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.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Laurel Wreath's "I Love Fall Giveaway

Laurel Wreath is the Christian Women Online Magazine's book reviewer. She also has her own delightful blog called Laurel Wreath's Reflections.

Laurel loves the fall, and to celebrate the season, she is sponsoring a giveaway from September 1-5. Not only will she give away something each day, but she has asked five women to offer their own giveaways during that time, with me being one of those women.

"Joining me are CWO’s Editor Darlene Schacht, Author and Speaker Lysa TerKeurst, Professional Organizer Beverly Coggins, jewelry maker Crystal at Two Belles & a Bead, and “Down on the Farm” Mrs. Deedra. They will be offering up some wonderful prizes you will NOT want to miss!" Laurel writes.

So drop by Laurel Wreath's Reflections September 1-5 and win yourself some fun stuff!

Friday, August 29, 2008

Getting Organized for School - Cleaning out the Car

This is the last in my series of getting organized for school. Next month we'll look at National Preparedness Month to see how we might prepare for emergencies.

You don't often think of cleaning out your car as part of getting organized for school. However, as activities gear up, you'll probably find yourself chauffering your child to lessons, practices, school and such, spending more time in your car. Why not make it a pleasant place to be?

Let's start with the trunk. Corral those jumper cables, windshield washer fluid bottles, and whatever else you have back there into a container. A plastic crate works well, but you could use anything that does the job.

Get rid of accumulated trash, sports equipment, clothing, etc., and return them to their homes. Vaccuum if needed.

Now to the inside. Start with removing trash and other unecessary items. Evaluate: do you need some organizers for items you want to keep in the car - music, maps, sunglasses, etc. Some attach to the visor, others attach to the back of the front seats, while others sit on the console between the front seats.

While you're evaluating - what do you want to keep in the car at all times? We like to keep tissues, paper towels, music, maps, batteries for the dvd headsets, and change for toll roads. When our girls were in high school, I also kept deodorant in the glove box for those forgetful days. :-)

Give the car a good clean and you're ready to go!

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Celebration Giveaways September 2-9, 2008!

I am celebrating the September 2 launch of Three Steps to Becoming a Downsizing Professional ! It is #17 in my 1-2-3…Get Organized series. This manual is a complete guide to starting a downsizing business, marketing it, and learning the nuts and bolts of downsizing.

As 76 million Baby Boomers reach retirement age in the next 20 years, this is a growing niche for both new and experienced organizers. I have found this to be a very rewarding and fulfilling career, helping people downsize to a smaller residence.

About the Manual
Drawing upon my years of experience in downsizing (my specialty), I want to make the journey for others quicker and easier than my own trial and error method. Included in the package is

- a CD containing contracts, intake interviews – all the forms you will need
- a DVD comprised of proven techniques and methods needed for downsizing
- a buyer's guide for recommended products
- and a membership to our members-only blog designed to provide a forum for sharing ideas, asking questions, and getting support from me and other downsizing professionals.

About the Celebration Giveaways
In light of the launch of Three Steps to Becoming a Downsizing Professional, I wanted to celebrate by having a week of giveaways. Each day from September 2-9, I’ll be giving away one of my books.

I’ll be posting my regular blogs on organizing tips. At the end of each post, I’ll list the giveaway for that day, and you will need to comment on that day’s blog to enter the giveaway for that day.

Here are the rules:
1. Leave a comment on each day’s blog to enter the giveaway for that day
2. If you post a blog sending your readers to the Celebration Giveaways, you can enter a second comment saying you did so
3. For each update on your Twitter, Facebook, etc. pages about Celebration Giveaways, you can enter another comment (each location counts as one comment)
4. For every 10 people you email about the Celebration Giveaways, you can enter an additional comment saying you did so
5. Celebration Giveaways will end at midnight on Tuesday, September 9, 2008, Eastern.

I’ll select the winners randomly and announce them on September 10, 2008.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Determining The Legacy You Want to Leave Your Children

Life is busy! If I know what is important to me, I know how to use my time. I can also evaluate requests by others for my involvement or time.

A couple of times a year I try to sit down to think through what priorities and passions will guide my time. I also look at my giftedness to make sure I'm spending time using my gifts. In light of these areas, I look at the legacy I want to leave my children and foster children.

When my children were home, I usually did this in September, January, and May - logical times to re-evaluate my schedule. It was also when my children's schedules would change, which would necessarily affect me.

After evaluating all of these areas, I determine my goals. Then I create a template for a typical week. I use it to plan my week every week and evaluate my progress. When I have these tools in place, my home and life run more smoothly, and I'm less likely to forget things or double schedule events. My desire is for home to be a refuge instead of a crisis center.

This process allows me to determine how to best use my time or evaluate the importance of new requests on my time. And it helps me to plan my time so I can accomplish those things that are important to me, rather than be tossed around by other people's goals.

Do you want to be intentional about the legacy you leave your children and future generations, but are a bit overwhelmed at knowing where to start? Check out my time management books, which guide you step-by-step to help you determine your passions, priorities, giftedness, goals, and schedule.

What legacies do you want to leave your children and future generations?

Related Posts: Getting Organized for School - Organizing Homework, Getting Organized for School - Organizing Your Child's Artwork and School Papers, Getting Organized for School - A Successful Day Starts the Night Before, Getting Organized for School - School Supplies and Backpacks, Hope for Disorganized Students!, Homework battles, Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist, Getting Organized for School - Learning Style, Getting Organized for School - Document Organizing System, Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub, Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep, Get Organized for School (or life!) - A Family Calendar, Organizing for School - Papers, Get Organized for School - Clothing Inventory

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Getting Organized for School - Organizing Homework

I posted this blog last year, but thought it was worth repeating. Homework can be a constant source of contention without a plan.

Having trouble getting your child to do homework? Or does homework seem to stretch out over an unusually long time? When my children were in school I came up with a solution that gave my girls control and motivation, as well as some training in time management.

While they were having their after-school snack, each girl would list out all her homework assignments on a 3 x 5 card with the estimated time needed to complete each subject. Then, depending on how much time we had that day for homework, she would plan out her homework time, interspersing homework time with play time - a video game, a game with me, a TV show, shooting hoops, playing outside, etc. I recommend 30 minutes studying and 15 minutes to play with longer study times for older kids, shorter for younger.

I found that my kids were motivated to complete their homework in the time they estimated so they could get to playing. Plus homework time didn't turn into an endless expanse of time with no end in sight.

If one of the girls would underestimate the time it took to complete an assignment, her play time was still honored. Just having a change of scenery refreshes the brain.

By giving each girl some control over how she managed her time, she was motivated to do her homework and felt a sense of accomplishment from organizing her homework. Homework was broken up into bite-sized pieces and interspersed with fun. Homework battles were greatly reduced!

A suggestion: study your child. One of my daughters, an introvert, was depleted both physically and socially when she came home from school because she had used up all her words. She needed food and time to regroup before she was ready to talk about her day. My other daughter, also an introvert, wouldn't use up her words at school and was a chatterbox because she felt more comfortable using her worlds at home.

A child with ADHD may need to get rid of a bunch of energy before sitting down to homework. Each child is different, and as we study our children, we'll have more insight into creating an atmosphere for their success.

What do you to solve somework battles?

Related Posts: Getting Organized for School - Organizing Your Child's Artwork and School Papers, Getting Organized for School - A Successful Day Starts the Night Before, Getting Organized for School - School Supplies and Backpacks, Hope for Disorganized Students!, Homework battles, Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist, Getting Organized for School - Learning Style, Getting Organized for School - Document Organizing System, Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub, Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep, Get Organized for School (or life!) - A Family Calendar, Organizing for School - Papers, Get Organized for School - Clothing Inventory

Monday, August 25, 2008

Getting Organized for School - Organizing Your Child's Artwork and School Papers

Along with school, comes all those papers! And art masterpieces. What to do with them? You want to preserve memories of your child’s school years, but you don’t want to train her to be a pack rat.

I’ll have to admit – I wasn’t very proactive in this area when my children were growing up. We’d sort through papers every once in a while, frame some, and store others, but we didn’t do it very consistently.

I researched this topic when asked to contribute to an article written by Mary Beth Breckenridge at the Akron Beacon Journal (Preserve your Children's Masterpieces without Creating a Mountain from Paper Memoirs, September 5, 2005). I found some great ideas I wish I had used.

So today’s blog comes primarily from the article Mary Beth wrote from the hints that two other organizers (Deniece Schofield and Chris Perrow) and I contributed. And I’ve added a couple I’ve come up with since then.

First, choose a receptacle for such papers. It could be a file folder, a hanging file, an art portfolio (or one made by taping two pieces of poster board together), a box, a binder with protector sheets - whatever works for you and your child.

Before storing your child’s artwork, you may want to display them. You could create a gallery in your child’s room or elsewhere by hanging a colorful piece of string or yarn across a wall and clip the artwork to the string. Voila – instant gallery.

Or use a picture frame to house artwork, swapping out the front picture when a new keeper comes along, storing the other pictures behind the most recent one. And there’s always the refrigerator or a bulletin board.

Another option is to turn the artwork into placemats (by laminating them), wrapping paper or greeting cards. A glass-covered coffee table can show off artwork under the glass. Or turn your child’s artwork into a calendar. Create a collage with several pieces of artwork. There are even companies that turn your child’s artwork into a book.

Artwork that doesn’t make it into the keeper file can be sent to grandma or to our troops, if it seems too cruel to toss them.

With your child, clean out her backpack at the end of the week. Some papers will not be sentimental and will go easily into the recycling bin. Try to encourage your child to choose only one item a week to keep. Label the back of the paper with the date and a description, especially if the picture may not be readily identifiable!

Some weeks may be more prolific than others, and it may be too traumatic to narrow it down to one item. If you don’t mind, and you have enough room, make exceptions here and there. There may be items you treasure, but your child doesn’t see the value in them at her age – keep those, too.

At the end of the month, as you are evaluating that week’s papers, look back over the previously stored papers to see if some of the sentimentality has decreased for the earlier keepers. Time has a way of diminishing the attachment. Repeat every month.

For large three-dimensional projects take a picture rather than storing the entire project. Large art pieces can be taken to a copy center and reduced to a manageable size.

At the end of the school year, determine if your storage is adequate to house that year’s keepers. If not, purge until it is. Label the container with your child’s name and the year.

For family night one night, take out the keepers for the last few years and reminisce – what a fun memory!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Why I Didn't Make the Olympics

My friend Teresa sent this to me. It is really hilarious!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Organizing Your Herb Garden, Part 3 - Using Your Herbs

We had some friends over for dinner last night, and it's a good thing they like herbs! I may have overdone it, but we all seemed to be no worse for the wear.

I made Italian bread in my bread machine. The recipe calls for dried marjoram, dried basil, and dried thyme. Didn't grow any marjoram this year, but substituted my fresh basil and thyme for the dried. You just use three times the dried amount called for in the recipe. The bread was so yummy. I created my own olive oil dipping sauce by sprinkling shredded Parmesan, garlic salt and pepper on top of the olive oil.

I love lime basil! I grew it this year after my next door neighbor raved about how much she liked it. We've had it on pork and last night on turkey tenderloins. The turkey's flavor was a little too strong for the delicate flavor of the lime basil - I think I'll try it on chicken tenderloins next.

We also had a rice pilaf mix, which had quite a few herbs in the seasoning packet. To drink we had my herbal mint tea from my peppermint and spearmint plants - so yummy! Maybe I'm going a little overboard here?

Cutting herbs can be a pain. When I made my Italian bread, I chopped the herbs in my little mini-chopper. When I cut the lime basil, I used scissors. Using a knife is my least favorite method.

WARNING: be careful if you dry your herbs in the microwave. Yesterday I was drying some basil that had been air drying for a few days. I heard a pop, opened the microwave door, and saw that a stem of the basil had caught fire and ignited the paper towel below it. It was only a tiny spot, but if I hadn't been right there, it might have grown.

Did you know that lavender has calming properties? Another herb fact from my next door neighbor Ann Marie. She says that if you put it in a bath or put dried lavender in a sachet or pillow, it helps you sleep. As you can imagine, our foster daughters often have trouble getting to sleep as a result of their years of neglect or abuse. So I decided to grow lavender. A lavender bath is also supposed to help menstrual cramps. Haven't tried any of these yet, but plan to. Lavender is a perennial and will grow back each year. And with it's pretty purple flowers, it looks nice in your garden, too.

Remember my monster pineapple sage? We decided to remove it from the garden. We tried in a couple of recipes and just didn't like the taste. I even made pineapple sage tea, which was good. But when I dried it and made tea from it, it was rather insipid. So decided it wasn't worth having it take over the entire herb garden when we didn't really like the taste! Live and learn.

Well, I think that about covers my herb musings for the day. :-)

How do you use your herbs? I'd love to have some fresh ideas!

Related Posts: Organizing Your Herb Garden, Organizing Your Herb Garden, Part 2 - Drying Herbs,

Friday, August 22, 2008

Getting Organized for School/College - Software Tools

My nephew Jeff (the technical guru in the family) sent along a tip for software he recommends for high school and college students at a great price:

Microsoft Office Home and Student 2007 from Buy.com may be of interest to your readership. It definitely goes along with the “back to school” theme of your recent blog posts. The Home & Student suite comes with Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and a note-taking program called OneNote . It’s great for saving those little bits of useful information that don’t fit anywhere else. Anyway, $85 is a good price, especially considering the license allows it to be installed on three computers.

As you might imagine, with a name like “Home and Student,” the license for this version doesn’t allow for commercial use."

Thanks, Jeff! (I noticed that OneNote retails for $99 itself - so it is a very good deal!)

This fits in perfectly with an article from PC Magazine,
12 Tools to Keep Your School Life Organized, which lists software to help college students organize their studies, time, social life, diet, entertainment, and more!

Related Posts:
Getting Organized for School - A Successful Day Starts the Night Before, Getting Organized for School - School Supplies and Backpacks, Hope for Disorganized Students!, Homework battles, Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist, Getting Organized for School - Learning Style, Getting Organized for School - Document Organizing System, Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub, Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep, Get Organized for School (or life!) - A Family Calendar, Organizing for School - Papers, Get Organized for School - Clothing Inventory

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Decluttering in 5 - 20 Decluttering Tasks You Can Do In Five Minutes or Less

I used to hate emptying the dishwasher - until one day I decided to time myself and see how long it took to do this dreaded chore. Around five minutes. For some reason, knowing that it only took five minutes removed my mental barrier! It's still not my favorite thing to do in the world, but I don't dread it like I used to do.

Next time you find yourself procrastinating about some unpleasant task, time yourself. See if that knocks down a few of your mental barriers against that task.

My mom mentioned reading an article in her local paper about decluttering tasks you could do in five minutes. So I got to thinking - what are some other dreaded chores that only take a few minutes. Here are a few I came up with:

1. Sweep the bathroom or kitchen floor
2. Mop the bathroom or kitchen floor
3. Dust one room
4. Empty the dishwasher
5. Fold a load of clothes
6. Clean the kitchen countertops
7. Wipe off the kitchen or dining room table
8. Sort the mail
9. Clean the storm door window
10. Declutter the surface of a coffee table
11. Clean the bathroom sink
12. Clean the kitchen sink
13. Empty the trash
14. Clean off your desk – or a corner of it!
15. Throw away the old food in your fridge
16. Have everyone in the household pick up their items in a common room and take them to their own room
17. Place newspapers in a recycling bag
18. Clean a mirror
19. Clean out a drawer
20. Make a to-do list (relieve your brain of clutter!)

So, if you have a few minutes, you can make your surroundings more pleasant with little effort! By doing a little at a time, decluttering and cleaning don't have to require enormous chunks of time.

What do you do to declutter in short snatches of time?

Related Posts: Decluttering in 10 - Entry Way, Decluttering in Three, Decluttering in 5 - Check out the Shelf Life of Your Spices, Declutter in Five - Decluttering your Bookmarks or Favorites

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Getting Organized for School - A Successful Day Starts the Night Before

Wouldn’t you love to have a peaceful, stress-free morning tomorrow? Starting the night before can help eliminate the rush and push, getting your day off to a pleasant and calm start.

Getting Your Child Organized

Knowing how much sleep your child needs is essential to his well-being and his success at school. Trying to function well in a sleep-deprived stupor is impossible. I feel strongly that a huge role of mine as a mom and foster mom is to create an atmosphere where my child can succeed. In order to insure that my children get enough sleep, I work backwards:

- I figure out when my child needs to be in bed with the lights out in order to get the sleep she requires.

- We determine how much time is needed for her nightly routine – shower/bath, brushing teeth, room decluttering, prayers, reading, etc. – and start the routine that much earlier than bedtime.

- Knowing how much time is needed for her morning routine - shower/bath, brushing teeth, breakfast, etc., have your child set the alarm to allow enough time for her morning routine to be accomplished without rush.

- Before her evening routine starts, I ask my child to choose her clothes for tomorrow and lay them out.

- Before choosing her clothes, she should have packed her backpack – homework assignments, permission slips, gym clothes, etc., checking her backpack checklist (see post on July 30, 2008).

- Before packing her backpack, she can pack her lunch and put it in the fridge. If she doesn't want to make a sandwich the night before because it will get soggy, at least she can pack everything else and know which kind of sandwich she will make in the morning. (I must confess, I made my girls’ lunches throughout high school. For some reason it stressed them out, and I didin't mind doing it.)

Getting Yourself Organized

If I am running behind in the morning, it makes life stressful for everyone! So I try to create the same type of routine for myself. If I am sleep deprived, I get crabby and little things that shouldn't bother me trigger inappropriate responses.

- I need to know how much sleep I need and determine when I need to be in bed with the lights out in order to get it.

- Working backwards again, I calculate how much time I need for my nightly routine and start the routine that much earlier than bedtime.

- During my routine, I think through what my morning routine will be and how much time it will take, including fixing breakfast and making sure everyone else gets out the door on time. I set my alarm to allow for that to happen without panic. Ten minutes can change panic to calm, so I try not to cut my morning routine too short.

- Before I start my routine or during my routine, I think through what I'm going to wear tomorrow and make sure it's clean, ironed, etc.

- Before that, I think through my schedule for tomorrow and pack my briefcase and/or purse (backpack or diaper bag for some of you) with what I need for the day tomorrow. I'm much less likely to forget something if I can think it through calmly.

- If I'm going to need a lunch, I'll prepare it before I pack my bag and stick it in the fridge. If I take leftovers from dinner, I try to package them while putting the food away after dinner.

- While I'm packing my lunch or while preparing dinner, I look to see what I have planned for breakfast. When I plan my meals for the week, I also plan breakfasts so I can get what I need when I do my weekly grocery shopping.

- After dinner is a good time to set the table for breakfast. If you have two tables - one in the kitchen and one in the dining room, you can set both whenever you empty the dishwasher - one for breakfast and one for dinner.

It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? It’s easy to see why time slips away without even realizing it. But by being intentional about your evening schedule, you’re creating an atmosphere of success for both your child and yourself which will hopefully result in a peaceful and productive day tomorrow!

What do you do to get your day off to a good start?

Related Posts: Getting Organized for School - School Supplies and Backpacks, Hope for Disorganized Students!, Homework battles, Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist, Getting Organized for School - Learning Style, Getting Organized for School - Document Organizing System, Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub, Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep, Get Organized for School (or life!) - A Family Calendar, Organizing for School - Papers, Get Organized for School - Clothing Inventory

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Getting Organized for School - School Supplies and Backpacks

School Supplies

One of my daughters was a procrastinator. More than once she would announce after dinner that she had a project due the next day and needed poster board or other supplies.

To prevent myself from having to participate in her procrastination by making a special trip to get supplies, I started keeping supplies of poster board, foam board, report folders/covers, printer ink and paper on hand. I tried to maintain a good supply of markers, colored pencils, glue sticks, and other such items, too.

If you haven't purchased all your school supplies yet, you may want to pick up report and project supplies at the same time and save yourself a trip. I find that Sam's frequently has pens, paper, and ink at more reasonable prices than office supply stores. And the dollar store is a great resource, too!


Wheels are wonderful! A backpack on wheels is much kinder than one that must be carried over the shoulders. I've tried to lift our foster daughters' backpacks without success - I don't know how they do it!

However, if your child or his school insists on unwheeled backpacks, here are a few tips I have recently learned:

- the weight of a backpack should not exceed 15% of a child’s body weight, according to the American Occupational Therapy Association

- to prevent back strain, the backpack should be carried on two shoulders and should have wide, well-padded straps

- the lowest part of the backpack should be no lower than 4 inches above the waist

- heaviest books should be carried closest to the back with lighter objects in the front pockets

- backpacks should be cleaned out weekly to eliminate unnecessary items.
Source: CNN/health.com.

Any tips for us? Please click comments below to share your ideas.

Related Posts: Hope for Disorganized Students!, Homework battles, Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist, Getting Organized for School - Learning Style, Getting Organized for School - Document Organizing System, Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub, Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep, Get Organized for School (or life!) - A Family Calendar, Organizing for School - Papers, Get Organized for School - Clothing Inventory

Monday, August 18, 2008

Are the Olympics Causing Road Rage?

I’m suffering from sleep deprivation. Each night I think, “I won’t stay up tonight to watch the entire Olympics.” Then my husband turns on the TV and I become immersed in (get it?) watching Michael Phelps make history by winning 8 gold medals and setting 7 world records, cheering on Dora Torres competing at age 41, witnessing the women’s gymnastics team win gold and silver in the all around – a first ever. I can’t believe I watched the entire women’s marathon! What is this magnetic hold the Olympics has on me?

I noticed I was rather grouchy on Friday and started wondering if there is more road rage on the East Coast due to the Olympics. Are there more cases of aggression, abuse and assault? When the Olympics ends after midnight on some nights (close to 1 am on the night of women’s gymnastics), what is the effect on those living in the Eastern time zone? Do we have a whole region of the United States living on frayed nerves?

But, hey. You need to experience those special events at times. No matter how organized and scheduled you are, you need to throw it out the window every once in a while and witness history or make memories.

When we lived in Kenya, the Safari Rally came through our little town of Kericho. At 2 am. The Safari Rally is considered by many to be the toughest rally in the world. My husband felt like this was an experience our girls should not miss. So he rousted them out of bed and took them to the main road, where they sat on the hood of our car in their pajamas watching the racers pass by.

Sleep is a wonderful and necessary thing. Having a workable schedule is essential to accomplishing your goals and leaving a meaningful legacy. But being spontaneous, making memories, and experiencing history-in-the-making energizes your life! Then, take a nap.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Getting Organized for School - Planning Dinner

Although I love summertime and the more relaxed schedule, I'm usually ready for school to start in the fall. By then, I'm looking forward to a little more structure in my life. An aspect of that is putting a quick, tasty, balanced meal on the table every night. I feel strongly that providing a good meal for my family is part of creating an atmosphere for their success.

These days, It is even more motivating to plan dinner with food becoming more expensive. I recently read an article on ways to fight rising food costs, which suggested:

- eat at home
- plan your menus before shopping
- shop infrequently
- don't buy prepared food.

With a little planning, you can prepare delicious and nutritious meals at home for a fraction of the cost of eating out. When you consider four combo meals at a fast food restaurant comes out to about $20, you could buy steak or fish, real vegetables and fruit for less than that for a family of four. It takes a few more minutes, but you don't feel guilty afterwards!

If you are at a loss as to what to plan for dinner or if you're bored with what you've been cooking, I have an answer for you: Hassle Free Dinners. I spent a couple of years creating this CD with a year's worth of seven dinner menus per week. Each weekly menu contains color-coded instructions for each day of the week and a weekly shopping list.

Recipes show amounts for two, four, and six servings so you don't have to do the math. Nutritional information and cost per serving is listed for most recipes. And no entree is repeated during the entire year.

Each week includes 1-2 chicken, 1-2 beef, 1-2 pork, and 1-2 fish recipes, with one meatless meal. Each meal includes protein, starch, and something red and something green - fruit and/or veggies. Menus are listed according to months, and use seasonal produce for that time of year. Don't worry - no liver or brussel sprouts!

This system allows you to shop once a week, saving bunches of time and money. I read the other day about a woman who plans her meals on the way home from work, keeps recipes in her car, and stops at the store each night on the way home. Even if she spends only 20 minutes each time she shops, that's 100 minutes for five days. I can usually do my weekly shopping in an hour or less when I have a plan.

Hassle Free Dinners is for people who don't mind cooking, but don't like to plan or are out of ideas. It's a marriage of dinnertime and professional organization, streamlining the time you need to spend in the kitchen in order to put a decent meal on the table.

For more information about Hassle Free Dinners, click the title above.

How do you streamline the time you spend in the kitchen?

Related Posts: More Reviews by Multitasking Mama, Fun Food Tips, Saving Money by Being Organized, Planning Dinner

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Organizing Your iTunes Music

There are a couple of programs out there that can help you organize your iTunes music, especially those designated "Track 01" where you don't know what song it is until you play it.

John Sanders from WBAL in Baltimore recommends TuneUpMedia.com which will read the digital fingerprinting on each song to identify the name of the song, the artist, and will even put the album artwork on your computer while it's playing. It's free up to the first 500 songs and then it's $12 a year after that for unlimited use. Sanders says that MusicBrainz is free but leaves a bit to be desired as it doesn't organize every song.

Sanders also recommends Last.fm, which is kind of like social networking for music lovers. It updates your profile with the songs you're listening to, as well as making it available for your friends to see.

To learn more from John Sanders' Web Trends, click the title above to see his article and video about organizing iTunes music.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

It's Launch Day at Ellie's Bags

Ellie's Bags has some very creative ideas when it comes to diaper bags! These are not your mom's diaper bags. It's evident they have put a lot of thought into their diaper bag systems, and even have a tutorial on how to use them. Click the title above to see how cute and efficient they are!

My Guest Blog on Creating a Mudroom

Drop in on Laura at I'm An Organizing Junkie and see my guest blog on creating a mudroom. Check out her Round-Up for this month which is on entryways/mudrooms. Organize yours, submit it, and you may win her prize! Don't forget to look around while you're there to see all the resources she offers to make your life more organized.

Getting Organized for School - Document Organizing System

David Schwartz over at DOC-OA Document Organizing Assistant tells me that they have updated their organizing system for students. It's a very streamlined document oganizing system for elementary through college, helping students keep track of assignments, study sheets, finished homework, and more. Check it out! Click the title above to learn more about it.

Related Posts: Hope for Disorganized Students!, Homework battles, Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist, Getting Organized for School - Learning Style

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Organizing Your Herb Garden, Part 2 - Drying Herbs

After listening to me rant and rave about squirrels destroying my herb garden, I want to assure you that I eventually did have herbs in my garden. In fact, I have a plethora of some of them! I decided to try some new herbs, one of which is pineapple sage. It smells delightful, and we've tried it on chicken, which wasn't a great hit. After searching for recipes using pineapple sage, I hit upon pineapple sage tea - delicious! Just pour boiling water over several leaves and let it steep.

Little did I know when I planted pineapple sage that it would grow into a monstrous bush! My husband has already trimmed it once to keep it from overtaking the other herbs around it - a good time to dry them.

Last year, Al, the guy who put in our new windows, advised me on how he dries herbs, so I used his method: wrap rubber bands around the stems of a bunch of the same herb and hang upside down in a dry, airy spot. I must say I felt like I was walking right out of the pages of Little House on the Prairie, having those herbs hang from pegs in my kitchen.

This year, however, I'm trying a different method. A woman in my arthritis aquatics class belongs to an herb club. Rose told me that you can dry herbs in your microwave. I tried it on some basil and it works wonderfully. I placed one layer of basil (make sure it's not wet) between paper towels. I started with one minute on high and repeated until the basil was dry, being careful not to burn it. I put my dried basil in a zip lock for now until I have time to take it off the stems.

Last year I put my dried herbs (sans stems) in my plastic colander and rubbed them through the holes into another bowl. My husband suggests whizzing them around in my mini-chopper this year, which I haven't tried yet. But it sounds like a good idea.

So if you were inspired to grow herbs this year like my friend Margaret, yours may be ready to dry. To keep your herbs tasting good, pinch off the flowers when they start to grow. If they go to seed, it makes the herbs bitter. I found out by accident last year that my parsley would grow through the winter. More than once, I brushed snow off my parsley and cut some for dinner. Even after cutting them for drying, some herbs came back and grew until frost.

Do you have any herb tips - cooking or growing?

Related posts: Organizing Your Herb Garden, Organizing your garden, Score: Squirrels 1, Bev 0, Feed the Squirrels? - Hah!, Managing Invasive Herbs

Monday, August 11, 2008

Getting Organized for School - Learning Style

One of the greatest gifts you can give your child is understanding her learning style. This greatly increased my ability to help my children learn - knowing whether she was an auditory, visual, or kinesthetic learner. I didn't force my learning style on her.

Cynthia Tobias has written several books on learning styles and learning in general. I'll recommend two that I found very enlightening: The Way They Learn and Every Child Can Succeed. She gives numerous ideas of implementing each type of learning style.

As you talk these concepts over with your child, knowing his leaning style gives your child confidence, the ability to adapt his learning accordingly, and the freedom from comparison. You may find it helpful to discuss this information with your child's teacher, especially if he is a kinesthetic learner aand must be moving in order to learn.

Click the book images on the sidebar to get a more detailed description of each book.

What have you done to help your child learn? What books do you recommend?

Related Posts: Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub, Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep, Get Organized for School (or life!) - A Family Calendar, Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist, Organizing for School - Papers, Get Organized for School - Clothing Inventory, Hope for Disorganized Students!

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Organizing for College - or Just Having Fun

If you're taking your child to college or just trying to squeeze in some fun - Expedia is offering a fabulous deal - 50% off hotels through the end of September. Even they say this is one of the best deals they've ever had. Just had to pass this along to you. Click this link to save some bucks (http://www.dpbolvw.net/click-2537020-10489996?GOTO=DAILY&page=/promos/deals/50_percent_off/default.asp&afflid=aff.wd.promo.50%_off.20080804)!

Friday, August 8, 2008

Ellie's Bags - A New Idea in Diaper Bags - For You or as a Gift

Ellie's Bags is getting ready to launch their new line of diaper bags on August 13. In the meantime, they are sponsoring a giveaway - a $25 gift certificate. Use it for yourself or give it to a friend. Click the title above to sign up!

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Organizing for College - Time Management Tip for Campus Calm Blog

Campus Calm is a wonderful resource for college students. Maria Pascucci founded Campus Calm to help students reduce the stress in their lives while still succeeding in college. She has loads of resources and numerous experts who provide insight in many areas.

I am privileged to be the Time Management Expert for Campus Calm. Click the title above to check out my time management tip for college students for this month. While there, wander around the site. Give your friends who are college students a gift by pointing them in the direction of Campus Calm . Or buy them a membership to Campus Calm University!

Related Posts: Organizing for College - Guest Blogger Sarah Scrafford, Great info for college students, their parents, and college professors, Packing for College, Review of Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student, College Survival Kits, Organizing For College - Dorm Room, Organizing for School - Papers, Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Announcing Our New Updated Website - 25% Discount

I am so pleased to announce the launch of our new updated website! Kudos to Comfort at Concept Design Studios for spending many hours redesigning the site to make it fun, colorful, easy to navigate and simple to use.

The site is organized to make it quick and effortless for you to find what you need to organize your home, your office, or your time. This is a great time of year to get organized, and we have just what you need to help you get started!

To celebrate our launch, we'd like to offer you a 25% discount on any order through August 20. Use the code 123 to receive your discount.

I'd love it if you'd pass the word to your friends!

Hoarders vs. Pack Rats and Living with Them

My mom recently sent me an article by Heidi Baker and Eden Jarrin, co-founders of www.BeJane.com, an online community and resource for women's home improvement. The article spells out the difference between hoarders and pack rats, and what to do if you live with either one.

Read the entire article published by Oklahoma City's The Oklahoman by clicking the title above. And if you're the handy type, discover home improvement projects to do yourself by clicking on their website above.

Thanks Mom!

Related Posts: Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind, Schedule Daily Clean Up Times, Reduce Your Stress by Organizing, Chopping Big Chores down into Bite-Sized Chunks, Decluttering Tips

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

New blog post: Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub. www.1-2-3GetOrganized.blogspot.com

Getting Organized for School - Creating a Hub

If you don't have one already, create a hub - a location where you keep papers to be signed for school, library books, invitations, and other important information. The point is to have one location into which you deposit vital information so you know where to look when you need it.

It can be a drawer, a decorative box, a shelf - whatever works for you. And it needs to be in a central location. When my kids were home, I used a basket in my kitchen.

If you want to include backpacks, briefcases, and keys in your hub, you could put up pegs or hooks near the door you normally enter. Or use a coat rack or a coat closet to store these vital necessities.

How do you handle the incoming information from school?

Related Posts: Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep, Get Organized for School (or life!) - A Family Calendar, Getting Organized for School - Backpack Checklist, Organizing for School - Papers, Get Organized for School - Clothing Inventory, Hope for Disorganized Students!

Monday, August 4, 2008

Organizing for College - Guest Blogger Sarah Scrafford

I'm so pleased to invite Sarah Scrafford to share a blog with us. If you are a college student or know one, Sarah offers some great advice!
Sort out your Organization Problems

My dad is a profound thinker who excels in converting his ideas into intelligent and profitable ventures. But there’s one thing I don’t get – his perpetually disorganized and cluttered desk. Woe betide his secretary or anyone else who attempts to restore some form of order to the chaotic mess of papers and other office paraphernalia; he argues that if the desk is cleaned, he’s bound to forget where he left stuff, little bothering to even listen to my take on the value of a clean and orderly desk with a place for everything and everything in its place.

I guess tidiness and order are characteristics that we acquire as we grow up, because I certainly didn’t inherit them from my dad. Besides saving an enormous amount of time when you’re searching for something, being organized is one way of letting others know that you are disciplined, in how you take care of your belongings and in how you deal with any aspect of life.

College is a time for higher learning, not just from the pages of a book, but in the art of self-discipline too. It’s time students took the effort to change the stereotype that college dorms are messy places that stink to high glory. By turning around one minor aspect like the cleanliness and order of your room, you’ll find that the same attitude spills over into the more important things in your life. Here’s how students can maintain order in their rooms, the easy way:

· When you move in to your residence (either on or off campus), don’t just dump your belongings anywhere; make an effort to identify the right place for each of your things, and put them away neatly.
· If you have stuff that’s left over after you unpack, take what you don’t absolutely need back home to your parents.
· Your books and study materials need to be kept separately from your other belongings.
· Make sure your papers are filed neatly and pinned so they don’t end up flying out the window or being swept away in the trash can.
· If you eat in your room, throw out the leftovers and empty containers immediately instead of waiting for a week to clear up the mess. The sooner you tidy up, the less stains and spills you’ll have to deal with.
· Put your dirty laundry in a designated basket so that the smell of sweat isn’t overpowering when you enter the room.
· Set aside time every week to do your laundry and take care of other personal errands.
· Tack up a list to a cupboard where you can add items that you’ve run out of and need to replenish. This not only simplifies your shopping process, but also makes sure that you’re not left high and dry when you need stationery or other personal provisions.
· As much as possible, do not borrow stuff from others or lend them yours. It’s hard to keep track of what belongs to whom when there’s too much exchanging going on.
· Make notes of things you’re supposed to do for the day. Better still, set up an online calendar of all the events you’re supposed to attend all semester. Check your to-do list each morning before you leave your room.
· If you’re not a morning person and have trouble waking up all fresh and cheery, wake up 10 or 20 minutes before you normally do so you have time to compose yourself, take a shower and be as fresh as a daisy for class.

While there are no hard and fast rules to be followed in your attempt at order, a regular routine helps when you’re a student. An orderly existence is the hallmark of an orderly mind, which in turn makes sure you are successful in anything you do.

Sarah Scrafford is an industry critic, as well as a regular contributor on the subject of top online university. She invites your questions, comments and freelancing job inquiries at her email address: sarah.scrafford25@gmail.com

Friday, August 1, 2008

Announcing the Winners of My Bloggy Giveaways - and a Free Gift for Everyone Else

I'm pleased to announce the winners of my four Bloggy Giveaways:

5 Organizing books - Mechelle
Hassle Free Dinners - Tasha
3 Organizing Ebooks - Sarah
Office Organizing Ebooks - Audrey

If you didn't win, I'd still like to give you a free gift - a downloadable article on Cheating Time - an exerpt from my Time Management books. Just leave a comment on this blog and be sure to include your email address.

If you are interested in some of my books, watch for my blogs next week - I'll be announcing my new website with a special sale. Make sure you sign up for my blog so you don't miss out. :-)

Thanks so much for entering my giveaways - it was fun, wasn't it? I loved reading your comments - thanks for your kind words! By the way, since this is my first bloggy giveaway, I haven't gotten up to speed on the random selection software, so my husband chose the winners randomly.

Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep

One of the nicest gifts you can give to your child is a good night's sleep. My goal as a mom has been to provide an atmosphere of success - creating an atmosphere where my child can succeed.

In order to do this, I must make sure that I have some routines and personal discipline in place so that my home runs smoothly and my child's needs are met. If I am living in chaos, most likely my child will not have a peaceful atmosphere in which to grow, not to mention having food to eat when hungry, clean clothes, and enough sleep to function effectively.

One of my hot buttons is getting enough sleep - for myself and for my children. Neither of us can do well if we are sleep deprived - we're grouchy, slow to respond, and easily stressed.

I came across an article this morning that details what sleep does for us - makes us better athletes and better drivers, helps us grow, reduces stress, helps us learn and remember, and gives us a positive attitude. Several of these have direct impact on school for our children. Click the title above to read the entire article - important information every parent should know.

Summertime usually means a more relaxed schedule and later bedtimes. Begin now to gradually move bedtime to the time that insures your child gets enough sleep each night. If you sense your child is sleep deprived, make it less gradual - you want your child to start school fresh and envigorated! A good indication that your child (or you) is sleep deprived is that he falls asleep when sitting.

In the meantime, observe your child - how much sleep does she need? A good way to tell is to allow your child to wake up naturally for several days. Observe yourself while you're at it, and figure out what time you need to go to bed in order to get enough sleep. It's worth it, but hard to do.

Even if you don't have school-age children, giving your child enough sleep every night creates an atmosphere where he can succeed and function at his peak. And make sure you get enough sleep yourself - you'll be such a better parent.

If you need help making this happen, check out one of our time management books on our website.