Just because you’ve got a teeny balcony or patio space doesn’t mean you have to miss out on gardening this summer. Teeny gardens are the way to go! Bring some food and colour to your balcony, window, or little gardening space.
My parents always planted and managed a big garden, including vegetables, roses, carnations, and several of my favourites…Lily of the Valley, lavender, and mint. When Dad got older, he set up a self-watering system of planters using recycled cloth bags and eavestrough so that he could continue to garden but not spend so much time on his knees. It was very effective, though still required lots of room. The next step was to reduce the garden in size and have everything contained in a teeny space.
I too am adjusting to teeny gardening this year, and there are oodles of ants, ticks, and other creepy crawlies right outside our door. We’ve placed some lavender pots out there, and a boundary of mint since both of them are a deterrent to what’s walking around the yard. Unlike marigolds, however, I can harvest the lavender for sachets and use the mint in several different recipes!
On wandering around the garden centre last weekend, there were some beautiful pots and planters and so I was looking to see what’s available this year for small spaces. I love the little mixed window boxes that have four or six herbs in them. They range in size from about 16 inches to 24 inches wide and they’ll produce a nice crop of greens through the summer, for about $20 or less.
The flower boxes and baskets are looking fabulous, and I see that they are going on sale this weekend so now is a great time to get a show of colour, for a bargain!
I noticed a couple of neighbours have started some vertical gardening with tall structures that you can insert plants directly. You can grow herbs, greens, and strawberries effectively this way. And, if you want to grow in the winter, you can use this idea with some special lighting to grow greens all year long.
You can set up a vertical garden by leaning an old pallet against an outside wall and hanging plants off it, or getting hooks from the garden centre to hang from your railing. Don’t forget to check out your local Dollar Store either – something they have all kinds of hooks, pots, and stuff that can be repurposed.
Air plants are trendy right now. These succulent plants can be popped into a vessel or can rest on top of an old brick and need next to no attention. Spritz them with water as directed, and they will last for ages.
If you’d like to get some help organizing a new home or somewhere you already live, with or without a teeny garden, we help with that! Fill out the contact form and we will be in touch as soon as possible.
There’s a royal wedding this weekend! Are you going to watch it? Will you wake up in the wee hours to catch it live on television, or go watch it at a local hot spot while enjoying ceremonial tea and biscuits? What about those of you who’ve taken a holiday to be part of that kind of energy?
There aren’t as many royal watchers in Canada as there used to be, but it seems that having the wedding on a Saturday morning could just catch the attention of a lot more people than had it been held during the week. This is a sign of how Prince Harry and Meghan will buck the trends, since royal weddings are usually held on a Friday.
Speaking of Ms. Markle have you noticed how nice her skin is? Apparently she is very diligent about following a skin care routine, and when she was filming the show Suits, her stylist said that she took good care of her skin, and visited the salon regularly to help keep her skin in beautiful condition.
As I age, I’m looking for ways to keep my skin healthy, and to stop the onslaught of wrinkles. I know, I earned them…but that doesn’t mean I want all of them!
I did some digging around and discovered that Queen Elizabeth is a big fan of Elizabeth Arden (they’ve held a Royal Warrant for 55 years), and she uses their moisturizer as well as their Bold Red lipstick. I don’t typically wear red lipstick, I’m more of a hide in the background lip gloss person, though I got a sample of Maybelline’s On Fire Red recently and I like it. It’s a red I can wear, and I just might put it on Saturday morning while I enjoy the show.
When Kate Middleton got married, there was lots of chatter about how she did her own makeup for her wedding. She apparently loves natural skincare products, and uses a face cloth to remove her makeup. The cloth is nothing fancy – just a cotton, terry looped cloth you can pick up for $2. That’s the type of cloth I use, too, so I must be on to something, right?
It’s not necessary to fill your entire bathroom with buckets of skincare products, at least not once you find the ones you like. And, if you’re tripping over all kinds of extra pots and jars in the loo, it’s possible some of them are out of date. If there is no expiry date listed on the container, open the lid and give it a smell. If it smells different than it did when you bought it, it’s time to throw it out.
I once helped a friend downsize and organize her makeup. She had 32 bottles of red nail polish (all different shades and finishes, but they were all red) and 20 red lipsticks. There were plenty of other colours too! When we finished the project she stood back and sighed with relief that she was able to sit down at her dressing table and knew exactly where everything was, and that the things she used regularly were within reach. We celebrated this win with big cups of tea, and lunch.
How About You?
What’s the state of your makeup products or that bathroom cabinet? If you need some help getting things organized, you know we do that, right? Contact us and let’s get your home ready to host a royal party!
Today we’re bringing you tips to make the kitchen sparkle as part of our spring cleaning series. Some of these jobs can take a little time so be sure to spread them out if you need to.
Where we talk about soaking, wiping, or washing surfaces, here’s your recipe: a mixture of hot water, a good squirt of dish soap, and a half to one cup of white vinegar. Always use rubber gloves when you are washing with vinegar.
- Check the junk drawer and throw away anything you haven’t used in the last three months. Flyers, menus, elastic bands, twist ties, bread tags can all go as part of your spring cleaning.
- Vacuum crumbs out of the kitchen drawers, stove drawer, and cupboard fronts. Here is a handy gadget that’ll help make vacuuming those spaces simple and really quick! It’s about $20 CDN through Amazon, and might be available for less in other places, but it sure makes cleaning your drawers breeze! (This photo is not an affiliate link, but is just a link so you can check out the product easily.)
- Clear expired food in the fridge. Tip crumbs out of the drawers, and wipe them out. Check the bottles of condiments and throw out anything that is expired. Wipe the shelves, and inside of the door. To clean the rubber seal that goes around the edge of the door, pull on it gently to stretch it almost flat and reveal the crumbs and dust inside; wipe the bits out.
- Pull out the stove and fridge to clean underneath them (hopefully they are on rollers!), and wipe the front and sides of both appliances.
- If you have a self-cleaning oven, follow the directions for turning it on and open the windows.
- If your oven requires a manual cleaning, make sure you have a couple of cans of oven cleaner, a proper fitting face mask, and rubber gloves ready. After you are finished, make sure you have something fun lined up, because this one is the worst job in any kitchen.
- Remove the exhaust fan cover and soak it in soapy water and vinegar in the sink for up to a half hour. After soaking, give it a good rinse, shake it outside to remove the excess water, and set it aside until dry.
- Clean the fan hood and be sure to remove any grease (stubborn grease should come off if you pour a quarter cup of baking soda onto a plate, then dip your damp sponge into it, then scrub with the sponge).
Cupboards and Counters
- For that wretched (and wasted) space above the kitchen cabinets, scrub them down (this is where getting help is handy) with soapy vinegar water, and wipe them well. Once they have dried completely, cover the area with wax paper. Next time you clean, all you have to do is change the paper!
- Clear clutter off the counters. Items that you use every day (like the kettle, coffee pot, or paper towel) can stay on the counters. Things that you use less frequently need to be stored in your cupboards. If you have a big collection of mugs, drinking glasses, or mixing bowls and they are out on the counter, consider donating them to a charity.
- Descale your kettle (and tea pot) with 1 cup of vinegar and two cups of water and letting it soak for about 20 minutes. Scrub the inside gently with a plastic scrubber to remove any residue. Rinse well.
Celebrate your clean kitchen with a coffee and a nice plate of goodies!
If you’d like some help getting things sorted out at home, or you’re ready to downsize, move, or get settled somewhere new, let us know! Contact us here.
This is the third article in our Spring Cleaning Series and we hear you! Who has time for spring cleaning when there is so much else to do? And, if you have uncooperative joints, pain, or are prone to dizziness, there are things you don’t want to tackle. Here are some great tips to freshening up your bedroom, fast.
If some of these things are tough for you to do, invite a friend, family member, or consider hiring a reputable cleaning company. They have people who love to do Spring Cleaning!
Tackle the Bedroom
Your bedroom will feel like an oasis if it is clean, clear of clutter, and you create a comfortable space. If you want to change up the colour or mood, consider changing your bedspread, or adding some new cushions, or a pretty blanket at the end of your bed.
Spring cleaning includes doing the jobs you don’t do regularly, like these ones:
- Use an extendable handle and a reusable duster to clean the tops of door frames, windows, light fixtures, and baseboards.
- Check floor mats for wear and tear and decide if they need replacing. Mats need to have a non-slip backing but if you use a walker or wheelchair, or have a habit of tripping, you could get rid of them entirely.
- That extendable duster can be perfect for getting dust bunnies out of the corners, under the bed, and behind the dresser. Be sure to clean dust off of electrical cords, too.
- Use the upholstery or a dusting brush to vacuum the inside of your window screens and tracks.
- Take a few minutes to declutter the tops of dressers, nightstands, desks, and entertainment areas. Limit yourself to ten minutes per area, and be snappy about it so your Spring Cleaning doesn’t turn into a full organizing project.
- See this post for tips on getting your windows clean.
Enjoy your refreshed bedroom, and have a good sleep!
At Elder Move Inc. we help seniors to downsize, organize, move, and more. If you’re ready for some help, get in touch here.
This is the second article in our Spring Cleaning Series, with a focus on where pets hang out, eat, and play. Instead of trying to get all our spring cleaning done at once, go ahead and break it up over several days.
The toughest thing to clean can be a cat litter tray. The hard plastic bottom takes quite a beating.
Clean the trays as part of your seasonal clean up routine, unless you see them on sale someplace and opt to replace them. That’s my favourite kind of cleaning for this particular item – get a new one!
To keep the outside area tidy, use a “boot tray” or a cute rubber mat outside of the litter box entrance. You can also use a big tray that sticks out all the way around the tray if you don’t use a covered box. The tray will catch lots of the litter that the cat flings about when covering his poop, and it’ll also catch some of the litter that gets caught between their toes.
Your cat(s) will be very happy to have a clean area for doing their business, and so will you!
Cat and Dog Beds
Can there be anymore hair anywhere, than in your pet’s favourite place to sleep?
Lightly dampen some paper towel to help “lift” the bulk of the hair, then vacuum the area with an upholstery brush to help remove the remainder. Depending on the fabric and the type of hair you’re dealing with, you can also use a tape roller or the sticky side of packing or masking tape, to pick up what’s left.
Remove zippered covers and prepare to wash the outside of the beds. If you can wash the insides, that’s a bonus too. If not, throw the bed away if there are signs of wear or pests, and always replace them if they stink. Sometimes it’s hard to pick up unpleasant odours in your own house, so ask a visitor if they can smell animals when they come in the door. If they can, you know you’ve got some deeper cleaning, or replacing, to do.
Be sure to wash water and food dishes daily. Hot soapy water is usually all you need, and use some vinegar to rinse them, then rinse again in clear water. While you are spring cleaning, be sure to wipe the walls behind the dishes (Mr. Clean erasers or Microfiber cloths are great for this), the dish holder, and wipe up the floor. Clean the mats (or replace them with something colourful and fun if they are beyond saving), and the area where you store animal food and treats.
Using Cedar? Try Wool!
If your pet beds have cedar in them (sometimes dog beds are filled with cedar chips), then washing the bed will destroy the power of the cedar to ward off bugs, so these do have to be replaced regularly. If you are tempted to restuff the bed yourself, you’ll need to be very careful with what you select, since certain types of cedar can be toxic to pets.
As a great alternative, check with your local wool shop or a sheep shearer (there are a few in Alberta) and pick up some washed, 100% wool roving to stuff the bed. Wool has properties that make it naturally antibacterial, resist moisture and mildew, and they are washable [though you have to clean them carefully to avoid shrinkage]. Wool can last for years if you keep it free of moths, and you’ll find that cats and dogs both love laying on a wool stuffed bed.
As always, if your pets tend to chew their beds and remove the stuffing, then a padded bed is not recommended, whether you are using cedar, wool, or polyester.
Pat Yourself on the Back!
Now that you’ve got the pet stuff cleaned up for spring, it’s time to take a break and spend some time tossing a ball for Rover, or playing chase the light with Felix. Enjoy!
Ready to get organized?
At Elder Move Inc. we help seniors to downsize, organize, move, and more. If you’re ready for some help, contact us here.
This is the first article in our Spring Cleaning Series and we hear you! Who has time for spring cleaning when there is so much else to do? And, if you have a wonky shoulder, or bad knees, or other uncooperative body parts, there are things you might not be able to tackle.
Below are some handy hacks to make your windows sparkle. Clean windows and their coverings can make you whole home look bright and cheery. You don’t have to tackle them all at once; remember that you need to go at a pace that works for you. Most of these jobs are best done with a friend around for an extra pair of hands and some cheering if you get tired. Friends are also helpful if you get yourself stuck somewhere, and you can always return the favour by helping them to spring clean at their place.
If you don’t want to tackle this job, scroll down to the second last paragraph to see an easy way out of it!
If you have washable curtains or drapes, take them all down and get the washer going (remove any drapery hooks first). Get help with this if climbing up and down on a stepstool is not your thing. Wash your window coverings using the gentle cycle and if they aren’t too wrinkly when they come out, you won’t have to iron them before they go back up.
If your curtains can’t go in the wash, you might get away with a good vacuuming (especially if they were dry cleaned last fall). Use an upholstery brush, and for delicate fabrics, put a nylon sock over the end of the brush to protect the material. If they won’t stand up to the vacuum, give them a good dusting with one of those extendable handles and a replaceable fluffy duster.
The best way I have found to clean horizontal blinds is to remove them from the window, and hose them off out side or wash them in a tub. That is a pretty physical undertaking, so you may want to wash them while hanging up. Vinyl, aluminum, or plastic blinds are usually washable. Prepare a bucket of warm water, with some mild dishwashing liquid, some vinegar. Wear a pair of rubber gloves, grab durable sponge or dishcloth, and get scrubbing. Careful not to move the grime from the blinds to your window frame or the walls, and be prepared to wash the window afterwards.
When you think you are done, close the blinds and then turn the louvers in both directions to check to make sure you got everything off them. Sometimes there is an edge that hides behind the louvers on either side.
Hanging vertical blinds are trickier. You can wipe the hard plastic ones with a vinegar and soap solution (careful not to let it drip on your floors), then dry them with a soft cloth. Fabric verticals can be vacuumed like the curtains above. Finish the job off by wiping with a duster to clean cobwebs and debris out of the hardware.
Roller blinds can be a pain to wash. You’ll want to clean them in sections, and leave them extended to dry…but not so extended that you can’t get the blind to roll back up.
The best time to get your windows sparkly is while the drapes and blinds are down. While you can get them clean with vinegar water and a little soap, there are also products (like Windex) that make it even easier. Be careful not to breath in the fumes from a cleaner.
If your windows are tall, it is worth investing in a squeegee tool to make the cleanup even easier. I saw one at Dollarama this week for $4 with a short handle, or you can get an extendable one at places like Canadian Tire or Walmart for about $12.
Take a Breath!
Once your windows are clean, your home will feel bright and beautiful. That might encourage you to get to the tasks in our next few blog posts, and it might not. That’s okay. By the way, if you’re not up to cleaning the windows yourself, check with your neighbours and see if two or three of you can agree on a time to bring a cleaning crew in to do everyone’s windows. You might be able to get a discount or a referral fee if you do it as a group.
Ready to get organized?
At Elder Move Inc. we help seniors to downsize, organize, move, and more. If you’re ready for some help at getting organized for Spring, contact us here.
It’s that time of year when we speak of organizing taxes, TFSAs, RRSPs, and money. Do you have all your paperwork handy, or know where to go online to find all your information?
The deadline for filing personal taxes in Canada is April 30, 2018 unless you or your spouse are self-employed, and then you have until June 15.
Caution – These Are Still YOUR Taxes
Remember that if you are hiring someone to file your taxes for you (or using a volunteer at a senior’s centre, for example), you still need to keep copies of your forms, slips, receipts, and statements in case you are audited. Also make sure that you have a way to contact the person or company you hire in the event there are questions from the tax department. Sometimes your local H & R Block is just a temporary location during tax season, so take note of their regional year round office location.
The Canadian government has set up a handy website set up that will walk you through what’s needed, and the videos there are short and easy to follow. Speaking of videos, even if you want someone else to complete your tax return you should watch the videos. They can help you to understand the process, and might even help you identify some questions to ask your tax filing professional. (If you are heard of hearing, there is a transcript with each video, too!)
This cute dog can’t help you with tax questions, but having a dog to snuggle can ease the stress of getting organized and doing your taxes. If you need help doing your taxes, ask your local senior’s association if there is a tax preparation clinic coming up.
Come back to this space soon, and check out our Spring Cleaning series. In the meantime, if you’d like help with organizing, sorting, packing, relocating, or settling into a new space we are here to help. Reach out to us via our contact page, here.
There was a happy ending to this story, but that’s not always the case when you can’t find mom. On a cool winter evening, a man we’ll call Fred was out walking the dog, and his elderly mom, Lynn, wanted to go along.
Imagine Fred’s surprise when, 20 minutes later, he stood up after scooping up some dog poop. He turned to say something to his mom, and she wasn’t there! The snow was well packed and there are too many footprints to figure out which way she went, so Fred retraced his steps home as quickly as he could. His mom, in her 80s, had trouble with remembering things and didn’t speak clearly, both results of a recent stroke. Fred was in a panic as he approached home and saw she wasn’t there either. Where could she be?
Although Fred’s mom was dressed for a short winter evening walk with the dog, she was not dressed to be outside for a prolonged period.
Fred called the police, and members of the family to let them know Lynn was on her own, on foot, and possibly disoriented. Somehow, Lynn made her way several blocks off the path they were on, to a bus stop. She stood patiently waiting for a bus along a route she hadn’t been on for years, yet was obviously familiar to her. Meanwhile, word went out from police to all the bus drivers and cabs in the area to keep watch for her. Within two hours of the call to police, a bus driver had welcomed her onto his bus to warm up, contacted dispatch, and Lynn was returned back home.
This wasn’t just lucky. This was also part of being in a city where seniors are valued and respected. It’s a city where people take such an announcement seriously. It’s a blessing.
Let Us Help You!
At Elder Move Inc., we help people to organize, downsize, in preparation for moving or to age safely in place where they are. We also provide packing and unpacking services with the work completed by our team of senior move specialists. If you’d like some more information, get in touch with us here.
How are you doing with getting organized? Are you feeling ready to start, or rejuvenated about getting back at it? Everyone approaches their space at home in their own way. Some people are highly organized and have a place for everything. Other people are very relaxed about their home, and not worried about getting things organized. The rest of us are somewhere in the middle.
This morning as I was planning this article, I got thinking about how I want to organize my current place. Currently, I’m living in a small, cozy home that has to feel like home and work. The second bedroom is set up as a a home office, where I work on multiple projects at once and it has to be very efficient. The third bedroom is devoted to craft projects. It is separate from the office so that fibre particles don’t get into the computer hardware. We’ve got probably two more moves coming up in the future, so when I am getting organized, I always look for solutions that are easy to move with us.
One of the trusty tools that I have carried with me from place to place is a sewing machine. I don’t do a lot of fancy sewing, but I am pretty good at sewing a straight line. I’ve made curtains, valances, Roman style blinds, quilts, and pillows. I have recovered chairs, refinished old furniture, and I’m handy with a can of spray paint. Not everyone enjoys this kind of hands-on work, but I love it, and I have gained enough experience over the years that I can now look at a new space and see big potential, no matter the size or setup. I’m a big fan of pre-fab furniture that gets shipped in a flatpack and is easily assembled, like Ikea uses.
This closet shelving is permanently installed, but I love that the shelves and curtain rods inside it can be moved easily to meet the height and accessibility needs of any resident. This type of closet also comes with repositionable shoe racks, baskets, and more.
Below is a Roman style blind made with some beautiful fabric. This piece was custom made to hang on a door between the master bedroom and solarium. A wider blind was created to cover the main master bedroom window, for a matched set. We didn’t install pulleys on these blinds (something you often seen in this style), but used a series of dowels installed as rests on the back instead. There are no strings required in this system, eliminating a potentially serious tangling and choking hazard.
If you are looking for inspiration to make your space something you’ll enjoy living in, there are loads of options. Pinterest has an inexhaustible supply of ideas and instructions. As well, your local library will have previous issues of magazines and decorating books if you prefer to flip through pages. (I’m finding that most home organizing/decorating magazines are at least $12 now, so I don’t buy them…I seem to be investing my money in fabric these days 😉.)
Ideas and Inspiration
There are literally thousands of websites you can look at for inspiration. Hit up Google, and search for terms such as:
- Colour (or color) of the year
- Home organizing ideas
- Ikea hacks (you’ll find all kinds of projects people have made from Ikea style furnishings, and you can adapt them, too).
- Home decorating on a budget
- Handicap accessible homes
You can find all kinds of handy ideas, including patterns for items including organizers/pockets to hang off the arm of a seat, whether you are getting organized for a wheelchair, walker, or chesterfield (and let’s face it, who doesn’t love to use the word chesterfield!).
If you’d like to do begin getting organized, downsizing, or you’re thinking about a move within the greater Edmonton area, get in touch. We’d be happy to help you out.
Have you ever done this?
You start something new, all excited, and ready to tackle your BIG THING. Then a week later, you quit.
The quitting part is not unusual, whether you want to stop smoking, lose weight, or clear the clutter out of your basement. It happens because it’s so hard to stay on track if you don’t see an immediate result – and we are primed to love immediate gratification, aren’t we?!
If your mind is made up that you need to do the BIG THING, then the next thing to do is set up some rewards! Maybe you respond well to a pat on the back, or a nice meal at your favourite local eatery, or you’d just like 20 minutes of peace and quiet. Whatever it is, you can reward yourself to help keep your motivation high.
When you have something to look forward to, you’ll find it easier to stick with the job at hand, like when you open that closet under the stairs. The right reward will keep you going while you sort through those damp old catalogues that are stored in the garage. And, the right reward will have you coming back for more!
Before you think about what reward you want, check out these tips:
- Avoid food rewards if you tend to overeat. You want a reward you’ll love, and not one that you are going to beat yourself up over later.
- Choose a reward that has meaning to you.
- Choose things that are small so that you can give yourself frequent rewards instead of having to finish an entire project. It’ll be really hard to declutter the basement and garage to earn a big vacation, but you’ll stick with it if you reward yourself for smaller tasks (start with that closet under the stairs, for example), and you receive more frequent, smaller, rewards.
We’ve asked around and checked with our team to create this list of our top 25 reasonably priced (and sometimes no cost at all), fun rewards. Leave a comment on our Facebook page if you have a favourite you don’t see here!
- Go to a concert at a local venue or club.
- Attend a craft or art show.
- Go get a good laugh at a comedy club.
- Attend a live sporting event, and remember that amateur athletes offer as good a game as lots of professionals do!
- Go see a movie in the middle of the day, where lineups are small and the popcorn is plentiful.
- Do a crossword puzzle.
- Start a new jigsaw puzzle, and for every thirty minutes you declutter, give yourself ten minutes at the puzzle.
- Light some scented candles and sit quietly and relax.
- Invite a few friends who aren’t easily offended to play Cards Against Humanity. (Bonus points if they help you declutter, too!)
- Volunteer with a local shelter or charity and see for yourself how helpful your donations can be.
- Go for a pedicure, manicure, or massage.
- Wear a step counter to track your physical activity while you are organizing. Post your results on Facebook, and enjoy the positive comments from people.
- Put clean sheets on your bed, and enjoy the smell when you lie down.
- Take a day off work for no particular reason.
- Visit the perfume counter and try out a new scent, just for fun.
- Begin a “rainy day jar” and add $5 or $10 each time you meet one of your smaller goals. When you are all done your project, you can use the money for a BIG treat.
- Buy a new painting for your bedroom or living room. For more fun, sign up for Paint Nite and create your own painting!
- Purchase a new book and sit and read it. You can schedule short reading sessions between longer sessions of decluttering to keep you going!
- Buy a small plant or some cut flowers that make you smile.
- Buy colourful shoelaces and put them in your runners as soon as you get home.
- Go for a walk around a formal garden.
- Invite your friends out for bowling.
- Grab your binoculars and go for an evening of star gazing.
- Make a small picnic and hop in the car for a drive to nowhere in particular.
- Visit a local dog kennel or shelter for some pet therapy.
There are plenty of ways to reward yourself, and help you stay committed to your project or to develop a new habit. As always, if you’d like some help getting organized and you’re in the Edmonton area, we’d love to hear from you!