9220 E. Prairie Road, Suite 407Evanston, Illinois 60203(847) 254-8888

Making Your Moving Day Easier

Making Your Moving Day EasierMoving, and specifically downsizing, strikes fear, loathing and depression in the minds and hearts of most people. "I'm giving up my life's possessions!" "I'll never be happy living somewhere else!" In most cases, both statement are completely false.

Let's explore how a move, coupled with downsizing, can be a successful, uplifting and freeing experience!

Do we own our belongings or does our "stuff" own us?
As the years fly by, and we accumulate more and more, the time comes when it becomes impossible to both use and enjoy it all. That's when the "stuff" begins to own us. The sheer volume becomes a burden and the thought of sorting, gifting, selling, donating, discarding, packing and unpacking can lead to paralysis.

Make a plan!

  1. 1. When to move? Allow yourself ample time to make the move as stress-free as possible. Create a timetable that isn't too physically and emotionally taxing.
  2. 2. Where to start? This is always the most difficult question. Start in the areas of least use. Plan to work a finite amount each day or two, according to your stamina.
  3. 3. Get help! I can't emphasize enough how having help can dilute the emotional stress of decision-making.
  4. 4. List and gather resources. Start with a notebook with sections for daily correspondence, estimates, lists, receipts, and resources. This notebook becomes your all-important moving diary. Then gather boxes, strapping tape, markers, heavy-duty 33 or 13 gallon bags for donations and discards, sandwich, quart, and gallon bags for corralling small items, and gloves to protect your hands and make gripping easier.

Gather your team together:

  1. 1. Interview realtors. Check references and determine who makes you feel comfortable.
  2. 2. Consider the assistance of a professional organizer to optimize your time, efficiency and costs. An organizer will guide you through the sorting, donating, discarding, packing and unpacking process and help alleviate the stress of managing the myriad details.
  3. 3. You might need a handyman to make repairs to your home before listing it. A professional organizer or your realtor can advise.
  4. 4. You will need reliable, experienced movers. Again, a professional organizer or realtor can help.

Back to "Where to Start?"

  1. 1. Work from seldom to highly used areas. As you go through each drawer, closet or box, ask yourself when you last used an item. At that point, be ruthless! If you haven't used and enjoyed the item recently (within the last 6 months or so) it is likely that the useful life is up. Let it go!
  2. 2. "Ah, but it is sentimental!" If you're not using and enjoying it - both are required - then consider gifting, selling, donating, or discarding it. It is a financial crime to pay to pack and move items you will not use and enjoy!
  3. 3. Take photos of items that you no longer use and enjoy but want to remember. However, ask yourself: "When was the last time you looked at photos?" Photo albums, and boxes of unsorted photos, have assumed mythical status and no one ever wants to part with them...but when was the last time you looked at them? Choose a small amount to move with you: the ones you will actually look at and enjoy!

What to take, gift, sell, donate and discard?

  1. 1. Take what you will use and enjoy. In every category: clothing, books, kitchenware, tools, photos, any and all collections. Ask yourself: "What am I using and enjoying now?" Old evening clothes? College text books? Multiples and duplicates of kitchenware? Fine china? Crystal? Silver? If you're not using and enjoying it now, it is quite unlikely that you'll begin preparing and hosting formal dinner parties or returning to reading your college text books!
  2. 2. Allow yourself the pleasure of making important gifts now, while you can place treasured items in the hands of those who will use and enjoy them. If your relatives or friends aren't interested in acquiring more "stuff," then sell what you can and donate the rest. Letting go is an incredibly freeing feeling!

Build in "me" time.

This is critical to the emotional upheaval that even the happiest move can cause. Visit with family and friends. Don't spend all day, every day, working on the move. Yes, the last week will be more intense but, if you've planned well, even the last week can be less stressful. If you become overwhelmed, stop, and start again tomorrow.


Observe how, with each item gifted, sold, donated or discarded, you feel lighter, less encumbered, free of being burdened by having to manage all the "stuff." This new-found freedom will make the move successful!


Keep lists! Mark the contents of each box. I date boxes to indicate when it was packed. This tells me that the more recent the date, the more important the contents and the sooner it will be needed in the new home.


The web site www.ehow.com has useful tips for a variety of tasks:

How to Pack and Move The Best and Most Efficient Way

How to Pack Fragile Items for Moving

How to Pack Oil Paintings for a Move

How to Plan a Move

How to Pack Clothes for Moving

How to Pack When Moving Out of State

This article appeared in the SASI newsletter.

De Cluttered Corner

Cluttered Spice Shelf

Hooray - the holidays are upon us! We are organizing our home, or those of our clients, for this special time of year. Silver is polished, crystal is lined up, special or themed dishes are brought out, and menus are planned. We plan our very best cooking of the year, often using heirloom recipes to serve on the table we, or our clients, so lovingly set. If you close your eyes, your memories of the holidays are scented and flavored ??cinnamon and sage! Let's focus on organizing the spice cabinet for the holidays - beyond putting the bottles in alphabetical order.

Five questions come to mind:

  1. 1. How long to keep herbs and spices?
  2. 2. How to properly store herbs and spices?
  3. 3. How much to buy?
  4. 4. Freeze herbs, spices, seeds?
  5. 5. Suggested storage solutions?

First: What is an herb, and what is a spice? According to Elizabeth Theis, Spice Merchant from The Spice House, herbs come from the leafy part of the plant, and spices are the buds, trunk or root of a plant. Seeds are seeds!

Shelf life of herbs, spices and seeds rely on the strength of fragrance and flavor ??if either is missing, the ingredient should be discarded. Generally, herbs will last six months and spices, 2-3 years. Whole nutmeg seeds have been known to last 75 years and still be flavorful.

Spices should be stored in airtight glass jars, in a cool dark spot. You may put date stickers on the glass jars. DO NOT install your spice rack above the stove! The heat and steam rising from the stove will damage your spices and herbs. Likewise, according to Theis, DO NOT shake herbs and spices over the sauce or soup pots on the stove. The steam rising from the pot will deplete the flavor of the ingredient remaining in the jar. Measure your herb or spice away from the heat and moisture of the stove. Put the ingredient into a small dish or cup to pour into the kettle.

Herbs and spices can be expensive, saffron is the most expensive ingredient in the world, at $1,500.00 and up, per pound. Consequently, it is better to buy and use up small amounts of costly herbs and spices, before they lose their flavor and fragrance. Items that are in common use, such as pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, chili powder, etc. may be purchased in larger quantities, but less is more, in this instance. It is costly to discard old, flavorless herbs and spices.

Will freezing preserve herbs and spices? In some cases, yes. Fresh herbs such as parsley freeze beautifully. Poppy seeds will turn rancid and should be frozen. My clients and I will Google specific herbs if we have a question on the advisability of freezing for storage. Start your soups and sauces with dry herbs at the beginning of long, slow cooking, and add the fresh herbs at the end for color.

The ideal (though rare) spice storage solution is the spice drawer- with slots for bottles and cans. More often, I see the dread circular spice lazy susan. I find these to be nearly impossible for identifying what a given jar contains. So often bottles get lost; hence multiple bottles of the same item. The stair-step (Google stair-step spice racks for multiple images and choices) is the most visible, accessible storage solution, and best use of space. It gives the cook a stadium view of their spice collection. Of course, then the bottles should be in alphabetical order.

Happy Holidays!

This article appeared in NAPO Chicago's November newsletter.

Nancy, It was fantastic to work with you! You really made our move manageable!
Nancy M.-B.