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.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

More Resources for Present and Future College Students

My friend Maria Pascucci, founder of Campus Calm suggests another website to help college students and future students: College Jolt. Blogs are posted by college students from various schools.

If you are in need of graduation gifts for high school seniors, consider a membership to Maria's Campus Calm University or her new book Campus Calm University: The College Student's 10-Step Blueprint to Stop Stressing and Create a Happy, Purposeful Life (see it in my sidebar).

Throw in my Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student, and your college student will be well-prepared!

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

More blogs about college:

Tools to Help Make the College Search/Prep Easier
Packing for College
Organizing College Applications

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Buy Forever Stamps Before Postage Increases

Postage will increase from 42 cents to 44 cents on May 11. You may purchase "Forever" stamps now at 42 cents and they can be used forever, whatever the postage rate. If you do a lot of mailing, this might be a valuable option!

In light of the postal rate increase, if you have items to mail, think now rather than later. And don't forget to buy two-cent stamps to add to your present supply of stamps.

If you have comments to make and receive this by email, use this link.

Similar blogs:

The Best Time of Day to Go to the Post Office
Saving Money by Being Organized
Sorting Mail

Planning Your Family Reunion

If you're planning a family reunion, here's a very detailed article by Susan Glaser with everything you need to know. Just planning a family vacation for my parents and my siblings and our children last year took many hours. If your event is very large, Susan says start yesterday!

"You can't choose your family, as the saying goes. But you can choose your family reunion.

 And plenty of families are: From long weekends in centrally located cities to elaborate week-long vacations at the beach, the family reunion has become big business, spawning books and Web sites and professional planners who help families organize their special events.

"I am utterly amazed at how many families really go all out," said Edith Wagner, editor of Reunions Magazine and the author of "The Family Reunion Sourcebook." "For a lot of families, the reunion is the vacation."

 Theme parks and cruises are popular for multi-generational family gatherings, as are trips to ancestral homelands, including Ireland, Italy and Africa.

More than a third of U.S. adults - nearly 72 million Americans - traveled to a family reunion in the past three years, according to a recent survey by the Travel Industry Association.

 Despite the trend toward exotic locales, the most popular reunion location is still a centrally situated hometown of one (or more) family member.

The downside of having the reunion close by? The closest relatives frequently are recruited to plan the whole thing.

 Shari Chavis of South Euclid, Ohio, inherited the role of reunion organizer a year and a half ago in Prattville, Ala., at her family's biannual family gathering. This summer, it will be held in Cleveland, and she has been busy planning the three-day event for more than a year.

More than 300 family members, from across the country, will gather in mid-July at the Homewood Suites in Solon, Ohio, for food, fun and - most of all - family. "My aunt volunteered me," said Chavis. "So I put her to work."

 Top on her list of advice for other reunion planners: Start early and delegate.

 With input from veteran reunion organizers, both professional and amateur, here are suggestions for planning the perfect family reunion.

- Start planning yesterday. Travel agent Linda Herron, owner of Tempo Travel in Parma, Ohio, recommends starting nine months to one year ahead, which gives family members time to coordinate schedules and make reservations.

 The bigger the reunion, the earlier you'll need to start. Picnic pavilions in the Cleveland Metroparks, for example, can be reserved a year ahead of time, and many of them are.

- Create a committee. You can't do this alone - and even if you can, you shouldn't, because you'll end up resentful and unhappy when the time comes to enjoy your hard work. When Chavis agreed to plan her family's reunion, she recruited not only her aunt, Deborah Ledyard, who volunteered her but all her aunts and cousins in Greater Cleveland to help. Involve several generations to provide different perspectives on everything from where to hold the reunion to what kind of music to play at the main event.

- Once you've chosen the date, stick with it. No matter what date you choose, someone will be unable to attend, said Wagner. And that's probably the first person you'll hear from after the invitations go out. Hold your ground, or you'll feel obligated to adjust the date for everyone who wants to come but can't.

 Many reunions are tagged to a milestone, Wagner said. If you don't have a date in mind, consider July 4, she said. "It's the biggest reunion day of the year."

- Settle on a location. After agreeing on a date, tackle the second most difficult decision: where the reunion will be held. Some families go to the same location year after year: a beach resort, a lake house. 

Family budgets probably will play an important role in the location decision. A cruise may be out of reach for many families, but keep in mind the price is all-inclusive, said Wagner.

- Decide whom to invite. Will it be a small group (grandparents, their children and grandchildren) or "everybody who descended from great-grandparents born in 1848?" asks Wagner. The larger the group, the more time you'll need to locate far-flung relatives.

 Once you decide the parameters of the group, you have to include everyone who falls in the circle, said Wagner, "even uncle so-and-so," whom nobody really wants to come. "Chances are he doesn't want to come either," said Wagner. Invite him anyway, so your conscience is clear.

- Communication is key. Send out a questionnaire, before you set a date and choose a site, asking for people's input: How much time can they spare? How far are they willing to go? What time of year is best? 

While you're making plans, keep family members informed by setting up a family reunion Web site, where attendees can RSVP, link to hotels and (hopefully) offer to volunteer. Family members may be more likely to commit when they see who else is attending, said Wagner.

- Contact the tourism bureau in the community you'll be visiting. Employees there are paid to help you.

- Settle on a budget. This will vary greatly, depending on the type of reunion and the economic means of your extended family. Frequently, families will hold fundraisers to reduce the cost of the event for all attendees.

 Clevelander Katherine Evans, who is hosting her father's family reunion over Labor Day weekend, is planning a silent auction, with items donated by guests, to offset the cost of the event. Up for bid: three photo quilts made with heirloom family photos.

- Plan activities for everyone, especially the kids. Yes, having a swimming pool at the hotel is important, said Wagner, but it's not enough to keep kids engaged for three days.

 The most common reason reunions eventually fizzle, said Wagner, is because there isn't enough to keep the younger generations interested.

"For some people, sitting on a folding chair under a tree and talking to their cousins is a great thing," said Wagner. Others need more.

 Wagner, a frequent speaker at reunion-planning seminars, promotes a mixture of down time for relaxed visiting coupled with more structured events, like banquets and tours. Optional activities - like golf, museum outings and sporting events - should be planned with a variety of ages and interests in mind.

- Finally, don't forget the family. It may seem obvious, but sometimes you need to be reminded about the real reason you've spent so much time and money to get together.

 On the first night of their reunion, Evans' group plays Human Bingo, a twist on the well-known game in which family trivia takes the place of numbers on the board ("someone who was born in Tennessee," "someone who is an only child").

 Assign family members to record oral histories, put together a memory book and take photos. Kids can get involved by re-enacting events in the family's history."

Any tips you've used to planning a successful family reunion? If you receive this by email, comment here.

Similar topics:

Peace-of-Mind Vacation Check List - What to Do Before You Leave
Organize an Emergency Kit for Your Car
Organize Your Family Vacation

Monday, April 27, 2009

Local Seminar - Factors to Consider When Contemplating Downsizing

I'll be giving a free seminar on Thursday, April 30 at 7 pm titled Factors to Consider When Contemplating Downsizing. It will be held at the Cuyahoga Falls Library. Please register by calling 330-928-2117.

Topics covered:

What is downsizing?
The advantages of downsizing
Residential options when you downsize
Factors to consider in choosing a new residence
How to find help when you’re ready to downsize
How to find a downsizing professional
Q & A

Hope to see you there!

Grill Your Entire Meal

It seems like we have been waiting a very long time for spring this year. Last night was the first time we actually ate outside. I love it when we grill (translation: when my husband grills). My pet peeve, though, is having to cook a side dish indoors when we're grilling.

So I've started accumulating ideas for grilling side dishes, even dessert! I discovered one last night when I was trying to figure out what we should have with our steak. I had some small red potatoes (two inches in diameter or less), so I covered them in foil. My husband put them on the grill before he put the steaks on - they take about 30 minutes.

We've grilled baking potatoes before, but they take so long! So this was a wonderful alternative. We had a veggie tray last night, but we often grill veggies in foil packets (tossed with Italian dressing or another sauce). Finish it off with some fresh fruit, and no cooking in the kitchen! And almost no clean up! My kind of meal. :)

What are your favorite grilling recipes? If you receive this via email, comment here.

More on this subject:

Quadruple Batch of Teriyaki Marinade
Papaya salsa with swordfish
Dinner in 15 - A Grilling Twist

Bored with your cooking? Try Hassle Free Dinners - 52 weeks of dinner menus, instructions, and grocery lists.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Spring Cleaning Relationships

Spring cleaning usually brings to mind decluttering and purging and reorganizing. Why not look at our relationships in the same way? Rather than let our lives get cluttered with unproductive relationships, let's be intentional! Here are a few questions to ask yourself:

Do you have people who clutter your life and don't fit with your priorities?

Are there those with whom you'd like to spend more time?

Are there people who interrupt you from accomplishing those things that are important to you?

Is there a person you'd like to have as a mentor?

Do you have clients whom you need to fire because of the time it takes to deal with their complaints, missed appointments, etc.?

Are there people you're attracted to and would like to get to know better?

Are there people who drag you down rather than encourage and motivate you?

Do you have people in your life who are infecting you with their unhealthiness?

We have one life to live and 24 hours each day. If we don't examine our relationships, we could find ourselves at the mercy of others rather than using our gifts and talents in a meaningful way.
There are times when we choose to invest in people who drain us, but that is a choice, not a haphazard circumstance.

As we intentionally choose to spend time with those who have similar priorities, who motivate and encourage us, we will have less time to spend with those who have a negative impact in our lives. It may be necessary to create boundaries and margins to maintain health. But we can't be passive!

If you receive this via email. comment here.

Similar blogs:

Reduce Your Stress - Say No
To Do List or Not To Do List - That is the Question!
Spring Cleaning the Noise

If you need help in determining your priorities and passions, see any of the time management books in the 1-2-3...Get Organized series

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Why Meetings Can be So Unbearable

I dread most meetings and rarely mind when one is canceled! Here's an article by Tamara Schweitzer published in Inc.com explaining why meetings can be such a trial.

"Whether it's a cell phone ringing or your co-workers whispering next to you, there's no shortage of annoying meeting behavior. And now there's evidence to back it up.

Disorganization tops the list as the biggest frustration for meeting attendees, according to a new "Ouch Point" study by Opinion Research USA that measured the tolerance thresholds of U.S. workers at business meetings.

Of 1,037 full- or part-time workers polled, 27 percent ranked disorganized, rambling meetings as their top frustration, followed by 17 percent who said they were annoyed by peers who interrupt and try to dominate meetings.

Surprisingly, respondents considered BlackBerry use less intrusive than people falling asleep during a meeting — 9 percent of respondents were bothered by co-workers nodding off, compared to just 5 percent who said they get frustrated by others checking e-mail. Respondents also cited cell-phone interruptions (16 percent) and meetings without refreshments (6 percent) as more annoying than the much-maligned BlackBerry

Among the other "ouch points" ranked by respondents were: meetings without bathroom breaks (8 percent) and people leaving the meeting early or arriving late (5 percent). Only 4 percent of respondents said they were most frustrated by meetings that start late and those that end without distributing a written recap.

"If you're asking somebody to participate in a meeting, it has to be, from their perception, worth it to invest the time," said Jeff Resnick, president of Opinion Research USA, a Princeton, N.J.-based firm. According to Resnick, for business owners and managers, the study underscores the importance of having well-constructed meetings.

"If you are someone calling the meeting, organize it, control everyone during the meeting, and make sure the people there aren't wasting their time," Resnick said. In time-compressed work environments, where so much focus is placed on productivity, "time spent in meetings that's not considered productive is certainly not helpful," he added.

Demographics also played a role in the kind of "ouch points" that respondents considered most significant. For example, respondents from the Northeast were less bothered by disorganized meetings than those from other parts of the country. Additionally, respondents over the age of 55 considered meetings without a bathroom break a significant issue, and for respondents ages 18 to 24, serving food is a priority at meetings."

If you receive this by email, comment here.

Similar blogs:

Interruptions at work
Scheduling Appointments
Increasing Your Effectiveness at Work

For a more extensive look at planning meetings and time management, see Three Steps to Time Management at the Office, part of the 1-2-3...Get Organized series.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Some Earth Day Tips to Declutter Your Home

Happy Earth Day! In honor of the day, here are some eco-friendly tips from the May 2009 Family Circle magazine:

- Use cucumbers as a natural insecticide - either plant them or put cucumber slices throughout your garden. Who knew? (FC's source: Melissa Seligman coauthor of Simply Green)

For an easy, homemade skin treatment: "Slice a fresh strawberry in half and rub the cut sides on your face. Wait a few minutes, then rinse. The berry is loaded with natural alpha-hydroxy acids that help clear up blemishes and slough off dead skin cells." (FC's source: Fashion Editor Christin Bibbo Herr)

- Gazelle rescues electronics from landfills by buying them from you, and reusing or recycling them. Dust off those no-longer-used gadgets and beef up your wallet! (FC's source: Krista Meyerhoff, editorial assistant)

These tips will help you reduce the clutter in your home by eliminating excess products and gagdets.

If you'd like to comment and receive this via email, here's a link for you.

Similar blogs:

Get Organized Month 2009 - Decluttering Your Electronics

Earth Day Energy Tips

Five Tips on Being Eco-Friendly and Saving Money at the Same Time

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Five Ways to Prevent Procrastination from Zapping Your Energy and Productivity

Good Morning! I'm off to the gym after I post this! Hope you have a great day. :)

Five Ways to Prevent Procrastination
from Zapping Your Energy and Productivity

Do you hate filing, and just stack it up in a pile? Do you procrastinate sorting your mail and it becomes a huge mound by the end of the week? Do you avoid making those phone calls? Are there more important decisions you put off?

We all have things we dislike or even hate, and it’s tempting to just put them off until later. But by doing so, they just become much larger unpleasant tasks!

Why do we procrastinate?

- Sometimes it’s because we are undisciplined or even lazy and don’t force ourselves to make a decision – we put it off. This is really a time waster. Instead of making a decision while my mind is on the subject, I set it aside – either literally in a pile or mentally. It will take additional time later for my mind to re-engage with the subject at hand. While the decision is left undone, it has the power to zap my energy. It is draining to see stacks of undone work or to remember my unresolved decision.

In addition, with some decisions, my options narrow the longer I wait, creating stress and missed opportunities. This is multiplied if my decision affects others.

- Another reason we procrastinate is that we need more information in order to make a decision. Maybe we’re too overwhelmed with the size of the decision and don’t know where to start. Again, in this case, procrastinating drains energy and creates stress and possibly lost opportunities.

- Lack of time to decide or act is another cause of procrastination – a valid one many times. And sometimes we make a decision, but fail to follow through with the action decided upon – another form of procrastination.

Whatever the cause of procrastination, productivity suffers. Whenever I see or remember my procrastinated decisions, my mind is cluttered because I think, “I need to get to that.” My focus can become distracted.

Your perceived productivity can also suffer. If you have stacks of procrastination in your office or home, it may cause others to question your efficiency or productivity. And your own sense of productivity takes a hit when you are surrounded by procrastinated clutter.

So how do we avoid procrastination?

1. Consider the cost of procrastination. Realize that you are saving yourself time, stress and lost opportunities when you choose to act. By making a decision, you have a sense of accomplishment which gives you a feeling of productivity. And that translates into increased motivation.

2. Plan in time to follow through on decisions. If, for example, when you go through your mail, an item needs to be filed, you can file it immediately, or you can set aside time each day or each week to do filing. Use time when your brain needs a break from intensive work to do filing – it can serve as a decluttering task as well as a mental break to refresh your mind.

3. If you are too busy to make a decision at the moment, schedule a time to address the issue in a timely manner. If more information is needed for an informed decision, plan in time to research missing information. Or delegate the research to someone else, if possible.

4. Set deadlines for tasks or decisions you tend to put off. You will feel empowered by being proactive.

5. Take a step back and evaluate what tasks or decisions you tend to procrastinate and why. Brainstorm possible solutions. If you need some help, ask someone to be a sounding board.

Increase your energy and productivity - stop procrastinating now! Start with small steps if you have to, but make forward progress.

Similar blogs:

Insuring Peak Performance: Sleep 101

Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind

Save Time and Clutter by Making Decisions

Monday, April 20, 2009

Spring Cleaning the Noise

Good morning! I hope you had a nice weekend. We got outside and enjoyed some of our nice weather. It was a hard weekend, though, as we had some issues with one of our girls. So I may be going back to bed after I post this! :)

Spring Cleaning the Noise

Spring cleaning usually involves sorting through clutter, and cleaning areas that have been neglected over the winter months - windows, walls, and such. Once we are reasonably sure we can kiss snow and cold weather good-bye, we take the time to refresh our surroundings.

I'm proposing something a little different: spring cleaning the input we allow into our lives. Let's take a little time to clean out the clutter and noise, and provide a refreshing environment in which to flourish.

My goal is to create a peaceful environment, whether at home or at work. This means pleasant conversation, encouraging words, and a calm atmosphere. This not only involves what others are saying to me, but what I say to them. I try to set the standards by guiding appropriate types of conversation. My words must be positive, encouraging and building if I expect others to speak similarly.

Is the music I listen to uplifting and motivating? Are the shows and movies I watch inspiring and edifying? Are my computer habits those which build into my life? Do I read positive articles, books, etc.? Am I creating an atmosphere for success for myself and others? Or h
ave I allowed inferior choices to creep in due to my passivity, laziness, or uncontrolled appetites?

We can have beautifully decorated and sparkling clean homes, but if the environment is cluttered with noise and negative input, what is the point?

Similar blogs:

In a Winter Rut? Here's How to Climb Out!

Reduce Your Stress - Say No

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

Friday, April 17, 2009

Local Shredding April 18

On Sat. April 18 the AkronBBB & Neoshred will be providing free document shredding services to the community. Bring up to 5 boxes and they will shred them for you on the spot! 9:00a to 12:00p

Neoshred, Akron, OH
Phone: (330) 253-4565

A Refresher on Recycling Plastics

What am I doing up at 3:30 am? Didn't have any caffeine before bedtime. I have been wide awake for about an hour and decided to get up and be useful. So why not send out my blog?

Refresher on Recycling Plastics

Lori Bongiorno from The Conscious Consumer blog has written an article detailing the ins and outs of recycling plastics - a great reminder, especially in light of Earth Day coming up.

"Figuring out which types of plastic you can recycle is not easy. Just because a plastic bottle or tub has a "recycling symbol" on it doesn't necessarily mean you can throw it into your curbside bin.

The container's shape, color, and your location are also key factors in indicating whether that bottle or tub is destined for a recycling plant or the dump.

The little number with chasing arrows around it is actually called a "resin identification code." It indicates which type of resin is used to make a plastic. This symbol can be incredibly useful when it comes to figuring out what you can and can't recycle, but it doesn't tell you the whole story.

Different additives and manufacturing processes are used to mold plastics into varying shapes, which can change their characteristics enough so that they may not be able to be recycled together, explains Darby Hoover at the Natural Resources Defense Council. The EPA points out that many facilities sort materials by hand and group them by shape rather than by code.

The most commonly recycled types of plastic are Polyethylene terephthalate, PET (number 1), and high-density polyethylene, HDPE (number 2). Well over 80 percent of curbside programs only take number 1 and 2 bottles and jugs, says David Cornell, of the Association of Postconsumer Plastic Recyclers. The other types of plastic are less likely to be collected and recycled, although that is slowly changing and some cities, such as San Francisco, take all hard plastics.

So, what can you throw in your blue bin? Finding out your community's rules is the only way to know for sure. Visit your city's website or look for fact sheets on your local waste management authority's website. You can also search Earth 911's extensive database to find out your local recyling options.

Here's a quick guide to the plastics most of us can recycle at the curb:

* Bottle and jugs -- Container mouths need to be smaller than the sides. Water, soda, milk, juice, personal care product, shampoo, detergent, and household cleaner bottles are commonly made from PET or HDPE and are recycled in most curbside programs.

* Ketchup bottles are sometimes made of number 1, sometimes not. Cornell says about 96 percent of plastic bottles are made from PET or HDPE, so it's a safe bet that you can recycle most of your bottles.

Here's a list of plastics most of us shouldn't throw in our curbside bins:

* Yogurt cups
* Butter tubs
* Microwaveable trays
* Take-out containers
* Cutlery, plates, and cups
* Shopping bags (many grocery stores and other retailers take them back for recycling)
* Plastics made from corn and other agricultural products

Cornell points out that there should be more widespread recycling options for yogurt cups, butter tubs, and plastic trays within the next two years.

In the meantime, those who want to recycle number 5 plastics should check out Recycline's Preserve Gimme5 program. The company recycles clean plastic containers that have a #5 stamped on the bottom. Drop your stash off at participating Whole Foods Markets or mail it to the company. Recycled plastic is transformed into razors, bowls, and other colorful products.

Some other tips worth mentioning:

* Remove caps.
* Rinse out bottles that contain food.
* Step on bottles to flatten so trucks can fit more.

Similar blogs:

Getting Rid of Stuff While Saving the Environment

More Eco-Friendly Recycling

Earth Day Energy Tips

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring Cleaning the Garage - Storing Hazardous Materials

Today's forecast is abundant sunshine! After several days of rain, I'm so happy to have some sun come our way. Our flowers have flourished with the rain, though, so I shouldn't whine. They made it through last week's snow I'm happy to say.

Today we're meeting a new girl in our program who will be coming into our home tomorrow. I'll be making menus and stocking the house with food after our trip.

Today's a perfect day for spring cleaning the garage ...

Spring Cleaning the Garage - Storage Hazardous Materials

Spring is the time to clean out the garage, swapping out winter items for summer ones. As you attempt this task, here are a few pointers from Don Townson of the Vancouver Sun about storing hazardous materials:

"If you have to keep hazardous materials in the garage, follow these rules:

- Store products in their original containers with their labels

- Never mix products

- Keep gasoline in an approved container

- Do not store gasoline or volatile solvents near water heaters or other appliances with pilot lights

- Keep flammables away from outlets, electric tools and appliances

- Store all hazards out of reach of children and pets; use a locked cabinet

- Buy containers with child-resistant caps

- Dispose of hazardous materials appropriately."

More blogs on spring cleaning the garage:

Shadow Boarding the Tools in Your Garage

It's that Time Again - Swapping Out Your Seasonal Tools

Storage for Your Garage

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Some Local Organizing Opportunities

Even though we had a wonderful time with family over Easter, it's so nice to be home again! Before we left, we prepared the house for receiving foster girls on Friday, so it was nice to come home to a pleasant house. Mounds of laundry to do now! :)

Here are a couple of local organizing opportunities:

Some Local Organizing Opportunities

Bargain Hunter suggested a website for NE Ohio to help us organize our entertainment and shopping. She sent it to be included in Mom Audience, but I'd . thought I'd share it here, too. I especially loved being able to find all the Cuyahoga
Valley Railroad discounts and schedules in one place. Here are her comments:

iShopSummit.com - "There are tons of coupons for breakfasts, lunches and dinners all over Summit County which I expect would be helpful for a lot of moms.

Better yet, all the businesses listed are local and there are all sorts of deals to be had, including, now, the Akron Zoo and coming the Akron Aeros!!

Saving money is a priority for me, but helping people is what makes the world go 'round."

What to Consider When Contemplating Downsizing

I'm giving a seminar at Cuyahoga Falls Library on April 30, at 7 pm about various factors that affect your downsizing decisions. Please register for this free seminar by calling 330-928-2117.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Organizing a Classroom for ADD and ADHD Students

My first edition of Mom Audience went out this morning. You can see it at the Mom Audience blog. It's a place for moms, mompreneurs and mom-appealing businesses to connect.

Here's our blog for today:

Organizing a Classroom for ADD and ADHD Students

I came across the following article
by Angela Powell about organizing a classroom for students with ADD and ADHD. Teachers and homeschooling parents can apply these tips directly. Parents of ADD and ADHD children can pass these tips on to their children's teachers.

"It doesn't take much to distract students with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Maintaining an uncluttered and well-organized classroom can make a big difference in a students' ability to attend to lessons.

Here are some tips for organizing your classroom to support students with ADD and ADHD:

1) Keep the front wall of the classroom as bare as possible. Many teachers like to fill their classrooms with colorful posters and decorations, but this can make it difficult for children with ADD and ADHD to stay focused. Try to hang the majority of your teaching aids on the side and back walls so that students have little to focus on in the front of the room except your instruction. Even colorful rugs with maps or other teaching aids can break children's' concentration, so you may need to keep such carpets in the back or sides of the classroom.

2) Arrange classroom furniture to minimize distractions. Have students face away from windows and your classroom door if possible. It can be difficult to accommodate all of these distractors, but make every effort to keep students' desks clustered near the main teaching area and all other classroom features behind them throughout the day, turn the computer monitors so that students cannot view the screens from their desks. Keep your small group instructional area in the side or rear of the room so that students working independently are not distracted by your

3) Turn students' desks around so they aren't tempted to play with things inside. Children with ADD and ADHD can easily become distracted by school supplies in their desks, so it can be helpful to turn the desks around backwards so that the contents cannot be accessed while children are sitting.

4) Minimize the number of materials students keep in their desks. Utilize cubbies and other storage areas for items less-commonly used so that only essential items are within arm's reach. This will not only limit distractions, but will make it easier for students to stay organized.

5) Post visual aides of the materials students should have out. This can be done by writing the names of the materials needed on the board (e.g., math book, red notebook, pencil, eraser). For young or very visual children, take photographs of the school supplies, print out, laminate, and stick magnets on the back so you can display photos of the needed items. Dedicate a special area of your chalkboard or whiteboard for 'Materials Needed' so that students always know where to look for this information.

6) Structure lessons so that only a few materials are needed at a given time. When children with ADD or ADHD have numerous items in front of them, they tend to either play around with the materials or become overwhelmed by trying to manage them. Plan your instruction so that children are not constantly moving things around or keeping extra items on their desks. If you will use a textbook for only a few problems, try writing the problems on the board so that students need only paper and a pencil in front of them. Limit how many papers students have by completing practice activities on the back of worksheets instead of on a separate sheet. Pre-make materials that need to be cut and glued if children have difficulty managing multiple materials at a time."

Monday, April 13, 2009

Green Baby Gifts

Hope you had a nice Easter weekend. We had 26 of us at my parents' home on Saturday for lunch, an Easter egg hunt for the kids, and a family picture. Sooooo nice!

In light of Earth Day being this month, here's an article by Jackie Kass with some ideas for green baby gifts:

Green Baby Gifts

"It seems like someone is always pregnant, and you’re once again forced with the daunting task of purchasing yet another baby gift. If the baby department at your local retailer is simply too overwhelming, yet you want your gift to be thoughtful and appreciated, then a pre-assembled Green Baby Gift Box is the perfect choice for you.

Green Baby Gift Box is a small, mom-owned business based in Vermont that is dedicated to making eco-conscious gift giving effortless, fashionable and fun! All baby gift boxes include vibrant, creative, and useful objects that baby can use every day. The company searches the planet for sustainable and often handmade gifts that show little ones how much they are cherished.

Green Baby Gift Boxes are organized by theme and bring together baby items, toys and clothes made from the highest quality sustainable materials by the best natural and socially responsible companies in the world---the very places we wish we had known about when our first child was born. Green Baby Gift Box tries to mix companies you'll be able to find at your local toy store with gorgeous handmade and recycled items, many of them made in Vermont. Everything is thoroughly researched and tested for safety, beauty, durability, and sustainability.

The pre-assembled gift sets fit a range of budgets. The $36 "In the Swim" collection, for instance, contains a set of pool- and beach-side essentials, including an organic cotton sunhat from Kate Quinn Organics, a reusable swim diaper from Bummis, a Kathe Kruse squirting-fish toy, and a copy of Yummy Yucky by Leslie Patricelli.

Feeling flush? You can go for broke with the "Adventure Calls," for would-be explorers. For $119.40, you get a silk/organic cotton hooded sweatshirt set from A B Sea, a Kate Quinn Organics sunhat, a pair of handmade wool felt/recycled leather shoes from Diddle Dumpling, a Bummis reusable swim diaper, a wooden chew toy from Haba, a Kathe Kruse organic cotton ball, and a copy of Quiet Loud by Leslie Patricelli.Each gift comes packaged in a recycled box topped with Of the Earth's recycled-paper EcoTwist ribbon.

Green Baby Gift Box is a socially responsible company that assesses all of its operations on an ongoing basis to ensure that it minimizes its environmental impacts. Green Baby uses 100% post-consumer recycled paper for custom gift cards & internal printing."

Friday, April 10, 2009

An Clever Idea for Creating a Family Hub

Happy Good Friday! I hope you have a wonderful Easter weekend. :) My entire family - my parents, siblings, and our children - are going to all be together for the first time in forever! I'm so excited!

Here's a clever idea:

Homestead Mamma has created a unique system to keep her family organized:

"I keep 2 of those plastic 3 drawers sets by the back door. The drawers are labeled Marty, Susan, Colt, Riley, Needs Attention (Bills), Need to Mail/Go Out.

When I get the mail each day, I sort it into the drawers. I also put phone messages in the drawers and things that a person needs to attend to (permission slips, etc.), I also put in there reminders of things they need to do (chore lists, etc.).

Everyone is responsible for their own drawer, and they need to check it on a daily basis and follow up on anything that needs to be done.

When I leave the house I always check the Need to Mail/Go Out drawer for things that I need to mail or take with me also my grocery list. I often put my lists of things to do or purchase in the Need to Mail/Go Out drawer.

The Needs Attention (Bills) drawer gets checked on a weekly basis on Friday (pay day), and any bills get paid then."

I love it! How do you organize your family? If you receive this via email and would like to comment, use this link.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Interesting Clutter and Organization Statistics

I thought the following statistics were interesting and motivating! The first several statistics are from the National Association of Professional Organizers.

- 80 percent of what we keep, we never use

- People who multitask are less efficient than those who focus on one project at a time

- 23 percent of adults say they pay bills late because they lose them

- We wear 20 percent of the clothes we own 80 percent of the time

- 50 percent of homeowners rate the garage as the most disorganized place in the house

- Americans waste nine million hours per day searching for misplaced items (source:
American Demographics Society)

- The average US executive wastes six weeks per year searching for missing information in messy desks and files - translates to one hour a day (source:
The Wall Street Journal)

- The average American burns 55 minutes a day – roughly 12 weeks a year – looking for things they know they own but can’t find. (source: Newsweek, June 7, 2004 citing
a study by a Boston marketing firm)

- 25 percent of people with two-car garages don’t park any cars in there and 32 percent park only one
(source: U.S. Department of Energy)

Scary, huh? If you'd like to comment, use this link.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Decluttering Your Books with BookMooch

Good morning! We got about six inches of snow yesterday! My poor flowers are buried.

Let's move on to a brighter topic ...

Decluttering Your Books with BookMooch

I heard about BookMooch from some fellow organizers and thought it was a great way to declutter books and save some money at the same time - even give to charity! Here's how it works, according to their website:

"BookMooch is a community for exchanging used books.

BookMooch lets you give away books you no longer need in exchange for books you really want.

  • Give & receive: Every time you give someone a book, you earn a point and can get any book you want from anyone else at BookMooch. Once you've read a book, you can keep it forever or put it back into BookMooch for someone else, as you wish.

  • No cost: there is no cost to join or use this web site: your only cost is mailing your books to others.

  • Points for entering books: you receive a tenth-of-a-point for every book you type into our system, and one point each time you give a book away. In order to keep receiving books, you need to give away at least one book for every three you receive.

  • Help charities: you can also give your points to charities we work with, such as children's hospitals (so a sick kid can get a free book delivered to their bed), Library fund, African literacy, or to us to thank us for running this web site .

  • World wide: You can request books from other countries, in other languages. You receive 3 points when you send a book out of your country, to help compensate you for the greater mailing cost, but it only costs the moocher 2 points to get the book. John Buckman, who runs BookMooch, has lived in California, England, France and Germany, and was frustrated by the vast number of books that were printed in just one country and not available in the other countries (for example, many books are published in Britain and never made available in America).

  • Wishlist: you can keep a "book wish list" that will automatically arrive to you when you have the points and/or the book becomes available in our catalog.

  • Feedback score: each time you receive a book, you can leave feedback with the sender, just like how eBay does it. If you keep your feedback score up, people are most likely to help you out when you ask for a book."

  • Isn't this a great idea? If you'd like to comment, and receive this email via email, use this link.

    Don't forget to sign up for Mom Audience!

    Tuesday, April 7, 2009

    Mom Audience is Live!

    Mom Audience is now live! Mom Audience is a marketplace for moms. My goal in creating Mom Audience is to provide a place where moms, mompreneurs and businesses with mom-appeal can come together.

    So ... if you're a mom and you'd like the convenience of shopping at a mom-specific location, please subscribe!

    If you have a business, blog, product, sale, giveaway, contest, event, employment need, or other important news you want to get out to moms, you can list it FREE!

    Your listing will go out on a weekly email to our subscribers - every Tuesday.
    The first Mom Audience email will go out on Tuesday, April 14, so listings need to be in by Sunday noon on April 12.

    Mom Audience provides you with a central location to showcase your stuff and get some attention. If you want some additional attention, sponsor one of the emails or be seen on the sidebar of the Mom Audience website or Mom Audience email.

    Would you do me a favor? Could you forward this information to your email lists, social network lists, your moms groups and to anyone else you know who might be interested in Mom Audience? I'd like your listings to get as much attention as possible!

    Thanks so much!

    Bev Coggins

    Questions? Email me at Bev@momaudience.com

    Monday, April 6, 2009

    10 Eco-Friendly and Wallet-Friendly uses for Olive Oil

    Good morning! I hope you had a nice weekend. We did a variety of activities (a class on making Faberge eggs, a farm park, National First Ladies Library, a hike) with our foster daughters over the beautiful weekend. And today we're supposed to get 1-3 inches of snow! Will winter never end?

    In light of Earth Day coming up and people trying to pinch pennies, here are a few ideas that are kind to our environment and save us from having to buy unnecessary household products.

    10 Eco-Friendly and Wallet-Friendly uses for Olive Oil

    An article I read suggested several uses for olive oil which I thought were creative, green, and money-saving:

    "Use Olive Oil to:
    1. Shave. Olive oil can provide a closer shave when used in place of shaving cream.

    2. Shine stainless steel. Many cleaning standbys, such as ammonia, can dull and even corrode chrome and stainless steel. Olive oil, however, is a safe and effective shining agent.

    3. Remove eye makeup. Dab a little under the eyes and rinse off with a washcloth.

    4. Prevent wax from sticking to a candle holder. Rub a thin coat on the base of the holder before inserting a candle. Dripped wax should peel away easily.

    5. Care for your pet. Add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon to your cat’s food to help prevent hair balls.

    6. Moisturize cuticles. Apply a small amount of olive oil to the nail beds.

    7. Treat dry skin. Rub a thin layer over the skin after a shower or a waxing.

    8. Unstick a zipper. Using a Q-tip, apply a drop to lubricate the teeth. (Avoid touching the fabric.) The zipper should move up and down freely.

    9. Dust wooden furniture. Apply a bit of oil to a cloth and wipe.

    10. Silence squeaky doors. Lubricate hinges by applying a small dab to a cloth, then wiping the top of the hinges so that the oil runs down the sides."

    Do you use household products creatively? Let us hear from you! If you receive this via email, use this link to comment.

    Friday, April 3, 2009

    Quadruple Batch of Teriyaki Marinade

    It's that time of year - time to think about grilling! This is also the time to make a quadruple batch of Teriyaki Marinade. It keeps for a long time in the fridge, and it simplifies your life when you want to make fajitas, teriyaki chicken or London broil. During grilling season, I always make quadruple batches so I have some on hand at all times.

    Our girls requested fajitas this week, so yesterday morning I made the marinade and let the steak marinate all day. I also cook the onions, mushrooms, and peppers in the marinade as well. Here's the recipe for the best Teriyaki Marinade I have ever tasted:

    Teriyaki Marinade

    3/4 c. oil (3.c.)
    1/4 c. soy sauce (1 c.)
    1/4 c. honey (1 c.)
    2 T. vinegar (1/2 c.)
    1 T. garlic powder (1/4 c.)
    1 1/2 t.ground ginger (1/8 c.)
    2 T. dried chopped onion (1/2 c.)

    Combine ingredients in a jar or a container with a lid. (Amounts in parentheses are for the quadrupled amount.) Shake or stir together and pour over meat to be marinated. I usually place meat in a zip lock bag, and turn the bag over occasionally.

    For boneless chicken breasts, marinate 4-6 hours.

    For London broil, marinate up to 3 days, but at least 1 day. Grill 6-10 minutes on each side, turning frequently. Or broil at 400 degrees for the same length of time.
    Let steak rest for 10 minutes before cutting so it won't lose its juiciness.

    You can fin this recipe and other great recipes on Hassle Free Dinners and Three Steps to Planning Dinner.

    Thursday, April 2, 2009

    Spring Cleaning Bedrooms

    Good Morning! It's going to be a beautiful day here today - in the upper sixties. We haven't seen that kind of weather much yet this spring! I think we may take another hour to wash living room walls this afternoon - we might even get to the windows, as we have three girls in our house this week - lots of help!

    But let's talk about spring cleaning the bedrooms now ...

    Spring Cleaning Bedrooms

    When the weather starts to warm up, it's a great time to spring clean the bedrooms. Spring is one of the times during the year I like to wash all the bed linens for each bedroom. When the girls clean their rooms this week, I will ask them to completely strip their beds down to the mattresses. If you have children and they are old enough, they can do this chore for you, too.

    It's a logical time to clean all the linens, as it's time to remove blankets for spring and summer months anyway. And it will be nice to store a freshly washed blanket, ready to use when it gets cold again.

    I'll take down the curtains since they are washable. If yours are not, send them to the dry cleaners or vacuum them, using the brush attachment.

    While the linens are off, you may want to take the opportunity to recruit the family to sweep the ceiling, wash the walls, clean ceiling fans, vacuum, dust, and wash windows. While you're at it, flip the mattress, too.

    Even little ones can dust or wash walls with Mr. Clean Magic Sponges. All you have to do is wash the walls and rinse the sponge - no rinsing of walls!

    If it takes longer than an hour or so, you may want to break it up into hour-long segments so as not to overwhelm yourself or your family. Repeat for each bedroom until you're done. You'll be surprised at how quickly it goes!

    It's a lot more fun if you all work together. Put on some fun music and enjoy! Tell jokes or funny stories. Then do something fun to celebrate everyone's hard work.

    It's amazing how washing walls brightens the room! And freshly laundered comforters, sheets and curtains add a spring crispness to the room! It's a big job, but a clean fresh bedroom is worth the effort!

    More blogs on spring cleaning:

    Spring Cleaning the Walls and Windows

    Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Lemons

    Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Salt, Newspaper, Coffee Filters, and Olive Oil

    If cleaning isn't your thing, and you need a little help, try Three Steps to Clever Cleaning - a short, colorful, glossy, fun little book.

    Wednesday, April 1, 2009

    A Dozen Helpful Hints to Simplify Your Life

    Happy April Fool's Day! We received a new house of girls yesterday, and one of the girls is dreading going to school because of all the pranks. She's in middle school - need I say more?

    Our blog today originated from an email I received from a friend. I thought the hints were worth passing along:

    A Dozen Helpful HInts to Simplify Your Life

    1. Broken Glass clean up:

 Use a wet cotton ball or Q-tip to pick up the small shards of glass you can't see easily. 

    2. No More Mosquitoes : Place a dryer sheet in your pocket. It will keep the mosquitoes away. 

    3. Squirrel Away!: To keep squirrels from eating your plants, sprinkle your plants with cayenne pepper. The cayenne pepper doesn't hurt the plant, and the squirrels won't come near it. 

    4. Flexible vacuum nozzle: To get something out of a heat register or under the fridge, add an empty paper towel roll or empty gift wrap roll to your vacuum . It can be bent or flattened to get in narrow openings. 

    5. Reducing Static Cling: Pin a small safety pin to the seam of your slip and you will not have a clingy skirt or dress. Same thing works with slacks that cling when wearing panty hose. Place pin in seam of slacks and -- ta da! -- static is gone. 

    6. Measuring Cups clean up: Before you pour sticky substances into a measuring cup, fill with hot water. Dump out the hot water, but don't dry cup. Next, add your ingredient, such as peanut butter, and watch how easily it comes right out. 

    7. Hate foggy windshields?: Buy a chalkboard eraser and keep it in the glove box of your car. When the windows fog, rub with the eraser! Works better than a cloth!


8. Reopening envelope: If you seal an envelope and then realize you forgot to include something inside, just place your sealed envelope in the freezer for an hour or two. Viola! It unseals easily .

    9. Hair Conditioner: Use your hair conditioner to shave your legs. It's a lot cheaper than shaving cream and leaves your legs really smooth. It's also a great way to use up the conditioner you bought but didn't like when you tried it in your hair..


10. Goodbye Fruit Flies: To get rid of pesky fruit flies , take a small glass fill it 1/2" with Apple Cider Vinegar and 2 drops of dish washing liquid , mix well. You will find those flies drawn to the cup and gone forever! 

    11. Get Rid of Ants: Put small piles of cornmeal where you see ants. They eat it , take it "home," can't digest it, so it kills them. It may take a week or so, especially if it rains, but it works and you don't have the worry about pets or small children being harmed! 

    12. To Extend the Life of Your Dryer and Prevent Fires:
    Dryer sheets cause a film over the mesh of the lint filter - that's what burns out the heating unit. You can't SEE the film , but it's there. It's what is in the dryer sheets to make your clothes soft and static free - that nice fragrance, too. You know how they can feel waxy when you take them out of the box, well this stuff builds up on your clothes and on your lint screen. This is also what causes dryer units to catch fire and potentially burn your house down with it!

    The best way to keep your dryer working for a very long time (and to keep your electric bill lower) is to take the filter out and wash it with hot soapy water and an old toothbrush (or other brush) at least every six months. It doubles the life of your dryer.