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.

Thursday, March 31, 2011

Baby Planners - A New Organizing Service

Even if you don't live in the DC area, you can gleen some great information from Capital Baby Planners if you're expecting. Here's a piece by Shaun Courtney from the Georgetown/DC Patch describing their services:

"In case you're not a parent in-the-know, "baby wearing" is all the rage right now, but BabyBjörn is just so passé.

An umlaut and an accent aigu in the first sentence?

I'm in trouble - and I'm not even in the market for baby gear.

Before meeting Sharon Cichy and Meredith Wade, co-founders of Capital Baby Planners, at the Creative Moms DC Festival, I thought baby planning was synonymous with fertility treatments. Boy, was I wrong.

Cichy and Wade founded Capital Baby Planners just over a year ago and have been helping clients through a "rite of passage" that is "overwhelming and daunting for everyone who goes through it," said Cichy. They should know; they have six kids between the two of them.

Cichy and Wade met at their childrens' nursery school, hit it off as friends and decided to combine their knowledge and skills to start a business. Cichy has a background in early childhood special education; Wade is an attorney.

The stresses, pressures, expectations and concerns of parents-to-be go beyond the health and wellness of the mother and baby and extend to choosing the right gear, clothes, doctors and lifestyle. Capital Baby Planners works with expectant parents to make the process a little less overwhelming.

Erik Binkowski and his wife are expecting their first baby in August 2011.

'As a recent newlywed, my wife and I were very familiar with registry experiences,' Binkowski said. 'However, I can honestly admit I had never been more confused, lost and intimidated as a soon-to-be father walking into a Babies R Us store or buybuyBaby store to comparison shop for strollers or infant car seats.'

He said, 'I was completely lost about what to truly look for and what was worth saving for and what aspects of baby items and furniture were not worth the pricing premium.'

That's where Capital Baby Planners has found a niche. They research products available for expectant parents and their future offspring.

There is 'so much on the market, so many high-end products, but you don’t necessarily need all of them,' said Cichy.

But for parents who can afford the best, it can become a habit to think, 'that’s the best and most expensive, so I have to have it,' she said. That's why Cichy said she and Wade 'give people facts' about products and, it turns out, often the best item for their needs is 'not always what they think [it will be]' especially when 'they think they just want higher-end things.'

Capital Baby Planners offers clients access to a magic Excel sheet that lists costs, key points about the product and explanations of why someone might or might not want to use it.

Binkowski got first hand experience in choosing based on personal needs rather than popularity. 'My wife and I live in a house that starts on the third floor. (Capital Baby Planners) have helped us figure out almost everything, including what items will be the safest for our baby, but also allow my wife to carry the baby up the two flights of stairs without trouble - especially when I am at work.'

In addition to overwhelmed newbies, Cichy and Wade find that many of their clients are part of the 'international crowd,' people who 'come over to the U.S. and are working through an embassy or world bank, but are not familiar with our county or how things done here.' Capital Baby Planners shows them 'how we do this here.'

Beyond the 'things' needed for a new baby, there are also the team of experts new parents will come to rely on during the first harrowing months. Capital Baby Planners helps parents create a checklist of questions to ask and makes recommendations based on the individual needs of the parents and child. After all, a pediatrician is 'not like a regular doctor' said Cichy, 'in that first year, it's so unnerving, you rush to pediatrician so often,' so it is important to find a good fit.

Capital Baby Planners offers a variety of options for clients, some come just for the list of products, others have CBP organize and decorate the nursery, some have in-person meetings and a dozen follow-up phone calls, others choose just two or three phone calls and a few emails as the extent of the relationship.

Cichy said depending on what clients decide they need, their services can sometimes 'pay for themselves' said Cichy. How so? Relationships with vendors, mean discounts for Capital Baby Planners' clients. Two Georgetown shops are part of their network of vendors: both Piccolo Piggies and Urban Chic offer discounts to Capital Baby Planners, which passes them on to clients.

Binkowski said that though he and his wife has thus far only relied on Capital Baby Planners for registry and figuring out the house layout with a new addition, they will probably continue to use the service as new needs arise.

'Without knowing before we signed up, they have many working relationships with vendors and stores that more than help to pay for their services (assuming you use their vendors)' said Binkowski.

Though Binkowski and his wife had never heard of baby planning before they received the Capital Baby Planners recommendation from close friends, he is now a convert. 'They have really been a huge assist for us.'"

More on organizing for baby:

Green Baby Gifts

Preserving and Organizing Your Child's Memorable Moments

Declutter Sentimental Clothing - Turn Them into a Quilt

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Car Efficiency - How to Improve Your Car's Fuel Economy

With gas prices as they are it pays to be efficient. EcoDriving offers the following tips for improving your car's fuel economy:
  • Avoid rapid starts and stops.
  • Try to maintain a constant speed in traffic.
  • Use cruise control.
  • Use air conditioning at higher speeds; open your windows at lower speeds.
  • Avoid idling.
  • Have scheduled maintenance done on time.
  • Keep your tires properly inflated.
  • Replace your air filter regularly.
  • Tighten your gas cap.
  • Remove unneeded items from your vehicle. 

More on cars:

Clutter in Your Car = Danger

Organize an Emergency Kit for Your Car

Driving - Not a Time to Multi-Task


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Preserving and Organizing Your Child's Memorable Moments

I came across the following article and thought the ideas were fabulous! 

"New Haven, Conn (WTNH) - Organizing Expert Lisa Lelas joined GMC Weekend to talk about preserving and organizing memorable moments for each stage of your child's life.

As parents, we know how quickly our children grow up.
By organizing and preserving some memorable moments at each stage it's easy to create beautiful heirlooms they will cherish long into adulthood.

· Weekly Photo Book of their first year! Take a picture every week during their first year, on the same day of the week your child was born. Place them, in order, in a 52 page mini-photo-album. Have it out as a conversation piece at his first birthday party for relatives. Flip the pages and watch your baby grow right before your eyes!
· Nursery wall frame of baby's first year. Place a photo of each month during the first year into a special frame with 12 cut-outs.
· Frame a newsworthy poster. Websites available to order posters depicting a collection of important events the year your child was born. Great for framing!

· Create a Time Capsule: Archive newspapers and headlines from the day your child was born by starting a Time Capsule, containing important newsworthy items for your child throughout their childhood…such as a copy of a local newspaper from the day they were born, a national magazine from the month they were born, and other important world headlines, such as clipping from the day a new President takes office, or a favorite entertainer passes (such as Micheal Jackson), and so on.
· Keep a guest book for each important event during your kids' childhood. Guests can sign in at each birthday, bar mitzvah…and even their wedding day, should they so choose!
· Keep a collection of favorite quotes & moments. Using a hat box or an empty clear container, keep those priceless quotes and memories by writing them down on index cards, dating them and dropping them into the container. Fun for kids and parents to reach in and read aloud as the kids grow up. (Use a different color card for each child, if more than one in the family).
· Start a Birthday Scrapbook. Starting with their actual 'birth' day, use 2 pages per year to decorate with birthday party memories each year thereafter.

· Friendship scrapbooks. Help your teens by starting a photo scrapbook when they are younger with various friends & neighbors they had throughout their younger years and encourage them to continue the pages through their teen years when their BFF's are their most important commodity!
· Encourage teens to create a Vision Board. A simple poster depicting pictures of their dreams…whatever they may be at the time…from their ideal home someday to their dream job or dream travel destinations. It has been proven to assist kids with developing a positive attitude and actually keep them focused on the future when they can actually 'see' their dreams hanging in their bedrooms!

For more tips visit www.LifeStylingwithLisa.com"

Monday, March 28, 2011

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Vinegar

Here's an updated version of a previous post about using vinegar during spring cleaning:

- To remove coffee or tea stains from the inside of a cup, measure two tablespoons of vinegar into the cup and swish it around. Use a cloth, if necessary, to reach all the stains. Wash with soap.

- To get rid of salt stains on boots or shoes, dip a cloth into vinegar. Those white stains will wipe right off!

- To deodorize a garbage disposal, fill ice trays with vinegar. Freeze. Run the vinegar ice cubes through the disposal, followed by a blast of cold water.

- To clean a teakettle, boil a mixture of water and vinegar in the kettle. Wipe away any residue.

- To freshen a coffeemaker, fill the water reservoir with a mixture of vinegar and water. "Brew" this mixture, followed by several cycles of plain water.

- To clean a dishwasher, run an empty dishwasher through a cycle with a cup of vinegar. Do this once a month to reduce soap buildup on the inner mechanisms and glassware. 

- We use vinegar to clean our humidifier to keep the mold and mildew out.

More on spring cleaning with household products:

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Dryer Sheet

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Lemons

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Baking Soda

Three Steps to Clever Cleaning

Friday, March 25, 2011

Statistics: The Health and Mental Health Benefits of Spring Cleaning

I thought that this was worth repeating from last year: 

I really enjoyed the following  article by Health Net, Inc. about the health and mental health benefits of spring cleaning.  It's quite motivating! I hope you enjoy it.

"The month of March brings with it the official start of spring -- a season associated with renewal and romance, and, on a less lyrical level -- with dusting, scrubbing, and otherwise engaging in the roll-up-your-sleeves ritual known as spring cleaning. While heavy-duty housework hardly sounds inviting, Health Net, Inc. (HNT 24.16, -0.40, -1.63%) wants to spread the word that spring cleaning not only results in a tidy abode, but also brings with it mental health benefits. 
Studies have shown that a dirty, disorganized home can harbor health threats in the form of mold, bacteria and clutter-caused injuries, but such an environment also can negatively impact mental health, explains Ian Shaffer, M.D., chief medical officer of MHN, Health Net's behavioral health subsidiary. "A thorough spring cleaning definitely brings with it a feel-good sense of satisfaction," he adds, "and the physical exertion of dusting, vacuuming and scrubbing has been found to reduce stress and anxiety."

Shaffer points out that, while the physical benefits of exercise are well known, there's mounting evidence that exercise -- even in the form of housework -- brings with it mental health benefits. In fact, one study -- conducted by University College London -- found that as little as 20 minutes of housework per week reduced feelings of psychological distress. It was further found that the risk of mental health problems was reduced by one-fifth among those engaging in just 20 minutes of housework weekly. 

"Exercise is known to boost mental health," says Shaffer, "and house-cleaning activities are certainly a form of exercise. A bigger activity, like a top-to-bottom spring cleaning, helps you to feel organized and in control, and those feelings definitely result in reduced stress." 

The chores-calories connection

Doing housework not only lifts your spirits and lowers your stress level, but -- as an added bonus -- you also burn calories in the process. The American Heart Association categorizes housework as "moderate exercise," and says that a person weighing 150 pounds who engages in 30 minutes of household chores can expect to burn the following:
-- Cleaning a bathroom -- 200 calories
-- Doing laundry -- 133 calories
-- Making beds -- 130 calories
-- Washing windows -- 125 calories
-- Vacuuming -- 123 calories
-- Ironing --70 calories
-- Dusting -- 50 calories

Shaffer notes, "Household chores alone are unlikely to keep you physically fit, but this, along with other daily tasks, provides a portion of the physical exercise we all need. If you combine these activities with a structured exercise program, the results can be very positive." 

Stay organized after spring cleaning 

With the satisfaction of a successful spring cleaning behind you, Shaffer cautions against returning to one's previously disorganized ways. "Staying organized," he says, "encourages the good kind of stress." In fact, studies have shown that a feeling of control -- a feeling that comes with being organized -- is key to whether stress will serve as a positive force that fuels creativity and optimism or if it will serve as a negative force accompanied by a sense of helplessness and pessimism. 

Beyond optimism, being organized brings with it a bounty of other benefits. Shaffer points to three: 

-- Reduced time pressure -- Among the greatest sources of stress is time pressure, i.e., so much to do, so little time. While being organized doesn't add hours to the day, it does enable you to make the most of the 24 hours in each day. Organized individuals don't waste time wondering what work project is due when, or where a needed item -- from an unpaid bill to an uncashed check -- might be hiding. The time saved can be spent on any number of stress-busting activities, such as exercising or preparing a healthy meal. 

-- Disorganization makes it hard to see things in their components. Failing to see the parts leads to a few of the whole that can be very overwhelming and at times will lead to immobilization and people failing to act and move forward. 

-- No disorganization domino effect -- As a general rule, disorganization creates a ripple effect, impacting not only the offender, but also those around him or her. If you're disorganized, the fallout can extend to family, friends as well as co-workers, and a tension-filled environment can become the order of the day. Conversely, while organization doesn't guarantee harmony and happiness, it unquestionably helps." 

More on the benefits of organization: 

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Strange Clutter Facts from Oprah

The following is an excerpt from Meredith Bryan's Oprah.com article which appeared on CNN Living. Some pretty strange facts ...

"You can take it with you
Worried about leaving unwanted furniture after you die? Fear not: Maine-based company Last Things creates bookcases that -- when the time comes -- double as coffins.

Last August the body of Billie Jean James was found buried under mountains of junk in her Las Vegas home, four months after she'd gone missing. This despite the early deployment of search dogs -- and the fact that her husband still lived in the house.

Humble abodes
One way to forcefully de-clutter is to move into a home the size of a parking space. The Small House Movement -- which has been featured on the Oprah show -- is thriving, according to Kent Griswold, author of tinyhouseblog.com. Griswold recommends Tumbleweed Tiny House company, whose models (with names like "Weebee") range from 65 to 840 square feet and cost less than $20,000. "I've traveled from Canada to Mexico with my small homes," writes Griswold. "Can you do that with your current home?"

Organize it like Beckham
One celebrity whose organizational skills are praised consistently -- by no less an authority than his wife -- is soccer star David Beckham.
Victoria Beckham has revealed that Becks color-codes the contents of the fridge, vacuums the carpet in straight lines and gets upset when anyone walks on it, and has a separate bathroom because he can't stand her clutter."

More clutter facts:

Clutter and Migraines

Interesting Clutter and Organization Statistics

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Tools to Make Gardening More Efficient

I'm not a big-time gardener, but by being organized and efficient I can get more done when I garden. If you're just starting out or have been gardening for years, the following products might help you stay organized, save time, or be more productive: 





Tool Storage

Hose Storage

Dispenser for Bird Seed, Pet Food, Fertilizer, Ice Melt
What products help you garden effectively?

More on gardening:

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Short-Term and Long-Term Moving

Sometimes our moves are not nice and neat and involve some interim moves. This is true for one of our daughters.

 As I mentioned yesterday, we spent the weekend with one of our daughters who will be moving to Kazakhstan next year. In the meantime, she'll take a four-month trip over to Kazakhstan and return for training for several months in a different state.

We helped her pack up her house, packing for short-term and long-term. We divided her stuff into 
- what she is going to use before her trip and take with her this summer
- what she is going to store here permanently
- what she may want to take with her to Kazakhstan when she goes permanently.

She numbered every container and listed the enclosed items on a spread sheet so she can locate what she needs when she needs it. It took a little extra time to do this, but it will save time in the future. We also tried to pack like things together as much as possible.  

If you have such a move looming, take the extra time to catalog your belongings. Then if you need to find a particular item in the future, you won't have to go through all your containers to find it.

More on moving:

Moving Tips

1-2-3...Get Organized: The Advantages of Downsizing 

Helping Your Kids Prepare for a Move


Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Lemons

We had a lovely weekend with one of our daughters, helping her get ready for a move. Sorting, packing, playing games, meeting her friends. 

On to our topic today - another in our series on cleaning with household products: 

Here are some more great spring cleaning tips, this time using lemons! Did you know lemon juice disinfects?

- To clean up those stained plastic and wooden cutting boards, squeeze the juice of half a lemon onto the board. Let it sit for 20 minutes. Rinse with water.

- To remove tea stains on cloth, combine lemon juice with an equal amount of water. Dip a Q-tip in the lemon juice mixture, and dab at the stain. Or you can put the mixture into an eye dropper and drip onto the stain. Thoroughly flush with cool water.

- Combine lemon juice with baking soda and use in place of abrasive cleaners. 

More on cleaning with household products:

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Dryer Sheets

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Baking Soda

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Salt, Newspaper, Coffee Filters, and Olive Oil


Friday, March 18, 2011

Spring Cleaning the Pantry - When to Toss It?

Do you ever wonder how long to keep items in your pantry and elsewhere? Here's a handy guide from Real Simple Magazine to take the indecision out of spring cleaning.



Unopened: 4 months.

Brown sugar
Indefinite shelf life, stored in a moistureproof container in a cool, dry place.

Chocolate (Hershey bar)
1 year from production date

Coffee, canned ground
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 1 month refrigerated

Coffee, gourmet
Beans: 3 weeks in paper bag, longer in vacuum-seal bag (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)
Ground: 1 week in sealed container

Coffee, instant
Unopened: Up to 2 years
Opened: Up to 1 month

Diet soda (and soft drinks in plastic bottles)
Unopened: 3 months from “best by” date.
Opened: Doesn't spoil, but taste is affected.

Dried pasta
12 months

Frozen dinners
Unopened: 12 to 18 months

Frozen vegetables
Unopened: 18 to 24 months
Opened: 1 month

Indefinite shelf life

Juice, bottled (apple or cranberry)
Unopened: 8 months from production date
Opened: 7 to 10 days

Unopened: 1 year (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)
Opened or used: 4 to 6 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Maple syrup, real or imitation
1 year

Maraschino cherries
Unopened: 3 to 4 years
Opened: 2 weeks at room temperature; 6 months refrigerated

Unopened: 40 weeks
Opened: 3 months

Unopened: Indefinitely
Opened: 2 to 3 months from “purchase by” date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

2 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Olives, jarred (green with pimento)
Unopened: 3 years
Opened: 3 months

Olive oil
2 years from manufacture date (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Unopened: 1 to 2 years unless frozen or refrigerated
Opened: 1 to 2 weeks in airtight container

Peanut butter, natural
9 months

Peanut butter, processed (Jif)
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 6 months; refrigerate after 3 months

Unopened: 18 months
Opened: No conclusive data. Discard if slippery or excessively soft.

Protein bars (PowerBars)
Unopened: 10 to 12 months. Check “best by” date on the package.

Rice, white
2 years from date on box or date of purchase

Salad dressing, bottled
Unopened: 12 months after “best by” date
Opened: 9 months refrigerated

Soy sauce, bottled
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: 3 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

Soda, regular
Unopened: In cans or glass bottles, 9 months from “best by” date
Opened: Doesn’t spoil, but taste is affected

Steak sauce
33 months (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)

5 years, stored in a cool, dry place

Tea bags (Lipton)
Use within 2 years of opening the package

Tuna, canned
Unopened: 1 year from purchase date
Opened: 3 to 4 days, not stored in can

Vinegar 42 months

Wine (red, white)
Unopened: 3 years from vintage date; 20 to 100 years for fine wines
Opened: 1 week refrigerated and corked

Worcestershire sauce
Unopened: 5 to 10 years (after this time, color or flavor may be affected, but product is still generally safe to consume)
Opened: 2 years

Household Products

Air freshener, aerosol
2 years

Antifreeze, premixed
1 to 5 years

Antifreeze, concentrate

Batteries, alkaline
7 years

Batteries, lithium
10 years

3 to 6 months

Dish detergent, liquid or powdered
1 year

Fire extinguisher, rechargeable
Service or replace every 6 years

Fire extinguisher, nonrechargeable
12 years

Laundry detergent, liquid or powdered
Unopened: 9 months to 1 year
Opened: 6 months

Metal polish (silver, copper, brass)
At least 3 years

Miracle Gro, liquid
Opened: 3 to 8 years

Miracle Gro, liquid, water-soluble

Motor oil
Unopened: 2 to 5 years
Opened: 3 months

Mr. Clean
2 years

Unopened: Up to 10 years
Opened: 2 to 5 years

Spray paint
2 to 3 years

2 years

Wood polish (Pledge)
2 years

Beauty Products

All dates are from the manufacture date, which is either displayed on the packaging or can be obtained by calling the manufacturer's customer-service number.

 Bar soap
18 months to 3 years

Bath gel, body wash
3 years

Bath oil
1 year

Body bleaches and depilatories
Unopened: 2 years
Used: 6 months

Body lotion
3 years

2 to 3 years

Unopened: 2 years
Used: 1 to 2 years
For antiperspirants, see expiration date

Eye cream
Unopened: 3 years
Used: 1 year

Face lotion
With SPF, see expiration date. All others, at least 3 years

Foundation, oil-based
2 years

Foundation, water-based
3 years

Hair gel
2 to 3 years

Hair spray
2 to 3 years

Lip balm
Unopened: 5 years
Used: 1 to 5 years

2 years

Unopened: 2 years
Used: 3 to 4 months

Three years from manufacture date

Nail polish
1 year

Nail-polish remover
Lasts indefinitely

1 to 2 years

Rubbing alcohol
At least 3 years

2 to 3 years

Shaving cream
2 years or more

Tooth-whitening strips
13 months

Wash’n Dri moist wipes
Unopened: 2 years
Opened: Good until dried out

 More on food safety:

Demystifying Food Expiration Dates

Get Organized Month 2009 - Organizing Your Fridge to Keep Foods Fresh

Cooler Safety 101

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Organize and Manage Your Financial Statements, Bills, Travel Rewards and Subscriptions with Manilla

Happy St. Patrick's Day! Our four foster daughters spared no effort to decorate themselves in green this morning. So joining in the spirit of the day, I made green banana muffins for breakfast. Two of the girls asked why they were green and another was creeped out by it. I'm so glad I got up at 4:15 to make this memory! LOL! 

On to our topic for the day ...
Manilla, a newly-launched webite helps you organize and manage recurring information with one click - your financial statements, bills, travel reward programs and subscriptions.  

According to USA Today, Manilla "may be best described as a loose cross between a password vault service and bill-paying sites. You enter Manilla through a single password—it in turn can log you into your various integrated credit card, bank and other sites without you having to separately enter passwords for those. 

All your info appears in a convenient dashboard. Manilla kicks off with partners such as Citi Cards and Comcast. The service is free; the company says it will get paid by its partners when consumers ditch paper statements altogether. Manilla says it will archive all your old financial statements indefinitely."

More online organizing: 

Save Time by Paying All Your Online Bills in One Place

Organizing Your To-Do Lists Online - 12 Great Choices

Online Printable Planner Pages

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Loft Beds - A Great Solution for a Small Bedroom

Loft beds aren't just for college dorms! If your child's bedroom is small or if you'd just like to max out the existing space, a loft bed may be a great solution. I looked around and found these:

Jackson Creek

The Getaway


The Classic




The Cave

The Crossover

Rock and Roll

Sponge Bob


My Place - Pink/Purple or Blue Optional Tents

Some of these units have alternative configurations to give you more options. Click the pictures for more information. 

More on space-saving ideas:

Short on Space for Bathroom Towel Racks?

Gaining Storage without Losing Floor Space

Storage for Your Garage




Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Baking Soda


In time for spring cleaning, I thought I'd run some blog posts I've done earlier on using things you have around the house. Here's one on baking soda: 


- To eliminate crayon, pencil, ink, and furniture scuffs from painted surfaces, sprinkle a little baking soda on a damp cloth, run clean, and rinse. 

- To tackle tough stains on enameled cast iron, scrub with a soft nylon brush and a thick paste of baking soda and water.

- To remove stains from stainless steel, dissolve 4 tablespoons of baking soda in 1 quart of water and clean with a soft cloth. Dry with a clean cloth.

- Sprinkle baking soda on casseroles or roasting pans with baked-on food or stains. Let it work for five minutes, followed by a light scrub and rinse..

- Sprinkle baking soda on minor oil and grease spills on a garage floor or driveway, and scrub with a wet brush.

Aren't these helpful things to know?

More on using household items to clean:

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Vinegar

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Lemons

Spring Cleaning Using Household Items - Salt, Newspaper, Coffee Filters, and Olive Oil


Monday, March 14, 2011

Organizing for Fire Safety

Doesn't it seem that Daylight Savings Time is coming earlier and earlier? That means it's the time to check our smoke alarms, too.

While you're at it, talk to your family members about fire safety - 
- where you would meet outside your house if you had a fire, 
- how to exit the house safely - which door, crawling on the ground if there's smoke, etc.
- how to tell if there's a fire outside your bedroom door,
- the safety advantages of sleeping with the bedroom door closed,
- how to hang from your window and drop to the ground if the fire is outside your bedroom door,
- not using electrical heating appliances (curling,flat irons) near water or flammable objects (curtains, bed linens, etc.).

As foster parents, we are trained each year by the fire marshal and must have a fire drill twice a month. Not a bad idea for everyone!

More on fire safety:

Don't Let Clutter Create a Fire Hazard

Getting Organized for Winter - Your Chimney

A Dozen Helpful Hints to Simplify Your Life

Friday, March 11, 2011

A Giveaway Party - A Garage Sale Alternative

Do you have a bunch of stuff to get rid of, but a garage sale sounds too overwhelming? Why not throw a Giveaway Party?

Invite your friends over, serve refreshments, and get rid of your excess stuff at the same time. A way to catch up with friends and bless them, too. 

Make sure to have some boxes and bags on hand to make it easy for your friends to cart away their finds. 

After your party, load up your car and take the leftovers to your favorite charity.

You feel lighter, you've had fun with your friends, and your treasures have gone to good homes.

More on getting rid of clutter:

Swap Parties - Decluttering, Saving Money

Finding Charities that Will Pick Up Your Clutter

Make it Easy to Get Rid of Things

Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Nook Digital eReader - Downloads and Organizes School Textbooks

which was published in her school newspaper, The Talon, on February 28, 2011.

She is participating in a team project in her media awareness class in which students argue for or against spending fictional money on modern technology for the school. Here is her argument for Nooks, eReaders which allow students to download their textbooks. She has convinced me! 

Barnes & Noble NOOK ebook reader (WiFi + 3G)[B&W]NOOKcolor eBook Tablet

"21st century America is seeing the dawn of a technological revolution. With the onset of computers, cell phones, hybrid technology, and even wireless credit card processing, it is evident that technology is making its way into every sect of American life.

Such developments boast faster access, improved usability, connection to a wider range of information, and even “going green.” But while other institutions grow increasingly more “plugged in,” schools continue to use primitive tools like textbooks.

The Nook, an eReader device, has means to save students from literally and figuratively dragging behind as they lug textbooks to school in an increasingly technology based world.

'I think the focus in school investment should be in media and technology as soon as possible,' says John Brande, SHS Media Awareness teacher.

'Purchasing textbooks now is a complete waste of money. Every student should be making use of the Internet at all times in school.'

Modern technology seeks to expedite organization by consolidating other devices into one. A persistent issue many high school students have is being disorganized. When a student is assigned several separate reference books for each class, disorganization is an easy trap to fall into.

Disorganization makes misplacement easy and therefore makes referencing study materials a difficult and stressful task.

'At this point in my life, I am completely overwhelmed with textbooks,' says junior Bridgit Wald, who admits to being poorly organized.

'I am lucky if I can keep track of two of them, nevertheless the nine I have this year.'

Sophomore Ian Deutsch agrees with Bridgit. 'I’ve forgotten textbooks at school several times, once before a test in the subject,' said Deutsch. 'It is hard to keep track of them all.'

One 2GB Nook can store up to 1,500 books, magazines, or newspapers. The Nook makes disorganization of books and reference materials virtually impossible.

The Nook permits better organization with less effort. Currently, classroom time is spent to pass out books and assign book numbers to each student in a classroom.

However, a Nook-using student would be able to quickly download e-Books instantly to “My Library” via Wi-Fi. A student can further organize from there by choosing to create easy-access “shelves” to file e-Books by topic or school subject.

The sheer weight of transporting textbooks and binders is intense even for students with whom disorganization is not an issue.

Much concern has risen over heavy backpacks and it’s potential and harmful affects on students, many of whom have bodies that are still growing.

A Nook, regardless of whether it’s carrying 1 book or 1,000 books, weighs a mere 12.1 ounces, which is about the weight of an apple. Just one, the largest, of the three books required for use in SHS’s Advanced Placement US History course weighs about 88 ounces, which is nearly the weight of two watermelons.

'It’s lightweight; they weigh less than 15 ounces, so they’re pretty portable and easy to move around,' says Joe Dumas, the Nook Specialist at Barnes and Nobles Booksellers in Walpole.

Julie Fishman, a junior, agrees with Dumas. 'It’s a pain to have to carry around heavy books and textbooks to school,' Fishman says.

'I haven’t really used a Nook before, but I know it’s lightweight and it would be easier to only have one device for it all!'

The Nook includes a vast array of helpful usability features - foremost, accessibility. Like Deutsch said, a student depends on their books or textbooks to study, so students are limited to studying in areas that they are allowed to carry them or bring them.

By downloading the Nook App to an iPhone, iPad, Android, PC, or Blackberry, students can access their e-Books and study anywhere that has Wi-Fi.

Using the Nook application on such phones as the iPhone, one can highlight, create notes, and control text size as well as font and font color.

'Using a Nook has the same features as a book, just electronic,' says Dumas. 'It includes book marking, highlighting, and the screen zooms in and out.'

Nook’s display includes 16-level gray scale font with display and zoom capabilities that make font easier to read than a book or textbook.

The Nook’s extensive collection of over 2 million, ready to download e-Books and ability for pre-ordering new releases ensures access to updated material at all times.

Schoolbooks can become easily outdated but are replaced only every 5-6 years and textbooks even more rarely.

The Nook also has an extra-long battery life of up to 10 days without ever having to re-charge as well.

'I own a Nook and I love it,' said Adam Block. 'I have trouble reading small fonts, so the zoom feature is really helpful. The battery life is also really long.'

The NookColor also has a basic web browser. Students can check e-mail, send a note, or Google search using the touch screen keyboard. Using N highlight, a student can instantly look up a word with the Nook’s built in dictionary feature, sparing class disruption and student confusion.

Nook’s environmentally friendly aspect is another triumph over textbooks, each having the ability to save thousands of pages of paper.

'In the long run, I think that investing in a Reader would be worth it. Nooks save energy and paper. Plus you can’t tear them apart,' says SHS English teacher James Sanford.

'The environmentally friendly aspect is one of the most appealing features to me. It’s faster, easier, and saves the environment, so why not?' says junior Xander Bennett.

The Nook costs $149 and the NookColor costs $249. While the initial cost of purchasing Nooks may be daunting, e-Books are often about half the price of their book counterparts. 

More on organizing for school:

Getting Organized for School 2010 - Online Homework Help

Getting Organized for School 2010: Homework

Getting Organized for School 2010: Starting the Night Before