September 17, 2016

Back to School is here. Be ready with a homework station for your kids!

Yes sometimes we think kids will do homework in the office or in their rooms but most of the time they want to be near you and near the action at home. This most often is the kitchen or dining room. Set up a station here with all the supplies they need so it makes homework time efficient and easy to keep tidy.  The supplies will vary with the age of your kids but some suggestions are: scissors, glue, pens and pencils, pencil crayons, etc. This can be done as a fun DIY activity with you kids so they know where things are and are happy to use it and hopefully keep it tidy. Check out our “Homework Station” Pinterest board for ideas.

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August 14, 2016

Outdoor Party Planning Checklist

Guest Blogged by Paula Blundell

August is here and Room to Breathe is squelching any excuse you’ve made to put off entertaining guests at your own backyard affair. In the case you’re already everyone’s favorite party event planner, tuck this list away for your next get together in the fresh air.

Party invitation – Consider including dining time, what to bring, what to wear and what will happen in case of rain. Give your guests an idea of the vibe (musical instruments and children welcome?) so they can come prepared.

Notify the neighbours – Invite them to join you or give them notice of any potential noise, crowd or parking concern.

Table(s) and chairs – Prepare with enough seating.  Bring dining chairs, stools and ottomans outside.  Picnic blankets, cushions, tree stumps, and even a hammock make for a casual atmosphere. Renting folding chairs is a surprisingly inexpensive option.

Tableware - Placemats, napkins and/or tablecloths. Plates/bowls, cutlery and drinking glasses. Mason jars are a quick way to increase capacity if that’s your style. Serving plates, bowls, utensils and trays.

Lighting - Candles, torches, lamps, string lights or patio lanterns make for ambient lighting.

D├ęcor – Add a pop of summer colour with paper lanterns, place settings and outdoor cushions. Add a taste of rustic DIY or classy elegance with menu signs and fresh flowers.

Music – Plan ahead with a 5 hour playlist. Choose upbeat music and consider directing speakers against the side of a house for a more even soundscape.

Consider temperature – Shade hot sun with patio umbrellas, and offer handheld fans or cold compressed cloths in icy water.  Have warm blankets, shawls and portable heaters on hand for cooler nights.

Mosquito repellent – Remove any standing water by emptying the kiddie pool and bird bath, plug in a few fans, light citronella candles or offer guests natural and healthy fly repellent lotion.

Entertain children with beach balls, bubbles and games. Bocce ball for big kids too.

Take care of waste - Receptacles for compost, recycling and waste to landfill could ease post-party clean up time.

Food – Whether a buffet, plated meal, tapas or potluck, create thoughtful ingredient cards for those who may have food preferences. Mesh covers are handy to protect food and beverages. Don’t forget the condiments!

Drink - Cooler, ice bucket, ice, tongs, bar towel and damp cloth for cleaning up spills. Corkscrew and bottle opener. A blender if blending drinks and a power source and extension cord if needed. Water is a must-have under the hot summer sun.

Recruit help – From pre or post party clean up to serving guests, you’ll always be grateful for thinking ahead and enrolling a professional, friend, family member or teen’s paid or voluntold hand.

June 11, 2016

Get Geared Up and Gone!

As we kick off summer my husband and I get out to the mountains more and more. As a professional organizer I sometimes wish we only liked one hobby so we only have to buy gear for one hobby and always know what we were doing on the weekends…

Nahhh that would make things too simple! Instead in the winter we downhill ski, back country ski, cross country ski, snowshoe, winter back country camp and my husband occasionally ice climbs. In the summer we hike, backpack, canoe, rock climb, mountaineer, scramble, mountain bike, road bike and car camp.

This leads to a lot of gear! And that leads me to our “Gear Closet”. We live in a condo without storage in the garage, so the closet in our spare room/ office is our gear closet. As a professional organizer I take pride organizing and setting it up so we can grab and go. It took a bit of switching around and containerizing but we have it now! (At least until we decide to start another hobby!).

Room to Breathe organizes using Julie Morgenstern’s S.P.A.C.E. method.
Sort: Sort all your gear by activity first and then by season.
Purge: If there is gear that you no longer use or that needs to be thrown out for safety reasons, now is the time to do so.
Assign a Home: Maybe you have a whole garage of space to custom set up for your gear and activities or maybe you’re like us and have a closet of space, either way you should set up zones for each activity and each item should have a home in the correct zone. If every item has a home then it should be easy to maintain and you will be able to find what you need every time, speeding up the time it takes to get geared up and gone!
Containerize: Snag some bins as required, peg boards, hooks, etc to give each item an easy to access home. For very little used items place them in a bin with a label and stick them in the harder to reach areas.
Equalize: As an organizer I love this part as it is the final touches on the job. Equalizing essentially means making it easy to maintain. Labels are key here so you and everyone who uses the area know where things belong. As well, my husband and I have placed a few lists in our gear closet. In our daytrip bin we have a list of other items that we need to bring. For example we need to bring our headlamps that are in our personal bins. Also you can include some activity gear lists. Hang a canoe trip gear list on the door so you can do a final check through on your way out.

Organizing can feel overwhelming at times but encourage yourself in knowing that once your set up properly it will be easily maintainable. This will help save you lots of time, stress and energy. You will then be able to be out doing what you enjoy more!

Check out our Gear Closet Board on Pinterest here for a few ideas.

March 28, 2016

Simplify in Six Steps: How to Purge & Declutter Your Home

Simplify in six steps!  This post narrows in on how to successfully purge and declutter your home and is filled with organizing tips to create order in any space:

February 01, 2016

Labeling Inspiration

Do labels have to be crafty and beautiful to be effective?  No way - but if you spend a little time on the details, the end result will not only be more appreciated but will probably last longer too!

From handwritten decorative hanging tags and chalkboard stickers to label maker tape and computer print outs, check out our latest "Label Inspiration" Pinterest board here for your next label making session.

Follow Room to Breathe on Pinterest for more professional organizing tips and ideas for your home in Calgary.

May 07, 2015

How Home Buyers and Sellers Benefit from Hiring a Professional Organizer

Room to Breathe has prepared many a home for sale in Calgary and have assisted numerous families with unpacking and settling in to a new home.  By transforming your house into a neat packaged product, a professional organizer can improve your chances of attaining a quick sale.  Before listing your house on the market in Calgary, a professional organizer can help you:

February 04, 2015

Minimalism - not as scary as it sounds

Written by Jenna Nibourg, owner of Tiger Lily Interiors and leader of Calgary's Minimalist Group.

I love hearing more and more people talk about minimalism lately. It is something that I have been striving for the last year and it has really made a huge difference in my life. When minimalism comes up in conversation while organizing someone’s home, our client will often comment or give the idea that they think it is way out of their reach so they won’t even try. I think this is because an image comes to mind of a person living in a tiny home owning less then 100 items… But this image is not very accurate for the majority of people simplifying their life.

June 06, 2014

5 Easy Ways to Cool Your Spring Fever!

Guest blogged by Jessica Thorburn of Paper Bluejay and we agree with everything she has to say!  Thanks Jess!

It always happens this time of year- spring peeks in on us and we get the undeniable urge to tidy, purge, reorganize and breath new life into our stale-from-winter spaces. Today we wanted to share 5 simple but productive projects to help tame that urge and get your home ready and organized for the sunshine soaked days ahead.

So pour yourself a glass of lemonade, and get inspired!

1. Flip-flop Your Closets

November 28, 2013

Kid's Toy Storage Labels

Ever wondered if there was a way to make clean up time fun and easy for you and the kids?  This professional home organizer in Calgary knows how.  First you must get organized by sorting all the toys and/or craft supplies into appropriate bins or drawers or cupboards.  Then the key is to add labels. Labels make maintaining an organized space easy.

April 20, 2013

neato jewelry storage

talk about creative.  check out these rustic reuse ideas for your jewels.  who knew a rake, a grater and a muffin tin could be so useful in the boudoir?!

June 05, 2012

Keepsakes - What to Hold onto & How to Store

Special greeting cards, your child's first pair of booties, award certificates, a wedding favor from a best friends wedding, photos from high school, old love letters, gifted china or trinkets passed down to you from a loved one no longer with us. All these are various items that may be taking up prime real estate space throughout your home that you do not use regularly or wish to see on display. These keepsakes, memorabilia, nostalgia, or treasures, no matter how you label them, fit into one group and can be sorted and stored together neatly in one place.

If you have chosen to hold onto these items and are still not ready to part with them, it is not a terrible thing. As a professional organizer in Calgary, we are often saying "Be easy on yourself".  Getting organized does not always have to be about purging. You may feel that you want to keep, what some may consider, a large amount of nostalgia.  That is okay if:

1. you have adequate space in your home to store it
2. the items bring you positive memories (not negative ones)
3. the quantity of each item is reasonable (keep the best representative sample)
4. you've really stopped to ask yourself why you are keeping each item, and your answer is one that serves you today (not for a no longer helpful reason of the past)

Try taking a big picture look at your home, and the stuff in it, from a whole systems view. Reducing the quantity of items you own can be looked at from a larger perspective.  If you keep a little extra in one category, then you'll have to let go of a little extra in another.  Everyone usually has something of a collection, and one collection is alright.

Now, when you're ready to do another 'edit' of your treasured possessions, try starting with these categories first. Knowing that it can be emotionally draining work to go through piece by piece, dealing with whole categories at a time will give you the confidence of accomplishment from the start.  Grouping items this way may make purging a little easier:

1. memories of others like wedding favors from a friend's wedding
2. short term saves like greeting cards
3. free stuff like conference swag
4. oversize items like sports trophies and school projects
5. negative memories like journals or love letters (even a wedding dress) from a failed relationship
6. inherited mementos like grandma's china
7. souvenirs that do not age well like crumbling dried flowers

Finally, for how and where to store your keepsakes - create and label a special box for each family member.  Try a clear plastic tote for this purpose, so you can easily see what's inside.  However if you have no need for stealthy protection from dust or the potential of a flood or you'd just prefer something more aesthetically pleasing, try storing these items in a decorative cardboard box, wooden crate, wicker basket with a lid or even a vintage suitcase or trunk.

March 18, 2012

What is the shelf life of dried herbs & spices?

Have you ever wondered "how long do spices last?"  As spice jars are not often stamped with a best before date, here's a handy guide to help you determine freshness and flavor.

Herbs 1-2 years
Seasoning Blends 1-3 years
Ground Spices 2-3 years
Whole Spices up to 4 years
(whole peppercorn, nutmeg and cinnamon sticks as well as particularly potent whole spices such as cloves, cumin and cardamom can stand the test of time)
Seeds 4 years
Extracts 4 years

If you aren't sure how long a jar of dried herbs or spices has been in your cupboard, try testing the colour or aroma. The colour of your spices should be vibrant, so if the colour has faded, chances are the flavor has to. Now pop open the lid and have a sniff, or try rubbing or crushing the spice in your hand.  If the aroma is weak and flavor is not apparent, it is time to replace. Keep in mind that herbs and spices do not spoil, they simply lose their strength. So if a ground spice has some fragrance left, but less than you think it should, just use more in your recipe.  Then you'll run out faster and have a reason to procure a new batch.

Finally, storage plays a role in maintaining potency, so be sure to store in an airtight container in a cool dry place.  Try not to store jars near the heat of the stove, close to the humidity of a dishwasher, in the bright sun or in the freezer where condensation can be an issue. Similarly, try not to shake spices out of the jar directly above your pot on the stove, as that's a sneaky way to let unwanted steam in.

February 27, 2012

ribbon storage ideas

crafty much?  even if you have a small collection of ribbon for gift wrapping or scrap booking, this storage idea is so easy to create and so fun to use.  i can't help it, organized things excite me.

you can find a pant hanger at most local housewares stores and as for that plastic bin, you'll find 4 different sizes in the storage container aisle of, yes i'm about to say it, Wal-mart.  However if you prefer to keep plastic out of your home and choose to support local businesses, you could use a decorative cardboard storage box or wooden storage bin and drill holes in the side.  An even better alternative, ribbon would weave so nicely through a wicker basket.

January 22, 2012

organizing for your brain type

(click 'read more' to learn the 4 types).  'organizing for your brain type: finding your own solution to managing time, paper and stuff' is a fabulous organizing book by Lanna Nakone.  thank goodness I read this book early on in my organizing career.  a game changer for sure.

there is no one right way to be organized.  just as every person is unique and individual, so is how they function.  how then could everyone be satisfied, work productively and feel good in the same space?  they can't.  and that's why I love this book so much.  click 'read more' below to find out your organizing brain type.