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, November 29, 2011

Some of My Favorite Organizing Products - The Ball Claw

A few years ago, the Ball Claw people asked me to do a review of their, at that time, new product - a new way to store athletic balls. Unfortunately, I never did the review. So now I will make up for it.

The Ball Claw is an ingenious way to store those hard-to-store athletic balls. It comes with just a few screws, grips the ball, and can be used in various places - even in your car trunk! Here are some options:



 They're inexpensive ($11.99), simple to use, and make use of vertical space, rather than taking up floor space or closet space. Both of our girls are athletes - if we had only had the Ball Claw then! If you have athletes in the house, this product may be an answer to your athletic gear clutter!

More on organizing sports gear:

Organizing Your Mud Room

Storage for Your Garage

Friday, November 25, 2011

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 7 - Christmas Card Tips

We got a lot of snow last weekend - it looks like a winter wonderland here. Here's a picture of our front yard. Doesn't it look like it could be a Christmas card? 

Speaking of Christmas cards:

Sending out Christmas cards can seem like an overwhelming and costly task. Here are some ways to make it more doable.

- Send out digital Christmas cards or letters to as many people as possible. I know this offends some, but at least your message gets out. I like sending and receiving letters - catching up with our friends. When I receive a Christmas card with only a signature, I know my friends are alive, but that's about all!

You can email your letters or you can use an email service, like iContact.

If you have a blog, you can post your Christmas letter on your blog, too. If you want to get fancy, you could make a video Christmas greeting and put the link on your social networks. 

- If you write a Christmas letter, make it no longer than one side of a page. It's cheaper to print and most people won't read more than that. It forces you to be economical with your words! 

- Use your TV time or traveling time (if you're the passenger!) to address Christmas cards. You're doubling your time while enjoying yourself, too!

- Get the family involved. Your family members can help fold, stuff, seal, and stamp your cards and letters.

- In January, update your snail mail Christmas card list as you sort through your Christmas cards. Then you're set when it comes time to send out your cards next year.

However you do Christmas cards, your friends and family will love to hear from you! 

More on reducing Christmas stress:

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 6 - Planning Your Holiday Meals

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 5 - Mapping Out Your Holiday Calendar

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 4 - Organize Your Cleaning and Decorating

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Happy Thanksgiving!

Just wanted to wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Hope your day is filled with remembering your blessings. :)

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Planning Your Black Friday and Cyber Monday Shopping

Are you gearing up for holiday shopping? If you are a Black Friday shopper, the following links contain Black Friday ads for major retailers, so you can plan your strategy. Kohl's and Target are opening at 12 midnight on Thanksgiving Day, with Walmart opening at 10 pm.

Black Friday Ads

Black Friday 

If however, you would rather shop from your armchair, Cyber Monday may be your preference. 

Of course, the top Cyber Monday retailer is Amazon, whose sales have already started:  

To find more Cyber Monday ads, go to:

Cyber Monday or Dealio.

Happy shopping!

More on shopping:

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 3 - Smart Gift Giving

10 Ways to Streamline Your Shopping Time

Organize Your Christmas Shopping with New Gifts HD iPad App


Monday, November 21, 2011

Getting a Jump on Christmas Cookies

Each year I've posted ways I've gotten a jump on Christmas cookies. This year's method is different. We usually have our daughter and son-in-law over for dinner on Friday nights. So last week I started making cookies for dessert. 

I'm doing it for three reasons: 
- for dessert; 
- I'm making double batches and freezing half;
- at least half of the cookies I bake go to our church to help with a lunch they offer every week to students from the local high school down the street.

So gradually, I'll be stocking up on frozen cookie dough. Baking will be a snap!

Here are a couple of the ways I've gotten a jump on Christmas cookies in the past: 

1. My friend Pam and I came up with a great way to get a jump on Christmas cookies. We originally set aside a day in December to make Christmas cookies all day, split them and stock our freezers. But that was pretty exhausting.

2. Then one year, we couldn't find a date in December, and that changed our Christmas cookie baking from then on. We decided to get together in November and just make the dough, freeze it in small batches, and cook as needed. It's so easy to just thaw a small amount, form into cookies, and bake! All the work and mess is over with and you have fresh baked cookies in a jiffy when you need them.

Plus we got to spend the day together!
I miss it. Now that we live in Montana and she lives in Maryland, it doesn't quite work! I need to mention that we did this when our children were in college or on their own. If making memories with your children is part of the equation, you may want to disregard our "mass production" mindset! :)

If you need to find a cookie recipe, my daughter Sara sent me a list (Cookies, Cookies, Cookies) of every possible cookie recipe known to man.

More on cookies:
How Coffee Filters Can Help You Declutter Holiday Baking
Making it a Priority to Create Memories


Friday, November 18, 2011

Don't Fall Prey to these Thieving Tricks - Plan for Your Security

A couple of stories to learn from:
I recently heard a story of someone's house being cleaned out after their car was broken into. Their GPS and garage door opener were stolen. The GPS had "home" listed as a destination. The thieves drove to their home, opened the garage door and loaded their truck with their victims' valuables.
The moral of the story: don't put "home" on your GPS. Put a nearby location (a gas station or other store) so you can find your way home, if you need to.
The second story was of a woman whose purse was stolen. The thief texted her husband using her cell phone and asked for the pin number for their bank account. "Hubby" was listed on her phone. Her husband texted the pin number and the thief used her ATM card and cleaned out their bank account. 
The moral to this story: don't put your relationship to the person on your contact list or make sure to call back if your spouse texts to get a pin number.
Pretty sneaky tricks, huh? But easy to happen if we don't pay attention.
More on safety:

While Spring Cleaning, Update Insurance Photos

Organize Your Smart Phone for Safety

An Emergency Entry on Your Cell Phone


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 6 - Planning Your Holiday Meals

Not sure what our Thanksgiving will look like this year. Our daughter and son-in-law who are here will be visiting his parents. And our other daughter will be celebrating with my parents and family. So I don't know if we'll be cooking or not. Nevertheless, here are some thoughts about holiday meals:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are your favorite holiday recipes?

Leftover ideas:

Dinner in 10 - Chicken with Cranberry/Mandarin Sauce
Getting the Maximum Mileage out of Your Veggies
Cook It Once, Serve It Twice
Three Steps to Planning Dinner 
Hassle Free Dinners

Monday, November 14, 2011

10 Must-Do Tasks After a Move

There are a number of must-do tasks once you have moved. There's so much to do when you move, isn't there?! Here are the essentials:

1. Register your car (need: title, former registration, mileage).

2. Get a new driver's license (need: birth certificate or passport, social security card, driver's license from your previous residence, and proof of residence - a bill with your current address, your lease or purchase papers).

3. Register to vote. This can usually be done when you get a new driver's license.

4. Change your car insurance if you have moved to another state (need: old driver's license number and new driver's license number, car registration). Notify your previous insurance carrier.

5. Change your homeowners/renters insurance. Notify your previous insurance carrier.

6. Register your business, if applicable.

7. Open bank account(s) and safe deposit box (need driver's license, deposit).

8. Restock your pantry and fridge with the basics. 

9. Change your wallet list. This is a list of all your credit cards, bank cards, and other important information that is in your wallet. If your wallet or purse is stolen, you have the pertinent information at your fingertips. Do not put this list on your computer. Keep it in an "important paper" file. 

10. Change automatic deposits/withdrawals from your old bank account to your new bank account before your close your old account.

We still have a couple of these yet to do, but we're making progress!

More on moving:

Short-Term and Long-Term Moving

10 Tips on Preparing for a Long-Distance Move

Storage and Moving Boxes - Think Outside the Box


Friday, November 11, 2011

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 5 - Mapping Out Your Holiday Calendar

I'm a bit under the weather today - a nice day to stay inside and sip tea! But Christmas is looming, so here's another one in my series on destressing Christmas:

Have you ever found yourself flitting about from one holiday event to another, just because your were invited, or it seemed like a nice thing to do? Unless you plan out your holiday calendar, you may find yourself tossed about by everyone else’s agendas, priorities and events. By determining what is important to you and your family, you will be able to make sure your family's high-priority events get top-billing on your schedule.

Sit down as a family and talk about what each individual wants to have included in the holiday schedule – decorating, special outside events, baking, making gifts, reading stories, watching movies together, shopping, sending Christmas cards, hosting a party – whatever says celebration to each one.

At the same time, discuss all the holiday events from school, sports teams, church, work, friends and family. Which ones do your family members want to attend? Prioritize them, if necessary.

Take your list and schedule in those activities your family wants to include in their holiday celebration. Evaluate: Are your scheduled events going to allow everyone to get enough sleep and rest? If not, rethink things.

Create margins and boundaries. Know your own limitations as well as those of your family members. Make sure to schedule in some “breather dates” into your calendar so you don’t over-schedule. If someone invites you to do something else, you can honestly say you have something already scheduled – it’s true! Even if it's staying home and watching Christmas movies in your PJs with the fam!

Making a plan and writing it on your calendar reduces stress – it’s on paper for you and the family to see and anticipate. In addition, you are being intentional about how you are spending your holiday season and doing those things that are important and meaningful to you and your family. Isn’t that what it’s all about?

What do you like to include in your Christmas calendar?

More on reducing Christmas stress: 

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 4 - Organize Your Cleaning and Decorating

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 3 - Smart Gift Giving

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 2 - Thinking Through the Needs of Your Family and Friends

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

An Easy Way to Change Your Address or Eliminate Unwanted Paper Mail


I became aware of Updater after our move, unfortunately. This service changes your address and eliminates unwanted paper mail, even if you haven't moved.

Here's what their website says:

Moving and need to change your address?


Updater simplifies the change of address process and gives you control over who can access and use your postal address. Rather than spending hours notifying your contacts, Updater can do it for you. We'll send secure address change notifications, on your behalf, to the U.S. Postal Service® and any business, school, or other organization that you select.

From start to finish, Updater will guide you through the change of address process to save you time and help you make informed decisions.

You can sign in to your Updater account anytime to check the status of your updates and send additional updates.

Want to eliminate unwanted paper mail? 


If you’re tired of receiving hundreds of unsolicited paper advertisements each year, let Updater help you keep your address private. We’ll prepare your opt-out requests and send them to all the major data-brokers that compile and sell marketing lists.

With Updater, you can also create a customized spam filter for your paper mail. Just tell us which mailers you want to block and we’ll send them “do not mail” requests on your behalf.

Is Updater for you?


If you want to save time, stop unwanted paper mail, protect your identity, or help the environment, then Updater is for you.

It’s your address. Control it.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 4 - Organize Your Cleaning and Decorating

Can you believe it's November already? I thought we'd be snowed in here in Montana by now. Unlike the Northeast, though, we've only seen an occasional flake here and there. To help reduce your stress for Christmas, here's another in my reposted series on destressing Christmas:

I love having people in over the holidays! But that means my house must be clean and, of course, I’ll want to decorate. If I wait until the last minute, though, I’m stressed! Here are a few thoughts to help avoid that stress:


- Determine cleaning chores that need to be done for the holidays. Parcel out chores over the weeks remaining before Christmas, starting with the ones that are long-lasting: cleaning the silver or the carpet, decluttering and purging, etc. Save the surface cleaning until closer to your events. Or, if you haven’t cleaned for a while, just get caught up on your cleaning and do it every week.

- If your list of chores seems too overwhelming, work on them in 15-minute segments and do them 2-4 times a day. If they are still too overwhelming, eliminate some! Enlist family/house members to help with the cleaning chores.

- This is not a time for major home repair, sewing projects, painting, or other major projects!

When the time comes for decorating, here are a few hints:
- If you have a lot of decorating to do, prioritize your list and schedule the individual items on your list.

- As you decorate, remove your regular decorating accessories and put them in the boxes from which you took your Christmas decorating items. That way, you won’t have to remember where you put them. I have a friend who couldn’t find her regular decorating items for a couple of months after the holidays one year!

- Take this opportunity to purge any decorating items or holiday items you no longer need or want. A great time to declutter! By doing this, the number of boxes you must get out every year decreases.

- Make holiday decorating a family affair, using items that have sentimental value to family members. Warm up some apple cider and put on some music!

- When you put your Christmas items away, make a list of what you have – decorating items, wrapping supplies, paper products, cards, extra gift items, dishes, etc., so you don’t duplicate them. Also make a list of items you need to purchase for next year and pick them up during the sales, if possible. This is a great time of year to get holiday storage boxes at a reduced price, too.

Do you have some great cleaning or decorating ideas you'd like to pass on?

Related Posts:
Three Steps to Clever Cleaning
Three Steps to Decluttering 
Destressing Christmas 2011, Part 3 - Smart Gift Giving

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Declutter Debris with Your Own Portable Dumpster - The Bagster

A fellow organizer alerted me to the Bagster - basically a portable dumpster. Just buy the bag from a hardware store, fill it with up to 3300 pounds of trash, and arrange for pickup. The bag is around $30 and pickup costs from $50-100 based on where you live. Here's more info from their website:
Buy the Bagster® bag

at your local home improvement retailer, including participating locations of The Home Depot. Store it and use it when you need it. It's compact, always on hand and ready to take on your project waste.

Bagster® is the perfect cleanup solution for many types of projects, including:

  • Renovations/remodeling
  • Organizing a garage or attic
  • Landscaping*
  • Roofing
  • Concrete and stone work
  • And much more
 The Bagster® bag

can take on the waste for a wide variety of projects. It's simple to set up, and strong enough to hold up to 3300 lb of debris or waste. It's a flexible solution, keeping you always in control of your projects. The Bagster® bag is the right size to help you take on renovations, landscaping* or home projects that don't require a full-size dumpster.

Since the Bagster® bag is yours to use whenever you want, for as long as you need, you don't have to wait for a dumpster to be delivered or finish your project within a rental time period. It's easy to use, too:

  • Take out your Bagster® bag whenever you're ready to use it.
  • Place the Bagster® bag on your property for convenient loading as you take on your project.
  • Before filling, place the Bagster® bag according to placement directions included with your Bagster® bag.
  • Before loading, unfold your Bagster® bag and stand inside of it. Starting at the corner, fold the sides down and out. This makes the sides of the Bagster® bag more rigid. Roll the sides up as you fill it.

Finishing your project cleanup

is easy with the Bagster® bag. Schedule your collection online or by phone at 1-877-789-BAGS (2247). And it's gone! It's a cost-effective disposal service from Waste Management.

Here's how scheduling a collection works:

  • Schedule and pay for your collection online or call our toll-free phone number.
  • Our friendly and professional team will collect your Bagster® bag and properly dispose of its contents.
  • Waste Management* will collect your Bagster® bag within three business days of when you schedule collection.

 Isn't this a simple solution to getting rid of large quantities of trash and debris?

More on trash:

Disposing of Paint Responsibly 

Zero Trash in a Year - Could You Do It?