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Fall Has It All
Foam skulls, glitter-encrusted witches’ brooms and fake headstones fill the shelves of Target, Home Goods and Kohl’s. Can Christmas be far behind? You already know the answer to that.

Instead of loading up on faux pumpkins this Halloween, buy the real thing. You won’t need to store them for the next 11 months because they’re edible. Not many decorations can boast that they can be eaten, but pumpkins take the cake. Or the muffins. Follow these directions from The Old Farmer’s Almanac to transform your seasonal pumpkin into soup, cookies or pie.
Have an organizing question or need a referral to a resource? I’m happy to help. Email me at junebell (at) me (dot) com or catch me on Twitter @JuneDBell.
Making The Call
If it seems like everyone is glued to their phones, you’re right. About 95 percent of American adults own a cell phone, according to statistics from the Pew Research Center. And 77 percent of Americans carry smartphones, up from 35 percent in 2011.
As I know too well, an Internet-connected device prompts me to play Words With Friends whenever I have a spare minute (or even when I don’t). But it also puts a dictionary, language translator, currency converter and city directory in my hand.
These items, which are found in most homes, have been made all but obsolete due to the ubiquity and amazing capabilities of smartphones:
  • Calculator
  • Dictionary and thesaurus
  • Maps and atlases
  • Address book
  • List of birthdays, anniversaries and other life-cycle events
  • Photo albums
  • Timers, stopwatches, wristwatches and alarms
  • Compass
  • Flashlight
  • CDs and albums
  • Encyclopedias
You’re thinking I’m going to urge you to purge these items, right? Not so fast!
Before you grab your “donate” bin, think about convenience and practicality. You’d probably prefer to use a rugged flashlight or headlamp on your next camping trip instead of trying to keep a grip on your cell phone while trying to unzip your tent.
And sometimes looking at an area or state map gives you a perspective that you don’t get from step-by-step directions on Waze or Google Maps.
But some changes make sense. A lifelong longtime devotee of address books, I’ve been slowly transitioning to storing contact information on my phone.
The contacts on my phone sync with my desk computer, so I’m never without them. It’s easier to share contact information too. With a few clicks, I’ve sent my electrician’s name to a friend. Finally, addresses and phone numbers are easy to update. No more crossed-out entries when friends move or change their last names.
If you’re mulling a transition, take small steps. Use your phone’s calculator instead of reaching for your adding machine and see how it feels. Perhaps the switch might be easier than you expect.
The Wall Street Journal asked songwriter and performer Pharrell Williams (“Happy”) … “What’s the oldest thing in your closet?”
He replied: “Nothing special. I usually let things go once a year. You have to purge. Instead, I collect memories and experiences.”
If You Have Only 15 Minutes …
Develop an “outgoing” personality. Whether you’re an introvert who feels happiest at home or a highly social creature who never turns down an invitation, you can always be more “outgoing.” This isn’t about personality but, of course, organizing.
Setting up a system of bags or bins or an area for items that will be leaving your home is one way to ensure that these unwanted things will really move out.
You can use something as simple as a paper grocery bag to hold gifts you don’t want and can’t regift, clothes that no longer fit your kids, shoes that pinch and obsolete electronics. When the bag is full, drop it off at a recycling center or charity.
Another bag can hold items that are meant for friends, such as kids’ hand-me-downs or books for the PTA sale.
We also keep a small plastic bag on a shelf in the garage for dead batteries. When it’s full, I put the bag out with my recycling and trash bins. (If your town does not provide curbside pickup, look for a local drop-off location.)
We have another bag for corks, which are recycled at my local Whole Foods store. I rarely shop at Whole Foods (but I don’t drink much wine, either, so it works out fine).
Conveniently, Whole Foods is located across the street from a collection point for expired and unwanted prescription medication. So I keep a bottle of old capsules and tablets with the corks. The sight of that bottle reminds me to make two drop-offs in one trip. (Note: Always store medication out of the reach of children and pets.)
I hope this fall brings lots of treats and no tricks!

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