Favorite Back to School Ideas


“Live so that when your children think of fairness and integrity they think of you.”
~H. Jackson Brown Jr.

Hard to believe another school year is already underway.  My kids are grown and gone now but since I’m married to a school administrator, the school calendar still matters to me!

Here are a few of my favorite back to school ideas I found most helpful while raising my sons.

  1. Use a single, great calendar system for keeping track of all of your family activities.  Your phone might do the trick or you may still prefer a paper planner.  Either way, choose a system that works for you and learn to use it well!
  2. Clean up and clear out kids rooms including clothing, books, toys and electronics early on in the school year (do this with your kids if possible). We all function better in simple, less cluttered spaces.
  3. Plan simple, healthy meals based on your families schedule.  Learn more about how I do this in my new fall class Entertain with Ease.
  4. Do what you can ahead of time.  Pack lunches the night before, place all necessary items in backpacks and gather sports gear. Mornings will be oh so much nicer!
  5. Give kids responsibility early.  Responsible kids are made, not born!  Remember in a few short years your son or daughter will be someone’s roommate or spouse…will they make a good one??

Want more ideas? Our fall classes will help you get ready for the busy school year ahead and the holidays! Click HERE to learn more about the classes and to sign up!

Would you love some help getting organized now that the kids are back in school?  This week is totally booked but contact Organized at Last for openings next week!

Super Secondhand Shopping

The weather quickly got cooler this week in the beautiful pacific NW! Time to switch my closet from summer to fall. I did pull out a few items but also realized that my fall/winter wardrobe was lacking. So instead of racing to the mall, I visited one of my favorite consignments stores. In about 30 minutes and 0$ later, I had plenty of new items to keep me warm, comfortable and hopefully in style (the young girls who work for me assured me I had done well:)

Here is what I found…1 shirt dress, 1 sweater dress, 2 sweaters and 1 long sleeve tunic top. All but 1 of the items I found were half price and my total receipt came to $29.34 including tax. I had store credit so my total was $0.00! Using other items that I already own like boots, jeans, leggings, jewelry etc. here is a sampling of my new outfits…

2014.10 Julies Outfit1

This is a great casual dress for cool fall days.

2014.10 JuliesOutfit4

This can be dressed up or dressed down with boots or flats. What a find!

2014.10 JuliesOutfit3


2014.10 JuliesOutfit7

I love this top with jeans and my navy boots.

2014.10 JuliesOutfit2

Coral has to be one of my favorite colors. It’s perfect with this scarf!

2014.10 JuliesOutfit5

I love this cozy cowl neck sweater. It’s a great staple to have in any wardrobe!

2014.10 JuliesOutfit6

And the best part? Seeing the total on my receipt!

2014.10 JuliesReceipt

I love consignment shopping so much. There is no guilt in spending no $ (or very little $ if you don’t have any credit to use), there is almost no packaging to deal with, and when I get tired of my purchases I re-consign them :-). Although I can afford to purchase new, I really get so much more joy from shopping used. Most of all, I love knowing that with all the $ I save on second hand purchases my husband and I are able to travel and share experiences that are far more rewarding and valuable than a new designer outfit. The team at Organized at Last is happy to help you find a new wardrobe, or create a beautiful new space using amazing second hand finds!

What do you love most about consignment shopping?

Thanksgiving…planning ahead!

Thanksgiving Collage

Pictures via Pinterest

I had some extra time this morning and decided to use it planning my Thanksgiving menu and shopping list. It didn’t take me long because of some time saving techniques I’ve developed and used year after year.  I keep a file folder in my kitchen labeled ‘Thanksgiving’ where I keep recipes and notes from the previous year. After each Thanksgiving, I write down short notes on the following:

  • How the meal turned out
  • How much was leftover
  • How much food I bought (like 10# of potatoes)
  • What items were hits/misses
  • Guest List
  • Recipes that I want to use again

This is so helpful in planning for the current year. I can just pull out the file folder and plan accordingly.  All I have to do is send an email to my guests to confirm that they are coming and what they can contribute.  I have learned with my family it is best to give detailed instructions on what they should bring so there are no last minute runs to the store!

In early November I will head to the store with my pre-made shopping list and get most of my list before the rush.  Then, Thanksgiving week I only have a few fresh items to purchase.  I like to prep as much as I can ahead of time  so that Thanksgiving day can be spent enjoying company.  I have also become a huge fan of crock pots as a perfect solution for keeping the food hot while 30 family members move through the buffet line!  I know this all seems a little early but a small amount of planning ahead saves time, energy and creates amazing peace of mind.

Fall Organization Tips

Fall Leaves

With the end of summer comes the urge to get prepared for winter. That means realizing that you will be indoors for a season, and that the house will need to be fully functioning. For children who are returning to school (and their parents) it’s a natural time to settle into a schedule. And late summer/early fall lends itself to changing schedules because of the shorter days. Here are a few quick seasonal organization reminders to add to your fall schedule!

School Days:

  • Clean children’s rooms
  • Rearrange & organize rooms
  • Sort, purge & donate children’s clothing and toys
  • Set up fall schedule, sports & lessons
  • Set up morning routines
  • Set up evening routines
  • Establish or remind children of drop zones


  • Arrange/do fall cleaning
  • Begin yard & garden winterization
  • Plant bulbs
  • Store summer sports equipment, repair & replace as needed
  • Winterize car, set date for getting snow tires mounted
  • Clean out freezer
  • Clean oven in preparation for holidays
  • Straighten garage & reorganize
  • Clean & Store lawn furniture
  • Store summer decor & replace with fall decor
  • Bake ahead for the holidays and freeze
  • Plan for holidays
  • Store summer clothing & replace with fall clothing

Happy Organizing!

5 Minute Fall Porch Transformation

Fall is in the air! Decorating for fall doesn’t have to be an arduous activity or take all day.  Don’t overdo it on decorations that clutter your home. A few well chosen pieces inside and outside your home look clean and sophisticated. Here are a few quick and simple ideas to update the front of your home.

Julies Fall Porch

I purchased one mum, two pumpkins, one flowering kale, and five miniature pumpkins. The cost was less than $30.

Julies Fall Door

During the summer I have small flower pots on this hanging shelf. I just simply switch them out with a few small pumpkins.

Julies Fall Flowers

I took out a few spring/summer branches of white cherry blossoms and replaced with some leaves and chinese lanterns. Quick and easy!

Julies Fall Arrangement

Faux flowers are a great alternative to real ones. As long as they are not exposed to the elements, they can be stored and re-used year after year.

Julies Fall Basket

A basket contains a pretty arrangement with the mum, kale and white pumpkin.

Julies Fall Front Porch

If you have a patio, consider storing the summer pots, hanging baskets, and pillows. I took down my beautiful pink petunia hanging basket and exchanged it for this circular hanging piece. This iron artwork hangs outside through fall and winter and adds some much needed decor during those dreary months.

That’s it! Using just a few natural elements can update the front of your home from season to season!