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?