Make the Entry "Pop" With Color

You may have a valuable property, but do buyers want it upon the first look?  All it takes is chipped paint or an empty porch to give an impression that cannot be improved no matter what is inside.

Keep the outdoor “clutter” away just as you would inside.   Touch up areas needing painting and clean furniture.  Make use of plants for added “pop of color” and replace old, worn cushions.

If planting beds are overgrown, replace with mulch and easy to maintain ground cover.  Have gardens at their peak during beautiful summer months.  It does not take much to have your property the most desirable in the area.

This Knoxville – Tennessee River – property is available through Tom Pettitt, Realty Executives, 865-588-3232.


Goodbye Dad

The following has nothing to do with organizing, except to remind all to share funeral wishes before it’s too late.  My dad, Joe McKenry, is now gone and this past week I did his planning for him.  It was an honor.  For those who were not at our Celebration Service I would like to share my words from Friday…

“We are here to celebrate not morn. Speaking tonight seemed like a good idea while waiting for the “red eye” at 1:30 am at LAX last Sunday morning. Besides the obvious reasons this is difficult, I know mother has great anxiety I might say something inappropriate. After all I am my dad’s son and still mom’s baby even at 51.

I am so thankful for that “royal wedding” in September of 1940 as the princess of one of Knoxville’s prominate Baptist ministers married the soon to be King of Chickens of East Tennessee. I loved the story of how soon after they married they lived in New London Connecticut as dad was in the service. Like many newlyweds money was tight and work was hard. The dishes had been piling up and after a long day of work, mother came home to find dad trying to help. The week’s dishes were soaking in the bathtub. After that they decided she would manage the kitchen.

I remember those snow days, when I was a kid we would all ride our horses in the field beside our home. Or dad would pull all my friends on top of the frozen street in a small row boat behind his old Ford tractor. What fun we had at the football games when we would take the boat to Neyland Stadium. Then there were the holidays when we gathered around the table and enjoyed Mother’s delicious meals. He loved every minute and every bit of mom’s cooking.

When I graduated from college I joined the family business. It was the early 80’s and with Jody and Betsy living next door, all of us working together, I really thought we were the Ewing’s of Knoxville. The only difference was the chicken money was nothing like the oil money on Dallas! Like the Ewing’s we all worked, played, and argued together: and loved each other in our own way.

Dad was a people’s person people person. We would go out to eat, and mom and I would always wonder how long it would take to get to the car? If he did not know someone, that would not stop him. Almost every time he would walk up to a stranger and say “Don’t I know you” and soon he did!

I can remember lunches at Regas. Dad would get so upset if someone was a bit shy and not engage in conversation. There was one person I recall – whose name you would know – that just did not speak. It was dad’s missions to go out of his way each day to engage him and eventually not only did this person speak to us he joined us most days for lunch.

Then there were the 2 most influential men in dad’s life. 60 years ago he spent the day with Billy Graham. To hear that story it was just like dad spent a day in heaven. The other man was, of course, Colonel Sanders. As a kid I was so proud to know my dad knew someone on television. The colonel even came to dinner with I was in the 4th grade. Dad always enjoyed sharing those 2 experiences. Even while trying to recover from his strokes this year at Patricia Neal, those 2 men were often the topic of conversation.

I am going to miss him recounting so many funny experiences. The last I would like to share he told 2 years ago when Maxine, Newton, Jennifer and Stuart visited. At a deacon’s retreat a certain pastor was frustrated that some were suggesting the sermons be just a little shorter. Dad explained to his minister friend in his own home spun way, “Now I love cherry pie, but only a piece at a time. If I eat a whole pie I will get sick!”


Well tonight I think we are going to want more than one piece of pie as we remember the greatest dad, most loving husband, and best friend to so many. What a life we are celebrating. Mother, Betsy, Jody – who left us 2 years ago – and I would like to thank you all for being a special part of dad’s life.”

Thank you to Dick Anderson, Judge Cliff Shirley, Sam Venable, Dick Williams, Chaplin Brad Hood, Dr. William Shields, Tennessee National Guard, Mary Elanor Pickle, and Jennifer Asbury for being a part of this weekend.

Imagine having a phone call with your best friend.  Then upon hanging up your wife tells you that the friend you just spoke with has been dead for 25 years.  How confusing and upsetting would that be?

This is how those living with Alzheimer’s feel when corrected.  I have experienced this in my family.  The impulse is your loved one needs to be corrected, but in truth the sense of reasoning is just not there.  They become confused, angry, and embarrassed.  When you experience an older adult with memory loss confused or just wrong in their statements gently find a way to just leave the topic. 

The spring NAPO Organizing Conference in San Diego last week had several workshops to better understand the needs of older adults and those with memory loss.  My colleague and friend Margit Novak had an informative program on this subject.

Novak shared when moving parents, it is helpful to have the new space arranged as similar as possible in their new surroundings.  Other tips include facing older adults when speaking with them and cut out any competition – televisions or other background noises.

The best example I heard to understand how Alzheimer’s affects a patient is to imagine a closed fist is actually a brain.  As Alzheimer’s progresses, the fingers on the fist are not damaged but actually completely disappear.  The short-term memory goes first, but with proper medicines this can be stayed for a long time. 

Understanding the fear and confusion being experienced by dementia and other related memory loss will be helpful in relating to your friends and loved ones.  It will not be easier, but patience and compassion will go a long way in sustaining their quality of life.

Productivity and Organizing Professionals to Meet in San Diego 

The interior design industry has Westweek at the Pacific Design Center and the food industry meets each May in Chicago at the National Restaurant Association Show.  Next week business productivity professionals and organizing experts for people, residences, and chronic organizing challenges are heading to San Diego for the 23rd Annual NAPO Annual Conference and Organizing Exposition April 6 – 9. 

This year’s theme, Reshaping our Future, Riding the Waves of Change will be highlighted by keynote speakers Julie Morgenstern, Colette Carlson, and Lee Silber.  Over 30 workshops will cover such topics as hoarding, senior moves, tools for business, working with media, client expectations, scrapbooking and so much more.

In the Organizing Exposition over 30 companies will showcase the latest in products and services for organizing homes and offices.   The NAPO Organizing Expo is open to the public for the first time on Thursday, April 7th, from 8 am – 11 am.  For only$25, you will experience some of the best tools available to organize your home and office, all at San Diego’s Town and Country Resort.

It’s not too late to attend the 2011 NAPO Organizing Conference if you are a professional organizer.  Visit www.napo.net for online registration.  Day passes are also available if attendance for all three days is not possible.

Tips for a Successful Business Conference:

1.  Have a good supply of business cards, but remember you make more of an impression by asking for other’s cards and then follow-up with a note or email.

2.  Let colleagues know your cell number before you arrive, it will make connecting much easier.

3.  Plan ahead and research area sites of interest to visit during down time.

4.  Keep your eye on name tags, best way to find information on areas of the industry you want to learn more about.

5.  When in a session, take notes and ask for contact info from others in the class.  Take notes on the back of business cards.  By knowing the session you met, and other pertinent information, future follow-up will be easy.

6.  Check friends travel schedules before leaving.  Money could be saved by sharing rides from airports and train stations.

Successful and dedicated entrepreneurs take advantage of business associations and the benefits they provide.  The National Association of Professional Organizers motivates members to achieve goals, provides training for the latest client solutions, and creates opportunities to network with peers from around the world.  

Some businesses only look for referrals, but when industries gather it shows businesses are concerned with professional development – seeking to be the best they can be for their clients.  Whatever your industry, get involved and ride the waves of change to reshape your future. 

Get It Together LA! will be in San Diego from April 4th – 10th for the NAPO Organizing Conference.  Phone and email messages will be returned within 24 hours during the NAPO Conference.

Photos by Dan Slutsky for the 2010 NAPO Conference

Does your apartment or condominium fall short on storage?  Be creative and find spaces not being used.  When the wall is showing in a closet, that is a space to claim.  Make room for your Armani by double hanging rods and adding shelves to empty walls.

Turn empty walls...

Into room for shoes, shirts, suits and ties.


If clothes are important to you, they deserve respect.  Make room for ties and they will brighten up your closet.

Never double stack ties on racks, they get lost. Pull out systems are so convenient.

A shallow linen closet could be converted to just the right depth for showcasing your haberdashery.

if the depth is not enough for linens...

Add shelves for your shoes

Keep things in your home where they are used.  If you press your wardrobe daily, find a home for the iron or steamer in the master closet.

And the ironing board can rest behind the closet door.

Hooks are easy additions for belts and bath robes.  By making good decisions and thinking “outside the box” or “container”, you might be surprised how much room you are missing!

In a recent interview at the Los Angeles Organizing Awards, I was asked by Carlos Amezuca if being emotionally attached to our possessions makes it difficult to get organized?  Often we feel that by giving up an unwanted gift, or keepsakes no longer used, the memories of treasured times will disappear.

When we have more than we can manage the things that really matter get lost.  Professional Organizers gently encourage clients to release what is holding the future at bay. 

It can be difficult to let go when memories are attached to clutter.  But letting go of unwanted things, does not cause the people whose memories are associated will leave our lives.  In fact too much “stuff” in our home and life can cause the people and things we really love to be lost.

Is clutter holding you back from starting your organizing journey?  Traveling does not require speed.  Set your own pace.  Begin reviewing your clutter a little at a time, one space at a time.  By recognizing your emotional attachment it will be easier to appreciate the joy of letting go and moving forward to an organized life.

The 2011 Los Angeles Organizing Awards were held January 29 at the Universal Sheraton.  This one of a kind event recognized the people, products, and services around the country that help us live better at home and work more efficiently.  The Los Angeles chapter of the National association of Professional Organizers is the host of the annual gala.  Get It Together LA! was a finalist in the Best Closet Design Firm category.

Haiti, New Orleans, now Japan…all places we think of when we consider the power of nature.  Seeing the devastation from last week’s earthquake and tsunami, while the loss is tradgic, the strength and preparedness of the people of Japan is amazing. 

Tragedies can occur anywhere and anytime.  What if your home, neighborhood or city was destroyed?  How difficult a time would you and your family have?

If relying on medication is a part of your daily routine, carry a list of your prescriptions in your wallet or handbag.  Include prescription numbers and the prescribing physician. 

Keep a “stash” of cash available.  If power goes out it could be days or weeks before ATM’s or banks are up and running.  

It is easy to think food is plentiful as your pantry stays stocked.  Seeing entire neighborhoods decimated this week, it makes sense to have an emergency “grab & go kit”.  Replenish every six months with water, dried foods, flash lights, blankets, plastic bags, and change of clothes.   Also include a few days of medicines.

For more emergency ideas and preparedness information check out:

Preparation Nation
American Red Cross

It seems with every catastrophe we realize new lessons for preparing for the worst should the same happen here.  Our thoughts and prayers are with the people of Japan.