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

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Destressing Christmas, Part I, 2009 - Thinking Through Your Expectations

We unpacked a few more boxes yesterday and are feeling a little more settled. But we still have no phones, including my business phone which now has a recording that says that the number is disconnected!! Ugh!

But let's think about Christmas, shall we? I'm updating a series I did last year:

Christmas already? Did you know that it is 85 days until Christmas? If we really want to destress Christmas, it might be wise to start thinking about it now.

Last year I did a series on Destressing Christmas. I think I'll repeat one part of the series each week just to help us get started. Here's the first one: Thinking Through Your Expectations

As you anticipate the holidays, think through your expectations. Talk with your family members or those with whom you will be spending the holiday season. Ask what is important to them to celebrate at Christmas - activities, traditions, food, spiritual emphasis, giving, service opportunities, etc. This is the time to determine what is important to emphasize.

- Make a list of all your traditions, from decorating to Christmas caroling. Keep the ones you love (forget about impressing other people), and cross off the ones you don't. Without realizing it, I tend to feel a need to incorporate all we had ever done, which becomes unwieldy, and it's rediculous if no one wants to do it!

- Be flexible when things don't fit your expectations. Christmas Day doesn't have to happen on December 25th, for example. When we lived in Kenya, we worked with an expatriot medical team who gave their staff Christmas Day off. So we celebrated Christmas as a team on other days.

We were hoping to have our family with us for Christmas this year, but with our new position, we need to be with our foster children for Christmas, and our own children are not allowed to stay in our house when we have kids.

And because our position is so new, we don't know when we'll be off. So we decided to postpone our family time to another less stressful time! Disappointing, but realistic.

- Enjoy the moment rather than compare it to memories or expectations. Be present and relish what is happening. And if it's not the greatest, do what you can to make it pleasant. Be other-centered rather than self-centered.

- Keep a sense of humor. I like things to match and I appreciate beauty. However, my son-in-law secretly placed a very ugly decoration on the tree one year. I did manage to resist my urge to snatch it off the tree, and we left it on the tree for giggles. It has now become a tradition.

- Be realistic!!! Know what you can handle and what you cannot. Be kind to yourself and live within your limits. Each year is different. One year we were moving right after Christmas and our holiday preparations for that year were very few.

Other years I had themes - stars, hearts, trees, etc. But after a few years, the number of decorations were getting out of hand, so I stopped that tradition. Don't hesitate to limit activities so you can enjoy the season!!

Be intentional about Christmas this year by thinking through expectations of your own and those of your family members and friends. Give yourself permission to make your Christmas celebration personal, meaningful, and realistic.

What makes your Christmas meaningful? Subscribers, click on the title to comment at the end of the blog.

More on Christmas:
Get Started on Your Christmas Cards

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Better Homes and Gardens Linked to My Blog!

I'm excited to add Better Homes and Gardens to my media list! Here's the link. Just a mention, but it makes me happy. :)

3-Part Webinar - Three Steps to Becoming a Downsizing Professional


 Three Steps to Becoming a Downsizing Professional

3-Part Webinar* (90 minutes each)

by Beverly Coggins

Please join me in a highly interactive and personalized webinar limited to 10 participants .
You’ll be as fully involved in the discussion as you wish.
I’ll give you a personal phone call before the webinar to ascertain your needs.

Why Consider becoming a Downsizing Professional?

- Downsizing is a relatively simple concept to learn 

- 76 million Baby Boomers will be retiring in the next 20 years, many needing to downsize

- Starting a downsizing business requires minimal up-front costs

- Training can be completed in three 90-minute seminars

- Your work hours are flexible based on your own needs

- You’ll have the fulfillment of helping seniors transition gracefully

- Your growth potential is unlimited!

What Content Will Be Covered in the Webinar?

Part I - Starting Your Downsizing Business
(business structures presented by my accountant, branding, websites, methods of payment, fees, affiliations, hiring employees, strategic alliances and more)

Part II - Marketing
(a plethora of proven marketing ideas!!)

Part III - The Nuts and Bolts of Downsizing
(estimates, contracts, measuring/floor plans, the steps involved in the move, including check lists for you and your clients, forms, and recommended products)

Bonus Features Included with the Cost of the Webinar:
  • Three Steps to Becoming a Downsizing Professional manual (pdf version) 
  • Membership to Downsizer Cafe, a members-only blog providing support, exchange of ideas, and continuing training
  • Additional video training segments
  • Continued one-on-one email coaching with Beverly Coggins following the webinar

We have two websinars scheduled:
Webinar #1 - October 20, 21, 22
Webinar #2 - November 10, 11, 12

Times for both webinars:
11 am Eastern (10 am Central, 9 am Mountain, 8 am Pacific)

Cost: $499

Both one-time payment and three-part installment options (billed 15 days apart) are available . To register, click here.

*What is a webinar? A webinar is a teleseminar where your computer is linked to the instructor’s notes on your computer screen.

Monday, September 28, 2009

We're Moved In!


We have most of our stuff moved over to our new home. We started the day with our phones/cable/internet being connected, or so we thought! Everything seemed in order until we tried to use the phone, which was dead. Hopefully by tomorrow!

This is the first chance I've had all day to sit down and chat with you. No organizing tips today - just a quick hello.

 We are now permanent houseparents for two girls in our Shelter Care program. We will house up to four girls eventually. 

We feel like life will be a little calmer without having to transition from one house of girls to another. And we're looking forward to having a more long-term impact in our girls' lives.

Of course, I'll still be spending time organizing, writing, speaking, and pursuing my business interests. I love my life!

I'll talk to you tomorrow.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Moving Tips

It's Friday! Yeah! 

We've been moving this week, with the big stuff being moved on Saturday. Just thought I'd toss out a few moving tips that have helped me over the last few days. We are just moving 5 miles away, so some of these may or may not be relevant to your move.

- The first thing I did was to go over to the house and just look. I looked at the kitchen cabinets to determine where I wanted to put dishes, hot drinks/coffee maker/mugs, baking items, silverware, serving dishes, plastic items, etc.

By taking the time to think this out ahead of time, you're less likely to switch things around later, saving a bundle of time!

I looked at the office to see where I wanted to set up our desks, filing cabinets, printers, bookshelves, etc.

I looked in the master bedroom to see where to put the bed, dresser, etc. 

I looked at the rec room to determine where we would place the TV, do crafts, play games, etc.

And I looked at the living room to figure out which furniture would go there, and which furniture would go elsewhere.

- Next, I started sorting and packing. Some things will be living in different rooms in our new house than where they have lived here. So I packed together only items that were going to the same room - saves so much time and running!

- Each day we have filled our cars and taken a load over. Our kitchen is almost entirely unpacked. The kitchen and bedroom(s) are the most urgent to unpack in order for you to be functional. It has been hard work to do this every day, but so much less overwhelming than having an entire truck arrive with all of your stuff at the same time.

-  We are using different pieces of furniture for different uses, so we have swapped out items therein. When we move those pieces of furniture, they will be functional in the room where they live.

- As we have packed, we have labeled boxes with what is inside. Consequently, there will be some boxes we won't even open until later - seasonal/party items, etc.

- Since my specialty is downsizing, I have a plethora of bubble wrap - sheets of it, envelopes for small items, envelopes that are plate-sized. I'm even going to bubble wrap my couches and antique furniture to avoid damage. 

If you don't have bubble wrap, use anything other than newspaper! It leaves you and your belongings black, which means you have to wash everything! Not a chore you want to add when moving!

- Today I'm going to work on getting everything off the surfaces of the pieces of furniture that will be moved tomorrow. 

And I will put different colored stickers on each item that is going, so when it comes off the truck, it's obvious where it goes. At the garage entrance, I'll tape a guide of where each colored sticker goes. 

- We've already arranged for our phone, internet, and cable to be switched. After the move, we'll do change-of-addresses for our mail, drivers licenses, etc.

That's all for now - gotta get started on my day! :)

Do you have some moving tips that have worked for you? 

More on moving: 

Downsizing - Factors to Consider when Choosing a New Residence

It's a Great Time to Hire a Mover

The Advantages of Downsizing

Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence

Thursday, September 24, 2009

We have a winner!


Karen over at Reviews by Karen has won the digital temple thermometer. Congratulations, Karen!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

National Preparedness Month - Swapping out Your Emergency Rations


The big news at our house is that we are moving! We'll be switching roles here at Shelter Care, becoming permanent house parents for two of our girls. We're only moving few miles, but it's still a move. Big job ahead! Now on to our topic of the day ...

Last year I did a whole series on National Preparedness Month, which is September. I won't bore you by reposting all those blogs, but it is time to swap out emergency food rations. I'll copy my blog on creating those rations here. To see the rest of the National Preparedness Month, see the related posts below.

Here’s what Homeland Security suggests for your food supply for your emergency kit:

"Store at least a three-day supply of non-perishable food.

- Select foods that require no refrigeration, preparation or cooking and little or no water.
- Pack a manual can opener and eating utensils.
- Avoid salty foods, as they will make you thirsty.
- Choose foods your family will eat.
- Ready-to-eat canned meats, fruits and vegetables
- Protein or fruit bars
- Dry cereal or granola
- Peanut butter
- Dried fruit
- Nuts
- Crackers
- Canned juices
- Non-perishable pasteurized milk
- High energy foods
- Vitamins
- Food for infants
- Comfort/stress foods."

As I’ve said before, our designated shelter is in a closet in our basement. I’m storing my food in dishpans on shelves: easy to pull out and easy to transport, if necessary.

The food I included in my emergency kit: granola bars, cans of ready-to-eat soup, tuna, peanut butter, crackers, beef jerky (even though it’s salty), canned fruit, canned veggies, canned drinks, juice boxes, cookies, and water.

What foods do you have in your emergency kit?

More on National Preparedness Month: National Preparedness Month - Making a Plan, National Preparedness Month - Determining Potential Emergencies, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #1: NOAA Radio, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #2: Landline Phone, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #3 - Water, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #4 - First Aid Kit, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #5 - Additional Supplies, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #6 - Food, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #7 - Medications and Medical Supplies, National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #8 - Emergency Documents, National Preparedness Month - Evacuation Plan, National Preparedness Month – Evacuation from Work, School, Daycare, and Neighborhood Communities, National Preparedness Month - Wrapping It Up: Surge Protectors, Utilities, and More


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Organizing Art or Craft Space

When organizing art or craft space, envision what you want to do in that area. If you have a large area, you can divide the space into functional areas - a space for painting, a space for beadwork, a space for sewing, etc. If your space is small, divide your supplies into like groups.

If you know what will happen in your art/craft area, it is clear what does not belong there. Start by removing everything that should not live in this area. I usually start in one corner of the room and sweep around the room. Simultaneously remove unrelated items, purge unnecessary items, and group like items together.

If you have the luxury of a large space, consider which parts of the room would be most conducive to which functions. Take into consideration storage, work space, lighting, ventilation, etc. You may even want to graph out the room, creating scale model furniture. Then you can move furniture without lifting a finger!

If your space is small, group like supplies together so you don't have to wander all over the space to find what you need.

Don't forget to use vertical space. You may want to put up a pegboard for your glue guns, embossers, pliers, and other tools. Outline each tool with a Sharpie, and you'll know where to return it - as will others who use your tools!

If you have blank walls, put up some shelving to hold supplies or use tall shelving units. By using vertical space, your floor space is less cluttered and you have more room to work.

If you have the need to see your supplies, use glass jars or clear shoe boxes from the dollar store. Stackable bins that are for produce (the kind with the open front) provide visibility yet reduce visible clutter.

I found letter-size plastic baskets at the Dollar Tree yesterday - perfect for storing different kinds of craft or office paper on shelves. A file cabinet or rolling file is also great for storing different types of paper. Plastic stacking drawers that hold a ream of paper in each drawer are available at BJ's or office supply stores. Cereal boxes can be taped to each other (with an end or side removed) for a green alternative. You can cover or paint them to make them more attractive.

Dishpans and similar plastic bins from the dollar store are wonderful containers for keeping similar supplies together. Label them, and slide onto a shelf. Or re-purpose other items for storage - tins, coffee containers, baskets, etc. If you have some keepsakes sitting around in a box that would double as storage containers, see if there are some you can use and enjoy. Just make sure your supplies won't damage them.

Plastic drawers come in all sizes for all sizes of supplies. Silverware or drawer organizers, muffin tins, ice cube trays and small plastic boxes can keep drawers organized.

Use pants hangers with clips to hang stencils or other hangable stuff. 

Pants hangers that have four rods hold ribbon spools beautifully. Or thread ribbon spools onto paper towel/gift wrap tubes. Insert a ribbon through the tube and hang. If the ribbon spools are too small, thread a ribbon or dowel rod through them. Another idea: place ribbon spools in a shoe box and cut slits in the box through which the ribbons can be inserted. Each ribbon is visible and available with a pull! Tie a pair of scissors onto the box and they're always handy.

Use back-of-the door hanging storage, especially if your area must serve double duty. If that is the case, consider using a card table as a work space. It can be folded up when the space is needed for another use. Under-the-bed storage can be used if a bed is in the room.

Allow for clean up time before leaving your art/craft area. Put away supplies. Clean brushes and other items. By taking a few minutes at the end of each creative time, your space is pleasant and inspiring when you return! Visual clutter creates clutter in your mind.

To keep my white plastic craft table clean, I cover it with Glad Press 'n Seal. Clean up involves pulling it off the table! If there are some accidents, Mr. Clean Magic Sponges take care of it.

If you use solvents or other flammable liquids, make sure to have a metal trash can to store soaked cloths until they are cleaned, to avoid possible fire.

Step back and evaluate -
- is the lighting adequate for your work spaces?
- Does everything have a home?
- Is there adequate storage?
- Is your space pleasing to your eye?
- Is the ventilation adequate?
- Are there items you need in order to make your area more functional?

What have you done to make your art/craft area more efficient and functional? Subscribers, click title to comment on the original blog.

More on arts/crafts:

Storage Ideas for Crafts and Art Supplies
Craft Storage
This is What I Call Using Wall Space!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Getting Organized for School - Study Shows Flashcards Help Improve Memory

Happy Monday! How was your weekend? We did some apple picking, rode on a horse-drawn boat down the Ohio-Erie Canal, took a surrey ride, attended our church picnic and saw a movie. Sounds busy, but it was actually very relaxing. Now on to flash cards ...

Our girls used flash cards all the way through college and did very well. Here's new research to prove its effectiveness. An article from
WKYC.com in Cleveland:

"Many of us used flash cards to study for tests and a new study at Kent State says we were on to something.

Dr. Katherine Rawson has been conducting a study on how best to study for tests and remember what you learned.

Researchers found that flash cards help improve memory, if you use them the right way.

"We found what we are calling the '3 plus 3 method' works best," says Dr. Rawson.

For vocabulary words with complex definitions, it is best to go over each word until you get them right three times. Then, after that, repeat the study session three more times.

"We found they will do fine on the test, and then remember the material up to four months later," says Rawson.

Dr. Rawson is one of this year's recipients of the Presidential Early Career Awards for Scientists. She is one of 100 recipients and will travel to Washington to get the award."

Comments? (subscribers click the title to go to the original blog)

More on studying:

Getting Organized for School - Learning Styles

Getting Organized for School - Online Homework Help

Study Tips

Friday, September 18, 2009

Staying Organized in a Changing World

Sometimes it seems that just when you have a system in place to organize your world, your world changes! Your week is planned out efficiently, only to have several unexpected events present themselves.

What to do? Life is change! In order to be effective, we need to be flexible to change with it. In our schedules - yes. In our priorities - no.

In fact, knowing what is important allows us to get through the unexpected gracefully. Consequently, it is essential that we know what is important in order to land on our feet when life changes.

Determining what is important:

1. Know your passions - those things that ignite you (a cause, a new business idea, a consuming interest, athletics, an age group, a growth area for you/your children/your family, etc.).

2. Know your priorities - area in which you want to grow (physical, social, spiritual, financial, educational/vocational, recreationally, etc.).

3. Know your talents/gifts.

4. Know what is urgent - what needs to be done first, second, third, etc.

5. Know what is essential - those things that resonate with your values, those things which matter greatly to you.

I recommend taking some time to think through each of these areas. Then schedule these items into your calendar, scheduling the most urgent and important first.

The end product will be a filter or grid through which new or changing events can be filtered.

When you are approached with a new opportunity, you will easily be able to filter it through your passions, priorities, gifts, and urgent and essential commitments. This eliminates over-commitment or under-commitment because you will be doing what you love and are talented to do. It gives you confidence to say no if you need to do so. And you are able to live in reality in light of your commitments.

When life changes, you will have a clear picture of what is important in your life. Even if you need to adjust your schedule, you are able to remain calm because you know where you're going and to what you are committed.

How do you cope when life is changing? (Subscribers click the title to comment.)

More on this topic:

Your Priorities, Passions, and Gifts Create Context for Your Clutter
Why Throw Shallow New Years' Resolutions at Yourself When You Really Need to Rethink Life?
1-2-3...Get Organized Time Management books

Thursday, September 17, 2009

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Change Your Attitude

I had a great time last night with a women's group in Brimfield, Ohio where I spoke on "How to Get 26 Hours out of Your Day." A fun bunch of women!

Well, I think this may be my last post on 5-Minute Stress Relievers. Remember when this all started when Melody Warnick did an interview with me for Woman's Day magazine? I'm briefly mentioned in her article which should appear in the November 17th edition.

Today, we're going to talk about changing our attitudes, perhaps the most difficult stress reliever of all! This must be an intentional decision to move out of anger, frustration, hurt, etc. to a more peaceful attitude.

Here are some ideas:

1. Choose to forgive. That doesn't mean what the other person did was ok, but you are removing yourself from bondage to that person by forgiving. Otherwise, you are tied to that person and your bitterness grows.

2. Be thankful - count your blessings. It doesn't take long to look around and see someone whose life is so much worse than yours. Did you know that you can lift depression by naming things you're grateful for before dropping off to sleep? Studies show that this is more effective than counseling!

3. Think about those things you take for granted - air to breathe, sunshine, rain, etc.

4. Ask yourself how your current circumstance rates on a scale ranging from "it doesn't matter at all" to "it is life threatening." This creates context to your perspective.

5. Ask yourself if the situation at hand is worth ruining your day, your hour or your moment.

6. Figure out what is bothering you and how you can express it appropriately.

7. Journal.

8. Change your habits. It's your choice if you handle anger inappropriately, for example. If your fuse is short, work on lengthening it by incorporating some of the above techniques and others.If you are overly sensitive, work on becoming more objective.

9. Laugh - it’s like a jog for your insides.

10. Pray - you are not in control of the universe or even your universe. Rely on the wisdom and love of the one who is.

How do you change your attitude? Subscribers click the title to comment on the original blog.

More on stress relievers:

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Spiritual Refocusing
Five Health Benefits of Laughter
5-Minute Stress Relievers - Taking a Mental Break

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

National Preparedness Month - Choosing Emergency Contacts

Peter Shankman first alerted me to this article by PhreeZone about what to consider when choosing an emergency contact. Both of these guys are skydivers, so the article is written in that context, but the points to consider are just as valid for any person. Something important to consider during National Preparedness Month:

"One of the things that all most every Dropzone or Boogie waiver has is a space to list an Emergency contact. Most jumpers just fill this information in with the first relative or friends name that pops into their head as they fill out the waiver, but jumpers should fill this section out after carefully selecting a contact. Jumpers should put as much thought into this decision as they do into what type of jumpsuit they are going to buy or what their next boogie is going to be.

There are criteria that make people better emergency contacts then others and jumpers should keep this in mind as they make their selection. Potential emergency contacts should meet the following criteria at a minimum:

1) Potential emergency contacts need to be aware of any medical issues or conflicts that you might have. If someone is allergic to something and forgets to put it on their waiver the emergency contact might just be the last line of defense there is to prevent the emergency responders from giving them a potentially dangerous drug or drug combinations.

2) Emergency contacts should have phone numbers to your immediate family members rapidly available so they may inform your loved ones about any potential incidents that might have happened. Poor choices for emergency contacts include people that have never met you or your family before you visit the DZ. At a minimum your emergency contact should have the phone number to contact the person that you would want to be notified of your injury or death first.

3) Another trait that makes a good emergency contact is choosing someone that is not at the airport the same time you are. In the case of something like a plane crash or canopy entanglement you might be involved in the incident with potential emergency contacts. By choosing someone that is not involved in skydiving or at the airport at all you maximize the availability of contacts that DZ personal might be able to reach in the case of an emergency on the dropzone.

4) Contacts should be someone that will be able to initially handle receiving potentially devastating news about you. Choosing someone that is known to be extremely emotional over the phone might be a poor choice as a contact if the Dropzone or medical teams need to ask questions of the emergency contact. Choose someone that will be able to calmly answer any potential questions after being informed that you are injured or worse.

5) Having multiple methods of contacting emergency contacts makes the task of reaching the emergency contact a lot easier for the dropzone personal. Emergency contacts should have at least one phone number and if possible multiple phones. List every phone number in the order that they should be called. Listing mobile numbers, home numbers and work numbers should all be done at a minimum to insure the maximum possibility of reaching someone in a true emergency.

Other things that should be used as criteria in potential emergency contacts include knowing who might be on vacation and out of reach at the time of certain boogies, knowing which contacts will be available to rapidly travel to deal with incidents if they happen, and in the case of international jumpers knowing the time difference and how that is going to affect the ability to contact your potential contact.

Using these criteria to choose an emergency contact will increase the probability that the dropzone personal will be able to reach and inform people of emergencies involving you, plus it will reduce the anxiety factor on the dropzone staff side in contacting people if they know they will not have to end up calling 10 people to reach someone that has needed answers about you."

Comments? Click below (or the title if you're a subscriber).

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

This is What I Call Using Wall Space!

Don't have a medicine cabinet in your bathroom? Here's an idea from Better Homes and Gardens:

"Steal space wherever you can. The partial wall separating the toilet makes a perfect target. This wall doubles as a medicine cabinet with adjustable glass shelves and a childproof lock. The ledge also serves double duty as a shelf for toiletries stored in small decorative containers."

hidden medicine cabinet

You can use this idea anywhere where you have hollow walls and not enough storage!

If you've done this, send us a picture!

More on bathrroms:

Finding More Bathroom Storage without Expanding Your Bathroom

Get Organizing Month - Decluttering Your Bathroom Storage

Magnetic Paint - An Innovative Space Saver!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Getting Organized for School - Planning Interesting Lunches

Happy Monday! Hope you had a nice weekend. We went to a corn maze at a farm, a movie, church, and swimming.

Did you think we have totally exhausted the topic of getting organized for school? I have a couple more ideas, one being...

Planning Interesting Lunches

Making lunches was never my favorite thing in the world to do. But when I did some planning, it made it a lot more interesting for me and for my girls!

I made a list of different options, so I would only have to think once! My aim was to provide variety and nutrition, so lunch would not be boring and would be eaten. Here are some of the things I came up with:

- peanut butter and banana sandwiches (the bananas would usually stay nice until lunch)

- peanut butter (in a container) with an apple or banana

- fluffy nutter sandwich (yes - I even did this occasionally - peanut butter with marshmallow creme)

- a bagel with cream cheese or peanut butter

- yogurt

- string cheese and crackers

- sliced cheddar, monterrey jack, or colby and crackers

- deli meat sandwiches on bagels, english muffins or bread

- cream cheese and olive sandwiches

- boiled eggs

- pistacchio nuts

- trail mix

- fresh fruit

- fresh veggies

I tried to be creative and put unusual things in their lunches that they liked - mangoes, kiwis, etc. Making interesting lunches was a little work, but it told my girls I loved them. And I wrote notes on their napkins, even through high school! (They said they liked it and all their friends wished they had similar lunches. If they had been embarrassed, I would have stopped!)

These days, green experts are saying to use foil and reusable containers for food and drinks - another thing to consider.

What do you put in your lunch or your kids' lunches?

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Happy 90th Birthday to Hostess Cupcakes

Did you know Hostess cupcakes are 90 years old? Here's a little cupcake trivia:

o Call it a cupcake caper. Mystery surrounds who "invented" the original Hostess CupCake in 1919, however, we know it was baking executive D.R. "Doc" Rice who, more than 30 years later in 1950, added the signature seven squiggles and vanilla-cr̬me filling. While others have tried to capitalize on the popularity of this ubiquitous decoration, the squiggle Рwhich features seven loops on every cupcake Рis unmistakably Hostess.

o Hostess CupCakes are the best selling snack cakes in history. And it’s the Hostess CupCake – not the Hostess Twinkie® – that holds the spot as the best selling Hostess snack cake year after year.

o Americans eat more than 600 million Hostess CupCakes every year.

o One of America ’s BBQ capitals has a sweet spot for Hostess CupCakes. Residents of Memphis , Tennessee eat the most Hostess CupCakes per capita of any city across the country followed by:

o St. Louis

o Cincinnati

o Las Vegas

o Louisville

o While it's hard to improve on perfection, consumers have been able to sink their teeth into a few twists on the original over the years, including the popular Golden CupCakes, which debuted in 1999. Hostess also offers seasonal themed cup cakes including “Baseballs” in the spring - cup cakes with vanilla icing and red-swirl “stitching.”

o Captain CupCake, who was introduced in the 1970s, is one of several Hostess snack “mascots” along with everyone’s favorite cowboy, Twinkie the Kid.

o The original Hostess CupCake slogan was "You get a big delight in every bite!

For more information about Hostess products visit www.hostesscakes.com. Follow on twitter at http://twitter.com/Hostess_Snacks.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Multiply Your Time - Join Blog Frog

Join Blog Frog, and you'll multiply your marketing time. You'll increase exposure to your blog through mutual exposure opportunities with your blogging friends and followers.

When you get the "Visits from my friends" widget from Blog Frog, your friends' latest blog posts will appear on your sidebar when they stop by your blog. And vice versa. I just added it to my blog a few minutes ago!

Pick up the widget on my sidebar, encourage your friends to do so, and you'll help each other out! Each time you stop by my blog, your latest blog will show up on my blog. So ... visit often!

Giveaway - Walgreen's Digital Temple Thermometer

I was sent two Walgreen's Digital Temple Thermometers - one to try out and one to giveaway. So here it is ...

Its features:
- large backlight display
- fever alert
- for use on temple or underarm
- for use when awake or asleep.


I haven't had a need to try mine out yet, but I do remember the fight I'd have with my kids to get an accurate reading on a thermometer.

If this looks like something you'd like to win, leave a comment below including your email address. Subscribers, click the title above to go to the original blog to leave your comment.

Deadline: September 20, 11:59 EST. Winner will be announced on Tuesday, September 22.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Music: The Great Stress Reliever

We've all heard the expression, "Music soothes the savage beast." Have you ever noticed how music can change your mood? Put on an upbeat piece of music and you're energized!

A recent article cited a study in Finland which investigated the ways teenagers use music to control and improve their mood. Each of these provides stress relief in a unique way:

  1. "Entertainment - At the most fundamental level music provides stimulation. It lifts the mood before going out, it passes the time while doing the washing up, it accompanies travelling, reading and surfing the web.
  2. Revival - Music revitalises in the morning and calms in the evening.
  3. Strong sensation - Music can provide deep, thrilling emotional experiences, particularly while performing.
  4. Diversion - Music distracts the mind from unpleasant thoughts which can easily fill the silence.
  5. Discharge - Music matching deep moods can release emotions: purging and cleansing.
  6. Mental work - Music encourages daydreaming, sliding into old memories, exploring the past.
  7. Solace - Shared emotion, shared experience, a connection to someone lost."

No wonder music is so powerful! Take a hint from teenagers and use music to relieve your stress:

- When you've got a lot to do, put on some energizing music.
- Sing along with a favorite song - belt it out!

- When you're discouraged or angry, listen to music with inspiring words. One of our foster daughters recorded a group of inspiring songs so she could go right to them when she needed to change her attitude or perspective.
- Play a song on an instrument.
- When life is chaotic, listen to instrumental music to create a peaceful atmosphere. I like to listen to classical music when I drive in heavy traffic.
- Ask someone to sing to you or play for you. Close your eyes while listening.
- Listen to the words of a song and pay attention to the emotions you feel as you do so.
- Listen to calm music at bedtime. Soothing music helps you go to sleep, while lively music keeps you awake.

What is your favorite way to relieve stress using music? Subscribers click the title to comment at the end of the original blog.

More on stress relievers:

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Spiritual Refocusing
5-Minute Stress Relievers - Relaxation
Spring Cleaning the Noise

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Getting Organized for School - Creating a Backpack List

Today's blog is adapted from a blog I did last year. Backpack checklists make life go more smoothly!

The inspiration for today's blog came from The Disney Dream Team's Tracy, who created a system for remembering what needed to go to school with each child.

While Tracy's system targeted her elementary school children, a backpack checklist would work for middle school, high school, and college students. This could even work as a briefcase reminder for work, too. This is how it works:

Create a chart listing the days of the week at the top. Under each day, make a column for each person who needs a checklist. On the far left, list possible items that might need to be included in the backpack that day: a band instrument, shoes for gym, signed paperwork, a folder or notebook for a particular class, library books, etc.

You can create your chart on your computer and reproduce it each week. Or you could use a dry erase board or laminate a poster board to re-use each week. Each person on the chart could be noted in a different color. Then items can be checked off on the appropriate day as a reminder to put those things in the backpack. Make sure you leave extra rows at the bottom for items that aren't necessarily needed each week.

To make life easier, have everyone pack their backpacks the night before. What a morning stress reliever!

What do you do to take the stress out of your mornings? Subscribers click the title to comment at the end of the original blog.

More on getting ready for school:
Getting Organized for School - Start the Night Before
Creating Routines and Systems
Getting Organized for School - Family Calendar

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Storage Ideas for Crafts and Art Supplies

Terri, one of my blog followers, asked for some help on organizing craft and art supplies. I'll do a couple of blogs on this, and we'll start with storage ideas. The following websites were mentioned on a NAPO (National Association of Professional Organizers) chat. I've chosen some creative storage products from each one.

Craftmates is one of the best organizational storage solutions for small supplies such as brads and buttons. I use these screw on containers for beads - they're easy to remove and put back, unlike flat divided containers with one lid.

Cropper Hopper, has everything from furniture to embellishments, but specializes in flat and embellishment storage. Left to right, first row: Paint and Dabber Holder, Embellishment Bags, Zip 'n Flip Embellishment Bags. Second row: Ribbon Revealer, Small Sticker Bin, 10-Drawer Rolling Cart.

Creativity, Inc., aka Crop in Style, has been around for the past 10 years and has led the way with wheeled totes and paper storage. Left to right: Cube with four inserts (paper storage), Tote to transport paper and tools, Pen caddy.

Fiskars, is great for cutting systems and tool storage. Left to right: Scissor/tool storage, Embossing Organizer, Hobby Holder.

Craft Caddy Protectors (6pk) for Embossing Organizer Hobby Holder™ Tote

Archival Methods, has everything archival for
photo and memorabilia boxes, in addition to long-term album storage. Left to right: Archival Tissue, Snap-Lock Hanging Files for Photos, Slides, Prints and Documents.


Archival Supplies is similar to Archival Methods,
but has a bigger selection of supplies. Left to right: Archival Document Storage Boxes, Vertical Filing System - Wall Rack.

Tan Document Cases Vertical Filing Systems

Two Peas in a Bucket Left to right: Wall Clip Hangers for Paper, Embellishment Organizer.

That gets us started on storage ideas. We'll talk some more about storing and organizing crafts in an upcoming blog. In the meantime, what are your clever ideas on the subject? Subscribers, click the title to comment at the end of the original blog.

More on crafts:
Saving Time by Cutting Out Craft Clean Up
Craft Storage
Organizing Your Ribbon

Monday, September 7, 2009

How to Stay Organized When No One around You Is

Hope you're having a nice Labor Day weekend. We've had some time off and one of our daughters came for a visit. So nice - we played games, watched a movie, laughed, shopped. Today's blog is a guest blog by Adrienne Carlson. Enjoy!

How to Stay Organized When No One around You Is

As a child, I was notorious for losing stuff; my parents despaired of me being able to keep any of my belongings safe and I was never allowed to own anything valuable for this reason. But as I grew older, I underwent a remarkable transformation – I became very organized, so much so that my parents wondered if aliens had conducted experiments on me. Somehow, I began to detest clutter of any kind and made it a point to set schedules and stick to them. I followed the policy of a place for everything and everything in its place and the rest was easy enough.

Until the day I got married that is – much to my dismay, I discovered that my spouse was a pack rat, someone who hoarded stuff, and never bothered to pick up after himself. Now I know that love is blind, but after a while the clutter and confusion tend to overcome even the strongest of emotions, and this lead to the first fights in our married life. After a few days of constant bickering, we decided to do something constructive, or at least I did. I resolved to stop fighting a losing battle and instead, work out a system where I could stay organized even when my significant other was the exact opposite. For organization to take center stage:

Anticipation is the key: When you are the only one who is neat and organized in a family, you must anticipate your partner’s habits and plan accordingly. For example, it’s not enough to just plan your day and schedule; you must also anticipate your spouse’s habits and messiness and leave enough time for you to clean up after them. Yes, it is extra work for you, but on the bright side, it allows you to become a better organizer in the limited time that you have.

Separate spaces play a large role: Unless you each have your own space in which to do your own thing, organization can become an uphill task with the summit never in sight. If your spouse is innately messy and unorganized, you must allow them their own space in which they can be themselves. If not, tensions could run really high and you’re going to find yourselves fighting more often than not. It’s better to reach a truce.

Ignorance is sometimes bliss: There are times when you must ignore the mess or clutter if you wish to avoid constant arguments. Instead, just wait for a quiet moment to get your point across; explain how being organized or at least trying to be makes a huge difference in the amount of time you have and in how efficiently you do your work.

It takes a bit of extra planning, but it’s still possible to stay organized even when no one around you is.

This guest article was written by Adrienne Carlson, who regularly writes on the topic of christian college online. Adrienne welcomes your comments and questions at her email address.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Trivial and Strategic Interruptions

According to Wendy Cole (Time Magazine, 10/11/2004) office workers are interrupted approximately seven times an hour each day, 80% of the tme with trivial matters. That totals 56 interruptions in an eight-hour work day. If the average interruption is only 5 minutes long, that adds to over 4 1/2 hours a day!

Basex, a New York research firm, discovered that employees worked on a project an average of 11 minutes before being distracted. Once interrupted, workers took 25 minutes to return to their original task, according to researchers Gloria Mark and Victor Gonzalez of the University of California at Irvine.

Franck Tetard's research at the Institute for Advanced Management Systems Research in Finland, found that the more complicated the interruption, the more time it takes to recover from the interruption. He also discovered that in-person interruption take longer to recover than from phone interruptions.

At this rate, how does anyone ever get any work done?

Eliminating Trivial Interruptions

If you are plagued with trivial interruptions, it's time to take control! Make a list of these trivial interruptions - papers to be signed, questions from co-workers or those reporting to you, phone calls, emails, unimportant chatter - to name a few. Once you have categorized your interruptions, determine how to eliminate these interruptions. Here are a few suggestions:

- If you must frequently sign papers, attach an envelope or file on the outside of your office or cubicle wall where papers can be deposited for your signature. Attach another one for signed papers. If they are confidential, ask recipients to place the papers in an envelope. Post a notice stating when you will be signing papers each day and when they can expect to collect them.

- Create a time(s) during the day when you are available for questions. If your most productive time is the first thing in the morning, wait until mid-morning to field questions. You'll need a break by then anyway. Since in-person interruptions are more time-consuming than phone or email interruptions, request that simple questions be emailed to you.

- Speaking of email, disable the option of being notified each time you receive an email. Even if you don't look at it, it's a distraction, therefore an interruption.

- Designate specific times when you read email, preferably not at the beginning of your day. Focus on your highest priority task at the beginning of the day without allowing email to distract from your goals - unless emails are your highest priority.

- If your job requires a fair amount of concentration, determine specific times during the day when you will answer phone calls. State those times on your voice mail message, so those calling will know when to expect to hear from you. Turn off the volume if you can hear messages being left - another distraction.

- Notify those with whom you work when you will answer questions, email and phone calls.

- Also,
educate your people on how to determine what priority level their interruption is - high, medium or low. Determine how each priority should be handled and communicate that to them.

- If possible, have your back toward the opening of your cubicle or the door/window to your office to prevent being distracted by what is happening around you.

- Create a notification system of your availability. For example, when you are not available, attach a red card to your wall or door. Change it to green when you can be interrupted. Suggest that your entire team or office institute this system to create more productivity and less interruptions.

- Wear headphones to muffle the sounds if you are working in a cubicle or open office.

Using Interruptions Strategically

- If you work with a team or are a supervisor, schedule touch-base meetings to answer questions, communicate information, etc., rather than be deluged with interruptions. If your people know you'll have these meetings regularly, they can save their questions until then.

- Suggest that your entire team or office schedule "do not disturb" times. For example, start the day with a "do not disturb" time until 10 am, at which time your team meets for 15 minutes to touch base with one another. Make it a stand-up meeting. If necessary, schedule another touch-base meeting time inthe afternoon so everyone can be ready for productive, uninterrupted time the next morning.

- Schedule meetings, phone time, and appointments to compliment your energy level. For example, If you know your energy is high in the morning, work on your high priority tasks at that time. Schedule appointments or meetings in the afternoon. Plan your touch-base meeting when you need a break.

- If meetings and/or appointments are your primary work, schedule the most important ones during your high energy times. Do mundane tasks during your low energy times.

- If you do a lot of paper work or computer work, interrupt your work by returning phone calls or more social duties throughout your day to energize and restore yourself.

- Do not schedule intense work or important meetings that require creative thinking right after lunch, when most people struggle with drowsiness. Strategically use that time to handle phone calls, emails, etc.

A sample schedule that controls and strategically utilizes interruptions:
8- 10 am - Highest priority task
10-10:15 - Touch base meeting
10:15-10:45 - Phone calls
10:45-11:15 - Check emails
11:15-12:00 - Highest priority task
12:00-1:00 - Lunch
1:00-1:30 - Phone calls
1:30-2:30 - Highest priority task
2:30-3:45 - Appointments/meetings/touch-base meeting
3:45-4:15 - Check email
4:15-4:45 - Phone calls
4:45-5:00 - Prioritize to-do list and schedule for tomorrow

As you can see, the above schedule is for those who must spend a considerable amount of time at their desks. Those with more active and/or unpredictable jobs will need to adjust accordingly.

Interruptions aren't always negative. By strategically planning when to allow interruptions can increase your productivity and possibly that of your co-workers.

How do you handle interruptions at work? Subscribers click the title to comment on the original blog.

More on Productivity:

A Dozen Tips for Efficient Appointments
Conducting Time-Worthy Meetings
Three Steps to Time Management at the Office