Sunday, December 29, 2013

Collector Care Chronicles: Miriam

Last month we went into a home of an 85 year old disabled woman that was a level 4 on the ICD hoarding scale. 

When she called she stated she had no family nearby, and that she was afraid for her safety after she had fallen .  it was hours before she could regain her strength and pull herself up. She was terrified I would call protective services, and I assured her we are NOT state mandated and that I was there to help. She finally gave us her address after 45 minutes on the phone.

The front yard was unkempt, the blinds in the window were twisted together bound by dust and mold. Inside, cobwebs decorated the home like giant sheets of cotton candy and the smell of rotten food was beyond overwhelming. Trash was waist high, and very narrow pathways allowed access into the home. One of the two bedrooms was completely blocked by garbage and debris.

It was the first time ANYONE had been invited in for over 10 years and she was clearly defensive and embarrassed.
Through the pain in her eyes we connected and I knew she was willing to accept the help. 

Our team worked 2 days and from top to bottom the place was spotless and sanitary. All trash was hauled. We were able to salvage quite a bit and organized her remaining possessions where she could reach them. It took myself, Tony, Cedric, three house cleaners and 100 contractor bags to restore the home.

She was honory at times, making sure we threw nothing out of importance. We sifted through her items carefully and meticulously, finding cash and checks mixed in with the garbage. She kept us laughing with her constant stories about her life as a young actress in the 50's. Before her husband had died she was quite the high roller. 

I realized that the majority of her mess was because of her not being able to bend or lift. Years of being plagued with arthritis left her in a major depression. She had no children or family to help her. Besides two friends at the senior center - she knew no one.

By posting an ad online, we found a trustworthy neighbor who could come by to take out her trash and help around the house at an affordable rate. Her home was in such good condition after we were done,  the neighbor never knew of the chaos before. Miriam was proud to have help in her new clean home. We set her up on our monthly maintenance plan in order to ensure her success. This includes phone calls and visits.

I spoke with her last night, and she is having a friend over today to visit. We are very excited for her! 

My point of this blog is that no one should have to live in squalor. There is help for those who suffer from hoarding disorder. 

We did not come in and throw everything out with shovels and bags, instead we created an organic plan to ensure our clients success. 

Collector Cares goal is to restore your home and help you maintain it, so that you never have to suffer again.
We are here for you! 

Discreet, honest and professional, we pride ourselves on creating custom clutter solutions for our clients. 925-548-7750
We offer free estimates!

Sunday, December 15, 2013


Happy Holidays Collectors! This year we are giving away a garden tool rack for the garage (pictured below). Are you a gardener? Do you need a safe and efficient rack to help you organize your gardening tools? Most of us do! No more tripping over those rakes and hoses!
If this sounds like something you NEED leave a comment on this blog before 12/22 and let us know why! On December 23rd one lucky Collector will be chosen to win this awesome gift! Totally Free!!!

This could be yours ... just leave a comment!
Thank you so much to Monkey Bars Central Coast/Bay Area for hosting this giveaway!
The Monkey Bars Garage Storage System is the most affordable and versatile storage system available in the bay area. Our customers receive a custom system versatile enough to change as their storage needs do, all at a price that meets their specific budget.
Smart Storage - We separate your storage into long-term and short-term so that you no longer have to dig through boxes and totes to find the items you need.
Manageable - We eliminate the need to use an attic, basement, or storage until. Having your items stored in an accessible manner makes your life simpler.
Custom Designed For Your Garage - Every Monkey Bars System is designed and built to meet your specific needs. We know that your storage needs are going to be different then your neighbors. We have the garage storage Bay Area families love and recommend.

Need help organizing your garage? Let us help you clear the clutter and meet your organizing needs. Need help going through boxes? We are trained, skilled and extremely efficient.
We donate all unwanted items to Shepard's Gate in Livermore,
a non profit for battered women and children; or to the charity of your choice. 
Licensed. Bonded. Insured.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Collector Care Rant:
TV Set Stages and How They Mislead Us

Hello Collectors! What is your favorite TV show? Take a moment and think, what does the home of the characters on your TV show look like? Large home, green grass, white picket fence? How about inside this (TV set) home? Is everything neat and orderly? Ultra organized?

As someone who frequents others homes a lot, I must say, most homes do not look like this inside. These TV sets have been staged, decorated and designed.
This is the background of one of my favorite shows, Breaking Bad.

If you have pets or kids, you know they come with clutter. How did Alice from the Brady Bunch do it?! She didn't. This was a TV show. All of those kids were not trained to be tidy and she was not a Superwoman.

If you have crafts and hobbies that you like to do - this creates clutter. When you watch your crafting shows  (like Martha Stewart), a crew comes out and cleans up all of her mess before she moves on to the next project. She is amazing, but she has HELP. She is not racing around cleaning during commercials.

If you find you are in need of help, it's OK to call a Professional Organizer, that's what we do. We help you create a space that you want-based on your needs. 

Still looking for that Better Homes and Garden look? We work hand in hand with Interior Designers in the event you want your home staged after we have helped you with the clutter. 

Collectors, it takes an entire team to help you create that TV set look. The first start is to clear the items that no longest serve you out of your home. Donate them to a local shelter as soon as you can. 

Collectors, let's give our selves a break, lower our expectations and begin where we can. A lot of our clients while striving on perfection, allow nothing to get done.  

Collector Care Professional Organizers
Servicing Northern and Central California.
Not ready to let someone in? We offer Skype appointments!
Licensed. Bonded. Insured.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Collector Care 4.5 Tips
Reduce the Junk in Your Trunk

Hello Collectors! We  have had the privilege of riding with you in your cluttered cars, as well as helping you clear out your cluttered trunks. We have organized trunks that have been so cram packed; the stuff inside was shaped as a mold of the trunk.  We have clients that have had to sit on their trunk to get it closed.

We know it's not just clutter in your home, but in your vehicle as well. We totally get it.  Depending on the size of your trunk you can really fit a lot in there! You might need those things one day. Or will you?
Things people need in their trunks include: a spare tire, jumper cables, first aid kit, water. Your trunk should not be used as rolling storage or a rolling trash bin.

Another thought - what about your fuel economy? You are paying to haul your junk around. With all that extra weight in your trunk, you are actually costing yourself money.

Below are 4.5 tips to help you clear the clutter in your car trunk, truck bed, back of van etc: (we have seen it all)
  1. Take a large tarp and set it up next to your vehicle somewhere outside safe. Pull everything out of your trunk and put it on the tarp.
  2. Vacuum your trunk and spray air freshener inside. Wipe down any spills.
  3. Remove all the garbage off of the tarp, and dispose or recycle.
  4. Items that go back into the trunk are carefully put back. Items that go back into the home are immediately put away.
  5. Don't forget to put the tarp
Friend the Marquis on Facebook!

The Grand Marquis above has it's own facebook page! If your feeling friendly go ahead and send a friend request! If enough friend requests are sent we will organize the trunk for free!

We hope these tips help you reduce the clutter in your trunk and save you gas money.
Need help organizing your trunk? Call a Collector Care Professional Organizer today!
925-548-7750 or

Monday, December 2, 2013

Collector Care: 4.5 Tips to Combat PTSD and Clutter

Recently Ive noticed a trend with the combination of clutter and ptsd, a complete overwhelm.

Hello Collectors! PTSD is an overwhelming disorder in itself, when clutter is added you might find yourself in CHAOS. Embarrassment to let people in might plague you; along with the shame of not being perfect. You've always been expected to be neat and tidy, why is it that you can no longer enforce order?
HALT!  It's time to stop right there. Please understand that you are undergoing a dramatic change in life, try and cut yourself a little slack. You are not your clutter. Below are  some tips that can help you begin your journey.
  1. Try and remain in the present. If you find yourself flashing back when viewing certain items, save those items to go through at a stronger time in your life.
  2. Begin somewhere neutral of feelings such as the pantry or linen closet. Pull all of the items out, and clean the space you plan to reclaim. Place only items that serve you back. Remaining items can be tossed or donated. If you find yourself easily distracted - set a timer for 30-60 minutes. 
  3. PTSD leaves you feeling stuck. Lost in time. Motionless. Set a calendar reminder for your decluttering efforts so that you don't forget. 
  4. Make sure to open up plenty of windows and let sunlight and fresh air in. Sounds of nature from outside will help bring you into the present. 
  5. Hire a professional organizer, make sure this person has credentials and is bonded, licensed and
I am not credentialed to treat or diagnose any symptom or disorder. The intent of this blog is only informational and based on my insight as an organizer. Please read the ICD code of ethics to read the standards I adhere by.