END OF SUMMER TO DO LIST

  1. If you haven’t done so already, get your air conditioning unit serviced.
  2. Run a test of your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and replace the batteries if needed.
  3. Dust all ceiling fan blades and check that the fans are working properly.  Reverse the direction of the fans when the weather gets cold so they are clockwise.
  4. Get your chimney cleaned before the cold weather arrives.
  5. Check your attic and basement for signs of dampness, mildew, leaks, holes, and pests.  While you are at it, pull out items that can be tossed, donated or recycled.
  6. Apply a little fertilization at the end of summer or the start of fall to help with the next growing season. 
  7. Clean the dryer vent and exhaust ducts removing all dust and lint. Call in a professional to clean and service your washer and dryer if needed. 
  8. Change the filter in the air conditioner if you haven’t done so recently.
  9. Thoroughly clean your porch and patio before cold temps arrive.  Use sand (polymeric) to fill gaps and apply a sealant if you don’t want your pavers to fade or stain.
  10. Check your deck to see if there are any boards that look like they’re rotting. Hammer any nails that are loose and have rotted boards replaced.  Consider resealing your deck if water sinks into the boards. 
  11. Have your windows washed inside and out.   Wash or change your window screens at the same time. 
  12. Check outdoor faucets and basement for leaks. 
  13. Protect your home against unwanted guests by covering up any holes that are more than a quarter-inch wide and trimming your tree branches. 
  14. Remove dead bushes/plants and cut back trees and plants as needed.  Clean up any piles of yard debris that have accumulated over the summer so you aren’t providing a haven for animals.
  15. If needed, have your fence repainted, resealed, or repaired as needed.
  16. Inspect the caulking around the windows and doors of your home to keep bugs at bay and keep inside air from escaping the home.
  17. Repair cracks/holes in your driveway and walkways.  Consider having your driveway and sidewalks pressure washed if it wasn’t done in the summer.
  18. Check the outside of your house for rotted, dirty, or loose siding. Touch up the paint on the outside of your home if needed.
  19. Clean out the gutter and downspouts annually especially if you have a lot of trees around your home.  You may decide to do this after leaves fall so that they are emptied before winter arrives.
  20. Consider getting your roof inspected before fall/winter to ensure any problem areas are addressed.

Source:  insurancehub.com/summer-home-maintenance

Emergency Supply Kit Essentials

With many experiencing hurricanes, tornados, floods, fires, etc. it seems more important than ever to assemble some type of emergency supply kit for you and your family. Consider using easy-to-carry airtight plastic lidded storage tubs or 1-2 plastic duffel bags.

  • Water (one gallon per person per day for several days, for drinking and sanitation)
  • Food (at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food)
  • Battery-powered or hand crank radio and a NOAA Weather Radio with tone alert
  • Flashlight
  • First aid kit
  • Extra batteries
  • Whistle (to signal for help)
  • Dust mask (to help filter contaminated air)
  • Plastic sheeting and duct tape (to shelter in place)
  • Moist towelettes, garbage bags and plastic ties (for personal sanitation)
  • Wrench or pliers (to turn off utilities)
  • Manual can opener (for food)
  • Local maps
  • Cell phone with chargers and a backup battery

Other Possible Items to Add to Your Emergency Supply Kit

  • Masks for everyone ages 2 and above), soap, hand sanitizer, disinfecting wipes to disinfect surfaces
  • Prescription medicines
  • Non-prescription medications such as pain relievers, anti-diarrhea medication, antacids or laxatives
  • Prescription eyeglasses and contact lens solution
  • Infant formula, bottles, diapers, wipes and diaper rash cream]
  • Pet food and extra water for your pet(s)
  • Important family documents such as copies of insurance policies, identification and bank account records saved electronically or in a waterproof, portable container
  • Sleeping bag or warm blanket for each person
  • Complete change of clothing appropriate for your climate and sturdy shoes
  • Fire extinguisher
  • Matches in a waterproof container
  • Feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
  • Mess kits, paper cups, plates, paper towels and plastic utensils
  • Paper and pens/pencils
  • Books, cards, games, etc. for entertainment

Source: www.ready.gov/kit

Are You Prepared for a Natural Disaster?

A tornado hit my hometown of Naperville and surrounding communities this past weekend and it made me realize that I was not as prepared as I thought I had been for this type of situation. I received an alert on my phone at 11:07 pm Sunday night that there was a tornado warning and I needed to go to a safe place in my home, However, by the time I gathered candles, lighters, drinks, snacks, my purse, coat, and the dog and made it to the basement it was already 11:15!

The problem was that there was only 3″ between the alert and the tornado hitting my town and others over a 15 mile stretch causing countless damage to homes and some injuries (regretfully the passing of one). SO, if this tornado had hit my home I would still have been in an unsafe area gathering my things! The important lessons I learned is 1). have your essential supplies emergency preparedness already located in the safest spot of your home and 2) GO IMMEDIATELY to this safe spot when you see/receive a severe weather warning of any kind!

Go to Build A Kit | Ready.gov for a list of supplies you can put in an emergency preparedness kit!

Recent interview with Christine Thompson, Baird & Warner, about my professional organizing business and new Home Presale Consultation Service.

New Home Presale Consultation Service

Consultant from Clutterless Professional Organizing will inspect inside and outside of your home and recommend decluttering and cosmetic changes to make your home more desirable to potential buyers and identify items that might detract from your home’s sale.

Services Included:

  • Conduct in person walk-through of every room in the house (including basement and  utility room). Inspect home exterior and garage.
  • Prepare report detailing for client recommended tasks to perform to get home ready for sales listing.  Tasks can be assigned different priority levels, party/parties responsible for completion can be named, and estimated or expected due dates can be noted.
  • Provide staging recommendations for client to expedite home sale.
  • Provide a list of local donation options for client’s future reference if needed.

Fee Structure:

One
Story Home Consultation:         $300

Two
Story Home Consultation:         $400

Note:

This is not a formal home inspection to identify material defects in mechanicals, home workmanship, etc. as consultant is not a license home inspector. See description above regarding services offered. Consultant will wear a mask during home visits and requests that clients do the same to ensure the safety of all during COVID-19.   

Stay in the AC & Clear Out Some Clutter!

Yes, it’s very hot out for many of us living in the Chicagoland area. So, I for one have decided to stay in my fairly cool house (yes, I’m blessed to have AC) and clear out some clutter that has accumulated over the past few months (since my massive decluttering effort during the initial weeks of the pandemic). Here’s a few tips for anyone else thinking of doing the same during these days of 90 degree temps!

  1. Start by picking a drawer, closet, shelf, room or any other area of your home that seems to have accumulated “extra” stuff lately.
  2. Decide right away what can be tossed (if it can’t be recycled).
  3. Put away the stuff you want to keep (things you use regularly, serve a purpose, can’t live without, etc.). Make sure you put items where they belong (where logically you will know where to look for them when needed).
  4. Give away stuff you don’t want/need anymore (donate or pass along to receptive family members/friends).
  5. Consider selling anything of value (I’ve been lucky to sell over $200 of my stuff this past summer). There are ways to do this germ free!
  6. Make a goal for each day/week of an area that you are going to work on so you make progress throughout your home.

Wondering Where to Drop Off Your Donations???

Have you been decluttering various rooms in your home during the pandemic? Here’s a short list of places in DuPage County that are/aren’t accepting donations as of July 7, 2020

Good Will Industries – 539 Ft. Hill, Naperville (630) 357-6258

Open & accepting everything but must be dropped off in bags and boxes (may be lines at drop off). NOTE: Experienced an HOUR wait to drop off donations on 7/21/20!

Amvets

4845 W. 128th Place, Alsip, IL  (708) 388-7800

Will come and pick up clothing (no furniture) at your home.  Currently a 2 week lead time but may be worth it based on Good Will’s current wait times.

Restore Fox Valley Habitat for Humanity – 4100 Fox Valley Center Dr, Aurora (630) 585-5508

Open and accepting donations Tues, Thurs, & Sat. from 10a – 5p More info. at https://dupagerestore.com/

Sharing Connections – 5111 Chase, Downers Grove (630) 971-0565

Open & accepting household goods & furniture Mon. thru Fri. 10a -2p https://www.sharingconnections.org/

Family Shelter Services Resale Shop – 1512 N. Naper Blvd, Naperville (630) 955-9599

Reopening mid-July and will be accepting donations by appointment only

Serendipity – Check location. Moving to Rt. 59 in Naperville (630) 357-3610

Open & accepting home goods and clothing (no linens). Call to check hours.

Once Upon a Child (Consignment) – 552 Rt. 59, Naperville, IL (630) 416-9344

Open & buying gently used kids’ items (refer to https://onceuponachild.com/what-we-buy)

Wear & Share (Kids Consignment) –139 N. Hale, Wheaton (630) 456-4140

Open & accepting donations by appointment only

Salvation Army – Many locations have suspended pickups so call and confirm first as some stores are also closed.

Photo Organizing 101

While sheltering in place the last few months, I’ve been trying to tackle jobs that are easily put off for a rainy day.  Like others, I’ve been looking through old photos on my laptop in hopes to organize them better!  I’ve read a few articles relating to the topic of photo organizing and have decided to share them with my readers. 

  • Experts indicate you should have your photos in at least 3 formats in case of an emergency (I still remember after our house fire in 2004 when the first thing I ran into the house to retrieve was the photo albums of my kids!   A few examples of these formats could include hard copies, phone, laptop, external hard drive and the cloud (or similar service).
  • Keep in mind that printed photos are best stored in acid free photo safe storage boxes.   I ordered some from Amazon ($27 for two that are approx 15” by 13” by 4” deep).
  • As you are going through your photos, try to delete photos that aren’t very clear, subjects are cut off, or photos that really don’t generate any special feelings for you.  If you are like me, I have often saved several shots of the same/similar scene whereas what I should have done when cleaning out my photos, was deleted the worst and saved the best 1 or 2.
  • Come up with a labeling system for your photos.  I tend to organize mine by year and then indicate the occasion and then the names of the people in them.   You can also tag the people in the pictures but I find it easier to just include the subjects in the name of the photo for easy retrieval.  An example would be 2020-06-10bellabirthday.  I keep all my pictures together based on the year I took them but sometimes create subcategories within them but this is an individual decision. 
  • Consider using a photo organizing software to help you delete duplicates.  Some of these may even sort your photos by date order and allow you to search by keywords.  I recently downloaded Duplicate Cleaner Pro and was able to delete over 1,000 duplicates on my laptop in two days! 
  • If you have boxes of physical photos to organize before scanning then it is recommended that you find a large table or work station you can use for a few weeks.  I had to do this after our house fire as all the photos that were salvaged were defumigated and given back to me in bags!!  In the old days many of the photos had a date stamp on them so I began first by sorting all the photos by year.  Then I would tackle a year at a time and break down by special event (e.g., holidays, vacations, weddings, graduations).  Once you have done this, it may be easier to toss out photos that are duplicates (same/similar) or just plain “bad” photos.
  • When my kids were young, I was devoted to putting all their photos in albums each year.  Maybe this was to make up for the lack of photos when I was young (my late father told me they sold the camera when I was young to buy a new rug!!).  Now I realize the mistake in this as there is no way my kids are going to want to cart around 10 large sized photos albums (each) with them for the rest of their lives.  So, in time I will be going through these albums one by one, scanning the best pics, tossing the worst, and then storing them in acid proof photo safe boxes (less to move during their adult years).
  • Speaking of scanning there are a lot of great scanners out there but they can run from $250 – $500.  I’m currently just using my copier/scanner which works just fine although it may be a bit slower than many would like.  I usually just scan several at a time when I am in my office doing paperwork, filing, etc. 
  • As you are going through your printed and digital photos, you may want to mark some as “favorites” in order to create printed photos books or some of other type of photo memory gift for loved ones (collages, blankets, canvas prints, etc.).
  • Last but not least, make sure you keep on top of the organization of your photos especially once you get further along in the process.  Make sure however, before tackling your digital photos that you create a back up on an external hard drive.  As many know who have lost photos before (from last cell phone or broken laptop), you can never get many of those precious photos back! 

Peace of Mind for When We Leave This Earth

Benjamin Franklin penned the famous quote: “…In this world, nothing can be said to be certain except death and taxes.” Many of us would rather not contemplate our inevitable physical passing, however it is smart to get our affairs in order in case of serious illness or worst yet, death! Most of us do not want to leave our dependents or heirs in a quandary regarding our financial affairs and personal matters, which is why we need to get ourselves organized for unexpected events like this. There are many books and planners on the market that help prepare people for later life events. One book I recommend is “I’m Dead, Now What?: Important Information About My Belongings, Business Affairs, and Wishes (Peter Pauper Press) .

This planner offers you a way to gather together vital personal and financial information for your family member. It may even be a perfect gift for elderly family members!! This planner has helpful sections including:

  • Personal Information
  • Medical/health information
  • Key Contacts
  • Financial Information
  • Business Information
  • Important Documents (location in home/bank)
  • Insurance Information
  • Assets
  • Final Wishes