Posts Tagged ‘projects’

Fall Home Maintenance Checklist

Posted on: November 2nd, 2017 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

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Before the flurries start to fly, check out our Fall Home Maintenance Checklist.


Canada 150!

Posted on: June 15th, 2017 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy MendlerARE YOU TOO BUSY?

“Life is busy. There are daily concerns and obligations that have to be met, and to take time to think about how precious and special a human life is that you only get one, and that every wasted minute is lost. You can’t get it back.”
~Rush Limbaugh

How often do you ask someone how they are, and they respond with the words “Very busy!”? That’s just the way life seems to be. Most of us are trying to cram too much into our lives. Each day has:

  • 24 hours
  • 1,440 minutes or
  •  86,400 seconds

We overschedule ourselves and our children. Often, we feel like hamsters on a wheel that never stops.

Do you remember how much you looked forward to the last day of school when you were a child? Summer seemed endless. It’s a shame that we don’t tend to think the same way as adults.

Take some time to reflect this summer–as you relax and enjoy the warm temperatures.

Think about what you can do differently, so that your family’s schedule isn’t as chaotic in the fall.

C A N A D A   1 5 0

How do you plan to celebrate Canada’s sesquicentennial on July 1, 2017! Our neighbourhood is planning a get-together on Canada Day. I can’t wait to see everything decked out in red and white!

Schedule some time in your calendar to celebrate with the rest of the country.

Remember Simon & Garfunkel’s lyrics, “Slow down, you move too fast …”

Get started and turn over another leaf!

Until next month,

a new leaf-cathy.png

GET CHECKING…With our Fall Home Maintenance Checklist!

Posted on: October 22nd, 2015 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

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Winter’s on its way! Use our handy 
 to help you get ready! 


How to Store Your Holiday Decorations

Posted on: October 9th, 2015 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy Mendler

 Holidays like Thanksgiving and Halloween are fun, but they
.can also create a challenge when it’s time to stow away those
.seasonal decorations. 

 We all know that the best solution is to store them out of the way, so that they don’t take up the space assigned to more frequently used things, but WHERE and HOW do you store them? 

Here are a few suggestions we share with our clients: 

1. Use a storage area like a garage, basement or attic, if you have one, so that they are out of sight but still easily accessible. 

2. Choose a place that is easy to access. If you store them in a place that takes too much effort to access, you might make organizing for these occasions a chore even before you start to celebrate. 

3. Label containers so you know where to look. If you are a fan of those giant plastic storage tubs (which, unfortunately, you can’t see through), be sure to use different coloured containers based on the event, such as red for Christmas, orange for Halloween and green for St. Patrick’s Day.

4. Group items by occasion or season. It’s okay to combine Halloween and Thanksgiving or Christmas and New Year’s decor, for instance, but try to avoid combining several occasions into one container. If you have only a few decorations, just use a smaller container.

5. Purge as you pack. Did you use those pumpkin lights this year? If not, what are the chances you will use them next year? If you’ve received a new item, try finding an old item for it to replace and PURGE!

Get started and turn over another leaf!

We wish everyone a safe, happy and organized October!

P.S. Check out our Facebook page every Monday to see a new MARTHA MONDAY organizing video on this topic…and many more!

GET PRODUCTIVE…It All Starts With A Plan

Posted on: September 17th, 2015 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

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“The man who removes a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.”

– Chinese Proverb

Check out Coaching Positive Performance’s 7 Tips in How to plan for a productive day.

The majority of people have too many items on their To Do List. Daunting lists can be overwhelming and make it more difficult to get started with accomplishing those tasks.

Check out Leslie Shreve’s article What NOT to Use in Your Task List and Why.

Ask yourself, “How can I be more productive?”


Posted on: September 15th, 2015 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

At a recent consultation with a client who is getting her
home ready to sell, she asked me about renting a
dumpster. I told her to wait until we started the big
purge. So far a dumpster hasn’t been necessary.

During the purging process, she donated or recycled at least 95% of the items. There has only been a small amount of garbage.

Do you or your children purchase clothing at H&M? Recycle some old clothes and earn a small discount ($5 on purchases of $30 or more in store). Learn more about the Close the Loop initiative–fabric recycling programme.

There is a Dress for Success Drive at the Inspiring Women event in Kitchener on September 24. Attendees are asked to donate business appropriate clothing, shoes, and accessories to help empower local women entering the workforce. Donations are accepted by The Green Door. For more information, click here

Do you just throw out your children’s old markers? Crayola’s Colorcyle program is being tested in a number of Canadian cities; any brand of marker is accepted. Spread the word–teachers at your children’s schools may find this program helpful. A bit of volunteer time is required, but there is no monetary cost to join the program.

Did you know that you can recycle used pens, markers and highlighters through the TERRACYCLE program? Drop off items at your local Staples store.

And last but not least, Textbooks for Change is a social venture that provides affordable and accessible educational materials to students both locally and abroad. If you live in Southwestern Ontario, you can make a difference by donating university textbooks (10 years old or less).

Reduce what ends up in our landfills. Get motivated to recycle!


August, Already???

Posted on: August 6th, 2014 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

Cathy_Mendler_new-150-x-115    It’s August!

Summer was a long time coming this year. With all of the rain and cooler temperatures, it hasn’t been a typical summer either. So enjoy it when you get the chance.


What does your summer list of projects look like?

Let’s get started and turn over another leaf!


In June 2013 I wrote an article “Organizing a Decorating/Renovating Project.” Here’s a link to that blog post.

Having just completed a major home renovation, I can offer the following additional thoughts:

  • Begin planning as far in advance as possible. Delays can be costly if you aren’t prepared.
  • Make sure you include contingency funds in your budget. Be prepared for the unexpected–especially if you are opening up walls or renovating an older home. Bringing your home up to today’s building code requirements may be an additional expense. Electrical upgrades, improving insulation, etc. might be required.
  • There will likely be items you wish to upgrade which you hadn’t considered. Think about your plans for the long term.
  • Could your home benefit from an energy audit? A high home energy score could help sell your home–if that is in your plans for the future. Click here for more information on your home’s energy efficiency.
  • Communicate frequently with your contractor.
  • Keep a supply of plastic drop sheets handy–they will become your best friend.
  • Prepare yourself for the frustrating moments, hours and even days. Despite all of your planning, they are bound to happen.

I’m happy to report that our renovations went smoothly. We were prepared as much as possible. Although we made several upgrades and spent more money than originally planned, it was worth the investment.

Good luck to two of my business colleagues. One is in the process of renovating an entire house–I can only imagine what she’s going through! The other one will be adding a commercial kitchen to her home–a big undertaking–in the very near future.

Remember, the end result will be worth it, as the drywall dust becomes a distant memory!


Fall and back to school will be here before you know it!

Check out our Getting Organized for Back to School blog post from August 2012.

Organizing Your Kitchen

Posted on: July 3rd, 2013 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

It’s officially Summer!

Summer is now in full swing with Canada Day already behind us.  Happy Fourth of July (later this week) to our neighbours south of the border!

Have you made any plans for the summer?  No matter what you do, take time to relax and enjoy the great weather.  Summer never seems to last long enough.

Let’s get started and turn over another leaf! 


“My grandmother was the greatest cook in the world. She could just go in there, the whole kitchen would look like a tornado hit it and then she’d come out with the best food.” Edie Brickell

For many people, a lot of time is spent in their kitchen. Did your kitchen function well when you made Easter or Thanksgiving dinner? If not, take some time to organize your kitchen so you’re not frustrated the next time you entertain.


You may not be able to complete your reorganization all at once. Divide the kitchen into sections, and work on one section at a time.


Once you’ve finished purging, you can determine what you need.

Getting Started

It’s important to think of your kitchen as prime real estate space.

Frequently used items should be stored in the work triangle in your kitchen–between the stove, refrigerator and sink. Store items for food preparation, cooking/baking, serving, storage and cleaning there—close to where they will be used. Make your kitchen as efficient as possible.

Start by grouping similar items together by category.


Setting the table and washing dishes are things to consider when determining the best location for these items. A cabinet close to the dishwasher or sink makes putting away the dishes easier. Or you may want these items in a cabinet close to the table. Do you have a cabinet located halfway between your table and your dishwasher?

Pots and Pans

Pots and pans can be reached more easily when they are stored in a drawer. Display pots and pans by hanging them on racks if you have limited cabinet space.

Serving Items

Serving trays (and cookie sheets) are best stored in divided racks, so that they slide out easily. For items that are only used several times a year, you may wish to store them in your dining area or basement.

Food Preparation

Try to keep your countertop clear for food preparation. Limit the countertop to items used on a daily basis. This will also make it easier to keep clean.


Clear storage containers should be used as much as possible, so you can see what is inside. You need to know when you are running low on a particular item, so that it can be added to your grocery list. Square or rectangular containers stack more easily, fit better on a shelf and take up less space. Be sure to label all containers.

Items like gravy and sauce packets can be easily retrieved if stored in baskets. Baskets also work well for children’s lunch or snack items.

If your kitchen utensils are crammed in a drawer, determine which ones you actually use. Empty the drawer, put everything in a box and then take utensils out as you need them. Get rid of the ones that are left at the end of a month or two. Frequently used utensils can be stored in a handy container on the countertop.


Discard items which are past their expiry dates.

Consider storing items like rice, pasta, cereal and crackers in plastic containers to keep them fresh. Adjust shelves or add extras to maximize your storage. Heavy items should be stored on lower shelves for safety.


There are many storage options for spices today—a traditional spice rack, magnetic spice containers or a tiered drawer insert. In order to keep spices at their best, do not store them too close to heat sources.

Refrigerator and Freezer

Clean out your refrigerator on a weekly basis. Get into this habit the night before your garbage is collected.

Post a grocery list on the refrigerator, so that it’s easy to add items to your list.

If you haven’t cleaned out your freezer in a long time, don’t despair. This is a chore that’s easiest to do when the weather is cold. Discard items that have dried out or items that won’t be eaten.

Junk Drawer

Try to avoid a junk drawer. Items typically found there are usually best stored elsewhere.


If you’re planning to renovate your kitchen, make some notes about what you’d like to change—as you think of them—such as a drawer for storing pots and pans or a roll-out pantry.


Reward yourself with a cup of flavoured coffee, tea or hot chocolate.  Organizing your kitchen is one of those tasks that will pay dividends every day. Your eating habits may even improve!

Springtime…Leo Tolstoy style!

Posted on: June 26th, 2013 by Cathy Mendler No Comments

“Spring is the time of plans and projects.”

 – Leo Tolstoy, Russian Novelist (1828-1910)


Organizing a Decorating/Renovating Project

Posted on: June 7th, 2013 by Cathy Mendler No Comments


Cathy MendlerSpring has finally sprung!

Spring is the time of year when we like to clear out the cobwebs, splash on a fresh coat of paint, and spruce up tired areas of our homes.

So let’s get started and turn over another leaf!  


“Among these several kinds of beauty the eye takes most delight in colours.”

Joseph Addison (English Poet, 1672-1719)


If you’re planning to redecorate or renovate, start your plan on paper. Determine your budget.

Renovating can be stressful. However long you think the project will take, add some extra time to your estimate. Unexpected delays are often a reality of renovation projects.


Create a list of everything you will need in order to avoid numerous trips to the store.

Professional Help

Hiring a decorating professional for a 1-2 hour consultation may seem expensive, but one large mistake may prove more costly.

Choose a contractor if you’re not doing the work yourself. Get family and friends to recommend someone. Check out the contractor’s references, and contact the Better Business Bureau.

Outside Projects

If you are planning to build a new deck or outside structure, don’t forget to contact your local utilities in advance.  “Call before you dig” is always sound advice.  You don’t want to cut hydro/power, telephone or TV/internet cables, and/or water or gas lines.  Always think safety first!


Which styles do you like–traditional, contemporary, country, cottage or eclectic? What colours do you like?

A piece of fabric or artwork can be the inspiration for a whole room/area. If you plan to redecorate more than one room/area, think about the colour flow.

Watch a decorating show. Take a walk through a furniture store or fabric store. Peruse some decorating magazines. Canadian House & Home and Style at Home are good ones; they provide the Canadian sources for many of the featured items.


How can you decide what to build for storage if you don’t know what items will be stored in that location? Purge as you pack your belongings, so that you can determine your storage needs. Reassembling your room will be easier also.

Furniture and Placement

Will you be rearranging your current furniture, switching pieces from another room in your home or adding new pieces?

Decorators often recommend neutral colours for investment pieces. It is much easier to replace your accessories than to replace your sofa.

Remember that large pieces of furniture look smaller in the showroom than they will in your home. It is extremely important to take the measurements home beforehand and check to see if the new pieces will fit. You can tape an outline of the furniture on the floor, so that you don’t have to move heavy furniture.

Choose furniture that performs double duty—an ottoman with a tray and storage inside, a sofa with a bed, etc.


Changing the colour of a room is the easiest change you can make, and it will give you the biggest bang for your buck.

Keep in mind that it is easier to mix a paint colour to co-ordinate with your fabric and/or furniture than the other way around. Take fabric samples to the paint store. We can recognize over 7,000,000 colours, but we can’t remember an exact colour for more than 30 seconds.

Choose an environmentally friendly paint if your budget allows. Large paint chips and test pots are available at some paint stores. If you don’t want to test the paint on the wall, paint a small piece of bristol board. You will be able to move the board around to different locations to see what the colour looks like at different times of the day and night. Light is an important issue when choosing a paint colour.

Did you know that if you paint a cool colour in a north-facing room, it feels even cooler? Did you know that if you paint a warm colour in a south-facing room, it feels even warmer?

If you choose a neutral colour, a variety of textures in the room will make it work well.


Here is where you can use this year’s trendy colours. Take paint chips and fabric samples when you look for accessories. Remember that items don’t need to match exactly—as long as the colours blend.


Plan ahead for easy meals. When cooking, double a recipe and freeze one batch. This is especially important if you are renovating your kitchen. What will you be able to access? Can you cook outside? Consider using paper plates if you won’t have a kitchen sink to wash dishes or use your dishwasher.

If you’ll be ordering take-out, don’t forget to include those costs in your budget.


If you take the time to plan well, your decorating/renovating project should go more smoothly, and your money will likely be spent more wisely.