading as I can.

Read Across America is dedicated to motivating children in all communities to celebrate reading in conjunction with the beloved children’s author Dr. Seuss, whose birthday is tomorrow, March 2nd.  Who doesn’t love Dr. Seuss’ books?!

As a professional organizer, I am urging all of you to round up those books that you no longer read, need, have grown out of and are gathering dust and donate them.

Here in Mankato our library has a designated monthly donation day.  Donations of new or gently used books can be made on the first Saturday of every month from 10:00 am – 12:30 pm at the Blue Earth County Library Garage, located at 100 East Main Street in Mankato.

To make donations outside of the designated time, please call the library at (507) 304-4005.

To learn more and to find out what is accepted, please visit their website here.

For those of you who are not in the Mankato, MN area, I urge you to do a search “where to donate books” in your area so you too can pass on your books to give a little bit of enjoyment to someone else.  There are many places that would be happy to receive your donations.

Be Awesome!  Be a Book Nut! ~ Dr. Seuss

by JUDY OZMENT on JANUARY 24, 2013


If you live in Minnesota this week and you stepped outside, you probably wanted to go right back in.  We are experiencing some of the coldest weather we have had in quite some time.

I asked this question a year ago – “Do you have a winter emergency kit for your vehicle?”  I thought it would be a good idea to revisit this again since Old Man Winter is showing no mercy.

This reminds me of the winters where I grew in west central Minnesota. I listed some of the basics which will help you organize your items to make your kit.  You should carry this kit in your vehicle during this time of the year.  Remember to have enough on hand for each person traveling with you.

Obviously your kit will vary depending on your location – you probably don’t need as much in your kit if you drive and stay in a metropolitan area, where help can get to you rather quickly.  But if you motor around in a rural area having a complete kit could make a difference between life and death.

  • non-perishable snacks
  • paper towels
  • toilet paper
  • water – smaller containers are easier to thaw.  Do not consume snow, it will lower your body temperature.
  • tire chains
  •  ice scraper/snow brush
  • jumper cables
  • road flares
  • phone charger
  • first-aid kit
  • blankets or sleeping bags
  • flashlight with spare batteries
  • manual can opener
  • extra socks
  • extra gloves
  • winter boots
  • matches
  • candles
  • first aid kit
  • pocket knife
  • medications
  • If you travel with pets, have their supplies on hand
  • shovel – go for a sturdy one with a decent size –  not the little, dinky, portable, fold-up style
  • sand or litter (not the clumping kind) for traction
  • tow rope or chain

If you are planning on taking any road trips during the winter months please make sure to check over your vehicle before you hit the road.  Check your tires, battery, fluid levels, wipers, heater, lights and brakes.  This is not not a complete list but it’s a start.

If you live in the mountains, remember your chains if needed.  I never thought about this until I lived in northern Nevada for over five years.

I have sand bags weighing 130 pounds in my trunk.  I have rear wheel drive so the extra weight in the back helps out a lot!  Keep your fuel tank full or don’t let it get below half full.  My oldest brother drilled this into my head!  Yes, Darrel,  I was listening to you all those years ago!

Let people know your departure time, expected arrival time and your route.  Stay on that route – if you have to make any changes let people know that as well.  This is all very helpful if you don’t show up when expected.

If you should become stranded don’t leave your vehicle!  Stay put and be patient.  Make sure the snow is cleared and not accumulating near the exhaust pipe.  Do not leave your vehicle idling.  Start it once an hour for about 10 minutes for heat and have a window cracked for fresh air.

I certainly hope you don’t have to use any of this but it is better to be prepared and organized in this type of situation.

Stay warm and snug as a bug in a rug,

by Dengarden on AUGUST 7, 2012

Organize Your Attic, Basement and Garage

It is time to tackle the junk havens – the storage areas of many things you probably don’t use or need. Tips:

  • Broken furniture – Schedule a time for it to be fixed or get rid of it.
  • Clothing – If you store seasonal clothing, go through it all to weed out what does not fit or look good. Hang up coats and other clothes on a portable hanging rack to save space.
  • Holiday decorations – Store in large plastic bins and stack them together.
  • Luggage – Keep only the suitcases and bags that you honestly will use. Donate the rest.
  • Sports gear – Make sure tents, sleeping bags and other equipment are packed tightly and consolidated in one area.

You house is almost completely decluttered, and the only area left is the garage. For some, this may be an all day job. Here are some tips for getting your garage organized:

  • Peg boards are good for hanging tools on the wall.
  • Use large hooks to suspend bicycles or other large items.
  • Hang garden or yard tools (shovel, rake, hoe) on the wall.
  • Shelves are a great way to organize the garage. Consider installing shelves along the walls or purchase plastic shelves from a super center or home improvement store. You also may find some sturdy wooden shelves at second hand stores.

by JUDY OZMENT on AUGUST 6, 2012


Clutter cutting questions to ask yourself:

Do I love it?
If not, why are you hanging onto something that you don’t even like?  Let it go!

Do I need to keep it?
Think tax returns

When was the last time I used this?
• If you have not used something within the last twelve months, chances are you don’t need to keep it in your home.
• There are a few exceptions to this:  seasonal items, formal wear, big serving pieces i.e.: punch bowl.

What do I want this room to look like, how do I want to use it?
• Do you want to have a meal with your family at your dining table?
• Do you want a more restful night sleeping in your bedroom?
• Do you want a functioning office?

What is the worst thing that could happen if I got rid of this?
Can you find it somewhere else?  Bank statements, utility bills and the like are available on-line.

Does it have a home?
• Remember “A place for everything and everything in its place”.  Everything you have must have a designated home.
• Are you willing to let something else go in order to make room for it?
• Remember, you only have so much space.

Please be brutally honest with yourself.  Letting go is very liberating.

by JUDY OZMENT on AUGUST 5, 2012


Create an evening routine to tidy up

The goal here is to pick things up and put away where they belong.   Doing this task each night will help your next morning run smoother.

Use a timer and give yourself 15 minutes to complete.  If you need a little more time, fine, but 30 minutes max.

Get the kids involved & make it a game with them.  Whoever gets their stuff picked up and put away first gets a simple prize.  They get to pick the family movie to watch, pick their favorite meal to have, pick their favorite dessert, etc.

Some ideas for your routine are:

  • Load & start the dishwasher
  • Recycle the newspaper
  • Sweep kitchen floor
  • Take out garbage & recycling
  • Put remotes back where they belong
  • Wipe down kitchen counters
  • Put away books, toys, etc.
  • Put away any clothes that were worn throughout the day

Tidy up as you go and before you know it you will be having sweet dreams!

by JUDY OZMENT on AUGUST 4, 2012


Follow the One In, One Out Rule
If your home is busting at the seams from too much stuff,  read on because this tip will help simplify your life immensely.  Let’s face it we only have so much space, right?  For every new item you bring into your home, one old item needs to leave your home.

• A new pair of shoes in, donate an old pair
• Purchase a new book, pass an old book onto a friend
• Buy a new set of dishes, donate the old set
• New magazine comes in, old magazine gets recycled

You get the idea.  This rule is crucial to help you maintain the simpler, clutter-free life you want.  When something new comes into your home, something old needs to go out – simple.  If you really want to get ahead of the game, go crazy and remove two items for every new item brought in!  Seriously, you will see light at the end of the tunnel much sooner.

Remember those that are less fortunate than you.  They would be thrilled to receive your donations and put them to good use instead of collecting dust in your home.

Remember, you only have so much space, right?

by INTEGRIS MARKETING on AUGUST 3, 2012


Go through  your mail DAILY!

• Have the right tools on hand:  letter opener, trash can, recycling bin, shredder and in-box.
• If you do not have a shredder I strongly urge you to get one.  You can find a reasonably priced one at your favorite big box store.  Look for a shredder that has “Cross • • Cut” or “Micro Cut”.  These offer a higher level of security and it would be extremely difficult for someone to try to reassemble the pieces of paper.  A lot of shredders can also destroy CD’s, DVD’s & credit cards.
• Stage these tools all together in one area in your home.  Common areas are the home office or in the kitchen.
• After you get your mail do you enter your home through the garage?  If so, consider going through your mail before you go back into the house.  That way only the important mail that you need to act on enters your home.
• When going through your mail throw, recycle or shred what you don’t need.  When opening bills only keep the bill and envelop if needed.  Recycle the “guts” – all of the offers that are included in the mailing.
• Put the rest in your in-box to act on during your set time.
• Dedicate a time to go through your in-box and stick to it!  Put it on your calendar.  Daily or weekly, whatever works for you.  Notice that monthly is not an option.
• You can cut down on the mail that you receive.  Visit my Opt Out page for ideas on how to reduce incoming mail.
• Sign up for e-billing with your credit cards, utilities, and banks.  Eliminating these monthly paper statements will help reduce the amount of mail coming into your home.

by INTEGRIS MARKETING on AUGUST 2, 2012


Set up a donation station in everyone’s closet.

  • This can be a shopping bag, grocery bag, box, whatever you decide.  I suggest using something that you don’t mind going away.  Then you don’t have to deal with getting your nice tote bags back when you are dropping off your donations.
  • Have a pen & pad of paper nearby.  Each time you come across something you don’t like, doesn’t fit, and is outdated or worn – put it in the bag.  Make note of it for tax purposes.
  • Discuss what is and is not acceptable for older children to get rid of.
  • Help younger children with their items to donate.
  • When the bag is full take it to your favorite charity, get a receipt & staple it to the paper you recorded the contents on & put it in your tax file.
  • Take your children with when you drop off the items to be donated.  They will feel good about helping out others.
  • This is less overwhelming than trying to do a huge purge all at once.

by JUDY OZMENT on AUGUST 1, 2012


Today kicked off “Simplify Your Life” week.  Sounds great right?  Achieving it can seem daunting because we always have too much in the way.  The never ending to-do list, over committing our time, searching for perfection…Does any of this hit home for you?

Starting today and for the next week I will share 7 organizing tips that you can implement into your day to help you start living a simpler life.

Tip 1:  Plan the night before.

This is a time saver and stress reducer and helps ensure a sane (or less insane) morning.

  • Have your coffee maker all ready to go.  Most coffee makers have timers on them now – use it!  Set out your coffee cups, sweetener, spoons, etc.
  • Lay out the clothes to be worn the next day.  It doesn’t hurt to check the weather report either.
  • Prepare lunches
  • Set out breakfast items
  • Make sure permission slips, etc. are signed for school.  Spend time with each child to make sure that they have gone through their backpacks and that their homework is done.
  • Put keys, backpacks, briefcases, workout bag, sports equipment and anything else that needs to go out the door with you by your landing station.
  • Make sure you enlist help from those that are old enough.
  • Finally, no matter how bad you want to get home, remember to fill the gas tank on your way home from work so you don’t have to worry about it in the morning.  You will be glad you did!

When you are organizing your medicine cabinet you will probably come across expired prescriptions & medicines.  Please do not throw them in the garbage, flush them down the toilet or wash them down the sink!  There is a local program that provides an environmentally safe alternative to disposing of both prescription and non-prescription medications in landfills and sewer systems.

The Wentzville, Missouri Police Department provides a safe and proper way to dispose of your unwanted medications.  They offer a Drug Collection and Disposal DropBox, which is a secured, steel mailbox/collection box, that is located in the lobby at the Law Enforcement Center, 1019 Schroeder Creek Boulevard, Wentzville, MO  63385.  Citizens are able to deposit their medications anonymously any time of the day or night, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Once collected, the drugs will be properly disposed of by incineration.  People are encouraged to black out their personal information on the prescription bottles, but not the contents of the bottle itself.

Acceptable items include:

  •  Expired or unwanted prescription medications
  •  Expired or unwanted over the counter medications
  • Vitamins and nutritional supplements
  • Medications for household pets
  • Homeopathic remedies
  • EpiPens
  • Medicated lotions
  • Sealed liquids

Unacceptable items include:

  •  Unsealed liquids
  • Hydrogen peroxide
  • Empty medicine bottles
  • Medical waste (iv bags, bloody/infected waste)
  • Needles or other “sharps”
  •  Hazardous waste
  • Thermometers
  • Personal care products (shampoos, soaps, makeup, etc.)
  • Trash
  • Mail
  • Lost/found materials
  • Business/professional waste

For more information please contact the Wentzville Police Department at 636-639-2150.  For those of you who are located outside of the Wentzville, MO area, I strongly urge you to check with your local law enforcement agency or city/county government offices to see if your area offers a similar “drop box” program.

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has scheduled another National Prescription Drug Take-Back Day on Saturday, April 28, 2012.  They will be announcing collection sites sometime in March.  I will post this information when it is released.