When a Short-Term Hit is Better than a Long-Term Contract; or Why DirecTV can Kiss My Lily-White Tush

UnicornRedheaded rant alert…though you may have already gathered that from the title of this post.

I recently switched from DirecTV to AT&T U-Verse. Once my U-Verse was successfully up and running, it was time to make the dreaded cancel call. You know the drill – we ignore our current customers in lieu of bringing in new ones until the current customer leaves for greener pastures. Then it’s, “Oh please let me kiss your ass and feed you bon bons and give you discounts and blahblahblah”

Yeah…too little, too late, Princess.

I predict the fuss will be minimum since my original contract is expired.

Or so I thought.

When DirecTV was originally installed I received a shoddy DVR that froze and died in less than a year. Customer service was fabulous and said they would send me a new receiver. However, in a less fabulous move, they didn’t bother to tell me that my contract was extended 24 months from that new point. I’m now told I’ll be hit with a $100 early cancellation fee for leaving.

Klassy.

Yes, the “k” is on purpose.

This rep is insistent that she’s trying to save me the cancellation fee money while also offering me discounts and unicorns farting glitter rainbows. However, she is absolutely NOT saving me money and here’s why, Sunshines:

In the switch I’ll save $80 per month meaning I’ll recoup the cancellation fee in less than two months. MUCH better than being saddled with the added expense on a service I didn’t like for 5 months. In the end, I’m still saving money (as well as frustrated energy) by switching and taking the $100 hit.

Do you have a similar situation happening somewhere in your life? Is there something you’re hesitating on because you don’t want to pay a cancellation fee of sorts. Well Sunshine, it’s time to do the math and see if your money is better served taking a short-term hit for the long-term gain.

  • Add it up: what is the cancellation fee vs. the monthly fee for the remaining time left on the contract. If the cancellation fee is less, go for it. Perhaps the situation is like mine that the overall savings to switch is so great that you’ll easily get that money back very quickly.
  • When making the cancellation, stand firm. Their job is to keep you and take your money. Your job is to keep as much of your money is possible. If the person on the other end of the line was setting your money on fire, you wouldn’t stand for it right? So don’t let them convince you otherwise. This is why we crunch the numbers first. It’s easy to stand firm when armed with knowledge. (Side note: don’t be an asshole about it. At the end of the day, their job kinda sucks. There is NEVER any reason to yell. Just tell them you’ve done the numbers and nothing they say will sway you.)
  • Celebrate having taken a close examination of your numbers and whittled away things that were taking your money while not serving you. Just like with the physical clutter, there are often random monthly services that are taking up space in our budget. Clearing these away creates the space so that we can use that money for things that we will need, use and love!

Have you recently cut things out of the budget that you weren’t using, even if it came with a hefty cancellation fee or pushy salesperson? Tell us about it in the comments!

She Owns It: A Tale of Two Homes or How Design Affects Organizing

Round library with fireplace, bar, hidden and open storage. Photo via Brants Realtors.

Round library with fireplace, bar, hidden and open storage. Photo via Brants Realtors.

Gather around Sunshines as I tell you a tale of two homes.

Home A is spacious. On the outset everything seems like it will work in good order. Then you try to function in it. There’s barely any storage. The roof angle cuts off the tops of upstairs closets. There aren’t drawers where you’d conveniently need them for organizational efficiency (i.e. – having a drawer for silverware near where you would logically put plates so that meal prep is quick and efficient.) The walls aren’t long enough for proper furniture placement.

In short, the design of the home SUCKS. It will take a LOT of creative wrangling and releasing of things to make this home function “well enough.”

Home B is spacious as well. However, the rooms are small and aren’t traditionally shaped. At first glance it would seem that you’ll never be able to fit all of your things. Then you dig in. Everywhere you turn there’s more storage built into the walls. What looks like interesting wall panels turn out to be large cabinets with fully adjustable shelves. Or narrow drawers so that you’ll never lose anything at the bottom of a drawer again. Even the bathrooms work around the pesky under-the-sink storage issues by having bins that angle out, thus avoiding having to organize around plumbing.

In short, the home is so impeccably designed that you may never have to get rid of anything ever again.

Not that I recommend that, Sunshine. After all, you still can’t take it with you.

So why am I telling you about these two homes?

Continue reading on She Owns It…

She Owns It: You are Enough

donald-draper-mad-men-love-quote-300x300Today’s message is short and sweet, Sunshines.

You.

Are.

Enough.

Why am I telling you this?

Continue reading on She Owns It…

Featured: What’s Up Cindy B Show?

What's Up Cindy B ShowLast week I was honored to be one of the guests on the What’s Up Cindy B podcast! She’s a super-fun host and we talked about how to keep a tidy home while you’re busy, how to live with someone when you have different “clutter thresholds” and I may or may not have ratted myself out on past bad habits. After my interview is actor, singer, songwriter Blake McIver. Enjoy!

Click through to listen.

Get a Spotless, Organized “Insert Room Here”

Getting a Spotless Home.Prepare thyselves for a redheaded rant, Sunshines.

I recently saw an article titled, “Get a Spotless, Organized Laundry Room.”

This, my darlings, is bullsh… A FULL-BLOWN LIE.

Unless you move out of your house, or never actually live in it ever again, you will NEVER have a spotless, organized ANYTHING in your house for more than a few minutes – ESPECIALLY if you actually use it!!! (Though you may get a few hours if you’re lucky, leave the house, or never enter the room – but what’s the purpose in that??)

Have I just burst every perfectionist’s bubble? I sure do hope so!

Sunshine, perfectionism will get you NOWHERE. Or as it says in one of my favorite videos…

Continue reading on She Owns It. 

Food Geek Friday: Creamy Broccoli Soup

This recipe comes to you from the now defunct Whole Living Magazine.

RIP Whole Living.

Can you tell this was my favorite magazine?

This soup recipe was part of their “2013 Action Plan” in the last issue published. I was really surprised and impressed with how good it was. You see, while I’m a HUGE fan of healthy eating and enjoy a green smoothie as much as the next gal, I’m not always *that* keen on green veg. And I’ve always had a bit of a love/hate relationship with the broccoli. I don’t mind it raw or lightly cooked, but the texture starts to gross me out when it gets too cooked. So it was with some hesitation that I tried this dish.

However, this soup also had avocado which is ALWAYS a win in my book, so how could it go wrong?

And it didn’t.

We’re closely inching out of hot soup weather but this soup is really nice and leaves you feeling full of energy afterwards, perfect for spring!

Creamy Broccoli Soup

Adapted from Whole Living

Creamy Broccoli Soup - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogIngredients

  • 1 Tbsp fat of choice – butter, coconut oil, olive oil, etc.
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 4 cups vegetable broth (may substitute chicken)
  • 1 head broccoli, trimmed and chopped (6 cups)
  • 3 cups baby spinach
  • 1 avocado, chopped, plus more for garnish
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Heat oil in a medium pot over medium heat. Add onion and saute until almost translucent. Then add in garlic and red pepper flakes and continue to cook until fragrant, another couple of minutes.
  2. Add broth and bring to a boil. Add broccoli and cook, covered, until bright green and tender, about 2 minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in salt and pepper. Stir in spinach and allow spinach to wilt.
  4. Add avocado and blend everything with an immersion blender until desired texture. (May also use blender or food processor. Make sure it doesn’t explode on you do to heat.)
  5. Adjust seasoning as necessary. May garnish with avocado and a drizzle of olive oil.

Enjoy!

Quick Tip: Beauty Product Party

One of the biggest sources of clutter for my lady clients is beauty products. Or as one client’s husband calls it, the “goo-plex.”

We tend to end up with many products because: we bought products that ended up not working, we ended up with products that aren’t suitable for us, we have the irrational notion that shampoo and conditioner must be purchased together. (I’ve heard this before, and what that client really had were 10 shampoos and 2 conditioners.)

For as many reasons as there are about how we acquired these products, there are as many reasons why we hang on to these products we’ll never use: we like the promise that the marketing offers us or we like the idea of being the person who would use said product, even if it’s more maintenance than we personally would put into it. And the big one:

I don’t know what to do with a barely used product.

You’re not going to use it. You can’t donate it. It seems like such a waste…and it is a waste.

That’s where the mini-party or swap comes in.

A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine decided to clean out her medicine cabinets. Between doing marketing for spas, consolidating a couple of homes, and just generally being a lady who likes product variety, she’d ended up with quite the mass of product and makeup. She decided to have an impromptu gathering over happy hour and give all of the goodies to new and loving homes.

This is a mere fraction of the products we all sifted through.

This is a mere fraction of the products we all sifted through.

About 4 of us went through the goodies pulling what we liked and saving a few things for other friends that couldn’t make it. When we were done, we gifted the remaining items to the ladies’ room of the bar with the attached note:

Girl, You Look Fabulous - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

This entire happening is full of win and good karma points. My friend gets oodles of free space in her bathroom while also gifting some of her dearest friends with fun goodies that she couldn’t use anyway. We all got fun goodies that we may have never tried otherwise. And we all got to spend quality gal time together.

All fabulous things, Sunshine.

Do you have an excess of beauty products you won’t or can’t use? Call up some girlfriends, mix up some cocktails, and spread the love.

Makeover: Three-Car Garage

Today’s makeover is a three-car garage I worked on a while back. It’s also proof that when you set up a functional organization system,  and follow the “put it back where it lives when you’re done” rule, you CAN maintain an organizing home.

Even in the garage.

I worked with this family 2 years ago. They moved here from Atlanta and had downsized from a 6,000 sq. ft. home to a 3,000 sq. ft.  home in Fort Worth. Even though they let go of a LOT of things before the move, they still ended up with a 3-car garage packed almost to the ceiling.

Before:

Garage Organiziation  Before - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

Garage Organization Before - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

3-Car Garage Organization Before - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

We started with an assessment of what we’d find in there and a starting idea of set-up. I don’t normally think that far ahead but they had an organized garage in their old home so – unlike most garages I work in – they had a fairly good idea of what we’d end up dealing with. Also because they had an organized garage before, they already had plenty of great shelving – necessary for an organized garage.

We decided that 2 of the bays would be used for cars and the third bay would be used for recreation. This is where we set up a ping-pong table and many of their children’s’ outdoor toys and games.

As we got started, my clients had other workers that put together the shelving they brought over from the Atlanta house. They also had large, ceiling mounted shelves installed over each of the bay doors.

Pro tip: shelving over the garage doors is perfect for things like holiday decorations that you’ll only get to once or twice a year. However DO NOT install these shelves just so you don’t have to deal with making decisions on your things. Face it, Sunshine. You’ll have to eventually so may as well do that now and get it out of your head space as well as real space.

Almost 30 boxes after about 3 hours of work.

Over 20 boxes after about 3 hours of work.

We started at one end of the garage and systematically went through, unpacking the boxes. As we unpacked each box, my client would make a decision on whether each item would stay or go. If it went, we put it into the trash, recycle bin, or into a pile to be dropped off at charity. If it stayed, it went into a sorted category. Only after this was done would I allow my client to move on to the next box. This may sound tedious but this technique prevents you from getting too overwhelmed. We also worked in 2-3 hour time chunks so 1) my client wouldn’t get too tired and start making bad decisions and 2) because my client still had to put the “stay” items that lived in the house where they lived and I didn’t want her to get too overwhelmed with that either.

We kept up this technique of working for 2-3 hours at a time systematically working through the boxes until they were all emptied. Because I got my client going on the right road, she also continued and did quite a bit of work on her own.

After we got everything unpacked, it was time for setup. On the shelves above the garage doors went things that are only minimally accessed: holiday decorations and childhood/family memorabilia.

Pro tip: Unless your garage is climate controlled, do not store anything that will ruin with weather fluctuations. i.e. – candles, photographs, etc. If it’s truly precious, it needs to be somewhere better than your garage.

We created sections for games, swim, home repair (paint, tiles, etc), home utility (I’ve never seen so many light bulbs), and tools among other things. Then placed everything in its designated section according to how best it would function: toys and sports equipment near the ping-pong table for a recreation area, swim next to the door by the swimming pool, utility and tools near the door nearest the house, etc. etc. Once we were done, we had a lovely garage!

Now for whatever reason, I didn’t take after pictures directly after we were finished. We’d worked on other areas of the house and I just never thought about it. But here’s how I know that they beautifully maintained our work and their investment. Last year they brought me back out for a directional consult. At that time I saw the garage and it was still well maintained. Then I get a phone call a couple of weeks ago. They’re moving back to Atlanta so I helped them with a touch of weeding and consolidating to make it easier when the movers come to pack everything up.

And you know what? The garage still looked great!

After:

Garage Organization After - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

Side note – those bins in the left of the picture normally lived somewhere else. We pulled them out to use them to start pre-packed some smaller things. And the bikes usually lined flat against the shelves.

Garage Organization After - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

Garage Organization After - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

Total hands on time: Initially 12 hours, spread over a month’s time. My clients put in a LOT of homework time to accomplish this massive makeover. We put in another 2 hours together the other week.

Garage Organization - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

Garage Organization - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

Garage Organization - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

 

 Need a massive overhaul of your own are aren’t sure where to start? Click here and contact me today. 

Food Geek Friday: Asparagus and Mushroom Pasta

Since this week I’ve been talking about helping loved ones with their clutter, why not whip up some comfort food to go along with?

Eating your feelings? Not necessarily always the best option…but sometimes just a really good one. Especially when it’s delicious. Mmmmmm…delicious feelings…

I made this dish the other week from impulse purchases at Trader Joes. The funniest part was  when I noticed in my TimeHop (Do you use TimeHop? If you spend any amount of time on social media, I recommend it. It’s fun.) that one year prior on the same date I had made a dish with mushrooms and asparagus.

What can I say? It’s spring, and I have favorite spring food combinations.

So when I saw the pre-prepped asparagus saute at Trader Joe’s, I jumped on it. A quick saute, toss with pasta and a touch of cream and you’re done. Great for a lazy weekend meal or quick weeknight dinner.

Asparagus and Mushroom Pasta

Ingredients

  • Asparagus and Mushroom Pasta - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogAsparagus, cut into bite length pieces
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Onion, sliced
  • Fat of choice (I used leftover bacon grease)
  • Penne pasta (any pasta will do but I think the shape of the penne works well with the asparagus
  • Cream (or coconut or cashew cream if you don’t do dairy)

(Time-saver – I used a pre-prepped package of asparagus, mushroom, and onion.)

Directions

  1. Cook pasta according to directions.
  2. While pasta is cooking, heat up fat in a skillet to medium heat. Sautee asparagus, mushrooms, and onions until almost cooked. It generally takes just a few minutes.
  3. Drain pasta and add to veggies. Pour in just enough cream to coat. Continue to heat until heated through, stirring occasionally.
  4. Transfer to bowl and enjoy!

What are some of your favorite spring food combinations?

Compassion and Empathy First

This past Monday I posted the link to my She Owns It article on how to help a loved one with their clutter. I want to continue with that just a touch today.

A while back I saw this picture on Facebook and knew immediately that I had to incorporate it into a blog post:

Help

 

Now, there’s actually quite a lot going on in this picture. My clients are typically stuck and don’t know what to do when they first reach out to me. The “nest” reminds me of the buildup of clutter in my clients’ homes. I usually call this the “clutter hug.” But I don’t want to delve too far into that today. Instead, I want to just take a moment to focus on this simple act of compassion.

When our loved ones are surrounded in their own “clutter hug,” as a family member/friend we want to dive in and force the issue and make it all go away really quickly. We have the best of intentions. We love this person and want them to have a better quality of life, a cleaner home, and more ease in their daily schedule. However, letting go of clutter can’t be forced. Just as telling a depressed person to “perk up” or an anxious person to “chill out” doesn’t work, neither does telling the excessively cluttered or hoarder to just “throw it away.” As someone who cares, loves, and wants to facilitate change, your first line of help needs to always be patience, compassion, and empathy. These qualities will begin to create the safe space needed for your loved one to feel better and then begin the process of letting go.

I know how confusing and frustrating it is to be on the outside of the situation and wondering how/why someone can live like this. Extreme clutter, and especially hoarding, is very complex. So complex that psychologists still don’t have it all worked out.  Hoarding didn’t even start to be researched until 1993. But we’re learning more and helping more every day.

Your first job as friend/family/loved one is to provide comfort, compassion and to just simply be there for your person. The rest of the work will happen after that.