It is my experience that clutter is mostly defined by the relationship between you and an item and not much else. Is the relationship healthy or is it destructive? It doesn't refer to things that are miscellaneous or ornamental in nature. These are characteristics that clutter can have, but they are not mutually exclusive.

Shopping is fun, but be mindful!

You have homeless items. Every item in your home needs a dedicated space where it is kept. Pay attention to which surfaces accumulate clutter: in a home, every item needs to have a place to go or you are inviting chaos.

You're shopping for sport: I am guilty of this to simply because I am human. If you're a human you may find yourself exhibiting certain behaviors and one thing that is pretty true for most of the world is is fun. It's been proven that when you shop and buy new things, there are all kinds of serotonin boosts and dopamine boosts that happen in your brain. It can be addictive and sometimes when you bring home these new items, you have no idea what you're going to do with them or when to store them. This is when I like to encourage to my clients to practice what I call Mindful Shopping. Questions to ask yourself before you place items in your shopping basket are as follows: 1. Do I need this item? 2. Is this item going to enrich my life with its beauty or does it bring me enormous joy? 3. Is this item a utility item I actually have a need for? 4. If I pass on this item today, will I be able to come back for it if I regret it?

You got a great "deal": This perhaps goes into the subcategory of mindful shopping, but you may or may not have brought items home that you didn't need or don't have room for because they were a "great deal". Retailers and advertising teams have ways of manipulating you into thinking you are saving money by spending money. I've fallen for it before too. But I cannot express to you the amount of times I've been with a client and we will come across a blouse that's been hanging in their closet for 4 years with the tags still on and they say..."it was a great deal". Sometimes, I believe it's even harder for people to use these things because they are being seen as a shopping trophy of sorts. Removing the tags and actually using the item will take away the trophy mask and reveal it to be what it really item that you paid for, that you own. In a lot of cases, the converse is also true where you spent A LOT of money for an item you're not using and feel like you can't let it go because it has all of this perceived value. It can be very hard to let these items go because you don't want to feel like you've thrown your money away, but it has just as little value sitting idle in your home as it does with someone else. If it's appropriate, you can probably sell the item if you feel like you should get some monetary value back from it, but this requires both time and effort which often equates to money so...just ask yourself what it's worth to you.

Purging items periodically is an important habit to develop especially for children.

You’re not getting rid of items regularly (or even occasionally): I recently helped my dad declutter his closet because they were downsizing house and I asked him when the last time he actually got rid of anything in his closet was and his answer was; NEVER. Setting up a date with yourself to periodically invoice your spaces and the items within it can keep you from keeping too much of what you don't need. You are dynamic and your life is dynamic. You might not use the same stuff you did last year or even the year before.

You're falling into the "someday" trap: You have the intentions to someday make a bundt cake. Someday. But you've had your new bundt pan for 5 years now and it has not been used once. Someday usually NEVER comes when it comes to these items and it's better to let them go now.

You fell into the Free gift with Purchase trap: I am also guilty of this and it mostly has to do with checking out at Sephora. The "If you buy this, we'll give you this" reward type system is actually pretty difficult to resist. It's free, why not? Well A: because it's not what you were shopping for and B: because it's not really free. There is a hidden cost to you and that is you are now the owner of an item you now have to account for. If it's something you needed and regularly use, like occasionally, I'm super excited to get a free small bottle of makeup remover from the makeup counter because I use that stuff. But some items I notice that are particularly suspect are the free bags and stuff that cosmetic brands and perfume companies will include "free with purchase". Again, it's okay to accept these items but take the time to think about whether or not you will REALLY use it when you get home.

You’re accepting "Friendly Freebies": Friends and family are offering you things and you don't know how to turn it down. This can be a difficult one because the politics and dynamics of friends and family can be tricky to navigate. For some people, the way that they express their love is by passing on their items or giving gifts. Some people find it hurtful if you don't accept these things and it can really have a very powerful effect on a relationship if the gift-giver feels like the recipient is ungrateful because it can feel like a rejection of them because sometimes, objects can feel like an extension of ourselves. However, it is up to you to navigate this, based on your relationship with the person. If you're close to them, you might need to explain to them that you only have a limited amount of space to store items and that while you appreciate the sentiment, it is perhaps a little stressful to account for so many gifted items. However, it is more than okay to say thanks but no thanks to anything that a friend or family is offering to you that you genuinely don't want or don't need.

You're holding on to the past: This is similar to the someday trap, but it's slightly different in that you may have items you used before but are no longer relevant, but you are finding it difficult to admit that's not who you are anymore. This can be a really difficult one to deal with emotionally, as I see a lot of women in particular, holding on to clothes that no longer fit them. I find that people who are super busy now, but they used to have time to like paint or sculpt holding on to a lot of those supplies hoping that one day, when they are less busy, they'll pick it up again. While the possibility of losing weight or finding the time to paint is definitely there, you will need to consider what exactly your priorities are and how they affect your life today. If you really wanted to paint more than anything in the will find the time to paint. This is often a painful conversation to have with oneself as it will force you to really make a decision about who you want to be, vs who you actually are. Which leads to number 9...

You have unrealistic goals for yourself: Let's say you do find that time to express yourself through art and you decide to keep some of the art supplies. Well, this often feels very good and it gets people excited about the possibilities of more. But what I find, is that this anticipation of a project or a new-found hobby is that instead of nursing and nurturing the activity through actively doing the thing that is making them happy, they will collect these impending projects to do in the future and they pile up so high, it gets overwhelming and they never get done. I am VERY guilty of this, but the clutter I'm collecting is digital so it doesn't really affect my every day life but it's the same concept. I like playing video games SO much, that I've downloaded these games in anticipation of getting lost in a journey, but I can tell you with 100% honesty that when I turn on this machine, I play the same few games over and over again. You can have the same phenomenon happen with more tangible items which can create a huge storage problem in your home. So, next time you get into something, just notice your habits and how you're collecting items related to that thing.

You don't know what to do with items you want to declutter: The last reason people hold on to clutter is that they don't know what to do with it once it's on track to leave their homes. I actually interviewed a potential client one time who was crippled by the idea of waste or having their items become trash, which in someways is a valid concern as we have a huge plastic problem and we have a lot of people in this country and around the world who would benefit from these cast off items. However, this concern was so crippling, that they were basically paralyzed by it and nothing left their home at all. Now, to a lesser degree some of this is very common. What can I donate? What can I throw away? What can I recycle? What can I reuse? It all gets a little overwhelming. I've put some resources on my blog to help you decide where your used items should go to give you some of the power back when it comes to deciding what to declutter.

What do you think? Have any of these situations applied to you? Are you ready to take some of the power back in your home when it comes to clutter?

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When I was first starting to accept my first organizing clients, I had a real battle with myself about whether or not my services would be helpful for anyone. Why in the world would anyone pay for someone to help them to declutter and organize their home? I quickly discovered after helping a few people that the service is not only helpful to people that hire me, it's beneficial and enriching to people and the smiles that I see at the ends of our sessions pretty much wipes out any doubts I had in the first place. But what if you're not sure whether or not you need to hire a professional organizer to help you with your home or not? Could you do it on your home or are you overwhelmed? Well, here are 5 reasons why it's sometimes a good idea to hire someone like me to come and help you deal with the clutter and dysfunction in your home.

1. You’re not motivated - There is something I need to do, I know is good for my health and should do it but don't because I'm not motivated and that is...exercise at the gym. I know in my mind that working out will help me live longer, relieve stress and basically help my milkshake bring all the boys to the yard. sneakers and my gym bag will sit in the closet because..."I'll do it tomorrow" (which always means never). Tomorrow never really comes for my gym bag and my sneakers because I'm just not motivated without someone or something to hold me accountable. One of my biggest complaints about the Nike Workout App, which I actually think is pretty good is that the notifications are not shaming enough. They're like "Hey...there's a new workout. You might want to do it...maybe. No pressure though..". I need the app to be like: YOU NEED TO WORK OUT YOU LAZY SLOOOBBBBBBB!!!!" So, I have hired a professional trainer to help me stay motivated because we have appointments and she holds me well as trying to kill me every week.

The same feeling I have about working out is the same feeling a lot of people have about home organizing. Maybe you want your home to be organized...sure you could probably find some time and get it done yourself, but you're not motivated and you need someone to hold you accountable. That's where a professional organizer will step in and help motivate you, hold you accountable and keep you on target so that you can stop waiting until tomorrow.

2. You’re overwhelmed and stressed - There are times when organizing your home or decluttering your home is incredibly difficult such as when you are moving suddenly or when a loved one is ill or has passed away. These are times when things like dealing with belongings is necessary, but not exactly the easiest thing to do during hectic or emotionally trying times. That is when someone who knows what they are doing can be very helpful for you and often times, the organizer will have great connections to Home Stagers, Moving Companies, Junk Haulers, Contractors and Interior Designers as well.

3. You don’t know how to organize - Organizing and decluttering spaces is something I love to do! I love organizing projects and I always have since I was a kid even though I was not incredibly organized. When I think about my childhood room, one of my favorite things to do when I was bored with the way that it looked was to actually organize and move the furniture around from time to time. I continued to do this into my adulthood and that's when I actually developed the ability to maintain systems and keep my space from getting too cluttered too often. I spend a lot of my time thinking about home stuff, I happen to love it. I love Home Decor Magazines and I LOVE HGTV. I spend a lot of time looking at Home Organization Products online and I'm even so obsessed with Homes that I spend a lot more time building and decorating homes in the Sims 4 than I do actually playing in live mode (BTW, if you play the Sims, follow me on the gallery as I've started to upload my builds). So that's me and my story which is why I think, I have an ability to make spaces function better. Not everyone has this ability or actually cares about it.

4. You don’t have time - Sometimes people would like to get their home organized and decluttered, but they just lead such a busy lifestyle they just don't have the bandwidth to give to these projects. This is when hiring a professional organizer can be very helpful for you. I find that if clients can give me an hour or two of their time so that she can sit with me and decide which things can go and which things can stay, I can take care of the donating, trashing and reorganization of the space while my client goes back to her job or taking care of her children. I often go and visit busy households who are overwhelmed with stuff but they just don't have time to deal with it because organizing homes is a process which requires a lot of time and effort. If you are a stay-at-home parent or someone with a demanding career, someone who is going to come into your house and set up systems can be a big help, especially if you have really young children.

5. Clutter affects your mental health - This is not just some theory, scientific studies have determined that what you perceive as clutter has a significant impact on your mental and physical health. Research reveals that the average American home has roughly 300K items inside and 1 in 10 have to rent offsite storage to store items that they can't fit in their homes. It is mentally exhausting to have to mentally account for all of these items and the idea of dealing with them or even getting rid of them can sometimes be too much to handle. Your environment affects your mood and your daily function.

Closing Thoughts: Hiring a professional organizer does not mean you're a slob or can't get it done, it means you're taking some of the power back in your home. Costs to hire a professional can vary from organizer to organizer and typically, you'll pay more for the service in an urban area than you will in a more rural area. If you cannot afford someone to come and help you with hands-on service which can get pretty expensive, some organizers have a virtual organizing service as well which tends to be a little less expensive. I offer this service as well for people looking to get organized, but maybe they can't afford to have me there for hours and hours or they just need a complete plan so that they can tackle it themselves. I usually speak with my clients for a 30 minutes over video chat and we discuss the issues and I draw up a complete personalized organizing plan in 48 hours.

I'd also like to add, that hiring an organizer for someone else is a great gift idea! However, do not keep this a surprise for recipient. If the recipient has been saying they'd like to hire someone to organize and you gift them with a few sessions with an organizer, that's great! However, if you hire an organizer for someone who either doesn't want or is not ready to receive the service, it puts the organizer in a very awkward position. I will not accept payment for gifted services without speaking with the recipient first. If your loved one has hoarding issues, you may want to begin by getting them the appropriate psychological assistance and I've had some therapists refer me then for their patient then after they've started to deal with those issues. Again, no surprises...better experience.

If you're considering hiring an organizer or you know of someone who is thinking about hiring an organizer but is not quite sure if it's what they need, share this post with them!

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Farro is one of the oldest grains that we know about and some people even believe that all other grains are derived from it. It's very high in protein, B complex vitamins and is relatively low in gluten, so if you suffer from a gluten sensitivity, farro may be slightly more tolerable than barley or other grains. However, this does still have gluten, so if you have celiac or sprue, then you should stay away from this.

You're likely to find this on the menu in Mediterranean, Ethiopian or Middle Eastern Restaurants. It's very popular in Italy and rising popularity in the United States where I live.

This is a whole grain, similar looking to wheat berries and when I use it, I use it in a similar fashion that I would use beans or lentils or quinoa. Being a whole, unprocessed grain, it's not going to give you the blood sugar spike of pasta and this grain is actually pretty good for you and can provide a complete protein source for you when paired with vegetables, which is what I always do with them. I've used these in my superfood salad bowls as a base with the toppings being avocado, smoked trout, tomatoes, greens and mushrooms.

Whole grain farro takes the longest to cook and sometimes requires overnight soaking. Semi-Pearled has had part of the bran removed but still has some fiber and pearled which has no bran at all. It's kind of like rolled oats vs whole oats. I find that using semi-pearled is perfect for this dish if you're in a hurry, but it's not going to cook so quickly that it's going to get mushy and it's still going to provide fiber.

This recipe is inspired partly by a recipe I used from Smitten Kitchen and a recipe I used from Martha Stewart. I kind of was inspired by risotto and came up with my own.

Serves: 2-4 as a main

  • 2 cups chicken or vegetable stock

  • 1 cup semi-pearled farro

  • 1 large shallot minced or sliced

  • 4 - 6 cloves garlic minced

  • 10 ounces tomatoes

  • 3 - 4 Portobello Mushroom Caps sliced

  • 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

  • (optional) red pepper flakes (1/4 tsp)

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil for sautéing

  • Basil Cut into Ribbons

  • Parmesan Cheese for Garnish

Pour the stock and the farro together in a pot and let them sit while you prepare the ingredients without the heat.

Slice or chop the shallot (your choice), slice the tomatoes into bite sized pieces, mince the garlic, and slice the portobello mushroom caps. Reserve half the garlic for sautéing with the mushrooms and half for the farro.

Begin to heat the pot with the farro and stock and add the tomatoes, shallot and garlic, salt & pepper and bring to boil. Then turn down the heat to a simmer and let simmer for 30 minutes. Stirring occasionally.

While the farro is cooking, add olive oil to a sauté pan and add mushrooms and garlic. Sauté until soft with care not to let the garlic get too brown. Set aside.

Slice basil into ribbons. Add half to the farro 10 minutes before serving and reserve half for garnishing.

Serve in a bowl or a plate with the mushrooms on top and garnish with cheese! This is so yummy and simple and keeps well for leftovers! Bon Appetit!!!

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