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, January 29, 2010

Piggy-Back Dinners

Piggy-backing is the concept of saving time by recycling ingredients and recipes from one night to another. Last week I cooked the following meals, using many of the same ingredients for different meals.

Day #1 - Fondue

We set up two fondue pots to accommodate the five of us. We cooked with teriyaki marinade. You could also use Italian dressing or plain oil, but we prefer teriyaki sauce - great on meat as well as veggies. We used: boneless chicken, steak, mushrooms, green beans, broccoli, grape tomatoes, onion wedges, cauliflower, green and red peppers. The onions take a while to cook, so we would just drop the onion wedges in and let them cook on the bottom. Here’s my favorite teriyaki recipe (I used the quadrupled amount for two fondue pots):

Teriyaki Marinade

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

Combine ingredients.

Serve with rice, potatoes, or couscous.

Day #2 - Stir fry

Use leftover teriyaki sauce and ingredients from fondue to make stir fry. Add items to the skillet first that need to cook longer. Gradually add the rest of the ingredients according to cook time. Serve with rice (make enough for Day #4, too).

Day #3 - Chili

Chili (my recipe)

3-4 lb. ground chuck, turkey or chicken 1 t. crushed red pepper flakes
1 onion, chopped 1 t. ground cumin
1-2 t. minced garlic (from jar) 1 t. salt or to taste
1-2 c. green pepper, chopped 1 t. sugar
1 large can tomato juice 2 t. chili powder
6 T. flour 2 c. cooked kidney beans, drained

Cook meat, onion and green in non-stick pan until meat is brown. Drain fat and rinse
in hot water to remove additional fat. Mix flour, red pepper flakes, cumin, salt, sugar and chili powder. Add flour mixture and garlic to meat mixture and stir thoroughly. Add tomato juice and bring to boil. Simmer for a couple of hours. Add beans. Serves 6-8.

Serve with crackers and a veggie tray and/or a fruit tray.

Save some chili for Day #5

Day #4 - Javanese dinner

Make curried chicken below. Serve on rice and serve with the following condiments: coconut, grated cheese, raisins, pineapple, grape tomatoes, sliced red and green peppers, sliced bananas, raw chopped broccoli, grated or slivered carrots, sliced grapes, and mandarin oranges. Great for picky eaters - they can add the toppings they like. If there are those in your family who don’t care for curry, serve some of the chicken in partially diluted cream of chicken soup.

1 T. butter
1/2 c. onion, minced
1 1/2 t. salt, divided
1/4 t. pepper
1 t. minced garlic
2 t. curry powder
1/2 t. leaf thyme, crumbled
1 1/2 lb. cooked chicken

Melt butter in large skillet; add onion. Cook 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Add salt, pepper, garlic, curry powder and thyme and cook 1 minute. Add chicken and simmer until flavors blend. (Add water if necessary.)

Day #5 - Potato Bar

Bake potatoes at 500 degrees for an hour or in a microwave.

Serve with:

Reserved microwaved chili
Chopped broccoli (steamed or microwaved until just tender)
Grated cheese
Cubed ham
Sour cream
Green onions or chives

Serve with a fruit salad, using leftover fruit from the Javanese meal.

Day #6 - Spaghetti Pie

One day earlier in the month I had a lot of spaghetti sauce and noodles left over, so I made it into a spaghetti pie: combine an egg or two, Parmesan cheese and spaghetti noodles. Dump into a deep dish pie plate and press with a spoon, forming a crust. Pour spaghetti sauce into the middle. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top. Bake, covered with foil, at 350 degrees for half an hour. I had frozen the spaghetti pie. When I used it the other day, I put it in the oven while partially frozen - I covered it with foil and just cooked it a little longer.

I served it with an Italian salad: broccoli, cucumbers and tomatoes chopped and tossed with Italian dressing. You can also toss the same ingredients with Ranch dressing for another option. We also had garlic bread make out of extra hoagie rolls I had frozen after a previous meal.

Do you have piggy-backing ideas? Please share!

More on dinner:
Hassle Free Dinners (52 weeks of piggy-back menus, instructions and grocery lists)
Dinner in 10 - Herbed Tilapia
Dinner in 15 - Citrus Salmon

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Beyond CliffsNotes - More Help for College Students

Online College once again provides a wonderful resource for college students:
Beyond CliffsNotes: 100 Free & Useful Tools for When Time’s Running Out. If you are a college student or know one, please pass this info along! And I quote:

If you’re a consummate procrastinator–despite your best efforts to be otherwise–then you’ve undoubtedly waited until the last minute to start that research paper or read that book more than once. Here you’ll find a collection of resources that can help you cram for tests, understand the main ideas of a work of literature, do your math homework and a whole lot more so your procrastination won’t send your college career down the tubes.

Study Guides

These study guides can help you understand literary metaphors, summarize readings and give you the tools necessary to muddle through the densest of texts.

  1. SparkNotes: Whether you’re reading Shakespeare or something a little more modern, you’ll find helpful study guides and notes on this site.
  2. PinkMonkey: Here you’ll find over 460 study guides you can use for free to better understand just about any work of classic literature.
  3. BookRags: This site is home to study guides and summaries aplenty, as well as information for research topics.
  4. Bibliomania: Search through study guides on this site by title or author.
  5. Study Guides and Strategies: Try out this site for some ideas on how to study better as well as some more specifically designed study guides for reading and math.
  6. CollegeCram: This site is a great place to find social learning resources from study guides to shared notes.
  7. Bartleby.com: Lose your book? On this site you’ll find a collection of many works of literature as well as helpful study resources as well.
  8. Free Book Notes: This site is essentially a free online version of CliffsNotes.
  9. Shmoop: There are loads of literature guides available on this site as well as other teaching materials you can use for learning.
  10. LitSum: If you didn’t bother to do your reading, you can find basic summaries of well-known books on this site.
  11. GradeSaver: On this site you’ll find a great number of study guides as well as example essays and other learning tools.

Study Tools

Use these study tools to quiz yourself, solve math problems and cram at the last minute.

  1. QuickMath: Use this site to get answers to math problems quickly and easily over the Internet.
  2. Cramster.com: Join study groups, get answers to your questions and find help with textbooks on this study site.
  3. TutorLinker: If you are struggling to work on your own, use this site to find a tutor to help.
  4. FlashcardExchange: Create, study, print and share flashcards of all kinds on this site.
  5. PocketMod: Make your class notes small so you can take them with you and study them anywhere you go.
  6. StudyStack: On this site you can use flashcards made by others or create your own to use.
  7. Quizlet: This tool can help you study more effectively for just about any subject out there.
  8. Flashcard Machine: Use this tool to build helpful flashcards so you can study better.
  9. StudyRails: Try out a free trials of this tool designed to help keep you organized, help you study and eliminate those pesky distractions available when you do work online.
  10. Mathway: Use this tool to get easy answers to your math homework or to double check your work.

Sharing Notes

On these sites you’ll be able to share your notes and get notes from others from classes you might have missed.

  1. Notely: On Notely you can store and share your notes as well as keep track of your assignments and schedule.
  2. MyNoteit: Use this tool to take, store and share your notes in an online format.
  3. NoteCentric: Get notes from others and share your own on this site.
  4. Stu.dicio.us: This site acts as a social note-taking forum so you don’t have to work alone.
  5. NoteMesh: Fill in any gaps there may be in your notes with help from this site and your classmates.
  6. ShareNotes: With this site you can look through class notes for free and also make a profit selling your own notes.
  7. GradeGuru: Share and search for notes from your courses on this site.
  8. StudyBlue: This tool makes it simple to keep track of your notes and connect with others who have taken or are taking your courses.
  9. ShareCourseware.org: Find free lecture notes on this site.
  10. FruitNotes: This site acts as an online notebook, making it simple to share work with friends, make voice recordings and even add photos.
  11. Helipad: Sick of searching through your notes for important facts? This tool makes it easy to store and search through all your notes.


If you need to look up any kind of basic information from word translations to a more intelligent sounding word, these tools will help.

  1. Dictionary.com: Look up just about any word you could need the definition for on this site.
  2. Wikipedia: While it won’t hold up as a citation on a research paper, it can give you a great starting point for your real research.
  3. RhymeZone: Writing a poem or a song? This site will help you come up with great rhymes when you’re at a loss.
  4. ArtLex: Look up art terms you don’t understand in this free online dictionary.
  5. Webopedia: Don’t understand all those techie terms? This dictionary is here to help.
  6. Dictionary of Algorithms: On this site you’ll find a collection of algorithms and other data structures.
  7. Biographical Dictionary: Check out this resource for information on the lives of tens of thousands of people.
  8. Roget’s Thesaurus: Make your writing sound fancier by finding synonyms in this free thesaurus.
  9. BabelFish: Translate basic phrases and webpages from another language into your own with this tool.
  10. WordReference: Look up words in English, Spanish, French, Italian and more on this site.
  11. Visual Dictionary: If you’re more of a visually oriented person, this dictionary can help you understand a myriad of concepts.


Augment and speed up your research with these helpful tools.

  1. Ottobib: Simply enter in the reference information into this tool and you’ll get an instantly rendered citation in MLA, APA, and Chicago style.
  2. Zotero: This Firefox extension can help you organize and track your research from beginning to end.
  3. WizFolio: Manage your references and cite them when you’re done with this tool.
  4. EasyBib: Use this tool to ensure that you’re citing your sources correctly when you turn in your paper.
  5. Bibme: Add your reference material to this site and it will generate a bibliography for you.
  6. CiteULike: This tool allows you to search for and manage a wealth of scholarly resources.
  7. Delicious: Bookmark sites that look promising for research on this site.
  8. Backpack: While designed with business in mind, this tool can be an excellent way to manage your research projects as well.
  9. WorldCat: Find just about any book you could need using this site that searches the world’s libraries, letting you know where you can find it nearest to you.
  10. Google Scholar: Use this search engine to scan through loads of helpful scholarly articles.
  11. High Beam Research: Search through thousands of reputable sources for research materials using this site.
  12. Diana Hacker: This site will help you to double check your citations to make sure they’re done correctly.
  13. GoogleBooks: You can often find some extremely useful books you can look through for free on this site.


Improve your writing and get a little help in the process from these tools.

  1. Viper Plagiarism Checker: Ensure that your work is free from any plagiarism by using this tool. With its help, you can make sure you’ve cited any resources.
  2. Etherpad: Those who have to rush to turn in a group project can use this tool to work together at once online.
  3. GoogleDocs: Take your writing with you whether you are at home or at the library with this online word processor.
  4. Eduify: This site knows that writing isn’t always easy and offers tutorials, writing samples, help with citations and even stores your writing online.
  5. Elements of Style: Check through this classic book to make sure you’re sticking to correct grammar and style.
  6. Ultimate Style: Here is a more updated version of the Elements of Style you can look to for help.
  7. Technical Writing: Those who work with more technical subjects should consult this guide.
  8. WordCounter: This tool will tell you what words you’ve used most frequently in your text so you can make sure you’re not repeating the same things over and over.
  9. Verbix: Use this tool to conjugate any English verb correctly.
  10. Advanced Text Analyzer: Create a profile on this site and you’ll be able to use the text tools to analyze your work, determining a wealth of information that can help you improve your writing.
  11. yWriter: Try out this word processor that’s designed just for writing stories and novels.
  12. Scholar’s Aid Lite: The free version of this tool will give you a place to write your paper, organize your notes, cite sources and more.


Use these tools to put together a last minute presentation.

  1. Sliderocket: This online tool uses drag and drop functionality to make it simple to create great presentations.
  2. Slideshare: Whether you’re working together or by yourself this tool will make creating presentations a cinch.
  3. ZohoShow: Use this open source tool to build presentations, if you don’t have another program to do so.
  4. Prezi: Create great presentations on the web using this impressive tool.
  5. Jing: Use the free version of this tool to easy snap pictures of your screen and create great presentations.
  6. 280Slides: Try out this presentation tool to make sure you’re prepared for your class.


Remind yourself of your important tasks with these tools.

  1. Ta-Da Lists: Create an easy-to-use to-do list using this free tool, a big help in keeping your work on track.
  2. Toodledoo: Organize your tasks and improve your productivity using this tool.
  3. 30 Boxes: This online calendar can help make sure you don’t forget upcoming due dates.
  4. Stickies: As you’re doing your research, use these stickies to make notes to yourself for later.
  5. Remember the Milk: Whether you want to track your social schedule or make sure you get all of your homework done, this tool can help.
  6. HassleMe: This tool will incessantly remind you of tasks you need to get done so you have no excuses about forgetting.
  7. Bla-Bla List: You can use this list-making tool to create your own to-dos or create a set for your group.
  8. Diigo: This tool will help you organize all of your important research and keep everything easy to find.
  9. WebNotes: Manage and make notations on your research using this time-saving tool.
  10. A.nnotate: Try out this tool to make searching for and storing information on the Internet easy and more productive.

Brainstorming and Organizing

Pull your ideas together and get your information organized using these tools.

  1. Thinkature: This site allows users to create mindmaps of their ideas and easily share them with others.
  2. FreeMind: Check out this free mind mapping software to better organize your ideas.
  3. Bubble.us: Keep all of your material and ideas for projects in order with this tool.
  4. WiseMapping: This open source tool makes it simple to lay out outlines and organize information for a paper.
  5. Mapul: This tool takes a different approach to mind mapping, creating outlines that are much more organic in nature.
  6. View Your Mind: Insert pictures, links and other information into your mindmap using this tool.
  7. Gliffy: If a flow chart is more akin to what you need, then try out this free tool.
  8. Mindomo: With this tool you’ll be able to organize, get productive, define goals and track what you need to get done.
  9. Manage My Ideas: Try out this demo to get a leg up in organizing any project you’re working on.
  10. DeepaMehta: Keep all of the information and ideas you’ve complied for your paper organized using this software.
  11. The Brain: Pick your own brain using this mind mapping software that’s incredibly fully-featured.


From writing help to printable graph paper, these tools offer a range of assistance in finishing homework and projects.

  1. ProBoards: Use these forums to post your homework and project questions.
  2. Spreeder: Learn how to speed read using this site.
  3. Printable Paper: Need specialized graph or printed paper but don’t have any lying around? It’s no problem with this site.
  4. PDF Creator: This tool will help you to turn any kind of document into a PDF.
  5. Box.net: Need to store some data online? This tool will make it easy to store and access the important things you need."

Aren't the folks at Online College amazing?

More help for college students:

100 Free and Essential Web Tools for the College Bound
More Resources for Present and Future College Students
Three Steps to Time Management for the College Student

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Organizing Digital Photos

I'm not the picture-taker in the family, so I can't say that I'm very organized in this area. But here's a great suggestion from
Real Simple Magazine:

"Color-code your collection by storing discs in vibrant cases (slim jewel cases, $11.50 for 25, staples.com)―blue for parties, green for trips, and so on. Use empty cases positioned vertically and marked by the year as dividers; they’ll extend about a half inch above the others."

How do you store your photos?

More on photos:
100 Free and Essential Web Tools for the College Bound

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Declutter Sentimental Clothing - Turn Them into a Quilt

Having trouble getting rid of your child's baby clothes? Your teen's athletic team t-shirts? T-shirts that represent your interests, causes, college, favorite teams? Or need a memorable graduation or birthday gift?

Declutter your house and create memories at the same time by turning those old clothing items into a blanket! You could try doing it yourself, but it looks pretty complicated to me! Here are a few places who will do it for you:

Willow Creek Baby
Cozy Tee
Quilting Beez
Do Over Ts

More on recycling:
Getting Organized for School - Organizing Your Child's Artwork and School Papers
Wait - Don't Throw That Away!
Get Organized Month - Declutter Your Linen Closet

Monday, January 25, 2010

Swap Parties - Decluttering, Saving Money

Have you heard of swap parties? It's where you and a group of friends get together and swap some unwanted items. It reminds me of a dirty Santa or white elephant gift exchange, only with nice items to exchange.

What a fun excuse to get together with people you like! A nice way to brighten up the winter months, don't you think? The key is to get rid of something you're not using and come home with something you'll use!

Here are some tips to make it fun:

- Invite 10-15 fun-loving friends, who will help make the evening enjoyable and laughter-filled. More than 10-15, and the exchange becomes cumbersome.

-Ask your friends to bring 3-4 nice items they no longer want. They can't buy them - that defeats the purpose! Suggest things like books, CDs, DVDs, household items, etc.

- The items should be unwrapped so your guests can examine them. You may want to add a few extra gifts to make sure there are enough interesting selections.

- Make it a pot luck or provide a simple meal or dessert.

- Number slips of paper - the same number as the number of your guests. Each guest draws a slip of paper.

- #1 chooses a gift, with number #2 following and so on. A higher number can steal a gift that someone has already chosen or select a new gift. Determine a limit on how many times a gift may be stolen before it is safe. For example, if a gift can be stolen three times, the person who steals it the third time gets to keep it - no one can steal it again.

- If you have a large number of items and enough interest, do another round.

- Send unclaimed gifts home with your guests, or have a box on hand where they can place unwanted items. Place the box in your car, so you'll be sure to get the clutter out of your house!

What a fun way to declutter your house and have fun at the same time!

More on decluttering:
Three Steps to Decluttering
Your Priorities, Passions, and Gifts Create Context for Your Clutter
Decluttering Plastics - Which Ones are Safe?

Friday, January 22, 2010

Some Cleaning Tips from Professional Organizers

One of our foster daughters is on bed rest following a concussion while ice skating. She's recovering slowly, but surely, I'm happy to say. So, I've been staying close to home. A great opportunity to get some cleaning done. I try to do cleaning during times when the girls are home and save those times when I'm alone for more concentrated work or time for myself.

And since January is Get Organized Month sponsored by the National Association of Professional Organizers (NAPO). I thought you might enjoy some cleaning hints from my fellow NAPO members:

Ann W. Damani-McKinney, Conceivable Solutions:

"My favorite non-toxic cleaner is

  • one cup of vinager
  • one squirt of dish soap (yes, only one squirt)
  • about two and half gallons of water
This works great on glass and in the bathroom. On glass, use a dry cloth to wipe off. No need to rinse in the bathroom. Love it!"

Tracy Axcell, Officially Organized:

"I found a new cleaning tool that you and our clients will love! I have a shower with texture on the flooring – not the stick-on rubber, the actual base is textured like thick orange peel.
I’ve used SOS pads to try to get down into the tiny grooves; it collects soap scum and body oils and nothing cleans it.

Sonic Scrubber – (as seen on TV at Walgreen's). It’s like a turbo-charged toothbrush with very hard bristles that spin. I just sprayed my shower floor with a bathroom soap scum cleaner and went to town with the scrubber – WOW!!! Super easy!"

"For a more 'green' approach (I have the same kind of shower floor) sprinkle baking soda or Borax (a little more toxic but still better than commercial cleaners) and scrub with a rag or soft cloth. Rinse well and, voila! It really gets rid of soap scum on tub floor and sides and is not toxic or damaging to drains."

What are your cleaning secrets?

More on Cleaning:
Three Steps to Clever Cleaning

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Lemons
Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Vinegar

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Taxes - Knowing Which Papers to Keep/Toss

As end-of-the-year statements start arriving, it's always confusing to know what to keep and how long to keep them. Here's what Mary Kay Foss and John Levy, California CPAs, recommend:

ATM, Debit and Credit Card receipts - Check against your monthly statements, then, unless needed for a tax write-off, shred after one month.

Monthly credit card and banking statements - Save records of tax-deductible items for seven years; shred the rest when the new statement arrives. Exception: proof of major purchases. Retain for at least four years (most states' statute of limitations for disputing a transaction).

Paid bills - Keep any related to a home office tax deduction for seven years, those from home improvement until you sell. Shred everything else when the next bill arrives.

Pay stubs - Shred when your W-2 arrives (once a year).

Car or real estate paperwork - Hold records from buying any asset for seven years after it's sold.

IRS Documents - Retain annual returns forever. Discard supporting papers like W-2 forms and receipts after seven years." (Source: Family Circle magazine, p. 152, Nov. 1, 2009)

More on taxes:
Taxes - a little at a time
Get Organized Month - Organize Your Receits
National Preparedness Month - Emergency Kit #8 - Emergency Documents

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Crockpot Meals - The Best Pot Roast I've Ever Made

I really love making crockpot meals. I'm a morning person and have more energy then. When dinnertime comes around, sometimes I'm demotivated to cook. So it's nice to get it over and done with in the morning.

Last week I made a pot roast to die for - adapted a recipe I found in a magazine. It takes about 30 minutes to put it together plus it requires adding carrots and potatoes 3-4 hours before it is done. So it's not a recipe that you can leave while you go to work. Great for the weekends, though, if you can't pull it off during the week. My family almost licked their plates clean, this recipe was so good!

Crockpot Pot Roast

Makes 8 servings
Prep 10 minutes; Cook 13 minutes
Slow-cook 6 hours on High or 8 hours on Low

3 lbs. boneless chuck roast, trimmed and blotted dry
1/4 t. dried thyme
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1 T. canola oil
1 large onion, thinly sliced
1 T. tomato paste
2 T. flour
1/2 c. apple juice
1/2 c. beef broth
1/2 c. water
2 c. baby carrots
1 1/2 lb. new potatoes, scrubbed and quartered

1. Combine 1/4 t. each thyme, salt, and pepper. Rub on both sides of roast. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook roast 1-2 minutes on each side or until browned; transfer roast to slow cooker.

2. Reduce heat to medium and add onion to skillet; cook 3 minutes or until softened. Stir in tomato paste and cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Stir in flour and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Whisk in apple juice, broth, and water; bring to a boil. Pour liquid and onions into slow cooker over beef and cook on high for 6 hours or low for 8 hours.

3. When 3 hours cook time remains on high or 4 hours on low, remove meat from slow cooker and stir in carrots and potatoes. Return meat to slow cooker for remaining cook time.

4. Remove meat from slow cooker; slice. Stir remaining 1/4 t. salt into liquid. Serve roast with vegetables and sauce.

More on crockpot meals:

Chicken Tortilla Soup for the Super Bowl - Quick, Easy, and Different
Organizing Your Holiday Meals
Hassle Free Dinners

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

10 Types of Emotional Clutter

One of the most popular New Year's resolution is to get organized. And much of that relates to clutter. Since January is Get Organized month, I thought you might enjoy thinking about the reasons why we hang on to clutter. I found these on Carole Fogerty's blog. Any look familiar?

"1. Emotional guilt clutter:
Presents and gifts hiding around your house that are not lot loved nor used can be classified as clutter. You simply feel obliged to keep them. If you threw them out you would feel guilty.

Shift your thinking to “conscious sharing” or “re-gifting”. Start this year by “re-giving” your unwanted, unloved gifts to those who really would value and appreciate them and release the emotional guilt energy from your home once and for all.

2. Fear of “lack” clutter:
You keep all kinds of stuff just in case. Just in case you might need it some day, just in case you couldn’t afford to buy another one in the future, just in case you might read it some time soon, just in case you lose weight or just in case for no particular reason. The fact that you haven’t used it in 2, 3 or 5 years generally means its once useful purpose has expired.

To create flow in your life things must be constantly be coming in and going out. You must let go when no longer needed and receive when necessary. Once you block stuff going out of your life ( by holding onto your clutter with scarcity and fear of lack) you stop the flow of abundance.

3. Unhappy relationship clutter:
Keeping stuff from past unhappy relationships keeps a part of you tied to that relationship and tied to the past.

There is absolutely nothing healthy or advantageous from hanging onto memorabilia or gifts from a past unhappy relationship. Be strong, be honest and ask yourself, what is the benefit for holding onto these things.

If in doubt as to your attachment and the draining effect then try the “energy up, energy down” exercise.

4. Depression clutter:
People with depression tend to have a lot of things stored on the floor. Stuff on the ground pulls your energies down and encourages you to withdraw from the world emotionally.

If your floor surfaces are covered with lots of stuff make an effort each day to start moving things up from off the floor. I guarantee it won’t be long until you start noticing a difference in your moods and how your home feels.

5. Addiction clutter:
Compulsive buying for the sake of it and addicted to sales and bargains without any thought simply adds to the congestion and confusion already filling your home and life.

Take an honest look at your stuff and see if you have any addiction clutter floating around. Better still never go shopping without a list, consciously choose what you intend to bring into your home and for every new item purchased throw out at least two. Keep the energy flowing.

6. Need to impress clutter:
You feel your sense of self worth is reflected by the appearance (or value) of the stuff in your living space. You generally don’t like many of your possessions but have them because they are the latest trend, most impressive or even most expensive.

Filling your home stuff to impress your ego or others, simply means you are out of alignment with your life and the energy in your home. This can be as obvious as a bookcase full of books that you never look at or even care about. It simply gives the impression you are well read and knowledgeable.

7. Unhappiness clutter:
Buying stuff to make you feel happy again is a quick fix solution. It does not bring deep long lasting satisfaction to your life and the item you bought only brings happiness momentarily. Unhappiness clutter can then turn into guilt clutter when you realize a few days later you don’t really need it and feel guilty for buying it.

8. Emotional hiding behind your clutter:
Overfilling your rooms, cupboards and home with stuff is often used to hide from the outside world or your true self. It keeps the attention away from you and focused more on the hundreds of nick knacks you have everywhere.

9. Denial clutter:
If you are scared of change then you will have denial clutter. You have a sense that your world may fall apart if you start removing serious amounts of clutter from your home. You may be consistent in throwing out surface clutter but when it comes to a serious clutter busting session to invite wonderful change you consistently tell yourself this item or that possession is not clutter.

Do you really need all those plates and salad bowls in your kitchen or clothes in your wardrobe?

10. Other peoples clutter:
When you look after stuff for other people get clear with how long you are minding it for. Short term is generally fine as you are being helpful. If however their stuff turns into annoyance or frustration then your act of kindness has evolved into energy draining clutter that’s not even yours. Your friends or family need to find other arrangements or put it in storage."

Enlightening, wasn't it?

More on clutter:

Hoarding - There Are No Easy Answers!

The "Do It Now" Mindset

Clutter in Your House or Office Means Clutter in Your Mind

Monday, January 18, 2010

Maintaining a Clear Focus

You may not be a stay-at-home mom with a pre-schooler, like Tallulah, but maybe you can identify with her.

Tallulah’s Day

Tallulah had actually woken up before her alarm and was looking forward to a great day by the time the alarm beeped. She had set her alarm so she could spend some time with God before her husband and two pre-schoolers woke up. As she entered the living room, she remembered that her friend had called last night and asked her to watch her baby this morning. She had agreed, even though she had had other things planned.

Tallulah thought to herself, “I should straighten up the living room a little so it won’t be a mess when they come.” She stopped to read a magazine article that caught her eye. When she took a coffee cup into the kitchen, she noticed that there were papers that needed to be filled out for her four-year old’s field trip for that day.

Upon placing the papers on the coffee table in the living room, she saw her Bible and remembered that she wanted to spend time with God. She went into the den to get a pen. While getting her pen, she noticed an overdue bill that had to be in the mail before the mailman came today. After writing the check, she looked in the drawer for a stamp. The drawer was a mess, so she decided to straighten it up. Then she took the bill out to the mailbox. On the way in, she remembered that it was trash day and set the trash out.

Walking back into the garage and through the laundry room, she saw a load of laundry that needed to be put in the washer. “I’ll just quickly put that load in so it can be going while I do other things this morning.” Passing through the kitchen on her way back to the living room, she remembered she needed to take something out of the freezer for dinner. “Okay, now I’ll sit down for my time with God,” she thought to herself. As she settled into her chair, her children came bouncing down the stairs …

Do you ever have days like Tallulah’s??

If so, maybe it's time to Rethink Life! Join me in a teleseminar on January 28 (12 noon or 9 pm Eastern).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Organizing Spices

There is not a "right" way to organize spices, but a right way for you! Here are a few options to choose from:

  • Alphabetically
  • According to color
  • According to category/use (herbs, Mexican, baking, etc.)
  • According to how often they are used
  • According to size
I have mine organized according to category/use on lazy susans. I have all my baking spices in one cabinet with baking items. I have herbs and savory spices on another lazy susan in a different cabinet. In that same cabinet I have another lazy susan with salts and peppers. I also store my vinegars together and oils together.

Spices can live on lazy susans, in drawers, in spice racks, on shelves, or on spice shelves.

What do you prefer?

More on kitchen storage:
Clever Corner Storage
Organizing Drawers
Get Organized Month - Organize Your Refrigerator Freezer

Thursday, January 14, 2010

New Sleep Study Shows Risks of Acute and Chronic Sleep Loss

I know I just recently wrote a blog on how important sleep is, but this new study by Brigham and Women's Hospital of Boston spells out the risks of sleep deprivation. One in six of us gets six or less hours of sleep per night, which makes us hazardous to others, more susceptible to disease, not to mention having impaired performance! Please read the following article published by Lauran Neergaard, AP medical writer yesterday:

"Sleeping in on Saturday after a few weeks of too little shuteye may feel refreshing, but it can give a false sense of security. New research shows chronic sleep loss cannot be cured that easily. Scientists teased apart the effects of short- and long-term sleep loss and found that the chronically sleep-deprived may function normally soon after waking up, but experience steadily slower reaction times as the day wears on, even if they had tried to catch up the previous night.

It is work with important safety implications in an increasingly busy society, not just for shift-workers but for the roughly one in six Americans who regularly get six hours or less of sleep a night.

"We know that staying awake 24 hours in a row impairs performance to a level comparable to a blood-alcohol content beyond the legal limit to drive," said lead researcher Dr. Daniel Cohen of Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital.

But when the chronically sleep-deprived pull an all-nighter, "the deterioration is increased tenfold," Cohen said.

The National Institutes of Health says adults need seven hours to nine hours of sleep for good health. Regularly getting too little increases the risk of health problems, including memory impairment and a weakened immune system. More immediately, too little sleep affects reaction times; sleepiness is to blame for car crashes and other accidents.

The new work shows how two different sleep drives impact the brain, one during the normal waking hours and the other over days and weeks of sleep loss.

It has critically important ramifications for anyone who works "crazy hours" and thinks they are performing fine with a few hours of weeknight sleep, said Shelby Freedman Harris, behavioral sleep-medicine director at New York's Montefiore Medical Center, who was not involved with the new research.

"Don't think you can just bank up your sleep on the weekend, because it doesn't work that way," Harris warned.

Cohen wondered how both acute and chronic sleep loss interact with the body's natural circadian rhythms, the 24-hour biological clock that signals when it is time to sleep and to wake.

He recruited nine young, healthy volunteers and messed up their normally good sleep habits for three weeks. They stayed awake for 33-hour stretches with 10 hours of sleep in between, a radical enough schedule that their internal circadian clocks could not adjust. Their sleep deprivation was comparable to that of someone who gets about 5 1/2 hours of sleep a night, Cohen said, but the extra-long wake-sleep schedule also allowed him to test the value of catch-up sleep.

The volunteers' reaction times were tested every few waking hours, and compared to similar volunteers getting a normal amount of sleep.

The well-rested can catch up from the occasional all-nighter fairly easily. But as the study wore on and the volunteers became more sleep-deprived, the rejuvenation they felt each time they awoke increasingly proved a facade, Cohen reported Wednesday in the journal Science Translational Medicine.

They functioned OK during their first few waking hours, especially that first week. But then their reaction times steadily worsened with each hour they stayed awake, with a big drop in performance between the first and second weeks of sleep deprivation, he found.

That daytime decline was subtle, and the people's circadian rhythms provided a bit of rescue. Know how most people get a bit tired in the afternoon? Even these sleep-deprived volunteers got an energy boost then, as their circadian rhythms kicked in.

But when they stayed up past bedtime yet again, their performance suddenly plummeted just as their circadian rhythm reached its natural lowest point, Cohen's team found. The drop was so sharp that he concluded these people were increasingly vulnerable to accidents and errors. Although measured in milliseconds, the change was enough to mean a difference between, say, hitting the brakes in time or not.

"When exposed to the next all-nighter, they really fall apart much faster than they previously would," said Cohen, also a neurologist at Harvard Medical School's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center."

More on sleep:
The Best Time of Day to Take a Nap
9 Ways to Enhance Your Health by Being Organized
Six Ways to Maintain Peak Energy at Work

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Turn Holiday Clutter into Classroom Treasure

As you're getting organized and decluttering this month, here's a way to help schools plus get rid of your stuff at the same time. Here's how iloveSchools.com describes the process:

"Christmas came, saw and conquered this year, leaving a pile of wrapping paper, boxes and new goodies in its wake. With storage space at a premium, today’s gifts are putting the squeeze on yesterday’s favorites. What should be done with gently-used items?

Donate gently-used technology, games, books, art supplies and music instruments through www.iLoveSchools.com, where they’ll find new life in a student’s hands. Once a donor registers on the site, he or she can post a DonorOffer, narrowing down which teachers see the post based on the following criteria: school type, grade, free-lunch, location and delivery method.

Teachers will then respond to the offer, leading to painless coordination of the gift’s transfer. Teachers then thank the donor electronically with classroom images and student messages.

The iLoveSchools.com service is a zero-cost service to teachers, while donors voluntarily give a small donation to help with the nonprofit’s administration costs. What can you donate?

About iLoveSchools.com: Established in 2003, iLoveSchools.com is the first national web-based nonprofit organization matching schools and teachers with donors of new and used classroom equipment, materials, supplies and in-kind contributions. Their unique Internet-based solution links teachers and schools with donors committed to creating constructive learning environments for America’s preK-12th grade schoolchildren regardless of cultural or economic circumstances. For more information, please visit: www.iLoveSchools.com."

More on recycling:

Recycling Computer Components
Get Organized Month 2009 - Decluttering Your Electronics
More Eco-Friendly Recycling

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Rethinking Life Teleseminar

Isn't it nice to have new beginnings? Even though days are alike, there is something inspiring about the new year, a birthday, even every morning that makes us want to start again - just better this time. If you need to re-evaluate life, here's one of my favorites:

Rethinking Life Teleseminar
by Beverly Coggins

Why throw shallow New Years' Resolutions at Your Life?

Maybe it's time to rethink life!

Stop bouncing through life like a pinball! Be intentional about the legacy you want to leave your children and future generations. Align your schedule and activities with your passions, priorities, and gifts.

Join time management expert Beverly Coggins for a 90-minute teleseminar on Rethinking Life.

By the end of the session:
  • You will have unearthed your passions, priorities, gifts, and the legacy you want to leave your children and/or future generations.
  • You will have aligned your activities with the above.
  • You will have created a workable schedule that embraces what matters most to you and eliminates what doesn't.
  • You will have measurable targets for the future.
  • You will have a manageable system to maintain your new life.

Teleseminar dates/times:

  • Thursday, January 28, 12 noon Eastern
  • Thursday, January 28, 9 pm Eastern

Cost: $27.00


Monday, January 11, 2010

Gaining Storage without Losing Floor Space

Happy Monday! We had a three-day weekend, as Friday was a snow day. We've had significant snow cover for a while with another inch or two expected today. Can't remember the last time the temp was above freezing! This global warming is really a problem, isn't it? LOL!

Now to our topic - getting some free storage:

If you don't have floor space for shelves or storage units, create shelves in your walls! Just open up any wall between studs, and fit with shelves - free storage! This is a wonderful option for tiny bathrooms with little storage, for insets to display collections, to house little spice containers in the kitchen, and much more.
An article by Betsy Rice Webb describes how to create recessed shelves and what to look for before you cut into your walls.

You can also nail 2" x 4" boards to studs in your garage to
provide storage for small items. Insert pipe between the studs to provide hanging space.

More on storage:

This is What I Call Using Wall Space!
Closet Mapping
Magnetic Paint - An Innovative Space Saver!

Friday, January 8, 2010

Lemons - Inexpesive, Natural Cleaners

No need to spend extra money on expensive cleaners when you probably have an economical and natural alternative in your fridge! Here are some lemon tips from Mary Ellis, Ladera Ranch, CA:

"Lemon is an inexpensive, natural cleaner.

First, I microwave half of the fruit for two minutes to loosen the juice,which easily removes cooked-on food from pots and pans.

Next, I dip the other half in salt and use it to shine brass items.

Lastly, I stick both halves into my garbage disposal. It sharpens the blades and freshens the disposal with a citrus scent." (
source: June 2009 Family Circle Magazine, p. 101)

Do you have some lemon tips you'd like to pass on to us?

More on lemons:

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Lemons
Summertime Tips
Three Steps to Clever Cleaning

Thursday, January 7, 2010

How Sleep Helps Keep Your Brain Organized

Now that the holidays are over, it feels good to get some order in life again, doesn't it? Sleep somehow gets neglected. When our daughter was here over Christmas, our primary talking time with her was after our foster daughters went to sleep at ten. Usually sleep is non-negotiable for me, and I'm usually an early-to-bed-early-to-rise person.

You may have had similar priorities. But, unfortunately, our bodies keep track of the sleep we've missed and we need to make up for it. Sleep and the Brain is an article that describes the importance of scheduling enough sleep. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

"Sleep is actually a very important function of and for the brain. We need to generate enough sleep to feel rested, to have energy, to assist with mood, and to even help us think more clearly.

Sleep is divided into four stages. Deep sleep or stage IV sleep is critical to brain function. With advanced age we generate less deep IV sleep and it is probably not a coincidence that our cognitive abilities change as well.

Rapid Eye Movement (REM) is the part of sleep when we dream and we are actually paralyzed. REM occupies about 25% of our sleep and is critical for encoding information to a deeper level. Our brain processes millions of bits of information daily and during REM it is thought the brain selects those bits of information that are most critical.

Debate on how much sleep is necessary continues, but it is probably safe to say that young children need at least 8 hours of sleep a day while adults should get more than 6. Certainly, these numbers are not fixed and there are cases where some do fine with only a few hours while others do not. The bottom line is that our brains need sleep, deep sleep, and REM to function efficiently."

More on sleep:

Getting Organized for School (and life!) - Getting Enough Sleep

Insuring Peak Performance: Sleep 101

Sleep is Non-negotiable!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Affordable Stress Relievers

Feeling stressed after the holidays?
Nina Kim and Georgia Price wrote this great article called 22 Affordable Ways to De-Stress. My favorite: do something you did as a kid. Enjoy!

More on stress relief:

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Change Your Attitude
5-Minute Stress Relievers - Taking a Mental Break
5-Minute Stress Relievers - Spiritual Refocusing

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Declutter Your Household Items and Help a Neighbor

As you declutter during Get Organized Month (January), donate your used furniture, houseware items and bedding. Summit County Ohio residents can call CORE (Community Outreach Resources Exchange) to arrange for free pickup by calling 330-379-3188. CORE is a used furniture bank sponsored by several Summit County area churches, businesses, and individuals.

CORE serves more than 700 neighbors in need annually, providing them with more than 3500 used furniture items including beds, dressers, sofas, chairs, dinette sets, microwave ovens and houseware items. For more info go to CORE.

Do you have a similar location in your area? Let us know about it!

More on Recycling:
Recycling Cell Phones to Our Soldiers
Decluttering Your Books with BookMooch

Get Organized Month 2009 - Decluttering Your Electronics
More Eco-Friendly Recycling
Getting Rid of Stuff While Saving the Environment

Monday, January 4, 2010

Clever Tub/Shower Storage

Happy New Year! I hope 2010 has gotten off to a good start for you. I must say, I'm glad that school started today. J Don't tell anyone, though! Now on to our blog for today:

Here's a clever solution for tub or shower storage from Better Homes and Gardens: Use a metal rod originally designed for kitchen utensils! I've seen them at IKEA.

Hanging metal shelf

More on bathroom storage:

Finding More Bathroom Storage without Expanding Your Bathroom

Get Organizing Month - Decluttering Your Bathroom Storage

Clever Corner Storage