Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Clever Organizing Tips from Better Homes and Gardens

Better Homes and Garden's January 2009 organizing issue has several clever organizing tips I thought I'd pass on to you:

- Carry a digital recorder with you and record reminders to yourself. When you get back to your office or home, record your reminders on your calendar or to do list.

- Attach a bathroom toothbrush and tumbler holder to the side of your desk. Store pens, scissors, etc. in the tumbler and hang s-hooks from the toothbrush slots for keys, etc.

- Attach a robe hook (like the ones on the back of your bathroom door) on the side of your desk to hang your purse.

- Hang your purses and bags from shower curtain rings on a closet rod.

- Velcro a gardening belt (with pockets) onto your child's desk or art table to hold art supplies.

What clever organizing tips do you have for us?

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Announcing My New Coaching Package - Rethinking Life

Just wanted to let you know about a new coaching package I've added to my organizing products and services. It's called Rethinking Life.

Rethinking Life is for those who need to rethink priorities, passions, gifts and the legacy they want to leave to their children and/or future generations. We will use one of the time management books of your choice from my 1-2-3...Get Organized series, and we will come up with a schedule that reflects those things that are significant to you.

The package includes two 30-minute coaching sessions with me via telephone and one of my time management books in a downloadable form so you can re-use critical pages in the future. You will have homework to do before our sessions. The final result will be an intentional life in which you are leaving a meaningful legacy!

Monday, December 29, 2008

Tools to Help Make the College Search/Prep Easier

I'd like to pass on a couple of helpful websites to help make that trek through the college search/prep a litle easier for your high school student.

Next Step Magazine provides a Step by Step College Planning Guide with 22 steps for planning for college. I would suggest looking over all the steps, as Step 14 talks about getting involved in high school extra curricular activities, which would be helpful as your child enters high school.

College Bound helps your student find colleges that fit his/her interests and criteria. It also offers a plethora of other helpful information for the college bound student.

What information have you found to be helpful as you or your high school student has travelled this complicated road?

If you or your high school or college student needs help thinking through priorities and time while in college, see Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student, part of the 1-2-3...Get Organized series.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Another Review of my Books

Just wanted you to know that Sandy Jenney has been kind enough to review my books. Remember, she sells The Pouchee organizing bag. Take a look around her blog!

Friday, December 26, 2008

My Husband's Quick and Easy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken

Hope you had a nice Christmas. Ours was very quiet. My husband decided to cook dinner for us, as I have another bug (hmph!). He came up with this recipe on his own, and it was delicious! Isn't he amazing?

He sauteed boneless chicken breasts, garlic and sun-dried tomatoes in a little olive oil. When it was almost done, he threw in some baby spinach. It was fabulous! The tomatoes added enough salt so he didn't have to add any.

Do you have some quick and easy recipes you'd like to share?

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Merry Christmas!

I was going to wait until January to send this out, as our daughter Sara is coming home from Kazakhstan and I wanted to include a family picture. But I'll go sans picture today and you may see this again in January. :)

I've been thinking this year about how blessed I am and that I find myself content with my life right now. Not to say I have felt that way all year, as I have grappled with some questions I have had for God. Throughout the process, though, I have been deleriously happy that my children and husband seek to follow God and use the gifts He has given them. Everything else, in my opinion, pales by comparison. If we are doing what we are created to do, what can be better than that?

Sara continues to love adventure, kids, toys, serving others, teaching, and playing - a perfect fit in her work with orphans in Kazakhstan. The staff at the various orphanages have grown to trust and respect her, and the kids call out "Sara Mama" and run to her when they see her. She'll be home for four months starting in January. Visit her blog to follow her adventures and see her travel schedule.

Comfort's graphic design business is exploding through word-of-mouth referrals from her adoring clients. You can see some of her logos, websites, business cards and other creations on her website. She is also mentoring high school and college girls, and even some clients, using her incredible ability to encourage, exhort, and motivate. She co-leads a church college group with Steve.

Our son-in-law Steve is on the last leg of his pursuit of a doctorate in astrophysics. He has an amazing ability to take complex concepts and make them understandable, whether it's physics or biblical concepts. He's amazingly normal for being so brilliant, and doesn't make the rest of us feel dumb at all! He loves being physically active and plays the drums.

Bob is fabulous as a house parent for our teenage girls here at Shelter Care. He is endlessly patient as he helps with homework, teaches new skills, chauffers, encourages, and listens. His heart is reflected in his mentoring website and in the role of elder at our church. He is putting the finishing touches on his book about the future of Israel.

I love creating an atmosphere where our foster children can be successful, as I tried to do with our own girls. It's very fulfilling to help create peace out of chaos, whether it's with our girls or with clients or through my books or blog. My entrepreneurial spirit is alive and well and generating more ideas than I could ever accomplish.

My parents are doing well. We met for a delightful Champeau family vacation in Branson, Missouri this summer. Bob's parents are about the same and enjoy the wonderful care they get at Chapel Pointe.

So these are my musings for this year. None of us are rich or famous (yet - ha ha!). More importantly, we are doing what we were created to do. I feel very richly blessed and grateful for the wonderful gifts lavished upon us, especially the Gift we celebrate this season.

Wonderful blessings to you,


Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Inventorying Your Christmas Supplies

When you wrap up your Christmas wrapping, take a moment to inventory what you have left:

wrapping paper
gift bags and boxes
gift tags
Christmas paper plates, napkins and cups
Christmas cards and stationery
Christmas craft supplies
Christmas gifts for teachers, etc.

You may even want to put your list on your computer or in a Christmas organizing notebook, so you know where it is. Then you can refer to it without having to get out all your Christmas stuff to remember what you have.

And if you do after-Christmas shopping, your inventory list will help you know what you need to replenish. It's a great time to stock up on Christmas, birthday, and miscellaneous gifts for next year! When my kids were growing up, it was wonderful to look through the "goodie box" for a gift rather than have to make a special trip. And it was nice to have a stash when I needed a gift for something.

What's on your inventory list?

Monday, December 22, 2008

Storing Christmas Lights

I shared this hint last year, but it's worth repeating. Real Simple Magazine suggests storing your Christmas lights on a garden hose holder - the kind you crank. No knots or tangles! Cover it with a trash bag and you're ready for next year.

Friday, December 19, 2008

More on Anti-Spyware from My Favorite Technical Guru

So what am I doing up at 5 am this morning when we don't get girls until after school today? Maybe it's because I can hear the freezing rain outside and I'm wondering if there's going to be school. If there's no school, then we can get the girls any time after 8 am, when we are officially responsible for them.

And maybe it's because I'm wondering how much freezing rain we'll get, if we'll lose power, yada yada yada. Oh, to have the underground utility wires we had in Maryland! But, I'm prepared whatever comes, thanks to my handy dandy Preparedness Kit - my land line phone, my emergency radio, flashlights, water! Bring it on!

So, with the possibility of losing contact with the world, I'll write my blog since I'm awake anyway. I'm happy to report that my computer didn't freeze once yesterday, so I'm hoping it is healed. And it seems to have stopped its new whirring noises coming from the hard drive (argh - it's only two years old!).

But I digress.

My technical guru nephew Jeff wrote me yesterday to clarify some information about anti-spyware. So I'll copy his email and let him be our guest blogger today. He has owned his own computer company and is now an IT guru for Sonic.

"It’s probably worth noting that “real” anti-spyware programs typically won’t fight with each other. (Anti-virus programs will, however.) The Dell tech may have misled you slightly – if you’d only had real anti-spyware programs, they likely wouldn’t have been fighting with each other. I run two anti-spyware programs on my home computer all the time. Here’s an incomplete list of real anti-spyware programs:

AVG (also anti-virus) (This one’s free and it’s what I use on my home computer)
Spybot Search & Destroy
Windows Defender (free download from Microsoft, built into Windows Vista – I use this one too)

McAfee, Norton, TrendMicro, eSet, and most other anti-virus software vendors also have their own anti-spyware products.

What you likely clicked on is “Anti-spyware 2009” or something similar. It’s a fake (but very real-loooking) spyware removal program that claims to clean your computer but in fact does just the opposite. I’ve cleaned it off three computers thus far – two friends and one at my church.

Unfortunately, there’s no golden rule to tell you what’s safe to click on and what’s not. :("

Thanks, Jeff!

Jeff and I played around with some new beta software from Microsoft yesterday, and Jeff will guest blog about that in the future.

Hopefully I'll be able to go back to sleep now. Don't hear the freezing rain, so maybe it's a false alarm. Mmmmm...warm cozy bed!

Related posts: Eliminating Irritations and Time-Wasters, National Preparedness Month - Making a Plan, National Preparedness Month - Determining Potential Emergencies, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #1: NOAA Radio, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #2: Landline Phone, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #3 - Water, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #4 - First Aid Kit, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #5 - Additional Supplies, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #6 - Food, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #7 - Medications and Medical Supplies, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #8 - Emergency Documents, National Preparedness Month - Evacuation Plan, National Preparedness Month – Evacuation from Work, School, Daycare, and Neighborhood Communities, National Preparedness Month - Wrapping It Up: Surge Protectors, Utilities, and More

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Eliminating Irritations and Time-Wasters

Yesterday I finally decide to spend some quality time with tech support again, as my computer issues have not healed themselves. As you may recall, the last time I spent time with tech support, they showed me how to clean up my computer. And it has been running more quickly.

However, it didn't solve the problem of my computer freezing up two or three times a day, which is a huge irritation and time waster. Each time it freezes, I have to manually turn off my computer and restart it. Tech support suggested we add more memory, which we did. But that didn't solve the problem. They said that if that didn't cure my computer, I may have to take it back to the original manufacturer's date, eliminating all my data.

No problem. I have Carbonite, which I have blogged about before. So I checked to make sure my files have all been backed up, and they are only 95% backed up. So I wrote a tech support ticket for Carbonite. When I follow their instructions, it doesn't solve that problem. Wrote another ticket to Carbonite and haven't gotten an answer.

In the meantime, my Palm Centro started freezing up when trying to hot sync it. Called Palm and they had me do a hard reset two or three times, which doesn't fix the problem. They also had me uninstall Palm, which erased all my data on my desktop.

So now my phone is the only device that has all my contacts and calendar information. I'm scared to death I'm going to lose it all. During the process the lady at Palm started yelling at me because I can't understand what she's telling me to do.

She gave me some instructions and told me to call tech support back when I'm finished. Her instructions don't fix the problem. Is my phone problem related to my computer problem, I wonder? Who knows?

To test it out, I installed Palm on my laptop and it does the same thing. So did my desktop corrupt my phone and transfer the corruption to the laptop? Or is it a problem with the phone? Who knows?

Can you see why I'm reluctant to call tech support?

So, that brings me up to yesterday, when I muster up my courage and call Dell tech support. He took one look at my computer and said he thought he knew the problem: too many anti-spyware programs. I don't know how they got there, but he said that they have pop-ups that threaten disaster if you don't allow their software to run. I probably clicked yes and ended up with anti-spyware programs that were fighting with each other.

He keeps what is necessary and takes off the rest. My computer immediately starts running faster. And whatever he did fixed my Carbonite problem. So the anti-spyware must have been fighting with Carbonite, too. So now my data is 100% backed up. It remains to be seen whether the freezing problem is solved. We'll find out today. But at least I can restore my computer if we have to start all over.

Tried my Palm hot sync, hoping it fixed that problem. No such luck. So after we drop off our foster daughter back at her regular foster home last night, we stop by the Verizon store to see what they could do. They couldn't get it to work, either. They call headquarters telling them it must be a hardware problem. Headquarters wants me to call Palm again - uh uh, no deal. So they are sending me a new phone, and I'll take it to the Verizon store so they can transfer all my data.

Did it take a lot of time to deal with these irritations? You betcha. But the alternative is continued irritation, inefficiency, and wasted time. So even though the thought of handling these problems was overwhelming to me, I'm so glad I took the plunge. Maybe soon I might actually have everything working properly! Won't that be a happy day!?!

Related posts: Protecting Your PC from a Crash, Save Time by Cleaning and Defragmenting Your Computer Disks

Wednesday, December 17, 2008


Came across another online organizing system called Springpad, "free online notebooks that help you manage your life. Use your springpad to keep track of notes, photos, maps, to-do’s, contacts, appointments & more."

Have any of you used this? Check it out and let us know what you think!

Related posts: Another Organizing Site, More Family Organizing Sites, Cozi 2.0, Product Review of Organizers - PDAs, Get Organized for School (or life!) - A Family Calendar, Product Review of Organizers - Daily Home Planner, Product Review of Organizers - The Planner Pad

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Pouchee Purse Organizer

As you may know, I'm on an endless search for the perfect organizing purse/bag. Each one I find has something I don't like about it - it's too big, too heavy, the strap goes across your body, not enough pockets, etc.

In the meantime, I've found the next best thing - Sandy Jenney's Pouchee. It's about 5" x 7" and slips into your purse or bag. If you want to turn it into your wallet, you can - there's a place for credit cards, a zipper pocket for cash, a place for your cell phone, keys, glasses/sunglasses, pda, a pen, a couple of tubes of lipstick or mints. Makes it so easy to switch purses, too.

It comes in several colors of cotton or leatherette and costs $21.50 and $22.50 respectively.

I still need a larger bag because I need to carry additional items for our foster kids, so I think I'll ask Sandy if she can come up with something! But in the meantime, I'm loving how the pouchee has cleaned up my purse!

Monday, December 15, 2008

Savoring the Significance of the Season

Thanks for all the kind words while I was sick. I think I'm well on the road to recovery, even though I went to bed at 8 o'clock last night!! It was a strange bug that left me exhuasted for the first week, then cold symptoms started after that. I'd get up and do what I needed to do and go back to bed. I'm not 100%, but getting there.

Not a great time of year to be sick! My pastor yesterday helped put things in perspective. He encouraged us to concentrate on the signifance of the season, not just the urgent things. When illness strikes, reprioritizing is a necessity. But even without illness, it's never a bad idea to slow down and reflect to see if your family is capturing the significance of the season.

The economic slowdown is another built-in reprioritizer. I've heard of a lot of people who are deciding to cut back on expenses and activities - sending out Christmas cards, costly entertainment, excessive gifts. Not a bad idea whether you're affected by the economy or not.

There are still 10 days until Christmas. Take a breath and evaluate your activities. Can you eliminate anything that is unnecessary in order to capture the significance of the season? Can you take time to savor the moments of the days ahead?

What are you doing to savor the moments?

Monday, December 8, 2008

Still Under the Weather

Still got this flu bug. Gonna take a few days off! See you soon. :-)

Friday, December 5, 2008

Downsizing Toys before Christmas

If you have small children with lots of toys, you may want to consider downsizing their toys before Christmas. This allows you to remove the broken ones, the ones they've outgrown, and the ones they don't play with. You can save some for younger siblings, give them to friends, take to a consignment shop, or donate them to charity.

If there are still too many toys, consider storing some of them and rotating toys occasionally.

How nice to have that job done before getting inundated with new toys!

Related posts: Toy Storage, Schedule Daily Clean Up Times, The Ultimate in Toy Decluttering!!

What are your favorite toy storage tricks?

If you need more help organizing your child's room, see Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room, part of the
1-2-3...Get Organized series

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Redeeming Your Travel Time

Sorry I didn't get to blog yesterday. Our DSL modem decided to die and I got the flu! I'll write this blog and then go back to bed. :-)

If you have some trips coming up, use the time in the car or plane to catch up on some projects, reading, or such. We travelled a bit over the Thanksgiving weekend, so I took along our receipts for the year, and categorized them for tax purposes.

I know, I know – I’m a professional organizer. I should be filing all the time, right? I always tell my clients that the best filing system is the best filing system for them. I HATE to file. So I use baskets for the few categories I use consistently (banking, receipts, bills, my business). I would much rather take a few hours and categorize once a year than file all the time.

I labeled 5 x 7 envelopes and stood them up in a small box, which allowed me to slip receipts into them. I’ll later transfer them to a larger crate with hanging files, which was too unwieldy to use in the car. I use the crate while I’m in the process of doing my taxes. Then it goes in the file cabinet, with a copy in the safe.

If life has been hectic, use your travel time to replenish yourself – read a magazine, or that book you’ve been dying to start, or play games, or sleep! If you’re sleep deprived, sleep is a good investment. My husband and I often use travel time to talk over ideas.

Keep a balance - know when to work and when to relax.

What do you do to occupy yourself while travelling?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Insuring Peak Performance: Sleep 101

Yesterday we talked about how sleep deprivation affects us. Today we’ll talk about how to avoid sleep deprivation by making it a priority to sleep well. Why? Because how will we manage stress, organize life, and accomplish our goals if we are sleep-walking?

How much sleep do we need anyway?
The National Sleep Foundation suggests:

Newborns (1-2 months): 10.5 - 18 hours
Infants (3-11 months): 9-12 hours during night and 30-minutes to two-hour naps, 1-4 times a day
Toddlers (1-3 years): 12-14 hours
Preschoolers (3-5 years) 11-13 hours
School-aged Children (5-12 years: 10-11 hours
Teens (11-17): 8.5-9.25 hours
Adults: 7-9 hours
Older Adults: 7-9 hours

Did you know that your body keeps track of sleep it misses? A good way to tell if you’re sleep deprived is if you fall asleep when you are sitting. If you are sleep deprived, your body goes into deep sleep quickly, allowing you to make up your deprivation without going through all the stages of sleep.

So how do we get a good night’s sleep?

- Exercise. The National Sleep Foundation states, “Exercise improves sleep because it is a physical stressor to the body. The brain compensates for physical stress by increasing deep sleep. Therefore, we sleep more deeply and soundly after exercise.”

The exercise should include vigorous use of the legs and should be done at least three hours before bedtime, to allow your body to calm down before sleeping.

- Maintain a regular bedtime and a regular waking time, even on the weekends. A regular wake-up time gets your body into a rhythm, including a natural sleep schedule.

- Create a calming bedtime routine to prepare for sleep – reading, relaxing music, deep breathing. If you take a warm bath or shower, leave enough time for your body to cool down before bedtime. Higher temperatures stimulate your body and cool temps promote sleep.

- Turn off the lights! Our body produces melatonin, a hormone that helps stabilize our body rhythms. Help your melatonin, which is induced by darkness, by dimming the lights, turning off the computer and the TV half an hour before sleep so your body will naturally become sleepy.

If you have trouble getting to sleep, you might want to try taking some melatonin to get you over that hump. It’s available in most drugstores for just a few dollars. My husband, who has chronic sleep problems, can attest to its benefits!

Wear an eye mask or get light-blocking shades or curtains to block out light. Use ear plugs or use a fan or other noise to block out noise, if necessary.

- Keep your bedroom cool, which promotes sleep.

Sleep is too important to miss, yet most people cut out sleep when they are pressed for time. That should be the last thing we do, so we can function optimally.

What do you include in your or your child's bedtime routine?

Related post: Sleep is Non-negotiable!, Getting Organized for School - A Successful Day Starts the Night Before, Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep

Monday, December 1, 2008

Sleep is Non-negotiable!

At a time of year when it's easy to neglect our sleep, we need to make it a non-negotiable ingredient of our well-being. Why?

- Lack of sleep makes our emotions go crazy, swinging from giddiness to grumpiness. Matthew Walker of UC Berkley's Sleep and Neuroimaging Lab studied brain acitivity in sleep deprived individuals and a control group. Those who were sleep deprived demonstrated a failure in frontal lobe function, the part that keeps our emotions under control.

- Lack of sleep contributes to weight gain. Julie Lumeng, a researcher at the University of Michigan's Center for Human Growth and Development, states that sleep has an effect on the secretion of hormones that regulate fat storage, appetite, and glocose metabolism. If we don't get adequate sleep, it changes our carbohydrate metabolism which impairs glucose tolerance, thereby affecting weight.

- Lack of sleep slows our reaction time, according to numerous studies. So much so, that driving while sleep deprived resembles driving while drunk.

- Lack of sleep disrupts our immune system. Our immune system activates during deep sleep periods to help us fight disease, according to Hal Gunn, Director, Centre for Integrated Healing.

- Lack of sleep affects our ability to deal with stress, again relating to the failure of the frontal lobe, which helps us problem solve.

- Lack of sleep can also cause depression, heart disease, hypertension, slurred speech and tremors, according to SleepDeprivation.com.

Have I convinced you yet? Tomorrow I'll talk about how to get a good night's sleep.

What do you do to get adequate sleep?

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Green Shopping Option

One more shopping option that came across my desk, especially if you're environmentally minded:

"Greenhome.com, the best online store for green products, is having a HUGE storewide sale this "Black Friday." Why? Because black is the new green, that's why. Oh, and because we wanted to say "Thanks!" to you, our customers, for being green, and nothing conveys that message better than giving green back.

For one day only, take 10% off our already low prices. So, stay in this Friday and save! Just type discount code: GOGREENNOW at checkout and save 10% on everything in our store.

Hundreds and hundreds of eco-friendly gift ideas, now on sale. Avoid traffic, waiting in line, and all the stress of the physical world, and shop eco-efficiently at
Greenhome.com. "

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!!

I recently read an article saying that counting your blessings is more effective than therapy or counseling. It suggested thinking of five things you're thankful for each night before you go to bed, which results in a positive mental attitude and contentedness.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Destressing Christmas, Part 11 - Meaningful Gifts with No Clutter

My siblings and I have agreed not to exchange gifts this year among ourselves. Why add to clutter in our homes when we don't really "need" anything? The holiday season can be fraught with spending more than you should on things people don't need just to show you care.

A creative option is to invest in meaningful gifts to those who are in need in the name of your family member. Or as a gift from you and/or your family members. Here are a couple of opportunities near and dear to my heart:

Shelter Care, Inc.

We see first hand the incredible generosity of people in our community who donate monetary gifts to make Christmas possible for our girls here at Shelter Care, Inc. And on occasion we get to distribute items donated by kind people. Lately, we've been able to provide lip balms and scrapbooking supplies because people took the time and went to the expense to give.

If you'd like to donate toward providing for the needs of our girls here at Shelter Care, you can send a check made out to Shelter Care, Inc. 32 South Avenue Tallmadge Ohio 44278. Write a separate note (not in the memo area of your check) stating your wishes.

Interlink Resources, Inc.

Our daughter Sara works for Interlink Resources, Inc., a humanitarian aid group meeting the needs of orphans in Kazakhstan. They have just launched a gift catalog in which you can provide a child with a soccer ball, a birthday party, clothing, etc. It can all be done online.

The gift of time is a meaningful, uncluttered gift, as well. Last year we took one of our girls (kicking and screaming) to a local women's shelter to wrap gifts for the women and children there. She loved it so much, she wanted to do it the next week, which we did! She said she wanted to make it a tradition in her life. You just can't teach those things with words - actions are necessary!

What a wonderful feeling to give to such causes, not to mention providing an opportunity for our children to learn generosity and compassion.

What organizations are near and dear to your heart that provide meaningful gifts to those in need?

Related posts: Destressing Christmas, Part 3 - Smart Gift-Giving, Destressing Christmas, Part 1 - Think Through Your Expectations

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Destressing Christmas, Part 10 - Efficient Shopping and Online Tips

My arthritis aquatics instructor was a wealth of information this morning in class! She had numerous shopping tips that I'll pass on to you.

Online Shopping

1. If you google the name of your store followed by "free shipping and handling", you can find coupons for free shipping and handling. I googled "jcpenneys free shipping and handling" and came up with: http://www.freeshipping.org/category/jc-penney-free-shipping-code/, which offered some free shipping and handling codes plus some discount coupons.

2. She also suggested shopping at www.6pm.com for designer clothing. She said that if it doesn't sell at www.zappos.com, it is transferred to 6pm. When I looked, there were a lot of summer things, but found some winter items as well - up to 70% off.

3. Kohl's honors their discount store coupons when you shop online. And you can shop the early bird specials online rather than having to go to the store.

4. My suggestion: to protect your identity when you shop online, use a credit card that is not attached to your bank account.

Other Shopping

On Black Friday, Walmart is matching the lowest price of any competing ad you bring in.

For my local followers, Village Garden Restaurant on State Street here in the Falls is offering a free Thanksgiving lunch on Thursday from 12-2 pm.

Monday, November 24, 2008

More Eco-Friendly Recycling

Came across a couple more sites that give us options other than adding to the land fills.

www.carpetrecovery.org helps you find carpet recycling centers in your area. Did you know that about 5.6 billion pounds of carpet end up in our land fills each year?

www.zwaggle.com allows you to swap clothing, furniture and lots more. Receive points for giving things away which go toward "purchasing" something else.

www.swap-it-now.com not only provides a venue to swap anything you own, but allows you to purchase items if you have nothing to swap.

Have you discovered similar sites? Please share!

Related posts: Getting Rid of Stuff While Saving the Environment, Recycling Cell Phones to Our Soldiers

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Our High Tea

Just wanted to show you a picture of our high tea. I asked if I could get permission to include our foster girls in the picture, but Children's Services Board doesn't allow it. So anyway, here's the food.

We wore hats. I looked for gloves, but they are hard to come by.

We used the candlewick dishes and lacy tablecloth my mom gave me.

We had Earl Grey and plain tea. Cucumber, egg salad, and bread and butter sandwiches. A fruit plate. Scones with lemon curd, raspberry jam and strawberry jam. Sausage balls, cinnamon raisin muffins, tea biscuits, and orange crisps.

I think the girls liked having the special occasion and doing something out of the ordinary. It was worth the hours I spent preparing for it to create memories for our girls.

Related post: Making it a Priority to Create Memories

Friday, November 21, 2008

Get a Jump on Christmas Cookies

My friend Pam and I came up with a great way to get a jump on Christmas cookies. We originally set aside a day in December to make Christmas cookies all day, split them and stock our freezers. But that was pretty exhausting.

Then one year, we couldn't find a date in December, and that changed our Christmas cookie baking from then on. We decided to get together in November and just make the dough, freeze it in small batches, and cook as needed. It's so easy to just thaw a small amount, form into cookies, and bake! All the work and mess is over with and you have fresh baked cookies in a jiffy when you need them.

Plus we got to spend the day together! I miss it. Now that we live in Ohio and she lives in Maryland, it doesn't quite work!

If you need some cookie ideas, my daughter Sara sent me a list of every possible cookie recipe known to man. The link below will take you there.

Related posts: Cookies, Cookies, Cookies

What are you doing to relieve the stress of the holiday season?

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Downsizing Seminar Rescheduled for Friday, November 21

We encountered some technical difficulties yesterday when we were trying to conduct our seminar, "Is Professional Downsizing a Career for You?" So we rescheduled it for tomorrow at 11 Eastern (10 Central, 9 Mountain, 8 Pacific). If you still want to get in on this seminar sponsored by Stephanie Callahan's Learn from Organizing Experts, see the related post below.

Related post: Seminar: Is Professional Downsizing a Career for You?

If you are interested in becoming a downsizing professional, see our Three Steps to Becoming a Downsizing Professional, part of our 1-2-3...Get Organized series.

Destressing Christmas, Part 9 - Doubling Recipes Now to Reduce Stress Later

We sent our second house of foster girls home to their regular foster parents last night, and we get our third house tomorrow. There is only one girl in this house, and we'll get to meet her this afternoon. One thing I usually do when we meet new girls is ask what they like/dislike to eat. That helps me when I plan menus for the week.

Since we only have one girl and she is new to our program, she will not have a lot of activities. So I think I'll take the opportunity to use the lighter schedule to double up on recipes to free up my time when things are more hectic next month.

Some recipes that lend themselves to doubling and freezing are: taco meat, spaghetti sauce, lasagna, chili, soup, baked ziti, and meatloaf. I have a couple of pumpkins I want to cut up and cook, so maybe I'll get a head start on making some pumpkin bread for neighbors' Christmas gifts. And make some more curry pumpkin soup we tried out this week - it was fabulous!

What recipes do you like to double and freeze?

Related posts: Destressing Christmas, Part 6 - Planning Holiday Meals, Getting Organized for School - Planning Dinner, Planning Dinner

Need some help planning dinner? Three Steps to Planning Dinner or Hassle Free Dinners from our 1-2-3...Get Organized series might get you started.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Save Time and Clutter by Making Decisions

Making decisions can be hard. But when you look at the cost of not making a decision, it's motivating to get it done!

If I don't make a decision about a piece of mail, it has no home - it doesn't go in the bills, or recycling, or shredder, or a file. It will usually be stacked.

If I don't make a decision about an event, I may lose the possibility of attending because of a missed deadline. Or I may forget about it. Or it doesn't become a priority, and less important events may crowd it out.

If I don't make a decision about an opportunity, it may pass me by because of my inactivity.

What to do?

- Try to handle each piece of paper only once. Recycle it, file it, put it in your to-do file, shred it. How easily mail stacks up. By taking a few moments to sort it and dispose of it properly, it doesn't grow into a huge job.

Same thing with papers that require some action. If necessary, file the paper and add the action to your schedule or to-do list. But don't let it get stuck in a pile.

- If a decision requires some homework or research, track down the information you need.

- Talk to an expert or mentor, if necessary, for additional insight. I consider God a mentor, and I often ask for wisdom and insight when making a decision.

- Make a pro/con list. Getting things down on paper really clarifies the issues for me. The decision becomes more objective and clears my mind from all those swirling thoughts.

- Give yourself a deadline by which time you need to have the decision made.

What do you do make decision-making easier?

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Save Time by Cleaning and Defragmenting Your Computer Disks

I have been having some computer issues for a while. They are not over yet, but I’ve discovered how to speed up my computer, thereby saving time. As I’ve told you before, I’m not technical, and I’ve probably done this before, but I didn’t remember it.

While spending hours on the phone with technical support, I learned how to defragment and clean my disks. This process gets rid of all those extraneous files that slow down your computer.

For those of you who are computer geniuses, I’m sure you’re laughing at me right now, but I figure if I didn’t know/remember how to do this, there may be others out there who need this info.

It’s very simple:

- Click the Start button
- Go to “All Programs” at the bottom
- Go to Accessories
- Go to Systems Tools
- Go to Disk Cleanup or Disk Defragmenter
- Click “C”
- Click Defragment or OK

I did both cleaning and defragmenting on my computer, and it took several hours for each during which time I could not use my computer. The tech person said it should be done every two weeks or so. Obviously, it had been a while for mine!

Anyway, just thought I’d pass along what I’ve learned.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Seminar: Is Professional Downsizing a Career for You?

Just wanted to let you know about a seminar I'm giving with Stephanie Callahan over at Learn From Organizing Experts. It is called "Is Professional Downsizing a Career for You?" and will be held on Wednesday, November 19 at 11 am Eastern (10 Central, 9 Mountain, 8 Pacific). The cost is $20 and you can register here.

If this is a career you've been thinking about, this would be a great opportunity to find out more about it. We'll be talking about:

- what downsizing is and what it looks/feels like
- the growth potential of adding professional downsizing to your business services
- if you are a likely candidate for becoming a downsizing professional
- the skills a person must possess to be a downsizing professional
- the components of a downsizing business
- the cost to establish a downsizing business
- more!

When you register, you'll be able to submit questions for the Q/A time. Hope to see you there if this is of interest to you!

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Organizing Your Time Can Cut Costs

By planning ahead, you can cut some pretty significant costs - and who wouldn't like some extra cash these days? According to Lauren Baier Kim of the Wall Street Journal Online, there are several ways to cut your daily costs.

- By making your own cup of coffee ($.50) rather than ordering the fancy ones ($3)each day, you can save $912 a year. And really when you think about it, is it really a time saver? It takes less time to brew coffee, especially if you're doing something else at the same time or have it on a timer, than waiting in line and then waiting for your coffee to be made.

- If you pack your lunch from last night's leftovers, you can save $4 to $10 a day you would spend on lunch. This adds up to $1460 to $3650 a year!

- By doing your own lawn care, you can save from $1040 to $4680 a year, estimating $20-40 a cut, with leaf blowing and other care extra. Of course it will cost to fuel and maintain your mower.

- Doing your own nails saves the weekly $10-20 cost of a manicure, adding up to $520-1040 per year.

The trade off for each of these is your time and planning ahead. But with a little forethought and some work, you can save yourself a bundle!

For more ideas on cutting costs, read the rest of Kim's article.

What are you doing to cut costs?

Related posts: Saving Money by Being Organized, Cash from your Clutter, Destressing Christmas, Part 3 - Smart Gift-Giving, Getting Organized for School - Planning Dinner, Planning Dinner

If you need help planning ahead or using your time effectively, please see the time management books in our 1-2-3...Get Organized series.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Cash from your Clutter

Do you have clutter that could bring in some cash? In these economic times, you may discover some items around your home you'd like to exchange for money.

Here are a couple of ideas:
- Craig's List is an online classified ad site. You can submit an ad at no charge to the Craig's List in your area - there's a list for every part of the country. You can also list services your business supplies to clients.

- eBay is a little more complicated, but reaches a national audience.

- You can also barter products and services, a practice that is gaining popularity. By googling "barter" you'll discover several sites that will help you get started.

All of these are win/win situations: you get rid of clutter and receive money or a desired item in return!

Do you have other ideas for turning clutter into cash?

Related posts: Declutter and Downsize Now for the Spring Housing Market, Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind, Tackle the Clutter before Christmas, Toy decluttering

If you need help with decluttering, see Three Steps to Decluttering, part of our 1-2-3...Get Organized series.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Making it a Priority to Create Memories

Today we're going to have high tea for dinner. Even though I have a never-ending to-do list. Even though it will take me the better part of the day to prepare for it. Even though I have some looming deadlines.

Why interrupt all those things to have a tea party? Because one of our foster daughters has never had a tea party. And another just lost her British grandmother. And because our girls have had parents who put their own concerns above the needs and care of their children.

So, we're going to wear dressy hats I got at Goodwill (and sprayed with disinfectant). And we're going to have scones and lemon curd and sausage balls and bread and butter sandwiches and egg salad sandwiches and cucumber sandwiches and tea biscuits and cinnamon bread and orange crisp cookies and shortbread cookies and tea with cream and sugar in it!

Having lived in Kenya for six years and enjoying the fine art of tea from their British heritage and the wonderful tea grown in Kenya, it will bring back fond memories for me, too.

It is so worth making the investment in those we love to create memories, setting aside our own priorities for the time. Not much of a sacrifice is it?

What do you do to create those memories for those you love?

Monday, November 10, 2008

Declutter and Downsize Now for the Spring Housing Market

If you're hoping the housing market perks up next spring so you can put your house on the market, start getting ready now! Your realtor will want your home to be uncluttered and uncrowded. While you're spending more time indoors during the winter, take advantage of it by decluttering or downsizing so you'll be ahead of the game in the spring!

Double your productivity: look for times when you can double your time by downsizing or decluttering when you're listening to your child read, talking on the phone, listening to music, or watching TV. Even if you're not putting your house on the market in the spring, you'll be creating a refuge for your family!

Give an objective look to see how a potential buyer might see the room you're in. Does the room project peace and draw you in? Or does the clutter communicate chaos?

By using the time throughout the winter season, you'll be able to put your house on the market quickly in the spring, without losing valuable selling time!

What hints do you have to prepare your home for sale?

Related Posts: Prioritizing Fall Projects, Organizing Drawers, Chopping Big Chores down into Bite-Sized Chunks, Decluttering Tips, Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind

If you need help decluttering or downsizing, see our Three Steps to Decluttering and Three Steps to Downsizing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Best Time of Day to Take a Nap

According to Real Simple Magazine, the best time of day to take a nap is between 1 p.m. and 2:30 pm. The reason? Our body temperatures drop in early afternoon which makes us sleepy. And we always thought lunch was the culprit! Those countries that have afternoon siestas are getting it right!

15-20 minutes is the ideal amount of sleep, as 30 minutes or more may leave you sleepier than before your nap. Dr. Richard Schwab, codirector of the University of Pennsylvania Penn Sleep Center in Philadelphia says that we wouldn't need naps if we weren't so sleep deprived!

Sleep is my most non-negotiable non-negotiable! I have found that I just can't function without adequate sleep. I don't often need to take a nap, but when I do, I try to listen to my body and take one if at all possible. If I have to cut something out of my day, I try to make it anything else but sleep!

Can you tell I feel strongly about sleep? We'll do more on sleep in future blogs. I've researched it extensively and am convinced we can't neglect it!

Do you get enough sleep?

Related posts: The Best Time of Day to Go to the Post Office, The Best Time of Day to Do Your Cardio Workout, The Best Time of Day to Take the Dog for a Walk, When Should You Take Your Vitamins?

If you need help managing your life in order to get enough sleep, see our Time Management books in the 1-2-3...Get Organized series.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

ADHD Organization - Time and Energy

When Joyce Rubik, an ADHD coach who has ADHD herself, spoke to NAPO Northcoast last month, she suggested several action points to help people with ADHD:

- Having a calendar is non-negotiable! One that involves writing. As I said in the previous post on this subject, a person with ADHD remembers what he/she writes down. That person MUST get into the habit of consulting the calendar continuously.

- If something must be brought to an appointment, she suggested writing a note next to the appointment describing where that "something" is located, so it will be easy to find. Joyce told us that she wrote a "T" with a circle around it next to the entry in her calendar for her speaking engagement with NAPO Northcoast. That was a signal to her where she had placed her notes and directions to our location.

- The best time of day for clear focus is 10 or 11 am. When activities are scheduled earlier than that, it's difficult for the ADHD mind to be focused.

- In addition to medication, bevhavior modification is essential. Exercise increases dopamine levels. Twenty minutes of aerobic exercise provides the equivalent effect as 1 1/2 hours of medication.

Back in the day, when I was a volunteer for our church youth group, I distinctly remember that one of our guys hadn't taken his ADHD meds. He compensated by running every chance he could while we were doing a service project of tree planting.

- Joyce told us several things NOT to say to a person with ADHD: "You're not trying hard enough." "Do your best." "I know it's hard, but you can do it."

I hope these blogs have been helpful for those of you who have ADHD or have a family member or friend who does. Please share some of the things that have worked for you!

Related posts: ADHD Organization - Decision-Making, Helping Your ADHD Child Get Organized

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Everything You Need to Know to Pull Off Thanksgiving Without a Hitch

Don't think I've ever done this before, but I'm going to copy an email I got from Centr'd (remember I did a review about their online scheduling program?). They have teamed up with Real Simple and have every kind of resource you could possibly imagine for having a fabulous Thanksgiving - from making gravy to planning menus to scheduling. Here it is:

"Center'd has teamed up with Real Simple to create a collection of ready-made plans and easy-to-follow tips designed to help you transform Thanksgiving from a stressful conglomeration of late guests, redundant ambrosia salad, and dry turkey to a holiday you can remember for all the right reasons: Friends and family taking a moment from the busy worlds we inhabit to gather together and enjoy each other's company.

> 40 Ways to Simplify Thanksgiving: Whether you want to introduce new traditions or perfect old ones, make this Thanksgiving the happiest yet. Read full article:<http://www.centerd.com/t/40ways>

> Tips & Advice for a Successful Holiday: Find recipes and pointers from Real Simple, and a collection of ready-made plans from Center'd at our Thanksgiving planning center. Check it out:<http://www.centerd.com/t/thanksgiving>

> Invite People to a Thanksgiving Event: From hosting the big meal to coordinating a Black Friday shopping spree, our ready-made plans will help you out. Check out these sample plans:

Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner http://www.centerd.com/t/thanksgivingpotluck
Thanksgiving Dinner Invites<http://www.centerd.com/t/thanksgivingfeast>
Black Friday Shopping Spree<http://www.centerd.com/t/blackfridayspree>
Weekend Football Get-Together<http://www.centerd.com/t/footballpotluck>

> Reliable Recipes for Your Thanksgiving Potluck: Not sure what will travel well or please a crowd? Here are 13 sturdy dishes. Read full article:<http://www.centerd.com/t/thanksgivingrecipes>

We hope you enjoy our Thanksgiving planning center and have a special and memorable holiday. From our family to yours, happy Thanksgiving.


The Center'd Team"

Do you have some tried-and-true recipes or hints for making Thanksgiving a wonderful celebration?

If you need help planning menus, see Three Steps to Planning Dinner, part of our 1-2-3...Get Organized series.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

More Environmental Help - Conserving Water

While I'm on the subject of saving our planet (see previous blog post), here are some amazing facts on conserving water. My second cousin Craig (I think that's what we are) is in 8th grade and is working on a robotics project. On his team's site is not only info about his project, but a plethora of water-saving tips - like running the water while washing dishes by hand can use up to 20 gallons of water in a minute!

To see more, go to http://www.members.cox.net/master0630/Robotics/Index.htm. It is quite eye-opening and motivating. By putting these simple suggestions into practice, we can conserve quite a lot of water!

Getting Rid of Stuff While Saving the Environment

Got stuff? Want to give it away for free without someone having to buy it again from a thrift store?

Freecycle is a network that is "made up of 4,619 groups with 6,059,000 members across the globe. It's a grassroots and entirely nonprofit movement of people who are giving (& getting) stuff for free in their own towns. It's all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills. Each local group is moderated by a local volunteer (them's good people). Membership is free."

This is how it works: you sign up and start receiving emails of free stuff being offered in your area. You, too, are able to offer free stuff. There are guidelines on how to post your giveaways and how to arrange pick-up of your stuff.

A down side to this is that the emails can be prolific. You can also choose to view the list by signing in to the site without receiving the emails. And once you've gotten rid of your stuff, you can always discontinue your membership.

A nice way to bless someone else with perfectly good stuff while saving the planet!

If you need help decluttering, see Three Steps to Decluttering, part of our 1-2-3...Get Organized series.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Oh, No! The Industrial-Strength Shower!!

As I was waiting in line for the showers at the gym this morning, I was hoping not to get the industrial-strength shower. Despite efforts to adjust the flow, it resembles a fire hose! But wouldn't you know it, when I was at the front of the line, guess which shower became available? Yep!

As I was being pounded, I did a little thinking about how efficient this shower really is. Its forceful flow provides you with a massage. It eliminates the need for a trip to the chiropractor. Forget the spa, as it exfoliates the top layer of your skin. And you get a shower thrown in for free!

Think how much time and money I saved just by taking an industrial-strength shower!

Never again will I dread the industrial-strength shower. I will pat myself on the back for saving so much time and money! Maybe I should start selling them on my site - the latest time management organizational tool!

Destressing Christmas, Part 8 - An Online Tool to Consolidate Wishlists

Getting tired of buying gift cards because you don't know what someone wants? Wishpot takes the guess and stress out of shopping. According to their website: "Wishpot makes it easy for you to shop anywhere, keep all your finds in one place, connect with friends, and discover the hottest deals."

What you do is shop all over the internet, consolidate your wishlist at Wishpot, and you can share your list with others! Take some stress out of your life and request your family members to join Wishpot (it's free)! Join yourself, so others know what you want. Why not pass the destressing around? :-)

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Announcing the Winner of My Five 1-2-3...Get Organized Books!

I have the joy of announcing that Joy is the lucky winner of my five 1-2-3...Get Organized books!

Thanks so much for entering! I'm going to try to get by to your blogs for a visit soon!! Meanwhile, stay in touch and let me know if you have anything you'd like me to blog about.