Thanks for visiting my blog. Hope you find some helpful hints for organizing your time and space. My passions are to help you make home a refuge instead of a crisis center, and to help you function in peace rather than chaos - at home or at work. I have switched my main blog to 1-2-3 ... Get Organized on WordPress, so please visit me there.

Friday, May 29, 2009

My Ongoing Quest: Not to Go to the Grocery Store

So ... to continue with my quest to prepare balanced meals without going to the grocery store in order to use up some of the food in my fridge, freezer and pantry ...

I was delighted to come across a recipe for Strawberry Snap Pea Salad the other day because ... you guessed it ... I had strawberries and sugar snap peas I needed to use up. When I first looked at the recipe, I was skeptical about whether the ingredients would go well together. As I was talking to one of my daughters on the phone while preparing it, she was convinced it would be disgusting. But it wasn't!

So here's the recipe:
equal amounts of sugar snap peas and strawberries, cut into bite-size pieces
red or white onion according to your taste, cut into small pieces
mint leaves, coursely chopped - I used about 1 tablespoon for four servings

Dressing (this made enough for my four servings with some left over):
1 T. mint leaves
1/4 c. sugar
1/8 c. balsamic vinegar
1/8 t. pepper
1 t. cornstarch
1/4 c. plus 1 t. water

In a small saucepan, bring to boil 1/4 c. water, 1 T. mint leaves, balsamic vinegar, and pepper. Lower heat, simmer for 5 minutes. In cup, stir cornstarch and 1 t. water to make a paste, then stir paste into saucepan. Bring to full boil. Remove from heat and allow to cool 10 minutes. Strain the cooked mint from dressing. Use just enough dressing to lightly coat salad. Serve immediately or chill. (Adapted from a recipe in the March/April 2009 Ohio magazine, p. 29.)

I was pleasantly surprised at the bright, fresh flavor of this salad. I'm not a big fan of mint in my food, but this was good! And I was happy to use up some of my mint!

Yesterday for lunch my husband sauteed some baby spinach in olive oil with some garlic, salt and pepper. I like to buy the large containers of baby spinach at Sam's because it is so reasonably priced. But we often ended up with it spoiling before we could use it all. We have begun to sautee it - it's quick, healthy, and it uses up a lot of spinach! So, we finished off our baby spinach and had a healthy and interesting green vegetable.

My fruit compote turned out well - raspberries, cranberries, dried apricots (diced), and strawberries with sugar to taste. I brought the ingredients to a boil and simmered until it was thickened. I made so much of it that we're going to serve it warmed over vanilla ice cream tonight when guests comes to dinner. We tested it out last night. :)

Last night my husband grilled veal and red peppers with a basil/parsley/lime/garlic rub on both. Love using my herbs!

I'm really enjoying being creative as I try to use up food we have before going to the grocery store. It's a fun challenge plus we're eating very interesting meals. :)

What have you been cooking lately? Email subscribers comment by clicking here which will take you to the original blog.

Similar topics:

Six Ways to Save Money on Food by Planning Ahead
Getting Organized for School - Planning Dinner
My Husband's Quick and Easy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken

Thursday, May 28, 2009

9 Ways to Enhance Your Health by Being Organized

Good Morning! I mentioned yesterday that I'm on a quest to eat balanced meals without going to the grocery store, thereby using up things in my fridge, freezer and pantry. I came across a salad recipe yesterday that used up my snap peas and strawberries and calls for mint from my garden. I'll share it tomorrow. Now on to our blog ...

9 Ways to Enhance Your Health by Being Organized

Being organized and good health (physical, emotional and mental) - are they related? My vote is yes! Your life is enriched in many ways by organizing your time and your space.

When your time is well organized, you are intentional about scheduling in those things that contribute toward your total health:

1. Sleep. Sleep deprivation causes roller-coaster emotions, inferior frontal lobe function (decision-making), weight gain, slow reaction time, a disrupted immune system, inability to cope with stress, depression, heart disease, hypertension, slurred speech and tremors. See my blog entitled Sleep is Non-Negotiable! for more details and sources.

2. Exercise. Besides the obvious benefits of exercise (building muscles, exercising your heart and lungs, burning calories, enhancing flexibility, etc.), exercise boosts your mood and helps you sleep, if you don't exercise right before bedtime. It also does great things for your skin, as sweat cleanses your pores.

3. Planning meals. By taking the time to plan meals, you are likely to eat more healthily. You're not as likely to opt for whatever is easiest because you're tired. You have a plan, you have the food in your fridge, you've knocked down those hurdles that stand in the way of good eating! By shopping only once a week (instead of every afternoon and picking up whatever looks good and is easy!), you're saving time and money in addition to your health!

4. Doing what matters. By identifying and guarding your priorities, stress decreases because you know when to say yes and when to say no to new opportunities. You are less likely to become overcommitted, overscheduled, and burned out.

5. Growing. By taking time to learn new things, pursue hobbies, and feed yourself, your brain remains flexible and young. You are less likely to develop Alzheimer's.

6. Cleaning. When you plan in time to clean on a regular basis, your home doesn't harbor germs, mold, and other irritants.


When your space is organized and free of clutter:

7. Your mind is able to focus because you are not distracted by visual clutter.

8. Stress decreases.

- You know where your bills are and you pay them on time.
- You don't lose important items.
- When your home is clutter-free, it removes the emotional heaviness of visual clutter. - You don't lose sleep over lost or forgotten items.
- You can entertain without panic because your home is in order and clean!

9. You are less likely to fall or trip over clutter.

Who knew organization and health were so intertwined? If you are overwhelmed, start small and see what a positive impact it makes!

Have you discovered health benefits from being organized? Email subscribers, click here to comment on the original blog.

The 1-2-3...Get Organized series can help you get started, one area at a time.

Similar topics:

Interesting Clutter and Organization Statistics
Reduce Your Stress - Say No
The "Do It Now" Mindset

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Organizing the Pantry

I organized my pantry the other day. Every once in a while it's nice to go through things, see what's there, and reorganize it.

I organize foods according to category - soups, vegetables, fruits, spices and condiments, canned meat, dessert/baking ingredients, crackers, cookies, drinks, etc.

Canned vegetables and sauces (spaghetti, tomato, etc.) go according to color to make it easy to find what I need. And I put the newest items in the back and the oldest items in the front. There were several items that were either outdated or I knew I would never use, so out they'll go.

Things I use least often go in less accessible places, while those with a higher turnover rate are in more accessible places.

I also identified problem areas which keep my pantry from staying nice. One is empty canning jars. I make apple butter every year, and when we finish a jar, it doesn't have a home.
Their old home in the pantry got used for something else, creating the mess. I keep my boxes of canning jars in the garage, but I don't want to have to take them out there one by one, get the box down, etc. each time. So I created a new home for them, so they won't be accumulating haphazardly, being moved from place to place.

That's probably way more information than you ever wanted to know about my canning jars! :) But those problem areas are what create the chaos - things without a home.

While we're off this week, I've made it my goal to try to use up older things in my freezer and pantry rather than go to the grocery store.

So we've had pumpkin that I had cooked, pureed, and froze around Halloween. I usually use it for pumpkin bread or pumpkin pie, but it's good just heated up. Or you can sprinkle a little brown sugar on it.

I'm going to use some frozen fruit along with some dried fruit to make fruit compote. We're going to have pork chops tomorrow and the fruit compote will go nicely with it.

When I've used up a few more things, I'll dig down to the bottom of the freezer and see what's there. Then I'll decide what to keep and what to toss. I try to place those things that are extras in the bottom of the freezer - tea, coffee and other things that don't go bad easily.

It's refreshing to clear things out and take stock of what I have! And fun to see how long we can eat balanced meals without having to go grocery shopping! :)

What do you have in your pantry? Email subscribers comment here.

Similar topics:
Get Organized Month - Organize Your Refrigerator Freezer
Get Organized Month - Declutter Your Pantry
Get Organized Month 2009 - Organizing Your Fridge to Keep Foods Fresh
Demystifying Food Expiration Dates

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Mom-Invented Time and Money Saver!

Good morning! Today I thought I'd share with you a mom-invented product that saves time and money and sanity! Skyoozmee is sponsoring today's MomAudience.com email, and I wanted you to hear about it, too.

After numerous spit-up encounters with her two children, M is for mommy Founder Emily Daigle, was determined to design a new and much improved burp cloth.

“With messy feedings and constant spit-up, I needed something that would stay in place at all times and cover both shoulders,” she recalls. “There was nothing worse than having to fight with a burp cloth while trying to care for my baby. Not to mention all the times I had to change my clothes!”

The skyoozmee exhibits three main design features to keep clothes clean and dry:
- two layers of absorption
- easy-to-fasten Velcro closure to keep the cloth from shifting
- unique shape to wrap around the neck and offer protection to the chest, back and both shoulders simultaneously.

The skyoozmee is available starting at $15 in various styles that can be viewed on the website. Three-cloth packs of each style are also available.

For more information, visit Skyoozmee.

Emily sent me a sample of her Skyoozmee - what a clever idea! It velcros nicely at the back of the neck and stays in place, covering your clothing, front and back. Em would like to offer a 10% discount to MomAudience.com readers who wish to make a purchase. Please use promotional code “MAM10”.
- Bev

Email subscribers, comment here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Herb Recipes

Hope you're having a nice holiday weekend. Ours has been very relaxing. Went out to eat, did some gardening, played Settlers of Catan, caught up on sleep, worked around the house a bit, and I got my MomAudience.com email ready to send out tomorrow. But that's not work to me - I love it!

Last week I told you I'd post some recipes using herbs. I haven't tried the herb vinaigrette, but the others are among my favorites. We made our first batch of mint tea last night - unbelievably refreshing! Let the summer begin!

Herb Vinaigrette

"Fill cruet one-third full of olive oil. Add an equal amount of vinegar (red or white wine vinegar). Gently bruise a two-inch herb sprig of thyme, oregano, or basil. Salt and pepper to taste. Close container and shake vigorously to meld flavors. Since herbs vary in strength, taste before serving and add additional sprigs as needed." (from Better Homes and Gardens, March 2009, p 20.)

Mint Tea (with no tea)

I know I shared this recipe before, but it's worth repeating. I collect a generous handful comprised of both spearmint and peppermint leaves. After rinsing off the leaves, I pour boiling water over them in a mug. Or microwave leaves in a mug of water for a minute. I let it steep - the longer the better - and add about 3/8 to 1/2 cup of sugar for 1/2 gallon. It's so refreshing in hot weather! We take it to drink when we play tennis - far more refreshing than water.

Salsa (from my friend Julie Bethea Stoll)

8 c. tomatoes, chopped, seeded (I use grape tomatoes)
1 1/2 t. chili powder

1 1/2 c. onion, chopped
1 t. cumin

handful of fresh cilantro, chopped
3 t. chopped garlic (from jar)

juice from 1/2 lime

Put onion and cilantro in small chopper. Mix with tomatoes, juice and spices. Serve with tortilla chips or with Mexican food. For a little more heat, add dried red pepper flakes - carefully - they pack a lot of heat!

(adapted from recipe from Sweet’est Grape Tomatoes package

1 pint grape tomatoes cut in quarters
¼ cup black pitted olives, slices
1/3 cup stuffed green olives, sliced
¼ cup minced parsley
1 t. minced garlic (from jar)
1/3 sweet onion, finely minced
1 T. virgin olive oil
½ T. balsamic vinegar
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a bowl. Taste and correct seasoning if needed. Let stand at room temperature about 30 minutes. Serve over grilled sliced Italian or French bread. Slice bread about ¾ inches thick.

The last three recipes are included in the Three Steps to Planning Dinner workbook, which includes my favorite recipes.

Other Herb Recipes:
Organizing Your Herb Garden, Part 3 - Using Your Herbs
Dinner in 10 - Herbed Tilapia
Papaya salsa with swordfish
Cook a turkey!

Email readers comment here.

Friday, May 22, 2009

So Much for Organizing My Herb Garden!

Happy Friday! Hope you have a relaxing Memorial Day weekend. Our town actually has a Memorial Day parade. We went last year for the first time and it was inspiring! Thanks to all who have made and continue to make our country free!

If you remember, I went to great lengths to organize my herb garden last year. Perennials in one area and annuals in another. I had massive quantities of herbs and dried many of them - so much so that I still have some after giving them out to family and friends.

Well ... so far the only perennial herbs that have come back are mint and chives (which even I can't kill!) and parsley and cilantro, neither of which are really perennials. They will come back for one season. No sign of my rosemary, thyme, sage, lavender and others!

I'm not terribly sad, though, as the ones I use the most are basil, dill, chives, parsley and cilantro. So that's what I'm growing this year. I think I'll try a little mesculan, planting some every week or so, in order to have a steady supply. We'll see if I can get it past the squirrels.

They have already been digging around my daisies in my two planters on my front porch. As often as I can remember I try to sprinkle them with dried red pepper flakes, which seems to ward them off ... until it rains. If I do the same for my mesculan, will have a little kick? :)

My husband is trying out topsy-turvy tomatoes this year. So if they work, we should have ingredients for salsa!!

Next week I'll post some of my favorite recipes using herbs.

Have some great herb recipes to share? Bring it on! Email subcribers comment here.

Some of my other gardening blog posts:

Organizing Your Herb Garden
Feed the Squirrels? - Hah!
Organizing your garden

Thursday, May 21, 2009

How to Find Help When You’re Ready to Downsize

Good Morning! Another gorgeous day here in Northeast Ohio! As of 5 pm last night, we are off from our foster care duties for a couple of weeks! I have some organizing lined up and I need to do some organizing for myself - my office and pantry/laundry room.

Here's our final segment on downsizing:

What is a Downsizing Professional?

A Downsizing Professional or Senior Move Manager or a Transition Specialist is a professional who provides emotional, organizational, and hands-on support to older adults and their families during the move process. He/she understands the difficult experience of moving from a long-time residence and makes that move as stress-free as possible.

A downsizing professional will:

- Set up a time-line and comprehensive plan for your move
- Locate and oversee a mover
- Draw up a scale-model floor plan of your new residence
- Create scale-models of your furniture to help you plan your space
- Help you stay focused on the task at hand
- Help you sort through your possessions
- Pack those items to be moved
- Arrange for the disposal of unwanted items (donations, estate sales, etc.)
- Unpack and organize your new home
- Help you prepare your home for sale.

How Do I Find a Downsizing Professional?

Help is at your fingertips when trying to locate a qualified downsizing professional. The National Association of Senior Move Managers (www.nasmm.com) provides a directory of Senior Move Managers in your locale. The National Association of Professional Organizers (www.napo.net, phone 847-375-4746) lists professional organizers by geographic area, as well. Look for those specializing in working with seniors.

Friends, senior citizen organizations, realtors, lawyers, and retirement communities may also provide referrals to help you locate a Senior Move Manager.

What Questions Do I Ask?

As you interview potential senior move managers, keep in mind some pertinent questions to ask:

- How long have you been a downsizing professional?

- Are you insured and licensed by your state?
- Do you have letters of reference/phone numbers I may call?
- What is your fee structure?
- Will you provide me with a written contract?
- What services do you provide yourself and which ones are provided by others?

Even if you have family or friends who are willing to help you, a downsizing professional possesses expertise and experience, thereby providing you with economical and insightful solutions as well as connections to local resources to expedite your move.

My advice is to make your move while you have the time and energy to make choices in a relaxed atmosphere. And don’t be afraid to get assistance. It helps you stay focused and finish the task quickly.

Questions about downsizing? Email subscribers comment here.

More blogs about downsizing:
The Advantages of Downsizing
Downsizing - Factors to Consider when Choosing a New Residence
Residential Options when You Downsize

Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence is a complete do-it-yourself guide for those who want to tackle downsizing themselves.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Campus Calm University (I'm a Contributing Author) Wins a Gold Medal!

I'm so honored to announce that Campus Calm University - The College Student's 10-Step Blueprint to Stop Stressing and Create a Happy, Purposeful Life was awarded a gold medal in the 13th Annual Independent Publisher Book Awards in the Self-Help category!

I am a contributing author to the book and Campus Calm's time management expert.

If you need graduations gifts for high school graduates, consider this gift that keeps on giving. Or a membership in Campus Calm University. Click the Campus Calm book in the sidebar to get more information.

Comments for email subscribers, click here.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Starbucks Delivers?

Not exactly. But they may as well. I don't know about you, but I don't like to heat up cold coffee. But I don't want to waste it, either. And I'm not like my parents - they always end up with the exact amount of coffee needed. We end up with extra.

So here are some ways I've begun to use cold coffee, saving time and money and calories.

- Iced coffee. This is so easy! Just add some milk and ice. If I have flavored creamer, I'll add a dash of that, too. But you could rummage through your spice cabinet and use vanilla, orange, coconut, rum, peppermint or maple extracts. (Can't quite get my brain around lemon-flavored coffee!) Or for the price of a couple of cups of coffee at Starbucks, you could pick up flavored syrups there or elsewhere.

- Frappuccinos. If I'm feeling more energetic, I'll put some coffee, milk, ice and a little creamer into my blender. Voila - a cold, icy coffee treat. And I can get lowfat and decaf at the same time - not available at Starbucks. Just a little Starbucks trivia. Isn't is sad that I know that?

We offer to take our foster girls out for coffee or a coke just to have individual time with each one, should they want it. Some of them are in it just for the drinks, I think, but we're building relationships with them. And who knows, maybe a teachable moment might turn up! So that's why I'm overly familiar with Starbucks. :) But I digress ...

- Coffee ice cubes. I haven't done this yet, but I want to. I need to get a designated ice cube tray first, though. I'm sitting here looking at the last few drops of my iced coffee diluted with regular ice. With coffee ice, that wouldn't happen.

So treat yourself to some fun drinks this summer - custom-made to your own palate, without the hassle of leaving home, without the high prices, and using up coffee you might otherwise throw out! Can it get any better than that!?!

If you receive this via email, leave your comments here.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Organizing Socks

Good Morning! Hope you had a nice weekend. Ours was rainy and cold, so we spent most of our time indoors. In between raindrops, we managed to squeeze in a trip to the Stan Hywet mansion and grounds including Barkitecture (a variety of creative and unique dog houses). We went to a movie, did tie dye and t-shirt painting, went to church, played some games, oversaw homework, and watched some movies while crafting.

Here's the dirt on socks:

Organizing Socks

Lately, members of NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) have had a lively chat on organizing socks. There was a plethora of ideas, so I thought I'd pass along all that wisdom:

- Dot system. Using a permanent marker or fingernail polish, put one dot on the toes of the oldest kid's socks, two dots on the second child's socks, and so on. When socks are handed down, just add a dot.

- Initials. Permanently mark the first initial of the sock owner on the toes of the socks.

- Sock locks. These handy devices keep pairs of socks together throughout the wash and dry cycles.

- Safety pins. Safety pins work like sock locks, keeping pairs together.

- Lingerie bags. Buy different colored lingerie bags - one color for each person - or color-code white ones. (Colored bags are more expensive than white.) Family members are responsible for putting their socks in their own bags. No sorting or lost socks! One organizer tells her family if they don't put their socks in their bags, they won't get them back!

- Buy different socks for each family member. Buy only one brand of athletic socks and one brand of dress socks for each person.

Do you have any sock-sorting tricks to add? If you'd like to comment and receive this via email, use this link.

Similar topics:

Organizing Laundry
Laundry tip - color-coded laundry bags

Friday, May 15, 2009

The Real Problems Behind Kids' Excuses To Get Out of Chores

I came across this article by Linda F. over at gimmeten.gather.com and thought you might enjoy it, especially with summer coming upon us!

"Excuse #1-"I'm too busy."
The Real Problem-Our kids are over-scheduled.
Solution-Yes, it's true that our kids have a lot going on in their lives, and so do we. It doesn't mean that we get to abandon the day to day necessities that we have to do to keep life running smoothly. To get these things done by each member of our family, we need to schedule chore times with as much diligence as we adhere to soccer schedules, invitations, and penciled-in appointments. Something may need to be cancelled, but having a clean safe home to live in, can't be one of those things we're willing to compromise. If we get our kids in the habit now, brief chore times will soon become part of our family's routine.

Excuse #2-"You didn't tell me I had to do that."
The Real Problem-Our expectations and consequences aren't clear.
Solution- Telling a child to clean their room can actually be perceived as a very vague statement. What exactly is clean? One way to get around the excuses of your children, is to be very specific in what you expect of them. A clean room to you might mean, no trash, no dirty laundry, no clutter, a made bed, or any other number of specific items. Consider creating lists to help your children know exactly what they have to do. Place the lists in plastic sheet protectors so that they can mark items as completed.

Be aware that sometimes we might have a tendency to be demanding in how chores are accomplished. This can be very frustrating for older kids who are learning to do things in their own order and at their own pace. If the way they do things doesn't affect the end outcome of cleanliness, consider letting them do it their way. Offer tips and suggestions if it will help them become more efficient, but let them figure out for themselves why some ways are better than others.

Along with making our expectations clear, we need to make sure that our consequences are clear as well. Some consequences can be natural. If you don't bring your dirty laundry downstairs, you won't have clean clothes to wear. There is nothing wrong with adding other consequences for not doing your part of the household chores. Kids learn quickly when a consequence is no Saturday cartoons until their room is cleaned. Find out what motivates your kids and make it part of their own consequences.

Excuse #3-"I don't know how."
The Real Problem-Our kids haven't been taught or need to be taught again.
Solution-Any job we've ever had required a training period to teach us the expectations and how to complete them. Frequently we've had to watch as someone modeled the correct way to complete a job. These things hold true for our kids, too. There will be a period of time where your child is learning how to complete jobs either by you directly showing them how to do it, or by having them watch your methods. Start with basic chores and gradually advance to the more difficult ones.

Excuse #4-"You can't make me start doing that now."
The Real Problem-We think it's too late or too early to start.
Solution- Maybe your kids are already preteens or teenagers and you feel like it's too late to start having your kids complete chores. It's not. To get your kids to buy in, at least partly, to the plan, you can try to have them help you come up with a list of what makes a room clean. Ask them what consequences are fair to impose for incomplete help. And when all else fails, let them have some control over the timing of the chores, the music they listen to while they clean, and as much of how the actual cleaning is done as possible.

If you feel like your kids are too young to possibly participate in chores, you could be surprised by what a young child can accomplish. The toddler age can be a great time to start introducing responsibility and cause and effect. Even a two year old child can help pick up their own toys and put them in buckets labeled with pictures. They may need help, but you are teaching them an invaluable lesson about their special place in your family.

Excuse #5-"Somebody else would do it faster and better than I can."
The Real Problem- It can be a lot faster in the beginning to do things ourselves or hire someone else to do them.
Solution-Think of this time as an investment in yourself and your child. I started teaching my son how to help out when he was two years old. We would sort toys together, although it often felt like I was doing most of the work. Today, he's a ten year old little boy who can be told to clean a specific room in our home, and no matter which one it is, he can do it with little to no supervision. Not only does this free me up for more labor or skill intensive tasks, but it's taught him a better respect for cleaning as you go. When we allow our kids to skate by without learning how to chip in, we do them a real disservice. Although it may feel like it's more work in the beginning, teaching children how to care for a home is a wonderful way to prepare them to be caring responsible adults.

Excuse #6-"I can't even tell what needs to be cleaned."
The Real Problem- There is too much clutter.
Solution- Could it be that there are simply too many stacks of things in our home to really get it clean? Clutter makes you feel overwhelmed when you clean. Along with cleaning, teach and model for your children the principles of decluttering and organization. Cleaning becomes very difficult when stacks and piles of "things" are everywhere. Help your child learn to declutter their own possessions and areas. These principles will help them realize valuable lessons about organizing and make your home a more efficient place to clean."

How do you handle your kids' excuses? Comment here if you receive this via email.

Similar topics:

Organizing "Messy" Toys

Get Organized Month 2009 - Family Five Minute Challenge,

Let's party!

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cooler Safety 101

One of our girls had a visit with her parents yesterday. I had to stay there, so I brought along a couple of magazines and tore out interesting items and disposed of the magazines.

One of the articles I found was on how to load a cooler. I don't think I've ever heard anything "official" on loading a cooler in order to keep food safe and edible.

By following these tips, we can save money and time by keeping food fresh and not having to replenish spoiled food. And not having to take someone to the doctor because they ate spoiled food!

The following tips are from the Rubbermaid Food Science experts, courtesy of the June 2009 Family Circle magazine (p. 186):

"- Store items separately in containers and keep in the fridge for an hour before loading up.

- Line your cooler with a ring of cold soda cans or water bottles, then pour ice in the center. Add in food next, and put a layer of ice on top.

- Position coolers out of the direct sun and keep the lid closed as much as possible."

- Discard any food that has been left out for two hours, or one hour if the temperature is above 90 degrees."

Do you have some cooler safety suggestions? If you receive this by email, make your suggestions here.

Some related topics:

Get Organized Month 2009 - Organizing Your Fridge to Keep Foods Fresh
Demystifying Food Expiration Dates
Organize an Emergency Kit for Your Car

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Downsizing - Factors to Consider when Choosing a New Residence

Good morning! Here's another section on our topic on downsizing. Pass this along to your parents or others if you're not ready for downsizing yet.

Factors to Consider
when Choosing a New Residence:

Consider your financial resources. Your financial resources will be one factor in determining the type of housing you will contemplate.

There is a wide range in the cost of retirement communities. Some require hefty down payments while others have minimal deposits. Monthly charges also vary. Other retirement facilities consist of rental units.

In some areas of the country, there are publications or websites which compare local retirement facilities. Ask the senior citizen center or your local library if they exist in your area. The following link lists retirement facilities: http://www.seniorhousingnet.com/seniors/search/matchlist.jhtml.

Consider location. Do you want to continue living in your current area? Do you need to be closer to family if they are not nearby?

Staying in your current area means being near your friends, shopping, church, etc. However, if you have no family in the area, it will be harder for them to visit or monitor your health care should they need to in the future.

My husband’s parents considered moving to Florida. We told them that if they did, we would probably only get to see them once or twice a year. Thankfully, they chose a retirement community in Pennsylvania, so we can see them every other month.

We have other friends who moved to Florida and then moved back to their home area when their health failed or they missed their families.

Consider your interests. If you are an avid golfer, you may want to consider a community with a golf course, for example. If you follow the arts, you may want to locate in an area accessible to such events. However, if being in a natural, peaceful setting is important to you, a rural location may be preferable.

Consider the timing. It is much easier to make a move at your leisure rather than when a crisis occurs. You have time to make the choices you want to make, with a clear mind. You may find it helpful to create time lines and target dates to keep focused.

I had a client who was experiencing memory loss while we were helping her downsize into a retirement facility. Her husband was in the hospital. In the middle of the move, he died. You don’t want to wait until it’s a hardship for you to make a necessary move.

Consider the help you may need. Any move is tremendously stressful! And moving from your long-time residence is even more so. So much so that losing a spouse is the only other event more stressful, according to stress studies.

Many times, the thought of moving is overwhelming because of the physical and emotional demands placed upon you. If you have family or friends willing to help, accept their offer, if you like.

Downsizing professionals reduce the stress of downsizing by walking with you through the steps to a successful relocation - sorting, making a floor plan, packing, unpacking and much more.

I had one client who thought she had downsized before moving into her retirement community. She called me for help. When I knocked on her door and she said, “come in,” all I could see was her foot – she was surrounded by wall-to-wall, floor-to-ceiling boxes!

So ... don't be afraid to get help! I'll talk more about how to find help next time.

Questions about downsizing? If you receive this via email, ask here.

Related topics:

The Advantages of Downsizing
Residential Options when You Downsize
It's a Great Time to Hire a Mover

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Helioplex is My New Friend

Helioplex is my new friend. What is helioplex, you ask? It's an ingredient in sun screens that prevent against all three types of skin cancer.

So why am I talking about sun screen on my organizing blog? From my own experience, having skin cancer messes up your life a bit:

- I had to go to extra doctor's appointments - the initial appointment, the surgery to remove the cancer, the appointment to sew up the wound, the appointment to remove the stitches, and a couple of follow up appointments.

- My husband had to drive me to several of
my appointments, so it took up his time, too.

- My skin cancer was over my eyebrow, and my eye got swollen. So I had to wear my glasses instead of my contacts for a while, which impaired my vision and my work.

- Surgery reduces your energy level as your body fights to heal.

- And it was ugly!

My dermatologist has asked me to wear sun screen every day. I haven't liked it because sun screens are usually heavy, oily, hot, and smelly. He recently gave my husband a sample of Neutrogena UltraSheer (which he has kindly shared), and I have found my new friend. It's light, not oily, not hot even though it has an spf of 70. And it has a pleasant smell. I use it on all exposed skin every day.

So do yourself a favor - make helioplex your new friend, too. Sure saves a lot of time and hassle. Maybe even your life!

What do you do to protect your skin? If you receive this via email, comment here.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Vinegar - 10 Ways to Save Your Clothes!

Hope you had a great weekend. I had a wonderful Mother's Day - my daughter Sara surprised me by showing up on Friday and staying throughout the weekend! She joined right in the activities we had planned for the weekend. And lovely talks with my other daughter Comfort. I love being a mom!

Over the weekend we were trying to get smoke smells out of a comforter given to one of our foster girls. So Sara did a little research and she found these enlightening laundry tips from Angela Cisco, many of which I had never heard before. Who knew vinegar was such a value? Here's Angela's article:

10 Ways to Use White Distilled Vinegar You Never Heard of Before

"For a long time, you've heard that distilled white vinegar can be used in the laundry but you aren't sure how. If your mom or grandma were asked, I'm sure they wouldn't be able to list all the ways vinegar can boost the power of your washer and dryer without breaking the bank. Distilled white vinegar costs $1.49 for 128 oz at my local grocery store.

Here are 10 ways you can work distilled white vinegar into your every day wash and rinse.

Prevent lint from clinging to clothes
by adding 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar to the wash cycle.

To brighten colors and remove soap residue that makes black clothes look dull
use white distilled vinegar in your final rinse.

Fluff up wool or acrylic sweaters
(hand- or machine-washed) and rid them of soap smell, with 1/2 cup white distilled vinegar in the last rinse water.

Remove smoky odors from clothes
by filling the bathtub with very hot water and 1 cup white distilled vinegar. Hang the garments above the steaming water and shut the door so the steam can penetrate the fibers.

Remove musky smells from cotton clothes
by sprinkling them lightly with white distilled vinegar and then pressing them.

Get cleaner laundry!
Add about 1/4 cup white distilled vinegar to the last rinse. The acid in white distilled vinegar is too mild to harm fabrics, yet strong enough to dissolve the alkalis in soaps and detergents. Besides removing soap, white distilled vinegar prevents yellowing, acts as a fabric softener and static cling reducer, and attacks mold and mildew.

Before washing a mustard stain
, dab with white distilled vinegar.

Attack spaghetti, barbecue, or ketchup stains
with a white distilled vinegar and water solution.

Forgot that you left wet laundry in the machine and it now smells moldy?
Pour a few cups of white distilled vinegar in the machine and wash the clothes in hot water. Then run a normal cycle with detergent.

Remove perspiration odor and stains on clothing
, as well as those left by deodorants, by spraying full-strength white distilled vinegar on underarm and collar areas before tossing them into the washing machine.

Do you have additional laundry tips using vinegar? We love to hear them! If you receive this via email, comment here.

Similar topics:
Organizing Laundry
Laundry tip - color-coded laundry bags

Friday, May 8, 2009

Residential Options when You Downsize

Good Morning! Happy Friday! Hope you have a great weekend. We plan to play a little tennis, go to the zoo, go bowling, go to an art exhibit and barbecue. Hopefully the weather will cooperate. :)

I wanted to continue the subject of downsizing, today looking at the pros and cons of different residential options.

Residential Options when You Downsize

1. One option is to remain in your present home and just downsize your possessions.

The benefits:
- you won’t need to move
- you can downsize your possessions gradually
- it is much easier to downsize when you feel good than when you start to experience memory loss or have a health crisis.

The drawbacks:
- you are responsible for your own health care
- you are responsible for the maintenance of your home and property
- without a deadline, you may have trouble making progress in downsizing
- your downsizing is partial, because you haven’t reduced the size of your residence.

2. A second option is to move into an apartment, a condominium, or a senior neighborhood composed of independent living units (houses, apartments and condos such as Leisure World).

The benefits:
- decisions are less stressful when you feel good and have clear mental faculties
- no exterior house and yard upkeep
- your cost of living may decrease due to a smaller residence
- and the task of downsizing will be behind you if you later need to move into a retirement community.

The drawbacks:
- you are responsible for your own health care
- if you own your own home, you may need to sell your current residence
- you may need to move twice - once now and again to a care facility.

3. A retirement community with health care ranging from independent living to assisted living to nursing care is another choice.

The benefits:
- if you start out in independent living, the move to assisted living is relatively easy
- no exterior house and yard upkeep
- you have peace of mind, knowing your health care needs will be met, whatever level of care you may require.

The drawbacks:
- if you own your own home, you may need to sell your current residence
- the cost of living in a retirement community may be more than your current expenses.

4. You could move in with a relative, which would also require you to downsize.

The benefits:
- your expenses will likely decrease
- your downsizing task will be behind you if you need to move to a retirement facility in the future
- you won't be responsible for exterior upkeep and maintenance most likely
- you will be with people you love.

The drawbacks:
- you will have to move, possibly selling your home
- you will be responsible for your own health care
- you may lose some privacy and autonomy.

I hope this helps you think through the options that are available to you or your parents. Downsizing is a daunting task, and it's hard to wade through all the possibilities. Next time we'll look at factors to consider when choosing a new residence.

What options have you or your parents chosen in downsizing? Are you happy with your decisions? If you receive this via email, and you'd like to comment, use this link.

Similar topics:
The Advantages of Downsizing
It's a Great Time to Hire a Mover

If you need a step-by-step guide for downsizing, with the most comprehensive check list you'll ever want to see, investigate our Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence workbook.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's a Great Time to Hire a Mover

Got my menus planned yesterday while waiting to pick up one of our girls from school. It's quite a challenge - we have such picky eaters! In fact, I keep a list of what each girl will eat and won't eat because I can't remember it all. So with my little book in hand, flipping back and forth between the girls' pages, I figured out some meals that would work. I hope your menu planning is not as complicated!

But let's move on ... (harharhar)

It's a Great Time to Hire a Mover

If you are getting ready to move or downsize, this is your lucky day! As you can imagine, with the economic downturn, moving companies are hurting for business. With housing sales slumping, less people are moving.

So moving companies are more likely to negotiate to get your business. My suggestion: get estimates from several. If there is a company you like but they don't have the lowest bid, ask if they will meet the lowest bid.

It's important to know that moving companies have different rates during the month. It's more expensive to move at the end of the month and on holidays. Ask when they offer the lowest rates.

I recommend buying their insurance package, as accidents do happen - even with the most careful movers.

If the whole idea of moving is overwhelming to you, call a professional organizer to help you sort, dispose of, and pack your belongings.
He/she will create a floor plan for your new residence, arrange for movers, and much more! If you are moving locally, your professional organizer will also unpack for you. I promise my downsizing clients that they will be totally moved in at the end of moving day with their pictures on the wall!

To locate a professional organizer near you, go to Faithful Organizers or National Association of Professional Organizers.

If you receive this via email, please comment here.

Similar topics:

The Advantages of Downsizing
Helping Your Kids Prepare for a Move

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Who Invented Meatloaf Anyway?

We have one house of foster girls going home today and another coming tomorrow, so I'm planning menus. I made meatloaf this last week, and doubled up on the recipe. So I already have one meal prepared for this week.

Who invented meatloaf anyway? And why did they decide it must cook in a loaf pan? When I make meatloaf, I cook it in a 9 x 9 or 13 x 9 pan to speed up the cooking. It cuts the cooking time by half at least. Does it change the texture or something? I don't know, but our girls ate it all.

I cooked red skin potatoes while the meatloaf cooked, turning them into garlic mashed potatoes. Fresh green beans and fruit rounded out the meal.

I think I'm also going to make lasagna this week. I'll double up on the meat sauce and freeze half of it. So when I make lasagna next time, at least that part will be done. If I'm really energetic, I'll make two lasagnas - we'll see.

I feel so efficient when I have something in the freezer for the future. It doesn't really take that much longer to make two meatloaves or two batches of meat sauce, but it sure saves time on another day!

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

Similar blogs:

Grill Your Entire Meal
Six Ways to Save Money on Food by Planning Ahead
Quadruple Batch of Teriyaki Marinade

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Happy Cinco de Mayo - Lime Chicken Soft Tacos

Happy Cinco de Mayo!
If you're looking for a Mexican dish that's a little different, here's one we had last night - Lime Chicken Soft Tacos. We have picky eaters, and not a scrap was left! This is from Week 17 of Hassle Free Dinners. The amounts in parenthesis are for 2, 4, and 6 servings.

Boneless, skinless chicken (1/2, 1, 1 1/2 lb.)
Red wine vinegar (2, 4, 6 t.)
Lime juice (1, 2, 3 t.)
Sugar (1/3, 2/3, 1 t.)
Salt (1/6, 1/3, 1/2 t.)
Pepper (1/6, 1/3, 1/2 t.)
Green onions (1/2, 1, 1 1/2)
Minced garlic (1, 2, 3 t.)
Dried oregano (1/3, 2/3, 1 t.)

Flour tortillas
Tomato (1/3, 2/3, 1)
Lettuce (1/2, 1, 1 1/2 c.)
Monterey Jack cheese (2, 4, 6 oz.)
Salsa to taste

Slice chicken into thin strips and place in a zip lock bag.
Mix vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, pepper, green onion, garlic and oregano. Add to chicken. Marinate while you get the rest of the meal together.

Meanwhile, slice green onions. Dice tomatoes. Shred lettuce and cheese.

Simmer chicken over medium heat until no longer pink - just a few minutes.

Microwave tortillas.

We had a fruit plate to complete the meal - mango, green grapes, and cutie tangerines.

Nutritional Analysis per serving: Lime Chicken Soft Tacos (chicken mixture only) calories 244.45; total fat 1.45g; saturated fat 0.39g; cholesterol 65.77mg; sodium 268.53mg; potassium 319.36mg; carbohydrates 2.24g; dietary fiber 0.29g; protein 26.40g. Cost per serving $1.30.

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

Similar blogs:
Dinner in 15 - A Grilling Twist
Chicken Tortilla Soup for the Super Bowl - Quick, Easy, and Different

Monday, May 4, 2009

Reduce Anxiety with These Foods

Good Morning! We had a beautiful weekend and enjoyed several activities, including walking to and from church yesterday. Hope your weekend was pleasant!

It seems to me that May and June are getting about as busy as November and December. There are all the end-of-school programs, weddings, graduations, etc. Here's an article from Yahoo about comfort foods that are good for us and reduce anxiety.

"Bills arriving in heaps? Gas prices sky-rocketing? Summer love turned sour? Regardless of the cause, there's a counter-intuitiveness to the goodies we turn to for comfort.

Take the classic-curling up with a pint of ice cream. It's a total backfire. Why? Sweets are insidious: After the initial rush, the body's insulin response kicks in, causing a sudden blood sugar drop that triggers the release of stress hormones. Soon you're feeling more jangled than you were before you inhaled that whole container of Chunky Monkey. And alcohol, of course, is a wolfish stimulant in calm sheep's clothing.

But true comfort foods do exist.

1. Berries, any berries
. Eat them one by one instead of M&Ms when the pressure's on. For those tough times when tension tightens your jaw, try rolling a frozen berry around in your mouth. And then another, and another. Since the carbs in berries turn to sugar very slowly, you won't have a blood sugar crash. The bonus: They're a good source of vitamin C, which helps fight a jump in the stress hormone cortisol.

2. Guacamole. 
If you're craving something creamy, look no further. Avocados are loaded with B vitamins, which stress quickly depletes and which your body needs to maintain nerves and brain cells. Plus their creaminess comes from healthy fat. Scoop up the stuff with whole-grain baked chips-crunching keeps you from gritting your teeth.

3. Mixed nuts
. Just an ounce will help replace those stress-depleted Bs (walnuts), give you a whopping amount of zinc (Brazil nuts)-it's also drained by high anxiety-and boost your E (almonds), which helps fight cellular damage linked to chronic stress. Buy nuts in the shell and think of it as multi-tasking: With every squeeze of the nutcracker, you're releasing a little bit of tension.

4. Oranges. 
People who take a 1,000 mg of C before giving a speech have lower levels of cortisol and lower blood pressure than those who don't. So lean back, take a deep breath, and concentrate on peeling a large orange. The 5-minute mindfulness break will ease your mind and you'll get a bunch of C as well.

5. Asparagus. 
Each tender stalk is a source of folic acid, a natural mood-lightener. Dip the spears in fat-free yogurt or sour cream for a hit of calcium with each bite.

6. Chai tea
. A warm drink is a super soother, and curling up with a cup of aromatic decaf chai tea (Tazo makes ready-to-brew bags) can make the whole evil day go away.

7. Dark chocolate. 
Okay, there's nothing in it that relieves stress, but when only chocolate will do, reach for the dark, sultry kind that's at least 70% cocoa. You figure if the antioxidant flavonoids in it are potent enough to fight cancer and heart disease, they've got to be able to temper tension's effects."

Receive this via email and want to comment? Use this link.

Similar Blogs:

Reduce Your Stress - Say No

The "Do It Now" Mindset

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

Saturday, May 2, 2009

CDC Warning: How to Avoid Getting the Swine Flu

My brother, who is in the medical field sent this CDC message along on how to avoid getting the Swine Flu:

Don't do this:

If you'd like to make a comment and receive this via email, use this link.

Friday, May 1, 2009

The Advantages of Downsizing

I gave a talk last night on "Factors to Consider When Contemplating Downsizing." I thought the information might be helpful to you, your parents or someone else you know. Today we'll look at the advantages of downsizing.

But first, what exactly is downsizing?
It is getting rid of extraneous items in your home. It may also include moving to a smaller residence.

You don't need to be of retirement age to consider downsizing. You may just need to get rid of the excess in your home. Or you may choose to reduce expenses by moving into a smaller residence. Whatever the case, here are several advantages of downsizing:

- Removing physical clutter removes mental clutter. You can’t really live peacefully if your surroundings are cluttered and crowded.

- You know what you have and where it is.

- You don’t waste time looking for lost objects. The average person spends days a year looking for lost items!

- If you must move, that part of the job is already done!

- Your children will not be burdened with an unmanageable job when you pass on.

- Downsizing lifts your spirits. You feel light and free when your home is not cluttered!

If you'd like to comment and receive this by email, click here.

Similar topics:

Get Organized Month 2009 - Family Five Minute Challenge
Cash from your Clutter
Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind

Don't know where to start? Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence or Three Steps to Decluttering walk you through the process.