Sherry Brown, Professional Organizer

Fall and Winter Hazards for the Elderly

Each season has a new set of hazards for aging individuals. Many of these dangerous situations can be avoided if the proper precautions are taken. Always be aware of the weather before going outdoors or traveling with a loved one.


  • Leaves – Fallen leaves should be raked into piles out of the way and easy to avoid. Leaves can hide obstacles such as steps, changes in ground level, and small objects. Elderly individuals should try to steer clear of leaf piles and the possible hidden dangers.


  • Ice – Because ice can often be hard to see, all walkways should be approached cautiously and salted when possible. Seniors should be sure to wear shoes or boots with good traction to help prevent slips.
  • Snow – Snow can pile up in pathways causing your loved one to find a different route or attempt to walk through the snow. Alternate routes may be unsafe for travel, while walking through deep snow may cause them to become stuck. Small amounts of snow on pathways can also become slippery and cause a fall. Snow should be cleared from all walkways to avoid these dangerous situations.
  • Cold – Make sure your senior wears appropriate clothing when going outdoors. This includes a heavy coat, gloves, hat, a scarf, thick socks and proper footwear. Because the immune system grows weaker with age, seniors are more susceptible to illness. Elderly loved ones should not spend long periods of time in the cold and should make sure the heat is turned on in their home.
  • Driving – Driving after snowfall is hazardous for everyone, especially seniors who may have worsened vision and reaction times. Try to find alternate forms of transportation for seniors during the winter. If your senior will be driving, ensure that their car is prepared for winter weather. The vehicle should be thoroughly inspected for possible problems before it is driven on winter roads. Put an emergency kit in the trunk and make sure your loved one knows how to use everything in the kit.
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16 Tips to a Super Successful Yard Sale

It’s an American classic: the yard sale. Or tag sale, garage sale, attic sale, porch sale, barn sale, junk sale, moving sale, and the ever-popular rummage sale. Sharing your household excess with others while making a pocketful of change is a tradition that’s been around for as long as people have been collecting clutter.

But don’t make the mistake of thinking that a yard sale is nothing more than throwing your stuff out on the lawn and collecting cash. As with all events that involve currency changing hands, marketing and merchandising make a difference. If you’re interested in making some serious money, here are a few tips to make your next sale more successful.

  1. Start early

The early bird gets the customers. Instead of starting your sale on Saturday morning, start on Friday and, if you have enough items left, hold it again on Saturday. Yard sale customers like to start early, so open your sale by 8 a.m.

  1. Gather sale items throughout the year

Make it a practice to set anything you have not used in six months to a year in a box for your upcoming sale. This way you’ll conquer clutter while amassing your sale inventory.

  1. Know the rules

The last thing you want to do is drag all your stuff onto the lawn only to have a neighbor complain or someone from city code enforcement drop by. It’s rare for a permit or license to be required, but it’s possible. There are even neighborhoods where yard sales are not allowed at all.

  1. Don’t go it alone

There are a few things in life best done alone, but holding a yard sale isn’t one of them. The more people you involve and the more stuff you offer, the better the sale will be and the less you’ll have to do. Go door to door and get the whole block involved.

  1. Check the weather and pick your spot

The yard’s better than the garage. There’s more light and space, people can see the wares clearly from the street, and the whole thing looks more festive and inviting. But check the weather: You don’t want your stuff rained on, and inside or out, you’ll have fewer shoppers if it’s raining. Weekends are obviously best, and again, plan on starting early: You’ll have bargain-seekers there at the crack of dawn.

  1. Advertise well

Homemade signs are fine — just make sure they’re big enough to read (drive by them yourself) and include arrows, the address, and a phone number in case people can’t find you. Use bright colors and keep it to a few words. Have a someone tasked with checking on the signs throughout the day, to make sure they’re still up and looking good.

The busier the street where you plant the signs, the better. But be aware of sign ordinances in your neighborhood (especially if you live in Beverly Hills). Advertising is critical to getting people to your sale so spread the word in many ways, including posting notice of your sale at Craigslist, your local newspaper’s classified ads and If you have too much stuff to mention it all, name sought-after items that rope people in: furniture, electronics, tools, collectibles, and brand names. The more effort you put into marketing, the more money you’ll make and the faster your clutter will clear.

  1. Make it easy for buyers

Group similar items together; alphabetize books, movies and music; sort clothes by size or type. Leave enough room for people to get around easily and quickly. A yard sale checklist for before, during and after the sale can help you keep track of everything. Keep items off the ground, on tables. Important: Check all pockets, bags and boxes for money and things you’ve forgotten to remove.

  1. Price and label clearly

Removable stickers (colored dots work well) are cheap solutions for labeling: red dots for a dollar, yellow 50 cents, etc. Having boxes or tables with a fixed price can save you from having to individually label everything and helps display things.

  1. Encourage bulk buys

People who shop yard sales are looking for deals. Offer discounts for buying in multiples, like three for $5 so they get a deal, and you get faster relief from redundant stuff.

  1. Watch the clock

If as the day goes on stuff isn’t selling, become more flexible: As the day gets later, lower the price.

  1. Keep it simple

Pricing everything in quarter increments makes transactions simpler. So does having plenty of change: Keep at least one roll of quarters, at least $20 in one-dollar bills, and a few fives and tens handy. Use a fanny pack or something else that keeps the money on you.

  1. Don’t hover

Doesn’t it annoy you when store employees follow you around? Acknowledge everyone with a smile or a wave to show you’re available, and then leave them to it. Consider offering free drinks: water, lemonade, tea or cheap soda.

  1. Power to the people

It’s hard to sell electronics if people can’t see that they work: Run an extension cord outside. If you have records or CDs for sale, playing music can help sales and provide a nice atmosphere.

  1. Donate your leftovers

As the day winds down, if you’ve got stuff left over, call a local charity and invite them to the party.  That way you can turn your remaining inventory into a tax deduction while helping people who didn’t have the money to show up.

  1. A tip for yard-sale buyers

If you’re a buyer, always head for the ritziest zip codes. Rich people have higher-quality stuff and are more likely to let it go cheap.

  1. Don’t blow your profits

A final suggestion: Don’t run right out and spend the money you made on the sale. Instead, use it to improve your life: Pay down debt or beef up your savings. Use the one-time profit to de-stress your finances for the long run.


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Spring and Summer Hazards for the Elderly

Each season has a new set of hazards for aging individuals. Many of these dangerous situations can be avoided if the proper precautions are taken. Always be aware of the weather before going outdoors or traveling with a loved one.


  • Rain – Rain can cause the grass along with other surfaces to become slippery. Be aware of the increased risk of slips and help your senior pick shoes with good traction to prevent falls. If your loved one will be driving during the rainy season, make sure that their vehicle has effective windshield wipers and tire tread.
  • Allergies – If an elderly family member has allergies, be sure to consult with their doctor before mixing allergy medicine with prescriptions. Ask their doctor to be specific about which allergy medications are okay to take or find out if they can write a prescription for one.


  • Sunburn – Some medications can increase the effects of sun on the skin, causing seniors to burn faster. Ensure that your senior covers up with light clothing, hats, and high SPF sunscreen whenever outdoors. Try to keep track of time and don’t stay outside for long periods of time. If outside for an extended period of, remember to reapply sunscreen often. Another way to enjoy the warm weather is to go outside in the morning or evening hours rather than in the middle of the day when the sun is at its highest and more likely to burn.
  • Dehydration – Increased time spent in the sun can lead to dehydration. Be sure to have plenty of drinking water available during outdoor activities and while traveling in the summer months. Ensure that your loved ones are consistently drinking water as they can become dehydrated easily and may be unaware of their thirst.
  • Insects – When spending time outdoors in the evening and nighttime hours, apply insect repellent. The amount of exposed skin should also be limited by covering up with long sleeves and pants. Seniors should be especially cautious of mosquitoes if cases of West Nile have been reported in the area, as this virus can have a greater affect on the elderly.


Downsizing Made Easy

Whether you’re an empty nester moving from a house into assisted living, or a renter trading in a two-bedroom for a apartment, you’ll need to say goodbye to some of your stuff. Worried about that? Don’t be. Sherry Brown from Organize This! Has nine easy tips to make downsizing easy!

Make a list of all the items you can’t live without; it will help you get rid of the things that didn’t make the list. “It’s hard to convince people they can’t take everything with them,” Sherry says. “But if you keep the things on your list, you won’t be upset about the things you can’t keep.”

Start getting rid of things at least three months before the move. Take some time each day, or one morning each week, to go through that cluttered closet or overflowing drawers. “Paper is a real downer,” Sherry says, so tackle it a little at a time. The same goes for photos, which require a lot of attention.

Get a feel for the size of your new rooms by comparing them to rooms of similar dimensions in your present home.For instance, your living-room-to-be might be roughly the same size as your current bedroom. You may think you can squeeze in two sofas, but this kind of reality check could help you realize that only one will fit comfortably.

Heavily edit areas with items that don’t have as much sentimental value.Take the kitchen, for example; most people don’t need 10 mixing bowls and won’t get teary-eyed over losing a second spatula. If you’re downsizing from a house to an apartment, work on the garage. Snow shovels, rakes, lawn mowers – not your worry anymore!

Don’t throw anything in the trash. Recycle, reuse, sell and donate instead. As tempting and easy as it is to pitch wire hangers, musty clothes and shabby furnishings, be environmentally responsible and find a home for everything. A can of Comet with a few shakes of powder left could make someone else’s sink sparkle if you don’t want it; consider giving supplies to a shelter, neighbor or cleaning lady.

Create and label three bins – Keep, Sell and Donate(bins should be manageable when full). For the average downsize, keep only one-third to one-half of your belongings, says Sherry.

Get an objective opinion.If you just can’t make a decision on whether to keep or get rid of that ratty old chair, Sherry says, “It’s good to have have an honest friend who will say, ‘Oh, please, you never use that!'” It might just be the kick you need.

Use floor plans to prearrange your furniture before the move. To start, draw plans if you don’t have any, and sketch in a furniture layout. Remember which way doors open. Then look at the plans realistically; if you’ve crammed in side tables, armoires and chairs, you need to edit more. Don’t wait until after you move to contend with furniture you’ll just end up tripping over.

Once you get to the packing stage, use a color-coded system to organize all of your boxes. Choose a color for each room and mark the boxes destined for that room with a coordinating color sticker. You can also do the same thing numerically; for example, if room No. 1 is the kitchen, then all boxes marked No. 1 will go there. A simple and efficient organizing idea to make the move that much easier!

Tips for Moving in Winter

Indiana hasn’t had much of a winter this year, but you know the old saying, “Stick around a few minutes and it will change.” So to be prepared, Organize This! Found this article on “Tips for Moving in Winter”.

While winter is a great time to move (i.e., it’s cheaper and an easier time to rent a moving truck or hire movers, see: Best Time to Move), you need to be aware of possible moving issues so that you can avoid them before they occur. Here are my suggestions for moving during the winter.

Get Your New Home Ready for the Cold Weather Move

Before moving day, it’s a good idea to check with the real estate agent or the rental property manager of your new home to ensure the place is ready for you on moving day.

  1. Make sure you have heat and lights. This is a task you don’t want to forget to do. You should ensure that all utilities have been set-up and are fully functioning. I suggest having the heat and hydro turned on a couple of days before your arrival just to make sure everything is functioning and that the house is warm for the day you move in. While this is true for anytime that you move, regardless of the season, it’s even more important when the cold winds are blowing and the days are much shorter and darker.
  2. Clear the snow from walkways. Make sure the walks and sidewalks are clear in front of your new home. If you’re moving locally, it’s a good idea to visit your new place the day before the move in date to make sure the walkways are clear and free of ice. If needed, salt or sand the area. If you’re moving to another town or city and can’t visit your new home prior to the move-in date, have your agent or property manager check the area for you.
  3. Check that parking area and/or lane-ways are clear. Regardless of what time of year you move, you should always ensure there’s parking available for the moving truck. This may mean negotiating with your new neighbors, or hiring someone (or doing it yourself) to clear the back lane-way or driveway of snow.

Prepare Your Old Home for Moving Out

  1. Clear snow. Make sure sidewalks, walkways and driveways are free of snow. Use salt or sand to ensure areas are free of icy and slippery conditions. Parking area should also be cleared with ample room for movers to use dollies. Check the area first thing on moving day just in case it snowed overnight or that conditions changed.
  2. Protect inside space. Use large pieces of cardboard or plastic sheeting to ensure high traffic areas are protected from snow, sand and water. If your floors can withstand heavy duty tape (test in a corner spot first), tape plastic sheets to the floor. Cardboard works best for carpeted areas as small tacks can be used to secure it to the floor. Experiment first before the movers arrive.
  3. Keep sand/salt and shovels on hand. It’s a good idea to stock up on winter supplies in case your vehicle or the moving truck becomes stuck or it starts to snow. Throughout the move, you should be monitoring conditions and acting on any changes as needed.
  4. Have hot drinks on hand. Whether you’re moving yourself or hiring movers, make sure you have hot liquids available. Hot chocolate, tea and coffee will be most welcomed by everyone who’s helping with your move. Extra mittens and hats are a good idea, too.
  5. Keep an eye on the weather. While this seems like common sense, on moving day you’ll be so wrapped up in the move that you may forget that conditions might change. Check the weather well in advance of moving day, then follow it closely right up until the movers arrive. If there’s a possibility of inclement weather, keep the radio on during the move to ensure you’re receiving the latest updates.

What If a Storm Blows In?

  1. Have a back-up plan. If a winter storm is threatening your move, make sure you have a back-up plan in case you need to reschedule your move. If you’ve hired movers, talk to the company to see what their policy is in terms of winter conditions. Some movers are used to winter weather and may not be willing to postpone the move. If the movers do want to postpone, make sure you speak to your real estate agent or landlord to see if you can stay a few extra days. Typically, if you’re not able to move out, no one is able to move in, either. But arrange this ahead of time. If you can’t negotiate extra days, speak to the movers about your options. They may be able to still pick up your things, but not deliver them to your new home. If this is the case, you’ll need short-term accommodation.
  2. Plan your travel route carefully. Know your travel route and make sure you contact the local authorities to determine if highways are open and safe to travel on. Each state or province has a phone number and website to check with regular updates provided. You should also know the location of overnight accommodation in case you need to stop.
  3. Get your car serviced and have all the necessary equipment with you. Make sure you have your car winterized, including all fluids topped up, and tires and brakes checked. It’s a good idea to carry chains (if allowed) and know how to put them on quickly. Practice in your garage before you leave. You should also carry a gas can, extra windshield fluid, and salt or kitty litter (works great if you get stuck). Have a good snow shovel, emergency blanket and membership to a roadside assistance service, too.
  4. Have an emergency contact list with you. Make sure you have all the necessary phone numbers with you, including roadside assistance, highway patrol and a number for reports on highway conditions. You should also ensure that someone who isn’t moving with you has a copy of your travel plans. Make a call-in schedule with that person so they’ll know where you are and when you should be arriving.

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10 Spring Cleaning and Organizing Tips

by Maria Gracia

Along with Spring comes thoughts of crisp, fresh air, newly budding flowers, singing birds and a sense of renewal. Getting organized and doing a bit of spring cleaning, helps to bring that wonderful fresh feeling into your home and office. Here are 10 tips to help you start the season off right.

  • Assign Yourself a Different Task for Each Day

Make yourself a schedule that is comprised of one hour and one task each day. Your schedule may look something like this:

Monday: Decluttering

Tuesday: Dusting

Wednesday: Vacuuming

Thursday: Scrubbing

Friday: Organizing and Rearranging

Saturday: Laundering

Sunday: Decorating

Then, spend one hour each day doing your assigned task for each room, throughout your house. You’ll be amazed at the difference you can make in your home by following this simple system.

  • Use the Proper Tools

When cleaning and organizing, it’s important to use tools that help you get the job done as quickly as possible. For instance, there are now dusting cloths that allow you to dust quickly and easily, without any additional sprays. Just dust and be done with it. Rubber gloves will help you deep clean, without drying out your hands, exposing them to harsh chemicals, or burning them in hot water.

Racks can hold mops, brooms and other cleaning supplies in one organized place, rather then storing them loose and having them constantly tip over. An apron with lots of pockets, can help you transport cleaning products from room to room easily, so you don’t have to keep running back and forth to get what you need.

  • Be Ruthless When it Comes to Decluttering

If you don’t love it, and/or you don’t use it, it’s clutter. It’s the perfect time to embrace the Feng Shui art of uncluttered living. Feng Shui teaches that if energy can easily flow through a room, your life will be more harmonious and happy–and clutter is an obstacle to reaching this relaxed and calm state.

Make it a quest of yours to be ruthless when it comes to your decluttering efforts. You’ll have less to dust, less clutter to look it, an easier time finding the things you do use and less stress in your life.

  • Donate or Sell the Things You Don’t Use

If you have items that you don’t use, but are in good condition, they are prime candidates to sell or donate. Gather all of these items together in boxes or plastic bags. Then, decide whether you would prefer to donate them or sell them.

If you choose to donate, consider giving them to your local Salvation Army, or perhaps even a shelter or orphanage in town. Many of these organizations will even pick up your donations for you. If you choose to sell, you might set a date for a yard sale. Or, take some photos of these items with your digital camera, and put them up for sale at an online auction Web site.

  • Make Your Spring Cleaning and Organizing Fun

Don’t think of it as a chore. Instead, think of it as a ‘feel good’ exercise–one that will really help you to feel good about yourself and your clean and organized environment. Play some lively, fun, upbeat music. Dance your way through your home or office with your dust rag or vacuum. Get the family involved. Give everyone a task, and then do something relaxing afterwards, like watching a movie together or going to the park for a walk. Set timers and play ‘beat the clock.’ Give yourself time limits for completing small tasks, and try to complete those tasks before the timer goes off. Ask a friend to help, or do a swap. You clean her living room if she’ll clean your kitchen.

  • Eliminate Distractions

Turn off the TV while you’re cleaning and organizing, and let your answering machine field your calls. If a friend stops by while you’re working, simply tell him/her that you’ve scheduled this time for spring cleaning. He or she is free to stay, as long as you could continue working. Perhaps, you might even get some help. If not, tell your friend you’ll stop by his or her house later on when you’re done. If you have kids, give them their own jobs to do, or at minimum, be sure they’re occupied with something else. The quickest and best jobs are accomplished when there are no distractions.

  • Make Yourself a Checklist

Make a checklist of all springtime jobs that you only do once or twice a year. Perhaps you might bring your large comforters to the laundromat, bring your drapes, and winter coats, to the dry cleaners, store your winter clothes and bring your warm-weather clothes out of hiding or check the smoke detectors. If all of these odd jobs are on a list, you won’t forget to do them. Then, try to do at least one or two of these odd jobs per week, throughout spring.

  • Don’t Forget About the Insides

It’s important to clean and organize things that are in sight all of the time. But, it’s also important to remember those items that are out of sight. Spring is a great season to organize your closets, cabinets, drawers, bins, boxes, pantry and other inside storage areas. Give yourself that spring feeling, both inside and out!

  • Enjoy the Weather While You’re Working

Do some outside organizing and yard work, so you can be accomplishing something, but also enjoying the nice weather at the same time. Gather your gardening and planting supplies in one place. Replace old and broken tools. Perhaps you might even get a gardening caddie to store your good gardening tools. Clean the garage. Keep the garage door open while you’re doing so, so that you can enjoy the nice weather.

  • Open Your Windows

There’s nothing like taking in a breath of fresh air. As you’re cleaning, open the windows. You’ll be removing musty winter odors, protecting yourself from inhaling harsh fumes from cleaning products and the fresh air will keep you going.

While you’re at it, let the sun shine in. Open curtains and drapes to give yourself plenty of light, for an energy boost.


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