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.

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Wait - Don't Throw That Away!

Are you ready for April Fool's Day tomorrow? If not, here are some ideas. My favorite is the kitchen sink trick. I'll use it on the girls - after school, though!

So here's our blog for today - can you believe I'm encouraging you to keep things rather than throw them away? This article by Amanda Kwan encourages us to save money and our landfills by finding uses for things we would normally throw away.

15 New Uses for Old Clutter

"Springtime is here again, and with it the annual tradition of cleaning house. But that doesn't have to mean bag after bag of garbage.

Given fears of a recession and worries about overflowing landfills, there's new incentive to find second lives for many household items.

"We can't afford to keep living disposable lives," said Lori Baird, a co-author of Don't Throw It Out: Recycle and Reuse to Make Things Last, a compendium from Yankee magazine. "It makes sense for all of us to be more careful about how we spend money."

Some of Baird's favorite tips include using the wire racks from an old refrigerator as cooking racks for baked goods, and donating old towels to animal shelters, which use them for dog baths.

But not everything can be salvaged. Baird warns against reusing items such as children's car seats, which have expiration dates because of frequent changes in safety features. "If there's ever a question of safety involved in reusing an object, I'd say don't do it," Baird said in an e-mail.

For everything else, repurposing often requires just a little washing and a touch of imagination. The next time you're contemplating giving something the old heave-ho, here are 15 tips to give it new use.


Filling large outdoor planters with soil for a small plant can be costly. Pieces of a broken clay pot or ceramic dish help drainage and prop up undersized plants. Place shards at the bottom of a large pot until almost half the pot is full. Add a layer of plastic foam pieces or a mixture of gravel or pebbles (you can also use filler from old aquariums or wine corks), and then fill with potting soil.


If you're trimming trees to prepare for the growing season or cleaning the yard, save long fallen twigs or branches that are in good condition. Tie in a bunch and let dry completely in the garage. Spray paint them in white, silver or gold, and display in a vase or large urn as indoor decorations.


ReadyMade, a savvy do-it-yourself magazine, suggests making a wine rack with mailing tubes and an old milk carton crate from your college dorm years (or a box that's at least 12 inches deep). Measure the depth of the crate and cut the tubes to this length with sharp scissors. Stack the tubes in the crate and turn the crate on its side on a flat surface. Each cubby hole can fit a wine bottle. Be sure to store the crate in a dry, cool area.


Forks, spoons and knives with broken handles can get new bodies from old pens, according to Jaspal Marwah and Sarah Hunt of Vancouver. They're winners of ReadyMade's MacGyver Challenge, a monthly contest that challenges readers to find innovative ways to reuse common objects. To make their pen cutlery, discard everything inside the pen except its tube and cap. Fill the tube with hot glue, shove in the heads of the cutlery, and let dry.


Got a stained or tired shower curtain? Baird suggests using it as a waterproof cover for outdoor furniture or a grill.


Shredded paperwork from your home or office shredder, small rugs or bath mats, and old towels can be donated to local animal shelters. The paper and bath mats make beds for dogs and cats, and towels are needed to wash animals.


Watch this: Three-ring binders from yours or your children's old school days can house CDs or DVDs that've lost their cases. Don't Throw It Out says to store them in album refill pages for 5 x 7 photos.


Save old socks or ones that've lost their partner to store delicate Christmas ornaments. You can also use socks to stuff the insides of shoes so they don't lose their shape in storage.


Revitalize an old broom by covering the bristles with ruined pantyhose. Cut a piece from the leg, and stretch it over the broom's bristles. The nylon's static will attract lint and small dust particles as you sweep.


Make a safe out of an old hardcover textbook or outdated encyclopedia. Don't Throw It Out suggests opening the book to a spot at least one inch from the back. Prop the book open with a paperweight. Use a pencil and a straightedge to mark a rectangle in the middle of the page. Cut out the rectangle with a craft knife - score the edges heavily, and you'll be able to cut through several pages at a time. Repeat until you're about to cut into the back cover. Place a piece of cardboard or a thick piece of scrap paper over the cover so that you don't cut into it.


Fashion a toy for Fido from a discarded pillowcase. Roll it lengthwise and make three knots - one in the middle and two at the ends.


Go through the paper recyclables before you wash the windows, because you can use old newspapers to clean glass surfaces. Scrunch up newsprint and dip it into a mixture of equal parts white vinegar and warm water. Wipe windows with the wet paper.


Another tip from Don't Throw It Out: Help birds build nests by giving them leftover yarn from a crafting project. Cut the yarn into 3-inch strips and put them in a netted bag, similar to the ones garlic or onions come in. Hang the bag in a tree.


The long handle of a broom or map makes a cheap curtain rod for a small window or doorway. Wrap the length of the pole with metallic contact paper. Drill a small hole at the ends of the pole to insert an L-hook, from which you can hang the curtain.


Dry leftover slivers from bath soap bars and place them in a large zip top plastic bag. Use a hammer to smash the bars into small pieces, and then close the bag. Poke several small holes in the bag with a pin, and then toss the bag into storage bins with clothes. The soap will repel moths and other insects, and keep clothes smelling fresh."

Please share your ideas on repurposing clutter! If you receive this via email, use this link.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Reduce Your Stress - Say No

Happy Monday! Hope you had a nice weekend! We concluded a lovely visit with my friend Margaret, worked on taxes (yipee!) while watching two different versions of Pride and Prejudice (not at the same time!), had one of our former Shelter Care girls over for dinner (she's in college now), and relaxed a bit.

I'm also discovering how clutzy I am! I hurt my back on Thursday (don't know how!) and can't pick things off the floor. So I've become aware of how many things I drop and have to leave on the floor for my husband to pick up! Looks like the chiropractor is in my future.

So, on to our blog ...

Reduce Your Stress - Say No

Why is it so hard to say no? Maybe it's because we don't want to disappoint, or maybe it's because we feel empowered when we rescue others. We may not know our own skill sets well enough to know if we are equipped to meet the need. Or maybe it's because we don't have a clear picture of our own priorities against which to measure others' requests.

Whatever the case, saying no can be difficult! If you have trouble saying no, you may find yourself over-committed, doing things you are not passionate about, feeling used, ill-equipped to do the job, or seeing your own priorities take a back seat to those of others.

How do you learn to say no?

1. The first step is to know your own priorities - at work and at home.

If you are asked to take on an assignment at work and you are already overloaded, you can say something like this: "These are my current top priorities. Where do you see this fitting in, in light of them?" Then your boss sees your current workload and must decide if the new assignment is more important than those on which you are working. He/she also gets a sense that you have clear priorities, yet are available for clarifying input. If need be, draw up a time line of when your current projects will be completed, to give context to expectations.

If someone asks you to take on the PTA bake sale, or even just donate a batch of brownies, ask for some time to think about it. If you have trouble saying no, this should become your mantra, "Let me look at my schedule and get back to you." This gives you a chance to think calmly about whether this is something to which you want to commit your time and efforts.

2. Ask yourself if you are the best person to do the job.

If you are well-equipped to do the job, ask yourself if it is something that fits with your priorities and time availability. If you are not well-equipped to do the job, suggest someone else who might have the needed skills. If the job is something you'd like to learn, ask to be mentored by someone who could teach you to do it.

I was asked to be the church treasurer for our little church. I immediately said no. I don't know how much time it would have taken, but I don't have much of that. Nor am I well-equipped to do the job. There is a reason I switched from accounting to business finance in college! Plus I hate tedious jobs like that, and I think I would have dreaded doing the job.

By knowing yourself well, you can choose to operate in the areas of your strength, which is energizing and satisfying. Operating in areas of weakness is draining and high-risk.

3. Ask yourself why you want to say yes.

Are you committed to the project or cause?
Does it fit with your priorities?
Do you have the time to do it?
Do you want to look good in the requester's eyes?
Do you feel you can't say no to a boss, client, co-worker, friend, etc?
Are you attracted by the power it would give you?
Are you only thinking about how good it would look on your resume?
Do you have a realistic picture of your skills?
Do you want to have the feeling of rescuing the person/project?
Do you have a realistic picture of the time the project will take?
Are you feeling intimidated by the person asking?

Evaluate your answers to the above questions to gain insight into your own motivations.

4. Make your decision based on your priorities, time availability, skills, passions, and motivations. Becoming over-committed at work or at home not only affects you, but those closest to you.

If you are stressed because you can't say no, you are losing opportunities to say yes to the things that are important to you!

5. If you are unsure of your gifts, priorities, and passions, start studying yourself. Enjoy your unique design and shine in areas you love! If you need some help getting started, see the resources below.

What helps you say no? If you'd like to comment and receive this by email, use this link.

Similar blogs:

Why Throw Shallow New Years' Resolutions at Yourself When You Really Need to Rethink Life?

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

To Do List or Not To Do List - That is the Question!

- Any of the 1-2-3...Get Organized time management books will help you determine your priorities, passions, and gifts. Available in books, ebooks, workbooks, and eworkbooks.

- If you prefer one-on-one interaction, a Rethinking Life coaching session may be of interest to you.

- Myers-Briggs Personality Type Inventory. Discover your own distinctive design - understand and appreciate yourself and others in a new way! Comment below if you'd like more info.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Announcing my winners!

Good Saturday morning! I don't usually blog on Saturdays, but this is an exception - announcing the winners of my giveaways:

My first prize:
Hassle Free Dinners PLUS Three Steps to Planning Dinner goes to: Diane from where do I get started?????????. Drop by her blog for a visit!

My second prize: A free sponsorship of a Mom Audience weekly email ($250 value) goes to:
Em from Em - M is for mommy. Check out her skyoozmee - a unique new burpcloth to make feeding time cleaner and easier than ever before! www.skyoozmee.com.

My third prize:
A 6-month sidebar ad on Mom Audience emails ($125 value) goes to: Angie from
Tiny Tots With Style. Such cute clothes for your little ones!

My fourth prize: your choice of my time management books for mom - part of my 1-2-3...Get Organized series goes to: Meagan at Meagan Designs Kaedan Krafts. Check out her "tomorrow's fashions today."

Friday, March 27, 2009

The "Do It Now" Mindset

So enjoying Margaret being here! We've talked and laughed, had high tea, played Settlers of Catan...

On to our blog. Let's talk about clutter, shall we?

The "Do It Now" Mindset

Since this is still National Clutter Awareness Week, let's address clutter once again. Adopt the "Do It Now" mindset.

- Instead of putting something down, telling yourself you'll put it away later, put it away now.

It probably only takes a few steps and a few seconds. Even if it takes more than a few steps, you're moving which is a good thing.

By adopting this mentality, you'll be saving yourself long spells of decluttering.

And your surroundings will be clutter-free.

And you'll feel light-hearted because of it!

- Instead of letting your cleaning stack up, do it as you go.

Wipe off the bathroom sink each morning as you finish your morning routine.

Wash or rinse dishes as you cook. Wipe kitchen counters when you make a mess. By doing so, things don't get hardened, making cleaning harder and more time consuming.

If you notice a room needs to be dusted, get out your duster and do it now. It will probably take less than five minutes, and it will be done!

Clean during commercials or when you're on the phone. Then you don't have to designate as much time for concentrated cleaning.

- Don't let laundry build up to massive proportions.

Have sorting baskets in your bedroom for each color (see blog below).

Do a load when a basket gets full.

Dry it when you will be around so you will be able to take clothing out of the dryer immediately, saving time, wrinkles, ironing, or more drying.

- Read a magazine or newspaper and toss it.

How quickly these items produce clutter! If you haven't read today's paper, It's likely you won't read old news tomorrow. Or if there's one section you want to read, toss the rest. But give yourself a deadline - if you haven't read it in three days, for example, toss it.

When you read a magazine, tear out the pages you want to keep and toss the rest of the magazine. File the pages or insert them into page protectors in categorized notebooks so you can find them easily.

Don't create more clutter with torn-out pages lying around - file them now!

So here are a few ways to reduce your clutter, save time, and make your surroundings more pleasant. Try the "Do It Now" philosphy!

What do you "do now" to reduce the clutter in your home? If you'd like to comment and receive this blog via email, use this http://1-2-3getorganized.blogspot.com">link.

Similar blogs:

Organizing Laundry

Laundry tip - color-coded laundry bags

Decluttering in Three

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Oliver's Labels

Good Morning! Our foster daughter of the week went home yesterday at 5 pm, and my good friend Margaret arrived about an hour later. When we both lived in Maryland, we would walk together in the mornings. My girls babysat her boys. This summer one of her boys is going to intern for Comfort's graphic design business. Wow! Time flies. What a treat to have Margaret here for a few days!

On to our blog ...

Oliver's Labels

I'm trying out Oliver's Labels. Specifically, I'm trying out Stick-eez clothing labels. I haven't really used labels lately, as my own kids are grown. But Oliver's Labels asked me if I'd review their labels and I do send things to Sara frequently via her headquarters office. I need to label those things. So why not?

So, to give them a test, I attached a Stick-eez label to the label of a towel and washed it in hot water, dried it, and inspected it. I didn't have to iron it on, I just stuck it on! Now that's a time saver! After the washer and dryer, that label didn't look like it would go anywhere for a very long time.

An amazing aspect of these labels is that there is a tracking number on each label. So if your daughter leaves her coat on the bus, the person who finds it can report it to Oliver's Labels, and Oliver's Labels will notify you! I'm thinking cell phone, laptop .... That's a time saver and a money saver.

There are a variety of cute designs for kids and even designer labels for adults. Oliver's Labels are also available for fundraisers - what a nice change from overpriced food! And if you need some extra cash, you can become an agent.

I have to say I'm pretty impressed with these cute little labels. If you label your child's clothing/possessions or need some labels for yourself, save some time and use Stick-eez labels. There are iron-on labels, too, if you prefer. Click the link above for ordering info.

If you receive this blog via email and want to comment, use this link.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

National Clutter Awareness Week - Give it 5 or 10

It's National Clutter Awareness Week! As if we needed help being aware of our clutter!

I have been using every available minute to work on my new venture, Mom Audience. When I get busy, my office gets cluttered. I know ... I'm a professional organizer ... it shouldn't be that way. But that's how life is, isn't it?

But it only took me about 10 minutes to declutter my office this morning. Why didn't I do it sooner? It's been bothering me for several days now.

My husband and I have been doing 5 Minute Challenges to keep things under control this week. It's amazing what five minutes can do! It's hard for me to give up even five minutes, but it's worth it. Our trouble areas: the office and the laundry room/pantry/storage room.

I took about 10 minutes earlier this week to look through my closet and rearrange some things. While doing so, I got brutal - I got rid of three tops I don't wear. When I swap out my seasonal clothes, I'll try to be as brutal.

It is motivating that Amvets is coming early next month. I keep a container in which I can deposit unwanted items to donate. Then my decluttering doesn't create clutter!

The less clutter I have, the less time it takes to clean! That motivates me! I've just been in the mood lately to live leaner, get rid of the excess.

If you're motivated (or not!) and want to live leaner, take a few minutes and declutter some messy places. Get the family involved! It is mentally, emotionally, and physcially refreshing to have an uncluttered environment.

If you receive this via email and want to comment, use this link.

More blogs about decluttering:

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

Get Organized Month 2009 - Family Five Minute Challenge

Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Organizing Your Garden - Creating Your Own Compost

Good morning! It's still a little chilly here in Ohio, but we did a little work outside last evening. I sanded our front red railing which is in need of some touch up paint.

And my husband put organic compost (pc name for manure!) around our flowers. Our foster daughter for the week helped us do both. Organic compost is not very expensive, but you can make your own, according to Jenn Savedge of mothernature.com. In light of Earth Day coming up April 22, I thought this was an interesting topic.

Here's what Family Circle magazine, April 17, 2009 says: "Instead of paying for fertilizer, create your own compost, suggests Jenn Savedge, blogger at mothernaturenetwork.com. Mix dinner scraps like veggies, eggshells and coffee grounds - no meat or dairy - into a small mound in your yard. Turn with a shovel and sprinkle with water every few weeks. Within a month your pile will be garden-ready."

This was news to me - I thought that you had to leave it much longer than a month. We had a compost heap when we lived in Kenya, but we haven't done one here. The major drawback for me is having scraps sitting in my kitchen before they go out to the compost heap. I guess I could have something out the back door to put them in.

Have any of you tried this? If you receive this blog via email, use this link to leave a comment.

More blogs about gardening:

Tips from a Master Gardener - Watering, Mulch

Tip on Daffodils from my Master Gardener

Tips from a Master Gardener

Monday, March 23, 2009

How Sour Candies can Impair Your Efficiency

Good Morning!

We had a nice weekend with our foster daughter for the week. Even got in some spring cleaning in the kitchen - ceiling, walls, baseboards, ceiling fan, and light fixtures. Still have to do windows, the oven, and oiling the cabinets. Only took us about an hour and a half with three of us working!

So what do sour candies have to do with efficiency? ...

How Sour Candies can Impair Your Efficiency

The spring 2009 edition of Brush Up by HumanaDental.com warns about the lasting effect sour candies can have on your teeth:

"Walk down any candy aisle and you'll find shelves of "extreme" or intense sour and fruit-flavor candies. While the craze is popular with young children, experts say it could have a lasting effect on their teeth. Extremely sour candies are high in acids that can strip away teeth's protective surface, according to the Minnesota Dental Association.

Here's some advice when eating sour candies:

> Rinse right away. Swishing water in your mouth after eating a candy helps wash away the acid.

> Wait 30 minutes to brush. The acid of a sour candy softens the fragile surface of the teeth. Brushing immediately could cause damage.

> Skip fruit flavors. Lemon, grape, and cherry destroy more enamel than cinnamon and mind, which are lower in acid.

> Skip to sugar-free gum. It can satisfy your oral urge while stimulating saliva flow, which protects enamel."

So how does this affect your efficiency? By avoiding sour candies, you and/or your children will reduce the number of visits to the dentist. This will prevent interruptions to your schedule and productivity. It will also eliminate the number of hours you would have had to work to pay for such visits. So it becomes cost-efficient as well.

Who knew the power that sour candies could have over our lives? :)

If you receive this by email and you'd like to comment, use this link.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Ultimate Blog Party - My Fourth Prize

My fourth prize in
The Ultimate Blog Party is your choice of my time management books for mom (pdf) - part of my 1-2-3...Get Organized series. These include Three Steps to Time Management for the Stay-at-Home, Three Steps to Time Management for the Single Mom, and Three Steps to Time Management for the Working Mom.

To enter:

1. Go to my website and see which mom time management book you'd like. Come back and comment about which one you'd prefer and why.

2. Sign up to receive my blog for another entry - come back and leave a comment to that effect.

3. For a third chance to win, go to my blog introducing Mom Audience - a marketplace for moms that will bring moms, mompreneurs, and businesses-that-cater-to-moms together. Sign up to be notified of the official launch if this is something that interests you. Come back and tell me you did so.

4. And lastly, for another chance to win, if you'd like information about advertising on Mom Audience email me at Bev@1-2-3getorganized.com. Come back and leave a comment after doing so.

5. Just kidding! For a bunch more entries, blog, twitter or whatever on your networks about this prize with a link. For each one, make a separate comment and you'll get an extra entry.

Make sure to leave your email address on each entry.

To enter other giveaways, go to the Ultimate Blog Party above. The winner will be announced on March 28.

The Ultimate Blog Party - My Third Prize

My third prize in
The Ultimate Blog Party is a 6-month sidebar ad on Mom Audience emails ($125). I'm offering duplicate prizes here on my blog.

Each Mom Audience email will showcase new businesses, blogs, products, social networks, causes, websites, discounts, giveaways, contests, and lots more categories that interest moms. The purpose of Mom Audience is to bring moms, mompreneurs, and mom-appealing businesses together in a marketplace for moms.

Mom Audience is my brand new venture and will be launched around April 1 and the first Mom Audience email will go out around April 15.

To enter, comment by leaving your name and email address.

For a second chance to win, go to my blog introducing Mom Audience and sign up to be notified of Mom Audience's launch. Come back and comment.

A third entry is yours if you email me to receive info about advertising on Mom Audience. Come back and leave a comment to that effect.

And a fourth way to win is to comment, telling us what you would like to showcase to other moms.

For a bunch more entries, blog, twitter or whatever on your networks about this prize with a link. For each one, make a separate comment and you'll get an extra entry.

Make sure to leave your email address on each entry.

To enter more giveaways in the Ultimate Blog Party, click above. The winner will be announced on March 28.

The Ultimate Blog Party - My Second Prize

My second prize in The Ultimate Blog Party sponsored by 5 Minutes for Mom (I'm offering duplicate prizes here on my blog):

A free sponsorship of a Mom Audience weekly email ($250 value). Each Mom Audience email will showcase new businesses, blogs, products, social networks, causes, websites, discounts, giveaways, contests, and lots more categories that interest moms.

Sponsors will have a blurb at the beginning of each email, showcasing their stuff. Your sponsorship will put you in front of your target audience - moms! I hope to bring you new readers, new clients and more notoriety!

Mom Audience is a brand new venture of mine and will be launched around April 1 and the first Mom Audience email will go out around April 15.

To enter, comment by leaving your name and email address.

For a second chance to win, go to my blog introducing Mom Audience and sign up to be notified of Mom Audience's launch. Come back and comment.

A third entry is yours if you email me to receive info about advertising on Mom Audience. Come back and leave a comment to that effect.

And a fourth way to win is to comment, telling us what you would like to showcase to other moms.

For a bunch more entries, blog, twitter or whatever on your networks about this prize with a link. For each one, make a separate comment and you'll get an extra entry.

Make sure to leave your email address on each entry.

To enter more giveaways in the Ultimate Blog Party, click above.
Winners will be announced on March 28.

The Ultimate Blog Party - My First Prize

Today starts the Ultimate Blog Party sponsored by 5 Minutes for Mom. I'm offering the same prizes here on my blog as at the party.

My first prize is a package including:

- Hassle Free Dinners (pdf)- 52 weeks of dinner menus, instructions, and weekly grocery lists. The menus are color-coded, and include nutritional and cost-per-serving information. It's a marriage of professional organization and dinnertime!


- Three Steps to Planning Dinner (pdf) with editable grocery lists and recipe pages. This books walks you through planning quick, easy, and delicious meal for your family in the shortest amount of time. Included are some of my family's favorite recipes and a place to start your own family cookbook.

What do you need to do to win?

1. Go to my website and choose a book(s) you'd like to have. Come back and comment, listing the book and why you'd like to have it or give it as a gift.

2. Sign up to receive my blog for another entry - come back and leave a comment to that effect.

3. For a third chance to win, go to my blog introducing Mom Audience - a marketplace for moms that will bring moms, mompreneurs, and mom-appealing businesses together. Sign up to be notified of the official launch if this is something that interests you. Come back and tell me you did so.

4. And lastly, for another chance to win, if you'd like information about advertising on Mom Audience email me at Bev@1-2-3getorganized.com. Come back and leave a comment after doing so.

5. Just kidding! For a bunch more of entries, blog, twitter or whatever on your networks about this prize with a link. For each one, make a separate comment and you'll get an extra entry.

Make sure to leave your email address on each entry.

So here are your four chances to put meals on the table that are quick, tasty, and balanced. I hope you win!

To enter other giveaways, go to the Ultimate Blog Party above. Winners will be announced on March 28.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Spending Too Much Time and Energy Searching for Tasteful Clothing?

Good morning! I can hear the birds singing. Just thought you might enjoy a picture of our little crocuses in our front garden - they are so cute!

Let's get on to talking about saving some time shopping ...

Spending Too Much Time and Energy Searching for Tasteful Clothing?

I keep hearing parents complain that it's so hard to find age-appropriate, modest clothing for their kids. I also find it difficult to find clothing for myself that is not too revealing. Family Circle Magazine's April 17, 2009 issue has done some searching for us and lists these sources:

www.tinylittletshirtco.com was inspired by a mom who got tired of seeing suggestive t-shirts while shopping with her girls. From the website: "
Here, you’ll only find good vibes. Whether it’s for girls, moms, boys, or dads, we keep it uplifting—with a dash of humor.

www.shadeclothing.com has modest clothing for women, teens, and a few items for girls and men.

www.primoactivewear.com sells t-shirts with athletic, competetive yet upbeat messages. Examples: Believe - This is how I achieve my goals; Perseverence - This is how I earn your respect." For kids and adults.

www.etsy.com has a huge selection of hand-made clothing. While looking at their site, I got a little side-tracked searching for the perfect organizing bag. There may be hope yet!

Please share similar sites where you buy modest, age-appropriate clothing. If you receive this blog via email, go here to comment.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Spring Cleaning the Car

We had a glorious day yesterday - 70 degrees and sunny! We ate dinner outside and my husband spent some time sprucing up the flower gardens. For you who live in warmer climes, stop gloating!

Spring Cleaning the Car

With all the snow we get over the winter, we are continually tracking muck into our cars during that season. I'm so happy that spring is here, which means when we clean our cars they might stay that way for a while!

But our biggest struggle is clutter. I read recently that women are more guilty than men when it comes to car clutter. Whatever the case, it's easy for that clutter to collect! Here are a few ideas to tame that trend:

- I ask our girls to look around them when leaving the car and bring any trash they see. They do draw the line at other people's tissues, however!

- Something I don't do often enough: reminding the girls that if they bring something into the car, they need to take it back out as they leave. Even if they are eating something on the way to school, they need to take it into the school when they go. Finding two yogurt containers upside down in the cup holder is not pleasant!

- I'm not a good waiter. So I try to remember to use the time while stopped at a light, waiting for someone, etc. to pick up trash and clutter. When we travel, I try to remove trash each time I get out of the car for a break.

- When we get snacks while traveling, I ask for a bag which we can use for trash.

- If you have children who like to bring toys along in the car, limit them to one toy. Just make sure it's not a container with a jillion little toys inside!

- If you allow eating in the car, opt for dry snacks rather than gummy ones. They are much easier to clean up with a vacuum and less likely to get enmeshed in the carpeting or upholstery.

- Make sure drinks have lids, especially when stored in cup holders on the door. Slamming the door and an open drink is not a good combination!

- We ask our girls to use the sidewalk to go to the car, even though it's a bit longer than cutting across the grass. That greatly reduces grass, leaves, and other unwanted visitors.

What do you do to keep the clutter out of the car? If you receive this by email, use this link to comment.

Spring Cleaning the Walls and Windows

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I made breakfast burritos this morning and tinted the eggs green. Thankfully it didn't keep anyone from eating them! And when we mixed in salsa, it turned a pretty disgusting brown. :) All for making those memories!

I don't know about you, but I'm just not in the mood to do spring cleaning this year. Maybe because we have had tons of snow, rain and cold weather up until just this last week. But I'll do it in bite-size chunks...

Spring Cleaning the Walls and Windows

Not my favorite chore by a long shot!! Each week in the spring and summer that we have girls, we try to think of a cleaning or yard chore we can do for about an hour. It's nice to have help and it teaches them how to manage a home at the same time. So if you have kids, let them enjoy this home management instruction - I'm sure they will be forever grateful! :)

We're going to start a room at a time and clean the windows and walls. I use Mr. Clean Magic Sponges to clean the walls. All you need is a sponge and a container of water. I bought a bunch of dishpans which we use for this chore, spa day pedicures, and other various uses. We do clean them out between various activities!

So everyone has their own sponge and dishpan. All you do is wipe down the walls and rinse out the sponge. You don't have to rinse the walls afterwards. I don't know what Mr. Clean did to his sponge, but it IS magic!

While we have the furniture moved out, we may as well wash the windows at the same time. I'm not a big proponent of newpapers and vinegar as so many are - don't like having my hands and other things turn black! Just window cleaner and paper towels.

While the furniture is moved out, my husband usually gets motivated to vacuum those spots we don't often see. Bless him!

As you know, cleaning is one of my least favorite chores, but I sure enjoy the rewards of a clean house! And I can stand anything for an hour - so can our girls. :)

How do you manage spring cleaning? If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, click here.

More blogs about spring cleaning:

Clutter Statistics - Motivation for Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Vinegar

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Baking Soda

If spring cleaning or just regular cleaning puts you in overwhelm, Three Steps to Clever Cleaning minimizes the time you need to spend cleaning!

Monday, March 16, 2009

Coming Soon: Mom Audience

I am putting the last touches on a new venture I'm launching at the end of the month - Mom Audience. Mom Audience is a marketplace for moms - bringing together moms, mompreneurs, and businesses-that-cater-to-moms.

Mom Audience will be a weekly email where you can list (free of charge) your new products, blogs, websites, social networks, discounts/sales and lots more. There will also be opportunities to sponsor Mom Audience and place sidebar ads.

If you are interested in being notified of Mom Audience's launch, please make a comment below. Make sure you list your email address!

If you are interested in sponsoring or advertising, please email me at Bev@1-2-3getorganized.com.

Understanding the ADD Mindset

It's been a nice weekend - we've gone to the ballet, to a play of Cinderella, painted t-shirts, went for a walk, went to church, did some photography and cooking together, and saw Pink Panther 2. Is it any wonder that I love Mondays? :) On to our blog for today:

Understanding the ADD Mindset

If you live with or work with someone who has ADD, it may be helpful to understand the ADD mindset to give you more understanding and empathy. Here are some tips from Susan Lasky's article in NAPO News (National Association of Professional Organizers):

ADDers experience:

- "A tremendous amount of guilt and self-effacement ("Why can't I do stuff that is so simple?")

- Regret, shame and even grief ("That's another project I started but never finished.")

- Anger/depression from being criticized by others for so many years (often seen in those (my word) who can't follow the examples of their born-organized mothers)

- Unrealistic expectations having to do with their ability to complete tasks and the amount of time it will take."

Let us not add to their burdens by being impatient or critical!!

How do you encourage those around you who have ADD? If you receive this blog via email and you'd like to comment, use this link.

More blogs about ADD:

Helping Your ADHD Child Get Organized

More Tips for Helping Your ADD Child Stay Organized

ADHD Organization - Time and Energy

Friday, March 13, 2009

5 Meals for Under $50 - My Video Segments on WKYC Channel 3 News

As promised, here are the video segments from WKYC Channel 3 News in Cleveland featuring 5 Meals Under $50. I thought the Channel 3 staff were very generous with their promotion of my business and recipes!

I decided to replace the videos with links because the videos would automatically start playing when you opened my blog - annoying!

Hollie cooking dinner #5

My four video clips

You can find a link to the recipes, which come from my Hassle Free Dinners and Three Steps to Planning Dinner.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Air Times for "5 Under $50" Segments on Channel 3

Today I taped four 45-second segments promoting "5 Under $50" - a program about cooking economical meals sponsored by Channel 3 in Cleveland and www.Cleveland.MomsLikeMe.com. I selected the menus, cooked four of them, and the other one will be cooked live on the show. Most of the recipes came from my Hassle Free Dinners, a year's worth of dinner menus, instructions, and grocery lists.

One segment will be aired each 30 minutes from 5 to 7 am Thursday morning. I simply describe each meal and why it's interesting.
You will be able to find the recipes at www.Cleveland.MomsLikeMe.com. I'll record the program, and if I'm not too dorky, I'll consider putting a segment or two here on the blog. :)

It was fascinating seeing Channel 3's beautiful headquarters overlooking Lake Erie. And I so enjoyed working with the gracious and encouraging Jacquie Chakirelis, co-host of Family Matters Radio and site manager for Cleveland Moms Like Me!

Thanks so much for your kind emails and comments!

If you're inspired to save money by planning meals and cooking at home, Three Steps to Planning Dinner is now available as an eworkbook in addition to being a printed workbook. Hassle Free Dinners is available as a CD or downloadable PDF.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

I'm Going to Be On TV!

Channel 3 Morning News has asked me to come in to their studios on Wednesday to tape some segments that will air on Thursday morning during their 6 to 7 am slot. It is part of a program by Cleveland.MomsLikeMe.com called 5 Dinners for Under $50.

I have to take in four meals already prepared, several from my Hassle Free Dinners CD, and ingredients for another meal for someone else to cook. I imagine we'll talk about how economical it is to plan ahead and cook meals at home.

They said I would appear in 45-second segments a few times during the hour. It doesn't look like they have a live stream, so I guess only locals will be able to see it. I'll try to tape it and put it up on my blog if I don't embarrass myself. :)

MomsLikeMe.Com is all over the country - go there to find one near you.

Disposing of Unused Medication Responsibly

Lately I've been reading suggestions by several professional organizers on how to dispose of unused medications. If you flush them, they end up in our water. If you trash them, they end up in landfills even if they are diluted or crushed. Or they may be eaten by animals. Here are what I consider to be the top three choices:

1. Costco, CVS and other pharmacies will take your unused medications and dispose of them properly. Check with your local stores, though, because it seems to be a store-by-store choice.

2. Some police stations offer the same service. Again, check with your local station.

3. And my favorite: donate them to an organization who can use them third world countries. Even though this suggestion was brought up several times, I couldn't find such an organization when I searched.

Do you know an organization that takes donations of unused medications? If you receive this blog by email, please go to this link to comment.

Monday, March 9, 2009

A Dozen Tips for a Less-Stressed Wedding

Good morning! Hope you had a great weekend. Ours was busy with activities with the girls - painting t-shirts, painting wooden crafts, participating as slaves in a simulated underground railroad, a movie, church, homework, and nursing a sick one. I'm glad it's Monday so I can get some rest! :)

I wrote the following article for For Bride and Baby, a fabulous website to help you plan for your wedding or baby. If you can't use the tips for planning a wedding, feel free to pass them on to someone who might be able to use them. Add your own tips, as well! (My article appears on their blog.) It's a bit long ...

A Dozen Tips for Planning a Low-Stress Wedding

A wedding is a breeding ground for stress, one reason being that there are so many details to manage. There's not much you can do about Aunt Martha and Cousin Joe not wanting to speak to each other, but you can organize and manage details so there are as few surprises as possible.

There will always be those things that pop up at the last minute, but if you have done a good job of organizing, they are usually either out of your control or are minor. The following tips will help ease your mind as your plan your wedding:

1. Start early. As soon as you know you’re getting married, start planning. My daughter and I had almost a year to plan her wedding and we used it all! Her wedding was very large and we did much of it ourselves. If you don’t think you need that much time, it never hurts to be ahead of schedule, even if your wedding is intimate and simple.

Even if you’re not engaged yet, there are several things you can start looking at: wedding dresses, bridal party attire, invitations, etc. Don’t scare off your boyfriend, though, by jumping the gun!

2. Keep the communication lines open and healthy with your fiancé and your family during the wedding-planning process. Your relationships are more important than your ceremony. Your ceremony will take place on one day ... your relationships will continue for the rest of your life. Work on finding win-win solutions to problems and be open to their ideas.

You will spend the rest of your life finding solutions to problems. To help you perfect this skill, avail yourself of pre-marriage counseling. I highly recommend the Myers-Briggs personality type inventory. And make good choices, the most important one in my opinion: don't be selfish. It's impossible for a marriage to flourish if one or both partners are self-absorbed.

3. Determine your budget and the size of your wedding. Your budget will likely determine the size of your wedding. If your parents are paying for your wedding, get a clear picture of what they are willing to spend. You can decide to stick within that budget or contribute some yourself. Or you may be footing the entire bill yourself.

Whatever the case, I suggest living within your budget. Insisting on a lavish affair is not worth the stress that debt puts on your relationship with your parents and/or your fiancé and later on your marriage.

Do your homework as you estimate the cost of the various components of your wedding. Costs add up quickly, and being realistic about them avoids last minute sticker-shock and its ensuing stress. Overestimate your costs so that if things turns out to be higher than you anticipated, you have a little padding.

4. Get a wedding organization book and live by it! This wonderful tool provides checklists, timelines, and deadlines. It also supplies you with etiquette rules and other such valuable information. Remember, though, that just because something is suggested in your wedding organization book, if it’s not you, don’t do it! This is your wedding, and it should reflect you! If you can afford a wedding planner, she will do much of this for you.

5. Secure a venue for your wedding and reception. Some locations are booked a year or more in advance, so don’t procrastinate on this one if your location is a popular one! To avoid this hassle, some couples are deciding to marry on less typical days: Friday evening or Sunday afternoon, for example. By thinking outside the box, you may discover creative solutions to this search.

6. Decide on a wedding dress and wedding party attire. This may take a while, so give yourself enough time to find what you want. The internet makes this overwhelming task much easier! Look online to find styles you like and narrow down your search this way.

Give yourself enough time for altering, re-ordering correct sizes, etc. If you are having dresses made, allow adequate time for measuring, sewing, try-ons, and alterations. We had the bridesmaids’ dresses made by a friend. To cut costs, we used a 50% off coupon at Jo-Ann’s when we purchased the material.

7. Plan your wedding ceremony with your fiancé. Don’t just include everything you’ve seen in others’ wedding – make it meaningful to you. We actually attended a wedding ceremony that seemed like it included everything ever done in a wedding ceremony – it was eternal!!

Make your ceremony reflective of you! Sit down with the minister or person who is going to perform your wedding, and express your desires. Any wedding ceremony can be adapted to fit your values and wishes.

Our daughter and son-in-law have a very strong faith. Her engagement ring was a triangle. She and her fiance were represented by the bottom two corners, and God was represented by the top corner. They wanted their relationship to become closer as they became closer to God. The triangle shape reoccurred throughout the wedding and reception.

Our daughter didn’t want a wedding cake – she wanted cheesecake instead. We found already-sliced Cheesecake Factory cheesecake at Sam’s. They chose to eliminate the cake-cutting, obviously.

A friend of ours was into the two-step, so he and his groomsmen wore cowboy boots and it was a two-step reception. Another friend got married in his Chucks, his signature footwear! Don't be afraid to be different!

8. Keep a binder or file or box containing wedding paraphernalia – contracts with those providing services, sketches, ideas, final products, etc., so you can locate colors, samples, etc. at a moment’s notice.

9. Determine what help you need – both paid and volunteer. If you have friends who are willing to help with various aspects of your wedding, accept that help if you like their work. A friend might be able to design your invitation and/or program. Or help you address wedding invitations. Ask friends for recommendation for wedding cake bakers, caterers, etc. If people offer to help, consider saying yes!

10. Hire a wedding coordinator at least for your wedding day. Then you, your mom, your family, and your wedding party can enjoy the day and revel in your celebration. She can take care of those little details and make sure that everyone is where they need to be.

11. Prepare an emergency kit for those last minute snafus: safety pins, masking tape, cellophane tape, a stapler, bobby pins, hair spray, needle and thread, extra pantyhose, extra make-up, scissors, etc. Ask a friend to be on stand-by to run errands if necessary.

12. Relax and enjoy your day! Determine not to be stressed even if everything doesn’t go exactly as you planned. Someone may faint or goof up, but the important thing is that you're getting married!! Don't let small things spoil your celebration. And ... live happily ever after!

Any tips for reducing the stress of planning a wedding? If you receive this by email, use this link to comment.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Getting a Good Night's Sleep Despite Daylight Savings

Daylight Savings is a mixed blessing in the spring - we lose an hour of sleep, but it stays light longer. If you're like me, I look forward to December 21st each year because I know the days will start getting longer after that. Darkness at 4:30 pm is so claustrophobic!

With Daylight Savings coming this weekend, don't let your sleep suffer - even for an hour! I try to turn our clocks ahead early on Saturday evening so we are operating on the new time before we go to bed. That way we won't be fooled into losing an hour's sleep. Who cares, you say?

Sleep is one of the most important ingredients to functioning well. If anything suffers in my life, I try not to make it my sleep! I just can't function well without it. Sleep deprivation has adverse effects on our driving, blood pressure, heart, weight, decision-making, temper, and moods! So here are some tips for sleeping well:

1. Sleep in the quietest and least busy part of your house. If you sleep in a high-traffic area of your home, you'll be woken up by it.

2. Don't have computers or TVs in your bedroom. They produce "electromagnetic fields and positive ions that induce agitation," according to Dr. Mao.

3. Light keeps you awake, so start dimming the lights 30 minutes before bedtime and don't sleep with lights on. If you take melatonin, make sure all the lights are off when you take it to make it work faster. Use darkening shades/blinds or a mask.

4. Don't exercise for at least two hours before bedtime, as exercise is a stimulant. But do exercise. Exercise helps get rid of tensions and excess energy, and allows you to relax for sleep.

5. Try drinking some chamomile tea before bedtime - a natural sleep inducer.

6. Don't sleep with your pets. Their ups and downs during the night prevent a continuous night's sleep.

7. Keep pen and paper by your bed. If something pops into your mind, you can write it down so it doesn't impede your sleep. Or journal before bedtime as a way to process your day, rather than when you lie down to sleep.

8. Listen to your body - if you are tired and sleepy, go to bed if at all possible! Your body keeps track of the sleep you have lost and you may need to catch up.

9. Have a regular waking time. When you have a regular routine, your body will tell you when it needs sleep. Each person is different. I need about 6 1/2 to 7 hours of sleep each night while my husband functions best on 9.

10. If you are sleep deprived, take a nap. You can tell you are sleep deprived if you tend to fall asleep when you are sitting quietly.

How do you insure a good night's sleep for yourself, your family? If you receive this blog via email and would like to comment, use this link.

Additional blogs on sleep:

Sleep is Non-negotiable!

Insuring Peak Performance: Sleep 101

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Organizing Laundry

It's so nice to be home! We loved being with Sara and visiting with friends and family, but we're happy to be home.

I was greeted by a fun phone message upon our arrival. Channel 3 News in Cleveland wants me to be on their morning news show to talk about meal prep. I believe it's next Thursday, March 12, but I'll keep you posted as I find out more details!

It is connected with Cleveland Moms Like Me. Go to www.MomsLikeMe.com to find one near you!

But in the meantime, back to real life ... laundry (mounds of it!).

Organizing Laundry

For years we have organized our laundry by sorting it as we take it off. When we lived in Maryland, I bought four plastic laundry bag holders to hold darks, lights, whites, and towels. Bob and I would drop our clothes in the appropriate bag and when a bag was full, we'd remove the bag and take it downstairs to the washing machine.

The plastic laundry bag holders were a little flimsy and Bob ended up gluing them together, as they would come apart frequently. You could even color code the laundry bags if you wish.

These days our laundry room is next to our bedroom, so we decided to use regular tall laundry hampers for sorting, since we don't have to move them anywhere. It sure is nice not to have clothes all spread out on the floor as you sort!

You could have a set of hampers/bags in a central location or a set in each person's room. They do take up a bit of room, but it makes laundry so much easier in my opinion!

What do you do to make laundry easier?
If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, use this link.

More blogs on similar topics:

Laundry tip - color-coded laundry bags

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

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Restorative Moments and Margins

We are heading home as I write. We drove to Maryland on Friday and met our daughter Sara there. Over the weekend we visited with friends. On Sunday afternoon we headed up to Pennsylvania to visit with Bob parents and more friends, just missing the snow storm. Yesterday we drove Sara from Pennsylvania to Indiana where she’ll stay for most of her remaining time in the States.

So today we woke up tired! We chose to return to Ohio on a road we’ve never tried before. Instead of driving on a two-lane road for a while and I-70 through Columbus, we opted for US 30, a four-lane road from middle Indiana to middle Ohio. Even though it seemed a bit out of the way, it will take us about the same time.

The restorative part is that there is very little traffic and it goes through wide open spaces. It has been so nice just to drive through farmland and not have to weave in and out of a bunch of trucks.

Even though the scenery is pretty brown, it’s nature all the same. Nature has such restorative powers. When we lived in Maryland during a more stressful time in our lives, we would escape frequently to what we called our own private lake. It was a rather secluded little park where we could put our blankets down, play games, have dinner, sleep, read books - whatever we felt like doing at the moment. Just one hour at our lake had unbelievable restorative powers - even for our children!

We’ll arrive home in the early afternoon and receive a house of girls on Friday. Whenever we travel, we try to build in margins so as to allow ourselves some recovery time between one event and another. I’ve found that by allowing some room for margins creates less chaos and clutter. I want to be efficient, but I don’t want to pack things so tightly that I have no time to transition. The same is true for less time-consuming events as well.

Have you discovered some places that provide you with restorative moments? What about margins - do you give yourself ample margins to create some breathing room between events? If you receive this blog by email and want to comment, use this link.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Organizing "Messy" Toys

I saw a clever idea on Happy Mama's blog the other day. She stores her kids' "messy" toys (those that have a jillion pieces) in clear plastic tubs in the top of her child's closet. Then her child created a catalog of each tub - a laminated picture of each category held together by an o-ring. You could also label or put pictures on each container as well.

The best part - her child must have all other toys put away before being allowed to get out a "messy" toy container. Because they are stored in the top of the closet, her child must have help to get them down, so mom can inspect. Obviously, as the child gets older, "messy" toys can be put at a reachable level.

I think this system would work with our toys, too - craft items, collections, etc.

Wasn't that a clever idea? If you receive this blog by email and would like to comment, this link will take you to my blog.

Blogs on similar topics:

Get Organized Month 2009 - Family Five Minute Challenge,

Downsizing Toys before Christmas,

The Ultimate in Toy Decluttering!!

Need some help organizing your child's room? Three simple steps: Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room.

Monday, March 2, 2009

The Latest in Organizing - Home Parties

Want to spend a fun evening with your friends and get your closet organized at the same time? Host an Organizing Home Party!

Your friends pay a minimal fee ($20 or so), there are games, giveaways, and your favorite professional organizer demonstrates how to organize a closet, pantry, or other small area. It's a couple of hours of fun with your friends plus you all walk away with some new skills and motivation!

Your organizer will meet with you ahead of time to plan out the evening and look over the area to be organized. You may even go through a practice decluttering process ahead of time.

You can find a professional organizer near you at Faithful Organizers (Christian organizers) or The National Association of Professional Organizers.

Does an Organizing Home Party sound interesting to you? If you receive this blog via email and want to comment, this link will take you back to my blog.