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.

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.