Thursday, 16 March 2017 05:34

Preparing for the Retirement Home

Last week we looked at taking care of all those questions we don’t really like to ask. I hope that the article inspired you to get your affairs in order, and have all those important documents easily accessable. On a similar note, I thought we would look at moving into retirement homes. Whether it’s for your parents or an elderly member of your family or circle, or for yourself, here is a comprehensive list of questions you should be asking:


  • Activities (crafts, social events, sports, educational, etc.)
  • Meals (individually prepared or in a dining room)
  • Housekeeping, laundry, and lawn care
  • Transport
  • Security
  • Assistance with grooming, bathing, and dressing
  • Administration and management of medications
  • Skilled nursing care
  • Shopping and errand running
  • Social services and therapeutic care
  • Spiritual services and worship
  • Emergency medical care

In the last few months my team has worked with a number of people downscaling and moving in retirement homes or complexes. One couple in particular were super organized with their paperwork. All their important documents had been gathered together in one filing box and marked accordingly. As we worked with them I thought about how we shouldn’t wait until retirement to have all our affairs in order. So I spent some time researching what we need to have and what we need to think should something happen to us. Whether you have a box or a file, here is a list of things you ought to think about and get organized sooner rather than later.

Contact information

  • Lawyer and executor of will
  • Accountant and bookkeeper
  • Investment broker, financial advisors, etc
  • Insurance agents
  • family, friends and colleagues

Document locator

  • Legal - wills, power of attorney, trust docs, safe deposit box
  • Family - birth, adoption, guardianship, citezenship, marriage, divorce
  • Banking - loans, morgages, lists of accounts, statements, cancelled cheques etc
  • Investments - stocks, retirement annuities
  • Business - incorporation papers, contracts, agreements
  • Deeds and titles - title insurance, property, home inventory, vehicles
  • Insurance - life, death benefits, property, homeowners, auto
  • Military - service records, discharge
  • ID - passport, driver's license, ID document
  • Income tax records

Planning in advance

  • Outline funeral and burial plans
  • Select type of service, music, prayers etc
  • Decide what you DON"T want to happen
  • Burial or cremation etc

Taking care of loved ones

  • Guardianship papers for your children
  • How much money does your family need to replace your income
  • Adequate life insurance
  • Adequate money set aside to cover cost of dying
  • Adequate money set aside to cover long-term medical costs
  • Beneficiaries for your accounts, investments, and insurance


  • How much inheritance tax will be due on your assets
  • How much will it cost to have your will probated
  • Assets to your spouse which can be received tax-free
  • Begin gifting tax-free money to your children prior to death
  • Planning to make charitable gift as part of your estate?

Your wishes

  • Do you have a current up to date signed will
  • Do you have a financial power of attorney
  • Do you have a living will and medical power of attorney
  • Do you have a current signed organ donor card
  • Does your executor have copies of all these documents
  • Have you clearly outlined how you want possessions distributed
  • Have you labeled items you want to go to specific people

It is probably the most important organizing you can do! DO it now!

Friday, 03 March 2017 06:52

Getting Your House Ready To Sell

A client I worked with a few years back called recently to say they needed my help again. They are selling their home and moving away.” Would I help get their home ready to put on the market to sell?” After I put the phone down I thought about the difference a little decluttering and organising can make when selling a home. Here are my top tips to get your home ready to sell:

  1. Start by going room by room. Think of yourself as a potential buyer and looking at each room critically. Do you see the potential? Or do you just see the stuff? Your goal is to make your home inviting and attractive as possible without spending loads of money.
  2. Tidy up the kitchen. Tackle the counter tops and clear off anything that is not essential on a daily basis. Go through your kitchen cupboards and make space for appliances you usually have standing on the counter tops. While you are there, clear out anything you no longer use. Do the same if you have a pantry, scullery or laundry.
  3. Tackle your bathrooms. Give your baths, showers, basins and tiles a good scrub. Clear out medicine cabinets and cupboards. Clear everything off the vanity, leaving only essentials in a pretty container or basket. Add a plant, crisp neutral towels and fresh soap.
  4. Make bedrooms comfortable. Clear bedside tables and dressing tables. Ensure bedside lamps work. Remove anything that doesn’t belong in a bedroom. Use neutral linen where possible and add plump pillows and soft throws.
  5. Sort out your study. Clear up your paperwork, do your filing, shred and recycle what you don’t need. Leave your desk neat and tidy at all times during the selling process, ensure there is good lighting and an appealing space to work in.
  6. Clear off counters and bookcases. Get rid of books that won’t be reread, recycle old magazines and newspapers. Remove most of the photographs and personal items, along with excess ornamental items. Now is the time to decide whether you will be taking them with you when you move.
  7. Clear out garden sheds, garages and other storage areas. Now is the time to sort and let go anything you no longer use, or know you will not need in your new home. Organise the rest in clearly marked containers, or neatly on shelves
  8. Take a good look at your home’s exterior. Clear your gutters, wash down walls if necessary, keep driveways and paving swept and clean. Take time to get your garden looking its best, and your pool sparkling. Is your curb neat and tidy?
  9. Lastly step outside your gate and take a look. If you were looking at buying a home would this be one you would be keen to look at?

Ready, steady, sell!

Monday, 27 February 2017 09:37

Organising Your Garden Shed

A few years ago, I was approached by a magazine to respond to a reader’s letter asking how to go about re-organising their garden shed. I thought about it recently while doing just that – clearing, sorting and re-organising a client’s garden shed. And do you know, I realised that while every project is different and every client has different needs, the BASIC principles remain the same. Here is my updated version of HOW TO ORGANISE YOUR GARDEN SHED.

What is important to know when planning on re-organising your garden cottage?

First of all you need to set aside some time where you will not be distracted, and preferably with help. You might want to do this in two stages. If you do it in two stages, make sure it’s not too far apart. The first stage would be the clear out and the second stage would be deciding where everything would go, labelling shelves or storage and putting it all back in the different categories. If you do it in one go, do the first part, take a good break and then tackle the second bit.

Now, how do I do it?

  • Working from one side to the other, and top to bottom, start clearing out the shed. Have space to lay everything out so that you can see what there is.
  • Once the shed is empty, sweep, dust, get rid of cobwebs etc.
  • Add shelves and hooks to get things off the ground. It always looks neater and encourages you to replace things where they belong
  • Buy some sturdy plastic storage that you would be able to stack. First work out what you will need, and THEN go shopping. If you get clear containers, you will be able to see the contents. If you go for black or coloured ones, ensure you label them clearly!!
  • Now back to the sorting. Have a box for donations/give aways, a box for recycling, a box for the rubbish dump. Again, working from one side, methodically touch each item and make a decision. The broken or damaged ones are easy. THROW THEM OUT. Now deal with the others -  Is it used? Does it have a purpose in your home? Why is it there? Why are you keeping it? Touch, make a decision and move on to the next item. Anything you are not sure of, put on one side to come back to later.
  • Now that everything is sorted, you might want a break. Move the boxes for donating, recycling and rubbish dump out to the car, trailer, truck!!! Have a cuppa, and check out what is left behind.
  • Divide your space into different areas –painting section, gardening section, tools and general. Think of a pre-school space, where there are stations for different activities. Do the same with the shed.
  • Now put everything you are keeping back. All paint tins with labels facing forward, all brushes together in a container etc., then move on to the gardening stuff, and so on. Ensure that everything has a home – you could label the shelves so that things go back without any stress. If you are using containers that stack, don’t put too many on top of each other, and ensure they are clearly labelled. Ideally you should be able to read them from the door.
  • Also ensure there is a space to work on, or if not, a folding table that can be used to work on.
  • Good lighting is also important.
  • Now that you are done, show it off, and enjoy your new organised space. Encourage replacing things each time they are used and a monthly once over to keep it looking good and working to perfection.
Monday, 06 February 2017 01:53

7 Simple Tips to Reduce Your Housework

Who really, really likes housework? Not me…I am always keen to find ways to reduce the amount of housework I need to do, so that I have more time to relax, more time to enjoy my hobbies, more time with family and friends. Here are my favourite tips that make housekeeping easier for me….

1. Put your clothes away every night. Don’t be tempted to toss your clothes on a chair or the floor. It only takes a couple of seconds to put them away or in your laundry basket.

2. Don’t hold onto more than you need and use. All those appliances in the back cupboard. Vases never taken down. Ornaments gathering dust. Multiple towels and linen sets kept for visitors…. Let go… 

3. Wipe down surfaces every time. Wiping away grease and food splatter immediately cuts down on the heavy cleaning later.

4. Don’t have too much decorative stuff on beds. Decorative pillows and throw blankets might look good, but don’t have too much. The fewer steps it takes to make your bed every morning, the more likely you'll do it.

5. Put shoes and jackets away. Have a coat rack at the front door, and a place for outdoor shoes.

6. Wash up or stack the dishwasher regularly. What more can I say!

7. Put things back where they came from. Putting things away every time means you will find them easily, and your home will look neater, cleaner and more inviting.

Try it for yourself!

Monday, 06 February 2017 01:44

5 Ways to Clean up Your Kitchen

So, the holidays are over, friends and family have left, and life starts to get back to normal. All the eating, drinking, entertaining and hosting has taken its toll…on your kitchen. It's time to get it back in shape for the New Year ahead.

1. Ditch the dead herbs and spices

Sort out your herbs and spices. Get rid of anything you really don’t use, won’t use and have definitely past their best. Wipe done bottles, decant bags into small containers and clean out the spice rack before putting everything you will use back.

2. Sort out your cutlery drawer and plastics cupboard

It’s time to do a proper cutlery sort out and let go anything you don’t use. If you don’t already have one, get a cutlery organiser. Do the same with your utensils. Do your really need 3 potato peelers? Now move on to the dreaded plastics. Recycle all pieces without partners and any containers that don’t seal properly. The same applies to all those containers that are past their best.

3. Wipe down and clean kettle, toaster, oven, microwave and fridge

These appliances have worked overtime over the holidays and deserve a little TLC. Wipe down your kettle, toaster, oven, microwave and fridge. Squeeze lemon juice into a bowl of water and microwave on high for 3 minutes to clean the inside of your microwave. Use a paste of bicarb, vinegar and water to clean out your oven. Its non-toxic and wont scratch your surfaces. Wipe out your fridge with a vinegar/water solution which disinfects and cleans at the same time.

4. Take control of the fridge and pantry

Now that you have emptied the fridge to clean it, it’s time to see what you have, discard all those old leftovers, wipe down all condiment bottles and only put back what you will use. Do the same with your pantry or grocery cupboard. Donate all the foodie gifts you won’t eat and dry goods left behind my visitors.

5. Clear your countertops

Too much stuff cluttering the countertops? Clear the counters completely. Take a look at what there is. Now decide what really needs to be there. My rule of thumb is “as little as possible” and only items you use all the time. Everything else needs to find new homes.

Brand New Year, brand new kitchen!

Thursday, 15 December 2016 08:20

Happy Holidays

So another year draws to a close!

And what a year it has been. We have had a wonderfully busy year helping families get sorted and organised. A large part of our work has been assisting with downsizing and moving house for older clients, which is so rewarding.

In fact, we have faced challenges and circumstances beyond our control and managed to find solutions. There have been times we have laughed and had fun, and times where our clients have struggled with the changes. Each client is unique, and with each assignment we have learned new things.

Along the way there have been dogs, and cats, and birds, pet rats and hamsters and even a bearded dragon! Small children, new babies, teenagers and grown up children coming home to sort their stuff!

As I reflect on our business year, I am grateful for all the experiences and challenges we have faced. I am grateful for all the wonderful people we have met, all the pets and all the lives we have been involved in.

I am grateful that I have the good fortune of doing something I love day in and day out. It is a wonderful thing to wake up in the morning and look forward to a working day!

So to all our clients, to all our readers, to all our friends out there, thank you!!

Wishing you and yours HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Wednesday, 07 December 2016 17:03

What to Do With Photos

Last week I attended my niece’s wedding which was a wonderful and magical affair. Beautiful church, exquisitely beautiful bride and the perfect garden setting for a wonderful picnic reception. All in all, a memorable occasion. And to capture the special day, there were several photographers and plenty of smartphones!

It got me thinking! When last did I look at our wedding photographs? When last did anyone look at their wedding photographs? In fact, when last did you look at any photographs?

Are you able to find your photos easily? Are they all together in one spot?

Perhaps the holidays are a good time to get your photos sorted!

Here are 5 tips to help you along …

Wednesday, 30 November 2016 15:55

Keeping Things for Your Children One Day

So often when working with clients decluttering and downsizing, I hear the words “I can’t let that go, I am keeping it for my children/ grandchildren one day”. And so the pile grows and grows…

Recently I had the opportunity of working with an elderly client whose daughter popped in periodically to see how we were getting on. Each time I would ask her to look at the piles her mom had put on one side for her. At the end of the decluttering exercise, the daughter had taken only a handful of really personal items, and we delivered boxes and boxes of the unwanted ‘treasures’ to charity.

The lesson: It’s really important to think about why you are keeping things for your children.

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