Makeover: Guest Room Reckoning

Today, I’m not even going to jack around with an intro. Let’s get right to this guest room reckoning!

Before: Guest room before - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous


Guest room before - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog


Guest room before - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous blog


Organizing with a Side of Fabulous

As you can see, we had quite a bit to tackle. The question I hear most often when someone is faced with a spare room of doom (or any major amount of clutter) is, “Where the hell do I start?”

Short answer: Start at the door and go bit by bit.

Long answer: Start at the door and go bit by bit around the room in a systematic fashion.

Basically, you need to set up how you’re going to work around the room or create a work flow plan. This flow plan will keep you on track instead of getting distracted by everything else that needs to be done. For this room, we started on the floor and worked our way around and up like so:

Guest room makeover - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

From the door, we worked around the room counterclockwise as this is the way that made the most sense. We started by clearing the floor so we could get into the room. Much of what was immediately in the doorway was bulk storage so it was pretty quick and easy to work through. First step here – as always – is to create space. I would hold an item up for my client to decide if it was to stay or go. Goes went into trash, recycle, or donation piles. Stays went into individual piles in the hallway sorted according to like with like.

We continued this stay or go process as we followed the floor around the bed. Eventually clearing out the floorspace on the far side of the bed as well:

Guest room makeover - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous blog

From here, we went across the bed, chipping away at the clutter, removing everything unnecessary, and sorting the remaining items like with like.

Guest room makeover - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous blog

I chose to do this so we’d have more staging area to sort the items we would be keeping. It proved to be VERY useful as we cleared out the third side of the bed and what was lurking behind the door.

Guest room makeover - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous

For example, there was THIRD chair! we could see two and as we chipped away at the clutter we found a third that I never saw and my client forgot about. We got a fabulous laugh out of that one!

Once all of the floor and the bed was cleared, we cleared off the flat surfaces – desk and dresser tops. Lastly, we hit the closet:

Guest room makeover - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous

The closet had to come last because we couldn’t get to it before anyway!

So after first purge, we had the remaining items sorted into piles of like with like. From there, we had extra little reckonings with each pile, removing any excess as well as more items that my client decided she really didn’t need, use, or love.

Pro tip: when in doubt ask yourself if the item is this worth paying rent for? If not, let it go guilt free!

Last step in an organizing makeover is to create some systems for the room to function well. We didn’t really need to do that here because my client was organized once upon a time until many different factors caused her mojo to go running. So once we excavated through the clutter, we also uncovered  all of the old systems! Instead of investing in organizing tools, my client rewarded herself with some fresh new bedding!

And here’s how it all turned out:

Guest room makeover - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog


Guest room makeover - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous blog


Guest room makeover - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous blog


Hands on time with me: approx 12 hours. (Not including client homework and shopping time)

Guest room makeover - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog


Guest room makeover - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous blog


Have your own clutter piles that need to be demolished? Take the first step by purchasing “Fabulous Foothold to Organization” or contacting me today to get started! 

In the News: June 2015

Where we’ve been seen in June:



Is Professional Home Staging Worth the Cost? – This article is full of tips and benefits to staging your home for a quicker, smoother sale.

Clear Clutter & Organize Fabulously on Coach.Me

Clear Clutter and Organize Fabulously

Not too long ago I announced that I’m now a productivity and organizing coach for Coach.Me. In addition to coaching through the chat feature and phone calls, coaches can also create plans to help out the members with goals they may want. I just created my first plan yesterday – “Clear Clutter and Organize Fabulously.”

It’s a step-by-step action plan based off of my get started guide: “Fabulous Foothold to Organization.” It will walk you through the entire process from goal setting to clutter clearing to setting up a functional organizational plan. Apply this to each disorganized area in your home and you’ll create a fabulously organized home that support your needs.

If you’re on then I’d love for you to try my plan. If not, check out the site in general. It’s a FABULOUS way to track your goals!

Redheaded Rant: Don’t be “That Guy”

Cute but not helpful. Don't be

Cute but not helpful. Don’t be “that guy.”

This morning we bring you a redheaded rant for those of you that are “that guy.”

In Mad Men’s “The Runaways,” Stan Rizzo says to Lou Avery, “If you’re telling me this is your dream then that’s great. I hate those naysaying assholes.”

Sunshine, don’t be a naysaying asshole.

For the sake of the rest of this article, “naysaying asshole” = “that guy.”

Today’s rant is kicked off by some emails I read this morning. An email coaching client of mine has done some seriously KICK ASS decluttering work. (Pics and story to come later.) DOZENS of bags of trash have gone out the door. Piles of things have gone to donations. The massive amount of work she’s done with a little direction and encouragement from me has been nothing short of spectacular.

My client was shoved encouraged into this major clean out by an upcoming visit from her brother. She hasn’t welcomed anyone into her home for quite some time and was really excited about the possibility of being able to do so now. However, after all of the major work my client has done her sister-in-law took a few steps into the home, looked around, and said she’d wait outside. Her brother said it was cleaner than the last time he saw it but he and his wife still left.

Needless to say, my poor client is disappointed. She worked her tail off!

And you know what? This whole scenario PISSES ME OFF. I want to hug her and smack those two upside the head. She’s worked her ass off to prepare for their visit.

So Sunshine, if you feel yourself becoming “that guy” turn the asshole button off and turn the supportive button on instead.

  • If someone is doing anything that shows forward motion in letting go of clutter, be supportive.
  • If someone is even only discussing actions to take that will create forward motion, be supportive. Talking about it is the first step to action.
  • If you don’t like how someone else does it, CAN IT. Be supportive instead. It doesn’t matter how you would do it. It’s not your house. This house is to support them and their needs, not yours. If it works for them, honor that and be supportive.
  • If they need help and aren’t ready for it, don’t shove it on them. I am fabulous for people who are ready. I can not and will not deliver results if they’re not. When we’re ready, the teacher will appear. Until then, guess what? Be supportive!

If you can’t be supportive, don’t put yourself in a situation where you’re going to prove yourself to be “that guy.” Nobody likes “that guy.”

Good friends and family, like a good bra, are properly supportive with just the right amount of verve. Unfortunate friends and family, like bad bras, are massively uncomfortable and nobody wants them around.

Please don’t be the human equivalent of an unruly underwire poking someone in the boob. Just as the underwire hurts physically, the human equivalent hurts emotionally.

Just. Don’t. Do. It.

Cleaning out can be really difficult. People are facing decisions, bad past events, traumas, and potentially much, much more that they’ve been putting off for up to decades. They don’t need your disdain, condescension,  or any other crappy unsupportive b.s. that you want to dish out. You may think you’re being “helpful” but in truth, you’re being a jerkwad and more often than not this negativity sets back their progress.

Not the desired effect you were going for, was it?

If you feel “that guy” rising to the surface, take a moment and a breath. Then be supportive instead.

If you’re the one cleaning up and feel attacked by “that guy,” take a moment and a breath. Then know that they’re jerkwadiness has nothing to do with you. Shake it off and keep moving forward. In the end, it’s your home and your goal and don’t let anyone throw you off track!

Surrounded by too many “that guys” and need some professional guidance, support and motivation? Contact me or buy “Fabulous Foothold to Organization” today. 

3 Organizing Lessons Found in a Theatrical Quick Change

Above is Kelli O’Hara’s quick change during the King & I performance in the 2015 TONY Awards last weekend. It is the perfect example of organization and efficiency.

And it all happens in 47 seconds.

When I posted this video on Facebook one commenter mentioned how calm everyone was. In a quick change you must be calm. Freaking out only makes it worse and – much worse – if you freak out the audience will hear you.

Talk about killing the magic.

Recently I played 4 roles in Fort Worth Opera’s production of Hamlet at Bass Hall. In it, I had my own quick change (although costumers and dressers will say in the world of the quick change, this was a TON of time.) I had under 7 minutes to go from this: Hamlet pre-show - Upperclass Citizens to this:

Hamlet - Dog Queen and Cool Cat

I’m on the left in the blue dress that comes with its own zip code.

Backstage offers us many organizing lessons. (Some of which I’ve discussed here.) What can we learn from a theatrical quick change?

Lesson 1: First and foremost – stay focused and calm.

Freaking out gets you NOWHERE. In a quick change it’s the difference between going out on stage fully costumed or in just your pantaloons, corset and hoop. When facing clutter this is the difference between analysis paralysis and getting it done. If you’re facing the clutter and find yourself freaking out:

  1. Breathe. Our breath is the easiest and quickest tool in the toolbox to actively relax our senses. After all, you couldn’t live without it! And when we are tense, anxious, or in whatever state that the freak-out affects you, the breath is always the first thing to be constricted. Actively breathe as deeply and as slowly as you can.
  2. Make two brain dump lists: one containing everything you need to do and one that lists all of your feelings, fears, and reasons for the freak out. Now take the feelings/fears/freakout list and set it on fire. (Safely of course.) With the remaining list, order it by priority. Then start doing highest priority things first.
  3. Work through the list one at a time to get things done. We often try to do multiple things at once. We’ve been trained to believe that multi-tasking is awesome. But here’s the thing – no matter what, your brain can only focus on one thing at a time. So while you may be doing multiple things at once, your brain is only focusing on one thing at a time whether you like it or not. This is why the list is in priority order. Get the most important things done, then the next, then the next. Re-write and re-order as necessary. Mainly, give yourself a fighting chance and consciously only focus on one thing at a time as you work through this list.

Lesson 2: Set things up how you need them to function.

As you’ll notice in this video, the second dress is set up in such a way that all Ms. O’Hara has to do is step in and pull up the skirt and hoop. Then she has a dresser with top on standby to slide on at just the right moment. In my quick change, my skirt was draped over the chair I sat on as I removed my shoes and a layer of hose. Next to the chair was my next  pair of shoes which I put on and then stepped into the hoop which was in front of the chair. The hoop skirt was fastened and then that skirt was lowered over my head. In an organized home, this means things function how you need them to – not how Martha, or your mother, or your freakishly organized friend, or Pinterest tells you to do it. If something doesn’t work for you, it will make it all the more difficult to maintain. Place things where they work best for you. If it’s unconventional, who cares? It’s your quick change. It’s your house.

Lesson 3: Get – and accept – help if you need it.

Most quick changes are impossible to pull off by yourself. I’ve been in less professional settings where I’ve had to do quick changes alone and let me tell you, it SUCKS! In this video Ms. O’Hara has 4 dressers helping her. In Hamlet I had 2 dressers and a wig guru. We each have our role in the quick change choreography. It works because we all stick to our parts and, as the actor, we allow the help. When we fight them, it doesn’t work.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated and facing that analysis paralysis in trying to deal with your clutter, get help be it from a friend or a professional. In addition, ACCEPT the help. As hard as it can be to ask for help, sometimes we still have a hard time letting go and accepting the help. I’ve worked with quite a few people who have tried to fight me or veer off course. Mind you, I refuse to fight with clients but sometimes they yell at me because I happen to be there in the time of tension and frustration. Once they chill out (Lesson 1) and let me guide the process, they find that it works quicker and easier.

Directions from a pro may often feel counter-intuitive to what you’ve been doing but remember: What you’ve been doing isn’t working. That’s why you’ve brought in a professional. It can be hard to get and accept help, especially if you’ve been going it alone or hiding your circumstances for a long time. But I promise that if you allow yourself to feel supported, it will make your process so much easier and quicker.

So when you’re feeling freaked out and aren’t sure what you’re going to do with your home, remember the three lessons from a theatrical quick change: 1)Stay focused and calm. 2) Set things up exactly how you need them to function at your best. And 3) Ask for and accept help if you need it.

Before you know it, you’ll have the fabulously organized home that supports your needs and life!

Want some personalized attention or are you ready to get some help? Contact me or buy “Fabulous Foothold to Organization: a guide for getting started when you don’t know where to start,” today!

Fort Worth Opera's Hamlet performed at Bass Hall, May 2015. Photo credit: Paul Mosely via Star Telegram

Fort Worth Opera’s Hamlet performed at Bass Hall, May 2015. Photo credit: Paul Mosely via Star Telegram

In the News: May 2015

Where we’ve been seen in May: In the News May 2015 - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous Blog

Coach.Me – Coach.Me is a fantastic goal tracking app and I’m excited to be one of their productivity and organizing coaches!

Getting Help – Professional Organizers Blog Carnival – Your Organizing Business. Sometimes you just need a little help but that’s often difficult to ask for. This blog round-up covers everything from giving to asking for to receiving help. It also includes the post that yours truly wrote on what to look for in a professional organizer.

Melinda Massie – Professional Organizer, Entrepreneur, Writer – 27 Good Things. This was a fun piece for me. I was asked to write 3 good things to read, watch, and use. Some things I recommend might not come as a surprise but others may. Check it out and dive in.

Hoarding: More Than a TV Show – Self Storage Finders. A nice, quick read that gives a little bit of insight into the complex disease of hoarding.

 Want to get your own personalized advice and action plan? Contact me or buy “Fabulous Foothold to Organization” today. 

Now Offering Meal Planning for One Services

Customized Meal Planning for One - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogEvery time I mention work on my new meal planning for one book, I get a LOT of positive feedback ranging from “I want this” to “I NEEEEEEED THIS RIGHT NOOOOOOWWWW!’ However, among all of my other duties as organizer, writer, and business owner – I do all of my own stunts after all – it’s taken MUCH longer than I’d like to get this done and out to you. The it hit me:

Offer meal planning services!

I already do this unofficially for some of my clients so it’s time to make it official!

Organizing with a Side of Fabulous is now offering meal planning services!

Just all part of living a fabulously organized life, Sunshine.

So whether you’d love to cook but think that cooking for one is a pain in the ass. Or want to learn how to cook but don’t want to work with all the logistics of it. Or maybe you travel a lot or are intensely busy, I’ve got you covered.

Let’s face it. Most recipes out there feed a small Prussian army and the majority of meal planning information out there is geared towards larger (sometimes much larger) households. Which means you’re often stuck with little to no variety, massive amounts of leftovers, and wasted food.

Sunshine, it doesn’t have to be that way.

Over the past few years I’ve perfected cooking for one.

And it doesn’t have to suck.

Now I’m known for my food but once upon a time I rarely – if ever – cooked. Over time I taught myself to cook. I played around with dividing recipes and standard meal planning advice but I always ended up in the same place: tons of leftovers that end up with friends or in the trash. Either way, I was wasting money.

This was less than fabulous and as anyone who knows me knows: less than fabulous is just unacceptable. So I discovered a better way and that’s what I’ll share with you in your meal plan.

The majority of my food is simple and whole food based because my philosophy is to get really great ingredients and do my best to not screw them up. I love working with local and seasonal ingredients. Since I have many friends that are vegan, vegetarian, allergies, and more, I’ve played around with those styles of cooking too. I enjoy the culinary creativity that comes with working within that framework. Many of my recipes are free-form and easy to play around with based on how much food you want to cook and what ingredients you have on hand.

To get a feel for my recipes, check out the Food Geek Friday series on my blog. You can find pictures of my food on Instagram.

We’ll start your customized meal plan by asking you a few questions to gauge your preferences. From there I’ll put together your plan. You’ll receive a PDF that includes:

  • Customized meal plan for the week based on your preferences and diet.
  • Organized shopping list.
  • Prep tips – what foods can be made ahead and how long they can live in the fridge before becoming a science experiment. I highly recommend doing the prep work because that will make weekday meals much more convenient.

$29.99 for one week
$99.99 for four weeks

As an event planner and catering manager, I planned menus for parties every day. Let me put those skills to work for you. Want to experience cooking for one in a way that won’t suck? Contact me today to get started.

Food Geek Friday: Time-Saving Prep Tip and Pizza Frittata

I’m preparing to write my next e-guide on meal planning for one so I have been doing quite a few different meal prep experiments recently. Also recently, my schedule has been more packed than usual. Which means two things:

  • More important than ever to prep so that I don’t have to resort to unhealthy take-out.
  • Less time to prep.

Isn’t that how things often try to go? However, I refuse to be thwarted.

Recently I wasn’t able to get to my usual grocery shop and meal prep. If I don’t have any prepped foods I almost always do something else because during the week – especially when I have a lot going on. I need E.A.S.Y. or I just won’t do it.

So as I was doing some meal plotting for the week, the prep tip I’m sharing today hit me.

What are two meals with similar ingredients that I can cook at the same time?

A couple of weeks ago my friend and the owner of Linguine and Dirty Martinis, Callie Salls, posted a picture of a pizza frittata.


I’m on a huge frittata kick right now and looooooooove pizza but almost never make it. And feel gross when I order and eat too much of one.

Because I *always* eat too much pizza. It’s pizza.

So that was it. I was going to make a pizza frittata and spaghetti this week. (Among a few other things that would tie in with the ingredients in my fridge and leftover ingredients from this pair up.)

Pizza Frittata and Spaghetti Starter

Spaghetti Sauce and Pizza Frittata - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogIngredients

  • 1lb hamburger meat
  • mushrooms (I used a bag of sliced creminis from Trader Joe’s)
  • Spices of choice (I used Italian Blend)
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  • Over medium-high heat, brown hamburger meat in large skillet. Season to taste.
  • Chop mushrooms and season. When meat is browned, add mushrooms and continue to cook until done.
  • When mushrooms are done, divide mixture into two skillets.

Skillet 1 – Spaghetti Sauce

Spaghetti Sauce and Pizza Frittata - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogIngredients

  • Jarred marinara of choice
  • Additional spices of choice


  1. This is pretty quick and easy because when it’s just me I’ll cheat on the spaghetti sauce. Add jarred marinara until desired amount of chunky vs saucy consistency. (I like it more chunky.) Add any additional seasonings. For me this is usually some additional Italian Blend seasoning, garlic, dash of cinnamon, splash of red wine, and salt and pepper.
  2. Simmer until heated through.

Skillet 2 – Pizza Frittata

Pizza Frittata - Organizing with a Side of Fabulous BlogIngredients

  • Eggs (enough to cover fillings. I used 6)
  • Pepperoni slices
  • Spices of choice
  • Leftover jarred marinara
  • Grated parmesan


  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Beat eggs within an inch of their life. Add spices of choice. Pour over meat and mushroom mixture. Stir around to make sure everything is evenly distributed.
  3. Lay slices of pepperoni on top of eggs.
  4. Bake in the oven for about 15 minutes or until eggs are set.
  5. Remove from oven and transfer to plate to allow to cool a little.
  6. Slice like a pie. Garnish individual slices with warmed marinara and parmesan. (I would have taken a picture but I ate it too quickly. SO good.)

Now you have some proper meals to eat without having to resort to takeout. The frittata is just as awesome leftover as it is fresh and may be eaten at room temp or even cold. For the spaghetti sauce, you can go traditional and put over spaghetti or mix it up and put it a little in a skillet, create a hole in the center, crack an egg in there and have some breakfast, brunch, or breakfast for dinner. (More info here.)


Pro-tip: I like to mix hamburger meat with chopped mushrooms because it adds in a veg and stretches the meat thus saving a little scratch in your food budget without really noticing. Also, if you have mushroom issues (taste, texture, holycrapthat’sfungus) the mushrooms really aren’t detectable.

Alternative options: Use the same starter mixture and add Mexican spices instead of Italian ones. Can also add in red kidney beans or pinto beans to make it stretch even further. From here you can use the mixture in tacos, lettuce wraps, taco salad, enchiladas or whatever else your imagination can come up with.

Have you done anything like this before? What ingredients can you think of that can be cooked up then split into two or more different dishes?

Examples like this and more will be in my upcoming e-guide on meal planning for one. Title and release date coming soon. 

She Owns It: The First Three Steps to Clearing Your Clutter for Good

The First Three Steps to Clearing Your Clutter for Good - She Owns ItI’m so happy to be back over at She Owns It. This time as a guest poster. Today I share an excerpt from my book, Fabulous Foothold to Organization: A guide for getting started when you don’t know where to start.” Enjoy!

Read “The First Three Steps to Clearing Your Clutter for Good” at She Owns It.

Quick Tip: Look Forward Towards Your Goals

Sunshines, I’m about to mix Mad Men and organizing. Since it was one of my favorite shows of all time and now it’s over I just have to.

Oh who am I kidding…I don’t need to have a reason to weave Mad Men into a good organizing tip.

And yes, now that the show is over I do need abandonment counseling. Thanks for asking.

In the above scene Don says, “My life moves in one direction. Forward.”

What does this have to do with organizing and clutter?

Oh so often I hear people gripe about how they’ve already gotten rid of so much. Why do they have to get rid of even more?

Well, if your home isn’t to the point you want it yet due to excess clutter then you still need to let go of more.

When faced with a large and daunting task of clutter, don’t think about how much you’ve already let go of. That will only sap your motivation and energy making this task much more defeating than necessary. Instead, think forward to the goal you’ve set for your home. Think of what you want to do when you have the extra time and space because you’re not focused on the clutter and cleaning. Then keep letting go of things until you hit your goal.

Side note: if you want to keep a running tally of how much you’ve sent out for tracking purposes then that’s great. Just don’t let it beat you down. Use that number as a motivator to never have that much clutter again. 

How much you’ve let go of in the past doesn’t matter. Only that you let go of everything you don’t need, use, and love, so that you can reach your organizing goals.

Need help getting to your goals? We offer a variety of services to help every need and budget no matter where you live. Contact Melinda or buy “Fabulous Foothold to Organization: A guide for getting started when you don’t know where to start” today! 

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