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.

Monday, November 30, 2009

How Coffee Filters Can Help You Declutter Holiday Baking

I came across this clever tip for reducing the mess and clutter when doing holiday baking:

"Sprinkles can be so messy when decorating cupcakes or cookies. Eliminate the mess by pouring your sprinkles, chocolate chips or red hots into coffee filters. Dip your cupcakes or cookies into the toppings. Then funnel leftover toppings back into their original containers."
(Source: Connie Lufriu from Brandon, FL June 2009 Family Circle magazine, p. 18)

More Clever Cleaning Tips:

The Cleverness of Coffee Filters
Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Salt, Newspaper, Coffee Filters, and Olive Oil
Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Lemons
Three Steps to Clever Cleaning

Friday, November 27, 2009

A Quick Meal from Thanksgiving Leftovers

I'm enjoying the view from our wall of windows - a dusting of snow. How peaceful! I've been waiting for it to snow ever since we moved, as our view is so beautiful. It will be spectacular when we get a big snow!

We had a wonderful day yesterday - hope you did, too! We had ten for lunch, including one of our daughters, one of our foster daughters, a former foster daughter, our pastor, his wife and their three boys. Afterwards, we enjoyed a wii competition, other games, chatting, basketball, and turkey sandwiches. :)

Here's a quick meal to use up (and disguise) your Thanksgiving leftovers:

Cranberry Orange Turkey

Leftover turkey
Leftover cranberry sauce (preferably whole berry sauce)
Canned mandarin oranges, drained
Red pepper flakes

Mix the cranberry sauce and mandarin oranges in a saucepan or microwavable bowl. Add red pepper flakes to your taste - a little goes a long way! Heat until warm. Heat turkey until warm. Serve sauce over the turkey or on the side. So easy!

More ways to use leftovers:
Cook It Once, Serve It Twice
Six Ways to Save Money on Food by Planning Ahead
Chicken Tortilla Soup for the Super Bowl - Quick, Easy, and Different

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Destressing Christmas, Part 9, 2009 - Efficient Shopping on Black Friday

Want to get a jump on Black Friday shopping? Here are a few websites that already have Black Friday ads up - so you can plan your strategy or sit at home shopping in your pajamas!

Black Friday Ads
The Black Friday
Black Friday Info

Online Shopping Tips

1. If you google the name of your store followed by "free shipping and handling", you may find coupons for free shipping and handling. I googled "jcpenneys free shipping and handling" and came up with: http://www.freeshipping.org/category/jc-penney-free-shipping-code/, which offered some free shipping and handling codes plus some discount coupons.

2. Kohl's honors their discount store coupons when you shop online. And you can shop the early bird specials online rather than having to go to the store.

3. My suggestion: to protect your identity when you shop online, use a credit card that is not attached to your bank account.

More on efficient shopping:
10 Ways to Streamline Your Shopping Time

Destressing Christmas, Part 3, 2009 - Smart Gift-Giving
A Green Shopping Option

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Clever Cleaning: Lamp Shades

I found this hint for cleaning lamp shades in the November 1, 2009 Family Circle magazine (p. 20):
"I run a lint roller over all of my lamp shades every few weeks. It's a simple, affordable way to prevent dust buildup." from Mary A. Lee, Ocala, FL

I tried it, and it works! Love it!

Other clever cleaning tips:
Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Lemons
Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Vinegar
Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Salt, Newspaper, Coffee Filters, and Olive Oil

Monday, November 23, 2009

Using Your Cell Phone as a Kitchen Gadget

Who would ever thought that cell phones would become our latest kitchen gadget? Here are some ways to use your cell phone in the kitchen:

- Instead of writing a grocery list, text it to yourself.
- Use your phone's timer to remind yourself to start dinner or take a dish out of the oven.
- Take a picture of your culinary masterpiece to impress your friends and family.
- If you are doubling a recipe, use your calculator to make sure you're figuring correctly.
- Call mom or your favorite chef for advice.
- If you have internet, you can look up a recipe - or a nearby restaurant if disaster happens!

How do you use your cell phone to cook dinner?

More on dinner:
Six Ways to Save Money on Food by Planning Ahead
Getting the Maximum Mileage out of Your Veggies
Cook It Once, Serve It Twice

Friday, November 20, 2009

Organizing Holiday Meals with Safety in Mind

As we prepare for holiday meals, we need to organize with safety in mind. I found an article on food safety and a couple on safety practices in the kitchen. I had not considered some of these suggestions before - they are definitely ones to practice! By putting these tips into practice, you'll help create wonderful memories, not ones that include the emergency room!

"Thanksgiving is upon us and with it comes the traditional turkey dinner. However, the improper storing, cooking, and serving of roast turkey can lead to the growth of harmful bacteria like salmonella, which can cause foodborne illness.

The DuPage County Health Department advises consumers that safe food handling of turkey and other holiday foods is essential in preventing foodborne illness. Here are some tips to share with your family for preparing a Thanksgiving bird safely.
  • Thaw the frozen turkey in the refrigerator. Allow one day for each five pounds of turkey. A twenty-pound turkey will take about four days to thaw. Hint: Remove neck & giblets from inside the bird as soon as possible to hasten thawing.
  • Do not thaw on the kitchen counter. If you do not have time to thaw in the refrigerator, you may thaw it in cold water, provided that the turkey is in a leak-proof packaging, it is submerged, and the water is changed every half-hour. Allow 30 minutes per pound of turkey to thaw in cold water.
  • Cook fresh turkeys within two days, thawed ones within four days.
  • Wash your hands with hot, soapy water before and after handling raw poultry. Wash all knives, cutting boards and utensils also after using for raw poultry.
  • Read and follow the cooking directions on the label. Cook turkey until it is done (165°F). Do not slow cook overnight at low temperatures or partially cook. Some turkeys come with pop-up thermometers. They are to be used only as a guide to doneness. Take the temperature with a meat thermometer to be sure the temperature is over 165°F.
  • Stuffing should not be prepared a day ahead and the turkey should not be stuffed until ready to cook. A quicker, safer method is to cook the stuffing separately in a casserole, using some of the pan juices to flavor and moisten the stuffing.
  • Eat the meal as soon as it is prepared. Do not leave leftovers out on the counter or table after dinner. Cut the meat off the bones and put it in shallow containers in the refrigerator.
  • Reheat all leftovers to 165°F. (Use your meat thermometer.) Gravy should be brought to a rolling boil."
Source: DuPage Health

"It's your turn to host Thanksgiving dinner. Your house is filled with family and friends, many of whom are "helping" you in your suddenly cramped kitchen. There are dishes everywhere, open drawers and cupboards, steam rising from boiling pots, and where did you put that carving knife?

For those who work in food preparation, this chaos is all too familiar. And so are the hazards. So here's some advice from the food service industry to help you and your guests stay injury-free in your kitchen this Thanksgiving-and throughout the year.

The Hazards and Safety Practices of a Busy Kitchen

The food service industry is not the most hazardous, but it does have its dangers. Here's how to handle five common food service hazards that can also be found in many kitchens on holiday weekends.

1. Slips, trips and falls. Dress for cooking with safety in mind. Choose low-heeled, secure shoes with a non-skid sole and an enclosed toe. (A falling measuring cup can inflict as much damage on your toes as a falling hammer if it lands the wrong way.)Don't hurry; take short steps to prevent slips.Pick up trash and food scraps that fall to the floor, and wipe up spills promptly to prevent slipping accidents.

2. Collisions. Be alert for potential collisions with others, especially at doorways and around the stove.When passing someone who may not see you, say, "Behind you."

3. Burns and scalds.
  • Never wear loose clothing or baggy sleeves while cooking.
  • Don't reach across fryers, stoves and other hot surfaces and materials.
  • Use potholders when handling pots.
  • Use caution around steam and boiling water. Protect your face and arms when lifting pot lids. When removing the cover from a boiling pot, expose the far side of the pot first, to release steam.
  • Never leave oil under heat unattended.
  • Never overfill a fryer with oil or food.
  • Cool oil before moving it.
  • Turn pan handles aside so they don't get bumped or snag on clothing, but keep them clear of other burners.
  • Before microwaving food, vent the container by lifting the edge of the cover.
  • Use caution when opening covered containers that have been in the microwave, and open them away from your face.
4. Heat illness. Kitchen workers are at risk for heat illness as well, so drink plenty of water and make sure you take an occasional break from your hot kitchen.

5. Cuts from knives or other sharp kitchen tools.
  • Unplug the food processor when loading, emptying or changing blades.
  • Keep knives sharp. Dull knives require too much force to operate; they can slip and cause cuts.
  • Use the right knife for the job.
  • When cutting, slice down and away from your hand and body.
  • Keep your fingers and thumbs out of the cutting line.
  • Carry knives with the cutting edge angled slightly away from your body and the tip pointed down.
  • Don't hand a knife to someone. Instead, place it down on a clean surface and the let the other person pick it up.
  • Don't place knives near the edge of a countertop.
  • Don't use a knife while distracted.
  • If you drop something, let it fall. You can receive serious cuts if you try to catch falling knives or glassware.
Conclusion: It's a lot of work preparing a holiday meal, but it doesn't have to be dangerous. With care and attention, you can stay safe and injury-free, and able to enjoy the blessings of a special meal with your loved ones. Happy Thanksgiving everybody!"

Here's another article by ABC on safety in the kitchen.

Stay safe during the holidays!

More on food safety:

Decluttering Plastics - Which Ones are Safe?
Get Organized Month 2009 - Organizing Your Fridge to Keep Foods Fresh
Demystifying Food Expiration Dates

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Destressing Christmas, Part 8, 2009 - An Online Tool to Consolidate Wishlists

Getting tired of buying gift cards because you don't know what someone wants? Wishpot takes the guess and stress out of shopping. According to their website: "
Wishpot makes it easy for you to shop anywhere, keep all your finds in one place, connect with friends, and discover the hottest deals."

What you do is shop all over the internet, consolidate your wishlist at Wishpot, and you can share your list with others! Take some stress out of your life and request your family members to join Wishpot (it's free)! Join yourself, so others know what you want. Why not pass the destressing around? :-)

More on Christmas shopping:
Destressing Christmas, Part 3, 2009 - Smart Gift-Giving
10 Ways to Streamline Your Shopping Time
Christmas Shopping Ideas from 1-2-3...Get Organized Plus a 10% Discount

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Three Ways to Keep Your Disposal Clog-Free

The following advice comes from the best of the best: fellow organizers. If you ever need an organizer, visit NAPO or Faithful Organizers. So, here's the skinny on keeping your disposal clog-free:

1. Put the stopper in your sink and fill it with water. Take the stopper out and turn on the disposal and faucet at the same time. You can also put a piece of citrus fruit down the drain during the process to make it smell wonderful! Do this on a weekly basis.

2. Fill the chamber above the disposal with as many ice cubes as possible. Squirt them with dishwashing soap and turn on the cold water. Run the disposal until all the ice is crushed.

3. Pour as much baking soda down the disposal as possible, followed with vinegar. (I'm assuming that you're running the disposal at the same time.)

My plumber told me to never put these things down the disposal: rice, carrot and potato skins, and leaves: lettuce, spinach, etc. Rice will harden and act like cement. Skins and leaves are too light to go down and through the disposal.

There's nothing like having a sink full of gross water that won't drain, with company on the way! Not to mention having to wait for and pay a plumber! Save yourself the headache and try one or all of these home remedies!

Do you have similar home remedies?

More on home remedies:

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Vinegar
Easy Microwave Cleaning
Three Steps to Clever Cleaning

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

I'm in Today's Issue of Woman's Day Magazine!

I'm honored to be mentioned in a fabulous Woman's Day article by Melody Warnick entitled "Take a Holiday Time-Out - 15 Easy Ways to Destress in the Middle of Chaos." It's in the December 1 issue, which came out today - p. 28. My suggestion in the article to reduce stress - what else? - organize something, even if it's just a drawer or something equally small.

More on relieving stress:

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Organizing and Cleaning
5-Minute Stress Relievers - Change Your Attitude
5-Minute Stress Relievers - Spiritual Refocusing

Monday, November 16, 2009

Cleveland Women to Women Holiday Extravaganza

Wanted to let you know about the Women to Women Holiday Extravaganza to be held in the Cleveland area. I'll be selling my books there, so stop by to say hi! Here's the scoop:

Women to Women Holiday Extravaganza

Come and start or finish your Holiday Shopping while supporting local women in business. Free admission with a non-perishable food, paper or personal hygiene donation.

Goody bags for the first 100 people, door prizes, raffles for charity (adopt a local family for Christmas), fashion shows, fitness demos, coupon class and swap, and much more.Shop local vendors from beauty products, clothing, accessories, purses, jewelry, local artists and non profit organizations.

There will also be a gold buyer on site so bring your unwanted, broken or mismatched gold or silver including flatware and take home the cash! They will even donate 12-15% of their cash payout for the day to our charity.

We will also be collecting new pajama donations for Luna Dream Warehouse at this event so bring your PJ donations with you.

Buy a raffle ticket to win a 42" LCD flat screen HD TV.
Share the spirit of the season with us!

Location: Crowne Plaza Hotel Grand Ballroom Middleburg Hts. OH 44130
Date: 11/21/2009, 10 am to 4 pm

Contact information: Karen Posner
Email: karenposner@aol.com
Phone: 216-267-7136

Obsessive Compulsive Organizing

I love HGTV and all the magazines that have made professional organizing a familiar term. I don't think, however, that we need to hold these media makeovers as our standard.

In other words, make organizing work for you. If you're happy with your level of organization, that's what is important. You're never going to be inspected by the organizing police!

There is no need to go out and buy matching baskets or drawer organizers or color-coded files unless you want to. If your organization systems are working for you, and you can find what you need when you need it, hooray for you!!

Rather than spending more money on items to organize your stuff, I am a big proponent of using what you have to facilitate organizing. Use what you love! Take those keepsakes out of the boxes and use them, enjoy them!

I have a set of keepsake canning jars commemorating America's bicentennial in 1976 which I use to hold red hots, cinnamon sticks, raisins, etc. - items that normally come in bags and are hard to store. I still have some boxes I haven't gone through from our move and I want to look at those items from the perspective of using my cherished items rather than storing them.

Speaking of which, yes, I have a couple of rooms, a couple of closets, the garage, and the storage area which are not very well organized. And I'm a professional organizer!! Oh, my!

I'm okay with that. I have other priorities right now, and I'm emotionally done with organizing our move right now. I have given myself permission not to address these right now, and you can do the same thing with areas that haven't reached the top of the priority list! I know where everything is, it's just not pretty. :)

I imagine that between now and Thanksgiving or Christmas, when we will be having guests, I'll get motivated to do some more. Having company is so motivating, isn't it?

So, if you have a messy junk drawer or your shoes are piled on the closet floor or ... whatever ... if it works for you, don't feel like you must be obsessive compulsive to make it look like HGTV or Martha Stewart - unless it refreshes your soul. Life is too short for that!

More on keeping perspective as you organize:

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Organizing and Cleaning
Organizing "Messy" Toys
Get Organized Month 2009 - Family Five Minute Challenge

Friday, November 13, 2009

Destressing Christmas, Part 7, 2009 - Guarding Your Health

With so much going around these days, it makes you think twice about shopping and socializing! But there are other health issues to think about during the holiday season. It’s very easy to abuse your health during the holiday season – parties, rich food, a busier schedule, and less time for exercise. Here are a few suggestions for maintaining your health:

- Don't go to a party hungry. Eat something before you go so you're not ravenous. Think ahead of time about the amount of food you will eat. Just a taste of those tasty morsels is usually enough to satisfy your palette. No need for excess eating or drinking!

- Don't give up your workout. Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress. As your schedule gets more hectic, make sure to guard your exercise time. Eliminate something less important if you must eliminate something.

- Don’t neglect your sleep – you’ll be irritable and less able than usual to deal with stress. Research shows that your emotions will rollercoaster and your logic powers will suffer without sleep.

- Make sure your family members are getting enough sleep, too. Try to keep normal bedtimes and naptimes.

- Wash your hands frequently for 20 seconds after or while you are attending an event to get rid of those germs passed around by shaking hands, hugging and kissing. Carry some hand sanitizer with you, but it’s not as effective as soap and water.

Wouldn’t it be nice to go through the holiday season without gaining weight, getting sick, being stressed-out, and feeling grouchy? It’s possible, but you’ll need to be very intentional in order to do it! But it’s worth the effort!

What do you do to maintain your health during the holidays?

More on destressing the holidays:

Destressing Christmas, Part 6, 2009 - Planning Holiday Meals
Destressing Christmas, Part 5, 2009 - Mapping Out Your Calendar
Destressing Christmas, Part 4, 2009 - Organize Your Cleaning and Decorating

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Thanksgiving Survival Guide from Cozi

Once again, Cozi has provided us with a survival guide for preparing Thanksgiving dinner.

If you're not familiar with Cozi, they are the folks that offer a free online family calendar. If you don't have a calendar that works for you, check them out!

What do you do to destress Thanksgiving?

More on Thanksgiving:

Destressing Christmas, Part 6, 2009 - Planning Holiday Meals
Organize for the Holidays
Tackle the Clutter before Christmas
Three Steps to Planning Dinner

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Join Me at the 2010 National Gift Basket Professional Convention!

I've been asked to lead a seminar entitled "Leaving an Intentional Legacy" at the
2010 National Gift Basket Professional Convention, July 23-25, 2010 in Canton, Ohio. The theme this year is "Building Your Dreams."

Not only will you learn how to create gift baskets, but top-notch speakers will help you build your business! Tom and Pamela Newell, owners and instructors at The Gift Basket School, are organizing the convention and promise a fun, affordable, and educational time for newbies and veterans alike.

Included in this year's convention are seminars, a trade show (where I'll be selling and autographing my books), unlimited networking, a challenge you won't want to miss, and much more! Early bird registration is going on now.

Hope to see you there!

Organize Your Car for the Winter

If you live in a part of the country where winter happens, it's time (maybe overdue for some of you!) to organize your car for winter - for weather and other emergencies. Even if you don't have winter weather, many of these items are good to keep for unexpected situations.

1. Start by removing outdated items you've used for an emergency kit - outdated food, summer items, etc.

2. If you don't have one already, grab a plastic bin, crate, or bag to hold your emergency items.

3. Stock it with an extra change of clothes for each of your family members. You may want to put in an extra pair of shoes or boots for inclement weather. Include extra mittens, hats, blankets, small pillows and such in case you're stranded for a while.

4. If you don't have a 4-wheel drive car, you may want to keep some kitty litter or a small rug to put under your tire should you get stuck.

5. Include some snacks and drinks to stave off crabbiness if you're out past mealtime. Use juice boxes rather than plastic drink bottles to avoid toxins. Be sure to swap out or replenish these frequently.

6. If you have children, choose some toys or activity items to entertain them while riding. If they have something to occupy themselves, they are less likely to torment each other or you!

7. Check to see if your flashlight has working batteries. Restock your first aid kit.

8. Make sure to have flares and jumper cables.

9. Keep some extra diapers (if applicable), wipes, paper towels, and hand sanitizer handy, too.

10. I like to keep a car charger for my cell phone in my car in case my battery is low.

By taking some time to plan for emergencies, you and your family may avoid unpleasant situations, whether emergencies or not.

What do you keep in your car for emergencies and other unexpected situations?

More on cars:
Organize an Emergency Kit for Your Car
Getting Organized for School - Cleaning out the Car
Decluttering Your Car

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Helping Your Child Declutter Toys Before Christmas

This is a great time of year to encourage your child to declutter his/her toys - before being inundated with more! Before a birthday is another good time to declutter. Even three- and four-year olds can grasp the concepts of outgrown toys, generosity, and order.

How to encourage your child to get rid of excess:

- Help your child envision giving toys to a younger friend or sibling, a disadvantaged child, your church or a charity.
One of our foster daughters kept picturing her clothes making a younger child happy, which motivated her to get rid of four bags of clothes!

- Be sensitive to your child's sentimental favorites, yet help him learn to discriminate between favorites and toys that have lost their appeal.

- If your child is having difficulty, make it a two-step process. One of our daughters agreed to putting a bag of stuffed animals in the attic. After several months, she was able to part with many of them.

- Determine ahead of time how much toy storage your child's room will allow or how much storage you will allow. These may be two different things! Just because a room has space, doesn't mean it needs to be jam-packed! When you're out of storage space, toys must be discarded or put away. (We put a way two-thirds of our girls' toys and swapped out toys three times a year.)

- Create limits - so many of one type of toy. If a new one comes in, an old one goes out.

- Discard broken toys or those that have missing pieces.

If your child declutters a couple of times a year, excess will be controlled, and her room will be manageable and pleasant.

Here are a couple of interesting places to send discarded items:

EcoEncore.org will take used hardback books, CDs, DVDs, software and games. These items are then resold with the profits going to environmental groups that help protect waterways, forests, shorelines, hiking trails and more. Be sure to take a look at their guidelines before sending anything.

Cottonfrombluetogreen.org - Donate old jeans and your denim will be recycled into insulation to be used for rebuilding areas struck by natural disasters. To start a denim drive, use the contact form on the website.

More help on organizing your child's room:
Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room - Creating a Fun and Functional Room for Your Child

Magnetic Paint - An Innovative Space Saver!
Organizing Legos - Or Not
Organizing "Messy" Toys

Monday, November 9, 2009

What Every Medicine Cabinet Needs

I came across this report by Eva Brown of ABC Channel 15 in Arizona about what we need in our medicine cabinets. Thought it might be helpful.

"Is a flu shot the end-all-be-all of preventative measures or how else can we make sure we stay healthy to enjoy the amazing fall festivities?

It’s said that a disorganized desk reflects a disorganized mind so, what does your cluttered medicine cabinet say about your health? You always hear there are good germs and bad germs but how do you distinguish them, and what does that mean anyway? Dr. Susan Jewell shares the right remedies for a happy and healthy family.

Reviewing and restocking your medicine cabinet

The medicine cabinet is a great central location for everything you need to both protect yourself and treat common winter ailments.

Making sure it stocked with the essentials and ridding it of expired medications is a simple way to keep healthy all year long.

Dr. Jewell suggests you keep the following items in your medicine cabinet.

1. A multivitamin to take in addition to healthy diet and exercise routine
2. Aspirin
3. Cough medicines called antitussives
4. Decongestants
5. Antihistamines
6. Cortisone
7. Gauze
8. Band aids
9. Tweezers
10. Thermometer
11. Alcohol wipes
12. Disinfectant
13. Adhesive tape.

After all, nothing is worse than having to run out to the drugstore in the middle of the night for cough and cold relief!"

I always keep triple antibiotic cream, Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen in my medicine cabinet, too.

Anything else you consider essential for your medicine cabinet?

More on medicine cabinets:
This is What I Call Using Wall Space!
National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #4 - First Aid Kit
Get Organizing Month - Decluttering Your Bathroom Storage

Friday, November 6, 2009

Fun Cranberry Sauce Shapes

Haven't you thought, as you've sliced cranberry sauce into the traditional slices, "Hmmm ... this is a little boring!" Here's a fun way to serve jellied cranberry sauce: cut sliced cranberry sauce into shapes using cookie cutters. I can't wait to try it this year!

Gently run a spatula around the edge of an opened can of cranberry sauce (jellied, not whole berry). You should be able to then shake the whole cylinder out onto a plate. Cut into 1/2- to 1-inch slices. Using small cookie cutters, cut out desired shapes.

Serving idea: using a spatula, gently place shapes on a leaf-lettuce-covered serving plate garnished with thinly sliced oranges.

Mix up the remaining pieces of cranberry sauce and serve in a bowl.

How do you dress up your holiday meals?

More clever cooking tips:

Substitute croutons for bread crumbs
Fun Food Tips
More Cooking Tips

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Destressing Christmas, Part 6, 2009 - Planning Holiday Meals

This is the first time in years that I will be cooking for Thanksgiving and Christmas. Other years, we have been off and have traveled to family for holidays. I'll enjoy creating some memories for our foster daughters, as well as having one of our daughters here. And we've invited others to join us as well. But it's a lot to think about, so it's important to be organized. Here are some thoughts:

- Determine which special holiday meals you’ll be preparing. Will you be hosting any parties?

- Decide what you will serve for each special meal or party. Make a list for each event. Make sure to have a balance of protein, starch, something green and something red/orange/yellow. Try to avoid a lot of last-minute or time-consuming recipes. (By the way, keep your list in front of you until after your meal. Have you every looked in the fridge after a meal and realize you forgot to serve something!?!)

- Do you have enough dinnerware, glasses, silverware, linens, and serving pieces?

- Are there some items you could prepare in advance - breads, desserts, cornbread for cornbread stuffing, etc.? Plan when you will cook some of these recipes and write it on your schedule, so you can space them out and avoid last-minute stress.

- If you are having guests, take them up on their offers to bring something!

- For each week during the holidays, plan your menus and make a shopping list. Try to go shopping only once a week to save those time-costly trips back to the grocery store. During such a busy time, try to piggy-back from one meal to another. Cook a roast, and use the leftovers for beef stroganoff, for example. Plan simple regular meals during the holiday season to reduce your stress level.

- Have some easy-to-prepare foods on hand if you have a disaster day: frozen ravioli, ingredients for wraps, and frozen chicken tenderloins, for example.

- Have some ideas in mind for using leftover turkey: chow mein, stir fry, pasta salads, etc. Use leftover ham in soups or pasta salads. Freeze extra turkey or ham in meal-size portions for a time when you are not weary of these meats.

Even though it takes time to plan your holiday meals and your regular meals, you’ll save yourself time and stress by organizing your menus. You won’t be making last-minute trips to the grocery store, you won’t forget ingredients, and you’ll have what you need.

You’ll be able to welcome your guests or have a special meal for your family without stressing! What a refreshing way to celebrate!

What are your favorite holiday recipes?

Leftover ideas:

Dinner in 10 - Chicken with Cranberry/Mandarin Sauce
Getting the Maximum Mileage out of Your Veggies
Cook It Once, Serve It Twice

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Keeping Track of Gift Purchases

Have you ever bought the same gift for the same person two years in a row? Or totally left someone off your list? Laura, an amazing organizer over at I'm an Organizing Junkie, offers a great way to keep track of gift purchases:

"I use a simple notebook that I use year after year. Each year I write the new year at the top of a blank page and then write the names of all the people I will need to buy gifts for, including birthdays and Christmas.

As I purchase items I mark what was purchased into my notebook so I have a running list of what was bought and still needs to be bought. This system has worked well for me for years. It’s easy to use, I can bring the notebook with me shopping if I need to, and it keeps me from buying duplicates as I can easily look to see what I purchased in previous years.

Not only do I not want to rely on this brain of mine to just remember that kind of stuff but by writing it down I am freeing up all kinds of
mental clutter. Awesome!"

Aren't those great ideas? Thanks, Laura! I'm thinking I need to put this system onto my phone!

How do you keep track of gifts you've purchased?

More on Christmas Shopping:
Destressing Christmas, Part 3, 2009 - Smart Gift-Giving
10 Ways to Streamline Your Shopping
TimeCoupon Sources

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Christmas Shopping Ideas from 1-2-3...Get Organized Plus a 10% Discount

Now that Halloween is over, stores are filled with Christmas items. Many places I shopped had Christmas items out before Halloween! The fact is, though, we do need to think about buying gifts now in order to reduce the stress and chaos.

If you'd like to shop from home for useful gifts, here are some ideas.
Or get yourself organized before the holidays. Or be ready to rethink your life in January. And do it at 10% off through November 30 plus free shipping on orders over $25.

Christmas shopping:
- for the new cook: Hassle Free Dinners, Three Steps to Planning Dinner

- for newlyweds: Three Steps to Organizing Your Kitchen, Three Steps to Clever Cleaning, Three Steps to Decluttering, Three Steps to Planning Dinner, Hassle Free Dinners (see our packages)

- for college students: Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student, Three Steps to Clever Cleaning, Three Steps to Decluttering, (see our packages)

- for recent college grads: Three Steps to Time Management, Three Steps to Time Management at the Office, Three Steps to Organizing Your Office, Three Steps to Clever Cleaning, Three Steps to Organizing Your Kitchen, Three Steps to Planning Dinner, Three Steps to Decluttering

- for new moms: Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room, Three Steps to Time Management for the Stay-at-Home Mom, Three Steps to Time Management for the Working Mom, Three Steps to Time Management for the Single Mom, Three Steps to Planning Dinner,
Three Steps to Decluttering

- for the person needing to downsize: Three Steps to Downsizing to a Smaller Residence, Three Steps to Decluttering

- for the person in transition: Rethinking Life coaching session, any of the Time Management books

- for anyone: Gift Certificates

Getting Organized for the Holidays:
- Three Steps to Decluttering
- Three Steps to Clever Cleaning
- Three Steps to Organizing Your Kitchen
- Three Steps to Organizing Your Child's Room
- Three Steps to Organizing Your Office
- Any of the Time Management books

Rethinking Your Life in January:
- Any of the Time Management books
- Rethinking Life coaching session

Books are available as printed books and ebooks. If you'd like to send an ebook as a gift, write the name and email address of the recipient in the comment box as well as the date you'd like the gift to be emailed.

To get your 10% discount, use the code: 123NOV

Happy stress-free shopping!

Monday, November 2, 2009

Organizing Tips from College Hunks Hauling Junk

Meagan Mills, a
college senior interning at College Hunks Hauling Junk, wrote to ask if she could enlighten you on the services they provide as well as offer some organizing tips. We could all stand to get rid of some junk at times! So here's her guest blog:

"With the holidays quickly approaching, we not only need to prepare our budgets but our homes. Either clearing out the old to make way for the new or creating space for your family, friends and guests, we all could use some tips on organization.

Who better to help then College Hunks Hauling Junk? The junk removal company has seen a lot of junk since they began in 2003. The Hunks focus not only on de-cluttering your home, but breathe new life into your unwanted items by donating or recycling them. Giving the gift of space and freedom never looked so good. Here’s a few of their tips and tricks to help you this holiday season:

First, define your idea of organization
Plan how in depth your organization will be. Either cleaning out a drawer or tackling an entire room, have a plan outlined.

Next, set goals
Don’t expect to finish everything in one sitting. Make your goals attainable and categorize each task you want done with the room you are organizing. You will feel great satisfaction when you scratch each task off of your list. Even if you don’t notice the work you’ve done in one day, you will see how many tasks you’ve completed from your list, and you’ll stay motivated.

Give yourself a time limit
Be reasonable, but don’t allow time for distractions. Put your cell phone on silent, take the dog out, and get to work. When you know how much time you want to spend on one project, you will be less likely to get off track.

Get the family involved
Designate jobs for everyone in the family. When they contribute to the goal, they will reap the benefits of enjoying the organization. Make it a fun activity. Crank up the radio, order some pizza, pass out the trash bags and get to work!

Look into recycling old junk
Tis’ the season of giving! College Hunks Hauling Junk is a helpful service that can take the unwanted items off your hands. The junk removal company’s clean-cut, collegiate Hunks donate any reusable items to local charities. They also recycle over 60% of all junk removed from homes and business.

Don’t put it off
Organization can be as easy as opening your mail near the trash can and away from any counter tops. Don’t wait to get things in order. When you think about it, do it! Thinking about tackling that dingy basement or attic? With just a call to College Hunks Hauling Junk, a team can come out for a free estimate. If you like what they have to say, they will get started right then and there.

Once you get started with some of these suggestions, you will feel like giving a sigh of relief. You’ll be able to sit back, relax in a de-cluttered home, and enjoy some holiday cheer.

Don’t want to go it alone? Call College Hunks Hauling Junk at 1-800-JunkUSA to schedule a free in-home estimate or online at www.1800junkusa.com. After all, who can resist a Hunk?

More on junk:
Chopping Big Chores down into Bite-Sized Chunks
Decluttering in 5 - 20 Decluttering Tasks You Can Do In Five Minutes or Less
A Refresher on Recycling Plastics