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.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Is There Hope for the Hoarder?

The following article by Marie Murray gives hope to those who have a hoarder in their lives. 

"The room is rank. Faded newspapers block the doorway. Dirty cups clutter surfaces. There are containers of congealed contents. The bed is unmade.

The occupant of the room sits in a stained chair, wearing a collection of garments. The air is stale. The decay, dankness, the sealed windows and a person among the rubbish, apparently unperturbed by the surroundings, reveal another example of Diogenes syndrome, a condition of hoarding behaviours and serious self-neglect and isolation.

The problem with accumulating objects, hoarding them, being unable to discard anything and feeling threatened, anxious or even aggressive if others try to do so, is often associated with older age or with physical helplessness. It is more complex than that and may have its origins decades before it arrives in the extreme situation of enforced entry by neighbours, relations, friends or social services to intervene on behalf of the sufferer.

There are parents of some teenagers reading this who will protest that they know this condition. As they survey the daily detritus of teenagers’ rooms they have excellent evidence of early-onset Diogenes. They can confirm that accumulation of food, cups, clothes and general rubbish is not the province of the old but equally manifests itself in the young. They have experienced the anger at intrusion, resistance to assistance and the recalcitrant nature of the condition. Even when there are regular parental forays and clearouts, the space returns to comfortable chaos.

Nor, if truth be told, is excessive acquisitiveness confined to young and old. Reality TV has exploited the topic with voyeuristic quasi-psychological programmes where teams of cleaners enter people’s homes to declutter, clean and convert the mess into pristine minimalism. When tidiness becomes television fodder we must be in trouble, yet there is something oddly intriguing about participating in people’s private lives. It reassures those who are ordinarily untidy that their comparative condition is fine.

As we identify more and more psychological conditions, one may ask if we have not run amok with categorising every human behaviour and eccentricity along a continuum that makes them abnormal or pathological at every juncture.

After all, excessive cleanliness is equally regarded as pathological, and falls into anal-retentive or obsessive-compulsive categories. Can clutter seriously be a psychological condition? The answer is yes, when it gets out of control.

The problem with hoarding is that there is validity to keeping some objects because they are beautiful, have sentimental value or practical utility. Generations reared on “waste not, want not” and “saving for a rainy day” could not be expected to chuck everything out the moment that its usefulness was over. There was sensible retention of objects that might serve again.

But behind the rationale, there is a reality to Diogenes and general pathological acquisitiveness. They have been linked to distressing indecisiveness, to planning and organisation issues, to difficulties in categorising information and to forms of dementia and brain injury.

People who hoard may believe objects are more trustworthy than people, and fear neediness which may arise from early infant emotional or physical deprivation.

Also identified as relevant is loss of a parent or partner, loss of physical contact with people and the losses associated with institutional experience which makes individual ownership and possessions more important than they would otherwise be.

On a positive note, whatever the origin, extent or the entrenchment of hoarding, it can be resolved successfully therapeutically when underlying anxieties are addressed. It’s a mental spring clean that works."

More on hoarding:

Self-Help Books for Hoarders and Their Families

Hoarding - There Are No Easy Answers!

When Clutter is Unhealthy


Monday, June 28, 2010

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: A Random Act of Kindness

Lest our children think the universe revolves around them, throw in a random act of kindness here and there. Think about someone who could use some help, a batch of cookies, some hand-drawn pictures, a visit, or a hug.

Despite the moans and groans, such an event can open our children's eyes to needs, different living situations, a different generation, latent gifts within themselves, and more.

One year at Christmas, we took two of our foster daughters to a local woman's shelter to wrap donated gifts. One of the girls went kicking and screaming. By the time we finished, she wanted to go back the next week, which we did.

Sometimes the unknown is scary. Sometimes kids are selfish. Sometimes it seems like we're too busy. But there's nothing that replaces the sense of fulfillment that comes from giving to another.  

More on Organizing Summer Fun:

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Treasure Hunt Dinner

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Guess the Theme Day

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Outdoor Decathlon

Friday, June 25, 2010

The Blessings of Organizing Your Thoughts Before You Speak - or Not

I came across these quotes which illustrate the importance of organizing your thoughts before you speak. LOL!

"I was asked to come to Chicago because Chicago is one of our 52 states."
- Raquel Welch on Larry King Live 

"I can do anything you want me to do as long as I don't have to speak."
- Linda Evangelista 

"Where's Austria?"
- David Hasselhoff, Baywatch star, when told he has five gold albums as a singer in Austria. 

"I feel my best when I'm happy."
- Winona Ryder 

"Whenever I watch TV and see those poor starving kids all over the world, I can't help but cry. I mean I'd love to be skinny like that but not with all those flies and death and stuff."
- Mariah Carey 

"I would not live forever, because we should not live forever, because if we were supposed to live forever, then we would live forever, but we cannot live forever, which is why I would not live forever."
- Miss Alabama at the 1994 Miss Universe pageant, when asked "If you could live forever, would you and why?" 

"I haven't committed a crime. What I did was fail to comply with the law."
- David Dinkins, New York City Mayor, answering accusations that he failed to pay his taxes. 

"Smoking kills. If you're killed, you've lost a very important part of your life."
- Brooke Shields, during an interview to become spokesperson for a federal anti-smoking campaign 

"I've never had major knee surgery on any other part of my body."
- Winston Bennett, University of Kentucky basketball forward 

"Outside of the killings, Washington has one of the lowest crime rates in the country."
- Mayor Marion Barry, Washington, D.C. 

"The streets are safe in Philadelphia. It's only the people who make them unsafe."
- Frank Rizzo, ex-police chief and ex-mayor of Philadelphia 

"I've always thought that under-populated countries in Africa are vastly under-polluted."
- Lawrence Summers, chief economist of the World Bank, explaining why we should export toxic wastes to Third World countries 

"After finding no qualified candidates for the position of principal, the school board is extremely pleased to announce the appointment of David Steele to the post."
- Philip Streifer, Superintendent of Schools, Barrington, Rhode Island 

"The doctors X-rayed my head and found nothing."
- Dizzy Dean explaining how he felt after being hit on the head by a ball in the 1934 World Series 

"We're going to turn this team around 360 degrees."
- Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks 

"I'm not going to have some reporters pawing through our papers. We are the president."
- Hillary Clinton 

"China is a big country, inhabited by many Chinese."
- Charles De Gaulle, former French President

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Creating Decluttering Routines

Clutter got you down? Create a decluttering routine to tackle the job!

Set aside 15 minutes a day to tackle the area that is bothering you the most until you've conquered it. Don't forget to plan in regular times to maintain your order!

Now move on to the next area that needs attention and repeat.

If you prefer a one-shot approach, schedule in a decluttering time every Saturday  morning or every Thursday night, for example. Again, don't forget to think through how you will maintain your decluttered area.

This may mean changing your habits. Instead of throwing your mail on a pile, sort through the mail when you receive it. Recycle what you don't want, shred anything that may have sensitive information in it, place your bills where they should go, and file the rest in an action file.

In other words, think through why you got yourself in this mess to start with and what changes you need to make in your habits so you don't end up here again.

If you're having trouble with motivation, imagine how freeing it will be to have everything where it belongs! And how much time and money you will save by knowing where things are.

More on decluttering:

A Simple Way to Stay Focused on Decluttering/Cleaning

Decluttering in 5 - 20 Decluttering Tasks You Can Do In Five Minutes or Less

Get Organized Month 2009 - Family Five Minute Challenge


Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Water Spoons

Water spoons was originally a drinking game, but we do the watered down version (argh!). 

It's like regular spoons except: 
- the loser has to drink a glass of water 
- if you say water in any language, you have to drink a glass of water 
- if you point at someone else, you have to drink a glass of water 
- if you burp out loud, you have to put your hand on your head and everyone does the same, and the last one to do this drinks a glass of water
- you can only go to the bathroom if you win a hand of spoons. 

We use juice glasses and only fill them half-way. 

When you need a quick, easy way to fill up time, water spoons is a fun choice. Our family has played this since our own kids were young. We have lots fun memories of playing this game with some of our favorite people! And now we're passing it on to our foster daughters. What a legacy! LOL!

More on summer fun:

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Outdoor Decathlon

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Guess the Theme Day

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Treasure Hunt Dinner


Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Posting a Weekly Schedule

I usually keep our family schedule on my computer. But in the summertime, I print up a weekly schedule (including dinner menus!), so everyone can see what's going on each day. 

I post it on the fridge, and if anyone wants a personal copy, I print that out, too. Even kids like to know what's coming up that day and the rest of the week. 

And it saves answering a bunch of questions like, "What's for dinner?" and "What are we doing today?" :)

More on scheduling:

Product Review of Organizers - The Planner Pad

Organizing Your To-Do List

Creating Routines and Systems




Monday, June 21, 2010

101 Things to Do this Summer

I stole this list from Harmony Within. :) Isn't that a nice name? Speaking of which, we survived the weekend with four teenage girls in the house. See last Thursday's post for more details. I'm sure we'll be using some of these ideas to drive boredom away.


1. Start a family newsletter by email
2. Learn about fireworks
3. Create a web site
4. Write a poem
5. Go outside and find 10 different kinds of flowers
6. Compare a book to a movie
7. Make dinner for your family
8. Become a photographer
9. Make a new kind of sandwich
10. Go a ballgame
11. Make a scrapbook of everything you do this summer
12. Bake some cookies
13. Start a band
14. Make a puzzle from magazine pages cut up
15. Sketch a picture of your house from the outside
16. Visit a farm
17. Take a walk and record the sounds
18. Put notes inside balloons, blow them up and give them to your friends
19. Play chalk games or draw pictures with chalk on the sidewalk
20. Laugh 400 times today—keep count
21. Make and walk on tin-can stilts
22. Make a milkshake or smoothie
23. Volunteer to help a neighbor for free—just to be nice
24. Do a jigsaw puzzle
25. Make play dough
26. Get your bicycle cleaned up and ready for summer
27. Go camping (or stay home and camp out in your own dining room)
28. Learn the alphabet in sign language
29. Try origami 
30. Spring/summer clean your room
31. Play a card game
32. Put on a play or puppet show
33. Build with LEGOS
34. Learn a few magic tricks and
35. Play hopscotch
36. Fly a kite—make it if you want to
37. Have a family game night
38. Research your own family tree
39. Attend a concert
40. Donate some of the toys and clothes you no longer use
41. Learn of teach a new sport or game with someone
42. Build a sandcastle
43. Set up a lemonade stand
44. Build a tree house
45. Plant something—inside or out
46. Clean up in your neighborhood
47. Find a pen-pal
48. Make up bubble solution and have a contest
49. Read a story to someone
50. Make a treasure hunt
51. Go to a museum
52. Make a fire plan for your family
53. Make an obstacle course in your yard or at a park
54. Visit the zoo
55. Help an elderly person with house or yard work
56. Make a movie
57. Make a collage about you from magazine words and pictures
58. Create a terrarium
59. Memorize something meaningful—a poem, a passage from a good book, the Gettysburg Address
60. Make a macaroni necklace or string beads
61. Visit a nursing home.  Bring handmade cards or pictures you drew to share
62. Shoot baskets or play tennis
63. Draw a map of your block or of your town
64. Dance to whatever music you have available
65. Collect canned goods for the food bank
66. Wash the car—or someone else’s car
67. Go swimming
68. Practice tying knots
69. Rent a video of a ballet
70. Sign up at your local library for their summer reading program
71. Visit a national or state park
72. Go without TV for a day
73. Learn how to sew
74. Have a paper airplane contest
75. Stargaze and track the moon phases
76. Tie-dye some t-shirts
77. Write a song
78.Write a fairy tale
79. Start a collection
80. Attend a first-aid class
81. Paint a portrait of your best friend
82. Spend time with your grandparents
83. Make something from recyclables
84. Make homemade ice cream
85. Get a magazine subscription 
86. Make a bird feeder
87. Build a time capsule
88. Use a compass or GPS to map your neighborhood
89. Invent your own board game
90. Roast marshmallows
91. Learn to blog
92. Re-decorate your room
93. Create your own holiday
94. Teach someone to use email
95. Create your own holiday
96. Learn to play chess
97. Have a jump rope contest
98. Organize a scavenger hunt
99. Learn the Morse code
100. Write each of these activities on a separate piece of papers in a jar to choose a couple a day
101. Make your own list of things to do when you’re bored

More on summer fun: 

Organizing Your Fun Time

Organizing An Intentional Summer for Your Children 

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Treasure Hunt Dinner


Friday, June 18, 2010

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Guess the Theme Day

Summertime can seem long and you can quickly run out of ideas. Here's another in my series of things to do when everything seems boring:

Guess-the-Theme Day

Think of a theme and do several activities that go with that theme. The kids have to guess what the theme is. 

Here are some ideas that work in our area, and may give you some ideas for your area. The number of activities you include will depend on the age of your children.

1. Birds - go to the Nature Realm and feed the birds, zoo, have chicken for dinner, pet store, build a bird house, etc.

2. Goodyear Day - Goodyear Museum, Goodyear Park, anything with tires or rubber.

3. Italian Day -  Tour of Hower House (Italian mansion), plant basil, go to an Italian festival, go to DeVitis & Sons and buy ingredients for an Italian dinner, cook an Italian dinner together, Italian ice for dessert.

4. Sky Day – Maps Air Museum, planetarium, lay on your backs and find cloud pictures, fly kites, NASA.

5. Oatmeal day - oatmeal for breakfast, Mustill Store - listen to the docent talk about it being the first place where oatmeal was made, tour of Quaker Square where you can buy their famous oatmeal cookies, make oatmeal mask for face and feet.

6. Bridges - drive and/or walk over several kinds of bridges - best if other things are going on at the bridge so it's not so obvious.

Again, this is just something I thought of when everything else seemed boring at the time. You can create your own theme days, too. Start with some local attractions or landmarks and try to think of other activities that would contribute to your theme.

More on creative summer fun:

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Treasure Hunt Dinner

Organizing Some Fun

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Outdoor Decathlon


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Creating a Place for Swim Gear

Wow! What a difference a couple of days makes! We found out Tuesday that one of our other houseparent couples is going to have to resign because of health issues. So we will taking their two girls starting tomorrow! That makes four teenage foster daughters and a full house. Are we crazy or what?!? LOL Let's think about swimming instead ...
We joined a fitness center that has several pools for the summer. As a result, I wanted to avoid having wet towels and swimsuits laying around.

We have a couple of rows of hooks in our laundry room, the entrance from our garage. I cleared off several of the hooks so we can hang our swim gear when we come home.

If you'll be in the water a lot over the summer, you may want to figure out a place to hang your wet items - the laundry room, your garage, bathrooms, etc. Whatever works for you! In the past, we have attached plastic hooks to the shower wall to hang wet suits.
We don't have a lot of swim toys, etc., but if you do, you could have a plastic basket for each person to store their toys, shoes and such. Choose a different color for each person so they're easily identifiable. 
Each person can just grab his/her basket on the way out the door.

You could store larger swim items in an extra garbage can or large laundry basket. Drill a few holes in the bottom to release the water. 

You may also want to have a bag for each person to carry swimsuits, clothes, etc. to the pool. We have gotten plain bags from the craft store which can be decorated with fabric paint. 

All these items can create quite a bit of chaos in no time. It's nice to take a moment to think through how to keep them from taking over your house!

More on simplifying summer:

Simplifying Summer Dishes

Cook It Once, Serve It Twice

Schedule Daily Clean Up Times


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

An Important Key to Labeling Storage

Most of us have storage of one type or another - keepsakes, boxes yet to unpack from a move, our children's belongings, items we use occasionally but don't have room to keep out. 

An important key to locating your stored items when you need them is to label carefully and in detail. A box labeled "miscellaneous" tells you nothing about the contents. Or "toys" doesn't give you enough information.

The more specific your labels, the less time wasted hunting for your items. "Mary's winter pants, size 10" leaves no doubt as to the contents. Moral of the story: be as detailed as possible when labeling your storage in order to aid your search efforts later.

More on storage:

Color-Coding Your Storage

Organizing Your Keepsakes into Bins

Managing Paper


Monday, June 14, 2010

Cherry Blooms - The Perfect Organizing Bag!!

If you've been following my blog for any length of time, you know I've been searching for the perfect organizing bag! Well .... I've found it!

 Cherry Blooms!

With 14 compartments to organize everything in your handbag, Cherry Bloom's Cherry (Medium) Bag Organizer allows you to change and alternate handbags with ease, in just seconds.

Made from durable polycanvas material and lined with plastic to ensure spills don't ruin your handbag, it is a must-have for every woman!

And yes, Cherry Blooms has thought of everything - all their bag organizers have internal zippers and velcro on the pockets so your precious items don't fall out, and come with a key ring with a strap to make your keys easily
When I got my bag, I couldn't wait to organize my purse! I dumped everything out.

And voila!

Not only will this bag organizer (which stands upright on its own) protect your valuable items including sunglasses, phones, cameras and iPods, but it has two sturdy handles making it easy to transfer it from one bag to another.

It is guaranteed to save you time by organizing your handbag's contents, and the wide range of colors and styles available will put a smile on your face too! I love my Cherry Bloom's Bag Organizer!

More on purse organizing:

Declutter Your Purse with Celebrity Hairstylist's Invention

Pouchee Purse Organizer

Get Organized Month 2009 - Declutter Your Wallet/Purse


Recycling Electronics and Appliances

My husband and I are celebrating 35 years of marriage today! I am so blessed to have such a wonderful husband. :) So enough of the mush, on to our blog for today ...

Electronics and appliances are hard to get rid of at times. When you buy new ones, you can often arrange for your old ones to be collected when your new ones are delivered.

However, if that is not applicable to your situation, here are some places where you can dispose of them. Some of them charge a fee and some don't, so read the fine print. 

Best Buy

Recycling or 1-800-Recycling 

My Green Electronics

ECycling Central

Goodwill - many will take working and nonworking electronics and appliances. Some take old batteries, cell phones and cords, used ink cartridges.

Recycle Steel

More on recycling:

Recycling Compact Fluorescent Lamps (Lightbulbs)

Recycling Computer Components

More Eco-Friendly Recycling


Friday, June 11, 2010

Peace-of-Mind Vacation Check List

It's summertime and that means it's vacation time, too! Whether it's a weekend jaunt or a longer trip, you'll want to feel comfortable leaving your home alone. Here's a blog post I have done for the past couple of summers about what to do before you go away.

Peace-of-Mind Vacation Check List - What to Do Before You Leave

In order to insure that your time away on vacation is relaxing and refreshing, make sure to take care of a few things before you leave.

- Make arrangements for your mail and packages. One option is to stop your mail through the post office. If you do this, you may want to ask a neighbor to watch for packages, as well. We have a weekly paper that is delivered whether we want it or not - it's a sure sign that we're not home if it's sitting on our front porch for days.

Another option is to get a neighbor or friend to pick up your mail and watch for packages. Sometimes we hire a neighbor kid to pick up the mail and walk around the house to look for packages. UPS sometimes delivers to our front porch and sometimes to our back porch!

- Put your lights on timers. We have some that are programmable to go on at different times each night. It makes it look like you are home and there is activity in different parts of the house. We actually leave them on all the time, so if we're out for the evening, it doesn't look like it.

- Stop your newspapers. Most newspapers give you the option to donate your unused days to schools, etc. It's still helpful to have someone watch, though, as we've had newspapers delivered even when we've requested a stop.

- Make arrangements for your pets - a kennel, someone to come over and feed and play with your cat, feed your fish or birds, etc. There are all sorts of pet-sitting services these days, too.

- Don't forget your plants and/or garden- either have someone water them or use a long-term watering system.

- Make arrangements for your lawn. A shaggy yard with yellow newspapers sitting around is an invitation to thieves.

- Pay your bills that will be due while you are gone and soon after you arrive home. You don't want to have to face bills as soon as you come home!

- Remove perishable items from your fridge and pantry. You may want to make a list of items you'll need when you return while it's fresh on your mind, so you don't have to think about it when you come home. Both milk and bread are freezable - just remember to buy milk with the screw-on lids and empty a little so it doesn't explode all over your freezer!

- Adjust your thermostats to save energy while you're away. If you have a programmable thermostat, set it to reflect your absence.

- Give a neighbor your cell phone number or contact number - just in case they notice water pouring out of your house, or some other such emergency!

- Look back at your house as you leave. We almost left our front door open once. And you certainly don't want to be wondering if you left your garage door open!

- While you're away, you may want to pick up a souvenir or gift for anyone watching your house, pets, or plants. 

With all these details taken care of, you'll have peace of mind while you're away and can enjoy being refreshed and rejuvenated!

More on vacations:

Christmas in July

Organize an Emergency Kit for Your Car

Organize Your Family Vacation


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Organizing My Herb Garden 2010


Since we moved last September, I had to start over with my herb garden. I especially miss my perennial mint and chives. It was so nice to have them already growing in the spring without us doing anything!

Both of these come back with a vengeance, and spread, so you have to be careful where you plant them. My husband planted my mint (spearmint and peppermint) at the end of our deck so I can just walk out and pick it when I want to make some mint tea.

He planted (I have hip and knee issues - isn't he wonderful?) basil, parsley, dill, chives, and cilantro in another area, close to the house so I can go snipping at will.

We discovered some tomato plants that had started growing on their own this spring in that area, so we made room for them to grow among the herbs.  

In previous years, I planted way more herbs than I knew what to do with. But it was fun to experiment. Now I have settled down to the ones I use most, and it's easier to manage. 

I bought a very interest package of all different kinds and colors of little tomatoes at BJ's the other day, so maybe I'll add a little breschetta or tomato basil salad tonight for dinner tonight.

More on herbs:

Herb Recipes

Dinner in 10 - Herbed Tilapia

Organizing Your Herb Garden, Part 4 - Using Your Herbs for Healing 

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

An Attractive Way to Organize Your Garden Hose

We've all seen equipment that stores garden hoses. Here's something that does the job but in an attractive way: hose pots. They look like garden pots, but make your hose available to you without being unsightly.

Here are a couple of examples:


Most garden centers and hardware stores carry hose pots, starting at around $40.

More on gardening:

Organizing Your Garden - Creating Your Own Compost

Using Your Snow Shovel Year Round - Another Gardening Tip

Organizing Your Herb Garden


Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Treasure Hunt Dinner

It's the last day of school for our girls! I always look forward to a less structured schedule. It's busy, but a different kind of busy. 

Summer is a wonderful time to invest in our foster daughters. We're hoping to use the summer to build some character as well as have fun. We can be intentional about the positive influencers in their lives and minimize the negative ones.

It's also a time when it's hard to have some personal "refill" time, as my mom calls it. When I plan each week, I will make it a priority to find some time to myself.

When you need a creative idea, here's another activity to do when everything sounds boring: a treasure hunt dinner.

Treasure Hunt Dinner

 Have four courses (veggie platter, fruit salad, entree, dessert) and hide them in or out of the house, depending on the weather. I use coolers if needed. 

Make up three clues for each course. You read the first clue. From then on, whoever finds the clue reads it. He/she must wait until everyone is there and can hear or until everyone has finished that course. 

When you find a course, you must eat it where you find it - in the garage, in the bathroom - make it fun!

When everyone is finished with a course, give out the next clue and continue. At each course, you can ask a question everyone has to answer: Where would you like to visit? What is your favorite color and why? Who is your favorite person in history? What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?

This is a fun event to do for birthday parties, when your kids have friends visiting, or just as a family. It's a bit of work, but a fun memory.

See sample clues below.
Dinner #1

Clue #1 – my hand
It’s not in the mixer
It’s not in the toaster
It’s on the first floor
In a drawer with coasters.

Clue #2 – Coaster drawer
It’s not on a cow
It’s not on an ox
But it’s where we get our mail
A big white box.

Clue #3 – Mail box
Go down one floor
Between two chairs
It’s in the ice bucket
But who cares?

Veggies/dip in the basement

Clue #4 – Ice bucket between chairs
Go to the room
Where you take a bath
Open the cupboard
You’re on the right path.

Clue #5 – basement bathroom
A bunch of books
In the second floor hall
Look for “Virtue”
Not hard at all.

Clue #6 – Book of Virtues
Go out the back
Open a door
Look in a cooler
Near the floor

Breschetta/bread in the cooler in garage

Clue #7 – In garage
Go up the stairs
To the second floor
Look under the tissues
Not in a drawer

Clue #8 – Under Kleenex in 2nd fl. bath
Go outside
Spot a table
Look underneath
If you’re able

Clue #9 – under picnic table
The very next clue
Is not in your sock
Not on a rock
But in a crock.

Spaghetti sauce/spaghetti in crockpot

Clue #10 – under crockpot
The next clue you find
Look for a lion
Who’s in a movie
Oh! Stop you’re cryin’

Clue #11 - Lion King video
Where’s the next clue?
I’ll never tell
Look somewhere low
Where there’s a bell.

Clue #12 – In the bell cabinet
We still have dessert
For us to eat
Look where we keep
Things that go on our feet

Cookies in entry umbrella holder

Dinner #2

Clue #1 – my hand
It’s not in the mixer
It’s not in the toaster
It’s on the first floor
In a drawer with coasters.

Clue #2 – Coaster drawer
It’s not on a cow
It’s not on an ox
But it’s where we get our mail
A big white box.

Clue #3 – Mail box
Go down one floor
In front of two chairs
It’s on a foot stool
But who cares?

Veggies/dip in the basement

Clue #4 – On foot stool
Go to a place
Where we keep snacks
Run up the stairs
You’re right on track

Clue #5 – chips box
A bunch of books
In the second floor hall
Look for “Virtue”
Not hard at all.

Clue #6 – Book of Virtues
Go up one flight
Open a door
The second course
So you can eat more!

Fruit/white bowls/napkins in attic by craft table

Clue #7 – In attic
Go back downstairs
To the second floor
Look under the tissues
Not in a drawer

Clue #8 – Under Kleenex in 2nd fl. bath
Go downstairs
Spot a table
Look underneath
If you’re able

Clue #9 – under antique table
The very next clue
Is not in your sock
Not on a rock
But in a crock.

Spaghetti sauce/spaghetti in crockpot

Clue #10 – under crockpot
The next clue you find
Look for a lion
Who’s in a movie
Oh! Stop you’re cryin’

Clue #11 - Lion King video
Where’s the next clue?
I’ll never tell
Look somewhere low
Where there’s a bell.

Clue #12 – In the bell cabinet
We still have dessert
It won’t be long
Look in a drawer 
Where mats belong

Cookies in drawer with placemats

Dinner #3

Clue #1 – my hand
It’s not in the mixer
It’s not in the toaster
It’s on the first floor
In a drawer with coasters.

Clue #2 – Coaster drawer
It’s not on a cow
It’s not on an ox
It’s where we keep cars
On top of a box.

Clue #3 – Garage on a box
Go down one floor
Look for matching chairs
It’s on a foot stool
But who cares?

Veggies/dip in the office

Clue #4 – On foot stool
Go to a place
Where we keep snacks
Run up the stairs
You’re right on track

Clue #5 – chips box
A bunch of books
Is where you will find
A babysitter’s clue
Of the best kind

Clue #6 – Babysitter’s book
Go up one flight
And open a door
Where guests spend the night
We’ll eat on the floor

Fruit/white bowls/napkins in guest bedroom

Clue #7 – Guest Room
Go back downstairs
To the bottom floor
Look under the tissues
Not in a drawer

Clue #8 – Under Kleenex in basement powder room
Go around the corner
And spot a table
Look underneath
If you’re able

Clue #9 – under antique table
The very next clue
Is not on your head
It’s not on a sled
But an empty bed

ham/cheese/tuna/crackers in empty bedroom

Clue #10 – Empty room
Where’s the next clue?
I’ll never tell
It’s in a tree
Next to some bells.

Clue #11 - Christmas Tree
The next clue you find
Look for a lion
Who’s in a movie
Oh stop your cryin’

Clue #12 – Second Hand Lion
We still have dessert
It won’t be long
Look in a drawer 
Where crafts belong

Cookies in craft dresser

More on Summer Fun:

Organizing Some Fun

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Outdoor Decathlon

Organizing Your Fun Time


Monday, June 7, 2010

Simplifying Summer Dishes

Drinking glasses seem to multiply during the summertime, don't they? Last year I came up with an idea to try to reduce the number of drinking glasses we use each day. I found a package containing four different colors of disposable plastic glasses. Each person chose a color. But I felt very un-green!

This year we found a box of eight large plastic drinking glasses - two in each of the four colors. Since these are sturdy and dishwasher-safe, I feel much better about using them. 

We only have two foster daughters at the moment, so we can each choose one color. If we get more girls, we'll let the girls use the colorful glasses and my husband and I will use other ones. 

It's amazing how few glasses we are using now! The only problem is that the colors don't always go with my color scheme. But I guess I'll live with it!

More summertime hints:

Mouthwash and Mosquitoes

Peace-of-Mind Vacation Check List - What to Do Before You Leave

Cook It Once, Serve It Twice

Foil - A Griller's Friend


Friday, June 4, 2010

When Clutter is Unhealthy

I discovered this excellent article by David F. Tolin, director of the Anxiety Disorders Center at the Institute of Living, Hartford, Conn., and author of "Buried in Treasures: Help for Compulsive Acquiring, Saving, and Hoarding" (Oxford University Press, 2007).

When Clutter is Unhealthy 


"What's the difference between messiness and hoarding?

Most messy people aren’t hoarders; they’re just messy. But if someone is no longer able to take care of work, family, or basic safety, they’ve crossed the line into mental illness. 

Their clutter might create a fire hazard or vermin infestation, or keep them from walking around in the house. They have an exaggerated attachment to items that prevents them from discarding things that most of us would consider to be junk, like stacks of old newspapers.  

What if I suspect that a friend or family member is a hoarder?
Sit down, calmly explain why you are worried, and offer to help without taking control of the person’s life. The next step is to get the person some quality mental health care. Medications don’t seem to do much for compulsive hoarding. 

We recommend cognitive-behavioral therapy, in which we help the person identify and change irrational ways of thinking and practice new patterns of behavior. Even after treatment, most people are still hoarding, but it’s much better controlled and doesn’t cause safety problems or impinge on their functioning. 

What if the person won’t accept help?
Don’t be tempted to take a shortcut, like clearing out the house when they’re away without telling them. It doesn’t work and often precipitates a mental-health crisis. 

If there are children in the house or the person is elderly and there’s an immediate hazard, you can call in your state’s protective services agency. They have the legal authority to mandate treatment. Otherwise, there’s usually not much you can do. 

It’s horrible to watch a family member self-destruct, but if it comes down to a fight, you’re likely going to lose because the law protects a person’s right to be mentally ill. In those cases, the best option may be for family members to seek counseling themselves."

David F. Tolin, Ph.D.

This article first appeared in the June 2010 issue of Consumer Reports on Health. For more on compulsions, such as hoarding, see our section on diagnosing and treating obsessive-compulsive disorder.

More on hoarding: 

Hoarding - There Are No Easy Answers! 

Self-Help Books for Hoarders and Their Families

Get Organized Month 2009 - Some Words from Peter Walsh, Organizing Guru


Thursday, June 3, 2010

Organizing Summer Fun When Everyone is Bored: Outdoor Decathlon

"I'm bored!" My response is usually, "Sorry, that's your choice!" Over the years, I've come up with some activities to do when there doesn't seem to be anything to do. Most of these I've made up or adapted from other ideas. Sometimes merely reframing ordinary activities creates fun!

So ... I'm going to do a series on some of these crazy activities. Hope you enjoy them! 

Outdoor decathlon: 10 games - a combination of silly games and games of skill. See possible games below.

I keep the list of games a secret. Then it's a series of surprises.

Gather all the supplies needed for each game. 

Create a box or bag of prizes. 

Create a score sheet chart with each person listed and each game listed. 

After each game, record the scores. If you have five people playing, the person who comes in first gets five points, 2nd place gets 4 points, etc. 

After all 10 events are played, the person with the most points is first, etc. #1 get to choose a prize first, #2 second, etc.

Possible games (you may need to adjust to kids' ages): 
dropping clothespins in a bottle
horse (basketball)
elimination bocce ball
bubble gum blowing contest
tossing a coin into a muffin tin
bowling with a toy bowling set
paper airplane making/flying
frisbee golf
bouncing a tennis ball on a tennis raquet
tossing a tennis ball into a waste basket
balancing a ball on your finger

What fun activities have you created? 

More on creating fun: 
Organizing Some Fun

Organizing Your Fun Time

Five Health Benefits of Laughter


Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Get Organized With These Sneaky Tips

Here are some great tips from Anna Miller, my guest blogger for today. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did!

Get Organized With These Sneaky Tips

There are some people who are anal about cleanliness and order and others who are totally unconcerned about the clutter they live in. The former are sometimes obsessive compulsive about keeping their personal space neat and tidy while the latter have no qualms about co-existing with filth and disorder. 

Thankfully, most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two opposite ends of the spectrum – we wish we were more organized, but we’re too busy at times, too lazy at others, and just not in the mood many a day. 

It’s good to be organized, especially if you want to save time and effort every day. When you know where everything is, your day goes by more smoothly and you minimize your stress while maximizing your energy and efficiency. So if you feel your life slipping more and more into the disorderly side of the spectrum, here are a few sneaky tips to get organized:

Do more when the mood strikes: I like to think that I’m a fairly neat person and that my things and schedules are as organized as they can be. But while I do believe that there must be a place for everything and everything in its place, I find that there are times when I’m just too pressed for time or that I’m not in the mood to organize and clear up the clutter. 

But then, when the mess accumulates beyond a certain level, the mood to clean takes priority over all else. I try to get more done during this time, because I know I tend to slip back into laziness soon enough. So if you’re in the mood to clear up, milk it for all its worth and get more done around the house or your workspace.

Procrastinate once, not any more
: It’s ok to put off things if you don’t feel like doing them, but not more than once, especially when it comes to cleaning up your clutter and organizing your space and belongings. Remember, the longer you leave clutter around, the more time you need to get organized. 

So if you don’t feel like washing or clearing up after dinner because you prefer to laze on the couch and watch TV, go ahead by all means. But make sure you wake up a few minutes early the next day so you can clean up before you leave for work or get started with your day. It’s when you keep putting off organizing your space that you find yourself losing control and getting stressed out.

: I’ve found that the best incentive for me to clean up is to throw a party or invite people over for dinner. When guests are expected, I know my home has to be perfectly neat and clean. It doesn’t have to be big, just a small gathering with friends is enough to do the trick.

I find myself tidying up and getting rid of the clutter every Friday because I know I will have company on Saturday. This weekly routine ensures that I stay organized and on top of things.

The point I’m trying to make is that you don’t really have to be neat and organized all the time; it’s enough if you realize your strengths and weaknesses, and play to the former while avoiding the latter as much as possible.

This guest post is contributed by Anna Miller, who writes on the topic of online degree . She welcomes your comments at her email id: anna.miller009@gmail.com.

More on organizing tips: 
Don't Make the #1 Organizing Mistake

Color-Coding Your Storage

5-Minute Stress Relievers - Organizing and Cleaning


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Right-Brained People - Enjoy Your Creative Organizing!

If you are a creative, right-brained person, don't despair when it comes to organizing! Use that creativity to come up with organizing solutions that work for you.

Just because you may not be organizationally minded doesn't mean you can't organize. As my right-brained daughter has said to me many times, "I can organize, just not the same way you do."

Right-brained people are good at brainstorming and thinking outside the box. Use those skills to come up with creative solutions to solve your organizing issues. Create systems that work for you. 

Don't feel that there is a "right way" to organize. Organizing is very personal and needs to work for you. Even if a system works for others, it may not work for you.

Try out your creative solutions and see which ones work. If they don't, tweak them or throw them out all together! 

The key is to drag yourself away from more enticing projects and take some time to use your creativity to organize. It's hard to do. But the result is worth it: your mind will be freed up for more creativity because it's not cluttered with visual chaos.

Right brained people, tell us your organizing solutions!

More on organizing differences:

Is Decluttering/Organizing with Your Spouse Making You Angry?

How to Stay Organized When No One around You Is

Organizing the ADD Household